Glance said unifying the three messaging platform’s infrastructure had the potential to weaken the app’s privacy because of how Facebook Messenger is built.

“By default, messages that are sent on WhatsApp are encrypted so that Facebook can’t read the contents as they pass through it systems. Facebook Messenger, however, does not turn on encryption by default. If you want to encrypt a message, you must select the option to start a ‘secret’ conversation. Almost nobody does this.”

Bottom line: If this respected academic thinks it is suspect what do the rest of us paranoid types think?

ITy Bytes 7 April

Telstra Plus loyalty programme

If you are a Telstra customer and join Telstra Plus by 30 June 2019, you can earn 10 points on your monthly Telstra spend. Also, bonus points will be awarded for longevity as a Telstra customer, and three privilege levels, Member, Silver and Gold depend on annual spends of $<1,500, <$3000, and >$3000.

Telstra has not announced what the point redemption value is nor set up its Telstra Plus Rewards Store. In its press release, it stated that an $80 monthly spend you could earn enough points for a smart speaker after 18 months. – that’s is around $1,440 spend (14,400 points) for what may be a $60 speaker or about half a cent per point.

Loyalty programs are all about marketing – to brutally harvest information to allow highly targeted advertising. Telstra says it will collect and use your data in accordance with Telstra’s Privacy Statement. When you first join the program, you will automatically opt-in to marketing. You can later selectively unsubscribe from marketing channels, but it says, you will miss out on special offers and promotions.

Read the Privacy Statement – “We may use the information … to market and promote directly to you. This also may include products, services and offers provided by our trusted partners. In some cases, this marketing activity can continue after you have stopped using our products or services.”

It goes on, “In some cases, the organisations that we may disclose your information to may be based outside the location where the information is collected. For example, we may share your information with our third parties in Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, countries within the European Union, India, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, the UAE, the United States of America, and Vietnam.”

Sorry, I would like to know in advance who these so-called trusted partners are (especially if one is Facebook) before I share any more data with Telstra for a lousy half a cent per point spent.

ITy Bytes 7 April

iFixit tears down iPad Mini 4 – sorry 5!

After three and a half years without a refresh, the iPad Mini 5 (teardown here) has awoken from its slumber with some updated internals. The teardown confirms that this is not a shrunken-down version of the new iPad Air—it is a reworked iPad Mini 4, with some fresh silicon for 2019. Tim Cook is saving money again!

iFixit also criticised the build saying the iPad Mini unceremoniously glues components together—with no sign of the elegance or serviceability. Battery and screen replacements are the two most common repairs. The iPad Mini makes both unnecessarily difficult – the battery lacks pull-to-remove adhesive tabs, and the display requires a tricky removal of the home button if you want to keep Touch ID after your repair.

iFixit tears into iPad Air 3 – more of the same

IFixit says despite the new moniker – iPad Air – it is just an iPad Pro 10.5-inch minus some good bits. Yes, it gets Apple Pencil support but only Gen 1. These days, the non-Pro iPad line-up is just frankensteined components and designs from other iPads. Too bad all this mismashing manages to leave out almost all the good stuff. Like modularity and battery pull-tabs. Tim, saving money again are we? “No,” he replies. “It is a feature, and you pay more for it.”

Ford waits to 2020 to introduce the Escape PHEV

Ford Escape goes PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) in 2020 as its first electric model in Australia. PHEV means both petrol and electric motors getting over the mileage limitations of battery alone. GadgetGuy will start to cover alternative power source vehicles.

The most beautiful construction sets in the world – TimeforMachine (T4M)

I am a Meccano tragic – as a kid, I amassed a huge collection of bits an pieces and spent too much time building models. T4M brings back that feeling with a serious set of models and bits that look stunning.

It is a Kickstarter project that has already reached nearly five times its goal, and I am definitely going to order the Silver Bullet. Spend a few minutes looking over the models and as they say, “It’s time to assemble”.