FTC Urged to Investigate AnchorFree VPN User Data Privacy Risks

Today’s topics include the FTC being asked to investigate privacy risks with AnchorFree's Hotspot Shield VPN; Microsoft updating Outlook.com with a new look and some AI-inspired functionality; T-Mobile offering smartphone users aged 55 and older two lines for $60; and Hewlett Packard Enterprise adding Big Switch software to its open Altoline switches.

According to a complaint filed by the Center of Democracy and Technology, AnchorFree's Hotspot Shield virtual private network is not properly securing its users and is unfairly sharing user information.

In a 13-page complaint filed with the U.S Federal Trade Commission, the CDT alleges that AnchorFree is engaged in unfair and deceptive trade practices. AnchorFree denies the allegations.

"Among other concerns, the complaint details the ways in which Hotspot Shield's marketing claims around privacy and security directly contradict its actual practices and policies.

The description of the Hotspot Shield app in Google’s Play Store announces, 'Your privacy and security are guaranteed!,' while CDT’s investigation found the opposite," Michelle De Mooy, director of Privacy and Data Project at CDT, wrote in a blog post.

The CDT claims it found multiple instances in which Hotspot Shield shared sensitive data with third-party advertising networks.

Betting that users expect more from their inboxes than just a place to store their emails, Microsoft is revamping its Outlook.com web-based email service.

Those who participate in the new Outlook.com beta can expect a smarter inbox, courtesy of "advances in programming, design and artificial intelligence," according to Microsoft. The company is currently rolling out a "beta toggle" that will appear for more users over time.

In the beta, Outlook.com generates Quick Suggestions in a separate pane as users type their emails, offering ways to embed information on nearby restaurants, flights and other items based on the context of the message. Microsoft has also added new features for sharing photos.

T-Mobile is expanding its popular family mobile plans to a new target audience—it's now offering specially discounted T-Mobile One Unlimited 55+ plans for $60 combined for two lines for families of two people, including at least one who is 55 years of age or older.

The new monthly 55+ plans, which include unlimited data, text and voice, are priced $40 lower than T-Mobile's recent promotion offering two lines of service for $100 a month, which has been available since February.

The $60 two-line 55+ rate incorporates T-Mobile's autopay feature. If autopay is not authorized, the service costs an extra $5 per month for two users. The 55+ service is also available for single users, with a cost of $50 a month with autopay, compared with $70 a month with autopay at the company's standard rates.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise is adding network virtualization products from Big Switch Networks to the lineup of third-party software that can run on the OEM’s Altoline portfolio of open networking switches.

The tech vendor is now reselling Big Switch’s Big Monitoring Fabric and Big Cloud Fabric with three of its Altoline systems, which also can run network software from other companies, such as Pica8.

HPE, through the Altoline family of switches, is one of several established networking vendors that over the past several years have rolled out open switches in hopes of pushing back at the growing popularity of inexpensive and unbranded white boxes developed by original design manufacturers.

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