Tech round-up for April 25: GDPR and privacy policy updates, eco-friendly batteries, London Drugs recycling success, SmugMug buys Flickr

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It was Earth Day last Sunday, so this week we’ll look at some new batteries that are a bit more eco-friendly and the success of London Drugs’ recycling program. Also, Flickr has been bought. What does that mean for your account? But first, an explanation for all the emails you’ve been getting from the social media sites this week.

Why you’re getting so many “updates to our terms of service” emails this week

If you’re like me, you’ve been getting lots of emails from various companies and organizations with whom you’ve got online accounts.

Twitter, Instagram, and Sonos were among the global corporations to communicate with users about changes to terms of service, data, and privacy policies this week:

Because there’s been so much talk recently about Facebook and the Cambridge Analytica fiasco, you might think that these changes have something to do with that.

They don’t.

The changes in privacy policies is a result of an impending change to European Union law called the General Data Protection Regulation. The idea is to “harmonize data privacy laws across Europe, to protect and empower all EU citizens data privacy and to reshape the way organizations across the region approach data privacy.”

Sounds like a good idea to me.

The regulation was adopted two years ago but becomes enforceable on May 25, and while it only technically impacts EU citizens, any company that has information on EU residents must comply, or face hefty fines (4% of worldwide turnover or €20 million, whichever is higher).

One of the big changes is in what “consent” means. Hunton Andrews Kurth lay out the specific conditions.

Some companies are choosing to roll out the same rights to all users that are being afforded to EU citizens. Here’s how Slack is preparing for GDPR..

Others, like Facebook, seem to be trying to limit the number of users protected by the regulation.

These Fuji batteries are safe for landfills

Back in 2005, Statistics Canada reported that 60 percent of Canadians threw batteries in the garbage. This was a problem, because batteries used to be made of toxic materials like mercury, cadmium, lithium, and lead. Many batteries still are.

You can reduce the number of batteries you need to dispose of by using rechargeable ones, but they still have to be disposed of at some point.

That’s what makes Fuji EnviroMAX batteries so interesting. They do not use those same toxic materials and they are packaged with materials that can be easily recycled.

Fuji Batteries Canada is also making it possible for organizations like schools and sports teams to sell the batteries to raise funds for their initiatives.

A soccer team could sell packages of four AA batteries for $5, for example, and keep half that amount for tournament fees or team hoodies.

Now even though these batteries are technically safe for the trash, you should still have them recycled properly.

London Drugs has diverted 113 million pounds of junk from the landfill

For ten years, London Drugs has been collecting materials for recycling from customers. This has ranged from batteries to packaging to computers and electronics.

The company reports that in the last decade, it has diverted more than 113 million pounds of waste from the landfill.

Here’s the list of what you can recycle at your local London Drugs store:

  • Electrical and electronic goods (TVs, VCRs, computers, monitors, printers, small appliances, etc.)
  • Styrofoam
  • Plastic overwrapping and foam packaging (BC only)
  • Plastic and cardboard packaging from products purchased at London Drugs
  • Cell phones, PDA and rechargeable batteries
  • Alkaline Batteries
  • Compact Fluorescent Bulbs (CFL’s) incandescent or LED light bulbs, Christmas lights and fluorescent light tubes up to 4-foot lengths
  • Disposable cameras
  • Ink jet cartridges
  • Laser cartridges
  • Metal film canisters
  • Plastic shopping bags
  • Pop bottles and cans (BC only)
  • Insurance plastic folders

Flickr, once a darling of the online world, being acquired by SmugMug

Flickr took the Internet by storm in 2004. It actually spun out of an attempt by Stewart Butterfield to create a video game that would never end. When funding for that dried up, the Vancouver and San Francisco startup pivoted and decided to see if the photo-sharing tool they had built for the game had potential.

Butterfield would do the same thing in 2013 when he spun team communication service Slack out of Glitch, another video game project he imagined could last forever.

The photo service was acquired by Yahoo in 2005 when both companies were in their prime. Yahoo has since declined, and was purchased by Verizon last year.

SmugMug, meanwhile, is privately owned and has stuck to the plan it launched with in 2002: provide a paid service to people who want to store and share their photos online. In an interview with USA Today, CEO Don MacAskill said, “We don’t mine our customers’ photos for information to sell to the highest bidder, or to turn into targeted advertising campaigns.”

Flickr, which has a free account option, will be run as a standalone service while SmugMug collects feedback from users, according to MacAskill.

If you have a Flickr account

Your photos and videos will automatically transfer to SmugMug on May 25. You have until then to download your data and delete your account.


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