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Insurers turn to Facebook timelines to beat fraud

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By TIMOTHY SMIT, director and MEGAN BADENHORST, senior associate in the dispute resolution practice at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr

Facebook, according to Statista, had 2.32 billion monthly active users by the fourth quarter of 2018. Thanks to Facebook, you can post videos, brag about your children, announce your new job or even moan about your former boss to people all over the world, instantly. Many people even have public profiles – meaning that they do not change their security settings to limit who can see what they post on Facebook – but do they know who’s watching?

The Guardian newspaper recently reported that William Owen wasn’t worried about who was looking at his profile. Mr Owen had come 7th out of 2,000 in a 10km race. Before that, he had signed up for a half marathon and posted a photograph of himself on top of Mount Snowdon. Who wouldn’t plaster that all over Facebook? His insurer certainly “liked” his photos because the 29-year-old had, a few months earlier, claimed to have suffered neck and back pain caused by whiplash after a car reversed into his vehicle at a garage. His insurer understandably didn’t think that they should have to pay his claim.

Insurance companies may use information found on a public Facebook profile. Yes, there is a right to privacy in s14 of the Constitution and it includes the right not to have your communication infringed but that right is not absolute. It is framed by subjective and objective expectations of privacy. When you click “I accept” on the standard terms and conditions on any social media platform you erode your own subjective expectation of privacy.

Facebook, for example, expressly state in their Terms of Service that they “Provide a personalised experience for you”. How? By analysing “the connections you make, the choices and settings you select, and what you share and do on and off our Products”. Your objective expectation of privacy requires the rest of society to recognise your expectation of privacy as being reasonable. So, if you are instagramming your dinners, tweeting your workout routine or vlogging about your online dating – society will assume that you aren’t a very private person.

Facebook aside, to what other apps do you give personal information? Did you check their Terms of Service? The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that several popular health apps share personal and health data with Facebook. Extreme Tech recounted a finding by WSJ that 11 of the 70 iOS apps it tested shared personal or health data with Facebook’s servers via Facebooks Analytics. These included apps that record heart rate data or even when a user was having her period.

Going back to insurance companies – are they allowed to use unlawfully obtained information? For example, information obtained by hacking? Surprisingly, the position is not completely clear.

In Harvey v Niland and Others, Harvey relied on Niland’s private Facebook posts to prove that Niland was secretly competing and violating his fiduciary duties to their joint business. Was the Facebook evidence admissible? Niland said it infringed his right to privacy and was obtained through the commission of an offence under s86(1) of the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act, No 25 of 2002 (Act). Judge Plasket held that the Act didn’t prohibit evidence obtained in contravention of s86(1) but reasoned that the admission of the evidence would depend

·       on the nature and extent of the violation of Niland’s right to privacy; and

·       whether Harvey could have obtained the evidence in another, lawful way.

Judge Plasket found that hacking Niland’s Facebook communications would have produced both information that was relevant to the issue before him and information that was irrelevant and entirely private. The relevant portion accessed established that Niland had been conducting himself in a duplicitous manner, contrary to the fiduciary duties he owed to the business – not to mention the fact that he had denied the allegations and undertaken not to do as he had done. Plasket said “his claim to privacy rings rather hollow.” Finally, the Judge found that the evidence was essential to Harvey’s case and could not in practice have been procured in another, lawful way. “All he had was a suspicion but, without [the hacked posts], he had no evidence of Niland’s wrongdoing.” The application to strike out the hacked posts was dismissed with costs.

Arguably, an insurer can also rely on unlawfully obtained evidence to defeat a fraudulent claim. A fraudulent claimant is obviously acting dishonestly and what if that is the only way the insurer can prove it? Bhekisisa reports that fraud, waste and abuse is costing the private healthcare system more than R22 billion. In 2018, it was reported by IOL that by rooting out fraudulent claims, Discovery Health saved R568 million for its client schemes in 2017, up from R405 million in 2016. Should the rest of us have to pay higher premiums because Jane Soap faked a knee injury and then used her pay-out to go skiing? Surely not.

It is an intriguing debate, but in the meantime, you might want to re-evaluate your online and in app activity and decide what sort of privacy you expect to enjoy.

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The PC is back!

… and 2020 will be its big year, writes CHRIS BUCHANAN, client solutions director at Dell Technologies

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Concept Ori

It turns out the PC’s death has been exaggerated. PC sales grew between 1.1% and 1.5% in the last few quarters of the year, according to Gartner. While those don’t sound like massive leaps, they represent a large market that has been declining for several years. Windows 10 is credited for this surge, especially as Windows 7 is leading towards its end of life (EOL).

But I don’t think that is the entire picture. Windows 10 upgrades have been taking place for several years, and the market has also gotten savvier about managing EOL. Other factors are driving the adoption of PCs.

A specific one is how much closer the PC now sits to smartphones. I recently watched some youngsters work with laptops that had touchscreens. They hardly ever touched the keyboard, instead tapping and swiping on the screen. Yet they were still working on a laptop, not a smartphone. Certain things are much easier to do on a PC than a phone, and users are realising this. They aren’t relinquishing the convenience of their smartphones but applications are now available on PC’s and often easier to use.

Convertible or 2-in-1 machines have closed the gap between the two device types. This is in contrast to tablets. If you observe how people sit with tablets, it’s the opposite of smartphones or laptops. With the latter, we sit forward, attentive and focused. But tablets often prompt people to recline. It’s just a casual observation, yet I believe that PCs and smartphones have much more overlap with each other than pure tablet devices. Additionally, the convertible laptop has become the new tablet.

Chris Buchanan

Why does this bode well for PCs in 2020? 2-in-1 machines break down the barriers between the utility of a PC and collaborative culture of a smartphone. You can now flip a laptop into tent mode and use it as an interactive presentation screen on a boardroom table, or cradle it like a clipboard you jot on with a digital pen.

In the next year, we’ll see more of the market responding to this trend. Premium 2-in-1 devices have a stable and growing audience of users who are now going into their second, third and even fourth generations of devices. Mid-range and entry-level laptops are also starting to adopt touchscreens and flip displays.

2-in-1 devices are also pushing innovation, such as the emergence of dual-screen systems. Dell revealed two such concept devices at CES this year: Project Duet, a dual screen laptop, and Project Ori (for origami), a more compact approach to foldable devices. We also unveiled Project UFO, a prototype Alienware device that puts triple-A PC gaming into a handheld device. All of these reflect the desire for touch-enabled devices that are portable without sacrificing performance or excellence. They definitely point us to the future.

Convertible devices are not a new form factor. I can recall the first flip-over touchscreen designs appearing 15 years ago. Back then they were exotic and the standard laptop ruled the roost. But today, the habits and expectations of users are driving a change decisively towards convertible devices.

Desktop PCs are meanwhile becoming more specialised, yet also more widely appreciated for their versatility. Specialist non-Windows PCs, such as those used by designers, are being replaced by Windows PCs, often for lower costs. Integrated discrete graphics chips and other advancements add a lot of value to modern desktops. The smartphone overlap also appears here: many people use services such as Whatsapp Web on their PCs, and Dell customers use the Dell Mobile Connect app to show their smartphone screen on their PC display.

There is a new synergy between the PC and smartphone, created by users who find the two complement each other. Not everyone has realised this yet, but in 2020 that will be the resounding message. The PC is back and 2020 will be its year.

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Jaguar designs ‘seat of the future’

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Jaguar Land Rover is developing the seat of the future – a pioneering shape-shifting system designed to improve customer wellbeing by tackling the health risks of sitting down for too long.

The ‘morphable’ seat, being trialled by Jaguar Land Rover’s Body Interiors Research division, uses a series of actuators in the seat foam to create constant micro-adjustments that make your brain think you’re walking, and could be individually tailored to each driver and passenger.

More than a quarter of people worldwide – 1.4 billion – are living increasingly sedentary lifestyles, which can shorten muscles in the legs, hips and gluteals causing back pain. The weakened muscles also mean you are more likely to injure yourself from falls or strains. 

By simulating the rhythm of walking, a movement known as pelvic oscillation, the technology can help mitigate against the health risks of sitting down for too long on extended journeys with some drivers doing hundreds of kilometres per week. 

Dr Steve Iley, Jaguar Land Rover Chief Medical Officer, said: “The wellbeing of our customers and employees is at the heart of all our technological research projects. We are using our engineering expertise to develop the seat of the future using innovative technologies not seen before in the automotive industry to help tackle an issue that affects people across the globe.”

Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles already feature the latest in ergonomic seat design, with multi-directional adjustments, massage functions and climate control fitted across the range. Dr Iley has also issued advice on how to adjust your seat to ensure the perfect driving position, from removing bulky items in your pocket, to shoulder positioning and from ensuring your spine and pelvis are straight to supporting your thighs to reduce pressure points. View the video here.

The research is part of Jaguar Land Rover’s commitment to continually improving customer wellbeing through technological innovation. Previous projects have included research to reduce the effects of motion sickness and the implementation of ultraviolet light technology to stop the spread of colds and flu. 

Together, these efforts are driving towards Destination Zero; Jaguar Land Rover’s ambition to make societies safer and healthier, and the environment cleaner – a responsible future for our workers, customers and communities around us. Through relentless innovation, Jaguar Land Rover is adapting product and services to meet the rapidly-changing world.

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