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Busking goes cashless with 'a world first' for London
London introduces a contactless payment scheme for buskers that allows tap-to-pay donations.

Source: BBC News - Technology | 27 May 2018 | 10:37 am

Qualcomm to meet China regulators in push to clear $44 billion NXP deal: sources
BEIJING (Reuters) - Qualcomm Inc is expecting to meet this week in Beijing with China's antitrust regulators in a final push to secure clearance for its proposed $44 billion acquisition of NXP Semiconductors NV , three sources told Reuters.

Source: Reuters: Technology News | 27 May 2018 | 5:33 am

Tencent chairman pledges to advance China chip industry after ZTE 'wake-up' call: reports
HONG KONG (Reuters) - Tencent Holdings chairman pledged to advance China's semiconductor industry, saying the blow to ZTE Corp from Washington's ban on U.S. firms supplying telecommunications company was a "wake-up" call, local media reported.

Source: Reuters: Technology News | 27 May 2018 | 1:33 am

Customers angry after National Australia Bank hit by technology outage
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - National Australia Bank on Saturday suffered what it described as a "nationwide outage" to some of its technology systems, leaving customers unable to access banking services or withdraw money.

Source: Reuters: Technology News | 26 May 2018 | 12:05 am

U.S. reaches deal to keep China's ZTE in business: congressional aide
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Trump administration told lawmakers the U.S. government has reached a deal to put Chinese telecommunications company ZTE Corp back in business after it pays a significant fine and makes management changes, a senior congressional aide said on Friday.

Source: Reuters: Technology News | 25 May 2018 | 9:21 pm

Tesla seeks to dismiss securities fraud lawsuit: U.S. court document
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Tesla Inc on Friday asked a court to dismiss a securities fraud lawsuit by shareholders who said the electric vehicle maker gave false public statements about the progress of producing its new Model 3 sedan.

Source: Reuters: Technology News | 25 May 2018 | 9:05 pm

Exclusive: Tesla flies in new battery production line for Gigafactory
FRANKFURT/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Tesla Inc has flown six planes full of robots and equipment from Europe to California in an unusual, high-stakes effort to speed up battery production for its Model 3 electric sedan, people familiar with the matter told Reuters this week.

Source: Reuters: Technology News | 25 May 2018 | 5:18 pm

Tesla agrees to settle class action over Autopilot billed as 'safer'
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Tesla Inc on Thursday reached an agreement to settle a class action lawsuit with buyers of its Model S and Model X cars who alleged that the company's assisted-driving Autopilot system was "essentially unusable and demonstrably dangerous."

Source: Reuters: Technology News | 25 May 2018 | 5:02 pm

Apple sees steep increase in U.S. national security requests
(Reuters) - Apple Inc on Friday issued its twice yearly transparency report on government data requests, showing another sharp increase in U.S. national security-related requests.

Source: Reuters: Technology News | 25 May 2018 | 4:58 pm

T-Mobile says ex-Trump campaign manager advising on Sprint merger
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - T-Mobile US said it is getting advice on its proposed $26 billion merger with Sprint Corp from a lobbying firm whose staff includes several members of President Donald Trump's election team such as former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.

Source: Reuters: Technology News | 25 May 2018 | 4:16 pm

Dota 2: UK major tournament to 'inspire' fans
Organisers say they hope hosting the event in Birmingham will drive more UK players to compete.

Source: BBC News - Technology | 25 May 2018 | 12:27 pm

GDPR: US news sites unavailable to EU users under new rules
The LA Times is among many sites blocked to European users over new EU rules on using personal data.

Source: BBC News - Technology | 25 May 2018 | 11:18 am

Europe’s New Privacy Law Takes Effect Today. Here’s How the World Is Handling Digital Rights

The European Union’s much-vaunted General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force this week. But Europe isn’t the only entity trying to balance digital freedoms with citizens’ privacy rights.

These five facts look at the state of data privacy laws around the world.

What is GDPR?

GDPR is the updated replacement to Europe’s 1995 Data Protection Directive, one that’s taken almost a decade to get across the finish line.

At its heart, GDPR provides European citizens with the tools they need to better control the data collected about them. Under the law, from May 25 onwards, firms anywhere in the world that collect data on E.U. citizens need to offer users the option to see the information collected about them, and to move or delete that information. Firms will also be required to report any data breaches within 72 hours.

There are numerous other GDPR regulations that companies will need to comply with as well. But the basic idea behind the law is to orient companies toward “privacy by default” and put people in charge of their personal data.

The penalty for violating GPDR are significant — the maximum fine can be up to $23.5 million or 4 percent of the firm’s revenue, whichever is larger. Even if you’re Amazon, a $7 billion fine is going to smart.

Europe’s approach to privacy

Europeans were well ahead of the data privacy curve long before Cambridge Analytica came onto the scene. The European Court of Justice ruled in 2014 that European citizens have a “right to be forgotten” and can have material stricken from search engines if it is determined to be “inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant, or excessive for the purpose of the data processing,” a ruling enshrined in GDPR as well. In the eyes of Brussels, data privacy is an intrinsic human right, and therefore should be under the control of the individual user. GDPR is a critical step in that direction.

And because GDPR applies to companies doing business in Europe rather than just those based there, plenty of folks around the world will also be at least partially covered by GDPR as companies shift to comply with it. Firms like Facebook have already vowed to operate in accordance with GDPR across their global user base—both because it’s easier for Facebook and because it generates good press on the privacy front.

The American approach to privacy

That’s especially good news for the 61 percent of Americans who would like to do more to protect their privacy, and the 68 percent who say current data privacy laws aren’t stringent enough. To be fair, Congress is now mulling the Social Media Privacy Protection and Consumer Rights Act of 2018, a bipartisan proposal that in many ways resembles GDPR. If voted into law, it would require websites to give users a readout of all the data that a firm has on them, in addition to a list of who has had access to that data and how it’s being used. It’s not as far-reaching as GDPR, but it’s better than nothing.

The most interesting element of this idea is its timing; the bill was proposed in the wake of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony to Capitol Hill amid the Cambridge Analytica fallout. Whereas Europe has spent seven years shepherding GDPR along, it took a massive privacy scandal to force Congress to even consider acting. This is in line with the U.S.’s general (and riskier) approach to data privacy: relying on tech companies to police themselves and only considering regulatory remedies once data breaches have already occurred. Some say this freedom afforded to tech companies is the triumph of the free market; others argue it’s the failure of that same free market. The truth is somewhere in the middle.

China’s approach to digital privacy

While Europe believes the responsibility of data privacy belongs to individual users and the U.S. believes it’s the responsibility of tech companies, China starts from a different framework altogether: it’s the government’s responsibility to protect users from having their personal data used to commit fraud or for other illegal purposes. To that end, Beijing has been building a “personal information and important data protection system” as a standard to govern user data privacy.

In many ways, China’s approach to data privacy is even stricter than Europe’s GDPR. It has a broader definition of “personal data” than the European variant, considering any type of personal information that could harm individuals, property, mental health or reputations as falling under its mandate. Under GDPR, it’s still possible for firms to share data with third-parties for “legitimate” reasons without a user’s explicit consent; not so in China.

But Beijing is less inclined to place restrictions on the use of personal data in other ways—for example, to improve medical diagnoses through training artificial intelligence algorithms. After all, for Beijing, technology is the future, and AI research is a critical component of that future and of its national security strategy. But if you take a step back, you see that over the last couple of years Chinese authorities responsible for cybersecurity have moved closer to the European model. It’s the U.S. that’s falling behind.

The Russian approach to privacy

Russia has taken a different tack when it comes to data privacy. History matters here; Russians are used to the idea of state surveillance. There was the entirety of the Soviet experience, and the SORM monitoring system has been attached to phone boxes and servers since the 1990s, an effective way for the Kremlin to supervise what Russians do online. But up until five years ago, Russians faced relatively little internet regulation; the Kremlin tries to assert its power in the cyber sphere without making Russians feel that they are being cut off from the world, an admittedly difficult feat.

Russia does data privacy rules its own way, but Kremlin policymakers look to global developments for cues. There’s a version of the “right to be forgotten” law in Russia, for instance. The first data localization law that came into effect in 2015 was described as a personal data protection measure, and it introduced rules requiring companies to take down personal data following a request process. The Kremlin frames data privacy and state surveillance as two sides of the same coin—the state asserts the right to protect citizens’ personal data from each other or from other actors, but retains its own oversight powers. Russia wants to promote this concept as a global norm—that the state, not the user, is the basic actor online. As politics grow more chaotic in both the physical and cyber spheres, it is an approach that could become more appealing elsewhere, particularly in struggling emerging markets.

Source: Tech – TIME | 25 May 2018 | 10:54 am

Call of Duty Kansas 'swatting' death: Two more charged
A man renting a gamer's home was shot dead by police responding to a hoax call.

Source: BBC News - Technology | 25 May 2018 | 9:54 am

RuneScape Classic: Game to shut down after 17 years
The fantasy game will be taken offline due to outdated software and an increasing number of bugs.

Source: BBC News - Technology | 25 May 2018 | 7:16 am

Google and Facebook accused of breaking GDPR laws
Complaints against the web giants are filed on the first day of the EU's new data protection law.

Source: BBC News - Technology | 25 May 2018 | 6:22 am

YouTube star John 'TotalBiscuit' Bain dies aged 33
Game critic John Bain - known as TotalBiscuit and the Cynical Brit - dies of cancer.

Source: BBC News - Technology | 25 May 2018 | 4:11 am

Tencent's WeChat drops 'sugar daddy' dating website
BEIJING (Reuters) - China's top social media app WeChat has removed "sugar daddy" dating website SeekingArrangement from its platform, after a recent surge in the popularity of the U.S.-founded service attracted scrutiny from state media.

Source: Reuters: Technology News | 25 May 2018 | 2:10 am

Apple awarded $539m in US patent case against Samsung
Samsung has been ordered to pay Apple damages in a long-running dispute between the tech firms.

Source: BBC News - Technology | 25 May 2018 | 12:59 am

The robot that performs like an acrobat and other news
BBC Click's Marc Cieslak looks at some of the best technology news stories of the week.

Source: BBC News - Technology | 24 May 2018 | 8:04 pm

Strawb bots
Strawberry producers say labour shortages are driving them to find robotic fruit pickers instead.

Source: BBC News - Technology | 24 May 2018 | 7:44 pm

Self-Driving Uber ‘Saw’ Pedestrian but Did Not Brake Before Fatal Crash, Investigators Say

(DETROIT) — The autonomous Uber SUV that struck and killed an Arizona pedestrian in March spotted the woman about six seconds before hitting her, but did not stop because the system used to automatically apply brakes in potentially dangerous situations had been disabled, according to federal investigators.

In a preliminary report on the crash, the National Transportation Safety Board said Thursday that emergency braking is not enabled while Uber’s cars are under computer control, “to reduce the potential for erratic vehicle behavior.”

Instead, Uber relies on a human backup driver to intervene. The system, however, is not designed to alert the driver.

In the crash, the driver began steering less than a second before impact but didn’t brake until less than a second after impact, according to the preliminary report, which does not determine fault.

A video of the crash showed the driver looking down just before the vehicle struck and killed 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg in Tempe, Arizona.

Uber said in a company release that it has worked closely with the NTSB and is doing an internal review of its self-driving vehicle program. The company also has brought in former NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart “to advise us on our overall safety culture, and we look forward to sharing more on the changes we’ll make in the coming weeks.”

The NTSB report comes a day after Uber pulled its self-driving cars out of Arizona, eliminating the jobs of about 300 people who served as backup drivers and performed other jobs connected to the vehicles. Uber had suspended testing of its self-driving vehicles in Arizona, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto while regulators investigated the cause of the March 18 crash.

Sensors on the fully autonomous Volvo XC-90 SUV spotted Herzberg while the car was traveling 43 miles per hour and determined that braking was needed 1.3 seconds before impact, according to the report.

Herzberg was pushing a bicycle across a boulevard in the darkness when the crash occurred on a part of the road that had no crosswalk and was not lighted, the report said.

She was wearing dark clothing and did not look in the direction of the vehicle until just before impact. A toxicology report showed that she tested positive for methamphetamine and marijuana, according to the NTSB.

Also, the bicycle had no side reflectors and the front and back reflectors were perpendicular to the Uber SUV.

Uber also disabled the Volvo’s factory-equipped automatic emergency braking system when the vehicle is in autonomous mode, the report said.

In an interview with the NTSB, Uber’s backup driver said she had been monitoring the “self-driving interface.” While her personal and business telephones were in the vehicle, she said neither was in use at the time of the crash.

The NTSB said that all other aspects of the SUV’s self-driving system were running normally at the time, and there were no faults or diagnostic trouble messages.

The agency, which can make safety recommendations to other federal agencies, said information in the preliminary report can change as the investigation progresses and that no conclusions should be drawn from the report.

The NTSB preliminary report doesn’t provide “any decisive findings or conclusions,” said Daniel Scarpinato, spokesman for Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey. “We await the more thorough and final investigative report. Uber’s self-driving vehicle suspension remains in place.”

Separately, the Tempe Police Department said it has submitted a report on its investigation to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, but would not release any information about it until a review of the report by the office is completed. The county attorney is the main prosecution agency for most of the Phoenix area.

Source: Tech – TIME | 24 May 2018 | 11:15 am

French President Emmanuel Macron Takes on Facebook and Other Tech Firms Over Regulation

(PARIS) — French President Emmanuel Macron took on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other internet giants Wednesday at a Paris meeting to discuss personal data protection and taxes as France pushes for tougher European regulations.

Macron welcomed Zuckerberg and the leaders of dozens of other tech companies, including Microsoft, Uber, and IBM, at a “Tech for Good” conference meant to address how they could use their global influence for the public good.

The meeting came as Facebook, Google and other online giants are increasingly seen by the public as predators that abuse personal data, avoid taxes and stifle competition.

Macron, who also met privately with Zuckerberg at the presidential Elysee palace, said beforehand that he would keep asking the Facebook co-founder to make “commitments.”

“France defends the idea of tough regulations” such as a 3 percent digital tax on tech companies’ gross revenue in the European Union, Macron said, adding that it’s “crucial” that internet giants pay taxes. He also wants new regulations to combat extremist propaganda online and cyber-bullying.

Privacy was another issue Macron raised with Zuckerberg and the other tech executives in one-on-one meetings and at a group lunch in the presidential palace with philanthropists and politicians.

Zuckerberg came to Paris after facing tough questions Tuesday from European Union lawmakers in Brussels, where he apologized for the way the social network has been used to produce fake news and interfere in elections.

Facebook “didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibilities,” he said, adding: “That was a mistake, and I’m sorry for it.”

But Zuckerberg also frustrated the EU lawmakers as the testimony’s setup allowed him to respond to a list of questions as he sought fit.

Macron sees himself as uniquely placed to both understand and influence the tech world. France’s youngest president, Macron has championed startups and aggressively wooed technology investors.

But Macron is also one of Europe’s most vocal critics of tax schemes used by companies like Facebook that deprive governments of billions of euros a year in potential revenue. And Macron has defended an aggressive new European data protection law that comes into effect this week. The so-called GDPR regulation will give Europeans more control over what companies can do with what they post, search and click.

Several companies took advantage of the meeting to announce new initiatives.

Microsoft said it would extend the new European data protection law to its clients worldwide. Google committed $100 million over the next five years to support nonprofit projects such as training in digital technologies.

Uber said it will finance insurance coverage to better protect its European drivers in case of accidents at work, serious illness, hospitalization and maternity leave. And IBM announced the creation of 1,400 new jobs by 2020 in France.

Tencent, China’s biggest tech company by market value, presented online education programs to bring art classes and other resources to rural students around China, and projects to dispel rumors online and teach users to be more discerning.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe called Wednesday’s announcements “a turning point for companies that were navigating somehow on the edge” and are now “choosing to bear their responsibilities.”

It’s unclear, however, whether Zuckerberg’s Europe trip will lead to shifts in Facebook practices. And concerns remain that technology companies will abuse their unprecedented power over consumers, notably as new innovations emerge.

Macron, Zuckerberg and others are expected to attend the Vivatech gadget show in Paris on Thursday.

Source: Tech – TIME | 23 May 2018 | 9:40 pm

Robocalls Have Become an Epidemic. Do These 2 Things Now to Stop Them

How many times a day do you pick up the phone, only to have it be a recording? Or worse, a spam call pushing a sale?

Robocalls have become an epidemic, with roughly 3.4 billion placed nationwide in April alone, according to the YouMail Robocall Index. Those affected are receiving over 10 calls a month, on average.

Robocalls can be broken down into three categories. There are legitimate calls from places like your pharmacy saying your prescription is ready for pick-up. Spam calls from organizations that, at one point, you’ve given your information to (like charities). The final, and potentially most troublesome, are scam calls—illegal calls aimed at defrauding you.

These scam calls are on the rise, with fraudsters using sneaky methods to get you to answer your phone.

According to Nomorobo, a telecom service company behind a robocall blocking app, reported last month they’ve seen an explosion of “neighbor spoofed” type of calls—where robocallers use a fake number that looks similar to a local number near you. These calls used to make up about 2% of all robocalls— and now it’s more than 20%.

So how do you avoid these types of calls?

Make Sure You’re Registered

The first step is to make sure you’re on the national Do Not Call Registry. You can register right away or verify that you are on the registry by providing your phone number and email.

Being on the registry generally will not stop scammers, but it will protect you from legitimate businesses from bombarding you with unwanted calls. Additionally, if you receive a robocall that’s trying to sell you something, and you haven’t given them written consent, that’s an illegal call—and you can file a complaint the Federal Trade Commission.

Then Block ‘Em

Whether on a landline or a cell phone, the easiest way to avoid unwanted calls is to not answer. But of course, with schemes like “neighbor spoofing” growing in popularity, that may not work all the time.

So use technology to fight back. In fact, there are hundreds of apps on the market that are aimed at blocking robocalls. But not all apps are created equal. For smartphones, check out Hiya. It’s a highly-rated free app that works on both Apple and Android systems.

Those seeking a solution for their landline should check out the aforementioned Nomorobo, a free service that scans calls for you. If it’s a legitimate call, it goes through to your number. If not, Nomorobo intercepts the call and hangs up for you. (The mobile app version does cost $1.99 per month though.)

If you’re willing to pay, RoboKiller ($2.99 per month) not only blocks unwanted calls, it goes one step further. Unwanted calls are diverted to RoboKiller’s army of “answer bots,” which keep the scammers and spammers on the line to waste their time and stop them from making more calls. Ethan Garr, RoboKiller’s chief product officer said customers should expect to see at least a 90% reduction in robocalls. The company also says more than 200,00 types of calls are being blocked at any given time.

If you don’t want to download another app, you can manually block numbers on most smartphones. On iPhones, look up your recent calls. At the bottom of the caller information, you’ll see the option to block that number. Various Android models also let you block (or “auto-reject”) numbers from your log of recent calls.

Regardless of how you handle these calls, don’t share your personal information or agree to hand over a credit card.

Source: Tech – TIME | 23 May 2018 | 1:00 pm

European Union Grills Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg Over His ‘Digital Monster’

(BRUSSELS) — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced tough questions from European Union lawmakers Tuesday over what one of them branded Zuckerberg’s “digital monster,” and he apologized for the way the social network has been used to produce fake news, interfere in elections and sweep up people’s personal data.

At a hearing in the European Parliament in Brussels, legislators sought explanations about the growing number of false Facebook accounts and whether Facebook will comply with new EU privacy rules, but many were left frustrated by Zuckerberg’s lack of answers.

After short opening remarks, Zuckerberg listened to all the questions first, and then responded to them all at once. There was no back-and-forth with lawmakers, as happened during his testimony in front of the U.S. Congress last month.

As a result, he was able to avoid giving some answers and ran out of time to provide others.

His appearance came at a difficult time for Facebook. In March it was alleged that political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica used the data of millions of Facebook users to target voters during political campaigns, including the one that brought Donald Trump to the presidency.

Whether it was “fake news, foreign interference in elections and developers misusing people’s information,” Zuckerberg said, “we didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibilities.”

“That was a mistake, and I’m sorry for it,” he added during the hearing, which ran just over an hour and a half.

But liberal leader Guy Verhofstadt said Zuckerberg has done enough apologizing for his company’s mistakes. He said the real question is: “Are you capable to fix it?”

Verhofstadt asked whether Zuckerberg wanted to be remembered like computer legends Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, “who have enriched our world and our societies,” or as “a genius who created a digital monster that is destroying our democracies and our societies.”

Socialist leader Udo Bullmann demanded an explanation for how the number of false Facebook accounts can be on the rise and what is being done to stop them being used to manipulate elections.

“We are at the crossroads, and in a critical situation, because your business practices touch upon two basic values of our societies,” Bullmann said. “First of all, the personal data which became perhaps the most important asset in modern media society. And secondly, on the right of self-government of sovereign nations.”

Zuckerberg said Facebook is strengthening cooperation with national election authorities and trying to introduce more transparency about who is running political advertising.

“This is one of our top priorities as a company,” he told the lawmakers. He said the goal is to build more artificial-intelligence tools to identify fake accounts and to take them down.

Facebook came away largely unscathed from Zuckerberg’s testimony in front of Congress in April. The company’s stock even rose after his appearance. Several U.S. lawmakers often seemed to fail to grasp the technical details of Facebook’s operations.

European politicians in general have been tougher on Silicon Valley and have attached more importance to online privacy.

Zuckerberg’s testimony in Brussels came just before a stringent new EU law, known as the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, takes effect.

The law, which goes into force on Friday, is tougher than U.S. legislation and will give Facebook’s estimated 252 million European users more control over what companies can do with what they post, search and click on, regardless of what country those companies operate in. Companies could be fined up to 4 percent of their worldwide annual revenue for violations.

Asked whether Facebook is ready to respect the rules, Zuckerberg said: “We do expect to be fully compliant” on Friday.

The evening hearing was initially meant to be held behind closed doors but was broadcast live after many in the assembly demanded an open session.

As time ran out, Zuckerberg agreed to provide written answers to questions he had not responded to during the hearing.

Lamenting the way the hearing was organized and the lack of solid answers, Conservative leader Sayed Kamall said, “Unfortunately the format was a get-out-of-jail-free card.”

“We still don’t know the depths that people’s data has been abused,” he said. “Until we genuinely know what has happened, and is still happening, Facebook and legislators can’t put in place the right solutions to prevent the same issues in the future.”

Zuckerberg is due to hold talks in Paris on Wednesday with French President Emmanuel Macron.

Source: Tech – TIME | 22 May 2018 | 5:47 pm

Amazon Is Under Fire for Selling Controversial Facial Recognition Tech to Police

(SEATTLE) — The American Civil Liberties Union and other privacy activists are asking Amazon to stop marketing a powerful facial recognition tool to police, saying law enforcement agencies could use the technology to “easily build a system to automate the identification and tracking of anyone.”

The tool, called Rekognition, is already being used by at least one agency — the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon — to check photographs of unidentified suspects against a database of mug shots from the county jail, which is a common use of such technology around the country.

But privacy advocates have been concerned about expanding the use of facial recognition to body cameras worn by officers or safety and traffic cameras that monitor public areas, allowing police to identify and track people in real time.

The tech giant’s entry into the market could vastly accelerate such developments, the privacy advocates fear, with potentially dire consequences for minorities who are already arrested at disproportionate rates, immigrants who may be in the country illegally or political protesters.

“People should be free to walk down the street without being watched by the government,” the groups wrote in a letter to Amazon on Tuesday. “Facial recognition in American communities threatens this freedom.”

Amazon released Rekognition in late 2016, and the sheriff’s office in Washington County, west of Portland, became one of its first law enforcement agency customers. A year later, deputies were using it about 20 times per day — for example, to identify burglary suspects in store surveillance footage. Last month, the agency adopted policies governing its use, noting that officers in the field can use real-time face recognition to identify suspects who are unwilling or unable to provide their own ID, or if someone’s life is in danger.

“We are not mass-collecting. We are not putting a camera out on a street corner,” said Deputy Jeff Talbot, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office. “We want our local community to be aware of what we’re doing, how we’re using it to solve crimes — what it is and, just as importantly, what it is not.”

It cost the sheriff’s office just $400 to load 305,000 booking photos into the system and $6 per month in fees to continue the service, according to an email obtained by the ACLU under a public records request.

Amazon Web Services did not answer emailed questions about how many law enforcement agencies are using Rekognition, but in a written statement the company said it requires all of its customers to comply with the law and to be responsible in the use of its products.

The statement said some agencies have used the program to find abducted people, and amusement parks have used it to find lost children. British broadcaster Sky News used Rekognition to help viewers identify celebrities at the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle last weekend.

Last year, the Orlando, Florida, Police Department announced it would begin a pilot program relying on Amazon’s technology to “use existing City resources to provide real-time detection and notification of persons-of-interest, further increasing public safety.”

Orlando has a network of public safety cameras, and in a presentation posted to YouTube this month , Ranju Das, who leads Amazon Rekognition, said Amazon would receive feeds from the cameras, search them against photos of people being sought by law enforcement and notify police of any hits.

“It’s about recognizing people, it’s about tracking people, and then it’s about doing this in real time, so that the law enforcement officers … can be then alerted in real time to events that are happening,” he said.

The Orlando Police Department declined to make anyone available for an interview about the program, but said in an email to The Associated Press that the department “is not using the technology in an investigative capacity or in any public spaces at this time.”

“The purpose of a pilot program such as this, is to address any concerns that arise as the new technology is tested,” the statement said. “Any use of the system will be in accordance with current and applicable law. We are always looking for new solutions to further our ability to keep the residents and visitors of Orlando safe.”

The letter to Amazon followed public records requests from ACLU chapters in California, Oregon and Florida. More than two dozen organizations signed it, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Human Rights Watch.

Clare Garvie, an associate at the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown University Law Center, said part of the problem with real-time face recognition is its potential impact on free-speech rights.

While police might be able to videotape public demonstrations, face recognition is not merely an extension of photography but a biometric measurement — more akin to police walking through a demonstration and demanding identification from everyone there.

Amazon’s technology isn’t that different from what face recognition companies are already selling to law enforcement agencies. But its vast reach and its interest in recruiting more police departments to take part raise concerns, she said.

“This raises very real questions about the ability to remain anonymous in public spaces,” Garvie said.

Source: Tech – TIME | 22 May 2018 | 2:22 pm

Here’s How You Can Mute Someone on Instagram Without Unfollowing Them

The Instagram feature we’ve all been waiting for is finally here: a mute button.

Thanks to a feature that will be rolling out over the coming weeks, Instagram users will soon be able to mute someone’s posts without actually unfollowing their account. Although the app had previously made it possible to mute someone’s stories, this new tweak will now allow you to completely remove someone’s photos and videos from your feed—a.k.a. a real game-changer.

Once the feature is available to you, all you’ll need to do is tap the three dots at the top of a post—or on someone’s profile—hit mute, and you’ll be given the option to mute just their posts, just their stories or both.

After that, you’ll no longer have to look at their content, but you’ll still be able to get DMs from them, see their photos if you go to their page and get notifications if they tag you in something.

See some joyous reactions to the update below.

Source: Tech – TIME | 22 May 2018 | 12:31 pm

Watch the Virtual Reality Recreation of the LSD Trip That Inspired the Whole Earth Catalog

In the spring of 1966, Stewart Brand did 100 micrograms of LSD and sat on top of a roof in San Francisco.

Perched there, he looked toward a curved horizon and imagined the spherical Earth and just how limited resources on our planet are. Out of that psychedelic drug-induced vision, he developed the Whole Earth theory. He campaigned for NASA to release satellite images of the Earth, and created the influential and generation-defining Whole Earth Catalog.

Author Michael Pollan explored the mysterious effects that psychedelic drugs like LSD have on the human mind in his latest book How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence. In a recent interview with TIME, he explained how these drugs can “break” patterns of repetitive thought and essentially “reboot the brain.”

“The biggest misconception people have about psychedelics is that these are drugs that make you crazy,” Pollan said. “We now have evidence that that does happen sometimes — but in many more cases, these are drugs that can make you sane.”

To accompany Pollan’s book, virtual reality Director Elijah Allan Blitz reimagined Brand’s trip in a virtual reality experience exclusively for TIME. Take a look below to see it in 360 or visit LIFE VR’s Samsung VR channel to see it in virtual reality.

Source: Tech – TIME | 22 May 2018 | 6:39 am

How the E.U.’s New Online Privacy Law Could Benefit Users Everywhere

It’s not just you. Over the past several weeks, many people have been bombarded with emails about data privacy from major corporations such as Twitter and Facebook. There’s a reason all these businesses are updating their privacy policies—and, though you may be tempted to trash those emails, they carry news of real change. The companies sending them have until May 25 to comply with a new privacy law enacted by the European Union, known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

What is GDPR compliance?

The E.U. guidelines limit how companies can use and process the personal data of consumers, giving ordinary people more control over their own information. Under the GDPR, corporations need to explicitly ask if they can collect your data, they’re required to answer if you inquire what that data is used for, and they must give you the right to permanently delete that information. Companies will also be required to disclose now ubiquitous data breaches within 72 hours.

What will GDPR change?

Even if a company chooses to change its policy for all users, only those covered by the GDPR – so, those in the E.U. – will have legal recourse. But experts say it’s still an important reminder for everyone to think about these issues. Many people don’t realize just how much businesses rely on data to make determinations about customers. “Your data is being used for significant decisions that are made about you,” says Chris Meserole, a fellow at the Brookings Institution. “If you are applying for a credit score, a loan, any number of things, an algorithm can just decide that you’re not qualified.”

GDPR in the U.S.

As of now, there are no laws in the pipeline to enact similar changes in the U.S., so Americans will have to be satisfied with these secondhand benefits. But the GDPR is already leading some corporations to make changes globally to simplify implementation. If it affects users’ attitudes toward privacy the way some experts predict, such changes seem likely to spread.


This appears in the June 04, 2018 issue of TIME.

Source: Tech – TIME | 22 May 2018 | 6:23 am

Twitter Bots May Have Boosted Donald Trump’s Votes by 3.23%, Researchers Say

Twitter bots may have altered the outcome of two of the world’s most consequential elections in recent years, according to an economic study.

Automated tweeting played a small but potentially decisive role in the 2016 Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s presidential victory, the National Bureau of Economic Research working paper showed this month. Their rough calculations suggest bots added 1.76 percentage point to the pro-“leave” vote share as Britain weighed whether to remain in the European Union, and may explain 3.23 percentage points of the actual vote for Trump in the U.S. presidential race.

“Our results suggest that, given narrow margins of victories in each vote, bots’ effect was likely marginal but possibly large enough to affect the outcomes,” according to authors Yuriy Gorodnichenko from the University of California at Berkeley and Tho Pham and Oleksandr Talavera from Swansea University in the U.K.

The research comes as members of the U.S. intelligence community allege that Russian hackers tried to sway the 2016 presidential election in Trump’s favor in part by deploying Twitter bots, which are programs that control a Twitter account. The president frequently denies that he or members of his team colluded with the hackers, and says he won because he ran a smarter campaign than his Democratic rival.

Spread Quickly

According to the study, bots tended to influence people most when their message backed up their prior opinion. For instance, Trump supporters tended to react to messages spread by pro-Trump bots. And information reverberated quickly: it was generally disseminated and absorbed among Twitter users in 50 to 70 minutes.

The researchers collected data for the study using the Twitter streaming application programming interface, a tool that allows users to collect a random sample of real-time tweets with specified characteristics. The authors identified bots by their unusually large number of tweets, whether they tweeted the middle of the night, and whether they re-posted identical messages, among other criteria.

To figure out how tweeting influenced votes, the study authors looked at the share of pro-leave or pro-Trump tweets by geography to check how closely votes were correlated with Twitter activity. They then figured out how much the accounts they defined as bots added to the volume of tweets advocating Brexit or Trump, and extrapolated from there.

“These two campaigns and subsequent debates about the role of bots in shaping the campaigns raise a number of questions about whether policymakers should consider mechanisms to prevent abuse of bots in the future,” they wrote.


Source: Tech – TIME | 21 May 2018 | 3:12 pm

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