By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department
Amazon is joining the race to provide broadband internet access around the globe via thousands of satellites in low Earth orbit, newly uncovered filings show. From a report: The effort, code-named Project Kuiper, follows up on last September's mysterious reports that Amazon was planning a "big, audacious space project" involving satellites and space-based systems. The Seattle-based company is likely to spend billions of dollars on the project, and could conceivably reap billions of dollars in revenue once the satellites go into commercial service. It'll take years to bring the big, audacious project to fruition, however, and Amazon could face fierce competition from SpaceX, OneWeb and other high-profile players.
Project Kuiper's first public step took the form of three sets of filings made with the International Telecommunications Union last month by the Federal Communications Commission on behalf of Washington, D.C.-based Kuiper Systems LLC. The ITU oversees global telecom satellite operations and eventually will have to sign off on Kuiper's constellation. The filings lay out a plan to put 3,236 satellites in low Earth orbit -- including 784 satellites at an altitude of 367 miles (590 kilometers); 1,296 satellites at a height of 379 miles (610 kilometers); and 1,156 satellites in 391-mile (630-kilometer) orbits. In response to GeekWire's inquiries, Amazon confirmed that Kuiper Systems is actually one of its projects.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cut-ties department
Following similar moves by Stanford, University of California Berkeley and University of Minnesota, Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced that it is cutting ties with Huawei and ZTE, citing U.S. national security concerns. "At this time, based on this enhanced review, MIT is not accepting new engagements or renewing existing ones with Huawei and ZTE or their respective subsidiaries due to federal investigations regarding violations of sanction restrictions," Richard Lester, MIT's associate provost, and Maria Zuber, the school's vice-president for research, said in a letter to faculty on Wednesday. The South China Morning Post reports: MIT's move is part of a broader effort to strengthen its vetting of research partners, which may affect relationships with other entities in mainland China, Hong Kong, Russia and Saudi Arabia. "Most recently we have determined that engagements with certain countries -- currently China [including Hong Kong], Russia and Saudi Arabia -- merit additional faculty and administrative review beyond the usual evaluations that all international projects receive," the letter said.
The Protect Our Universities Act, introduced last month by Representative Jim Banks, an Indiana Republican, would establish a task force, led by the U.S. Department of Education, to maintain a list of "sensitive" research projects, including those financed by the defense and energy departments and U.S. intelligence agencies. The proposed body would monitor foreign student participation in those projects. Students with past or current Chinese citizenship would not be allowed access to the projects without a waiver from the director of national intelligence. The Act also calls for the intelligence director to create a list of foreign entities that "pose a threat of espionage with respect to sensitive research," and stipulates that Huawei and ZTE be included.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's testing-testing-1-2-3 department
SpaceX successfully ignited the onboard engine of its next-generation spacecraft, the Starship, for the first time today. "The ignition was a test known as a static fire, meant to try out the engine while the vehicle remained tethered to the Earth," reports The Verge. "However, today's test marked the first time this vehicle lit up its engine, and it could pave the way for short 'hop' flights in the near future." From the report: This particular vehicle, referred to as "Starhopper," is meant to test out the technologies and basic design of the final Starship vehicle -- a giant passenger spacecraft that SpaceX is making to take people to the Moon and Mars. The stainless steel Starship is supposed to launch into deep space on top of a massive booster called the Super Heavy, which will be capable of landing back on Earth after takeoff just like SpaceX's current Falcon 9 rocket fleet. And when complete, the Starship/Super Heavy combo should be capable of putting up to 220,000 pounds (100,000 kilograms) into low Earth orbit, according to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, making it one of the most powerful rockets ever made.
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's join-forces department
Ford, General Motors, and Toyota have formed a new consortium called the Automated Vehicle Safety Consortium (AVSC) to develop safety standards for self-driving cars. "The newly formed Automated Vehicle Safety Consortium in conjunction with the auto engineering association SAE International says it will fill a critical need by providing a safety framework around which autonomous technology can responsibly evolve before self-driving vehicles are put into widespread use," reports The Detroit News. From the report: Being able to advance the safe deployment of fully self-driving cars represents a new step toward the benefits the technology will bring, said Edward Straub, director of automation for SAE and executive director of the new consortium. Straub said the automakers in the new consortium would turn information discovered through their self-driving testing over to SAE committees every three to six months, and the information would be discussed in public SAE sessions as a set of guidelines are being developed.
Straub said other automakers and technology companies would be welcome to join the consortium, provided they have experience testing fully autonomous cars. The announcement of the new partnership may be a reaction to the inability of Congress to pass legislation that would allow car manufacturers to sell thousands of self-driving vehicles in the near future, said Michelle Krebs, senior analyst for Autotrader. "GM, Ford and Toyota clearly saw a need to set standards that eventually may become regulations because the proposed regulations, which had been moving quickly, have now stalled," she said. Straub said the automakers in the new consortium are operating independently of the efforts to pass legislation in Congress.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's two-in-one department
mfilion shares a report from Android Police: A new "experimental containerized Android environment" from a company called Collabora allows Android apps to run in floating windows alongside native applications on desktop Linux. You can read all the technical details at the source link, but put simply, 'SPURV' creates a virtual Android device on your Linux computer, much like Bluestacks and other similar tools. There are various components of SPURV that allow the Android environment to play audio, connect to networks, and display hardware-accelerated graphics through the underlying Linux system.
The most interesting part is 'SPURV HWComposer,' which renders Android applications in windows, alongside the windows from native Linux applications. This is what sets SPURV apart from (most) other methods of running Android on a computer. For this to work, the Linux desktop has to be using the Wayland display server (some Linux-based OSes use X11). Pre-built binaries for SPURV are not currently available -- you have to build it yourself from the source code. Still, it's an interesting proof-of-concept, and hopefully someone turns it into a full-featured product.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cease-and-desist department
Jake Laperruque, Senior Counsel at The Constitution Project, where he is working on issues of government surveillance, national security and defending privacy rights in the digital age, argues via Wired that it's time to end the National Security Agency's metadata collection program, known as CDR. An anonymous reader shares an excerpt: In 2015, Congress passed the USA Freedom Act to reform Section 215 and prohibit the nationwide bulk collection of communications metadata, like who we make calls to and receive them from, when, and the call duration. The provision was replaced with a significantly slimmed-down call detail record program, known as CDR. Rather than collecting information in bulk, CDR collects communications metadata of surveillance targets as well as those of individuals up to two degrees of separation (commonly called "two hops") from the surveillance target. But this newer system appears to be no more effective than its predecessor and is highly damaging to constitutional rights. Given this combination, it's time for Congress to pull the plug and end the authority for the CDR program.
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's come-and-get-it department
According to the Wall Street Journal, Goldman Sachs is planning to release on GitHub some of the code that its traders and engineers use to price securities and analyze and manage risk. "The bank also is offering $100,000 in annual funding for engineers to build new applications using the bank's code," the report adds. "Goldman will own the resulting intellectual property, plus get an early look to invest in promising technology." From the report: It is Goldman's latest move to shed some of its trademark secrecy and share its once closely guarded technology. It is part of a broader shift at Wall Street firms to emulate Silicon Valley giants like Google and Facebook, which have opened up their technology to a community of enthusiastic developers. By letting outsiders tinker with its code, Goldman hopes to crowdsource new uses for it and earn the loyalty of computer-driven "quant" traders who have taken the investing world by storm.
Goldman's proprietary trading engine, known as SecDB, once made its traders the smartest on Wall Street. It is credited with helping the firm weather the 2008 financial meltdown better than rivals. But a postcrisis ban on proprietary trading has made it more valuable as a service offered to clients than an in-house moneymaker. Over the past five years, Goldman has been building SecDB's capabilities into a web application called Marquee, which now has about 13,000 users roughly split between Goldman employees and clients. The code coming to GitHub will allow users to interact directly with Marquee's data feeds, pricing engines and other tools.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's unfair-advantage department
As tech giants face growing scrutiny over their market power, Amazon has quietly removed some of the most aggressive promotional spots for so-called private label products on its website. CNBC reports: Private label products are created by Amazon or partners and are sold only on Amazon's website under an exclusive brand name. They benefit Amazon in many ways: They expand the selection of products on the site, offer better profit margins than selling third-party products, make supply-chain management easier and can help Amazon persuade big brands to cut prices to remain competitive on its site. Amazon has been ramping up the number of private label brands during the last three years, stoking fear and concern among some sellers and brands that sell competing products on the marketplace.
Amazon's promotions for these products, which started showing up at least a year ago, were exclusively reserved for Amazon's own private label products and appeared in highly visible areas of the site, like the top of search results or next to the "buy box" of a competitor's product page. Other companies spend billions buying Amazon ads that link to their product listings on the site, vaulting Amazon into the number three spot among U.S. digital advertising providers, behind Google and Facebook, according to eMarketer. However, in recent weeks, Amazon has significantly scaled down or relocated on-site promotions for its private label products, according to multiple Amazon sellers and consultants. The report goes on to cite Sen. Elizabeth Warren's call for breaking up big tech companies like Amazon and Google as a reason why Amazon is scaling back its promo spots. "Amazon's practice of exclusively promoting its own private label products on the most prominent parts of its site has drawn the ire of many sellers and brands for being unfair and abusive," the report adds.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's about-time department
Kaspersky Lab said today it would start flagging stalkerware as malicious, and warn people through its Android app when stalkerware is installed on their phones. In 2018 Kaspersky Lab detected stalkerware on 58,487 mobile devices. From a report: Stalkerware is frequently used by stalkers and abusers to spy on people through their phones. It essentially turns victims' phones into surveillance devices, letting an attacker track a person's every step and listen in on every word. Stalkerware is quietly installed on people's devices, and then accesses personal data including GPS location, text messages, photos and microphone feeds. You don't have to be an expert to get your hands on it -- stalkerware is sold online, for as little as a few hundred dollars. Some purveyors offer subscription plans for $68 a month, according to Kaspersky Lab.
Kaspersky Lab said it was motivated to start flagging stalkerware apps after speaking with Eva Galperin, the Electronic Frontier Foundation's head of cybersecurity. "As a result, we now flag commercial spyware with a specific alert which warns users of the dangers stalkerware poses," Alexey Firsh, a security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, said in a statement. "We believe users have a right to know if such a program is installed on their device."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-and-improved department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Google is releasing the second Android Q Beta today. As we learned with the first release, Android Q is bringing support for foldable smartphones, better privacy and permissions controls, and a grab bag of other features. We've yet to install the second beta on one of our own devices, but Google's release blog post promises "bug fixes, optimizations, and API updates," as well as a crazy new multitasking feature and an emulator for foldables. Android loves multitasking. So far we've had split screens and floating windows, and Android Q Beta 1 even had a hidden desktop mode. Beta 2 brings us a new multitasking feature called "Bubbles." Bubbles let you minimize an app into a little circle, which floats around on the screen above all your other apps. Tapping on a bubble will open a small UI. The only demo Google shows is one for a messaging app. Each bubble is a contact, and tapping on the bubble shows a small chat UI. If you remember Facebook's "Chat Head" UI for Messenger, Bubbles is that, but built into the OS. "Bubbles are great for messaging because they let users keep important conversations within easy reach," Google said in their blog post. "They also provide a convenient view over ongoing tasks and updates, like phone calls or arrival times. They can provide quick access to portable UI, like notes or translations, and can be visual reminders of tasks too."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's face-the-music department
On Wednesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) introduced a new piece of legislation that would make it easier to criminally charge company executives when Americans' personal data is breached. From a report: The Corporate Executive Accountability Act is yet another push from Warren who has focused much of her presidential campaign on holding corporations and their leaders responsible for both their market dominance and perceived corruption. The bill, if approved, would widen criminal liability of "negligent" executives of corporations (that make more than $1 billion) when they commit crimes, repeatedly break federal laws, or harm a large number of Americans by way of civil rights violations, including their data privacy. "When a criminal on the street steals money from your wallet, they go to jail. When small-business owners cheat their customers, they go to jail," Warren wrote in a Washington Post op-ed published on Wednesday morning. "But when corporate executives at big companies oversee huge frauds that hurt tens of thousands of people, they often get to walk away with multimillion-dollar payouts."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's man-speaks department
From a wide-ranging interview of Linus Torvalds with Linux Journal on the magazine's 25th anniversary: Linux Journal: If you had to fix one thing about the networked world, what would it be? Linus: Nothing technical. But, I absolutely detest modern "social media" -- Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. It's a disease. It seems to encourage bad behavior. I think part of it is something that email shares too, and that I've said before: "On the internet, nobody can hear you being subtle". When you're not talking to somebody face to face, and you miss all the normal social cues, it's easy to miss humor and sarcasm, but it's also very easy to overlook the reaction of the recipient, so you get things like flame wars, etc., that might not happen as easily with face-to-face interaction. But email still works. You still have to put in the effort to write it, and there's generally some actual content (technical or otherwise). The whole "liking" and "sharing" model is just garbage. There is no effort and no quality control. In fact, it's all geared to the reverse of quality control, with lowest common denominator targets, and click-bait, and things designed to generate an emotional response, often one of moral outrage.
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By msmash from Slashdot's privacy-woes department
Researchers at UpGuard, a cybersecurity firm, found troves of Facebook user information hiding in plain sight, inadvertently posted publicly on Amazon.com's cloud computing servers. From a report: The discovery shows that a year after the Cambridge Analytica scandal exposed how unsecure and widely disseminated Facebook users' information is online, companies that control that information at every step still haven't done enough to seal up private data, Bloomberg News reports. In one instance, Mexico City-based media company Cultura Colectiva openly stored 540 million records on Facebook users, including identification numbers, comments, reactions and account names. That database was closed on Wednesday after Bloomberg alerted Facebook to the problem and Facebook contacted Amazon. Facebook shares pared their gains after the Bloomberg News report. UpGuard adds: The data sets vary in when they were last updated, the data points present, and the number of unique individuals in each. What ties them together is that they both contain data about Facebook users, describing their interests, relationships, and interactions, that were available to third party developers. As Facebook faces scrutiny over its data stewardship practices, they have made efforts to reduce third party access. But as these exposures show, the data genie cannot be put back in the bottle. Data about Facebook users has been spread far beyond the bounds of what Facebook can control today. Combine that plenitude of personal data with storage technologies that are often misconfigured for public access, and the result is a long tail of data about Facebook users that continues to leak.Read Replies (0)