By msmash from Slashdot's growing-concern department
Amid a growing measles outbreak in the United States, the role of powerful tech companies like YouTube and Facebook in spreading vaccine misinformation is under heavy scrutiny. But there is another massive platform offering spurious anti-vaccination content to people seeking information: Amazon, the world's largest online marketplace.
CNN Business: And, asked about it, an Amazon spokesperson only pointed CNN Business to the company's content guidelines page, which says the following: "As a bookseller, we provide our customers with access to a variety of viewpoints, including books that some customers may find objectionable. That said, we reserve the right not to sell certain content, such as pornography or other inappropriate content." A recent search for "vaccine" on Amazon yielded a search page dominated by anti-vaccination content. Of the 18 books and movies listed on the search page, 15 contained anti-vaccination content. The first listing was a sponsored post -- that is, an ad for which Amazon was paid -- for the book "Vaccines on Trial: Truth and Consequences of Mandatory Shots" by Pierre St. Clair, which Amazon was also offering for free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's marching-forward department
Later today, the first six of OneWeb satellites are expected to be launched.[Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source] from a remote launch site in French Guiana, a key step toward building out a constellation that could eventually reach nearly 2,000. From a report: If OneWeb's founder Greg Wyler plans are successful, what he and his fellow executives at OneWeb envision is nothing short of revolutionary: becoming one of the world's largest providers of Internet service by building the architecture in space, allowing the billions without access to WiFi to finally use the Web. Wyler founded the British-based company in 2012.
"The ultimate goal is to connect every school in the world, and bridge the digital divide," Wyler said in an interview after his pep talk. "We're bringing connectivity and enabling it for people around the world, and in rural populations." If successful, remote areas all over the world, from Alaska to Africa, that are out of reach of fiber optic cables could suddenly join the world of Google and YouTube, a feat Wyler and others believe could be transformative. But building the backbone of the Internet in orbit is no easy task. Others have tried to put up constellations of communications satellites, only to fail spectacularly. The enormous cost is only outmatched by the risks of putting up hundreds of spacecraft in orbit.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-markets department
Warner Music Group is suing Spotify in India, but that's not stopped the music streaming service from launching in the nation. From a report: Spotify said it sees a big opportunity in India, one of the fastest growing music markets. To court Indian users, the company is deviating from its global playbook. The company said for the first time, Spotify Free -- its free tier -- will enable users to listen to any song on demand -- as opposed to accessing a limited set of playlists in other markets. Spotify Free is available on mobile, tablet, and web. Additionally, its monthly premium tier starts at Rs 119 ($1.67) in India, compared to $9.99 in the U.S., $11.30 in France, and $13.25 in the U.K. The company is also offering a pay-as-you-go option, allowing users to access Spotify Premium for Rs 13 (18 cents) per day and Rs 39 (55 cents) per week. The lower cost -- the cheapest rate Spotify offers in any market -- and an open free tier, underscore a unique challenge that India, the second largest internet market, presents to global companies. Very few people in the nation are willing -- let alone can afford -- to pay for premium services. Now the legal issue: According to Spotify, Warner Music, the world's third largest music group, "revoked a previously agreed-upon publishing license for reasons wholly unrelated to Spotify's launch in India." The Verge adds: Yesterday, Warner sued to stop Spotify's use of its catalog, which Spotify had tried to obtain rights to through a controversial amendment to the Indian copyright act that allows for broadcasters to obtain licenses without the copyright owner's consent. At the heart of this is whether or not Spotify falls under the umbrella of "broadcaster" in India's Copyright Act of 1957. In the act, a "broadcast" is only defined as "communication to the public." Bombay's high court said that Spotify would still be allowed to launch for now, according to Times of India, and it appears Spotify wasted no time in doing just that. It seems that if Spotify chooses to stream Warner's music in the meantime, Spotify will be required to track usage of Warner's music and set aside money to pay royalties while the case continues through the courts. For now, Spotify is live in India, but without the Warner/Chappell Music catalog, which hosts many of the world's biggest artists.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's open-for-the-taking department
Bismillah writes: Researchers have published the results of exploring how vulnerable Thunderbolt is to DMA attacks, and the answer is "very." Be careful what you plug into that USB-C port. Yes, the set of vulnerabilities has a name: "Thunderclap." "Thunderbolt, which is available through USB-C ports on modern laptops, provides low-level direct memory access (DMA) at much higher privilege levels than regular universal serial bus peripherals," reports ITNews, citing a paper published from a team of researchers from the University of Cambridge, Rice University and SRI International. "This opens up laptops, desktops and servers with Thunderbolt input/output ports and PCI-Express connectors to attacks using malicious DMA-enabled peripherals. The main defense against the above attacks is the input-output memory management unit (IOMMU) that allows devices to access only the memory needed for the job to be done. Enabling the IOMMU to protect against DMA attacks comes at a high performance cost however. Most operating systems trade off security for performance gains, and disable the IOMMU by default."
"Apple's macOS uses the IOMMU, but even with the hardware defense enabled, the researchers were able to use a fake network card to read data traffic that is meant to be confined to the machine and never leave it," the report adds. "The network card was also able to run arbitrary programs at system administrator level on macOS and could read display contents from other Macs and keystrokes from a USB keyboard. Apple patched the vulnerability in macOS 10.12.4 that was released in 2016, but the researchers say the more general scope of such attacks remains relevant."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's sign-of-the-times department
A startup called Veo Robotics is preparing to roll out sensor technology that lets industrial robots work safely side-by-side with humans. "Veo's proprietary technology uses lidar sensors to create real-time maps of factory work spaces, so that robots can slow or stop completely when human workers get too close," Bloomberg reports. From the report: There are more than 2 million industrial robots in operation worldwide, mostly toiling inside metal safety cages. The seclusion is fine for repetitive tasks that can be done entirely by machines, such as arc welding, but the majority of work even in the most automated factories requires involvement of people. Embedding force sensors into industrial limbs is one way to prevent them from plowing through obstacles, but the same technology that makes the arms safe also makes them weak. Most so-called cobots cannot handle weights heavier than 10 kilograms (22 pounds). Computer vision offers a way to get robots into more complex environments, without compromising their strength. Another obstacle is that manufacturers increasingly have to make multiple products on the same assembly line and are constantly retooling their production to accommodate shifting consumer tastes. There are also not enough workers to do the job.
Veo, based in Waltham, Massachusetts, is working closely with the world's biggest robot makers Fanuc Corp., Yaskawa Electric Corp. and Kuka AG. But Veo's first customers are likely to be car companies, manufacturers of durable goods such as household appliances and oil and gas equipment makers, where the shale revolution created demand for more customization. The technology could be used to get machines to present parts to human workers, for loading and unloading fixtures and in palletizing.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's greedy-bastards department
Facebook's Patreon-like Fan Subscriptions feature lets people pay a monthly fee for access to a creator's exclusive content. But, as TechCrunch reports, it greatly differs from Patreon in that the social network "plans to take up to a 30 percent cut of subscription revenue minus fees, compared to 5 percent by Patreon, 30 percent by YouTube which covers fees, and 50 percent by Twitch." "Facebook also reserves the right to offer free trials to subscriptions that won't compensate creators," TechCrunch reports. "And Facebook demands a 'non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use' creators' content and 'This license survives even if you stop using Fan Subscriptions.'" From the report: Distrust of Facebook could scare creators away from the platform when combined with its significant revenue share and ability to give away or repurpose creators' content. Facebook has consistently shown that it puts what it thinks users want and its own interests above those of partners. It cut off game developers from viral channels, inadequately warned Page owners their reach with drop over time, decimated referral traffic to news publishers, and most recently banished video makers from the feed. If Facebook wants to win creators' trust and the engagement of their biggest fans, it may need a more competitive offering with larger limits on its power.
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's give-them-what-they-want department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Study after study continues to show that the best approach to tackling internet piracy is to provide these would-be customers with high quality, low cost alternatives. That idea was again supported by a new study this week out of New Zealand first spotted by TorrentFreak. The study, paid for by telecom operator Vocus Group, surveyed a thousand New Zealanders last December, and found that while half of those polled say they've pirated content at some point in their lives, those numbers have dropped as legal streaming alternatives have flourished.
The study found that 11 percent of New Zealand consumers still obtain copyrighted content via illegal streams, and 10 percent download infringing content via BitTorrent or other platforms. But it also found that users are increasingly likely to obtain that same content via over the air antennas (75 percent) or legitimate streaming services like Netflix (55 percent). "In short, the reason people are moving away from piracy is that it's simply more hassle than it's worth," says Vocus Group NZ executive Taryn Hamilton said in a statement. "The research confirms something many internet pundits have long instinctively believed to be true: piracy isn't driven by law-breakers, it's driven by people who can't easily or affordably get the content they want," she said.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's annoying-updates-are-annoying department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: Since the initial release of Windows 10 nearly four years ago, Microsoft has been tweaking its approach to automatic updates, adding Active Hours settings to ensure that mandatory restarts are less likely to be intrusive. Recent feature updates have also made notifications of pending updates more obvious. Are those changes enough to ease the pain? A new study from a group of UK-based researchers suggests Microsoft has more work to do. The study, titled "In Control with No Control: Perceptions and Reality of Windows 10 Home Edition Update Features," was presented this week at the Workshop on Usable Security (USEC) 2019 in San Diego, California. Researchers Jason Morris, Ingolf Becker, and Simon Parkin of University College London, built a detailed model of Microsoft's update process as of Windows 10 version 1803 and then surveyed a group of 93 Windows 10 Home users.
The overall conclusions were a mixed bag. In general, the survey respondents think that the Windows 10 update approach is an improvement over that found in previous Windows versions. Among participants who had experience with earlier Windows versions 53 percent reported they felt updating Windows 10 is easier, versus only 8 percent who found the process more difficult. Similarly, a majority of respondents agreed that the Windows 10 update process causes fewer interruptions than in previous versions (43 percent agreed, 21 percent disagreed). Where Microsoft has fallen down, the researchers argue, is in building an update system that is "dependent on a complex range of user and system properties." That system, illustrated by the flowchart shown here, is simply too complicated for the average home user to understand.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
An anonymous reader shares a report: Last week, cryptocurrency industry giant Coinbase sparked outrage when it announced that it had purchased a small startup called Neutrino. Normally, such an acquisition wouldn't make many waves, but Neutrino isn't your average startup. The company was founded by three former employees of Hacking Team, a controversial Italian surveillance vendor that was caught several times selling spyware to governments with dubious human rights records, such as Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan. Neutrino develops technology for law enforcement and financial institutions to investigate and track transactions on the blockchain, the shared public ledger that tracks the movement of tokens in the ecosystem. Coinbase is one of the largest platforms for buying and selling cryptocurrencies in the world, so it sees a lot of transactions on its exchange.
The company claims to be able to monitor and track not just Bitcoin -- a relatively straightforward endeavor -- but also supposedly privacy-oriented (and harder to track) coins such as Monero. In 2017, the company was able to conclude that the North Korean hackers behind the destructive ransomware WannaCry cashed out their Bitcoin and turned it into Monero. [...] In a statement to Motherboard, a Coinbase spokesperson said that the company "does not condone nor will it defend the actions of Hacking Team." "We are aware that Neutrino's co-founders previously worked at Hacking Team, which we reviewed as part of our security, technical, and hiring diligence," the spokesperson said. But Neutrino's technology was just too important for Coinbase to pass on, the spokesperson explained.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's extreme-lengths department
An anonymous reader shares a report: The U.S. military blocked Internet access to an infamous Russian entity seeking to sow discord among Americans during the 2018 midterms, several U.S. officials said, a warning that the group's operations against the United States are not cost-free. The strike on the Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg, a company underwritten by an oligarch close to President VladiÂmir Putin, was part of the first offensive cyber campaign against Russia designed to thwart attempts to interfere with a U.S. election, the officials said. "They basically took the IRA offline," according to one individual familiar with the matter who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss classified information. "They shut 'em down." The operation marked the first muscle-flexing by U.S. Cyber Command, with intelligence from the National Security Agency, under new authorities it was granted by President Trump and Congress last year to bolster offensive capabilities.Read Replies (0)