By BeauHD from Slashdot's social-credit-system department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Police, social services, and health workers in Canada are using shared databases to track the behavior of vulnerable people -- including minors and people experiencing homelessness -- with little oversight and often without consent. Documents obtained by Motherboard from Ontario's Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS) through an access to information request show that at least two provinces -- Ontario and Saskatchewan -- maintain a "Risk-driven Tracking Database" that is used to amass highly sensitive information about people's lives. Information in the database includes whether a person uses drugs, has been the victim of an assault, or lives in a "negative neighborhood."
The Risk-driven Tracking Database (RTD) is part of a collaborative approach to policing called the Hub model that partners cops, school staff, social workers, health care workers, and the provincial government. Information about people believed to be "at risk" of becoming criminals or victims of harm is shared between civilian agencies and police and is added to the database when a person is being evaluated for a rapid intervention intended to lower their risk levels. Interventions can range from a door knock and a chat to forced hospitalization or arrest. Data from the RTD is analyzed to identify trends -- for example, a spike in drug use in a particular area -- with the goal of producing planning data to deploy resources effectively, and create "community profiles" that could accelerate interventions under the Hub model, according to a 2015 Public Safety Canada report. Saskatchewan and Ontario officials say the data in the database is "de-identified" by removing details such as poeple's names and birthdates, but experts Motherboard spoke to say that scrubbing data so it may never be used to identify an individual is difficult if not impossible.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's surprise-surprise department
Renewable energy use and reduced energy use overall have helped carbon emissions remain flat or below average as the global economy continued to grow over the years. But, as new research has found, government policy also appears to play a large role. Slashdot reader AmiMoJo shares a report from Ars Technica: The researchers started by identifying countries that show a "peak and decline" pattern of carbon emissions since the 1990s. They came up with 18, all but one of them in Europe -- the exception is the United States. For comparison, they created two different control groups of 30 countries, neither of which has seen emissions decline. One group saw high GDP growth, while the second saw moderate economic growth; in the past, these would have been associated with corresponding changes in emissions. Within each country, the researchers looked into whether there were government energy policies that could influence the trajectory of emissions. They also examined four items that could drive changes in emissions: total energy use, share of energy provided by fossil fuels, the carbon intensity of the overall energy mix, and efficiency (as measured by energy losses during use). On average, emissions in the decline group dropped by 2.4 percent over the decade between 2005 and 2015.
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's privacy-concerns department
The company behind TikTok, the popular short-form video app that incorporated Musical.ly last year, has agreed to pay $5.7 million to settle Federal Trade Commission allegations that it illegally collected personal info from children. "According to the FTC, it's the largest civil penalty ever obtained by the agency in a children's privacy case," reports Variety. From the report: The FTC's complaint, filed by the Department of Justice on behalf of the commission, alleges that Musical.ly violated the federal Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which requires websites and online services aimed at kids to obtain parental consent before collecting personal information from children under 13. Under the terms of the settlement, TikTok is also required to remove all videos from the app posted by children under the age of 13 and also must comply with COPPA going forward.
In the wake of the FTC fine, TikTok announced in a blog post that on Feb. 27 it is launching a new app environment for users under 13 that does not permit the sharing of personal information and "puts extensive limitations on content and user interaction." Both current and new TikTok users will be directed to the age-appropriate app experience, beginning Wednesday. In the post, TikTok said in part: "While we've always seen TikTok as a place for everyone, we understand the concerns that arise around younger users. In working with the FTC and in conjunction with today's agreement, we've now implemented changes to accommodate younger U.S. users in a limited, separate app experience that introduces additional safety and privacy protections designed specifically for this audience."
FTC Chairman Joe Simons said in a statement: "This record penalty should be a reminder to all online services and websites that target children: We take enforcement of COPPA very seriously, and we will not tolerate companies that flagrantly ignore the law."Read Replies (0)
Reddit Tests Tipping Users
Posted by News Fetcher on February 27 '19 at 04:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's testing-testing-1-2-3 department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNET: Reddit is experimenting with tipping users, starting with the shittymorph subreddit, a group dedicated to the man who has memorably bamboozled many a reader with sneaky comments ending in a reference to a famous pro-wrestling match called Hell in a Cell. A Reddit admin with the username "internetmallcop" posted a thread on Tuesday announcing the experiment, calling it a "new feature to support u/shittymorph." Anyone in the group can now tip shittymorph for content he posts in his own subreddit.
A "tip" option appears below shittymorph's content. Clicking on it opens a window with suggested $3, $5 or $10 tips, or the choice to select another amount. You can input your credit card number directly into the window. The payments are handled by processor Stripe. Shittymorph responded to the admin post by saying he is "super grateful and honored" to be picked for the launch and beta testing. As of this writing Wednesday morning, the comment shows a $75.00 tip total in green above it. Internetmallcop explained in a comment how the tipping breaks out: "If you were to tip $100, about $78.5 goes to u/shittymorph, $18.5 to Reddit, and $3 to Stripe." It's unclear if Reddit plans to expand tipping beyond this experiment, and if it might extend to all users, or just certain content creators. As for why Shittymorph was chosen to test the feature, it "may be due in part to the Hell in a Cell writer's infamy and extensive fan base on the site," reports CNET. "Shittymorph's intriguing backstory to his creative Reddit comment efforts stem from the tragic loss of his father. He's also known for occasionally posting about his rescue dog Scooby."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's Silicon-Valley-startups department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Recode: When Y Combinator accidentally admitted 15,000 people to its 3,000-person Startup School online program last summer due to an almost funny technical glitch, it was an embarrassing moment for one of Silicon Valley's marquee brands, and a rollercoaster of an experience for emotionally vulnerable startup founders. Suffice it to say, mistakes like this don't typically happen in the well-to-do, perfectly manicured world of Silicon Valley startups. But this all offered a chance to test a big question: Does Silicon Valley only work if there is some exclusion, some selectivity, and some prestige? Or can access to what makes a startup a success -- the right connections, the right money, the right know-how -- be available to everyone who signs up? The answer -- in YC's eyes -- is: Yes, it can. So from the chaos of those accidental admissions and rejections, YC is now going to make this same "mistake" on purpose.
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By msmash from Slashdot's tussle-continues department
Okian Warrior writes: Free speech social network Gab has launched a new comments platform, Dissenter, which allows users to make comments on every single website on the Internet without fear of censorship or banning. The Dissenter platform, which integrates with Gab as either a website or a browser extension, allows users to comment on any web page in the world, with the ability to upvote, downvote, and reply to other comments.
"A free, open-source utility that allows people to dissent from orthodoxy and express what they are really thinking, without fear of reprisal, is essential in order to wrest control of the Internet and public discourse from Silicon Valley tech giants," said Gab founder Andrew Torba. "Gab.com and dissenter.com lead the way in keeping the Internet free. All people are welcome to use our products to express themselves freely." One example of recent comment censorship was review website Rotten Tomatoes' removal of comments for unreleased movies this week, which the review website claimed was due to "trolling."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's tussle-continues department
The tension between Huawei and the U.S. government took a new turn Tuesday after the Chinese networking giant's rotating chairman Guo Ping poked fun at the massive surveillance programs maintained by the United States. "Prism, prism on the wall, who's the most trustworthy of them all?" Ping said onstage at Mobile World Congress tradeshow. From a report: Ping first appeared to attempt to make light of the ongoing row -- "There has never been more interest in Huawei, we must be doing something right," he said -- but later took a more direct aim at the US and some of its own issues with cybersecurity and surveillance. "Prism, Prism on the wall, who is the most trustworthy of them all?" he said, referencing the previously secret National Security Agency surveillance project, telling the audience to ask Edward Snowden -- the whistleblower who revealed the activity -- if they didn't understand what he meant. Ping also took aim at the US Cloud Act, arguing that the legislation allows the US government to demand access data held by US companies, even if it is stored in different countries. "The Cloud Act allows them to access data cross-borders. So for best technology and for greater security, please choose Huawei," he said.Read Replies (0)
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)