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US Government Targets Pirate Bay and Other 'Piracy Havens'
Posted by News Fetcher on December 23 '16 at 09:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's steering-clear department:
The US Government has listed some of the largest piracy websites and other copyright-infringing venues. The USTR calls on foreign countries to take action against popular piracy sites such as The Pirate Bay, which has important "symbolic value," according to the authorities. In addition, stream-ripping is mentioned as an emerging threat. TorrentFreak adds: The overview is largely based on input from industry groups including the RIAA and MPAA, who submitted their recommendations a few weeks ago. While the USTR admits that the list is not meant to reflect legal violations, the goal of the review is to motivate owners and foreign Governments to take appropriate action and reduce piracy. "The United States encourages all responsible authorities to intensify efforts to combat piracy and counterfeiting, and to use the information contained in the Notorious Markets List to pursue legal actions where appropriate," the USTR announced.

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Uber Lawsuit Alleges Employees Were Misled On Equity Compensation
Posted by News Fetcher on December 23 '16 at 09:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's seeking-clarification department:
An Uber employee has filed a lawsuit accusing the company of misleading employees about their equity compensation. Uber "devised a fraudulent scheme to recruit highly sought software engineers," according to the case. From a report on TechCrunch: The lawsuit claims that Uber promised a more tax favorable type of options at the time employees were hired and then later changed the plan. The case alleges that at least 100 others on the Uber staff may have been impacted and that these stock options can potentially be worth "hundreds of millions of dollars" to employees and also save Uber "millions of dollars of tax deductions." The plaintiff, Lenza McElrath, who was previously a lawyer and is now an engineer at Uber, says that he was under the impression that all his shares could be treated as ISOs, which do not require an upfront tax bill. He said he was later given a notice about a change to the exercisability schedule, that effectively turned most of his shares into NSOs, which are taxed at the time they are exercised. While many startups allow their shares to become exercisable over the course of a four-year vesting agreement, Uber has share agreements that become exercisable after just six months. In other words, Uber employees can buy the stock they are entitled to shortly after they gain employment.

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Microsoft Exec Admits They 'Went Too Far' With Aggressive Windows 10 Updates
Posted by News Fetcher on December 23 '16 at 07:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's aggressive-updates department:
It's no secret that Microsoft has been aggressively pushing Windows 10 to users. Over the past year and a half, we have seen users complain about Windows 10 automatically getting downloaded to their computer, and in some cases, getting installed on its own as well. The automatic download irked many users who were on limited or slow data plans, or didn't want to spend gigabytes of data on Windows 10. A company executive has admitted for the first time that they may have went overboard with Windows 10 updates. From a report on Softpedia: Chris Capossela, Chief Marketing Officer at Microsoft, said in the latest edition of the Windows Weekly that this was the moment when the company indeed went too far, pointing out that the two weeks between the moment when users started complaining about the unexpected behavior and the one when a patch was released were "very painful." "We know we want people to be running Windows 10 from a security perspective, but finding the right balance where you're not stepping over the line of being too aggressive is something we tried and for a lot of the year I think we got it right, but there was one particular moment in particular where, you know, the red X in the dialog box which typically means you cancel didn't mean cancel," he said. "And within a couple of hours of that hitting the world, with the listening systems we have we knew that we had gone too far and then, of course, it takes some time to roll out the update that changes that behavior. And those two weeks were pretty painful and clearly a lowlight for us. We learned a lot from it obviously."

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Steam Fined $3 Million For Refusing Refunds
Posted by News Fetcher on December 23 '16 at 07:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's fine-time department:
Gaming company Valve Corporation has been hit with a $3 million fine after the Federal Court found its online games site Steam breached Australian Consumer Laws. From a report: The court imposed the maximum fine requested by Australia's competition regulator because of Valve's disregard for Australian law and lack of contrition. Valve's general counsel, Karl Quackenbush, told the court the company did not obtain legal advice when it set up in Australia, and did not check its obligations until the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission got involved in April 2014. It only provided staff verbal instructions. This lack of interest in Australian laws and lack of cooperation encouraged Justice James Edelman to impose a pentaly 12 times more than Valve Corporation suggested it pay.

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UK Hits Clean Energy Milestone: 50% of Electricity From Low Carbon Sources
Posted by News Fetcher on December 23 '16 at 06:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's super-milestones department:
Half of the UK's electricity came from wind turbines, solar panels, wood burning and nuclear reactors between July and September, in a milestone first. From a report on The Guardian: Official figures published on Thursday show low carbon power, which has been supported by the government to meet climate change targets, accounted for 50% of electricity generation in the UK in the third quarter, up from 45.3% the year before. The rise was largely driven by new windfarms and solar farms being connected to the grid, and several major coal power stations closing.

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Leaked Files Reveal Scope of Cellebrite's Smartphone-Cracking Technology
Posted by News Fetcher on December 23 '16 at 06:11 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's behind-the-scenes department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: Earlier this year, we were sent a series of large, encrypted files purportedly belonging to a U.S. police department as a result of a leak at a law firm, which was insecurely synchronizing its backup systems across the internet without a password. Among the files was a series of phone dumps created by the police department with specialist equipment, which was created by Cellebrite, an Israeli firm that provides phone-cracking technology. We obtained a number of these so-called extraction reports. One of the more interesting reports by far was from an iPhone 5 running iOS 8. The phone's owner didn't use a passcode, meaning the phone was entirely unencrypted. The phone was plugged into a Cellebrite UFED device, which in this case was a dedicated computer in the police department. The police officer carried out a logical extraction, which downloads what's in the phone's memory at the time. (Motherboard has more on how Cellebrite's extraction process works.) In some cases, it also contained data the user had recently deleted. To our knowledge, there are a few sample reports out there floating on the web, but it's rare to see a real-world example of how much data can be siphoned off from a fairly modern device. We're publishing some snippets from the report, with sensitive or identifiable information redacted.

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Stanford Built a Humanoid Submarine Robot To Explore a 17th-Century Shipwreck
Posted by News Fetcher on December 23 '16 at 02:11 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's how-it's-made department:
schwit1 quotes a report from IEEE Spectrum: Back in April, Stanford University professor Oussama Khatib led a team of researchers on an underwater archaeological expedition, 30 kilometers off the southern coast of France, to La Lune, King Louis XIV's sunken 17th-century flagship. Rather than dive to the site of the wreck 100 meters below the surface, which is a very bad idea for almost everyone, Khatib's team brought along a custom-made humanoid submarine robot called Ocean One. In this month's issue of IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine, the Stanford researchers describe in detail how they designed and built the robot, a hybrid between a humanoid and an underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV), and also how they managed to send it down to the resting place of La Lune, where it used its three-fingered hands to retrieve a vase. Most ocean-ready ROVs are boxy little submarines that might have an arm on them if you're lucky, but they're not really designed for the kind of fine manipulation that underwater archaeology demands. You could send down a human diver instead, but once you get past about 40 meters, things start to get both complicated and dangerous. Ocean One's humanoid design means that it's easy and intuitive for a human to remotely perform delicate archeological tasks through a telepresence interface. schwit1 notes: "Ocean One is the best name they could come up with?"

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New Test Spots Human Form of Mad Cow Disease With 100-Percent Accuracy
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '16 at 11:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's shows-a-lot-of-promise department:
An anonymous reader writes from a report via Scientific American: Eating beef from an animal infected with mad cow disease can lead to an untreatable condition that attacks the brain and is universally fatal, but symptoms can take decades to emerge. Thankfully, Claudio Soto, a neurologist at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth in Houston, and her team, as well as a team led by Daisy Bougard of the French Blood Establishment in Montpellier, France, have developed new blood-screening technology that can spot Mad Cow Disease (known as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease) with 100 percent accuracy -- perhaps years before it attacks. From the Scientific American: "Misfolded proteins called prions cause both mad cow and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Once they invade the brain, they begin recruiting normal proteins and forcing them to adopt the same abnormal shape. The prions and the blighted proteins clump together forming increasingly large aggregate deposits that wreak havoc on the brain and invariably lead to death. The disease, however, has a long incubation period. In the interim, the prions hang out in non-brain tissues such as the appendix and tonsils, and because they do not cause symptoms, the infected person becomes a silent carrier. [The two teams] ran the test on blood samples from variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease patients in the U.K. and France. The two teams used slightly different methods, but the basic idea was the same: the test essentially mimics the progression of the disease in an accelerated, artificial environment. First the prion proteins are separated from the blood and combined with normal proteins, which take on an abnormal shape, forming aggregate clumps. Then, the aggregates are pulled apart and recombined with more normal proteins. The process is repeated over and over again, in effect replicating the prion proteins until very small quantities are amplified enough to be easily detected. If there are no prions present in the blood, nothing happens. Between the two studies, the test was able to identify a total of 32 cases of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease with 100% percent accuracy, and there were no false positives among the 391 controls, which included regular blood donors, patients with a different form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and patients with other neurological diseases. In addition, Bougard's group was able to diagnose variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in the blood of two patients 1.3 and 2.6 years before they developed clinical symptoms." The two studies -- "Detection of prions in blood from patients with variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease" and "Detection of prions in the plasma of presymptomatic and symptomatic patients with variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease" -- were published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

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Wikipedia Announces the Most Edited Articles of 2016
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '16 at 08:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's developing-news department:
Wikipedia has revealed its most edited articles of 2016. Believe it or not, the two most edited articles of the year were for Deaths in 2016, which was edited 18,230 times, and Donald Trump, with 8,933 edits as of December 21. NPR reports: Some are completely unsurprising -- like the articles about Brexit, the Panama Papers, the Orlando nightclub shooting, and other recent and controversial news topics. The popularity of editing others is somewhat more mysterious: like the article for RuPaul's Drag Race, and one for a fictional character named Beverley Gray -- the subject of a series of 26 mystery stories written between 1934 and 1955. The article on Vincent Van Gogh was also edited thousands of times in 2016, as editors reportedly sought to clarify misunderstandings about the artist in hopes of achieving "featured" status for the page. The most edited article by far was for Deaths in 2016, which was edited 18,230 times. David Bowie, Janet Reno, Gwen Ifill, Leonard Cohen, Fidel Castro, Muhammad Ali, John Glenn and Prince are among the notable people who died this year. Donald Trump's entry was second, with 8,933 edits as of Dec. 21. If history is any indication, there's a good chance the president-elect's Wikipedia page will come under even more scrutiny: The Wikimedia Foundation revealed earlier this year that George W Bush's article has the most edits of any article in English in the history of the site, with 45,862 revisions at last count.

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World's First 'Solar Panel Road' Opens In France
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '16 at 05:52 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's soak-up-the-sun department:
The world's first solar road has officially opened in the small village of Tourouvre-au-Perche in Normandy, France. The road is 1 kilometer long and can generate enough electricity to power the street lights. The Verge reports: That might not sound very impressive for 30,000 square feet of solar panels -- and it kind of isn't, especially for its $5.2 million price tag. The panels have been covered in a silicon-based resin that allows them to withstand the weight of passing big rigs, and if the road performs as expected, Royal wants to see solar panels installed across 1,000 kilometers of French highway. There are numerous issues, however. For one, flat solar panels are less effective than the angled panels that are installed on roofs, and they're also massively more expensive than traditional panels. Colas, the company that installed the road, hopes to reduce the cost of the panels going forward and it has around 100 solar panel road projects in progress around the world. Earlier this year, Solar Roadways partnered with the Missouri Department of Transportation to upgrade a small stretch of the historic Route 66 roadway with solar-powered panels. They too are facing the same seemingly insurmountable cost problems as Colas and the French.

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Uber Pulls Self-Driving Cars From San Francisco, Sends Them To Arizona
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '16 at 05:52 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's on-the-road-again department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from SFGate: Uber is moving its self-driving pilot to Arizona, one day after the California Department of Motor Vehicles ordered the autonomous vehicles off the roads in San Francisco. "Our cars departed for Arizona this morning by truck," an Uber spokeswoman said Thursday afternoon in a statement. "We'll be expanding our self-driving pilot there in the next few weeks, and we're excited to have the support of Governor Ducey." After starting its San Francisco pilot on Dec. 14, the ride-hailing company angered the mayor and officials at the DMV by refusing to get a permit to operate its self-driving cars. And so, around noon on Thursday, a fleet of Uber self-driving cars passed through the South of Market area on the backs of several flat-bed trucks. Commuters gawked at the fleet with their distinctive hoods, backing up traffic as the convoy slowly drove by. In a statement Thursday, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey called California's regulations "burdensome" and said Arizona welcomes Uber's self-driving car pilot with "open arms." "While California puts the brakes on innovation and change with more bureaucracy and more regulation, Arizona is paving the way for new technology and new businesses," he said. It is unclear which city -- or cities -- the cars are headed to.

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2016 MacBook Pro Fails To Receive a Recommendation From Consumer Reports
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '16 at 04:32 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's wildly-inconsistent department:
Consumer Reports has released its evaluation of the new MacBook Pro laptops, and it's not good. The 2016 MacBook Pro is the first MacBook to fail to receive a recommendation from the nonprofit organization dedicated to unbiased product testing. 9to5Mac reports: In a post breaking down the decision not to recommend the new MacBook Pros, Consumer Reports explains that while the new models held up well in terms of display quality and performance, the battery life issues were too big of an issue to overlook. The organization tested three MacBook Pro variants: a 13-inch Touch Bar model, a 15-inch Touch Bar model, and a 13-inch model without the Touch Bar. The general consensus was that "MacBook Pro battery life results were highly inconsistent from one trial to the next." Consumer Reports explains that the 13-inch Touch Bar model saw battery life of 16 hours in one test and 3.75 hours in another, while the non-Touch Bar model maxed out at 19.5 hours, but also lasted just 4.5 hours in another test. The 15-inch model ranged from 18.5 hours to 8 hours. Generally, according to the report, it's expected for battery life to vary from one trial to another by less than 5 percent, meaning that the battery life variances with the new MacBook Pro are very abnormal. Once that was completed, Consumer Reports experimented by conducting the same test using Chrome and "found battery life to be consistently high on all six runs." While the organization can't let that affect its final decision due to its protocol to only use the first-party browser, it's something users may want to try.

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Russians Used Malware On Android Devices To Track and Target Ukraine Artillery, Says Report
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '16 at 04:32 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's come-out-come-out-wherever-you-are department:
schwit1 quotes a report from Reuters: A hacking group linked to the Russian government and high-profile cyber attacks against Democrats during the U.S. presidential election likely used a malware implant on Android devices to track and target Ukrainian artillery units from late 2014 through 2016, according to a new report released Thursday. The malware was able to retrieve communications and some locational data from infected devices, intelligence that would have likely been used to strike against the artillery in support of pro-Russian separatists fighting in eastern Ukraine, the report from cyber security firm CrowdStrike found. The hacking group, known commonly as Fancy Bear or APT 28, is believed by U.S. intelligence officials to work primarily on behalf of the GRU, Russia's military intelligence agency. The implant leveraged a legitimate Android application developed by a Ukrainian artillery officer to process targeting data more quickly, CrowdStrike said. Its deployment "extends Russian cyber capabilities to the front lines of the battlefield," the report said, and "could have facilitated anticipatory awareness of Ukrainian artillery force troop movement, thus providing Russian forces with useful strategic planning information."

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Tesla Updates Autopilot To Make It Follow the Speed Limit On Roads
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '16 at 03:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's follow-the-rules department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Electrek: Before a recent update that is being gradually pushed to Tesla owners, the automaker allowed its Autopilot to be set at a higher speed than the speed limit on all roads where the driver assist system could be enabled, but now Tesla is pushing a new update to make Autopilot follow the rules of the road more closely. Owners of Tesla vehicles equipped with Autopilot have, up until now, been able to set the speed of the Autopilot's 'Traffic-Aware Cruise Control' feature to up to 5 mph over the speed limit on roads and non-divided highways. Now they are restricted to following the speed limit exactly, without the 5 mph leeway. On highways, the speed limit doesn't have a direct effect on the Autopilot's speed. The speed is still limited by the Autopilot's overall 90 mph speed limit. Every time Tesla introduces new restrictions to its Autopilot system, it gets a mixed response from owners. While the new restrictions are often coming from the aspiration of making the system safer, some owners always see them as taking away capabilities that they already had and had paid for. With the introduction of the software update v8.0 in September, Tesla introduced a more aggressive "Autopilot nag," which prompts more 'Hold Steering Wheel' alerts.

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Pokemon Go Arrives On the Apple Watch
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '16 at 03:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's long-overdue department:
Niantic, the developers behind Pokemon Go, have finally launched the Apple Watch version of the game. The new smartwatch app will let you play Pokemon Go without having to constantly pull out your smartphone. Instead, you can use the watch to tap to find nearby Pokemon, collect items from PokeStops, and log your gameplay as a "workout." TechCrunch reports: The AR and GPS-powered game, which has been downloaded 600 million times as of November, offers a unique combination of gameplay and physical activity that makes sense for a platform like the Apple Watch. The new app will take advantage of the watch's fitness-tracking capabilities, as gameplay counts toward your personal Activity rings. In addition, your Apple Watch sessions will count toward hatching your Pokemon Eggs, too, as well as receiving Candy with your Buddy Pokemon. In addition to fitness tracking, Pokemon Go will also tie into the Apple Watch's ability to push notifications to your wrist. The app will send alerts about a variety of important events, including when there are nearby Pokemon to catch, when you're near a PokeStop, when your Eggs hatch, and when medals are awarded, says Niantic. However, when it comes time to actually catch the Pokemon, you'll still need to break out your iPhone.

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Norway Aims To Allow Testing Of Self-Driving Cars in 2017
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '16 at 01:41 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's forward-thinking department:
The Norwegian government aims to pass a law in the spring of next year to allow testing of self-driving vehicles on Norwegian roads, it said on Thursday. From a report: Norway is one of the largest markets for Tesla Motors electric vehicles, thanks to generous government subsidies. Tesla said in October its new models will come with hardware, including cameras and a radar, to enable them to be fully-self driving. The move to permit testing of self-driving vehicles is also aimed at giving a competitive edge to Norwegian technology companies as the country seeks to diversify away from the offshore petroleum sector, hit by a plunge in global oil prices.

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Congressional Report Claims Snowden In 'Contact With Russian Intelligence'
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '16 at 01:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's he-said-she-said department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNN: Edward Snowden has been in contact with Russian intelligence officials since arriving in Russia in 2013, according to a new report from Congress. "Since Snowden's arrival in Moscow, he has had, and continues to have, contact with Russian intelligence services," the 33-page report, issued Thursday by the bipartisan House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked volumes of information on American intelligence and surveillance operations to the media, settled in Moscow after initially traveling to Hong Kong following his 2013 public disclosure of classified information. The Russian government granted asylum to Snowden shortly thereafter. Large portions of the pertinent section, entitled "foreign influence," are redacted, but one paragraph reveals the Russian link, saying that Frants Klintsevich, the deputy chairman of the Russian parliament's defense and security committee, "publicly conceded that 'Snowden did share intelligence' with his government." Snowden immediately took to Twitter following the report's release to dispute the accusations, writing "they claim without evidence that I'm in cahoots with the Russians." The report cites classified material in the section linking Snowden to Russian intelligence. The investigation also noted that Snowden left encrypted hard drives containing classified information in Hong Kong and that the CIA had refused to grant Snowden access to sensitive information years before he began working with the NSA, documenting numerous issues that Snowden had with supervisors and co-wokers during his various jobs in the intelligence community.

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China Opens Door For Tesla and Other Foreign Automakers To Produce Electric Vehicles
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '16 at 12:24 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's open-arms department:
Despite its strong protectionism laws in place that require any automaker wanting to establish production capacity in the country to partner and share its technology with a local manufacturer, China is proposing to relax laws. In an attempt to accelerate electric vehicle production in the country and fight its air pollution problem, China is now proposing to relax those laws for what they call "new energy vehicles," a.k.a. electric vehicles, in order to attract more foreign investments. From a report: The new rules are expected to open the door to Tesla and other automakers who recently expressed desires to establish manufacturing capacity in China to produce electric vehicles. The National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Commerce released the new policy last week, and it is seeking public comment until next month. The new rules could go into effect soon after.

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Google Isn't Giving Up On Smartwatches; Two Flagship Android Wear 2.0 Watches Launching Early Next Year
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '16 at 12:24 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's new-smartwatches-incoming department:
Google isn't giving up on its smartwatches. The company said today it will be launching two new flagship smartwatches in the first quarter of next year. These watches will run Android Wear 2.0 operating system and will be the first ones to launch with the new platform. From the report: Following the launch of the new devices, existing Android Wear watches will get the update to Android Wear 2.0. Not every existing Android Wear watch will be updated, but Google says most of the recent models will be. Certain features, such as Android Pay, require specific hardware, so not all models will support them. [...] Google will release the fifth and final developer preview of Android Wear 2.0 in January, and it is expected to include support for both Google Assistant and Android Pay (on supported devices) in it. It will also work with iOS devices, and Chang confirmed that while there will be differences between Wear 2.0 on Android and iOS, Android Pay will work on both platforms.

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Google's Free Wi-Fi in India Now Live in 100 Railway Stations; 15,000 New Users Connect to Web Everyday
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '16 at 11:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's good-will-and-data department:
Last year, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced the company will be bringing free Wi-Fi to 100 railway stations in India by the end of 2016. The company began, what was the "the largest public Wi-Fi project in the world", in India earlier this year. Today, it announced its free Wi-Fi has reached 100th Indian railway station in the country. From a report: Google announced Thursday its free Wi-Fi is now working at the 100 busiest railway stations in India. Over five million people in the country latch onto Google's free internet service every month, with 15,000 of them accessing the internet for the first time in their lives every day, the company said. The growth of what Google described as "the largest public Wi-Fi project in the world" is in line with company's expectations. Interestingly, Google has partnered with Indian government-run RailTel ISP for free internet service, and it lets users access as much data as they want and visit whichever website they would like. This is in contrast to Facebook's Free Basics, which offered Indians access to select websites. The Indian government earlier this year banned Free Basics on the grounds of net neutrality. Nobody in India has an issue with Google's approach.

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