By BeauHD from Slashdot's economic-disputes department
A Chinese court has ruled that despite the country's central bank's ban on cryptocurrency trading, bitcoin should be legally protected as a property with economic values. CoinDesk reports: The Shenzhen Court of International Arbitration published a case analysis on Thursday via WeChat, detailing its ruling on a recent economic dispute that involved a business contract relating to possession and transfer of crypto assets. According to the case analysis, the unnamed plaintiff signed a contract agreement with the defendant, which allowed the latter to trade and manage a pool of cryptocurrencies on the plaintiff's behalf. However, the plaintiff said the defendant failed and refused to return the cryptocurrencies after an agreed deadline. As a result, they brought the case to the arbitrator, seeking the return of the assets with interest. The court concluded that, whether bitcoin is a legal tender or not, does not have an impact on the fact that bitcoin ownership should be protected legally based on China's contract law, adding: "Bitcoin has the nature of a property, which can be owned and controlled by parties, and is able to provide economic values and benefits."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's agree-to-the-terms-to-continue department
schwit1 shares a report from Engadget: Sidewalk Labs, an Alphabet division focused on smart cities, is caught in a battle over information privacy. The team has lost its lead expert and consultant, Ann Cavoukian, over a proposed data trust that would approve and manage the collection of information inside Quayside, a conceptual smart neighborhood in Toronto. Cavoukian, the former information and privacy commissioner for Ontario, disagrees with the current plan because it would give the trust power to approve data collection that isn't anonymized or "de-identified" at the source. "I had a really hard time with that," she told Engadget. "I just couldn't... I couldn't live with that."
Cavoukian isn't the first privacy expert to abandon the Quayside project. Saadia Muzaffar, founder of TechGirls Canada, left the Digital Strategy Advisory Panel earlier this month. In a resignation letter, she said Waterfront Toronto had shown "apathy and [an] utter lack of leadership regarding shaky public trust and social license." The advisory panel was attended "in good faith," she said, but showed "a blatant disregard for resident concerns about data." These disagreements will add to the concerns of Torontonians. Sidewalk Labs still has time to address these issues and create a master plan that will be accepted by everyone. If the company continues to lose public trust, though, there's a good chance residents and government officials will make up their minds and reject the plan before reading the first page.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's done-deal department
Microsoft has official closed its acquisition of GitHub, the Git-based code sharing and collaboration service with 31 million developers. "The Redmond, WA-based software behemoth first said it would acquire GitHub for $7.5 billion in stock in June of this year, and after the acquisition closed it would continue to run it as an independent platform and business," reports TechCrunch. From the report: The acquisition is yet another sign of how Microsoft has been doubling down on courting developers and presenting itself as a neutral partner to help them with their projects. That is because, despite its own very profitable proprietary software business, Microsoft also has a number of other businesses -- for example, Azure, which competes with AWS and Google Cloud -- that rely heavily on it being unbiased towards one platform or another. And GitHub, Microsoft hopes, will be another signal to the community of that position. In that regard, it will be an interesting credibility test for the companies. Nat Friedman, previously the CEO of Xamarin, will be the CEO of GitHub on Monday. He says the site will be run as an independent platform and business. "We will always support developers in their choice of any language, license, tool, platform, or cloud," he writes, noting that there will be more tools to come. "We will continue to build tasteful, snappy, polished tools that developers love," he added.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's inside-the-world's-most-valuable-company department
Readers share a column: Apple is no longer the king of the smartphone camera, but that's just a small component of a company in (highly profitable) stagnation. It wasn't that long ago that anyone who cared about taking great photos on their phone was destined to buy an iPhone (whether they wanted it or not) just by sheer brilliance of its miniaturized camera tech. But something happened over the last 18 months that's changed the dynamic for consumers in the market: Samsung and especially Google have started producing handsets that equal or surpass Apple's devices with their picture-taking quality. [...] But Google is not Facebook, and while I give up some of my data to the company, what I get in return has sizable value -- apps I use for hours every day, predictive services that actually work, photo processing that means I'm less likely to miss an important moment. To be clear: the stuff Google and Amazon are doing right now isn't just cool and doesn't solely serve their corporate interests -- it matters in very real ways to consumers, with touchpoints they encounter every day where Apple can't even get a word in edgewise. [...] Coming in second in the camera space alone might not be that big of an issue, but Apple has also had significant problems with its hardware recently -- not just with quality control, but in pure design terms as well (who could have predicted that in 2018 people would be touting Microsoft as the industry leader in design?). Siri continues to be a running joke among most people I know -- tech enthusiasts and average users alike. Apple's iCloud efforts have amounted to little more than a "hard disk in the sky" (a famous Jobsian turn of phrase). And is it the best experience for consumers to be forced into Apple Mail, Apple Maps, iTunes, Apple Music, and Apple Photos at every turn? Can you honestly say they're the best at what they do?Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's pushing-the-limits department
Scientists in Chicago are trying to create the embryo of the first quantum internet. If they succeed, the researchers will produce one, 30-mile piece of a far more secure communications system with the power of fast quantum computing. From a report: The key was the realization of an unused, 30-mile-long fiber optic link connecting three Chicago-area research institutions -- Argonne National Lab, Fermi Lab and the University of Chicago. This led to the idea to combine efforts and use the link for what they call the Chicago Quantum Exchange.
David Awschalom, an Argonne scientist and University of Chicago professor who is the project's principal investigator, tells Axios that the concept is difficult to grasp, even for experts. MIT Technology Review elaborates: The QKD approach used by Quantum Xchange works by sending an encoded message in classical bits while the keys to decode it are sent in the form of quantum bits, or qubits. These are typically photons, which travel easily along fiber-optic cables. The beauty of this approach is that any attempt to snoop on a qubit immediately destroys its delicate quantum state, wiping out the information it carries and leaving a telltale sign of an intrusion. The initial leg of the network, linking New York City to New Jersey, will allow banks and other businesses to ship information between offices in Manhattan and data centers and other locations outside the city. However, sending quantum keys over long distances requires "trusted nodes," which are similar to repeaters that boost signals in a standard data cable. Quantum Xchange says it will have 13 of these along its full network. At nodes, keys are decrypted into classical bits and then returned to a quantum state for onward transmission. In theory, a hacker could steal them while they are briefly vulnerable.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's no-hard-feelings department
Both Amazon and Apple are taking retributive measures against Bloomberg, which in a report earlier this month alleged that some motherboards used by these companies were hacked by China. From a report: Amazon pulled its fourth quarter advertisements on Bloomberg's website, a move some within the media giant think is retribution for its controversial story alleging that Chinese spies hacked into the online retailer's servers. According to a source in position to know, Amazon's digital media buyer, Initiative, informed Bloomberg's sales staff on October 16 that it would cancel its ad buys for the fourth quarter due to budget cuts. Internally, the source said, the staff received that decision, made only eight days after a previous communication with Initiative confirming that the ads would run, as a direct response to Amazon's displeasure over the October 4 story. (Amazon announced Thursday that its marketing expenses for Q3 2018 were 3.3 billion dollars, up more than 800 million dollars from the year before.) [...] According to multiple sources, Bloomberg was not invited to Apple's fall product event next week in Brooklyn. Further reading: In an Unprecedented Move, Apple CEO Tim Cook Calls For Bloomberg To Retract Its Chinese Spy Chip Story.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
tedlistens writes: As law enforcement investigates possible mail bombs sent to prominent Democratic Party figures and liberal activists, the tools available at their disposal include digital images and delivery metadata commonly associated with mail sent in the United States. The U.S. Postal Service regularly photographs the front and back of every piece of U.S. mail, or about 150 billion parcels, envelopes, and postcards every year. A longstanding practice known as the "mail cover" program enables law enforcement to obtain address information and images of the outsides of mail as part of an investigation without the need for a warrant through the Postal Inspection Service, the U.S. Postal Service's policing arm. According to a report from CBS News, authorities are currently using "data analytics" to spot similar packages to those identified as containing bombs. Images of packages shared with the press show a common return address, using the misspelled name of Representative and former Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. The Postal Inspection Service doesn't generally comment on its investigative techniques. As part of the mail cover program, mail is routinely digitally photographed as part of the sorting process and even available for recipients to digitally preview in some areas. Apart from threats like bombs, the department says its main focus is on mail theft, fraud, and narcotics cases.Read Replies (0)