By BeauHD from Slashdot's early-adopters department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: It's been a few weeks now since a Bay Area startup put a digital license plate on my car. So far, nobody seems to have noticed. I haven't yet been pulled aside by police or civilians asking what it is. At first glance, this electronic device looks exactly like a traditional, stamped metal license plate. The new digital plate has the same scripted CALIFORNIA icon up top and uses the exact same size and font to show the numbers and letters. But in actuality, what I have is an "Rplate," a $700 plate-sized Kindle-like screen on the back of my car -- high-contrast grayscale e-ink and all. The device also contains an RFID and GPS chip that allow me to see where my car is at any given moment, to voluntarily track my trips, and to even optionally display DMV-approved customized messages in a small font below the plate number itself.
Were I an actual paying customer, I'd be paying $7 per month in a service fee, too, mostly to offset the data connection to Verizon. The one-time $700 price tag alone is a bit high for me. To be clear, I have a loaner model, and by the time this story comes out, I'll soon be sending the plate back to the company, Reviver. The model I've been using is one of the first 1,000 such plates that are legally out on California roads right now. Still, after my experience of a few weeks, there's no clear and compelling case to be made as to why most of us non-rich individuals need this fancy plate. Also, there are still unanswered questions about its security and what it means to voluntarily hand over so much personal location data to a single company.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's all-talk-no-action department
A new paper from the Center for Global Development says we are spending too much time discussing whether robots can take your job and not enough time discussing what happens next. The Verge reports: The paper's authors, Lukas Schlogl and Andy Sumner, say it's impossible to know exactly how many jobs will be destroyed or disrupted by new technology. But, they add, it's fairly certain there are going to be significant effects -- especially in developing economies, where the labor market is skewed toward work that requires the sort of routine, manual labor that's so susceptible to automation. Think unskilled jobs in factories or agriculture.
One class of solution they call "quasi-Luddite" -- measures that try to stall or reverse the trend of automation. These include taxes on goods made with robots (or taxes on the robots themselves) and regulations that make it difficult to automate existing jobs. They suggest that these measures are challenging to implement in "an open economy," because if automation makes for cheaper goods or services, then customers will naturally look for them elsewhere; i.e. outside the area covered by such regulations. [...] The other class of solution they call "coping strategies," which tend to focus on one of two things: re-skilling workers whose jobs are threatened by automation or providing economic safety nets to those affected (for example, a universal basic income or UBI). They conclude that there's simply not enough work being done researching the political and economic solutions to what could be a growing global crisis. "Questions like profitability, labor regulations, unionization, and corporate-social expectations will be at least as important as technical constraints in determining which jobs get automated," they write.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's liar-liar-pants-on-fire department
Less than a month after AT&T completed its $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner, the company is raising the base price of its DirecTV Now streaming service by $5 per month. This comes after promising in court that its acquisition would lover TV prices. Ars Technica reports: AT&T confirmed the price increase to Ars and said it began informing customers of the increase this past weekend. "The $5 increase will go into effect July 26 for new customers and varies for existing customers based on their billing date," an AT&T spokesperson said. The $5 increase will affect all DirecTV Now tiers except for a Spanish-language TV package, AT&T told Ars. That means the DirecTV Now packages that currently cost $35, $50, $60, and $70 a month will go up to $40, $55, $65, and $75. "To continue delivering the best possible streaming experience for both new and existing customers, we're bringing the cost of this service in line with the market -- which starts at a $40 price point," AT&T said. In a court filing, trying to convince the Justice Department that its acquisition would be good for consumers, AT&T had this to say: "The evidence overwhelmingly showed that this merger is likely to enhance competition substantially, because it will enable the merged company to reduce prices, offer innovative video products, and compete more effectively against the increasingly powerful, vertically integrated 'FAANG' [Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google] companies," AT&T told U.S. District Judge Richard Leon in the brief.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department
An anonymous reader writes: Security researchers say the Diameter protocol used with today's 4G (LTE) telephony and data transfer standard is vulnerable to the same types of vulnerabilities as the older SS7 standard used with older telephony standards such as 3G, 2G, and earlier. The vulnerabilities are happening because 4G operators are misconfiguring the Diameter protocol (a SS7 replacement) and using it in the same way as SS7. The incorrect use of Diameter leads to the presence of several vulnerabilities in 4G networks that resemble the ones found in older networks that use SS7, and which Diameter was supposed to prevent. Researchers say that the Diameter misconfigurations they've spotted inside 4G networks are in many cases unique per each network but they usually repeat themselves to have them organized in five classes of attacks: (1) subscriber information disclosure, (2) network information disclosure, (3) subscriber traffic interception, (4) fraud, and (5) denial of service. Researchers warn that not fixing these vulnerabilities "could lead to sudden failure of ATMs, payment terminals, utility meters, car alarms, and video surveillance." This is because these types of devices often use 4G SIM card modules to connect to their servers when located in a remote area where classic Internet connections are not possible. Old SS7 attacks such as tracking users' location and intercepting SMS and phone calls are also possible via Diameter as well.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's on-the-outside-looking-in department
According to The Wall Street Journal, hundreds of app developers have access to millions of inboxes belonging to Gmail users (Warning: source paywalled; alternative source). The developers reportedly receive access to messages from Gmail users who signed up for things like price-comparison services or automated travel-itinerary planners. Some of these companies train software to scan the email, while others enable their workers to pore over private messages. INSIDER reports: It's not news that Google and many top email providers enable outside developers to access users' inboxes. In most cases, the people who signed up for the price-comparison deals or other programs agreed to provide access to their inboxes as part of the opt-in process. In Google's case, outside developers must pass a vetting process, and as part of that, Google ensures they have an acceptable privacy agreement, The Journal reported, citing a Google representative.
What is unclear is how closely these outside developers adhere to their agreements and whether Google does anything to ensure they do, as well as whether Gmail users are fully aware that individual employees may be reading their emails, as opposed to an automated system, the report says. It's interesting to note that, judging from The Journal's story, very little indicates that Google is doing anything different from Microsoft or other top email providers. According to the newspaper, nothing in Microsoft or Yahoo's policy agreements explicitly allows people to read others' emails.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's aggressive-expansion department
Vindu Goel, writing for The New York Times: Perched high in the Himalayas, near India's border with China, the tiny town of Leh sometimes seems as if it has been left behind by modern technology. Internet and cellphone service is spotty, the two roads to the outside world are snowed in every winter, and Buddhist monasteries compete with military outposts for prime mountaintop locations. But early each morning, the convenience of the digital age arrives, by way of a plane carrying 15 to 20 bags of packages from Amazon the convenience of the digital age arrives, by way of a plane carrying 15 to 20 bags of packages from Amazon. At an elevation of 11,562 feet, Leh is the highest spot in the world where the company offers speedy delivery. When the plane arrives from New Delhi, it is met by employees from Amazon's local delivery partner, Incredible Himalaya, who then shuttle the packages by van to a modest warehouse nearby. Eshay Rangdol, 26, the nephew of the owner, helps oversee the sorting of the packages and delivers many of them himself. The couriers must follow exacting standards set by Amazon, from wearing closed-toe shoes and being neatly groomed to displaying their ID cards and carrying a fully charged cellphone. Amazon began offering doorstep delivery in this region last fall, as part of an effort to better serve the remotest corners of India. Sales volume in Leh is up twelvefold since Incredible Himalaya took over deliveries from the postal service, which was much slower and required customers to pick up packages at the post office.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Last year, when Donald Trump appointed Ajit Pai chairman of the F.C.C., Pai promised to "take aggressive action" to stamp out pirates. In early May, the Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement, or PIRATE, Act was introduced in Congress; it would increase fines from a maximum of a hundred and forty-four thousand dollars to two million dollars. But the stations aren't going away, The New Yorker reports. From the article: Transmission equipment has only become cheaper and more sophisticated. "The problem, as I see it, is that the technology has gone beyond what the law has been able to do," said David Goren, a local resident who works as a producer on licensed radio shows. Between 87.9 and 92.1 FM, Goren counted eleven illegal stations, whose hosts mainly spoke Creole or accented English. Pirates, he said, "offer a kind of programming that their audiences depend on. Spiritual sustenance, news, immigration information, music created at home or in the new home, here."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department
An anonymous reader shares a report: Homeland Security has served Twitter with a subpoena, demanding the account information of a data breach finder, credited with finding several large caches of exposed and leaking data. The New Zealand national, whose name isn't known but goes by the handle Flash Gordon, revealed the subpoena in a tweet last month. The pseudonymous data breach finder regularly tweets about leaked data, found on exposed and unprotected servers. Last year, he found a trove of almost a million patients' data leaking from a medical telemarketing firm. A recent find included an exposed cache of law enforcement data by ALERRT, a Texas State University-based organization, which trains police and civilians against active shooters. The database, secured in March but reported last week, revealed that several police departments were under-resourced and unable to respond to active shooter situations. Homeland Security's export control agency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), served the subpoena to Twitter on April 24, demanding information about the data breach finder's account. ICE demanded Twitter turn over his screen name, address, phone number -- and any other identifying information about the account, including credit cards on the account. The subpoena also demanded the account's IP address history, member lists, and any complaints filed against the Twitter account.Read Replies (0)