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Facebook Placed An Employee Who Harvested User Data For Cambridge Analytica On Leave
Posted by News Fetcher on May 03 '18 at 11:10 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's things-Facebook-does department:
Ryan Mac, reporting for BuzzFeed News: A Facebook employee, who helped harvest and sell data from millions of users of the social network for political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica in a previous job, has quietly been placed on administrative leave by the Menlo Park, California-based company. Joseph Chancellor, a quantitative social psychologist for Facebook, has been on leave for a few weeks following revelations of his role in a data privacy scandal that has rocked the Silicon Valley giant, according to two sources familiar with the situation. In March, it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica, a consulting company that did elections work for Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, and Donald Trump, inappropriately obtained user data from a third-party app developer. That app company, Global Science Research (GSR), was founded by Chancellor and his research partner Aleksandr Kogan, and obtained Facebook user data on up to 87 million people.

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Facebook May Have Secret Plans To Build a Satellite-Based Internet
Posted by News Fetcher on May 03 '18 at 09:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's never-gonna-give-you-up department:
Public filings suggest the social media giant is quietly developing orbital tech to rival efforts by SpaceX and OneWeb to deliver Internet by satellite. From a report: A filing with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last week revealed details of a multi-million dollar experimental satellite from a stealthy company called PointView Tech LLC. The satellite, named Athena, will deliver data 10 times faster than SpaceX's Starlink Internet satellites, the first of which launched in February. However, PointView appears to exist only on paper. In fact, the tiny company seems to be a new subsidiary of Facebook, formed last year to keep secret the social media giant's plans to storm space. Many technology companies believe the future of the Internet is orbital. Around half the people on the planet lack a broadband Internet connection, particularly those who live in rural areas and developing nations. SpaceX aims to put nearly 12,000 Starlinks into low Earth orbit (LEO), to deliver gigabit-speed Internet to most of the Earth's surface. Rival OneWeb, funded by Japan's SoftBank, chipmaker Qualcomm, and Richard Branson's Virgin Group, plans similar global coverage using perhaps 2,500 LEO satellites. Further reading: Facebook's free walled-garden internet program ended quietly in Myanmar, several other places last year.

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One Of LLVM's Top Contributors Quits Development Over Code of Conduct, Outreach Program
Posted by News Fetcher on May 03 '18 at 09:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
Rafael Avila de Espindola is the fifth most active contributor to LLVM with more than 4,300 commits since 2006, but now he has decided to part ways with the project. From a report: Rafael posted a rather lengthy mailing list message to fellow LLVM developers today entitled I am leaving llvm. He says the reason for abandoning LLVM development after 12 years is due to changes in the community. In particular, the "social injustice" brought on the organization's new LLVM Code of Conduct and its decision to participate in this year's Outreachy program to encourage women and other minority groups to get involved with free software development.

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How Reliable Are 10TB and 12TB Hard Drives? Backblaze Publishes Q1 2018 Hard Drive Reliability
Posted by News Fetcher on May 03 '18 at 08:30 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
Wolfrider writes: Backblaze's hard drive report for the first quarter 2018 makes very interesting reading for anyone who is interested in hard drive performance and reliability. As of March 31, 2018, the company had 100,110 hard drives working for it, made up of 1,922 boot drives and 98,188 data drives, ranging from 3TB WDC WD30EFRX drives all the way up to 10TB and 12TB Seagate ST10000NM0086 and ST12000NM0007 drives, along with 10 Samsung 850 EVO SSDs. [...] The overall Annualized Failure Rate (AFR) for Q1 sat at just 1.2 percent, well below the Q4 2017 AFR of 1.65 percent. Some drives had an AFR of 0 percent (in other words, no drives failed during the period), while the 4TB Seagate ST4000DM000 had the highest AFR of 2.3 percent (out of 30,941 drives the company had in service, 178 failed during the Q1 period).

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Somebody Tried to Hide a Backdoor in a Popular JavaScript npm Package
Posted by News Fetcher on May 03 '18 at 08:30 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's danger-averted department:
Catalin Cimpanu, reporting for BleepingComputer: The Node Package Manager (npm) team avoided a disaster today when it discovered and blocked the distribution of a cleverly hidden backdoor mechanism inside a popular -- albeit deprecated -- JavaScript package. The actual backdoor mechanism was found in "getcookies," a relatively newly created npm package (JavaScript library) for working with browser cookies. The npm team -- which analyzed this package earlier today after reports from the npm community -- says "getcookies" contains a complex system for receiving commands from a remote attacker, who could target any JavaScript app that had incorporated this library.

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Tech Conferences Moving North as Trump Policies Turn Off Attendees
Posted by News Fetcher on May 03 '18 at 07:12 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's where-the-wind-is-flowing department:
The Collision Conference, one of North America's most influential technology gatherings, tweeted on Tuesday: "We've got some news. It's about Toronto. But we'll let Justin Trudeau tell you about it." What followed was a video in which the prime minister announced that Collision, which typically boasts 25,000 attendees, will be coming to Canada in 2019. From a report: "I'm happy you chose Toronto to host North America's fastest growing tech conference for the next three years, but I have to say, I'm not completely surprised," Trudeau said. "Toronto is a key global tech hub and an example of the diversity that is our strength." And Collision is not alone in coming north. At least two other major technology conferences have recently made the decision to relocate to Canada, lured in part by Toronto's burgeoning tech sector, but also driven by travel restrictions imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump, policies that have left organizers scrambling to accommodate those who can't visit the United States. In mid-April, Creative Commons, an international non-profit dedicated to the legal sharing of digital content, held their global summit in Toronto for the second year in a row. "The political climate in the U.S., specifically the open hostility from the current administration towards many international communities, and the anxiety from those we work with about how they might be treated was definitely a deciding factor," said Ryan Merkley, CEO of Creative Commons. "What's most unfortunate is that this approach is so inconsistent with the views of the many collaborative communities we work with every day in the U.S." At Access Now, a non-profit that organizes the RightsCon digital rights conference, Trump's travel ban on seven predominantly Muslim countries hit close to home. "One of our interns at the time was an Iranian citizen with a U.S. green card, and she wasn't able to leave the country to go to Brussels to help us organize the (2017) event," RightsCon director Nick Dagostino said. For years, RightsCon has alternated between San Francisco and a series of global venues, and after last year's event in Brussels, heading back to California would have been the natural choice. But then, people started telling Access Now that if the event happened in the U.S., they wouldn't show up.

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Australia's Largest Bank Lost The Personal Financial Histories Of 12 Million Customers, And Did Not Tell Them About It
Posted by News Fetcher on May 03 '18 at 07:12 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's that's-shite,-mate department:
The Commonwealth Bank, the largest bank in Australia, has lost the personal financial histories of 12 million customers, and chose not to reveal the breach to consumers, in one of the largest financial services privacy breaches ever to occur in Australia, BuzzFeed News reports. From the report: BuzzFeed News can reveal that the nation's largest bank lost the banking statements for customers from 2004 to 2014 after a subcontractor lost several tape drives containing the financial information in 2016. While the bank initially notified the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) of the breach shortly after it became aware of it in 2016, a spokesperson for the OAIC told BuzzFeed News it was now making further inquiries into the privacy breach, following a damning report into the bank's culture released on Tuesday. Angus Sullivan, Commonwealth Bank's acting group executive of retail banking services told BuzzFeed News in a statement: "We take the protection of customer data very seriously and incidents like this are not acceptable. We want to assure our customers that no action is required and we apologise for any concern the incident may cause." "We undertook a thorough forensic investigation, providing further updates to our regulators after its completion. We also put in place heightened monitoring of customer accounts to ensure no data compromise had occurred."

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Ask Slashdot: Any Idiosyncrasies of the New Windows 10 April 2018 Update?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 03 '18 at 05:50 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-and-not-so-improved department:
shanen wants to know if anyone else has noticed any idiosyncrasies of the new Windows 10 April 2018 update, which was released on April 30th (global rollout on May 8): Only two machines so far [are running the new version of Windows 10], but I already noticed a few peculiarities. Do you have any to share? Here are mine so far: 1. Microsoft prefers tightly linking the machine to a Microsoft account, for example via Outlook.com. If you have a machine that is not linked that way, the antivirus software will now attempt to force a link to a Microsoft account. And what is that new PIN supposed to be about? 2. Accessing a gateway on the wrong private network can produce a hard freeze, forcing a hard reset from the power down state. Possibly a serious security vulnerability to the point where I'm not sure I should share the details in public. Anything you've noticed about the new Windows 10? (Now I have to get back to dealing with the new OS X update and the latest Ubuntu...) Some of the new features include the ability to resume past activities in timeline, a file sharing feature with nearby devices, a rebuilt Game Bar with a new Fluent design UI, and a diagnostic data viewing tool in the Security and Privacy section. If you want to get the update before the global rollout, you can do so via Check for Updates under Windows Update.

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Westworld's Scientific Adviser Talks About Free Will, AI, and Vibrating Vests
Posted by News Fetcher on May 03 '18 at 04:30 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
Science magazine has interviewed David Eagleman, the scientific adviser for HBO's Westworld. Eagleman, a neuroscientist at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, spoke with the publication about how much we should fear such an AI uprising. From the story, also spoiler alert for those who have not watched the show: Q: Has anything on the show made you think differently about intelligence? A: The show forces me to consider what level of intelligence would be required to make us believe that an android is conscious. As humans we're very ready to anthropomorphize anything. Consider the latest episode, in which the androids at the party so easily fool the person into thinking they are humans, simply because they play the piano a certain way, or take off their glasses to wipe them, or give a funny facial expression. Once robots pass the Turing test, we'll probably recognize that we're just not that hard to fool. Q: Can we make androids behave like humans, but without the selfishness and violence that appears in Westworld and other works of science fiction? A: I certainly think so. I would hate to be wrong about this, but so much of human behavior has to do with evolutionary constraints. Things like competition for survival and for mating and for eating. This shapes every bit of our psychology. And so androids, not possessing that history, would certainly show up with a very different psychology. It would be more of an acting job -- they wouldn't necessarily have the same kind of emotions as us, if they had them period. And this is tied into the question of whether they would even have any consciousness -- any internal experience -- at all.

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Hawaii To Ban Certain Sunscreens To Protect Coral Reefs
Posted by News Fetcher on May 03 '18 at 03:10 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's first-in-the-world-laws department:
Hawaii lawmakers passed a bill Tuesday that would prohibit the sale of over-the-counter sunscreens containing chemicals they say are contributing to the destruction of the state's coral reefs and other ocean life. NPR reports: The chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate, which are used in more than 3,500 of the world's most popular sunscreen products, including Hawaiian Tropic, Coppertone and Banana Boat, would be prohibited. Prescription sunscreens containing those chemicals would still be permitted. As NPR reported, a 2015 study of coral reefs in Hawaii, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Israel determined oxybenzone "leaches the coral of its nutrients and bleaches it white. It can also disrupt the development of fish and other wildlife." Even a small drop is enough to damage delicate corals. At the time, researchers estimated about 14,000 tons of sunscreen lotions end up in coral reefs around the world each year. Opposition to the ban came from sunscreen manufacturers, including Bayer, the maker of Coppertone. And the state's major doctors group said the ban goes too far. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser wrote: "Bayer said there are limited, active ingredients available within the U.S. with the same proven effectiveness as oxybenzone for sunscreens over SPF 50. The Hawaii Medical Association said it wanted the issue to be studied more deeply because there was a lack of peer-reviewed evidence suggesting sunscreen is a cause of coral bleaching, and overwhelming evidence that not wearing sunscreen increases cancer rates."

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Tesla Earnings Show Record Revenues With Record Losses
Posted by News Fetcher on May 02 '18 at 11:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's win-some-lose-some department:
TechCrunch reports of Tesla's recent Q1 2018 earnings: Tesla reported its Q1 2018 earnings today, posting adjusted losses of $3.35 per share with revenues on $3.4 billion. This is technically a beat, as analysts expected Tesla to report a loss of $3.48 a share with revenues of $3.22 billion, up from $2.7 billion a year ago. Tesla also ended Q1 with $2.7 billion in cash, down from $3.4 billion in cash at the beginning of the year. This quarter, Tesla's net losses were a record $784.6 million ($4.19 per share). So, while it's revenue was higher than ever before, it also reported record losses. At market close today, Tesla was trading at $301.15. In after-hours, Tesla is trading around $287. In its letter to investors, Tesla provided some updates to its Model 3 production, noting it hit 2,270 cars produced per week for three straight weeks in April. Tesla said demand for the Model S and Model X is still quite strong as it hit its highest order number in Q1. "Tesla said it produced 24,728 Model S cars and X vehicles, while delivering a total of 21,815 of them," reports TechCrunch. Tesla also went on to say that they expect to be profitable in Q3 once they reach their 5,000 Model 3 cars produced per week goal. CEO Elon Musk said the automaker will launch production of the Tesla Model Y crossover in 24 months, which Musk claims to be a "manufacturing revolution." Additionally, Musk said Tesla will publish quarterly reports about the safety of its Autopilot driver assistant feature following a high-profile Autopilot crash in March.

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The Longest Straight Path You Could Travel On Water Without Hitting Land
Posted by News Fetcher on May 02 '18 at 08:30 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's ring-of-fire department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: Back in 2012, a Reddit user posted a map claiming to show the longest straight line that could be traversed across the ocean without hitting land. Intrigued, a pair of computer scientists have developed an algorithm that corroborates the route, while also demonstrating the longest straight line that can be taken on land. The researchers, Rohan Chabukswar from United Technologies Research Center Ireland, and Kushal Mukherjee from IBM Research India, created the algorithm in response to a map posted by reddit user user kepleronlyknows, who goes by Patrick Anderson in real life. His map showed a long, 20,000 mile route extending from Pakistan through the southern tips of Africa and South America and finally ending in an epic trans-Pacific journey to Siberia. On a traditional 2D map, the path looks nothing like a straight line; but remember, the Earth is a sphere.

Anderson didn't provide any evidence for the map, or an explanation for how the route was calculated. In light of this, Chabukswar and Mukherjee embarked upon a project to figure out if the straight line route was indeed the longest, and to see if it was possible for a computer algorithm to solve the problem, both for straight line passages on water without hitting land or an ice sheet, and for a continuous straight line passage on land without hitting a major body of water. Their ensuing analysis was posted to the pre-print arXiv server earlier this month, and has yet to go through peer review. "There would be 233,280,000 great circles to consider to find the global optimum, and each great circle would have 21,600 individual points to process -- a staggering 5,038,848,000,000 points to verify," the researchers wrote in their study.

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Facebook Has Fired Multiple Employees for Snooping on Users: Motherboard
Posted by News Fetcher on May 02 '18 at 08:30 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
Joseph Cox and Max Hoppenstedt, reporting for Motherboard: On Tuesday, Facebook fired an employee who had allegedly used their privileged data access to stalk women online. Now, multiple former Facebook employees and people familiar with the company describe to Motherboard parts of the social media giant's data access policies. This includes how those in the security team, which the fired employee was allegedly a part of, have less oversight on their access than others. The news emphasizes something that typical users may forget when scrolling through a Silicon Valley company's service or site: although safeguards against abuse may be in place, there are people who have the power to see information you believe to be private, and sometimes they may look at that data. Motherboard granted the sources in this story anonymity to speak more candidly about Facebook's policies and procedures. One source specifically mentioned Facebook's strict non-disclosure agreement. One former Facebook worker said when they joined the company multiple people had been terminated for abusing access to user data, including for stalking exes. Another former Facebook employee said that they know of three cases where people were fired because they mishandled data, one of which included stalking. Typically, these incidents are not publicly reported.

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Goldman Sachs to Open a Bitcoin Trading Operation
Posted by News Fetcher on May 02 '18 at 07:10 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's times-they-are-changin' department:
Even as most big banks have maintained distance from virtual currency Bitcoin, Goldman Sachs is bucking the risks: It plans to set up what appears to be the first Bitcoin trading operation at a Wall Street bank. From a report: In a step that is likely to lend legitimacy to virtual currencies -- and create new concerns for Goldman -- the bank is about to begin using its own money to trade with clients in a variety of contracts linked to the price of Bitcoin. While Goldman will not initially be buying and selling actual Bitcoins, a team at the bank is looking at going in that direction if it can get regulatory approval and figure out how to deal with the additional risks associated with holding the virtual currency. Rana Yared, one of the Goldman executives overseeing the creation of the trading operation, said the bank was cleareyed about what it was getting itself into. "I would not describe myself as a true believer who wakes up thinking Bitcoin will take over the world," Ms. Yared said. "For almost every person involved, there has been personal skepticism brought to the table."

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Hacktivists, Tech Giants Protest Georgia's 'Hack-Back' Bill
Posted by News Fetcher on May 02 '18 at 05:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's controversial-legislation department:
lod123 shares a report from Threatpost: As Georgia Governor Nathan Deal considers whether to sign a controversial piece of legislation that would allow companies to 'hack back' with offensive initiatives in the face of a cyberattack, companies from across the tech spectrum are lining up to protest the measure. Also, a hacktivist group has targeted Georgia Southern University, two restaurants and a church to protest the bill. Opponents have twin beefs when it comes to Senate Bill 315: Some are questioning whether legitimizing offensive attacks will open the door to a new kind of corporate warfare; and others are concerned that the law will have a chilling effect on cyber-research by criminalizing white-hat activity like vulnerability research and pen-testing.

< article continued at Slashdot's controversial-legislation department >

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Facebook's Open-Source Go Bot Can Now Beat Professional Players
Posted by News Fetcher on May 02 '18 at 04:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's two-can-play-that-game department:
Google's DeepMind isn't the only team working to defeat professional Go players with artificial intelligence. At Facebook's F8 developer conference today, the company announced a Go bot of its own that has now achieved professional status after winning all 14 games it played against a group of top 30 human Go players. TechCrunch reports: "We salute our friends at DeepMind for doing awesome work," Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer said in today's keynote. "But we wondered: Are there some unanswered questions? What else can you apply these tools to." As Facebook notes in a blog post today, the DeepMind model itself also remains under wraps. In contrast, Facebook has open-sourced its bot. "To make this work both reproducible and available to AI researchers around the world, we created an open source Go bot, called ELF OpenGo, that performs well enough to answer some of the key questions unanswered by AlphaGo," the team writes today. Facebook's AI Research group is also developing a StarCraft bot that it too plans to open source.

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Google Is Building a Secret Social-Gaming Startup Called Arcade
Posted by News Fetcher on May 02 '18 at 04:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's fun-for-the-whole-family department:
Google is secretly building a social-gaming startup in an effort to create fledgling companies within the internet-search giant. Bloomberg reports: The founder and co-owner of the new firm, called Arcade, is Michael Sayman, according to people familiar with the matter. Sayman is the 21-year-old wunderkind who started as a Facebook intern at age 17 and left that company for Alphabet Inc.'s Google last year. Arcade's first app, slated to debut this summer, will have some elements of a trivia game. A Google spokesperson confirmed the existence of Arcade, saying it was "focused on mobile gaming with friends," without elaborating on specific products. "It's a very early experiment so there aren't many details to share right now." The effort is part of Area 120, a division where select employees can work on small startups that live inside Google. Arcade's games have no tie-in with existing social networks. Users create accounts with their phone numbers, one of the people said. Google is considering it a social-media investment because once a game gets to a certain size, it's something of a social network by itself, this person said.

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Ask Slashdot: What Should I Study?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 02 '18 at 03:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-horizons department:
A fellow Slashdot reader is seeking advice on a new field of study: After many years at the same company, I'm now thinking of a change. At my current place of work, I have worked on many different projects, from server side development, to UI development, and most recently, a lot of data science work. If I were to rate myself, I consider myself to be a good developer, thorough, conscientious and always willing to learn new things. Even my recent foray into data science (though not entirely new, since my graduate studies specialized in machine learning) has had reasonable success, and ideally, I'd really like to continue working in this space. But, I'm starting to feel in a rut and I'm looking for a change. And looking outside my company, I'm not sure how to begin. Should I hit the books again? Should I focus on any specific technologies? I haven't particularly kept up with new technology -- after working for so long, I tend to think of that as something I can learn, when I need to. Any advice on how I should go about preparing for interviews? I'm quite willing to put in a few months of work into prep, so all suggestions are welcome!

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Cambridge Analytica Shuts Down Amid Scandal Over Use of Facebook Data
Posted by News Fetcher on May 02 '18 at 03:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's what-goes-around-comes-around department:
Gizmodo reports that Cambridge Analytica and its parent company, the SCL Group, are shutting down. "The news was announced during a conference call led by Julian Wheatland, the current chairman of the SCL Group who was reportedly tapped to take over as Cambridge Analytica's next CEO," reports Gizmodo. "Both Cambridge Analytica and SCL Elections will now close their doors." From the report: During the call, Wheatland said that the board determined that rebranding the company's current offerings in the current environment is "futile." Cambridge Analytica and SCL have offices in London, New York City, Arlington, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. The conference call was originally scheduled for Tuesday morning, but was repeatedly pushed back until early Wednesday afternoon, ultimately getting rescheduled more than half a dozen times. In explaining the decision to close the offices, Wheatland cited the ongoing investigations into Cambridge Analytica's massive data harvesting scandal, damage to the company's reputation, and loss of clients. In March, Britain's information commissioner announced that she was seeking a warrant to investigate any misconduct by the data analytics firm, looking to search both its offices and its servers. UK authorities raided the London office later that month, but have yet to release their findings. Meanwhile, embattled former CEO Alexander Nix refused to testify before the British Parliamentary media committee regarding the firm's misuse of Facebook user data.

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The Pentagon Bans Huawei, ZTE Phones From Retail Stores On Military Bases
Posted by News Fetcher on May 02 '18 at 01:50 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's safety-precautions department:
The Pentagon is ordering retail outlets on U.S. military bases to stop selling Huawei and ZTE smartphones, citing security risks. "Huawei and ZTE devices may pose an unacceptable risk to the department's personnel, information and mission," a Pentagon spokesperson said in a statement to The Wall Street Journal. "In light of this information, it was not prudent for the department's exchanges to continue selling them." The Verge reports: U.S. military members can still buy Huawei and ZTE devices for personal use from other stores, as there's no outright ban on that for now. But the spokesperson elaborated that the Pentagon is considering whether it should send out a military-wide advisory about the devices. U.S. government officials have said that China could order its manufacturers to create backdoors for spying in their devices, although both Huawei and ZTE have denied the possibility. An anonymous source told the WSJ that military leaders are wary that Beijing could use ZTE and Huawei devices to locate soldiers' exact coordinates and track their movements. Huawei responded to the news in a statement to The Verge: "Huawei's products are sold in 170 countries worldwide and meet the highest standards of security, privacy and engineering in every country we operate globally including the U.S. We remain committed to openness and transparency in everything we do and want to be clear that no government has ever asked us compromise the security or integrity of any of our networks or devices."

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