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Yahoo Patents Smart Billboard That Would Deliver Targeted Ads To Passersby or Motorists
Posted by News Fetcher on October 12 '16 at 05:25 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's invasion-of-privacy department:
An anonymous reader writes: Yahoo has filed a patent for advertising billboards outfitted with a wide array of sensors -- including drone-based cameras -- which would use facial and vehicle recognition, data brokers, cell-tower information and social network information to attempt to identify worthwhile advertising targets and aim personalized ads at them as they pass on foot or in cars. The scheme, which was submitted on October 6th, anticipates using the same kind of micro-auction processes that currently determine which ads users see in webpages and mobile apps. The implementation of public ad-targeting brings up some fascinating and chilling prospects, as users find that the ads which "bloom" around them betray much about their private lives. Yahoo provides an example via its patent application: "According to one example, a digital billboard adjacent a busy freeway might be instrumented with or located near traffic sensors that detect information about the context of the vehicles approaching the billboard, e.g., the number and average speed of the vehicles. Such information might be used in conjunction with information about the time of day and/or the day of the week (e.g., Monday morning rush hour) to select advertisements for display that would appeal to an expected demographic and to display the advertisements for durations that are commensurate with the level of traffic congestion." The patent application also mentions how it will gather required information from individuals: "Various types of data (e.g., cell tower data, mobile app location data, image data, etc.) can be used to identify specific individuals in an audience in position to view advertising content. Similarly, vehicle navigation/tracking data from vehicles equipped with such systems could be used to identify specific vehicles and/or vehicle owners. Demographic data (e.g., as obtained from a marketing or user database) for the audience can thus be determined for the purpose of, for example, determining whether and/or the degree to which the demographic profile of the audience corresponds to a target demographic."

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ISIS Is Using Exploding Consumer Drones To Kill Enemy Fighters
Posted by News Fetcher on October 12 '16 at 05:25 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's enemy-in-the-sky department:
According to The New York Times, the Islamic State is using small consumer drones rigged with explosions to fight Kurdish forces in Iraq. As a result, American commanders in Iraq have issued a warning to forces fighting ISIS to treat any type of small flying aircraft as potential explosive devices. The Verge reports: The small, commercially available drone was shot down in Northern Iraq and taken back to an outpost, the Times writes. But during disassembly, the drone exploded, killing the two fighters. Le Monde reports that two members of French forces were also injured by the explosion. The technique used by ISIS in the attack may have been a simple one -- ultimately only combining two widely available pieces of tech -- but videos available online have purportedly shown other recent instances of drones used as explosives, suggesting the move may be one we see more of in the future.

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Ford's Buggy Infotainment System Referred To By Engineers As 'Polished Turd' and 'Unsaleable'
Posted by News Fetcher on October 12 '16 at 04:03 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's polished-turd department:
Lucas123 writes: A class-action lawsuit against Ford and its MyFord Touch in-vehicle infotainment system -- originally based on a Microsoft platform -- has brought to light corporate documents that show engineers at the Dearborn carmaker referred to the problematic technology as a "polished turd" that they feared would be "unsaleable." The documents even reveal that Henry Ford's great grandson experienced significant problems with MyFord Touch. In one incident, Edsel Ford was forced to wait on a roadside for the system to reset and could not continue to drive because he was unable to use the IVI's navigation system. The lawsuit describes an IVI screen that would freeze or go blank; generate error messages that wouldn't go away; voice recognition and navigation systems that failed to work, problems wirelessly pairing with smartphones, and a generally slow system. Ford's CEO Mark Fields even described his own travails with the SYNC IVI, referring to it as having crashed on several occasions, and that he was so frustrated with the system he may have damaged his car's screen out of aggravation. The civil suit is expected to go to trial in 2017.

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Senator Wants Nationwide, All-Mail Voting To Counter Election Hacks
Posted by News Fetcher on October 12 '16 at 04:03 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's common-sense department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: In the wake of the Obama administration's announcement that the Russian government directed hacks on the Democratic National Committee and other institutions to influence U.S. elections, a senator from Oregon says the nation should conduct its elections like his home state does: all-mail voting. In an e-mail, Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat, told Ars: "We should not underestimate how dangerous... attacks on election systems could be. If a foreign state were to eliminate registration records for a particular group of Americans immediately before an election, they could very likely disenfranchise those Americans and swing the results of an election. Recent efforts by some states to make it more difficult to vote only serves to increase the danger of such attacks. This is why I have proposed taking Oregon's unique vote-by-mail system nationwide to protect our democratic process against foreign and domestic attacks." The only states to hold all elections entirely by mail are Oregon, Washington, and Colorado, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. More than a dozen others have various provisions for mail voting. The National Conference of State Legislatures has a breakdown here on how Americans cast their votes across the union. Wyden co-sponsored the Vote By Mail Act in July, and he did so for reasons at the time that were unconnected to cybersecurity. Instead, the measure was originally proposed to help minorities and others cast ballots. The plan requires the U.S. Postal Service to deliver ballots to all registered voters. Voters could also register to vote when applying for driver's licenses, too. The measure fell on deaf ears this year and didn't even get a committee vote. A Wyden spokesperson said the proposal will have a "better chance" next year if Democrats win a majority of Senate seats.

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Amazon Launches New 'Music Unlimited' Service, Starts At $4/Month For Use On Just One Echo
Posted by News Fetcher on October 12 '16 at 04:03 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's inventive-moves department:
Speaking of giant ecommerce companies, Amazon has launched a streaming music service dubbed, Amazon Music Unlimited, that starts at $3.99 (cheaper than Spotify or Apple Music) and has tens of millions of songs. There's a catch, however. The service has three payment tiers, but the lowest one -- which again, costs $3.99 -- only works with company's Amazon Echo, or Echo Dot, or Amazon Tap speakers. GeekWire adds: To use Amazon Music Unlimited on multiple devices, including smartphones, you'll need to pay $7.99 if you're an Amazon Prime member, or $9.99 if you're not. In a world where people increasingly expect everything to work everywhere, the Echo-only tier might seem out of place, even at less than $4 a month. But Amazon is pitching the option as an add-on experience for Echo owners, going beyond the 2 million tracks available in the existing Amazon Prime Music service that comes with the $99/year Amazon Prime subscription. The company is also using some smart computing behind the scenes to differentiate the experience. For example, Echo users will be able to ask Alexa to "play the new song by Adele."

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Star Wars Production Company Fined Almost $2 Million For Harrison Ford's Injury
Posted by News Fetcher on October 12 '16 at 04:03 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's freak-accidents department:
New submitter Shimbo writes: Foodles Production (UK) Ltd was fined 1.6 million British pounds (almost $2 million) at Aylesbury Crown Court today after pleading guilty to two charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act at an earlier hearing. Judge Francis Sheridan said, "The greatest failing of all on behalf of the company is a lack of communication, a lack because, if you have a risk assessment and you do not communicate it, what is the point of having one?" The fine is a result of an unfortunate incident while filming Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Harrison Ford was reportedly knocked to the ground and crushed beneath a heavy hydraulic door when he walked on to the set of the Millennium Falcon -- not believing it to be live. The 71-year-old actor suffered a broken left leg. Prosecutor Andrew Marshall said, according to Britain's Press Association, the door acted like a "blunt guillotine," coming down "millimeters from his face." The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) told the court that Ford was hit with a force similar to the weight of a small car.

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China's Alibaba Has a New Payment System That Lets Virtual Reality Shoppers Pay By Nodding
Posted by News Fetcher on October 12 '16 at 02:34 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's pay-by-nodding department:
If providing your credit card details (or a few clicks) is too much a hassle for you, China's Alibaba may have a solution. The company today demonstrated a payment service called VR Pay, that allows virtual reality shoppers to pay for things just by nodding their heads. Reuters reports: VR Pay, the new payment system, is part of Alibaba's efforts to capitalize on the latest technology in online shopping. In 2015, for example, it introduced a facial recognition technology for Alipay mobile payments service advertised as "pay with a selfie." The VR payment technology means people using virtual reality goggles to browse virtual reality shopping malls will be able pay for purchases without taking off the goggles. They can just nod or look instead. Lin Feng, who is in charge of Ant Financial's incubator F Lab that has been developing the payment service over the past few months, told Reuters: "It is very boring to have to take off your goggles for payment. With this, you will never need to take out your phone."

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Netflix Now Only Has 31 Movies From IMDB's Top 250 List
Posted by News Fetcher on October 12 '16 at 02:34 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's then-and-now department:
According to Streaming Observer News, the quality and quantity of Netflix's movie library has declined over the last two years when cross-referenced with IMDB's Top 250 movies list. From the report: Well, it's a pretty common fact at this point that Netflix's library is shrinking. Of course, what Netflix needs to do as it shrinks its licensed movie library is make sure that movies it does have are good ones. But according to our analysis, it's going backwards, unfortunately. A while back we noticed a post from this Reddit member who, two years ago, cross-referenced the IMDB (Internet Movie Database) top 250 movies list with Netflix's movie library to find out how many of the top movies Netflix carried. When u/clayton_frisbie posted his list on Reddit, Netflix had 49 of the Top 250 movies on the IMDB list. That's just under 20 percent, which isn't terrible. But we wondered how that number has held up over the last two years in the face of a quickly shrinking library. So we reran the analysis. How many of the top 250 movies does Netflix now have? As of September 2016, that number has dropped to 31, or about 12 percent. [You can view the list via Streaming Observer News.]

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Most Drivers Who Own Cars With Built-in GPS Systems Use Phones For Directions - Mostly Out of Frustration
Posted by News Fetcher on October 12 '16 at 01:17 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's unnecessary-technology department:
According to a new survey, many new car owners use their phones for directions despite their cars coming with built-in navigation systems. These users do it out of frustration, the survey added. CNN adds: The market research firm J.D. Power and Associates surveyed owners of new vehicles after the first 90 days of ownership. They were asked about all kinds of new in-vehicle technology including navigation, entertainment and safety technologies like lane-keeping assistance and automatic braking. For the most part, the survey found, people are relatively satisfied with the technology in their cars. On a 1,000 point scale, the average satisfaction score was 730. Navigation systems rated the worst with an average score of 687. Almost two-thirds of new vehicle owners with a built-in navigation reported using their smartphone or a portable navigation device to find their way at least some of the time. Nearly a third of those with built-in navigation used it for less than two weeks before giving up on it and using their phone or another portable device, according to J.D. Power. And more than half of people with built-in navigation systems never used them at all, according to the survey.

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Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 Recall Is an Environmental Travesty
Posted by News Fetcher on October 12 '16 at 11:53 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's environmentally-friendly department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Lost in the hype about Samsung permanently pulling the plug on its exploding phone is this: The failure of the Galaxy Note 7 is an environmental tragedy, regardless of what Samsung decides will happen to the 2.5 million devices it manufactured. Early Tuesday morning, Samsung announced it has permanently discontinued and stopped promoting the Galaxy Note 7, and has asked its customers to return their devices for a refund or exchange. A Samsung spokesperson told me the phones will not be repaired, refurbished, or resold ever again: "We have a process in place to safely dispose of the phones," the company said. There are two main things to consider here: First, though smartphones weigh less than a pound, it was estimated in 2013 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers estimated that it takes roughly 165 pounds of raw mined materials to make the average cell phone, a number that is certainly higher for the Note 7, being both one of the largest and most advanced smartphones phones ever created. Second, much of that mined material is going to be immediately lost. This is because we are terrible at recycling smartphones -- of the 50-or-so elements that are in a Galaxy Note 7, we can only recover about a dozen of them through recycling. Lost are most of the rare earth elements, which are generally the most environmentally destructive and human labor-intensive to mine. This loss of material is why smartphones are not usually recycled even several years into their lifespans -- they are refurbished and resold to cell phone insurance companies and customers in developing markets. This is because the recoverable elements within any given smartphone are only worth a couple bucks; it is far more environmentally sustainable and more profitable to extend the life of a smartphone than it is to disassemble it and turn it into something else. There is a potential silver lining here: Just as oil spills give scientists an opportunity to try out new cleanup techniques, a large-scale smartphone recall may allow us to learn more about how to recycle smartphones.

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The Washington Post Tracked Facebook's Trending Topics For 3 Weeks, Found 5 Fake Stories and 3 Inaccurate Articles
Posted by News Fetcher on October 12 '16 at 11:53 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's fault-in-our-algorithm department:
An alarming number of people rely on social media, including and especially Facebook, for news. Over the past few months, we have seen how Facebook's Trending Topics feature is often biased, and moreover, how sometimes fake news slips through its filter. The Washington Post monitored the website for over three weeks and found that Facebook is still struggling to get its algorithm right. From the report: The Megyn Kelly incident was supposed to be an anomaly. An unfortunate one-off. A bit of (very public, embarrassing) bad luck. But in the six weeks since Facebook revamped its Trending system -- and a hoax about the Fox News Channel star subsequently trended -- the site has repeatedly promoted "news" stories that are actually works of fiction. As part of a larger audit of Facebook's Trending topics, the Intersect logged every news story that trended across four accounts during the workdays from Aug. 31 to Sept. 22. During that time, we uncovered five trending stories that were indisputably fake and three that were profoundly inaccurate (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternate source). On top of that, we found that news releases, blog posts from sites such as Medium and links to online stores such as iTunes regularly trended. Facebook declined to comment about Trending on the record. "I'm not at all surprised how many fake stories have trended," one former member of the team that used to oversee Trending told the Post. "It was beyond predictable by anyone who spent time with the actual functionality of the product, not just the code."The Post adds that "there's no guarantee" that it was able to catch every hoax, since it looked at Trending feature only once every hour.

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Google and Facebook Are Building the Fastest Trans-Pacific Cable Yet
Posted by News Fetcher on October 12 '16 at 11:53 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's fastest-internet department:
Google and Facebook are working together to lay a nearly 8,000-mile fiber-optic cable between Los Angeles and Hong Kong. The cable will have a bandwidth of 120 terabits per second, Google said, adding that this makes it the highest-capacity route between the United States and Asia. TechCrunch adds: Once the new 12,800 km cable is at full capacity, it'll be the highest-capacity trans-Pacific cable yet. Until now, that record was held by the FASTER cable, which Google also has a stake in. Google tells TechCrunch that all parties participating in building the cable will have their own portion of the cable and that the company will have its own fiber pair to keep its own traffic private. The new cable will become the sixth submarine cable that Google has a stake in (the others are Unity, SJC, FASTER, MONET and Tannat). While it may seem unusual for Google to partner with Facebook on this kind of project, submarine cables often feature these kind of partnerships. Facebook and Microsoft recently teamed up to build a trans-Atlantic cable, for example, which at 160 Tbps is even faster than the Pacific Light cable (but also only half as long). Amazon, too, is starting to invest in its own submarine cables, but so far, the company has not partner with other industry giants to do so.

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AVTECH Shuns Security Firm and Leaves All Products Vulnerable Without a Patch
Posted by News Fetcher on October 12 '16 at 10:32 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's security-blues department:
An anonymous reader writes: AVTECH, a Taiwanese CCTV equipment manufacturer, has failed to respond to Search-Lab, a Hungarian security firm, who spent more than a year trying to inform the company about 14 security bugs affecting the firmware of ALL its products. Almost a year after it first contacted the hardware maker, Search-Lab published a public advisory about the vulnerabilities it discovered, warning sysadmins that their AVTECH products may be in danger of exploitation and remote takeover. Search-Lab says their researchers is not the only one that spotted these issues. Currently, the term "AVTECH" is the second most popular search term on Shodan, where anyone can find more than 130,000 of these devices available online. Taking into account the recent attacks from IoT botnets, AVTECH is now on the same level of incompetence and indifference as other CCTV hardware makers such as AVer, Dahua, and TVT, all Chinese and Taiwanese companies. A list of confirmed affected firmware versions is available here, proof of concept exploitation code is available on GitHub, and an exploitation video is available here.

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Wells Fargo Employee Informed the Bank of Fake Customer Accounts in 2006
Posted by News Fetcher on October 12 '16 at 10:32 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's body-of-lies department:
Wells Fargo recently paid fines totaling $185 million for the creation of 2 million unauthorized accounts since 2011. But the international banking and financial institution could be committing this fraud since as early as 2005, according to a letter obtained by Vice News. From the report: A Wells Fargo bank manager tried to warn the head of the company's regional banking unit of an improperly created customer account in January 2006, five years earlier than the bank has said its board first learned of abuses at its branches. [...] A letter written in 2005 and obtained by VICE News details unethical practices that occurred at Washington state branches of the bank, suggesting the conduct began years before previously understood. Dennis Hambek, a former branch manager in West Yakima, Washington, sent a certified letter in January 2006 to Carrie Tolstedt, then Wells Fargo's head of regional banking, outlining unethical "gaming" activity at area branches. In 2007, Tolstedt was made the company's head of community banking, the division where many of the unethical practices occurred.

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Verizon, AT&T Made $600 Million in Overage Fees Alone in 2016
Posted by News Fetcher on October 12 '16 at 09:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's fool-me-once department:
A new study claims that Verizon and AT&T made $600 million alone in 2016 just on overage fees. And while both telcos unveiled new plans that let you avoid $15 per gigabyte overages in exchange for just being throttled (Verizon's "safety mode" and AT&T's Mobile Share Advantage) the study by Nerd Wallet found that thanks to buried surcharges and other fees, users on these new plans may not save much money. DSLReports adds: That said, the report claims whether or not you save money under these new plans depends on your (or your family's) usage behavior. "If you're on an average-sized plan and your data overages exceed 8GB per year, choosing one of the new plans will save you money, according to NerdWallet and My Data Manager's analysis," says the report. "The individual Verizon Plan will save you money if you have an average plan, even if you never go over your data limit," it continues. "Otherwise, the new Verizon plans and AT&T's Mobile Share Advantage plans won't save you money. In fact, most consumers on legacy plans would be better off sticking to them and paying the occasional overage fee."

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Most Businesses Haven't Inspected Cloud Services For Malware
Posted by News Fetcher on October 12 '16 at 09:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department:
Ian Barker, reporting for BetaNews: Echoing the findings we reported earlier that companies leave cloud protection to third-parties, a new study from cloud security company Netskope reveals most companies don't scan their cloud services for malware either. The study conducted with the Ponemon Institute shows 48 percent of companies surveyed don't inspect the cloud for malware and 12 percent are unsure if they do or not. Of those that do inspect 57 percent of respondents say they found malware. It also shows that while 49 percent of business applications are now stored in the cloud, fewer than half of them (45 percent) are known, officially sanctioned or approved by IT.

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White House: AI Holds the Potential To Be a Major Driver of Economic Growth and Social Progress
Posted by News Fetcher on October 12 '16 at 07:42 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's future department:
A day after the Obama administration outlined its vision and plans to send people to Mars by 2030s, it has now concluded the potential impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on economic growth, transportation, the environment, and criminal justice. "The Administration believes that it is critical that industry, civil society, and government work together to develop the positive aspects of the technology, manage its risks and challenges, and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to help in building an A.I.-enhanced society and to participate in its benefits." VentureBeat adds: The report, dubbed "Preparing for the future of Artificial Intelligence," highlights a number of areas of both opportunity and concern when it comes to A.I. These include: - The need to adjust regulatory procedures to account for A.I. - Better coordination and funding of government-led A.I. research initiatives. - Further study and monitoring of the economic impact of A.I. on jobs. - "Ethical training" of people in A.I. fields, particularly as the technology is used to control more real-world objects that could lead to concerns about safety and security. - Creating a clear U.S. policy regarding the development and use of "Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems."

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Outsourced IT Workers Ask Sen Feinstein For Help, Get Form Letter in Return
Posted by News Fetcher on October 12 '16 at 07:42 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's sad-realities department:
Reader dcblogs writes: A University of California IT employee whose job is being outsourced to India recently wrote Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) for help. Feinstein's office sent back a letter addressing manufacturing job losses, not IT, and offered the worker no assistance. "I am being asked to do knowledge transfer to a foreigner so they can take over my job in February of 2017," the employee, wrote in part. The employee is part of a group of 50 IT workers and another 30 contractors facing layoffs after the university hired an offshore outsourcing firm. The firm, India-based HCL, won a contract to manage infrastructure services. Since the layoffs became public, the school has posted Labor Condition Applications (LCA) notices -- as required by federal law when H-1B workers are being placed. UCSF employees have seen these notices and made some available to Computerworld. They show that the jobs posted are for programmer analyst II and network administrator IV. For the existing UCSF employees, the notices were disheartening. "Many of us can easily fill the job. We are training them to replace us," said one employee who requested anonymity because he is still employed by the university.

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France Adds Source Code To List of Documents Covered by Freedom of Information Laws
Posted by News Fetcher on October 12 '16 at 06:20 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's interesting-moves department:
An anonymous reader writes: French freedom of information law now treats source code as disclosable in the same way as other government records. The new "Digital Republic" law took effect Saturday, with its publication in France's Official Journal. It adds source code to the long list of government document types that must be released in certain circumstances: dossiers, reports, studies, minutes, transcripts, statistics, instructions, memoranda, ministerial replies, correspondence, opinions, forecasts and decisions. But it also adds a new exception to existing rules on access to administrative documents and reuse of public information, giving officials plenty of reasons to refuse to release code on demand. These rules already allow officials to block the publication of documents they believe threaten national security, foreign policy, personal safety, or matters before court or under police investigation, among things. Now they can oppose publication if they believe it threatens the security of government information systems.

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Uber and Didi Face Regulatory Challenges Throughout China
Posted by News Fetcher on October 12 '16 at 06:20 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's government-regulations department:
hackingbear writes: Contrary to the central government's wish to boost employment from peer-to-peer economy, the Chinese cities of Shenzhen, Shanghai, and Beijing, who have invested big interest in traditional taxi services, are all looking to pass municipal regulations on ride-hailing businesses that could wipe out many of Uber and Didi's drivers and cars. "There will be a sharp drop in market supply of rideshare vehicles. In Shanghai, for instance, less than 20 percent of existing rideshare vehicles meet the proposed (wide) wheelbase requirements. There will be significant decrease in the number of rideshare drivers. Of over 410,000 activated driver accounts in Shanghai, only less than 10,000 are residents with Shanghai residency registration," said Didi on its social media outlets. In China, ridesharing drivers are usually migrant workers who have few other choices of employments, and rich urban residents are not interested in such jobs. Given the sore state of the economy in China, high unemployment would mean social unrest; the ridesharing economy may prevail at the end as it has become too big to be strictly regulated. Separately, the Chinese government opened an antitrust probe into Uber's sale of its China operations to Didi in September after the announcement of the merger.

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