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Solar Powered Smartwatch Successfully Crowdfunded on Kickstarter
Posted by News Fetcher on September 30 '17 at 10:43 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's time-for-sun department:
An anonymous reader quotes the Verge:
Battery life on smartwatches is, in a word, bad. And while most of today's watches can more or less make it through a day without dying, they're still a far cry from the months or even years that traditional watches can run for. What if you never had to charge your smartwatch? That's the promise of Lunar, a new Kickstarter project that claims to be the world's first solar-powered smartwatch... The company says that the watch can charge off both indoor and outdoor light, and can run off as little as one hour of exposure a day. (The company also includes a traditional inductive charger as a backup.)

As for the watch itself, it's a pretty standard hybrid smartwatch, solar power aside. It'll be able to do basic activity and sleep tracking, offer some limited notification support through a colored LED, and automatically set time zones through a connected smartphone app. Also, given the need for low power consumption for the solar charging to feasibly work, there's no screen on the Lunar. Instead, there's just a ring of LED lights located where hour markers would be.
The campaign reached its funding goal wIthin two days of launching -- and one week later had double that amount, raising a total of $101,987 from 564 backers.

It's not clear if Slashdot readers love or hate smartwatches. Does it make a difference if the watch is solar powered?

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Google Investigates Facebook's Russian Political Operatives, Will Address Congressmen
Posted by News Fetcher on September 30 '17 at 09:23 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's collaborating-on-communities department:
An anonymous reader quotes Recode:

Facebook has shared some details about the Russian-operated profiles it discovered on its platform with Google, as the search giant -- with the rest of the tech industry -- continues to probe the extent to which Kremlin-backed misinformation spread through their websites during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. It is unclear if Google has found any suspicious ads or other content after evaluating Facebook's data, an exchange of intel confirmed to Recode today by three sources familiar with the matter. At the very least, Google's investigation appears to be much broader in scope than a similar one by Twitter, which had drawn the ire of Congress for appearing to be incomplete. A Google spokesperson declined to comment for this story, as did a Facebook rep.
For now, though, Google is slated to deliver a private briefing to U.S. lawmakers studying Russia's political tactics in the coming weeks, additional sources told Recode. A date does not appear to have been set. And the search-and-advertising giant has been asked to join Facebook and Twitter at two upcoming hearings in the House and Senate where the industry will face questions -- out in the open -- about its safeguards against Russian political interference in the future.

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Microsoft Explains Why Edge Has So Few Extensions
Posted by News Fetcher on September 30 '17 at 09:23 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's living-on-the-Edge department:
Mark Wilson writes: It's now a little more than a year since Microsoft first brought extensions to Edge. After so long you would expect the selection of addons to be overwhelming -- but that's far from being the case. In all, there are only 70-odd Edge extensions available, and Microsoft has been moved to explain why. In a blog post, the company almost apologetically explains that it is "building a thoughtfully curated ecosystem," citing concern over quality and a fear of diminishing the user experience. What some might describe as "slow," Microsoft refers to as a "purposefully metered approach" to new extensions, and you probably shouldn't expect things to speed up a great deal any time soon. Colleen Williams, senior program manager for Microsoft Edge, says "We want Microsoft Edge to be your favorite browser, with the fundamentals you expect -- speed, power efficiency, reliability, security." She also adds that "Astute observers of our release notes and active testers in the Insider program may have noticed that some preview builds break extensions temporarily."

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Microsoft Releases 'Next Generation' Preview of Skype For Linux
Posted by News Fetcher on September 30 '17 at 08:03 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's future-phone-features department:
BrianFagioli writes: Friday, Microsoft released a refreshed preview of Skype for Linux. There are both DEB and RPM packages available, making it easy to install on, say, Ubuntu, Debian, or Fedora. In fact, I successfully installed it on Pop!_OS earlier today. Believe it or not, the new interface is quite nice, making it something I could possibly enjoy using on my Linux machine. "Great news for Skype for Linux users -- the next generation of Skype for Linux is launching!" says The Skype Team. "Starting today, you can download Skype Preview for Linux and start enjoying new features across all your devices -- including screen sharing and group chat. With Skype for Linux, you can take advantage of the screen sharing feature on your desktop screen. Now, you can share content with everyone on the call -- making it even easier to bring your calls to life and collaborate on projects."

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Steve Wozniak: Net Neutrality Rollback 'Will End the Internet As We Know It'
Posted by News Fetcher on September 30 '17 at 06:43 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's dire-warnings department:
An anonymous reader quotes Silicon Beat:
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak penned an op-ed on Friday with a former Federal Communications Commission chairman, urging the current FCC to stop its proposed rollback of Obama-era net neutrality regulations. In the op-ed published by USA Today, Wozniak and Michael Copps, who led the FCC from 2001 to 2011, argued the rollback will threaten freedom for internet users and may corrode democracy... "Sometimes there's a nugget of truth to the adage that Washington policymakers are disconnected from the people they purport to represent," they wrote. "It is a stirring example of democracy in action. With the Internet's future as a platform for innovation and democratic discourse on the line, a coalition of grassroots and diverse groups joined with technology firms to insist that the FCC maintain its 2015 open internet (or 'net neutrality') rules."

In the joint letter, Wozniak and Copps write that "We come from different walks of life, but each of us recognizes that the FCC is considering action that could end the internet as we know it -- a dynamic platform for entrepreneurship, jobs, education, and free expression."

"Will consumers and citizens control their online experiences, or will a few gigantic gatekeepers take this dynamic technology down the road of centralized control, toll booths and constantly rising prices for consumers? At stake is the nature of the internet and its capacity to transform our lives even more than it already has."

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Equifax Board Forms Panel To Review Executives' Stock Sales After Data Breach
Posted by News Fetcher on September 30 '17 at 05:23 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's thoroughly-reviewed department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Equifax's board of directors has formed a special committee to review the stock sales that top executives made days after the company found out it was hacked. Directors at Equifax have retained counsel and are conducting a "thorough review" of the trades, according to a Sept. 28 letter the company's outside lawyers submitted to the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The examination adds to investigations already being conducted by federal law-enforcement agencies. "Equifax takes these matters seriously," the company said in its response to questions posed by Democrats on the panel, led by Frank Pallone, from New Jersey. "The board of directors has formed a special committee," according to the letter, addressed to Pallone and obtained by Bloomberg News.

The trades, which were first reported by Bloomberg, involve Equifax CFO John Gamble, President of U.S. Information Solutions Joseph Loughran and President of Workforce Solutions Rodolfo Ploder. They unloaded shares worth almost $1.8 million just days after the company says it discovered the breach on July 29. Equifax has repeatedly said the managers didn't know of the intrusion when they sold stock.

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Hawaii Approves Telescope On Volcano Sacred To Indigenous People
Posted by News Fetcher on September 30 '17 at 02:40 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-and-improved department:
A new $1.4 billion telescope will be built atop a Hawaiian volcano indigenous people consider sacred. The team of scientists fighting for the telescope won approval from Hawaiian officials on Thursday after selecting the site and applying to build there in 2009. Reuters reports: The Hawaii Board of Land and Natural Resources voted 5-2 to allow construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on the summit of Mauna Kea on Hawaii's Big Island, state officials said in a statement. Astronomers consider the summit one of the world's best places to view the cosmos, while Native Hawaiians say the project would disturb holy ground crucial to their connection with ancestors and the heavens. A consortium of scientists initially received construction permits from state officials in 2011. In 2015, the Hawaii Supreme Court voided that decision, saying officials did not follow the proper procedures for a "contested case hearing." That forced the state board to re-evaluate the proposal with more input from opponents. The project calls for building one of the world's largest telescopes atop the dormant volcano.

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FCC Silenced Puerto Rico Radio Station's Boosters In March 2017
Posted by News Fetcher on September 30 '17 at 12:03 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's break-the-silence department:
An dochasac writes: WAPA (680 AM) is a radio station in San Juan, Puerto Rico. After Hurricane Maria took out power, phone lines, cell towers and internet, WAPA was the only Puerto Rican radio station on the air for crucial public emergency communication. But WAPA's signal coverage was significantly cut in March 2017 when the FCC refused to renew the license for synchronous AM booster stations at Arecibo, Mayaguez and Aguadilla in March due to procedural issues with the petition for renewal. This decision limited the coverage, signal strength and signal quality of this station for remote and mountainous parts of Puerto Rico where the need for emergency communications is greatest. The FCC audio division chief who pulled WAPA's synchronous booster license decided to retire a few days ago. The position is open but is focused on legal training rather than technical expertise and experience with emergency communications.

FCC audio division's regulations have done little to stop AM and satellite radio from broadcasting right-wing streams-of-consciousness throughout the lower 48 states. With IoT, cellular, mesh, satellite, social media and cognitive radio, communications technology is changing much faster than the FCC's legal efforts to regulate it. But its arcane regulations leave Puerto Rico as one of the few islands in the Caribbean without a long distance shortwave broadcast station. With line of sight FM stations offline and WAPA's AM station neutered, post-Maria Puerto Ricans have a better chance of getting news and emergency information from Havana, Cuba than from anything under the FCC's increasingly pointless jurisdiction.

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Apple is Really Bad At Design
Posted by News Fetcher on September 29 '17 at 10:40 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's reality-check department:
Joshua Topolsky, writing for the Outline: Once upon a time, Apple could do little wrong. As one of the first mainstream computer companies to equally value design and technical simplicity, it upended our expectations about what PCs could be. "Macintosh works the way people work," read one 1992 ad. Rather than requiring downloads and installations and extra memory to get things right (as often required by Windows machines), Apple made it so you could just plug in a mouse or start up a program and it would just... work. Marrying that functionality with the groundbreaking design the company has embodied since the early Macs, it's easy to see how Apple became the darling of designers, artists, and the rest of the creative class. The work was downright elegant; unheard of for an electronics company. [...] But things changed. In 2013 I wrote about the confusing and visually abrasive turn Apple had made with the introduction of iOS 7, the operating system refresh that would set the stage for almost all of Apple's recent design. The product, the first piece of software overseen by Jony Ive, was confusing, amateur, and relatively unfinished upon launch. [...] It's almost as if the company is being buried under the weight of its products. Unable to cut ties with past concepts (for instance, the abomination that is iTunes), unable to choose clear paths forward (USB-C or Lightning guys?), compromising core elements to make room for splashy features, and executing haphazardly to solve long-term issues. [...] Pundits will respond to these arguments by detailing Apple's meteoric and sustained market-value gains. Apple fans will shout justifications for a stylus that must be charged by sticking it into the bottom of an iPad, a "back" button jammed weirdly into the status bar, a system of dongles for connecting oft-used devices, a notch that rudely juts into the display of a $1,000 phone. But the reality is that for all the phones Apple sells and for all the people who buy them, the company is stuck in idea-quicksand, like Microsoft in the early 2000s, or Apple in the 90s.

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Chip Reprograms Cells To Regenerate Damaged Tissue
Posted by News Fetcher on September 29 '17 at 08:03 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's back-from-the-dead department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Scientific American about a device that delivers infusions of DNA and other molecules to restore injured limbs in mice, and maybe someday, humans: Cells are typically reprogrammed using mixtures of DNA, RNA and proteins. The most popular method uses viruses as a delivery vehicle -- although they can infect unintended cells, provoke immune responses and even turn cells cancerous. One alternative, called bulk electroporation, exposes cells to an electric field that pokes holes in their membranes to let in genetic material and proteins. Yet this method can stress or kill them. Tissue nanotransfection, described in a study published in August in Nature Nanotechnology, involves a chip containing an array of tiny channels that apply electric fields to individual cells. "You affect only a small area of the cell surface, compared with the conventional method, which upsets the entire cell," says study co-author James Lee, a chemical and biomolecular engineer at The Ohio State University. "Essentially we create a tiny hole and inject DNA right into the cell, so we can control the dosage."

Chandan Sen, a physiologist at Ohio State, and his colleagues developed a genetic cocktail that rapidly converts skin cells into endothelial cells -- the main component of blood vessels. They then used their technique on mice whose legs had been damaged by a severed artery that cut off blood supply. New blood vessels formed, blood flow increased, and after three weeks the legs had completely healed.

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Radical Leftists Built Their Own FOSS Alternative To Reddit After It Banned Them
Posted by News Fetcher on September 29 '17 at 06:43 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's my-house-my-rules department:
eeplox shares a report from VICE, adding: "Community-built sites like these are very much needed since Reddit announced they were going closed source": After r/LeftWithSharpEdge was taken down, ziq [one of the subreddit's members] decided to leave Reddit and create an independent anarchist community free from its rules. Raddle.me, which was originally called Raddit.me, is an "alternative that is focused on community building and openness, and not controlled by a corporation," ziq told me. The original name was intended to sound similar to Reddit, but was later changed to avoid potential trademark issues. Raddle doesn't have advertisements or run analytical software, so its size is difficult to calculate -- but that's by design. The site is meant to be an alternative to social networks that profit by monitoring user behavior and serving advertisements. "We have no ads, no tracking, no user profiling and we don't collect or share any user data with anyone," ziq said. The site is community-built and anyone can contribute to the code. Ziq's commitment to privacy is an appealing virtue for Raddle's users. "I'm always very uneasy about the lack of concern for privacy online," Tequila_Wolf, a user who posts frequently to Raddle, told me in a direct message. "When you have friends on government lists who get harassed at every border because, say, they are members of Anarchists Against The Wall, you know you don't want to get on that list." Raddle ultimately came out of more broad problems ziq and Emma saw with Reddit. Ziq complained about how it has increasingly become a recruiting ground for the alt-right, the social network's overemphasis on America (r/politics, a major subreddit, only discusses U.S.-based politics, for example), and the fact that the site's code isn't open source, among other issues. Emma mentioned what she says is a problem with harassment on the site. "To me, the biggest problem with Reddit is how its administrators ignore the routine harassment and witch-hunts of marginalized people that takes place, with r/The_Donald being the most prominent example," she said.

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Apple Investigating Reports of iPhone 8 Plus Devices 'Splitting Open'
Posted by News Fetcher on September 29 '17 at 05:23 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's depths-of-hell department:
Apple is currently investigating reports of the iPhone 8 Plus splitting open while being charged with the included cable and plug adapter. The first claim comes from a Taiwanese iPhone 8 Plus owner, who posted photos which show damage consistent with a swollen battery. The second claim is from a Japanese owner who posted similar photos of his device, which he says arrived in this state. The Next Web reports: The phone belonged to a Ms. Wu, who recently renewed her phone contract and purchased a 64GB rose gold iPhone 8 Plus. The issue emerged five days after purchasing the phone. Wu placed her phone on charge, using the supplied cable and adaptor. After three minutes, she reported seeing the front panel bulge, and eventually lift completely from the device. According to multiple Taiwanese outlets, the phone was later recovered by the carrier, and has since been shipped to Apple for analysis. 9to5Mac adds: While any incident affecting a new iPhone model is bound to attract media attention, it's worth noting the usual disclaimers. First, any device manufactured in the millions will include some faulty models -- the real news would be if this were not the case. Second, investigations into charging-related incidents often reveal that a third-party charger was used, even when an owner initially claims to have used the supplied Apple one.

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Former Female Oracle Employees Sue Company For Alleged Pay Discrimination
Posted by News Fetcher on September 29 '17 at 05:23 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's class-action department:
Three female, former Oracle employees are suing Oracle for allegedly paying women less than men in similar jobs. Rong Jewett, Sophy Wang and Xian Murray filed a lawsuit August 28, seeking a class-action status to represent all other women who have worked at the company. TechCrunch reports: The lawsuit, first reported by The Information, alleges that Oracle discriminated against women by "systematically paying them lower wage rates than Oracle pays to male employees performing substantially equal or similar work under similar working conditions," the filing states. The time period the lawsuit references is four years prior to the filing and through the date of the trial in California. Referencing how the U.S. Department of Labor sued Oracle in January based on its compliance review that found "systemic discrimination against women" and "gross disparities in pay," the lawsuit states Oracle had known or should have known about the pay disparity between its male and female employees. The plaintiffs are seeking wages due, interest and liquidated damages plus interest. They also want Oracle to guarantee they won't pay women less than men for similar work in the future.

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Apple Reports 400 Percent Rise In National Security Requests
Posted by News Fetcher on September 29 '17 at 04:03 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's threefold-increase department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Next Web: Apple received a record number of national security orders this year, according to its bi-annual report published this week. The company stated it received more than 13,250 national security requests affecting over 9,000 accounts in the first half of 2017. Compared to the same period in 2015, this represents a threefold increase. National Security Requests are subpoenas by the government which oblige companies or individuals to share their data for national security purposes. The requests are usually made in the form of National Security Letters and are demanded only when it's indispensable to an investigation. The reason for this rise in numbers is still unclear. The company also revealed it provided data in 44 non-civil governmental cases, information which hadn't been revealed in its previous reports.

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Department of Justice Demands Facebook Information From 'Anti-Administration Activists'
Posted by News Fetcher on September 29 '17 at 04:03 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's hand-it-over department:
PopeRatzo shares a report from CNN: Trump administration lawyers are demanding the private account information of potentially thousands of Facebook users in three separate search warrants served on the social media giant, according to court documents obtained by CNN. The warrants specifically target the accounts of three Facebook users who are described by their attorneys as "anti-administration activists who have spoken out at organized events, and who are generally very critical of this administration's policies." One of those users, Emmelia Talarico, operated the disruptj20 page where Inauguration Day protests were organized and discussed; the page was visited by an estimated 6,000 users whose identities the government would have access to if Facebook hands over the information sought in the search warrants. In court filings, Talarico says if her account information was given to the government, officials would have access to her "personal passwords, security questions and answers, and credit card information," plus "the private lists of invitees and attendees to multiple political events sponsored by the page."

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US Slashing Embassy Staff In Cuba Because of Apparent Sonic 'Attacks'
Posted by News Fetcher on September 29 '17 at 02:43 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's safety-concerns department:
PolygamousRanchKid shares a report from The Washington Post (Warning: may be paywalled; alternative source): The United States is yanking more than half its diplomatic personnel from its embassy in Havana and warning Americans not to visit Cuba, saying it is for their own safety after a string of mysterious injuries harmed at least 21 Americans stationed there. "We have no reports that private U.S. citizens have been affected, but the attacks are known to have occurred in U.S. diplomatic residences and hotels frequented by U.S. citizens," Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement. "The Department does not have definitive answers on the cause or source of the attacks and is unable to recommend a means to mitigate exposure." Investigators are looking into the possibility that they were subjected to some sort of "sonic attack," among other theories, though it is not clear why American diplomats and a handful of Canadian envoys would be the only ones to complain of symptoms. Cuba has denied having anything to do with the injuries. Among the possibilities being explored is that agents acting on behalf of a third country may be responsible.

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South Korea Bans Initial Coin Offerings
Posted by News Fetcher on September 29 '17 at 02:43 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's chopping-block department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: South Korea's financial regulator on Friday said it will ban raising money through all forms of virtual currencies, a move that follows similar restrictions in China on initial coin offerings. The Financial Services Commission said all kinds of initial coin offerings (ICO) will be banned as trading of virtual currencies needs to be tightly controlled and monitored. The decision to ban ICOs as a fundraising tool was made as the government sees such issues as increasing the risk of financial scams.

"Raising funds through ICOs seem to be on the rise globally, and our assessment is that ICOs are increasing in South Korea as well," the regulator said in a statement after a meeting with the finance ministry, the Bank of Korea and the National Tax Service. "Stern penalties" will be issued on financial institutions and any parties involved in issuing of ICOs, the statement added, without elaborating further on the details of those penalties.

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Spanish Court Orders Google To Delete App Used For Catalan Independence Vote
Posted by News Fetcher on September 29 '17 at 01:23 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's strict-conditions department:
From a report: Catalonia's High Court on Friday ordered Google to delete an application that it said Catalan separatists were using to spread information about a disputed independence vote this Sunday. The court said the "On Votar 1-Oct" application on the Google Play smartphone app store opposed an order in September from Spain's Constitutional Court to suspend the referendum while it determined its legality. The court also ordered Google to block any future applications developed by the gmail address "Onvotar1oct@gmail.com', according to a written ruling. Nobody at Google in Spain was immediately available to comment.

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Internet Activists Urge Congress to Fire Trump's FCC Chief Ajit Pai
Posted by News Fetcher on September 29 '17 at 12:03 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's before-it's-too-late department:
Open internet advocates and Democratic lawmakers are mounting a last-ditch effort to remove Federal Communications Commission chief Ajit Pai over his anti-net neutrality stance, just days before Pai is set to be approved by the Senate for a new term. From a report: Since being elevated by President Trump to lead the FCC in January, Pai has become the bete noire of open internet advocates for a variety of anti-consumer actions, but none more so than his crusade to kill federal rules protecting net neutrality, the principle that all internet content should be equally accessible to consumers. [...] During a blistering floor speech on Thursday, Sen. Ron Wyden, the Oregon Democrat, portrayed Pai, a Republican former Verizon lawyer, as an industry stooge who has worked relentlessly to deliver gift after gift to the nation's largest broadband companies. "Mr. Pai has a long track record of putting big cable before consumers, big corporations above small businesses, and pay-to-play over the free and open internet," Wyden wrote in a blog post accompanying his speech. Free Press, a DC-based public interest group, has also launched a campaign to pressure the Senate to "fire Pai," citing his proposal to kill the FCC's net neutrality policy and other anti-consumer actions. But if reconfirmed, Pai is expected to try to ram through his plan to torpedo the FCC's net neutrality rules before the end of the year. "Rehiring Pai to head the agency that oversees US communications policies would be a boon for the phone and cable companies he eagerly serves," Tim Karr, Free Press Senior Director of Strategy, wrote in a blog post.

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What Isn't Telegram Saying About Its Connections To the Kremlin?
Posted by News Fetcher on September 29 '17 at 12:03 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's what's-happening department:
The supposedly secure messaging app Telegram has employees in St. Petersburg in the same building as Kremlin-influenced social network VK, news outlet the Outline reported on Friday citing multiple sources. William Turton, reporting for The Outline: Anton Rozenberg, a software developer and former employee of Telegram's parent company, is saying that there are Telegram employees working out of the historic Singer House in St. Petersburg, Russia's former imperial capital, a claim that has since been corroborated by others. That's significant because the Singer House is also home to VK, which is now owned by the oligarch and Putin ally Alisher Usmanov. (It's also the building where in 2012 Durov and coworkers infamously folded 5,000 ruble notes, worth about $150 each, into paper airplanes and threw them out the window, sparking violence in the street below.) The revelation casts doubt on Durov, who denies Telegram has an office in Russia, and continues to style himself as a rebel at odds with the complex Russian power structure that includes the government and oligarchy. It also raises questions about how safe Telegram is from Kremlin interference, given that VK is owned by a Kremlin sympathizer and that the Kremlin has an obvious interest in monitoring and controlling popular social networks. "As a security specialist, I have some questions about how their office isn't physically protected from the offices that surround it," Rozenberg told The Outline. "VK employees, for a long time, have had access to Telegram offices."

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