By BeauHD from Slashdot's public-safety department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The U.S. mobile industry's top lobbying group is opposing a proposed California state law that would prohibit throttling of fire departments and other public safety agencies during emergencies. As reported yesterday by StateScoop, wireless industry lobby group CTIA last week wrote to lawmakers to oppose the bill as currently written. CTIA said the bill's prohibition on throttling is too vague and that it should apply only when the U.S. president or California governor declares emergencies and not when local governments declare emergencies.
The group's letter also suggested that the industry would sue the state if the bill is passed in its current form, saying the bill would result in "serious unintended consequences, including needless litigation." "[T]he bill's vague mandates, problematic emergency trigger requirement, and failure to include notification requirements could work to impede activities by first responders during disasters," CTIA wrote. The group said that it "must oppose AB 1699 unless it is amended to address the foregoing concerns." CTIA represents Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and other carriers. Despite CTIA's opposition, the bill proposed by State Assemblymember Marc Levine (D-Marin County) sailed through an Assembly committee yesterday. The Committee on Communications and Conveyance voted 12-0 to advance the bill, Levine's chief of staff, Terry Schanz, told Ars today. A committee analysis of the bill says that CTIA was the only organization to register opposition. The next stop for the bill is an April 30 hearing with the Assembly Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee. It is in response to Verizon throttling an "unlimited" data plan used by Santa Clara firefighters last year during the state's largest-ever wildfire.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's ones-and-zeroes department
Joseph Cox, and Jason Koebler, reporting for Motherboard: At a Twitter all-hands meeting on March 22, an employee asked a blunt question: Twitter has largely eradicated Islamic State propaganda off its platform. Why can't it do the same for white supremacist content? An executive responded by explaining that Twitter follows the law, and a technical employee who works on machine learning and artificial intelligence issues went up to the mic to add some context.
With every sort of content filter, there is a tradeoff, he explained. When a platform aggressively enforces against ISIS content, for instance, it can also flag innocent accounts as well, such as Arabic language broadcasters. Society, in general, accepts the benefit of banning ISIS for inconveniencing some others, he said. In separate discussions verified by Motherboard, that employee said Twitter hasn't taken the same aggressive approach to white supremacist content because the collateral accounts that are impacted can, in some instances, be Republican politicians. The employee argued that, on a technical level, content from Republican politicians could get swept up by algorithms aggressively removing white supremacist material. Banning politicians wouldn't be accepted by society as a trade-off for flagging all of the white supremacist propaganda, he argued.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's end-of-road department
From a report: A small part of us always knew the Laundroid was too good to be true. The black obelisk, developed by Japanese company Seven Dreamers, was supposed to be a washing machine, dryer, ironing and laundry-folding robot rolled into one. It was the perfect appliance, in short, for chore-dodging so-and-sos who hate dealing with grimy clothes. But that dream has come to a predictable end. This week, Seven Dreamers filed for bankruptcy in Japan, all but ensuring its halo product will never reach store shelves. According to Teikoku Databank, a private credit research agency, the company owes 2.25 billion yen ($20.1 million USD) to 200 creditors.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Forty-one percent of voice assistant users are concerned about trust, privacy and passive listening, according to a new report from Microsoft focused on consumer adoption of voice and digital assistants. From a report: And perhaps people should be concerned -- all the major voice assistants, including those from Google, Amazon, Apple and Samsung, as well as Microsoft, employ humans who review the voice data collected from end users. [...] While some users may not have realized the extent of human involvement on Alexa's backend, Microsoft's study indicates an overall wariness around the potential for privacy violations and abuse of trust that could occur on these digital assistant platforms. For example, 52 percent of those surveyed by Microsoft said they worried their personal information or data was not secure, and 24 percent said they don't know how it's being used. Thirty-six percent said they didn't even want their personal information or data to be used at all.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
An anonymous reader shares a report: Elastic isn't the only open source cloud tool company currently looking over its shoulder at AWS. In 2018 alone, at least eight firms have made similar "rule changes" designed to ward off what they see as unfair competition from a company intent on cannibalizing their services. In his blog post, Adrian Cockcroft, VP of cloud architecture strategy at Amazon Web Services (AWS), argued that by making part of its product suite proprietary, Elastic was betraying the core principles of the open source community. "Customers must be able to trust that open source projects stay open," Cockcroft wrote. "When important open source projects that AWS and our customers depend on begin restricting access, changing licensing terms, or intermingling open source and proprietary software, we will invest to sustain the open source project and community."
AWS's announcement did not attract the immediate attention of the Democratic presidential candidates or the growing cadre of antitrust activists who have recently set their sights on Amazon. But in the world of open source and free software, where picayune changes in arcane language can spark the internet equivalent of the Hundred Years War, the release of AWS's Open Distro for Elasticsearch launched a heated debate. [...] Sharone Zitzman, a respected commentator on open source software and the head of developer relations at AppsFlyer, an app development company, called Amazon's move a "hostile takeover" of Elastic's business. Steven O'Grady, co-founder of the software industry analyst firm RedMonk, cited it as an example of the "existential threat" that open source companies like Elastic believe a handful of cloud computing giants could pose.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's children-are-expensive department
pgmrdlm shares a report from CBS News: Half of American parents are unable to save as much as they'd like to for retirement, and their grown offspring -- whom they still count as dependents -- are to blame, according to a new Bankrate.com study. While they likely mean well, parents who support children into young adulthood often end up encumbered when they reach retirement age. They can inadvertently hamstring their kids, too.
Seventeen percent of the couples surveyed by Bankrate.com said that they sacrificed their own retirement savings by "a lot" to help their adult children. Another 34 percent said they'd "somewhat" sacrificed their savings plans. Not surprisingly, the lowest earners saved the least. Seventeen percent of couples making less than a combined $50,000 a year and have at least one child who is 18 or older said they were helping pay their adult children's bills but not setting aside any money for retirement. The study found a generational divide when it comes to perceptions of parents supporting adult children. "Millennials between the ages of 23 and 38 believe they should be supported for longer, and expect some expenses, like student loans, to be covered up to the age of 23," reports CBS News. "Baby boomers, meanwhile, think parents should wean children off their bank accounts sooner across almost every category of expense, including cell phone bills, car payments and travel costs." Millennials and baby boomers both agree that young adults by age 23 should be wholly response for bigger ticket expenses like health insurance.
Economic analyst Mark Hamrick says the 2008 financial crisis, Great Recession and lack of substantial wage growth are to blame for this dynamic. Changing societal norms also come in to play, as many young adults are "opting to pursue higher education, thereby delaying their entries into the workforce," the report says. "And by the time these degree-holders enter the workforce, they're saddled with student debt..."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's planning-ahead department
Apple allegedly wanted to hurt Qualcomm before it ever filed suit against the company, according to documents obtained by Qualcomm as the two companies prepared to meet in court. CNET reports on what has been made public: In September 2014, a document from Apple titled "QCOM - Future scenarios" detailed ways the company could exert pressure on Qualcomm, including by working with Intel on 4G modems for the iPhone. Apple and its manufacturing partners didn't actually file suit against Qualcomm until more than two years later. A second page of that document, titled "QCM - Options and recommendations (2/2)" revealed that Apple considered it "beneficial to wait to provoke a patent fight until after the end of 2016," when its contracts with Qualcomm would expire. "They were plotting it for two years," Qualcomm attorney Evan Chesler, of the firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore, said during his opening arguments last week. "It was all planned in advance. Every bit of it."
The unknown Apple team behind the September 2014 document recommended applying "commercial pressure against Qualcomm" by switching to Intel modems in iPhones. Apple ultimately started using Intel modems in about half of its iPhones with devices that came out in 2016. In the US, it embedded Intel modems in AT&T and T-Mobile models of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, but it still used Qualcomm in versions for Verizon and Sprint. Qualcomm, for its part, knew by June 2014 about Apple's plans to use Intel chips in 2016, according to an internal email from its president, Cristiano Amon, that was displayed during opening arguments. "Decision already has been made and beyond the point of no return on the 2nd source (Intel) for the 2016 premium tier," Amon wrote to CEO Steve Mollenkopf, CTO Jim Thompson, General Counsel Don Rosenberg and then-licensing chief Derek Aberle.
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's surprise-surprise department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: An Amazon team auditing Alexa users' commands has access to location data and can, in some cases, easily find a customer's home address, according to five employees familiar with the program. The team, spread across three continents, transcribes, annotates and analyzes a portion of the voice recordings picked up by Alexa. The program, whose existence Bloomberg revealed earlier this month, was set up to help Amazon's digital voice assistant get better at understanding and responding to commands.
Team members with access to Alexa users' geographic coordinates can easily type them into third-party mapping software and find home residences, according to the employees, who signed nondisclosure agreements barring them from speaking publicly about the program. While there's no indication Amazon employees with access to the data have attempted to track down individual users, two members of the Alexa team expressed concern to Bloomberg that Amazon was granting unnecessarily broad access to customer data that would make it easy to identify a device's owner. When Bloomberg first reported on the Alexa auditing program, Amazon said "employees do not have direct access to information that can identify the person or account as part of this workflow."
In a new statement responding to this story, Amazon said "access to internal tools is highly controlled, and is only granted to a limited number of employees who require these tools to train and improve the service by processing an extremely small sample of interactions. Our policies strictly prohibit employee access to or use of customer data for any other reason, and we have a zero tolerance policy for abuse of our systems. We regularly audit employee access to internal tools and limit access whenever and wherever possible."Read Replies (0)