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10 Years in Prison For Online Pirates a Step Closer in the UK
Posted by News Fetcher on September 14 '16 at 10:43 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's big-jail-time department:
The UK Government's Digital Economy Bill has moved a step closer to becoming law after its second reading in Parliament. With unanimous support, the current two-year maximum custodial sentence for online piracy is almost certain to increase to a decade, TorrentFreak reports. From the article: Due to UK copyright law allowing for custodial sentences of 'just' two years for online offenses, anti-piracy groups such as the Federation Against Copyright Theft have chosen to pursue their own private prosecutions. These have largely taken place under legislation designed for those who have committed fraud, rather than the more appropriate offense of copyright infringement. Physical pirates (CDs, DVDs) can be jailed for up to 10 years under current legislation. During the past few years, there have been lobbying efforts for this punishment to apply both on and offline. That resulted in a UK Government announcement last year indicating that it would move to increase the maximum prison sentence for online copyright infringement to ten years. They also urge Google to do something about growing incidents of piracy.

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Ford Charts Cautious Path Toward Self Driving, Shared Vehicles
Posted by News Fetcher on September 14 '16 at 10:43 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's what's-Ford-doing department:
Ford Motor Chief Executive Mark Fields is looking for more deals to advance the automaker's expansion into ride services and autonomous vehicles, but will not rush to match big spending by auto industry rivals, he told Reuters. Investors comparing the size of Ford's investments to what other automakers have announced are "looking at the wrong scoreboard," Fields said in an interview at Ford headquarters on Tuesday, ahead of the company's annual late-summer investor meeting. From the report: "Don't confuse activity for progress," Fields said in response to questions about why Ford's future 'mobility' investments appear to lag those of competitors such as General Motors, Daimler AG and Toyota Motor Corp. Mobility is the term auto companies and investors use to describe the next wave of personal transportation, which is still largely car-based but includes a wide range of services from ride sharing to automated driving and parking.

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Windows 10 Anniversary Update Rollout May Not Be Done Until Early November
Posted by News Fetcher on September 14 '16 at 09:27 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's slow-rollout department:
Microsoft released Windows 10 Anniversary Update last month. But the trickling of the company's latest major update users could take as much as three months, the company has said. Many users have been complaining about not seeing an update pop-up on their system. When ZDNet's reporter Mary Jo Foley asked Microsoft about this, the company confirmed that it hadn't seeded the update to all Windows 10 users. From the report: Microsoft began rolling out the latest version of Windows 10, the Anniversary Update, on August 2. At that time, Microsoft officials said the rollout would be staggered, but didn't get too explicit as to how -- or how long it might take the company to push Windows 10 Anniversary to consumers and business users who are on the so-called Current Branch of Windows 10. It's worth repeating that those who really want the Anniversary Update immediately have options to proactively go get it. I received a Microsoft blast email just over a week ago that included a footnote that mentioned it might take up to three months for Microsoft to push the Anniversary Update to those set up to get it. That means those currently waiting may still have another month and a half to wait.

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New EU Rules Promise 100Mbps Broadband and Free Wi-Fi For All
Posted by News Fetcher on September 14 '16 at 09:27 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's faster-internet-promises department:
An anonymous reader writes: The European Commission has promised free Wi-Fi in every town, village, and city in the European Union, in the next four years. A new grant, with a total budget of 120 million euro, will allow public authorities to purchase state-of-the art equipment, for example a local wireless access point. If approved by the the European Parliament and national ministers the cash could be available before the end of next year. The commission has also set a target for all European households to have access to download speeds of at least 100Mbps by 2025, and has redefined Internet access as a so-called universal service, while removing obligations for old universal services such as payphones. It also envisions fully deploying 5G, the fifth generation of mobile communication systems, across the European Union by 2025. Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker made reference to many of these proposals while also promising to abolish roaming once and for all in his "State of the European Union" address on Wednesday morning.

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Uber Starts Self Driving Car Pickups In Pittsburgh
Posted by News Fetcher on September 14 '16 at 08:07 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's it's-happening department:
The reports were true. Uber on Wednesday announced it a select group of Pittsburgh users will get a surprise the next time they book a cab: the option to ride in a self-driving car. TechCrunch reports: The announcement comes a year-and-a-half after Uber hired dozens of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University's robotics center to develop the technology. Uber gave a few members of the press a sneak peek Tuesday when a fleet of 14 Ford Fusions equipped with radar, cameras and other sensing equipment pulled up to Uber's Advanced Technologies Campus (ATC) northeast of downtown Pittsburgh. During my 45-minute ride across the city, it became clear that this is not a bid at launching the first fully formed autonomous cars. Instead, this is a research exercise. Uber wants to learn and refine how self driving cars act in the real world. That includes how the cars react to passengers -- and how passengers react to them. "How do drivers in cars next to us react to us? How do passengers who get into the backseat who are experiencing our hardware and software fully experience it for the first time, and what does that really mean?" said Raffi Krikorian, director of Uber ATC.When a couple of drivers were asked about Uber's push to get cabs drive themselves, they weren't pleased.

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GCHQ Planning UK-Wide DNS Firewall
Posted by News Fetcher on September 14 '16 at 08:07 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's big-brother-and-his-van department:
An anonymous reader writes: UK surveillance agency GCHQ is exploring the use of a national 'firewall' in its fight against cybercrime, according to the organisation's head of cybersecurity. Alongside BT, Talk Talk and Virgin Media, GCHQ will work to filter out websites and email campaigns which are known to contain malicious content. The intelligence organisation believes that the best to way to set up such a blockade would be to build a national domain name system (DNS). In a speech delivered at the Billington Cyber Security Summit in Washington DC, director general for cyber security at GCHQ, Ciaran Martin, said: 'We're exploring a flagship project on scaling up DNS filtering: what better way of providing automated defences at scale than by the major private providers effectively blocking their customers from coming into contact with known malware and bad addresses?'

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Europe Has Added 1.1 Billion Stars To Its Milky Way Map
Posted by News Fetcher on September 14 '16 at 06:41 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's that's-the-milky-way department:
Ben Sullivan, writing for Motherboard: The European Space Agency (ESA) has released the first batch of data from its Gaia star mapping project -- a mission that is currently on track to chart one billion stars in the Milky Way. The space telescope launched in 2013 and its first data dump contains the precise celestial position and brightness of a mammoth 1,142 million stars. The release also contains the distances and movements for more than two million stars so far. ESA's director of science Alvaro Gimenez told a press conference held at the European Space Astronomy Centre in Spain on Wednesday morning that the data release features around 490 billion astrometric, 118 billion photometric, and 10 billion spectroscopic measurements. "[The] Final survey will contain [around] 250,000 Solar System Objects, 1,000,000 galaxies, and 500,000 quasars," said Gimenez. Those numbers are almost unimaginable, but ESA has used the data so far to form an "all-sky" view of the stars in our galaxy and neighbouring galaxies, based on Gaia's observations from July 2014 to September 2015.

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Guccifer 2.0 Releases More DNC Documents
Posted by News Fetcher on September 14 '16 at 05:21 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's top-secret-documents department:
For the past several months, the hacker who calls himself "Guccifer 2.0" has been releasing documents about the Democratic National Committee. Today, he has released a new hoard of documents. Politico reports: The hacker persona Guccifer 2.0 has released a new trove of documents that allegedly reveal more information about the Democratic National Committee's finances and personal information on Democratic donors, as well as details about the DNC's network infrastructure. The cache also includes purported memos on tech initiatives from Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine's time as governor of Virginia, and some years-old missives on redistricting efforts and DNC donor outreach strategy. Most notable among Tuesday's documents may be the detailed spreadsheets allegedly about DNC fundraising efforts, including lists of DNC donors with names, addresses, emails, phone numbers and other sensitive details. Tuesday's documents regarding the DNC's information technology setup include several reports from 2010 purporting to show that the committee's network passed multiple security scans. In total, the latest dump contains more than 600 megabytes of documents. It is the first Guccifer 2.0 release to not come from the hacker's WordPress account. Instead, it was given out via a link to the small group of security experts attending [a London cybersecurity conference].

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Robots Will Eliminate 6% of All US Jobs By 2021, Says Report
Posted by News Fetcher on September 14 '16 at 02:41 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's commence-panic department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: By 2021, robots will have eliminated 6% of all jobs in the U.S., starting with customer service representatives and eventually truck and taxi drivers. That's just one cheery takeaway from a report released by market research company Forrester this week. These robots, or intelligent agents, represent a set of AI-powered systems that can understand human behavior and make decisions on our behalf. Current technologies in this field include virtual assistants like Alexa, Cortana, Siri and Google Now as well as chatbots and automated robotic systems. For now, they are quite simple, but over the next five years they will become much better at making decisions on our behalf in more complex scenarios, which will enable mass adoption of breakthroughs like self-driving cars. The Inevitable Robot Uprising has already started, with at least 45% of U.S. online adults saying they use at least one of the aforementioned digital concierges. Intelligent agents can access calendars, email accounts, browsing history, playlists, purchases and media viewing history to create a detailed view of any given individual. With this knowledge, virtual agents can provide highly customized assistance, which is valuable to shops or banks trying to deliver better customer service. The report predicts there will be a net loss of 7% of U.S. jobs by 2025 -- 16% of U.S. jobs will be replaced, while the equivalent of 9% jobs will be created. The report forecasts 8.9 million new jobs in the U.S. by 2025, some of which include robot monitoring professionals, data scientists, automation specialists, and content curators.

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SpaceX Plans To Resume Launches In November
Posted by News Fetcher on September 13 '16 at 11:52 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's business-as-usual department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: SpaceX is aiming to resume flights in November following a launch pad fire that destroyed a Falcon 9 rocket and an Israeli communications satellite it was due to lift into orbit, the company's president said on Tuesday. The space services company suspended Falcon 9 flights while it investigates why the rocket burst into flames on Sept 1 as it was being fueled for a routine prelaunch test at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. "We're anticipating being down for about three months, getting back to flight in the November timeframe," Gwynne Shotwell, president of Elon Musk's space company, said at a satellite industry conference in Paris. SpaceX previously said a nearly-completed second launch site in Florida, located at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC), would be finished in November. The pad was last used to launch NASA's space shuttles five years ago.

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Stanford Engineers Propose A Technology To Break The Net Neutrality Deadlock
Posted by News Fetcher on September 13 '16 at 07:48 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's add-fuel-to-the-fire department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: Stanford engineers have invented a technology that would allow an internet user to tell network providers and online publishers when and if they want content or services to be given preferential delivery, an advance that could transform the network neutrality debate. Net neutrality, as it's often called, is the proposition that internet providers should allow equal access to all content rather than give certain applications favored status or block others. But the Stanford engineers -- Professor Nick McKeown, Associate Professor Sachin Katti and electrical engineering PhD Yiannis Yiakoumis -- say their new technology, called Network Cookies, makes it possible to have preferential delivery and an open internet. Network Cookies allow users to choose which home or mobile traffic should get favored delivery, while putting network operators and content providers on a level playing field in catering to such user-signaled preferences. "So far, net neutrality has been promoted as the best possible defense for users," Katti said. "But treating all traffic the same isn't necessarily the best way to protect users. It often restricts their options and this is why so-called exceptions from neutrality often come up. We think the best way to ensure that ISPs and content providers don't make decisions that conflict with the interests of users is to let users decide how to configure their own traffic." McKeown said Network Cookies implement user-directed preferences in ways that are consistent with the principles of net neutrality. "First, they're simple to use and powerful," McKeown said. "They enable you to fast-lane or zero-rate traffic from any application or website you want, not just the few, very popular applications. This is particularly important for smaller content providers -- and their users -- who can't afford to establish relationships with ISPs. Second, they're practical to deploy. They don't overwhelm the user or bog down user devices and network operators and they function with a variety of protocols. Finally, they can be a very practical tool for regulators, as they can help them design simple and clear policies and then audit how well different parties adhere to them." The researchers presented a technical paper on their approach at a conference in Brazil.

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Edward Snowden Makes 'Moral' Case For Presidential Pardon
Posted by News Fetcher on September 13 '16 at 06:16 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's I-beg-your-pardon department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Edward Snowden has set out the case for Barack Obama granting him a pardon before the U.S. president leaves office in January, arguing that the disclosure of the scale of surveillance by U.S. and British intelligence agencies was not only morally right but had left citizens better off. Speaking on Monday via a video link from Moscow, where he is in exile, Snowden said any evaluation of the consequences of his leak of tens of thousands of National Security Agency and GCHQ documents in 2013 would show clearly that people had benefited. "Yes, there are laws on the books that say one thing, but that is perhaps why the pardon power exists -- for the exceptions, for the things that may seem unlawful in letters on a page but when we look at them morally, when we look at them ethically, when we look at the results, it seems these were necessary things, these were vital things," he said. "I think when people look at the calculations of benefit, it is clear that in the wake of 2013 the laws of our nation changed. The [U.S.] Congress, the courts and the president all changed their policies as a result of these disclosures. At the same time there has never been any public evidence that any individual came to harm as a result." In his wide-ranging interview, Snowden insisted the net public benefit of the NSA leak was clear. "If not for these disclosures, if not for these revelations, we would be worse off," he said. But Snowden still wants to return to the U.S. and seems confident, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, that it will happen. "In the fullness of time, I think I will end up back home," he said.

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Amazon Adds Audiobooks and Podcasts To Prime Membership
Posted by News Fetcher on September 13 '16 at 06:16 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's background-music department:
If you're one of the 63 million Amazon Prime members out there, you may be happy to hear that Amazon will now grant you unlimited access to podcasts and audiobooks from Audible. Fortune reports: With Tuesday's news, Prime members will now be able to stream a rotating selection of more than 50 audiobooks. Prime members will also have free access to Amazon's newly launched on-demand audio service from Audible Channels, which provides ad-free podcasts and other audio content. Audible released the service in July, and is charging non-Prime members $4.95 each month to access the selection of podcasts. In addition to podcasts, Channels also includes access to audio versions of articles from major publications, comedy shows, short fiction, and more. Fingers crossed they have some engaging technology books in their rotating selection...

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YouTube Gets Its Own Social Network With Launch of YouTube Community
Posted by News Fetcher on September 13 '16 at 04:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's sign-in-with-your-Google-account department:
The earlier reports were right when they said YouTube was working on launching its own social networking service for content creators. Instead of the "YouTube Backstage" branding, YouTube has decided to call their social networking service "YouTube Community," which allows content creators to use text, GIFs, and images to better engage viewers. Given the controversy surrounding YouTube in regard to demonetizing videos that are not deemed "friendly to advertisers," many YouTube creators have been or are thinking about leaving the site and joining competing services. These new tools are designed to help keep creators from departing to competing platforms. TechCrunch reports: YouTube has been testing the new service over the past several months with a handful of creators in order to gain feedback. It's launching the service into public beta with this group of early testers, and will make it available to a wider group of creators in the "month's ahead," it says. Access to this expanded feature set is made available to the creators and their viewers by way of a new "Community" tab on their channels. From here, creators can share things like text posts, images, GIFs and other content, which the audience can thumbs up and down, like the videos themselves, as well as comment on. Viewers will see these posts in their "Subscriptions" feed in the YouTube mobile application, and can also choose to receive push notifications on these posts from their favorite creators, YouTube says." Only time will tell whether or not this new move will be better received than YouTube's Google+ integration...

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New York Fines Viacom, Mattel and Hasbro For Tracking Kids Online
Posted by News Fetcher on September 13 '16 at 04:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's online-playground department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from USA Today: Companies that operate popular kids websites like nickjr.com and barbie.com agreed to a $835,000 settlement and to change their practices after an investigation found the sites were enabled with technology that tracked kids' internet activities. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced his office reached settlements with Viacom, Mattel, Hasbro and JumpStart Games after an investigation into the companies found violations of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. The investigation, called "Operation Child Tracker," found that websites operated by the companies enabled third-party vendors, such as marketing and advertising companies, to track children's online activity -- which violated federal law. Federal law prohibits the unauthorized collection of children's personal information on websites aimed at children under age 13. Viacom will pay $500,000; Mattel will pay $250,000; and JumpStart will pay $85,000. [Hasbro will not pay a penalty because it is part of a "safe harbor program" through the Federal Trade Commission that already requires more disclosures of web activity, Schneiderman said.]

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World Anti-Doping Agency Says It Was Hacked By Russia
Posted by News Fetcher on September 13 '16 at 03:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's revenge-is-a-dish-best-served-cold department:
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is accusing Russian state-sponsored hackers of hacking its database of athletes involved in this year's Olympic Games in Rio. Whether it's in response to the WADA banning 119 Russian athletes from participating in the games due to a doping scandal, it has yet to be determined. The Verge reports: The agency claims the state-sponsored group Fancy Bear is behind the attack, although it doesn't clarify how that attribution was made. The accessed data included medical information, like Therapeutic Use Exemptions issued by International Sports Federations and National Anti-Doping Organizations. The group has reportedly released some of this data and threatened to release more. The attackers reportedly relied on spear phishing emails to gain access to the database and eventually used credentials specifically made for the Rio Olympic games. Fancy Bear was the same group responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee earlier this year.

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ClixSense Suffers Massive Data Breach, 6.6 Million Users Compromised
Posted by News Fetcher on September 13 '16 at 03:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's unauthorized-access department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Digital Trends: ClixSense, a site which pays users to view ads and take surveys, was the victim of a massive data breach compromising around 6.6 million user accounts. Usually when there's a data breach of this size, the information stolen contains usernames, passwords, and some other personal information, but due to the nature of ClixSense and the service it provided, home addresses, payment histories, and other banking details have also been compromised. According to the message posted to PasteBin along with a sample of the stolen data, social security numbers, dates of birth, and some internal emails from ClixSense may also have been compromised. Ars Technica reported this morning that about 2.2 million people have had their data posted to PasteBin over the weekend, reportedly just a taste of the 6.6 million user accounts that have been stolen. The hackers responsible stated in their PasteBin post that they intend to sell the user information they gathered, without disclosing a specific price. PasteBin has since removed the posts and the sample of the compromised user account information.

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Pokemon Go's Paying Population Drops By 79% -- Still Most Profitable Mobile App In The US
Posted by News Fetcher on September 13 '16 at 02:03 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's declining-sales department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Metro: The world's obsession with Pokemon Go was clearly never going to last, but the incredible thing about its success is that although the paying population of the game is now down by 79% from its mid-July peak it's still easily the most profitable mobile app in the U.S.. According to analysts at Slice Intelligence, at its peak Pokemon Go inspired twice as many people as normal to spend money on mobile games, but that's now returned to normal. But Pokemon Go still accounts for 28% of all money spent on mobile games in America, bringing in six times more than nearest rival Candy Crush Saga. The obvious problem for Pokemon Go is that there's not really much gameplay to keep you coming back, and as winter approaches wandering around the countryside is going to lose some of its appeal somewhat. But there's a huge range of new features that could be added to the app, and just this week has seen the introduction of the buddy feature that lets you walk around and team-up with a particular Pokemon. There's also the delayed release of the Pokemon Go Plus Bluetooth device and the recent announcement of the Apple Watch app.

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Samsung To Push Software Upgrade Which Will Cap Galaxy Note 7 Battery Charging at 60 Percent
Posted by News Fetcher on September 13 '16 at 02:03 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's temp-fix department:
As Samsung figures out how to tackle the big Note7 fiasco, it has found a temporary solution for existing users of the phone. It plans to roll out an over-the-air (OTA) update on September 20 which would limit the battery charging cap for the Note7 to 60 percent. ZDNET reports: The Over-the-Air (OTA) software upgrade will commence on September 20, 10 am in South Korea. Samsung is in talks with telcos from nine other countries where the phablet is available to deploy a similar software upgrade. Galaxy Note 7 has a battery capacity of 3,500 mAh, but the forced upgrade will enforce it to 2,100 mAh. The measure is meant to protect consumers who are still using the Note7 despite a recommendation to halt use. When the exchange starts on September 19 in South Korea, the tech giant will also offer to pay parts of the data fee.

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Video Games Are So Realistic That They Can Teach AI What the World Looks Like
Posted by News Fetcher on September 13 '16 at 02:03 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's photorealistic-visuals department:
Jordan Pearson, reporting for Motherboard:Thanks to the modern gaming industry, we can now spend our evenings wandering around photorealistic game worlds, like the post-apocalyptic Boston of Fallout 4 or Grand Theft Auto V's Los Santos, instead of doing things like "seeing people" and "engaging in human interaction of any kind." Games these days are so realistic, in fact, that artificial intelligence researchers are using them to teach computers how to recognize objects in real life. Not only that, but commercial video games could kick artificial intelligence research into high gear by dramatically lessening the time and money required to train AI. "If you go back to the original Doom, the walls all look exactly the same and it's very easy to predict what a wall looks like, given that data," said Mark Schmidt, a computer science professor at the University of British Columbia (UBC). "But if you go into the real world, where every wall looks different, it might not work anymore." Schmidt works with machine learning, a technique that allows computers to "train" on a large set of labelled data -- photographs of streets, for example -- so that when let loose in the real world, they can recognize, or "predict," what they're looking at. Schmidt and Alireza Shafaei, a PhD student at UBC, recently studied Grand Theft Auto V and found that self-learning software trained on images from the game performed just as well, and in some cases even better, than software trained on real photos from publicly available datasets.

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