By msmash from Slashdot's growing-tension department
A Huawei executive has been arrested in Poland on charges of spying for China, Poland's counterintelligence service said Friday. NPR reports: A government spokesman identified the suspect as Weijing W.; media reports in Poland and China say he also is known as Stanislaw Wang, Huawei's sales director in Poland. In a coordinated arrest Tuesday, authorities also detained and charged a Polish citizen named Piotr D. who works for the telecom company Orange Polska. He is a former Internal Security Agency official, according to Poland's TVP Info, which first reported the story. Police searched both of the suspects' homes Tuesday. In addition, TVP Info says, Internal Security Agency officers searched Huawei's headquarters in Poland and an Orange office where Piotr D. worked. The government has evidence that the two suspects "cooperated with the Chinese services" as they conducted espionage against Poland, according to Stanislaw Zaryn, spokesman for the special services branch, in a tweet about the case.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's stranger-things department
Bird, an electric scooter rental company, sent a "Notice of Claimed Infringement" to news blog Boing Boing for reporting about people doing legal things that Bird does not like. EFF reports: Electric scooters have swamped a number of cities across the US, many of the scooters carelessly discarded in public spaces. Bird, though, has pioneered a new way to pollute the commons by sending a meritless takedown letter to a journalist covering the issue. The company cites the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and implies that even writing about the issue could be illegal. It's not.
Bird sent a "Notice of Claimed Infringement" over this article on Boing Boing, one of the Internet's leading sources of news and commentary. The article reports on the fact that large numbers of Bird scooters are winding up in impound lots, and that it's possible to lawfully purchase these scooters when cities auction them off, and then to lawfully modify those scooters so they work without the Bird app. The letter is necessarily vague about exactly how the post infringed any of Bird's rights, and with good reason: the post does no such thing, as we explain in a letter on behalf of Happy Mutants LLC, which owns and operates Boing Boing.
The post reports on lawful activity, nothing more. In fact, the First Amendment would have protected it even if reported on illegal conduct or advocated for people to break the law. (For instance, a person might lawfully advocate that an electric scooter startup should violate local parking ordinances. Hypothetically.) So, in a sense, it doesn't matter whether Bird is right or wrong when it claims that it's illegal to convert a Bird scooter to a personal scooter. Either way, Boing Boing was free to report on it.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
An anonymous reader shares a report: In 2018, several high-profile controversies involving AI served as a wake-up call for technologists, policymakers, and the public. The technology may have brought us welcome advances in many fields, but it can also fail catastrophically when built shoddily or applied carelessly. It's hardly a surprise, then, that Americans have mixed support for the continued development of AI and overwhelmingly agree that it should be regulated, according to a new study from the Center for the Governance of AI and Oxford University's Future of Humanity Institute. These are important lessons for policymakers and technologists to consider in the discussion on how best to advance and regulate AI, says Allan Dafoe, director of the center and coauthor of the report. "There isn't currently a consensus in favor of developing advanced AI, or that it's going to be good for humanity," he says. "That kind of perception could lead to the development of AI being perceived as illegitimate or cause political backlashes against the development of AI."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's moving-on department
Developer Bungie and publisher Activision are splitting up in an industry-shaking divorce that will see the shared world shooter series Destiny enter fully into Bungie's control. From a report: This development comes after years of tension between the two companies -- tension that has existed since before the first Destiny even shipped. Bungie, the studio that created and has led development on the franchise, told employees during a team meeting this afternoon, framing it as fantastic news for a studio that has long grown sick of dealing with its publisher. Employees cheered and popped champagne, according to one person who was there.
[...] One of the most significant tensions between Bungie and Activision had long been the annualized schedule, which mandated the release of a new Destiny game or expansion every fall. Now, separated from Activision, Bungie will no longer be constrained to that schedule. "We'll continue to deliver on the existing Destiny roadmap, and we're looking forward to releasing more seasonal experiences in the coming months," the company said, "as well as surprising our community with some exciting announcements about what lies beyond."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Parts of the world will be excluded from the internet for decades to come without major efforts to boost education, online literacy and broadband infrastructure, experts have warned. From a report: While half the world's population now uses the internet, a desperate lack of skills and stagnant investment mean the UN's goal of universal access, defined as 90% of people being online, may not be reached until 2050 or later, they said. The bleak assessment highlights the dramatic digital divide that has opened up between those who take the internet and its benefits for granted and those who are sidelined because they either lack the skills to be online, cannot afford access or live in a region with no connection. "If there is any kind of faltering in the rate of people coming online, which it appears that there is, then we'll have a real challenge in getting 70%, 80% or 90% connected," said Adrian Lovett, CEO of the World Wide Web Foundation, an organisation set up by the inventor of the web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
An anonymous reader shares a report: On Thursday, AT&T announced it was stopping the sale of its customers' real-time location data to all third parties, in response to a Motherboard investigation showing how data from AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint trickled down through a complex network of companies until eventually landing the hands of bounty hunters and people unauthorized to handle it. To verify the existence of this trade, Motherboard paid $300 on the black market to successfully locate a phone.
Google, whose Google Fi program offers phone, text, and data services that use T-Mobile and Sprint network infrastructure in the United States, told Motherboard that it asked those companies to not share its customers' location data with third parties. "We have never sold Fi subscribers' location information," a Google spokesperson told Motherboard in a statement late on Thursday. "Google Fi is an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) and not a carrier, but as soon as we heard about this practice, we required our network partners to shut it down as soon as possible." Google did not say when it made this a requirement.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department
Mondelez, the US food company that owns the Oreo and Cadbury brands, is suing its insurance company, Zurich, for refusing to pay out on a $100m claim for damage caused by the NotPetya cyber attack. From a report: The case will be the first serious legal dispute over how companies can recover the costs of a cyber attack [Editor's note: the article may be paywalled; alternative source], as insurance groups seek to tightly define their liabilities. "It's a pretty big deal. I've never seen an insurance company take this position," said Robert Stines, a cyber law specialist at the US law firm Freeborn. "It's going to send ripples through the insurance industry. Major companies are going to rethink what's in their policies." The NotPetya attack in the summer of 2017 crippled the computer systems of companies around the world, including Merck, the pharmaceuticals company, Reckitt Benckiser, the consumer group, and Maersk, the world's largest shipping group. It caused billions of dollars of damage and has been blamed by the US and the UK on Russian hackers attacking the Ukrainian government.
[...] According to the Mondelez court documents, Zurich initially worked to adjust the claim in the usual way and at one point even promised to make a $10m interim payment. But it later refused to pay, relying on an exclusion in the policy for "a hostile or warlike action" by a government or sovereign power or people acting for them. Mondelez described Zurich's refusal as "unprecedented" and is seeking $100m in damages. Both companies declined to comment on the case.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's achievement-unlocked department
VLC has reached a rare milestone: It has been downloaded more than 3 billion times across various platforms, up from 1 billion downloads in May 2012. VentureBeat reports of the milestone and the new features coming to the media player: VLC today rolled out a minor update -- v3.0.6 -- that adds support for HDR videos in AV1, an emerging video format. But in the coming months, VLC has bigger things planned. First up is a major update to VLC's Android app in about a month, which will introduce support for AirPlay. This will enable Android users to beam video files from their Android phones to the Apple TV. [Jean-Baptiste Kempf, the president and lead developer of VLC's parent company VideoLan] then plans to update the VR app, which will enable native support for VR videos. He said his team reverse-engineered popular VR headsets so that developers no longer need to rely on the SDKs offered by vendors. The app will also receive support for 3D interactions and stereo sound, and add a virtual theater feature.
After that, a major update will be pushed to VLC across all popular platforms. The update, dubbed version 4.0, will offer playback improvements in scaling and video quality of HDR video files. But that's not all. Kempf says he plans to bring VLC to more platforms. He said he is thinking about bringing the media player to Sony's PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Roku devices. Kempf participated in Slashdot's interview a couple of years ago, offering some insight into how he's able to keep VLC sustainable (since VideoLan is a nonprofit that runs entirely on donations) and the various projects that were in the works at the time, among other things.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's time's-up department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: Attorneys in San Francisco representing an Alphabet shareholder are suing the board of directors for allegedly covering up sexual misconduct claims against top executives. The suit comes months after an explosive New York Times report detailed how Google shielded executives accused of sexual misconduct, either by keeping them on staff or allowing them amicable departures. For example, Google reportedly paid Android leader Andy Rubin a $90 million exit package, despite asking for his resignation after finding sexual misconduct claims against him credible.
The new lawsuit, filed in California's San Mateo County, asserts claims for breach of fiduciary duty, abuse of control, unjust enrichment, and waste of corporate assets. The attorneys say the lawsuit is the result of "an extensive original investigation into non-public evidence" and produced copies of internal Google minutes from board of directors meetings. "The Directors' wrongful conduct allowed the illegal conduct to proliferate and continue," the suit reads. "As such, members of Alphabet's Board were knowing and direct enablers of the sexual harassment and discrimination."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's here-we-go-again department
Ben Klemens writes via Ars Technica: A landmark 2014 ruling by the Supreme Court called into question the validity of many software patents. In the wake of that ruling, countless broad software patents became invalid, dealing a blow to litigation-happy patent trolls nationwide. But this week the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) proposed new rules that would make it easier to patent software. If those rules take effect, it could take us back to the bad old days when it was easy to get broad software patents -- and to sue companies that accidentally infringe them.
The Federal Circuit Appeals Court is the nation's highest patent court below the Supreme Court, and it is notoriously patent friendly. Ever since the Supreme Court's 2014 ruling, known as Alice v. CLS Bank, the Federal Circuit has worked to blunt the ruling's impact. In a 2016 ruling called Enfish, the Federal Circuit ruling took a single sentence from the Supreme Court's 2014 ruling and used it as the legal foundation for approving more software patents. This legal theory, known as the "technical effects doctrine," holds that software that improves the functioning of a computer should be eligible for a patent. A version of this rule has long held sway in Europe, but it has only recently started to have an impact in U.S. law.
This week, the Patent Office published a new draft of the section on examining software and other potentially abstract ideas in its Manual of Patent Examination Procedure (MPEP). This is the official document that helps patent examiners understand and interpret relevant legal principles. The latest version, drawing on recent Federal Circuit rulings, includes far tighter restrictions on what may be excluded from patentability. This matters because there's significant evidence that the proliferation of software patents during the 1990s and 2000s had a detrimental impact on innovation -- precisely the opposite of how patents are supposed to work.Read Replies (0)