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FTC Allows ISPs To Block Apps But They Must Disclose It
Posted by News Fetcher on April 01 '19 at 04:30 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's green-lit department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The FTC can punish U.S. companies for unfair or deceptive practices. But in regard to net neutrality, this simply means that ISPs must disclose any behavior that would have violated the old net neutrality rules. "Under Section 5 of the FTC Act, we may prosecute unfair or deceptive acts or practices... Simply stated, we have a strong interest in ensuring that companies stand by their promises to consumers," FTC Chairman Joseph Simons said. The FTC would review whether ISPs keep their promises just as it reviews whether other companies keep their promises. "We would review ISPs' activities in the same way," Simons said. "For example, we could take action against ISPs if they block applications without adequately disclosing those practices or mislead consumers about what applications they block or how."

How would the FTC handle throttling of websites or online services? Simons explained: "To determine whether particular instances of throttling are deceptive, we would first evaluate what claims an ISP made to consumers about their services and how those claims are supported. We would look closely at any relevant research and evaluate the study's design, scope, and results and consider how a study relates to a particular claim. To evaluate whether a practice was unfair, we would consider whether the alleged throttling had countervailing benefits and whether there were reasonable steps consumers could have taken to avoid it. We would also consider consumer injury, the number of consumers affected, and the need to prevent future misconduct."

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Windows 10 Makes Large Share Gains, While Windows 7 Declines Significantly
Posted by News Fetcher on April 01 '19 at 04:30 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's where-things-are-going department:
An anonymous reader shared a report: It took quite some time for Windows 10 to overtake Windows 7, but it finally did it in December 2018, at least according to NetMarketShare's figures. In February however, Windows 10 actually lost share, while Windows 7 gained some, narrowing the gap between the two operating systems once more. In March though, roles were reversed, as Windows 10 made some big gains, and Windows 7 lost a sizable chunk of its share. In the month just gone, NetMarketShare shows Windows 10 going from 40.30 percent to 43.62 percent, a big gain of 3.32 percentage points. There is currently a gap of 7.11 percentage points between Windows 10 and Windows 7.

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Singapore Seeks Social Media 'Corrections' In Proposed Fake News Law
Posted by News Fetcher on April 01 '19 at 03:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's combating-false-information department:
A new bill sent to Singapore's parliament on Monday will require social media to carry warnings on posts it deems false and remove comments against "public interest." "The move came two days after Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said governments should play a more active role in regulating the online platform," reports Reuters. From the report: Singapore, which has been run by the same political party since independence from Britain more than 50 years ago, says it is vulnerable to fake news because of its position as a global financial hub, its mixed ethnic and religious population and widespread internet access. The new bill proposes that the government get online platforms to publish warnings or "corrections
alongside posts carrying false information, without removing them.

This would be the "primary response" to counter falsehoods online, the Law Ministry said. "That way, in a sense, people can read whatever they want and make up their minds. That is our preference," Law Minister K. Shanmugam told reporters on Monday. "This legislation deals with false statements of facts. It doesn't deal with opinions, it doesn't deal with viewpoints. You can have whatever viewpoints however reasonable or unreasonable." Under the proposals, which must be approved by parliament, criminal sanctions will only be imposed if the falsehoods are spread by "malicious actors" who "undermine society," the ministry said, without elaborating. It added that it would cut off an online site's "ability to profit," without shutting it down, if the site had published three falsehoods that were "against the public interest" over the previous six months. It did not say how it would block a site's profit streams.

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Google Is Killing Off the Pixel 2, Inbox, goo.gl URL Shortener, and Google+ This Week
Posted by News Fetcher on April 01 '19 at 03:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's no-joke department:
In addition to shutting down Google+, Google URL Shortener, and Inbox by Gmail this week, the company has stopped selling its Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones through its online store, which means whatever remaining stock at other retailers will likely be extremely limited. It also means that the $799 Pixel 3 is now the cheapest phone Google sells. PCWorld summarizes the other three products coming to an end this week: Inbox by Gmail: When the Inbox by Gmail app launched in 2015, it was a revelation. A completely new way to view and organize your messages, Inbox boiled your emails down to a smart task manager, with bundles, pins, scheduling, and shortcuts that made managing your inbox a breeze. But over the years, Google's interest in Inbox faded, and it never really got the attention it deserved. Most of its unique features are now part of the Gmail app (though we're still waiting for bundles), and several third-party apps have adopted Inbox's style. Apparently that's good enough for Google, because as of this week you won't be able to use it anymore.

Google URL Shortener (goo.gl): Back in 2009, link shortening was still a novel idea, and Google was one of the first to bring the concept to the masses with the Google URL Shortener. It was a simple way to turn a lengthy web address into a short one that consisted of goo.gl and a short string of letter and numbers. With the rise of bit.ly and similar services, Google's own URL shortener became less important to people's work flow and now, nearly 10 years later, it's gone for good.
Google+: Google+ was once supposed to be the one-stop shop for social and support among Google users, but it never really caught on. And then it was revealed that some 50 million users may have had their name, email address, occupation, and age exposed to third-party developers, which accelerated its demise. Now it's going away for good, but we can't imagine that anyone will actually notice.

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Amazon Is Slashing Whole Foods' Prices By 20 Percent On Hundreds of Items
Posted by News Fetcher on April 01 '19 at 01:50 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's slice-and-dice department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Wall Street Journal: Amazon is planning to cut prices on hundreds of items at Whole Foods stores this week (Warning: source paywalled; alternative source), as the e-commerce giant seeks to change the chain's high-cost image amid intense competition among grocers. The price cuts affect more than 500 products and include a focus on produce and meat, according to documents viewed by The Wall Street Journal. The move comes after Whole Foods raised prices on select items in February, mostly consumer products, as suppliers increased their prices because of higher transport and ingredient costs.

The latest cuts -- which are set to drop at Whole Foods stores on Wednesday -- are some of the broadest since Amazon bought the grocer for nearly $14 billion in 2017. Prices will be reduced by an average of 20 percent on the selected items. The e-commerce giant has tried to extend its own reputation for low prices and convenience to Whole Foods, to counter a sense among some consumers that shopping there required a "Whole Paycheck." The discounts include more produce and meat products than the earlier cuts. The price of organic-rainbow carrots, for instance, will drop by $1, to $1.99, and the price of Black Forest ham will drop $3 a pound to $9.99. The companies also said Monday that Amazon Prime members would be able to save more than before at Whole Foods, with double the number of weekly Prime Member deals and deeper discounts. The report adds that the price cuts are expected to last at least through the end of the year.

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Former NSA Spies Hacked BBC Host, Al Jazeera Chairman for UAE
Posted by News Fetcher on April 01 '19 at 01:50 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's breaking-news department:
A UAE cyber espionage contractor staffed with several former U.S. intelligence agents hacked journalists or news executives at Al Jazeera, the BBC, Al Arabi and others throughout June 2017, Reuters reported Monday. From the report: The American operatives worked for Project Raven, a secret Emirati intelligence program that spied on dissidents, militants and political opponents of the UAE monarchy. A Reuters investigation in January revealed Project Raven's existence and inner workings, including the fact that it surveilled a British activist and several unnamed U.S. journalists. The Raven operatives -- who included at least nine former employees of the U.S. National Security Agency and the U.S. military -- found themselves thrust into the thick of a high-stakes dispute among America's Gulf allies. The Americans' role in the UAE-Qatar imbroglio highlights how former U.S. intelligence officials have become key players in the cyber wars of other nations, with little oversight from Washington.

The crisis erupted in the spring of 2017, when the UAE and allies -- including Saudi Arabia and Egypt -- accused Qatar of sowing unrest in the Middle East through its support of media outlets and political groups. The UAE camp demanded Qatar take a series of actions, including shuttering the Qatar-funded Al Jazeera satellite television network, withdrawing funding from other media outlets Doha supports, and cracking down on the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic movement some Arab governments regard as a threat.

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Over 13K iSCSI Storage Clusters Left Exposed Online Without a Password
Posted by News Fetcher on April 01 '19 at 12:30 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department:
Over 13,000 iSCSI storage clusters are currently accessible via the internet after their respective owners forgot to enable authentication. From a report: This misconfiguration has the risk of causing serious harm to devices' owners, as cyber-criminal groups could access these internet-accessible hard drives (storage disk arrays and NAS devices) to replace legitimate files with malware, insert backdoors inside backups, or steal company information stored on the unprotected devices. [...] Over the weekend, penetration tester A Shadow tipped ZDNet about this hugely dangerous misconfiguration issue. The researcher found over 13,500 iSCSI clusters on Shodan, a search engine that indexes internet-connected devices. In an online conversation with ZDNet, the researcher described this iSCSI exposure as a "dangerous backdoor" that can allow cyber-criminals to plant ransomware-infected files on companies' networks, steal company data, or place backdoors inside backup archives that may get activated when a company restores one of these booby-trapped files.

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Sony To Slash Smartphone Workforce 50% By 2020
Posted by News Fetcher on April 01 '19 at 12:30 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's tough-luck department:
Sony is cutting up to half its smartphone workforce as sales shrink in the face of stiff global competition. From a report: The job cuts come as the global smartphone industry suffers one of the severest downturns of recent years. Worldwide shipments are expected to decline for the third straight year in 2019 to about 1.3 billion units, according to U.S. research company IDC. Sony's share of the smartphone market has fallen sharply in recent years -- from more than 3% in 2010, according to the research portal Statistica -- to less than 1% currently. It has struggled to compete against leaders Apple, Samsung Electronics and Huawei Technologies, all of which are racing to develop new 5G devices. The decision to scale back its smartphone workforce, which could see up to 2,000 of the total 4,000 jobs cut by March 2020, is part of a move to reduce fixed costs in the business, and also includes procurement reform.

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Global Video Streaming Market is Largely Controlled by the Usual Suspects
Posted by News Fetcher on April 01 '19 at 11:10 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Weeks after Steven Spielberg took a swing at Netflix and Hulu, the Hollywood legend had a change of heart about the medium, appearing at Apple's star-studded event to help the iPhone-maker launch a streaming service. The embrace comes as people are increasingly cutting their cable connections and moving to streaming services for their entertainment needs. Just last week, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), a trade body that represents major Hollywood studios and Netflix, reported that video streaming services now have more subscribers worldwide (613.3 million users) than those with a cable connection (some 556 million users). Another disruption is nigh. Revenue generated by streaming services is set to surpass worldwide theatrical revenue this year, according to research firm Ampere Analysis. Media and technology companies are naturally fighting for a piece of that pie.

< article continued at Slashdot's closer-look department >

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Blockbuster Video Now Has Just One Store Left On Earth
Posted by News Fetcher on April 01 '19 at 11:10 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
Cutting_Crew writes: After the last remaining Blockbuster Video store closed in Australia on March 31st, there is only one remaining left on earth. That location is in Bend, Oregon and seems to be a thriving location, where they write out membership cards by hand and the system is rebooted using floppy disks, apparently only something one person, the general manager, knows how to do. If you are wondering how there could be still blockbuster videos open since they went bankrupt back in 2010, the remaining stores left open were independent franchises and were separate from most of the other corporate stores, thus not part of the bankruptcy. There was also an Onion video before they even went bankrupt that's pretty funny. I remember getting a membership way back in late 90s and new releases were $8 per night. Even then, that seemed way too expensive. What are your most memorable (good or bad) memories of your local blockbuster?

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Cloudflare Says Its New VPN Service Won't Slow You Down
Posted by News Fetcher on April 01 '19 at 09:50 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's interesting-services department:
Cloudflare has announced that it's adding a VPN service to its 1.1.1.1 DNS resolver app. The 1.1.1.1 service, which first came to mobile back in November, currently attempts to speed up mobile data speeds by using Cloudflare's network to resolve DNS queries faster than your existing mobile network. From a report: "We wanted to build a VPN service that my dad would install on his phone," says Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince. "If you tell him that it will make his connection more private and secure, he'd never do it. But if you tell him it will make his connection faster, make his phone's battery last longer, and make his connections more private, then it would be something he'd install."

Mobile phone users can begin signing up for the service, dubbed Warp, through Cloudflare's mobile app 1.1.1.1 on Monday; Cloudflare says it hopes the service is working Monday, but it might take a few days. Regardless, Warp is a sign of things to come for the rest of the internet. The technology that Cloudflare is betting will make Warp fast is a protocol invented by Google called QUIC, and it could one day make the rest of the internet faster and more reliable. QUIC is essentially a substitute for TCP, the venerable protocol now used for most internet connections. TCP, introduced in 1981, made reliable internet connections possible, says Jana Iyengar, who worked on QUIC for Google; Iyengar is now a distinguished engineer at the cloud computing company Fastly working to help finalize QUIC with the Internet Engineering Task Force standards body.

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Burger King is Testing a Vegetarian Whopper Made With Impossible Burger
Posted by News Fetcher on April 01 '19 at 09:50 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's not-an-april-fools'-day-joke department:
Burger King is testing a vegetarian version of its Whopper that uses an Impossible Burger for its patties, becoming the first national fast-food chain to sell the plant-based burger. From a report: The Restaurant Brands International subsidiary is offering the Impossible Whopper at 59 St. Louis locations. The chain already sells veggie patties made by Kellogg's vegetarian brand, Morningstar Farms. To announce the launch, Burger King released a video on April Fools' Day that shows unsuspecting Whopper fans eating the version with the Impossible Burger and then exclaiming that they can't taste the difference. Silicon Valley-based Impossible Foods genetically engineers heme, a protein that makes the vegetarian-friendly burger taste like meat. The ingredient is also responsible for giving the patty red juices that make it look like it's bleeding, just like a piece of beef.

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'Fortnite' May be a Virtual Game, But It's Having Real-life, Dangerous Effects
Posted by News Fetcher on April 01 '19 at 08:30 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: "They are not sleeping. They are not going to school. They are dropping out of social activities. A lot of kids have stopped playing sports so they can do this." Michael Rich, a pediatrician and director of the Clinic for Interactive Media and Internet Disorders at Boston Children's Hospital, was talking about the impact "Fortnite: Battle Royale" -- a cartoonish multiplayer shooter game -- is having on kids, mainly boys, some still in grade school. "We have one kid who destroyed the family car because he thought his parents had locked his device inside," Rich said. "He took a hammer to the windshield."

A year and a half since the game's release, Rich's account is just one of many that describe an obsession so intense that kids are seeing doctors and therapists to break the game's grip, in some cases losing so much weight -- because they refuse to stop playing to eat -- that doctors initially think they're wasting away from a physical disease. The stress on families has become so severe that parents are going to couples' counselors, fighting over who's to blame for allowing "Fortnite" into the house in the first place and how to rein in a situation that's grown out of control. Further reading: 'Fortnite' Creator Sees Epic Games Becoming as Big as Facebook, Google.

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Years of Mark Zuckerberg's Old Facebook Posts Have Vanished. The Company Says it 'Mistakenly Deleted' Them.
Posted by News Fetcher on April 01 '19 at 08:30 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's oops department:
Old Facebook posts by Mark Zuckerberg have disappeared -- obscuring details about core moments in Facebook's history. An anonymous reader shares a report: On multiple occassions, years-old public posts made by the 34-year-old billionaire chief executive that were previously public and reported on by news outlets at the time have since vanished, Business Insider has found. That includes all of the posts he made during 2007 and 2008. Reached for comment, a Facebook spokesperson said the posts were "mistakenly deleted" due to "technical errors." "A few years ago some of Mark's posts were mistakenly deleted due to technical errors. The work required to restore them would have been extensive and not guaranteed to be successful so we didn't do it," the spokesperson said in a statement.

"We agree people should be able to find information about past announcements and major company news, which is why for years we've shared and archived this information publicly - first on our blog and in recent years on our Newsroom." The total number of vanished posts could be significantly higher, as the very nature of the issue makes it extremely difficult to make a full accounting of what exactly what has gone missing over the years. The spokesperson said they didn't know how many posts in total were deleted.

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On its 10th Anniversary, Grammarly Looks Way Beyond Grammar
Posted by News Fetcher on April 01 '19 at 07:10 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's interesting-moves department:
The service that began by checking prose for glaring mistakes increasingly wants to help its nearly 20 million daily users do more than simply avoid errors. From a report: Plenty of technology companies give away stickers of the sort their fans can slap on the back of a laptop. But the ones available for the taking in the reception area at Grammarly's San Francisco office are distinctly its own -- willfully low-key and thoughtful rather than brash and boastful. Being low-key and thoughtful is a logical tone for a company that is in the business of helping people fine-tune their written words, whether they're meant for a business document, school paper, or social media post. That is what Grammarly has been doing for a decade, since its founding on April 1, 2009, under its soon-abandoned original name of Sentenceworks. But it's also how it wants to run its business, which -- rather than moving fast and breaking things -- waited six years before offering a free version and another two before taking on outside funding.

[...] Grammarly is celebrating its 10th birthday by announcing that it's on the cusp of reaching 20 million daily active users, including both users of the free version and those who pay $30 a month (or $140 a year) for Grammarly Premium or $15 per user per month for Grammarly Business. That's up from 15 million last October and just 1 million at the end of 2015, the year it introduced its free version. The company is an uncommonly effective direct marketer; even if you've never tried its service yourself, there's a pretty good chance you've been exposed to it on YouTube. And even if you hit the "Skip Ad" button as fast as you could, enough viewers have paid attention that YouTube rated Grammarly's spot as the most effective "TrueView for Action" ad of 2018, based on reach, clicks, and engagement.

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Gmail Turns 15, Gets Smart Compose Improvements and Email Scheduling
Posted by News Fetcher on April 01 '19 at 07:10 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's moving-forward department:
Today, to celebrate its fifteenth birthday, the Gmail team announced a couple of a new and useful Gmail features, including improvements to Smart Compose and the ability to schedule emails to be sent in the future. From a report: Smart Compose, which tries to autocomplete your emails as you type them, will now be able to adapt to the way you write the greetings in your emails. If you prefer 'Hey' over 'Hi,' then Smart Compose will learn that. If you often fret over which subject to use for your emails, then there's some relief here for you, too, because Smart Compose can now suggest a subject line based on the content of your email. With this update, Smart Compose is now also available on all Android devices.

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New Male Birth Control Pill Succeeds In Preliminary Testing
Posted by News Fetcher on April 01 '19 at 04:30 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's planned-parenthood department:
"A second male birth control pill succeeded in preliminary testing, suggesting that a new form of contraception may eventually exist," reports Time:

The new pill, which works similarly to female contraception, passed initial safety tests and produced hormone responses consistent with effective birth control in 30 men, according to research presented by the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute and the University of Washington at the Endocrine Society's annual meeting. (The study has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.) It's early days for the drug -- which has not yet been submitted for approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) -- but co-principal investigator Dr. Christina Wang, lead researcher at LA BioMed, says it's an important step toward effective, reversible male hormonal contraception....
Unlike a 2016 male birth control trial that famously stopped enrolling volunteers early because so many men complained of side effects, none of the men experienced serious problems, and no one stopped taking the drug because of side effects.

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More Colleges Try Forgoing Tuition For A Percentage of Future Income
Posted by News Fetcher on April 01 '19 at 01:50 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's investing-in-your-future department:
"Some innovative colleges, in partnership with private investors and a small number of philanthropies, are experimenting with a new financing model called 'income share agreements' or 'ISAs,'" reports Yahoo Finance:

With an ISA, instead of assuming a fixed debt obligation, students simply agree to pay an affordable percentage of their future income over a set time period, subject to an overall cap. High earners will have larger payments than low earners, but all will have an affordable payment, based on what they will actually be making. Importantly, when the college is providing some or all of the funding for the ISA, its return will be aligned with its students' post-college earnings, giving it economic incentives to make sure its students both graduate and find jobs. The college is, literally, invested in its students' success...

With ISAs, there is no principal or interest. Thus, they are much better suited for low income students as their financial obligations never exceed their ability to pay... In a recent paper commissioned by the Manhattan Institute, we looked at the small but growing number of colleges and universities offering ISA programs. Indiana's Purdue University launched the first such program in 2016. About a dozen other institutions have now followed suit, including Lackawanna College in Pennsylvania, Clarkson University in New York, and the University of Utah. Most of these pioneers offer ISAs to students as an alternative to non-subsidized federal loans, though a few are offering them as a complete substitute for borrowing... A common feature of all these ISA programs is that they require payments only when the graduate meets a certain income threshold. All impose time limits and caps on the total amount that needs to be repaid, though they differ widely in where they set those caps and limits.

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OS/2 Warp Community Announces It's Merging With the Flat Earth Society
Posted by News Fetcher on April 01 '19 at 12:30 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's here-be-dragons department:
"From now on our communities will merge to became one single point of contact for OS/2 users and people investigating the truth about our planet earth," OS2World announced today.
OS2World's news master martiniturbide, also a Slashdot reader, writes: The OS/2 community expects that this action will benefit the platform by getting the funds to finally create an open source clone of OS/2. OS2World asks every OS/2 user to start believing that the earth is flat to get the "big bucks" that will finally turn the operating system into a Windows 10, Ubuntu, MacOS X and Android competitor in the final OS Wars of all ages.

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Why Hasn't The Gig Economy Killed Traditional Work?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 31 '19 at 09:50 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's side-hustles department:
An anonymous reader quotes NPR:

In recent months, a slew of studies has debunked predictions that we're witnessing the dawn of a new "gig economy." The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that there was actually a decline in the categories of jobs associated with the gig economy between 2005 and 2017. Larry Katz and the late Alan Krueger then revised their influential study that had originally found gig work was exploding. Instead, they found it had only grown modestly. Other economists ended up finding the same -- and now writers are declaring the gig economy is "a big nothingburger."

Arun Sundararajan, a professor at the NYU Stern School of Business and the author of The Sharing Economy: The End of Employment and the Rise of Crowd-Based Capitalism, remains a true believer in the gig revolution.... When asked about the onslaught of data contradicting his thesis, Sundararajan said the Bureau of Labor Statistics continues "to underestimate the size of the gig economy and in particular of the platform-based gig economy." The best BLS estimate of the number of gig workers employed through digital platforms -- whether full-time, part-time or occasionally -- is one percent of the total U.S. workforce, or about 1.6 million workers, as of mid-2017. Sundararajan argues that the survey questions the BLS used to gather this data were clunky and don't quite capture what's going on.... He believes work done through gig platforms can be more efficient than work done in a traditional company -- and that will spell the company's doom...
< article continued at Slashdot's side-hustles department >

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