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Millions of Dell PCs Vulnerable To Flaw In Pre-Installed Software
Posted by News Fetcher on June 21 '19 at 03:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's perils-of-bloatware department:
secwatcher shares a report from Threatpost: Millions of PCs made by Dell and other OEMs are vulnerable to a flaw stemming from a component in pre-installed SupportAssist software. The flaw could enable a remote attacker to completely takeover affected devices. The high-severity vulnerability (CVE-2019-12280) stems from a component in SupportAssist, a proactive monitoring software pre-installed on PCs with automatic failure detection and notifications for Dell devices. That component is made by a company called PC-Doctor, which develops hardware-diagnostic software for various PC and laptop original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). A patch has been issued by PC-Doctor that fixes impacted devices. Impacted customers can find the latest version of SupportAssist here (for single PC users) or here (for IT managers).

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Desjardins Data Breach Affecting 2.9 Million Members Caused By Employee Who's Since Been Fired
Posted by News Fetcher on June 21 '19 at 03:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's largest-data-breach-in-Canadian-history department:
Freshly Exhumed shares a report from The Georgia Straight: The Quebec-based Desjardins Group has admitted to being victimized by one of the largest data breaches in Canadian history. Laval police informed the financial-services giant that personal information of more than 2.9 million members has been shared with people outside of the organization. This includes 2.7 million people and 173,000 businesses. "This situation is the outcome of unauthorized and illegal use of our internal data by an employee who has since been fired," Desjardins said in a statement. "In light of these events, and given the circumstances, additional security measures were put in place on all accounts." Desjardins, which is the largest federation of credit unions in North America, will be informing people by letters if they've been affected. The leaked data included first and last names, birthdates, social insurance numbers, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and details about banking habits. However, passwords, security questions, and PINs were not disclosed.

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Prisons Are Banning Books That Teach Prisoners How To Code
Posted by News Fetcher on June 21 '19 at 02:20 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's banned-books department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: The Oregon Department of Corrections has banned prisoners from reading a number of books related to technology and programming, citing concerns about security. According to public records obtained by the Salem Reporter, the Oregon Department of Corrections has banned dozens of books related to programming and technology as they come through the mail room, ensuring that they don't get to the hands of prisoners. At least in official department code, there is no blanket ban on technology-related books. Instead, each book is individually evaluated to assess potential threats. Many programming-related books are cited as "material that threatens," often including the subject matter ("computer programming") as justification. The Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) worries that prisoners could use the tools mentioned in some of the programming-related books to compromise their systems. But what's odd is the scope of the ban. Justin Seitz's Black Hat Python book failed the prison's security test since it's geared towards hacking, but so did the book Windows 10 for Dummies, Microsoft Excel 16 for Dummies which simply teaches proficiency in Excel and Windows 10.

Officials at the DOC argue that knowledge of even these basic programs can pose a threat to prisons. "Not only do we have to think about classic prison escape and riot efforts like digging holes, jumping fences and starting fires, modernity requires that we also protect our prisons and the public against data system breaches and malware," DOC spokesperson Jennifer Black said in an emailed statement. "It is a balancing act we are actively trying to achieve."

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Poll: Americans Want NASA To Focus More On Asteroid Impacts, Less On Getting To Mars
Posted by News Fetcher on June 21 '19 at 02:20 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's general-consensus department:
An anonymous reader writes: Americans are less interested in NASA sending humans to the moon or Mars than they are in the U.S. space agency focusing on potential asteroid impacts and using robots for space exploration. That's according to a poll by The Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research released Thursday, one month before the 50th anniversary of the first walk on the moon. Two-thirds of respondents said monitoring asteroids, comets and "other events in space that could impact Earth" was "very or extremely important." According to NASA, which watches for objects falling from space, about once a year an "automobile-sized asteroid hits Earth's atmosphere," but it usually burns up before it hits the surface. And the instances of larger objects actually making it past Earth's atmosphere and causing any damage happen thousands of years apart, NASA says. The poll also found that Americans want NASA to focus on conducting space research to expand knowledge of the Earth, solar system and universe and they want "robots without astronauts" to do it. If you want to build capabilities for dealing with dangerous asteroids, asteroid mining should be the technology we prioritize, because there's a lot of crossover there.

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One Legacy of Carl Sagan May Take Flight Next Week -- a Working Solar Sail
Posted by News Fetcher on June 21 '19 at 01:01 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's marching-forward department:
As early as next Monday night, a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket will launch a cluster of 24 satellites for the US Air Force. From a report: Known as the Space Test Program-2 mission, the rocket will deposit its payloads into three different orbits. Perhaps the most intriguing satellite will be dropped off at the second stop -- a circular orbit 720km above the Earth's surface. This is the Planetary Society's LightSail 2 spacecraft. After a week in space, allowing the satellites deposited in this orbit to drift apart, LightSail 2 will eject from its carrying case into open space. About the size of a loaf of bread, the 5kg satellite will eventually unfurl into a solar sail 4 meters long by 5.6 meters tall. The Mylar material composing the sail is just 4.5 microns thick, or about one-tenth as thick as a human hair. This experiment, which will attempt to harness the momentum of photons and "sail" through space, is the culmination of decades of work by The Planetary Society. "This goes back to the very beginning, to Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray, and Lou Friedman," the organization's chief executive, Bill Nye, told Ars in an interview. "We are carrying on a legacy that has been with us since the founders. It's just an intriguing technology because it lowers the cost of going all over the place in the Solar System."

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Facebook Co-founder Chris Hughes Says Libra Will Empower Corporations and Weaken Developing Countries, Urges Global Regulators To Act Now
Posted by News Fetcher on June 21 '19 at 01:01 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's man-speaks-again department:
In May, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes shocked many when he expressed grave concerns about Facebook's CEO, its business and its impact on the world. He went as far as suggesting that Facebook should be broken up. Two months later, Hughes has another interesting remark to share. He has warned that Facebook's new planned digital currency Libra would shift monetary power to corporate giants. [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source.] In an op-ed he wrote today: If even modestly successful, Libra would hand over much of the control of monetary policy from central banks to these private companies, which also include Visa, Uber, and Vodafone. If global regulators don't act now, it could very soon be too late. I've been a cryptocurrency sceptic, believing that the instability and regulatory challenges are just too sizeable. But Libra is different because it is a "stablecoin", with a value pegged to a basket of currencies and other assets. Anyone, whether they use Facebook or not, can buy in with a local currency and cash back out at any time. Vital decisions about Libra's administration, security and underlying assets will be made by the Switzerland-based Libra Association -- essentially Facebook and its largely corporate partners. To avoid complaints that setting up this coin would give a single company dangerous powers, Facebook has smartly limited itself to a single vote on the commission.

< article continued at Slashdot's man-speaks-again department >

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Intel Will Cut Desktop CPU Prices By 10-15% as Ryzen 3000 Draws Near, Report Says
Posted by News Fetcher on June 21 '19 at 11:40 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's price-war department:
It's just over two weeks until AMD's full Ryzen 3000 family of processors arrive, and it appears Intel is concerned about the effect they may have on its own chip sales. From a report: As such, the company is reportedly planning to reduce the price of its eighth- and ninth-generation CPUs by 10 to 15 percent. The report comes from DigiTimes, citing sources from motherboard makers. It claims Intel has already notified its downstream PC and motherboard partners about the processor price drops, which could see anything from $25 to $75 knocked off the CPUs. If the report is accurate, the enthusiast eight-core/16-thread Core i9 9900K will be one of the chips to see a price reduction, as will the i7-9700K, and the i5-9600K.

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WeTransfer Shared Its Users' Files With the Wrong People
Posted by News Fetcher on June 21 '19 at 11:40 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department:
WeTransfer, a popular online service to transfer and share files, has informed some of its customers of a security incident that resulted in it sharing emails with download links to wrong recipients. BetaNews reports: In the email to customers, WeTransfer said: "We are writing to let you know about a security incident in which a number of WeTransfer service emails were sent to the wrong people. This happened on June 16th and 17th. Our team has been working tirelessly to correct and contain this situation and find out how it happened. We have learned that a transfer you sent or received was also delivered to some people it was not meant to go to. Our records show those files have been accessed, but almost certainly by the intended recipient. Nevertheless, as a precaution we blocked the link to prevent further downloads.

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US Blacklists More Chinese Tech Companies Over National Security Concerns
Posted by News Fetcher on June 21 '19 at 10:20 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's escalating-tensions department:
The Trump administration added five Chinese entities to a United States blacklist on Friday, further restricting China's access to American technology and stoking already high tensions as President Trump and President Xi Jinping of China prepare to meet in Japan next week. From a report: The Commerce Department announced that it would add four Chinese companies and one Chinese institute to an "entity list," saying they posed risks to American national security or foreign policy interests [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source]. The move essentially bars the entities, which include one of China's leading supercomputer makers, Sugon, and a number of its subsidiaries set up to design microchips, from buying American technology and components without a waiver from the United States government.

The move could all but cripple these Chinese businesses, which rely on American chips and other technology to manufacture advanced electronics. Those added to the entity list also include Higon, Chengdu Haiguang Integrated Circuit, Chengdu Haiguang Microelectronics Technology, and Wuxi Jiangnan Institute of Computing Technology, which lead China's development of high performance computing, some of which is used in military applications like simulating nuclear explosions, the Commerce Department said. Each of the aforementioned companies does businesses under a variety of other names.

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How Information is Like Snacks, Money, and Drugs To Your Brain
Posted by News Fetcher on June 21 '19 at 10:20 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's dopamine department:
A new study by researchers at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business has found that information acts on the brain's dopamine-producing reward system in the same way as money or food. From a report: "To the brain, information is its own reward, above and beyond whether it's useful," says Assoc. Prof. Ming Hsu, a neuroeconomist. "And just as our brains like empty calories from junk food, they can overvalue information that makes us feel good but may not be useful -- what some may call idle curiosity." The paper, "Common neural code for reward and information value," was published this month by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Authored by Hsu and graduate student Kenji Kobayashi, now a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, it demonstrates that the brain converts information into the same common scale as it does for money. It also lays the groundwork for unraveling the neuroscience behind how we consume information -- and perhaps even digital addiction.

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Facebook Adds New Limits To Address the Spread of Hate Speech in Sri Lanka and Myanmar
Posted by News Fetcher on June 21 '19 at 09:00 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's better-than-nothing department:
As Facebook grapples with the spread of hate speech on its platform, it is introducing changes that limit the spread of messages in two countries where it has come under fire in recent years: Sri Lanka and Myanmar. From a report: In a blog post on Thursday evening, Facebook said that it was "adding friction" to message forwarding for Messenger users in Sri Lanka so that people could only share a particular message a certain number of times. The limit is currently set to five people. In Myanmar, social media platforms have faced a similar, long-lasting challenge. Facebook said it has started to reduce the distribution of content from people in Myanmar who have consistently violated its community standards with previous posts.

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Gmail Confidential Mode is Neither Secure Nor Private
Posted by News Fetcher on June 21 '19 at 09:00 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
Even though Google launched confidential mode over a year ago, people are still confused about what it does. Is it actually secure or private? Is it encrypted? From a report: When you turn it on, does it prevent Google from reading your messages? The answer to these questions is 'no.' In fact, the decision to call it "confidential" suggests a level of security and privacy that doesn't exist in Gmail confidential mode. Gmail's confidential mode does not mean your messages are end-to-end encrypted. Google can still read them. Expiring messages aren't erased for good, and the recipient can always take a screenshot of your message.

Gmail's confidential mode does not make emails private because Google can always read them. When you send an email with confidential mode turned on, Google keeps the email contents on its servers. Other Gmail users can read the email in their inbox, but outside users only receive an email notifying them that a sender "has sent you an email via Gmail confidential mode" along with a link to a page on google.com.

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Horns Are Growing on Young People's Skulls. Phone Use is To Blame, Research Suggests
Posted by News Fetcher on June 21 '19 at 07:40 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's what-in-the-world department:
What we have not yet grasped is the way the tiny machines in front of us are remolding our skeletons, possibly altering not just the behaviors we exhibit but the bodies we inhabit. From a report: New research in biomechanics suggests that young people are developing hornlike spikes at the back of their skulls -- bone spurs caused by the forward tilt of the head, which shifts weight from the spine to the muscles at the back of the head, causing bone growth in the connecting tendons and ligaments. The weight transfer that causes the buildup can be compared to the way the skin thickens into a callus as a response to pressure or abrasion.

The result is a hook or hornlike feature jutting out from the skull, just above the neck. In academic papers, a pair of researchers at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, argues that the prevalence of the bone growth in younger adults points to shifting body posture brought about by the use of modern technology. They say smartphones and other handheld devices are contorting the human form, requiring users to bend their heads forward to make sense of what's happening on the miniature screens.

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Why the Age of Electric Flight is Finally Upon Us
Posted by News Fetcher on June 21 '19 at 07:40 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
Aerospace firms are joining forces to tackle their industry's growing contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, with electric engines seen as one solution. But will this be enough to offset the growing demand for air travel? From a report: This week's Paris Airshow saw the launch of the world's first commercial all-electric passenger aircraft -- albeit in prototype form. Israeli firm Eviation says the craft -- called Alice -- will carry nine passengers for up to 650 miles (1,040km) at 10,000ft (3,000m) at 276mph (440km/h). It is expected to enter service in 2022. Alice is an unconventional-looking craft: powered by three rear-facing pusher-propellers, one in the tail and two counter-rotating props at the wingtips to counter the effects of drag. It also has a flat lower fuselage to aid lift.

[...] Eviation has already received its first orders. US regional airline Cape Air, which operates a fleet of 90 aircraft, has agreed to buy a "double-digit" number of the aircraft. The firm is using Siemens and magniX to provide the electric motors, and magniX chief executive Roei Ganzarski says that with two billion air tickets sold each year for flights of under 500 miles, the business potential for small electric passenger aircraft is clear. Crucially, electricity is much cheaper than conventional fuel. A small aircraft, like a turbo-prop Cessna Caravan, will use $400 on conventional fuel for a 100-mile flight, says Mr Ganzarski. But with electricity "it'll be between $8-$12, which means much lower costs per flight-hour".

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Wine Developers Concerned With Ubuntu Dropping 32-bit Support With Ubuntu 19.10
Posted by News Fetcher on June 21 '19 at 06:20 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: The news that Ubuntu will drop support for the 32-bit x86 architecture was discussed recently by the Wine developers, on the Wine-devel mailing list. The Wine developers are concerned with this news because many 64-bit Windows applications still use a 32-bit installer, or some 32-bit components. "In practice, the only cases where 64-bit only wine will be useful are when 64-bit applications are packaged some other way (such as a .zip, Steam Play, or packaging specifically for Wine) or for running Wine builtins like msidb." Ubuntu's solution for using Wine on 32-bit going forward, which is to publish applications as snaps, or use an Ubuntu 18.04 LTS based LXD container that has full access to multiarch 32-bit WINE and related libraries, was also discussed by the Wine developers, with Vincent Povirk of CodeWeavers saying that there's no point putting much effort into this temporary solution. The maintainer of the Wine OBS repository also mentioned that he has no interest in maintaining so many libraries.

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Millions of Business Listings On Google Maps Are Fake -- and Google Profits
Posted by News Fetcher on June 21 '19 at 06:20 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's fake-it-till-you-make-it department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Wall Street Journal: Google's ubiquitous internet platform shapes what's real and what isn't for more than two billion monthly users. Yet Google Maps is overrun with millions of false business addresses and fake names, according to advertisers, search experts and current and former Google employees. The ruse lures the unsuspecting to what appear to be Google-suggested local businesses, a costly and dangerous deception. Once considered a sleepy, low-margin business by the company and known mostly for giving travel directions, Google Maps in recent months has packed more ads onto its search queries. It is central to Google parent Alphabet's hope to recharge a cresting digital-advertising operation.

Often, Google Maps yields mirages, visible in local business searches of U.S. cities, including Mountain View, Calif., Google's hometown. Of a dozen addresses for personal-injury attorneys on Google Maps during a recent search, only one office was real. A Viennese patisserie was among the businesses at addresses purported to house lawyers. The fakes vanished after inquiries to Google from The Wall Street Journal. The false listings benefit businesses seeking more customer calls by sprinkling made-up branches in various corners of a city. In other cases, as Ms. Carter discovered, calls to listed phone numbers connect to unscrupulous competitors, a misdirection forbidden by Google rules but sporadically policed by the company. Hundreds of thousands of false listings sprout on Google Maps each month, according to experts. Google says it catches many others before they appear. According to the report, Google Maps is estimated to carry "roughly 11 million falsely listed businesses on any given day," and a majority of the listings "aren't located at their pushpins."

< article continued at Slashdot's fake-it-till-you-make-it department >

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US Beekeepers Lost 40 Percent of Honeybee Colonies Over Past Year, Survey Finds
Posted by News Fetcher on June 21 '19 at 02:20 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's worst-winter-on-record department:
Beekeepers across the U.S. lost four in 10 of their honeybee colonies over the past year, as the worst winter on record for tracked bee populations raised fresh concerns over the plight of the crucial pollinators. The Guardian reports: Over the past winter, 37% of honeybee colonies were lost to beekeepers, the worst winter decline recorded in the 13-year history of a nationwide survey aimed at charting bees' fortunes. Overall, 40% of colonies died off over the entire year to April, which is above the 38% average since the survey began. Researchers said the numbers were concerning given the intensive efforts to stem the loss of honeybees, which pollinate an estimated $15 billion in U.S. crops each year, enabling the farming of foods including apples, melons, cherries, almonds and blueberries. The latest survey included data from 4,700 beekeepers from all 50 states, capturing about 12% of the U.S.'s estimated 2.69 million managed colonies. Researchers behind the survey say it's in line with findings from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which keeps data on the remaining colonies.

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US Video Streaming App YouNow Files Cryptocurrency Offering With SEC
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '19 at 11:40 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's everyone-is-doing-it department:
U.S. live video streaming company YouNow on Wednesday filed with the SEC a public offering circular to distribute its own digital currency called Props. Reuters reports: The company said it does not intend to raise funds or sell the tokens at the public offering. Props is an open-source project built to reward application users and content creators with a financial stake in the network they contribute to. YouNow, with 47 million registered users, started the Props project in 2017. Instead of being sold, Props tokens can only be earned by app developers, users, and validators that will contribute to the Props network. YouNow, which created the first app in the Props network called the Props live video app, intends to distribute a significant portion of its own tokens to millions of its users. Props tokens under this offering will be issued on a continuous basis.

YouNow's offering will be done through the SEC's Regulation A+ exemption, according to YouNow's filing, which is available on the SEC website. Under the terms of the offering, a total of 178 million tokens will be distributed. The Regulation A+ exemption enables small companies to offer and sell securities to U.S. investors via two tiers, either for $20 million or $50 million, each over a 12-month period. Like an initial public offering, Reg A+ allows companies to offer shares to the general public and not just accredited investors. In its filing, YouNow said it is creating consumer-facing digital media apps called Props Apps, which will operate as traditional applications that may be downloaded and accessed by users in a manner similar to any regular apps.

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In Japan, It's a Riveting TV Plot: Can a Worker Go Home On Time?
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '19 at 07:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's struggles-of-work-life-balance department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times: Last month, as Americans tuned in to the final episode of "Game of Thrones," Japan was indulging in its own television fantasy world. In this one, a woman dares to leave work at 6 p.m. sharp. The determination of Yui Higashiyama, a 30-something project manager who wants nothing more than to get out of the office and into her favorite bar for happy hour, rocks the fictional web design firm where she works. A conniving supervisor and overachieving co-workers try to foil her plans. When her team faces a seemingly impossible deadline in Episode 9, she puts aside her steely commitment to work-life balance, dramatically declaring, "I will work overtime!" Ms. Higashiyama is the protagonist of "I Will Not Work Overtime, Period!" -- a modest television hit in Japan that has struck a chord in a country with a dangerously intense, at times deadly, national work ethic (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source).

It has prompted workers to talk about their own difficulties in finding work-life balance, even as Japan's major corporations and government officials have increasingly encouraged them to ease off. In April, just in time for the debut of the TV show, a new law took effect limiting overtime to no more than 45 hours a month and 360 hours per year, barring special circumstances. And Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has promoted a program it calls Premium Fridays, asking employers to let employees leave a few hours early on the last Friday of every month. On the show, the enlightened chief executive at Ms. Higashiyama's company encourages workers to leave the office on time. What holds her co-workers back are employees and supervisors who simply cannot stop themselves -- a feeling familiar to fans of the show.

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US Tells India It's Mulling Caps On H-1B Visas For Nations That Force Foreign Companies To Store Data Locally
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '19 at 06:20 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's pushing-back-against-data-localization-rules department:
PolygamousRanchKid shares a report from Reuters: The United States has told India it is considering caps on H-1B work visas for nations that force foreign companies to store data locally, three sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters, widening the two countries' row over tariffs and trade. India, which has upset companies such as Mastercard and irked the U.S. government with stringent new rules on data storage, is the largest recipient of these temporary visas, most of them to workers at big Indian technology firms.
A Washington-based industry source aware of India-U.S. negotiations also said the United States was deliberating capping the number of H-1B visas in response to global data storage rules. The move, however, was not solely targeted at India, the source said. Most affected by any such caps would be India's more than $150 billion IT sector, including Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Infosys Ltd, which uses H-1B visas to fly engineers and developers to service clients in the United States, its biggest market. Major Silicon Valley tech companies also hire workers using the visas. Since last year, the Trump administration has been upset that U.S. companies such as Mastercard and Visa suffer due to regulations in several countries that it says are protectionist and increasingly require companies to store more data locally. India last year mandated foreign firms to store their payments data 'only in India' for supervision, and New Delhi is working on a broad data protection law that would impose strict rules for local processing of data it considers sensitive. Senior Indian government officials were briefed last week on a U.S. plan to cap H-1B visas issued each year to Indians at between 10% and 15% of the annual quota. Currently, there is no country-specific limit on the 85,000 H-1B work visas granted each year, and an estimated 70% go to Indians.

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