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French School Students To Be Banned From Using Mobile Phones
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '18 at 05:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's time-to-detox department:
The lower house of parliament in France has passed what it called a "detox" law for a younger generation increasingly addicted to screens. As a result, French school students will be banned from using mobile phones anywhere on school grounds starting in September. The Guardian reports: The new law bans phone-use by children in school playgrounds, at breaktimes and anywhere on school premises. Legislation passed in 2010 already states children should not use phones in class. During a parliamentary debate, lawmakers from Macron's La Republique En Marche party said banning phones in schools meant all children now had a legal "right to disconnect" from digital pressures during their school day. Some in Macron's party had initially sought to go even further, arguing that adults should set an example and the the ban should be extended to all staff in schools, making teachers surrender their phones on arrival each morning. But Macron's education minister, Jean-Michel Blanquer, brushed this aside, saying it wasn't necessary to extend the ban to teachers and staff.

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'Pirates' Tend To Be the Biggest Buyers of Legal Content, Study Shows
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '18 at 05:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's surprise-surprise department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: According to a paywalled survey of 1,000 UK residents by anti-piracy outfit MUSO first spotted by Torrent Freak, 60 percent of those surveyed admitted that they had illegally streamed or downloaded music, film, or TV shows sometime in the past. But the study also showed that 83 percent of those questioned try to find the content they are looking for through above board services before trying anything else. And while the study found that 86 percent of survey takers subscribe to a streaming subscription service like Netflix, that total jumped to 91 percent among those that admit to piracy. The survey found that the top reason that users pirate is the content they were looking for wasn't legally available (34 percent) was too cumbersome or difficult to access (34 percent), or wasn't affordable (35 percent). "The entertainment industry tends to envisage piracy audiences as a criminal element, and writes them off as money lost -- but they are wrong to do so," MUSO executive Paul Briley said of the study's findings. "The reality is that the majority of people who have gone through the effort of finding and accessing such unlicensed content are, first and foremost, fans -- fans who are more often than not trying to get content legally if they can," Briley added.

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Internal Microsoft Poll Shows Employees Are Less Satisfied With Pay
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '18 at 03:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's mo-money-mo-problems department:
According to an annual companywide survey, obtained by CNBC, Microsoft employees said they're less fairly paid in 2018 than they were in any of the past three years. When asked if "total compensation (base pay, bonus, equity) is competitive compared to similar jobs at other companies," only 61 percent said it was, down from 65 percent in 2017 and 67 percent each of the two prior years. From the report: Additionally, just 62 percent of the employees agreed that "people are rewarded according to their job performance," down from 63 percent last year and 64 percent in 2016. Those two questions received some of the lowest scores on the survey. The company said that 86 percent of Microsoft's employees participated. The results, shared by Chief People Officer Kathleen Hogan in April, are a further indication of the challenge that Microsoft and other tech companies face in hiring and retaining top talent. Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond, Washington, is just a few miles from Amazon's home and isn't far from the Seattle offices of Google, Facebook and a growing number of start-ups. Chief People Officer Kathleen Hogan said the company takes the issue "seriously," and that it will work to ensure a more balanced pay structure.

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Ticketfly Says 27 Million Accounts Compromised During 'Malicious' Attack
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '18 at 03:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's malicious-attack department:
Earlier this month, we reported of a "cyber incident" that compromised the systems of Ticketfly, a large ticket distribution service. We have now learned that roughly 27 million user accounts were compromised during the attack. The information includes names, addresses, email addresses and phone numbers; thankfully, no credit/debit card info and passwords were stolen. Billboard reports: Ticketfly's website is fully back online a week after being targeted by what it describes as a "malicious cyber attack," though its mobile app for iOS remains offline "as we continue to prioritize bringing up the most critical parts of the platform first." Following the hack, the company rolled out a network of temporary venue and promoter websites so that events, including Riot Fest and Celebrate Brooklyn, could continue selling tickets. The "vast majority" of the temporary sites are now live, the firm said. All passwords for both ticket buyers and venue/promoter clients were reset following the hack, though they found no evidence that they were accessed. "It is possible, however, that hashed values of password credentials could have been accessed," the site warned. "Hashing is a way of scrambling a piece of data, making it generally incomprehensible."

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There Are More Jobs Than People Out of Work, Something the American Economy Has Never Experienced Before
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '18 at 02:21 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
The jobs market has reached what should be some kind of inflection point: there are now more openings than there are workers. From a report: April marked the second month in a row this historic event has occurred, and the gap is growing. According to the monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey released this week, there were just shy of 6.7 million open positions in April, the most recent month for which data are available. That represented an increase of 65,000 from March and is a record. The number of vacancies is pulling well ahead of the number the Bureau of Labor Statistics counts as unemployed. This year is the first time the level of the unemployed exceeded the jobs available since the BLS started tracking JOLTS numbers in 2000. As of April, the total workers looking and eligible for jobs fell to 6.35 million, a decrease from 6.58 million the previous month. The number fell further in May to 6.06 million, though there is no comparable JOLTS data for that month. Under normal circumstances, the mismatch would be creating a demand for higher wages. However, average hourly earnings rose just 2.7 percent annualized in May, up one-tenth of a point from April. Further reading: Why Nebraska has an amazing jobs market but nobody is moving there.

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The Gig Economy is Actually Smaller Than It Used To Be, Labor Department Says
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '18 at 02:21 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
The so-called gig economy is actually slightly smaller than it used to be, according to a new Labor Department report released Thursday that chronicles the jobs market in the age of Uber. From a report: In May 2017, the Labor Department counted 5.9 million people, or 3.8% of workers, in what it calls contingent jobs, which are those that the workers don't expect to last or that workers call temporary. In 2005, the last time the government looked into the issue, there were 4.1% of workers who classified themselves this way. "Taken at face value, the results indicate that the role of non-traditional work arrangements in the U.S. economy has remained largely unchanged during the past 20 years, even as excitement and media coverage of the growth of the 'gig economy' has increased," said Brian Schaitkin, senior economist for The Conference Board.

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Google Promises Its AI Will Not Be Used For Weapons
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '18 at 01:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's pinky-swear department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times: Google, reeling from an employee protest over the use of artificial intelligence for military purposes, said Thursday that it would not use A.I. for weapons or for surveillance that violates human rights (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source). But it will continue to work with governments and the military. The new rules were part of a set of principles Google unveiled relating to the use of artificial intelligence. In a company blog post, Sundar Pichai, the chief executive, laid out seven objectives for its A.I. technology, including "avoid creating or reinforcing unfair bias" and "be socially beneficial."

Google also detailed applications of the technology that the company will not pursue, including A.I. for "weapons or other technologies whose principal purpose or implementation is to cause or directly facilitate injury to people" and "technologies that gather or use information for surveillance violating internationally accepted norms of human rights." But Google said it would continue to work with governments and military using A.I. in areas including cybersecurity, training and military recruitment. "We recognize that such powerful technology raises equally powerful questions about its use. How A.I. is developed and used will have a significant impact on society for many years to come," Mr. Pichai wrote.

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Facebook Alerts 14M To Privacy Bug That Changed Status Composer To Public
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '18 at 01:01 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's joys-Facebook-brings-to-the-world department:
Facebook has landed itself in yet another self-inflicted privacy debacle. As many as 14 million Facebook users who thought they were posting items that only their friends or smaller groups could see may have been posting that content to the entire world, the company said Thursday. From a report: Facebook's Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan wrote to TechCrunch in a statement: "We recently found a bug that automatically suggested posting publicly when some people were creating their Facebook posts. We have fixed this issue and starting today we are letting everyone affected know and asking them to review any posts they made during that time. To be clear, this bug did not impact anything people had posted before -- and they could still choose their audience just as they always have. We'd like to apologize for this mistake." The bug was active from May 18th to May 27th, with Facebook able start rolling out a fix on May 22nd. It happened because Facebook was building a 'featured items' option on your profile that highlights photos and other content.

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Shady ICO Issuers Are Taking 'Bags of Cash' To Border, US Says
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '18 at 11:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's of-course-they-are department:
A top financial regulator gave a strong warning this week that U.S. scrutiny of initial coin offerings is just getting started. From a report: Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton, speaking at a conference in New York, said companies raising money through digital-token sales shouldn't have any illusions that the government will treat them differently than firms participating in traditional stock offerings. He added that the market deserves close attention because the SEC has already seen examples of fraudsters fleeing the country after persuading U.S. investors to back their ICOs. "I am not going to change the way we approach the offering and trading of securities as a result of the fact that you put it in the form of a token," Clayton said at the Sandler O'Neill Global Exchange and Brokerage Conference. "I'm protecting the integrity of the market. The behavior we see in this is pretty bad. We've got guys with bags of cash headed to the border. That's not our securities market."

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Net Neutrality Will Be Repealed Monday Unless Congress Takes Action
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '18 at 11:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's end-game department:
With net neutrality rules scheduled to be repealed on Monday, Senate Democrats are calling on House Speaker Paul Ryan to schedule a vote that could preserve the broadband regulations. From a report: The US Senate voted on May 16 to reverse the Federal Communications Commission's repeal of net neutrality rules, but a House vote -- and President Trump's signature -- is still needed. Today, the entire Senate Democratic Caucus wrote a letter to Ryan urging him to allow a vote on the House floor. "The rules that this resolution would restore were enacted by the FCC in 2015 to prevent broadband providers from blocking, slowing down, prioritizing, or otherwise unfairly discriminating against Internet traffic that flows across their networks," the letter said. "Without these protections, broadband providers can decide what content gets through to consumers at what speeds and could use this power to discriminate against their competitors or other content." The letter was spearheaded by Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii).

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NASA Mars Rover Finds Organic Matter in Ancient Lake Bed
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '18 at 10:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's marching-forward department:
NASA's veteran Curiosity rover has found complex organic matter buried and preserved in ancient sediments that formed a vast lake bed on Mars more than 3bn years ago. From a report: The discovery is the most compelling evidence yet that long before the planet became the parched world it is today, Martian lakes were a rich soup of carbon-based compounds that are necessary for life, at least as we know it. Researchers cannot tell how the organic material formed and so leave open the crucial question: are the compounds remnants of past organisms; the product of chemical reactions with rocks; or were they brought to Mars in comets or other falling debris that slammed into the surface? All look the same in the tests performed. But whatever the ultimate source of the material, if microbial life did find a foothold on Mars, the presence of organics meant it would not have gone hungry. "We know that on Earth microorganisms eat all sorts of organics. It's a valuable food source for them," said Jennifer Eigenbrode, a biogeochemist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. The Curiosity rover also discovered that methane on the red planet changes with the seasons. The Verge: Where the methane is coming from is still a mystery, but scientists have some ideas, including that microbes may be the source of the gas. Researchers at NASA and other US universities analyzed five years' worth of methane measurements Curiosity took at Gale Crater, where the rover landed in 2012. Curiosity detected background levels of methane of about 0.4 parts per billion, which is a tiny amount. (In comparison, Earth's atmosphere has about 1,800 parts per billion of methane.) Those levels of methane, however, were found to range from 0.2 to about 0.7 parts per billion, with concentrations peaking near the end of the summer in the northern hemisphere, according to a study published today in Science. This seasonal cycle repeated through time and could come from an underground reservoir of methane, the study says. Whether that reservoir is a sign that there is or was life on Mars, however, is impossible to say for now.

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US Says Internet Use Rises as More Low Income People Go Online; Tablets Surpass Desktops In Popularity
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '18 at 10:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
Internet use by Americans increased in 2017, fueled by a rise among people with lower incomes, a government report viewed on Wednesday by Reuters found. From a report: The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) also reported that for the first time tablets were more popular than desktop computers, and that more households had a mobile data plan than wired broadband service. The results were to be publicly released later on Wednesday. The survey results demonstrate the growing importance of the internet in everyday communication as the way consumers access content changes. Among Americans living in households with family incomes below $25,000 per year, the survey found internet use increased to 62 percent in 2017 from 57 percent in 2015, while households earning $100,000 or more showed no change at 86 percent. The gain of 13.5 million users was "driven by increased adoption among low-income families, seniors, African Americans, Hispanics, and other groups that have been less likely to go online," the agency said.

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Google Facing Billions in EU Antitrust Fines
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '18 at 09:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's never-ending-tussle department:
Another EU antitrust fine for Google is coming down the pipe in mid-July over allegations Google has used its Android mobile operating system to beat out rivals, Reuters reports. From a report: The European Commission has been investigating the case since 2015. It's another example of how the EU takes anti-competition violations far more seriously than the U.S. In June of last year, the EU slapped Google with a record $2.8 billion fine for anti-trust practices around its search product, which they said unfairly pushed consumers to use Google's Shopping platform. Sources told Reuters they expect this new fine to top that record.

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Emirates Planes Could Be Going Windowless
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '18 at 09:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: In the future, you could find yourself booking an Emirates flight without a real window seat. The airline has just unveiled a new first class suite on board its latest aircraft that features "virtual windows" instead of real ones. The President of Emirates, Tim Clarke, is hoping it will pave the way for removing all windows from future planes, which he says will make them lighter and faster. "What we may have [in the next 20 years] is aircraft that are, and I hate to say this to a number of passengers, windowless," he told the BBC. So there's no windows on the outside ... But Mr Clarke says on the inside there will be "a full display of windows," which will beam in the images from the outside. This will be done using fibre-optic camera technology. So, instead of being able to see directly outside, passengers will view images projected from outside the aircraft -- which is almost like the real thing.

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UK Bank TSB Admits 1,300 Accounts Hit By Fraud Amid IT Meltdown
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '18 at 07:44 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's everything-going-south department:
An anonymous reader shares a BBC report: Life savings have been stolen from TSB accounts by fraudsters "exploiting" the bank's IT problems, with 1,300 people losing money. On occasions, people were waiting on the phone for up to nine hours to report cases, the bank's boss Paul Pester has told MPs. He said that 70 times the normal level of fraud attacks were seen last month. The introduction of a new IT system in April left customers struggling to make transactions and see their balances. The bank said it would compensate customers in full for any fraud they suffered. The evidence came after the financial regulator confirmed that it was investigating TSB and criticised Mr Pester for an "optimistic view" of services after the meltdown.

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US Piles New Charges on Marcus Hutchins (aka MalwareTech)
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '18 at 07:44 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's freefall department:
British cyber-security researcher Marcus Hutchins, who has been credited with stopping the spread of WannaCry, is now facing four more charges related to separate malware he is alleged to have created. BleepingComputer reports: According to court documents, the new charges are for allegedly creating another piece of malware and for lying to the FBI. Hutchins had previously been accused of creating and selling the Kronos banking trojan last year. But in a superseding indictment filed this week, U.S. prosecutors claim Hutchins also coded and sold another piece of malware called the UPAS Kit. According to US prosecutors, UPAS Kit "used a form grabber and web injects to intercept and collect personal information from a protected computer," and "allowed for the unauthorized exfiltration of information from protected computers." The U.S. government claims Hutchins sold this second malware strain in July 2012 to a person going by the online pseudonym of Aurora123, who later infected US users. Hutchins expressed disappointment on the development, tweeting, "Spend months and $100k+ fighting this case, then they go and reset the clock by adding even more bullshit charges like 'lying to the FBI.' We require more minerals." In a subsequent tweet, he requested people to help him with the cost of legal proceedings.

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Trump Strikes Deal With China's ZTE on Sanctions
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '18 at 06:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's all-good-now department:
The Trump administration struck a deal Thursday with a Chinese telecom that will allow it to do business with U.S. companies even though it violated sanctions. From a report: China's ZTE will pay a $1 billion penalty and will embed a U.S. appointed compliance team, terms that are similar to those President Trump discussed last month when he revealed that Chinese leaders had asked him to look into the matter. "At about 6 a.m. this morning, we executed a definitive agreement with ZTE," Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told CNBC in an interview Thursday. "And that brings to a conclusion this phase of the development with them." Trump asked the Commerce Department to investigate the restrictions on ZTE in April following a request from Chinese President Xi Jinping. Commerce imposed a seven-year ban after the company sold American-made products to Iran, a violation of U.S. sanctions.

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Why a Group of Physicists Watched a Clock Tick For 14 Years Straight
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '18 at 05:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's tough-luck department:
An anonymous reader writes: If you drop your phone today and it falls to the ground, you can be fairly certain that if it slips from your grip again tomorrow (butterfingers!), it won't suddenly soar into the sky. That's thanks to one of the basic ideas in Einstein's theory of general relativity, which posits that the laws of physics don't change over space and time. But to actually know that for a fact, you'd have to perform the same task over and over again, in as many locations as possible, and watch closely for any change in outcome. That's why, as Sophia Chen reports, a group of physicists has spent the past 14 years -- or 450 million seconds -- watching clocks tick. Their results would have made Einstein heave a sigh of relief. The physicists were observing the 12 atomic clocks to see whether their subatomic particles' behavior changed over those 14 years -- but it was completely consistent, even as the clocks moved with the Earth around the sun. Now, these findings don't necessarily mean that the laws of physics are absolutely not changing across time and space. They only definitively show that the laws of physics stayed constant over the 14 years of the experiment. "Still, they can now say this with five times more certainty than they could a decade ago," Chen writes. "And if it holds true for Earth's location in the universe, it's not too much of a leap to imagine it's true elsewhere."

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YouTube Can Be Liable For Copyright Infringing Videos, Court Rules
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '18 at 03:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: YouTube is known to be a breeding ground for creators. At the same time, however, it's also regularly used to share copyrighted material without permission. While copyright holders can issue takedown notices to remove infringing content, a preliminary ruling by the Commercial Court in Vienna has decided this is not sufficient. The ruling follows a complaint from local television channel Puls 4. After a thorough review of YouTube's functionalities, the Court concluded that YouTube has an obligation to prevent third parties from uploading infringing content. In its defense, YouTube argued that it's a neutral hosting provider under the provisions of the E-Commerce Act. As such, it should be shielded from direct liability for the actions of users. However, the Commercial Court disagreed, noting that YouTube takes several motivated actions to organize and optimize how videos are displayed. By doing so, it becomes more than a neutral hosting provider.

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Facebook Confirms Data-Sharing Deals With Chinese Tech Firms
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '18 at 02:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's more-you-know department:
Facebook confirmed this week that it struck data partnerships with at least four Chinese electronics firms, including Huawei, a telecommunications-equipment maker that U.S. officials view as a potential tool for state-sponsored spying. WSJ: The four partnerships are among the roughly 60 that Facebook struck with device manufacturers starting in 2007 so they could recreate the Facebook service on their devices, a Facebook spokeswoman said. As of Tuesday, more than half of those partnerships have been wound down, the spokeswoman added. The social-media company said it plans to wind down its data-sharing partnership with Huawei by the end of the week. It isn't clear when Facebook will end partnerships with the three other companies: Lenovo, the world's largest personal-computer maker; Oppo, a smartphone maker; and Chinese electronics conglomerate TCL.

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