By timothy from Slashdot's just-clean-the-filter-a-lot department
mdsolar writes: Sixteen U.S. ships that participated in relief efforts after Japan's nuclear disaster five years ago remain contaminated with low levels of radiation from the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, top Navy officials told Stars and Stripes. In all, 25 ships took part in Operation Tomadachi, the name given for the U.S. humanitarian aid operations after the magnitude-9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami on March 11, 2011. The tsunami, whose waves reached runup heights of 130 feet, crippled the Fukushima plant, causing a nuclear meltdown. In the years since the crisis, the ships have undergone cleanup efforts, the Navy said, and 13 Navy and three Military Sealift Command vessels still have some signs of contamination, mostly to ventilation systems, main engines and generators. "The low levels of radioactivity that remain are in normally inaccessible areas that are controlled in accordance with stringent procedures," the Navy said in an email to Stars and Stripes. "Work in these areas occurs mainly during major maintenance availabilities and requires workers to follow strict safety procedures."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's limited-by-restrictions department
An anonymous reader writes from an Ars Technica article: Customers who sued ATT over its practice of throttling unlimited data plans will not be able to pursue a class-action lawsuit against the company. ATT argued that the customers could not only have their complaints heard individually in arbitration, and Judge Edward Chen of US District Court in Northern California has sided with the cellular company. Chen accepted ATT's argument, noting that the Supreme Court previously upheld ATT's arbitration provision in a 2011 decision. In the 2011 case, ATT Mobility v. Concepcion, the Supreme Court found that the Federal Arbitration Act preempted a California state law that limited the power of companies to force customers into arbitration. [Chen's ruling granting ATT's motion to compel arbitration was issued on February 29 and highlighted in a MediaPost article Friday.] "Plaintiffs argue that the Concepcion Court never addressed the specific issues now raised -- i.e., that enforcement of the arbitration agreements would violate their rights as protected by the Petition Clause of the First Amendment," Chen wrote. "Because there is no state action in the instant case, Plaintiffs lack a viable First Amendment challenge to the arbitration agreements. As Plaintiffs have not challenged the arbitration agreements on any other bases, the Court grants ATT's motion to compel arbitration."
ATT is still being punished by the FCC and FTC. Ars Technica writes, "The FCC last year proposed a $100 million fine to punish ATT for throttling the wireless Internet connections of customers with unlimited data plans without adequately notifying the customers about the reduced speeds. Separately, the FTC sued ATT in an attempt to gain millions of dollars worth of refunds for customers who paid for unlimited data and had their speeds throttled."Read Replies (0)
By manishs from Slashdot's red-in-tooth-and-claw department
An anonymous reader shares an update on Google's ongoing battle with Russian regulators: Google suffered a major blow in Russia on Monday, after the Moscow Arbitration court sided with an earlier ruling that Google had violated the country's anti-trust rules by having its apps and services bundled on Android smartphones. Yandex, a Russia-based search engine, last year sued Google over "anti-competitive practices," saying that Google was abusing its dominant position in the market to hurt competition. In response, Google had noted that Android, which roughly owns 80 percent of the market, is a free and open source operating system. At the time, the Russian Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS) ruled that Android users must not be catered with Google's homegrown apps and services. The Moscow's Arbitration Court ruling said on Monday that it fully supports the earlier FAS decision. According to an Ars Technica report, "Google will now be required to change its business practices with smartphone makers in Russia, or else face a fine if it fails to adhere to the ruling."Read Replies (0)
By timothy from Slashdot's mere-metadata department
An anonymous reader writes: Tech giants including Google, Facebook, Whatsapp and Snapchat are looking to increase the privacy of user data by expanding their encryption features. The recent reports mark growing industry support for Apple in its fight to not allow authorities backdoor access into users' devices. Facebook has suggested that it is increasing privacy of its Messenger service, while its instant messaging app Whatsapp also confirmed that it would be extending its encryption offering to secure voice calls. Others reportedly joining the industry shift include Snapchat, which is working on securing its messaging service, and search heavyweight Google, which is currently developing an encrypted email project. From The Guardian's substantially similar story from which the above-linked article draws:
WhatsApp has been rolling out strong encryption to portions of its users since 2014, making it increasingly difficult for authorities to tap the serviceâ(TM)s messages. The issue is personal for founder Jan Koum, who was born in Soviet-era Ukraine. When Apple CEO Tim Cook announced in February that his company would fight the government in court, Koum posted on his Facebook account: âoeOur freedom and our liberty are at stake.â
His efforts to go further still are striking as the app is in open confrontation with governments. Brazil authorities arrested a Facebook executive on 1 March after WhatsApp told investigators it lacked the technical ability to provide the messages of drug traffickers. Facebook called the arrest âoeextreme and disproportionateâ.
The sooner, the better on this front: as TechDirt points out, WhatsApp may be next on the list of communication tools to which the U.S. government would like to give the Apple Treatment.Read Replies (0)
By manishs from Slashdot's learning-and-fun department
Microsoft has found a new use of its insanely popular title Minecraft. The company on Monday announced Project AIX, a platform that will let computer scientists experiment with artificial intelligence in its cube-stacking game. For instance, Microsoft says, they can manipulate a character and learn from its actions. Microsoft says that Minecraft, a game it acquired in 2014, is more sophisticated than existing AI research simulations. "You can do survival mode, you can do build battles with your friends, you can do courses, you can implement our own games. This is really exciting for artificial intelligence because it allows us to create games that stretch beyond current abilities said Katja Hofmann, one of the researchers behind AIX. The company initially launched the project for its own testing, but says it will make it available as open source to all in July.Read Replies (0)