By BeauHD from Slashdot's brb-getting-popcorn department
Last year, a Belgian court ruled that Facebook would have to stop tracking Belgian internet users and delete the data it's already gathered on them, or face fines of about $280,000 a day. "Belgium's data-protection regulators have targeted the company since at least 2015 when a court ordered it to stop storing non-users' personal data," Mercury News reported at the time. Facebook is now fighting the Belgian court's decision, and will go "face to face with the Belgian data protection authority in a Brussels appeals court for a two-day hearing starting on Wednesday," reports Bloomberg. From the report: Armed with new powers since the introduction of stronger European Union data protection rules, Belgium's privacy watchdog argues Facebook "still violates the fundamental rights of millions of residents of Belgium." The Brussels Court of First Instance in February 2018 ruled that Facebook doesn't provide people with enough information about how and why it collects data on their web use, or what it does with the information. "Facebook then uses that information to profile your surfing behavior and uses that profile to show you targeted advertising, such as advertising about products and services from commercial companies, messages from political parties, etc," the Belgian regulator said in an emailed statement on Wednesday.
< article continued at Slashdot's brb-getting-popcorn department
>Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's explain-like-I'm-five department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Four senior senators have called on the largest U.S. voting machine makers to explain why they continue to sell devices with "known vulnerabilities," ahead of upcoming critical elections. The letter, sent Wednesday, calls on election equipment makers ES&S, Dominion Voting and Hart InterCivic to explain why they continue to sell decades-old machines, which the senators say contain security flaws that could undermine the results of elections if exploited. "The integrity of our elections is directly tied to the machines we vote on," said the letter sent by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mark Warner (D-VA), Jack Reed (D-RI) and Gary Peters (D-MI), the most senior Democrats on the Rules, Intelligence, Armed Services and Homeland Security committees, respectively. "Despite shouldering such a massive responsibility, there has been a lack of meaningful innovation in the election vendor industry and our democracy is paying the price," the letter adds.
Their primary concern is that the three companies have more than 90 percent of the U.S. election equipment market share but their voting machines lack paper ballots or auditability, making it impossible to know if a vote was accurately counted in the event of a bug. Yet, these are the same devices tens of millions of voters will use in the upcoming 2020 presidential election. ES&S spokesperson Katina Granger said it will respond to the letter it received. The ranking Democrats say paper ballots are "basic necessities" for a reliable voting system, but the companies still produce machines that don't produce paper results.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's payback-time department
Four companies that made billions of illegal robocalls have been caught and fined. From a report: The Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday said the agency reached settlements with four operations responsible for billions of illegal robocalls pitching debt-relief services, home security systems, fake charities, auto warranties and Google search results services. The companies were charged with violating the FTC Act, as well as the agency's Telemarketing Sales Rule and its Do Not Call provisions.
"We have brought dozens of cases targeting illegal robocalls, and fighting unwanted calls remains one of our highest priorities," said Andrew Smith, director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the FTC, in a release. "We also have great advice on call-blocking services and how to reduce unwanted calls at [our website.]" The settlements come as the agency focuses on combating illegal robocalls. The four companies, NetDotSolutions, Higher Goals Marketing, Veterans of America and Pointbreak Media, are banned by court orders from robocalling and most telemarketing activities, according to the FTC's release. Further reading: FTC Tells ISPs To Disclose Exactly What Information They Collect On Users and What It's For.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Airbnb says it's cracking down on hosts who record guests. But is it doing enough? From a report: Airbnb's rules allow cameras outdoors and in living rooms and common areas, but never in bathrooms or anywhere guests plan to sleep, including rooms with foldout beds. Starting in early 2018, Airbnb added another layer of disclosure: If hosts indicate they have cameras anywhere on their property, guests receive a pop-up informing them where the cameras are located and where they are aimed. To book the property, the guests must click "agree," indicating that they're aware of the cameras and consent to being filmed.
Of course, hosts have plenty of reason to train cameras on the homes they rent out to strangers. They can catch guests who attempt to steal, or who trash the place, or who initially say they're traveling alone, then show up to a property with five people. A representative for Airbnb's Trust & Safety communications department told me the company tries to filter out hosts who may attempt to surveil guests by matching them against sex-offender and felony databases. The company also uses risk scores to flag suspicious behavior, in addition to reviewing and booting hosts with consistently poor scores.
< article continued at Slashdot's closer-look department
>Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's tightening-bolts department
Facebook will begin banning posts, photos and other content that reference white nationalism and white separatism, revising its rules in response to criticism that a loophole had allowed racism to thrive on its platform. From a report: Previously, Facebook only had prohibited users from sharing messages that glorified white supremacy -- a rhetorical discrepancy, in the eyes of civil rights advocates, who argued that white nationalism, supremacy and separatism are indistinguishable and that the policy undermined the tech giant's stepped-up efforts to combat hate speech online. Facebook now agrees with that analysis, [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source] according to people who've been briefed on the decision. The new policy also applies to Instagram. The rise and spread of white nationalism on Facebook were thrown into sharp relief in the wake of the deadly neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, when self-avowed white nationalists used the social networking site as an organizing tool.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Joanna Stern, writing for the Wall Street Journal [the link may be paywalled]: Why is the breaking of my MacBook Air keyboard so insanely maddening? Let's take a trip down Memory Lane. April 2015: Apple releases the all-new MacBook with a "butterfly" keyboard. In order to achieve extreme thinness, the keys are much flatter than older generations but the butterfly mechanism underneath, for which the keyboard is named, aims to replicate the bounce of a more traditional keyboard. October 2016: The MacBook Pro arrives with a second-generation butterfly keyboard. A few months later, some begin to report that letters or characters don't appear, that keys get stuck or that letters unexpectedly repeat. June 2018: Apple launches a keyboard repair program for what the company says is a "small percentage" of MacBook and MacBook Pro keyboards impacted. July 2018: Apple releases a new high-end MacBook Pro with the third-generation of the keyboard that's said to fix the issues. October 2018: Apple's new MacBook Air also has the third-generation keyboard. I recommend it, and even get one for myself.
Which brings us to the grand year 2019 and my MacBook Air's faulty E and R keys. Others have had problems with Apple's latest laptops, too. A proposed nationwide class-action suit alleges that Apple has been aware of the defective nature of these keyboards since 2015 yet sold affected laptops without disclosing the problem. "We are aware that a small number of users are having issues with their third-generation butterfly keyboard and for that we are sorry," an Apple spokesman said in a statement. "The vast majority of Mac notebook customers are having a positive experience with the new keyboard." If you have a problem, contact Apple customer service, he added.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's space-power department
India shot down one of its satellites in space with an anti-satellite missile on Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, hailing the country's first test of such technology as a major breakthrough that establishes it as a space power. From a report: India would only be the fourth country to have used such an anti-satellite weapon after the United States, Russia and China, said Modi, who heads into general elections next month. "Our scientists shot down a live satellite 300 kilometres away in space, in low-earth orbit," Modi said in a television broadcast. "India has made an unprecedented achievement today," he added, speaking in Hindi. "India registered its name as a space power." Anti-satellite weapons allow for attacks on enemy satellites, blinding them or disrupting communications, as well as providing a technology base to intercept ballistic missiles.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's Turing-Award department
An anonymous reader shares a report: In 2004, Geoffrey Hinton doubled down on his pursuit of a technological idea called a neural network. It was a way for machines to see the world around them, recognize sounds and even understand natural language. But scientists had spent more than 50 years working on the concept of neural networks, and machines couldn't really do any of that. Backed by the Canadian government, Dr. Hinton, a computer science professor at the University of Toronto, organized a new research community with several academics who also tackled the concept. They included Yann LeCun, a professor at New York University, and Yoshua Bengio at the University of Montreal.
On Wednesday, the Association for Computing Machinery, the world's largest society of computing professionals, announced that Drs. Hinton, LeCun and Bengio had won this year's Turing Award for their work on neural networks. The Turing Award, which was introduced in 1966, is often called the Nobel Prize of computing, and it includes a $1 million prize, which the three scientists will share. More: The Godfathers of the AI Boom Win Computing's Highest Honor; Hinton Says We Need To Start Over; Bengio is Worried About Its Future; and Deep Learning May Need a New Programming Language That's More Flexible Than Python, LeCun Says.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cool-but-slightly-creepy department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Huawei officially announced the Huawei P30 Pro smartphone today. While it has a new Huawei-made SoC, an in-screen optical fingerprint reader, and lots of other high-end features, the highlight is definitely the camera's optical zoom, which is up to a whopping 5x. Not digital zoom. Real, optical zoom. Space, of course, is at a premium in smartphones. Imagine a smartphone sitting face down, and you would have to fit a vertical stack of the display, the CMOS sensor, and the lens all in about an 8mm height. There is just not a lot of room. But what if we didn't have to stack all the components vertically? The trick to Huawei's 5x optical zoom is that it uses a periscope design.
< article continued at Slashdot's cool-but-slightly-creepy department
>Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's full-steam-ahead department
Today at the fifth meeting of the National Space Council, Vice President Mike Pence said the Trump administration is committed to sending humans back to the Moon by 2024, four years earlier than NASA's previous target of 2028. The Verge reports: Pence, speaking at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, noted that the administration will meet this goal "by any means necessary." He called on NASA to adopt new policies and argued that the space agency would need to embrace "a new mindset that begins with setting bold goals and staying on schedule." To do that, he said the administration may consider ditching some of NASA's current contractors -- which are currently developing new vehicles to take humans into deep space -- and using commercially developed rockets instead. "If commercial rockets are the only way to get American astronauts to the Moon in the next five years, then commercial rockets it will be," said Pence. "Urgency must be our watch word."
However, Pence offered few clear recommendations and changes that would help to accelerate NASA's return, apart from potentially switching rockets and contractors. "It was rhetoric about 'by all means possible' and 'we'll provide the resources necessary' and 'leadership is essential,'" John Logsdon, a space policy expert at George Washington University, tells The Verge. "I mean, they're all good words. But the devil's in the details."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's steady-as-she-goes department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Last month, Democrats introduced a simple three page bill that would do one thing: restore FCC net neutrality rules and the agency's authority over ISPs, both stripped away by a hugely-controversial decision by the agency in late 2017. Tuesday morning, the Save the Internet Act passed through a key House committee vote and markup session -- despite some last-minute efforts by big telecom to weaken the bill.
"Net neutrality is coming back with a vengeance," said Evan Greer, deputy director of consumer group Fight for the Future said in a statement. "Politicians are slowly learning that they can't get away with shilling for big telecom anymore," Greer said. "We're harnessing the power of the Internet to save it, and any lawmaker who stands in our way will soon face the wrath of their constituents, who overwhelmingly want lawmakers to restore these basic protections." Greer told Motherboard that several last minute amendments were introduced by lawmakers during the markup period in an attempt to water down the bill, but all were pulled in the wake of widespread public interest in the hearing. "It seems like the GOP retreated a bit given after the huge swell of public support," said Greer, who told Motherboard that 300,000 people watched the organization's livestream of the markup process. That attention "really emboldened the Democrats and shored up the ones that were wobbling," Greer said.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's better-safe-than-sorry department
The first all-female spacewalk scheduled for Friday has been cancelled by NASA (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source) because they don't have two spacesuits that fit the female astronauts. According to The New York Times, Anne C. McClain and Christina H. Koch both need to wear a medium-size torso component, but only one is readily available at the International Space Station. From the report: The mission itself is unchanged. On Friday, two astronauts will venture outside of the space station on a six-hour mission to install massive lithium-ion batteries that will help to power the research laboratory. Ms. Koch is still scheduled to participate, along with her fellow astronaut Nick Hague; Ms. McClain did her first spacewalk last week. But the first women-only venture outside of the confines of the space station will have to happen on another day. "After consulting with McClain and Hague following the first spacewalk, mission managers decided to adjust the assignments, due in part to spacesuit availability on the station," NASA said in a statement.
Stephanie Schierholz, a spokeswoman for NASA, said in an interview on Monday that there were already two medium-size hard upper torsos -- "essentially the shirt of the spacesuit," according to NASA -- at the space station. But there were a couple of issues. One was that Ms. McClain had thought she would be able to work in a large-size torso, but after her spacewalk last Friday, she wore a medium-size torso and learned that it fit her better. Ms. Koch also uses the same size. And of the two medium-size torsos available, one has yet to be properly configured for a spacewalk. It would take hours of crew labor -- not to mention some additional risk -- to fix that in time for Friday. Instead of doing that, NASA decided to simply switch out the astronauts. In the end, both women will have done a spacewalk -- just not together.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's eeentsy-weentsy department
Engineers at the University of Michigan have built the first millimeter-scale stand-alone device that meets Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) specifications. "Consuming just 0.6 milliwatts during transmission, it would broadcast for 11 years using a typical 5.8-mm coin battery," reports IEEE Spectrum. "Such a millimeter-scale BLE radio would allow these ant-sized sensors to communicate with ordinary equipment, even a smartphone." From the report: The transmitter chip, which debuted last month at IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference, had to solve two problems. The first is power consumption, and the second is the size of the antenna. An ordinary transmitter circuit requires a tunable RF oscillator to generate the frequency, a power amplifier to boost its amplitude, and an antenna to radiate the signal. The Michigan team combined the oscillator and the antenna in a way that made the amplifier unnecessary. They called their invention a power oscillator. The key part of an oscillator is the resonant tank circuit: an inductor and a capacitor. Energy sloshes back and forth between the inductor's magnetic field and the capacitor's electric field at a resonant frequency determined by the capacitance and inductance. In the new circuit, the team used the antenna itself as the inductor in the resonant tank. Because it was acting as an inductor, the antenna radiated using changing magnetic field instead of an electric field; that meant it could be more compact.
< article continued at Slashdot's eeentsy-weentsy department
>Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's nasty-bugs department
According to ZDNet, researchers at Microsoft have discovered a buggy Huawei utility that could have given attackers a cheap way to undermine the security of the Windows kernel. From the report: Microsoft has now detailed how it found a severe local privilege escalation flaw in the Huawei PCManager driver software for its MateBook line of Windows 10 laptops. Thanks to Microsoft's work, the Chinese tech giant patched the flaw in January. As Microsoft researchers explain, third-party kernel drivers are becoming more attractive to attackers as a side-door to attacking the kernel without having to overcome its protections using an expensive zero-day kernel exploit in Windows. The flaw in Huawei's software was detected by new kernel sensors that were implemented in the Windows 10 October 2018 Update, aka version 1809.
The kernel sensors are meant to address the difficulty of detecting malicious code running in the kernel and are designed to detect user-space asynchronous procedure call (APC) code injection from the kernel. Microsoft Defender ATP anti-malware uses these sensors to detect actions caused by kernel code that may inject code into user-mode. Huawei's PCManager triggered Defender ATP alerts on multiple Windows 10 devices, prompting Microsoft to launch an investigation. [...] The investigation led the researcher to the executable MateBookService.exe. Due to a flaw in Huawei's 'watchdog' mechanism for HwOs2Ec10x64.sys, an attacker is able to create a malicious instance of MateBookService.exe to gain elevated privileges. The flaw can be used to make code running with low privileges read and write to other processes or to kernel space, leading to a "full machine compromise."
< article continued at Slashdot's nasty-bugs department
>Read Replies (0)