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New Zealand and France urge Facebook and Google to do more to kick out terrorists - New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron are taking tech CEOs to task over terrorist content that has been posted on their platforms.
Facebook expects FTC fine could be as much as $5 billion - Facebook reported first quarter earnings results after the bell on Wednesday.
TikTok is back in India after court lifts its ban - TikTok, the Chinese social media platform pulled from app stores in India over claims it made children vulnerable to pornographic and other inappropriate content, will be available for download again after winning a court fight.
Bumble says it will soon detect lewd images sent on its app - Bumble CEO and cofounder Whitney Wolfe Herd said the new feature, called Private Detector, is a "gesture" to show that it is "desperately trying to build safety products to engineer a more accountable internet."
Twitter makes it easier to report tweets that mislead Indian voters - The world's biggest election has tech companies scrambling to try and put a lid on misinformation in India. Twitter is now trying to make it easier for users to flag fake news aimed at voters.
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President Trump meets with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey after accusing platform of bias - President Donald Trump met with Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey on Tuesday, hours after Trump erroneously accused the social media company of "discriminatory" behavior toward conservative users.
UK could give Huawei a limited role in building its 5G networks - The United Kingdom has reportedly settled on a compromise over Huawei's role in the country's 5G networks that appears aimed at pleasing both Washington and Beijing.
Snap starts adding users again - Snap reported first quarter earnings results after the bell on Tuesday.
Wing gets FAA approval in step toward drone delivery - A subsidiary of Google's parent company has become the first drone-delivery company to receive a critical Federal Aviation Administration certification.
Sri Lanka's social media ban won't solve its misinformation problem - Sri Lanka has blocked access to Facebook and other social media since Sunday's attacks. But such moves do little to hinder terrorists and can increase the spread of rumors.
Twitter's audience is growing again as it works to combat abuse - Twitter's audience is growing again and engaging with the service more frequently as the company works to combat abuse on the platform.
The most commonly hacked passwords, revealed - A survey has revealed that the internet's most vulnerable passwords are 123456, plus codes using names, sports teams and swear words.
Tesla doubles down on its radical approach to self-driving cars - Tesla CEO Elon Musk and other executives explained to investors Monday their plans to have more than a million full self-driving Teslas on roads next year.
Elon Musk says Tesla will have robo-taxis operating next year - Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced at an investor event Monday that he expects the company to operate robo-taxis next year.
Huawei claims more 5G firsts as sales jump 39% - Things are looking up for Huawei despite the best efforts of the US government.
Sri Lanka's social media ban enters its second day - Sri Lanka's nationwide block on social media sites continued through a second day on Monday. The country's government took the drastic step on Sunday, citing "false news reports" it said were circulating online, after hundreds were killed in multiple attacks.
Samsung delays Galaxy Fold launch after early models broke - Samsung will not launch its innovative, expensive and troubled Galaxy Fold on schedule.
Sri Lanka, citing 'false news reports,' blocks social media after attacks - Sri Lanka placed a nationwide block on social media sites after more than 200 people died in multiple attacks on Sunday. The government, in taking the drastic step, cited "false news reports" it said were circulating online.
Test fire of SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft ran into problems, sending up thick clouds of smoke - Thick plumes of smoke rose over a SpaceX facility in Florida during a test fire of a Crew Dragon spacecraft on Saturday. If the issue was serious, it could derail plans to fly astronauts aboard the capsule later this year.








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Researchers Measure Atom With Half-Life of 18 Sextillion Years - A detector designed to hunt for dark matter has succeeded in detecting one of the rarest particle interactions in the universe. "According to a new study published today in the journal Nature, the team of more than 100 researchers measured, for the first time ever, the decay of a xenon-124 atom into a tellurium 124 atom through an extremely rare process called two-neutrino double electron capture," reports Live Science. "This type of radioactive decay occurs when an atom's nucleus absorbs two electrons from its outer electron shell simultaneously, thereby releasing a double dose of the ghostly particles called neutrinos." From the report: By measuring this unique decay in a lab for the first time, the researchers were able to prove precisely how rare the reaction is and how long it takes xenon-124 to decay. The half-life of xenon-124 -- that is, the average time required for a group of xenon-124 atoms to diminish by half -- is about 18 sextillion years (1.8 x 10^22 years), roughly 1 trillion times the current age of the universe. This marks the single longest half-life ever directly measured in a lab. Only one nuclear-decay process in the universe has a longer half-life: the decay of tellurium-128, which has a half-life more than 100 times longer than that of xenon-124. But this vanishingly rare event has only been calculated on paper.

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Adult Children Are Costing Many Parents Their Retirement Savings - pgmrdlm shares a report from CBS News: Half of American parents are unable to save as much as they'd like to for retirement, and their grown offspring -- whom they still count as dependents -- are to blame, according to a new Bankrate.com study. While they likely mean well, parents who support children into young adulthood often end up encumbered when they reach retirement age. They can inadvertently hamstring their kids, too. Seventeen percent of the couples surveyed by Bankrate.com said that they sacrificed their own retirement savings by "a lot" to help their adult children. Another 34 percent said they'd "somewhat" sacrificed their savings plans. Not surprisingly, the lowest earners saved the least. Seventeen percent of couples making less than a combined $50,000 a year and have at least one child who is 18 or older said they were helping pay their adult children's bills but not setting aside any money for retirement. The study found a generational divide when it comes to perceptions of parents supporting adult children. "Millennials between the ages of 23 and 38 believe they should be supported for longer, and expect some expenses, like student loans, to be covered up to the age of 23," reports CBS News. "Baby boomers, meanwhile, think parents should wean children off their bank accounts sooner across almost every category of expense, including cell phone bills, car payments and travel costs." Millennials and baby boomers both agree that young adults by age 23 should be wholly response for bigger ticket expenses like health insurance. Economic analyst Mark Hamrick says the 2008 financial crisis, Great Recession and lack of substantial wage growth are to blame for this dynamic. Changing societal norms also come in to play, as many young adults are "opting to pursue higher education, thereby delaying their entries into the workforce," the report says. "And by the time these degree-holders enter the workforce, they're saddled with student debt..."

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Scientists Have Developed a Brain Implant That Can Read People's Minds - An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC: The team at the University of California, San Francisco says the technology is "exhilarating." They add that their findings, published in the journal Nature, could help people when disease robs them of their ability to talk. The mind-reading technology works in two stages. First an electrode is implanted in the brain to pick up the electrical signals that maneuver the lips, tongue, voice box and jaw. Then powerful computing is used to simulate how the movements in the mouth and throat would form different sounds. This results in synthesized speech coming out of a "virtual vocal tract." "The system is better with prolonged sounds like the 'sh' in ship than with abrupt sounds such as the 'buh' sound in 'books,'" the report adds. "In experiments with five people, who read hundreds of sentences, listeners were able to discern what was being spoken up to 70% of the time when they were given a list of words to choose from."

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The Feds Are Dropping Child Porn Cases Instead of Revealing Their Surveillance Systems - SonicSpike shares a report from Reason: The Department of Justice has been dismissing child pornography cases in order to not reveal information about the software programs used as the basis for the charges. An array of cases suggest serious problems with the tech tools used by federal authorities. But the private entities who developed these tools won't submit them for independent inspection or hand over hardly any information about how they work, their error rates, or other critical information. As a result, potentially innocent people are being smeared as pedophiles and prosecuted as child porn collectors, while potentially guilty people are going free so these companies can protect "trade secrets." The situation suggests some of the many problems that can arise around public-private partnerships in catching criminals and the secretive digital surveillance software that it entails (software that's being employed for far more than catching child predators). With the child pornography cases, "the defendants are hardly the most sympathetic," notes Tim Cushing at Techdirt. Yet that's all the more reason why the government's antics here are disturbing. Either the feds initially brought bad cases against people whom they just didn't think would fight back, or they're willing to let bad behavior go rather than face some public scrutiny. An extensive investigation by ProPublica "found more than a dozen cases since 2011 that were dismissed either because of challenges to the software's findings, or the refusal by the government or the maker to share the computer programs with defense attorneys, or both," writes Jack Gillum. Many more cases raised issues with the software as a defense. "Defense attorneys have long complained that the government's secrecy claims may hamstring suspects seeking to prove that the software wrongly identified them," notes Gillum. "But the growing success of their counterattack is also raising concerns that, by questioning the software used by investigators, some who trade in child pornography can avoid punishment."

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Apple Allegedly 'Plotted' To Hurt Qualcomm Years Before It Sued the Company - Apple allegedly wanted to hurt Qualcomm before it ever filed suit against the company, according to documents obtained by Qualcomm as the two companies prepared to meet in court. CNET reports on what has been made public: In September 2014, a document from Apple titled "QCOM - Future scenarios" detailed ways the company could exert pressure on Qualcomm, including by working with Intel on 4G modems for the iPhone. Apple and its manufacturing partners didn't actually file suit against Qualcomm until more than two years later. A second page of that document, titled "QCM - Options and recommendations (2/2)" revealed that Apple considered it "beneficial to wait to provoke a patent fight until after the end of 2016," when its contracts with Qualcomm would expire. "They were plotting it for two years," Qualcomm attorney Evan Chesler, of the firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore, said during his opening arguments last week. "It was all planned in advance. Every bit of it." The unknown Apple team behind the September 2014 document recommended applying "commercial pressure against Qualcomm" by switching to Intel modems in iPhones. Apple ultimately started using Intel modems in about half of its iPhones with devices that came out in 2016. In the US, it embedded Intel modems in AT&T and T-Mobile models of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, but it still used Qualcomm in versions for Verizon and Sprint. Qualcomm, for its part, knew by June 2014 about Apple's plans to use Intel chips in 2016, according to an internal email from its president, Cristiano Amon, that was displayed during opening arguments. "Decision already has been made and beyond the point of no return on the 2nd source (Intel) for the 2016 premium tier," Amon wrote to CEO Steve Mollenkopf, CTO Jim Thompson, General Counsel Don Rosenberg and then-licensing chief Derek Aberle. Apple "said that as a result of our policies, other chip companies can't compete with us," Chesler said during his opening arguments. "Where did Intel get the chips from? From god? They made them using our technology." Another Apple internal document from June 2016 said the company wanted to "create leverage by building pressure three ways," according to a slide shown in court. The internal document said, in part, that Apple wanted to "hurt Qualcomm financially" and "put Qualcomm's business model at risk."

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Ford Invests $500 Million In Electric Pickup Truck Maker Rivian - Ford is investing $500 million in electric pickup truck maker Rivian, saying the two companies will work together to develop a new battery plug-in vehicle for Ford. CNN reports: Company executives said Ford will still move ahead with its own electric vehicle development efforts, including a plug-in version of the Ford F-150 pickup. They said the vehicle it will develop with Rivian will be an addition to its future lineup. Ford has announced plans to spend $11 billion transforming the company in coming years, including a move toward electric and self-driving vehicles. It said Wednesday that this $500 million investment is in addition to that $11 billion effort. It also said the joint effort with Rivian is in addition to Ford's plans to work with Volkswagen to develop a number of vehicles, including electric ones. Rivian has yet to start production of its electric trucks. Its first vehicle, a high-end electric pickup truck with planned range of more than 400 miles on a single charge, will be available in late 2020, the company says. Rivian has nevertheless attracted significant investment from many deep-pocket investors, including a $700 million investement from Amazon announced in February.

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Amazon's Alexa Team Can Access Users' Home Addresses - An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: An Amazon team auditing Alexa users' commands has access to location data and can, in some cases, easily find a customer's home address, according to five employees familiar with the program. The team, spread across three continents, transcribes, annotates and analyzes a portion of the voice recordings picked up by Alexa. The program, whose existence Bloomberg revealed earlier this month, was set up to help Amazon's digital voice assistant get better at understanding and responding to commands. Team members with access to Alexa users' geographic coordinates can easily type them into third-party mapping software and find home residences, according to the employees, who signed nondisclosure agreements barring them from speaking publicly about the program. While there's no indication Amazon employees with access to the data have attempted to track down individual users, two members of the Alexa team expressed concern to Bloomberg that Amazon was granting unnecessarily broad access to customer data that would make it easy to identify a device's owner. When Bloomberg first reported on the Alexa auditing program, Amazon said "employees do not have direct access to information that can identify the person or account as part of this workflow." In a new statement responding to this story, Amazon said "access to internal tools is highly controlled, and is only granted to a limited number of employees who require these tools to train and improve the service by processing an extremely small sample of interactions. Our policies strictly prohibit employee access to or use of customer data for any other reason, and we have a zero tolerance policy for abuse of our systems. We regularly audit employee access to internal tools and limit access whenever and wherever possible."

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UK To Let Huawei Firm Help Build 5G Network - AmiMoJo writes: The UK government has given Chinese telecoms giant Huawei the go-ahead to supply equipment for the UK 5G data network. The company will help build some "non-core" parts such as antennas. But the plans have concerned the home, defense and foreign secretaries. The U.S. also wants its allies in the "Five Eyes" intelligence grouping -- the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand -- to exclude Huawei. Huawei said it was "pleased that the UK is continuing to take an evidence-based approach to its work," adding it would continue to work cooperatively with the government and the industry.

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Databricks Open-Sources Delta Lake To Make Delta Lakes More Reliable - Databricks, the company founded by the original developers of the Apache Spark big data analytics engine, today announced that it has open-sourced Delta Lake, a storage layer that makes it easier to ensure data integrity as new data flows into an enterprise's data lake by bringing ACID transactions to these vast data repositories. TechCrunch reports: Delta Lake, which has long been a proprietary part of Databrick's offering, is already in production use by companies like Viacom, Edmunds, Riot Games and McGraw Hill. The tool provides the ability to enforce specific schemas (which can be changed as necessary), to create snapshots and to ingest streaming data or backfill the lake as a batch job. Delta Lake also uses the Spark engine to handle the metadata of the data lake (which by itself is often a big data problem). Over time, Databricks also plans to add an audit trail, among other things. What's important to note here is that Delta lake runs on top of existing data lakes and is compatible with the Apache spark APIs. The company is still looking at how the project will be governed in the future. "We are still exploring different models of open source project governance, but the GitHub model is well understood and presents a good trade-off between the ability to accept contributions and governance overhead," said Ali Ghodsi, co-founder and CEO at Databricks. "One thing we know for sure is we want to foster a vibrant community, as we see this as a critical piece of technology for increasing data reliability on data lakes. This is why we chose to go with a permissive open source license model: Apache License v2, same license that Apache Spark uses." To invite this community, Databricks plans to take outside contributions, just like the Spark project.

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Security Flaw Lets Attackers Recover Private Keys From Qualcomm Chips - Devices using Qualcomm chipsets, and especially smartphones and tablets, are vulnerable to a new security bug that can let attackers retrieve private data and encryption keys that are stored in a secure area of the chipset known as the Qualcomm Secure Execution Environment (QSEE). From a report: Qualcomm has deployed patches for this bug (CVE-2018-11976) earlier this month; however, knowing the sad state of Android OS updates, this will most likely leave many smartphones and tablets vulnerable for years to come. The vulnerability impacts how the Qualcomm chips (used in hundreds of millions of Android devices) handles data processed inside the QSEE.

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Mozilla Highlights AI Bias and 'Addiction by Design' Tech in Internet Health Report - Mozilla this week released the 2019 Internet Health Report, an analysis that brings together insights from 200 experts to examine issues central to the future of the internet. From a report: This year's report chose to focus primarily on injustice perpetuated by artificial intelligence; what NYU's Natasha Dow Schull calls "addiction by design" tech, like social media apps and smartphones; and the power of city governments and civil society "to make the internet healthier worldwide." The Internet Health Report is not designed to issue the web a bill of health, rather it is intended as a call to action that urges people to "embrace the notion that we as humans can change how we make money, govern societies, and interact with one another online." [...] The modern AI agenda, the report's authors assert, is shaped in part by large tech companies and China and the United States. The report calls particular attention to Microsoft and Amazon's sale of facial recognition software to immigration and law enforcement agencies. The authors point to the work of Joy Buolamwini, whom Fortune recently named "the conscience of the AI revolution." Through audits published by Buolamwini and others in the past year, facial recognition software technology from Microsoft, Amazon's AWS, and other tech companies was found to be less capable of recognizing people with dark skin, particularly women of color.

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Academy Leaves Door Open To Netflix After Tussle Over Oscars Eligibility Rules - The Academy of Motion Picture and Arts and Sciences has ruled that films from streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video will continue to be eligible to win Academy Awards. The Academy had considered changing Rule Two, which allowed any film to be eligible for an Academy Award as long as it had a seven-day run in a Los Angeles theater. From a report: That proposal, reportedly pushed by megadirector Steven Spielberg, would have made it difficult for streaming services such as Netflix to compete for the academy's big prizes by restricting eligibility to just films that got a significant run in theaters. Films that debuted online and only got a limited theatrical release simply would be out of luck. But when the academy's board of governors released its rules for next year's prize -- a book that runs to 35 pages, all told -- the would-be changes were not among them. "We support the theatrical experience as integral to the art of motion pictures, and this weighed heavily in our discussions," John Bailey, president of the academy, said in a statement released Tuesday night. "Our rules currently require theatrical exhibition, and also allow for a broad selection of films to be submitted for Oscars consideration." Further reading: Justice Department Warns Academy About Changing Oscar Rules To Exclude Streaming.

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Facebook Sets Aside $3 Billion For a Potential FTC Fine - An anonymous reader quotes a report from ABC News: Facebook is taking a $3 billion charge as a contingency against a possible fine by the Federal Trade Commission. The agency has been investigating Facebook, but has not announced any findings yet. The one-time charge slashes Facebook's first-quarter net income considerably, although revenue grew by 25% in the period. The FTC has been looking into whether Facebook is in violation of a 2011 agreement promising to protect user privacy. The social network said Wednesday that its net income was 85 cents per share in the January-March period. Revenue grew 26 % to $15.08 billion from a year earlier. Excluding the charge, it earned $1.89 per share. Analysts polled by FactSet expected earnings of $1.62 per share and revenue of $14.98 billion. Facebook's monthly user base grew 8% to 2.38 billion. According to The New York Times, Facebook says it's expected to be fined up to $5 billion for privacy violations, including improper handling of people's data involving Cambridge Analytica, as well as a major data breach.

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Some Amazon Sellers Are Paying $10,000 A Month To Trick Their Way To The Top - Amazon's marketplace is so competitive that it has led to the emergence of a secretive, lucrative black market where agents peddle "black hat" services, sometimes obtained by bribing Amazon employees, that purportedly give marketplace sellers an advantage over their rivals, according to documents obtained by BuzzFeed News. These consultants charge up to $10,000 to manipulate rankings by rewriting URLs and programming bots to click on products, a report says. From the report: Other tactics to promote sellers' products include removing negative reviews from product pages and exploiting technical loopholes on Amazon's site to lift products' overall sales rankings. These services make it harder for Amazon sellers who abide by the company's terms of service to succeed in the marketplace, and sellers who rely on these tactics mislead customers and undermine trust in Amazon's products.

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Applying For Your Next Job May Be an Automated Nightmare - merbs writes: If you think looking for a job is already daunting, anxiety-riddled, and unpleasant, just wait until the algorithms take over the hiring process. When they do, a newfangled 'digital recruiter' like VCV, which just received $1.7 million in early investment, hopes it will look something like this: First, a search bot will be used to scan CVs by the thousands, yours presumably among them. If it's picked out of the haystack, you will be contacted by a chatbot. Over SMS, the bot will set an appointment for a phone interview, which will be conducted by an automated system enabled by voice recognition AI. Next, the system will ask you, the applicant, to record video responses to a set of predetermined interview questions. Finally, the program can use facial recognition and predictive analytics to complete the screening, algorithmically determining whether the nervousness, mood, and behavior patterns you exhibit make you a fit for the company. If you pass all that, then you will be recommended for an in-person job interview. [...] VCV, which did not respond to a request for comment, is far from alone here. A growing suite of startups is pitching AI-driven recruitment services, promising to save corporations millions of dollars throughout the hiring process by reducing overhead, to pluck more ideal candidates out of obscurity, and to reduce bias in the hiring process. Most offer little to no evidence of how they actually do so. VCV's much-larger competitor, HireVue, which has raked in a staggering $93 million in funding and is backed by top-tier Silicon Valley venture capital firms like Sequoia, is hocking many of the same services. It counts 700 companies as its clients, including, it says, Urban Outfitters, Intel, Honeywell, and Unilever. AllyO, which was founded in 2015, and "utilizes deep workflow conversational AI to fully automate end to end recruiting workflow" has $19 million in backing.

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