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Telegram App Adopts Disappear Messages Like Snapchat

July 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Telegram, which gained notoriety for its encrypted messaging service, just upped its privacy game for users.

The app now lets you send your friends “self-destructing” photos and videos that disappear after a few seconds, the company said in a recentblog post. How long it takes for the media to go away depends on how long you set the timer for.

If this update sounds all too familiar, that’s because it’s similar to Snapchat’s ephemeral pictures and video. Snapchat isn’t unfamiliar to having its features cloned by other apps, however. In the last year, Facebook has rolled out a similar feature to Instagram, WhatsApp and its the Facebook app.

While self-destructing messages are automatic on Snapchat, Telegram requires you to set a timer (anywhere from one second to a minute) telling it when to work its magic before you send the selected media, which can only be viewed on the devices used to send and receive it. The feature doesn’t work on its Web platform.

The app’s latest move, billed as a way to improve privacy, may come at a bad time, given some governments believe the app offers a safe haven for terrorists to spread extremist ideas and plot attacks. After troubles in Russia, Telegram last week found itself banned in Indonesia, where authorities said they detected “thousands of communication activities [on Telegram] leading to terrorist activities.”

 

Spotify Inching Closer To A Deal With Warner Music

July 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Music streaming company Spotify is one step closer to reaching a new licensing pact with Warner Music Inc, the last big music royalty deal it needs before pushing ahead with a U.S. stock market listing, four sources familiar with the situation said.

The parties are positive a deal could be signed by September as major issues such as granting loss-making Spotify a more favorable revenue split in return for making some new albums accessible only to its paying subscribers for a defined period have already been agreed, the sources said.

However, the precise revenue split and the size of a potential guaranteed upfront payment to the label, home to artists including Ed Sheeran and Muse, have yet to be agreed, said two of the sources.

“The negotiations are at a crossroads,” said one of the sources, asking not to be named because the talks are private, adding discussions were taking place daily. “There are still a number of key points that remain to be agreed. If we manage to come to terms on these points, then it could lead to a very quick transaction. If not, any deal would remain at bay.”

Others saw a deal being done by late summer.

“Given the way talks are progressing, I would be surprised if we don’t have a deal in September,” said another source on the other side of the table.

Did The Dow Jones Cloud Server Leak Personal Data

July 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

A security Company called Upguard has exposed a problem with a Dow Jones server that partially exposed the details of as many as 4 million people.

This is bad news for Dow Jones and its punters. UpGuard suggests that there was some oversight in the setting up of the weak point, which could have been avoided. If it has been avoided a lot of people might be the sole owners of their own email addresses and some of their credit card details unmolested.

The UpGuard Cyber Risk Team can now report that a cloud-based file repository owned by financial publishing firm Dow Jones & Company, that had been configured to allow semi-public access exposed the sensitive personal and financial details of millions of the company’s customers,” said the firm.

“While Dow Jones has confirmed that at least 2.2 million customers were affected, UpGuard calculations put the number closer to 4 million accounts,” said UpGuard, adding that this is just the tip of the breach iceberg. 

The exposed data includes the names, addresses, account information, email addresses, and last four digits of credit card numbers of millions of subscribers to Dow Jones publications like The Wall Street Journal and Barron’s. 

“Also exposed in the cloud leak were the details of 1.6 million entries in a suite of databases known as Dow Jones Risk and Compliance, a set of subscription-only corporate intelligence programs used largely by financial institutions for compliance with anti-money laundering regulations,” the security firm added.

Other security companies have cottoned on to what is happening and have naturally thrown their tin foil propeller hats into the comment ring. Christiaan Beek, lead scientist and principal engineer at McAfee, seemed to sympathise by saying that firms face a lot of threats, but wound up blaming human error and software.

“Companies today are battling an increasingly varied threat landscape while managing huge amounts of data. It can be a challenge to keep close track of where this data resides to ensure it is secure – and in this case, one small error in the cloud resulted in a large scale exposure,” he said.

“The reality is that as companies become more focused on preventing cyber crime, they may be unconsciously shooting themselves in the foot in their efforts to be completely secure. It is not unusual for businesses to have over 10 security tools that require constant monitoring in order to ensure everything is correct – meaning that unfortunately, human error becomes a key factor in monitoring and safeguarding data.”

We have asked Dow Jones to explain itself.

Courtesy-TheInq

Samsung To Officially Launch Galaxy Note 8 On August 23rd

July 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung’s is gearing up to “do bigger things.”

The company has announced plans to hold its next Unpacked event — presumably the Galaxy Note 8 — at 11 a.m. ET on Aug. 23 in New York’s Park Avenue Armory.

The invitation provided to press showed the outline of a phone that looks similar to the shape of the Galaxy S8 — a screen that appears to curve around the long sides of the phone and thin bezels at the top and bottom. It also shows a bright blue stylus, which has been a key feature of the Samsung’s Note line since it introduced the first such device. Inside the phone outline are the words: “Do bigger things.”

This Unpacked event is an important one for Samsung. The company’s Note line literally went up in flames a year ago because of faulty batteries. Its well-liked Note 7 suffered through two recalls before being killed off less than two months after the device went on sale.

In March, Samsung went a long way toward regaining consumer trust with the introduction of its flashy Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus. Neither device has had any problems since they went on sale in April. Now, Samsung will have to do the same with the Note 8, as well as give consumers a reason to buy the device instead of the regular Galaxy line.

T-Mobile Continues Winning Streak, Adds 1.3M New Customers

July 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

The nation’s third-largest mobile carrier said it added 1.3 million net new customers in the second quarter, aided largely by the 786,000 new phone customers on a post-paid plan, or who pay at the end of the month. The figure topped at least one Wall Street firm’s expectations.

The numbers underscore the fact that despite the rival carriers throwing themselves at you for your business, T-Mobile continues to win over new customers. The heightened pressure has resulted in more deals for consumers, including Sprint offering a year of service for free(excluding taxes and fees), and its prepaid arm Virgin Mobile going with an all-iPhone model with a rate of $1 for the first year of service. AT&T is throwing its DirecTV Now streaming service into its unlimited plan for $10 extra. Likewise, it was the first full quarter that Verizon offered its unlimited plan.

T-Mobile, conversely, has been relatively tame and quietly raised the price of its One Plus unlimited plan by $10, matching the price of Verizon’s $80 unlimited data plan.

Unlike in previous quarters, T-Mobile is the first of the big carriers to report results, so we won’t know for sure how well it fared relative to its competitors. The company has consistently outstripped its rivals in subscriber growth, leading the industry for 14 straight quarters.

One weak spot during the second quarter was T-Mobile’s prepaid business, which only saw 94,000 new customers, potentially because of the Virgin plan. T-Mobile sells prepaid service through its MetroPCS brand.

“MetroPCS continues to perform strongly, but we chose not to respond to irrational offers from some of our competitors during the second quarter,” T-Mobile said in its earnings report.

T-Mobile posted a second-quarter profit of $581 million, or 67 cents, compared with a year-ago profit of $225 million, or 25 cents a share. Revenue rose 10 percent to $10.2 billion.

Analysts, on average, estimated T-Mobile would earn 38 cents a share and post revenue of $9.8 billion, according to Yahoo Finance.

Does Google Truly Invade Your Privacy

July 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

John McAfee has been polled for his opinion on Google. The good news is he has one, it isn’t positive and he is apparently very pleased to give it up.

McAfee is probably at his best when he is passionate about something, and he is obviously passionate about disliking Google. The video, recorded for telly and put on YouTube by John McAfee, shows our man in passionate privacy protection mode.

It’s called “Stop Endangering Our Humanity Or I’m Coming For You,” and is aimed squarely at Google, a firm that he reckons has obsequiously crept its way into our minds, lives and privacy

The good news is, this is just like Invasion USA, the film with Chuck Norris. Though in this case Russia is Google, the USA remains the same and John McAfee is Chuck Norris.

“There is nothing wrong with creating great products, or even building a large company. Success should be rewarded, and never punished. But when success gives way to pure, venal greed we all suffer. Google has become so large, and so powerful, that their greed now threatens to destroy us all,” says the trailer voiceover video description.

“John McAfee has put Google on notice: change your ways or at least one person will be standing in your way. You don’t want to miss this!”

The video, which is something of a tirade, shows McAfee talking about Sentinel a security cure-all that he says could have a switch that turns off Google spiders and its ability to index, and its ability to exist. He does not mince his words.

The video starts with a voiceover clip from mind-bending “I am not a number” show The Prisoner, which sets the tone. Then McAfee compares Google to smoking cigarettes and says that Google has sacrificed privacy on the altar of Mammon and removed his, and your, human dignity.

“I am seriously ticked off about Google’s lack of conscience,” he says. “I will do everything in my power to make sure that the objections of the world are laid squarely at the doorstep of Google.”

McAfee has also posted a photo to Twitter (above) with the message “Are you ready Google.” In it, his tattooed torso is shirtless and he is wearing a scary mask.

We wouldn’t want to be Google.

Courtesy-TheInq

Samsung Finally Launches Bixby Voice App For Galaxy S8

July 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung has finally officially launched voice capabilities for its Bixby smart sidekick in the US, about three months after the artificial intelligence technology first became available on its new Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus phones. The company had delayed the launch and missed its own promised “later this spring” deadline, at least in the US.

Owners of its newest phones will be able to access Bixby Voice after downloading a software update, rolling out at 9 p.m. PT. South Korean users, who’ve had access to Bixby Voice in the Korean language since May 1, will also be able to now access the English language capabilities. The company didn’t say when Bixby Voice will be available in other countries.

Bixby is Samsung’s new digital voice assistant that debuted on its latest smartphones. It has its own dedicated button on the side of the device, letting you communicate with the artificial intelligence like you’d use a walkie-talkie. The only problem is the voice part of the assistantdidn’t actually work when the Galaxy S8 hit the market in April. What did work with Bixby was its “Vision, Home and Reminder” functions that identify objects in photos, help you track your day and remind you about upcoming events on your calendar.

Rather than launching voice capabilities right away, Samsung said it needed more time to get Bixby ready for mainstream consumers. It has been testing it out with over 100,000 Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus users in its early access preview program. Those participants generated more than 4 million commands and helped Samsung refine Bixby’s capabilities.

One benefit includes “increased comprehension on command variations.” You can, for instance, ask what the weather is like by saying “Show me today’s weather,” “What’s the weather like today?” or “What’s the forecast today?” Samsung says it has improved Bixby’s response times, increased hands-free operations and included a new “read aloud feature.” You can ask it to read the latest email you’ve received.

Samsung also has worked to make Bixby interact better with third-party apps. If you’re using Google Maps, you can use Bixby to change the location of your origin or destination.

Bixby is the latest entrant in the crowded field of digital assistants that already includes Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant and Microsoft’s Cortana. Every tech heavyweight is investing in these assistants because they’re heralded as the future of how we’ll interact with our gadgets. The hope is to build a relationship with you now and ultimately get you to buy more of their products later.

Google’s Mobile App Gets New Look, Feel

July 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Google has announced a re-tooling of its search app on mobile phones to include a personalized feed of links about hobbies, travel, sports and other topics, a move that puts the search company into more direct competition with social networks such as Facebook.

Google, the world’s largest search engine and a unit of Alphabet Inc, said the changes would begin rolling out in the United States on Wednesday and other countries in the coming weeks.

The new offering is called “Google Feed,” a name that may conjure comparisons to Facebook’s “News Feed,” a feature on Facebook used to browse updates from friends, family and other sources.

Google said, however, that it was not trying to duplicate Facebook Inc, the world’s largest social network. Instead, the company said it wanted to create another place to see a stream of relevant search results.

“This feed is really about your interests … It’s not really about what your friends are interested in,” Ben Gomes, a Google vice president for engineering, said in a briefing with reporters.

Typical updates might include a link to a website with tips about an upcoming vacation spot, or a link to a page about cycling or another hobby, the company said.

Facebook and Google are jockeying for attention online and by extension, for advertising revenue based on those eyeballs. The two Silicon Valley companies are expected to take in some 50 percent of overall online ad spending in 2018, according to research firm eMarketer.

There were no immediate plans to include advertising in Google Feed, Gomes said.

Google Feed will suggest links based on a user’s Google search history as well as data from other Google services, such as YouTube, Gmail and Google Calendar, the company said.

In addition to putting Google Feed on mobile apps, the company is looking at attaching it to web browsers in some form, Shashi Thakur, a second Google vice president for engineering, said during the briefing.

NBC To Host Daily News Show On Snapchat

July 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Comcast Corp’s NBC News plans to offer a twice-per-day news show on Snapchat, the company said on Wednesday, part of its push to attract younger viewers who tend to watch TV on mobile devices.

Comcast’s NBCUniversal invested $500 million in Snapchat owner Snap Inc  during its initial public offering as it seeks to boost its digital offering.

Broadcast news outlets like NBC News face an aging audience. The median age of NBC Nightly News, for example, is 64 years old, according to the Nielsen ratings agency. That is much older than the 18-to-34-year-old demographic that advertisers covet.

Last month, NBC News launched a digital video service, called “NBC Left Field” featuring short documentaries to appeal to social media users.

“This is a concerted effort that is crucial to our future,” said Nick Ascheim, head of digital at NBC News.

“Stay Tuned” will focus on issues of the day and will air at 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. EDT on weekdays and 1 p.m. EDT on weekends. The show will also air for specific breaking news events.

The launch of the daily news show comes amid increasing investor skepticism about Snap’s ability to grow and compete with Facebook Inc’s Instagram.

Pricing For AMD’s Ryzen 1300X Leaked

July 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

According to a Reddit post, upcoming Ryzen 3 SKUs, the Ryzen 3 1300X and the Ryzen 3 1200, will be hitting the market at US $129 and US $109 (exc. VAT), respectively.

While AMD has revealed a lot of details regarding its two upcoming quad-core Ryzen 3 SKUs yesterday, including the clocks and the launch date, we are still missing a couple of key details, including the TDP, amount of cache and the price.

In case you missed it yesterday, both Ryzen 3 SKUs are quad-core parts without SMT (Simultaneous Multi Threading) support, so they will stick to “just” four threads. The Ryzen 1300X works at 3.5GHz base and 3.7GHz Turbo clocks, while the Ryzen 3 1200 works at 3.1GHz base and 3.5GHz Turbo clocks. As rumored earlier, the Ryzen 3 lineup should retain the 2MB/8MB cache (L2/L3) as the Ryzen 5 series and should have the same 65W TDP, although these details are left to be confirmed.

Luckily, a Reddit user has managed to get unconfirmed details regarding the price of these two SKUs, suggesting that they should launch at US $129 for the Ryzen 3 1300X and US $109 for the Ryzen 3 1200, excluding VAT. While the price of the Ryzen 3 1300X sounds about right, and similar to what we heard before, we have our doubts regarding the Ryzen 3 1200 price, which we suspect would be closer to the US $100 mark.

In any case, we’ll know for sure in about two weeks when these parts are scheduled to hit retail/e-tail shelves. It will be quite interesting to see these Ryzen 3 SKUs compared to some Intel Core i3 Kaby Lake dual-core parts as we are quite sure that these will give Intel a hard time in that part of the market, offering significantly higher performance for much less money.

Courtesy-Fud

Is Virtual Reality To Expensive For The Masses

July 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

The current generation of virtual reality is not dead, but it’s not exactly full of life, either. What once was a pulsating buzz has faded into the background of an industry, not because there are newer, shinier toys to play with, but simply because for all the newness and shine of VR, there has been little evidence that a significant audience exists for the experiences we can deliver at this time.

Earlier this week, Oculus instituted a temporary $200 price cut of the Rift, dropping the headset and its Touch controllers to a $400 bundle that comes packed with seven free games (including Lucky’s Tale, Medium, Toybox, and Robo Recall) and an Xbox One controller for good measure. That’s in addition to the $200 price cut Oculus rolled out in March for the headset and Touch combo, meaning the company has slashed the price by 50% in just four months.

On its own, this could actually be an encouraging sign, but taken in context of the rest of the news coming out of the VR sector, it’s more concerning than convincing. For one, Oculus looks to be bringing up the rear among the three major high-end VR options on the market, despite being a first mover and having the significant financial backing of Facebook. Through the first half of this year, tracking firm Superdata put the Rift’s installed base at just 383,000 units, compared to HTC Vive’s 667,000 units and PlayStation VR’s 1.8 million.

Even ignoring its relative sales position, Oculus is already in a tough spot in the enthusiast VR fight, technologically a step behind the more expensive Vive, but still more expensive (when considering the cost of a VR-capable PC) and less mass market than the PSVR. That’s a difficult problem for marketing anything, doubly so when what you’re selling is an experience that by its nature needs to be experienced to be fully understood, triply so when you’re drastically scaling back the number of demo units in retail locations where interested customers could get their first taste of VR.

I also question Oculus’ decision to shutter its in-house Story Studio, which was set up with Pixar veterans to show how VR could shift the medium of film as much as it could games. The studio’s Henry won an Emmy in 2016. Its follow-up, Dear Angelica, premiered at Sundance earlier this year to rave reviews and has been submitted for Emmy consideration at this year’s awards, which are still a few months away. In short, Story Studio was exactly the sort of investment in a potentially disruptive medium you would expect a company with long-term ambitions to keep. Instead, they cut it loose, with head of content Jason Rubin essentially saying it was time for external filmmakers to pick up the narrative VR ball (albeit with some $50 million in funding from Oculus).

There’s a bit of a theme there. Just a couple months before closing Story Studio, Rubin pointed out for GamesIndustry.biz at GDC that Facebook–and by extension, Oculus–isn’t a content creation company.

“Facebook’s not a media company,” Rubin said. “So there may be a day where Facebook says we’re going to head towards our core competency… That’s why I don’t have internal teams. I have exactly one group of three people besides Story Studios because that didn’t exist outside.”

Facebook didn’t pay $2 billion for Oculus in 2014 because it wanted to make games. It wanted VR to be a popular thing it could leverage for its social network. If HTC Vive or Sony or Microsoft can make VR work better than Oculus, that still gets VR where the social network wants it to be. That’s not ideal for Facebook, but after the Rift’s slow start, the hundreds of millions it already owes in court judgments, the hundreds of millions more it might be made to pay in the future, and seeing the face of the VR revolution leave under a cloud of controversy, one could understand if the company’s commitment to VR began to waver.

Speaking of the competition, I’m not terribly optimistic with what they’re bringing to the table. Sony’s PSVR is leading the pack, but I’m still skeptical whether the company’s interest in the hardware will be any longer lasting than its support for Vita, or Wonderbook, or PlayStation TV, or Move, or EyeToy, or stereoscopic 3D. Sony’s E3 conference featured some promising games in Polyarc’s Moss, two titles from Until Dawn developer Supermassive, and Skyrim VR, but little that stands out as a system-seller the way that Resident Evil 7, or even the prospect of last year’s Batman and Star Wars VR experiences might have. When asked at E3 about whether that lineup would boost PSVR adoption, Sony’s Jim Ryan was unsure.

“I think we are still really just learning about VR,” Ryan said. “When hopefully we meet in a year’s time, I will be able to give you a better answer to this question. It still won’t be a perfect answer, but I’ll know more.”

That’s not exactly an overwhelming vote of confidence from PlayStation’s chief marketer. I’m not sure I want to bet the future health of VR on Sony’s continued support for a market that is (for now, at least) peripheral to its core business.

The situation with HTC and the Vive underscores another issue when trying to establish an emerging field like VR. Vive launched at the cutting edge, but since then has rolled out object tracker peripherals and a wireless adaptor, respectively giving developers more options and addressing a key complaint around high-end VR. In both cases, they would be better served as being part of the core hardware package rather than optional add-ons for what is already the most expensive option on the market. For the next generation of VR, perhaps they’ll be standard.

But who will invest in the next generation of enthusiast VR–on either the consumer side or the manufacturer side–if this generation disappoints? How long does a VR generation need to be before someone who spent $800 on a Vive (not to mention the cost of a VR-capable PC) feels they got their money’s worth and would re-up for a successor? How many great games does it need to have? How many generations does an HTC or Facebook need to take a bath on before the business turns around and justifies the continued investment?

Then there’s Microsoft, which will enter the fray this holiday season with its “mixed reality” VR headsets for Windows that are cheaper and require less of a set up than Oculus or Vive, but appear to make compromises on the technical side to get there. It’s telling that even with Microsoft launching the high-end, VR-capable Xbox One X this year, it is foregoing any sort of console VR push and relying on higher resolutions and better frame rates for Xbox One games as the sales pitch for a One X. Phil Spencer told us at E3 that VR was still years away from the mainstream for gamers, suggesting the company was waiting to launch its console VR until it had a proper wireless solution ready.

At this point, it seems more likely to me that the current enthusiast VR market is an expensive R&D exercise that won’t produce successful systems, but will lay the groundwork for the actual mass market VR, which will instead evolve both in audience and use-cases from the mobile VR world. (We call it mobile VR, but I don’t think I’m alone in having never once seen someone using a mobile VR headset on the subway, in the security line at the airport, or in the waiting room at a dentist.)

A number of the VR developers I’ve spoken to have mentioned wires, price, system-selling software, and installed base as key issues VR needs to tackle to become truly mainstream. As Google Daydream and the Oculus-powered Gear VR have shown, the first two are all but solved problems in mobile VR thanks to the use of existing smartphones. As for the other two, when your system is only $100 or so, the definition of a system-seller changes dramatically, which then has plenty of beneficial implications for the installed base. (Promotions like Samsung giving away Gear VR with new Galaxy phone purchases don’t hurt, either.)

All mobile VR really needs are better interfaces and more powerful phones. The Gear VR motion controller is a good first step for the former, and the latter is improving all the time. If VR is really going to go mass market, doesn’t it make more sense for it to grow not from the high-end early adopter market who would have dropped $600 on a PS3, but from the masses who made a compelling novelty like the $250 Wii a phenomenon?

Courtesy-GI.biz

Premium Nokia 8 Handset May Launch By End Of July

July 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

The premium Nokia 8 could get everything from dual cameras to Qualcomm’s fastest Snapdragon 835 chip (the same one that’s in the Samsung Galaxy S8), according to well-known mobile tipster Evan Blass, who also writes for VentureBeat. The phone may even be unveiled as early as July 31, Blass suggests.

If true, this is just what the Nokia brand — once a top-two titan of mobile — needs. After Microsoft sold a company called HMD the rights to use the Nokia mobile name in 2016, the company has released three midrange Nokia Android phones, the Nokia 3, Nokia 5 and Nokia 6, and a throwback to a simple feature phone, the Nokia 3310. The Nokia 8 could help bring some luster back to the flagging brand.

Some rumored Nokia 8 specs include: 5.3-inch screen, 2,560×1,440-pixel resolution (QHD), dual 13-megapixel cameras featuring Zeiss optics, Android 7.1.1 Nougat, Snapdragon 835 processor,  4GB or 6GB of RAM.

The phone is also said to cost around 589 euros, which translates to about $675, £520 or AUD$865. This puts it at a much higher price than the current most expensive option — the Nokia 6.

The Nokia 8 reveal was speculated to take place in a promotional Nokia video in May, but the actual video didn’t show much besides glimpses of the phone’s appearance.

HMD Global, which licenses the Nokia brand name, declined to comment on this story.

Court Grants FBI Right To Continue Secret Surveillance Requests

July 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The FBI will be allowed to continue sending surveillance orders to tech companies and ban them from disclosing those requests, an appeals court ruled Monday.

Internet company Cloudflare and wireless network operator CREDO Mobile sued the federal government to be allowed to disclose public national security letters they have received. They argued that the letters, which are administrative subpoenas issued by the government to gather information for national security purposes, are unconstitutional because they violate the First Amendment’s freedom of speech protections.

Critics of national security letters — like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which represented Cloudflare and CREDO in the case — say they “allow the FBI to secretly demand data about ordinary American citizens’ private communications and internet activity without any meaningful oversight or prior judicial review.” Companies that receive national security letters, or NSLs, are subject to gag orders, which means they can’t even disclose they’ve received such orders unless the letters become declassified. And those gag orders last indefinitely.

A three-judge panel on a US court of appeals in San Francisco on Monday upheld a lower court ruling that NSLs can remain secret. In their unanimous ruling, they said the Supreme Court “has concluded that some restrictions on speech are constitutional, provided they survive the appropriate level of scrutiny.”

The law behind national security letters considers that disclosing the orders could result in danger to the national security of the US, interference with an investigation, interference with diplomatic relations; or danger to the life or physical safety of any person, the judges said in their opinion.

“We therefore conclude that the 2015 NSL law is narrowly tailored to serve a compelling government interest, both as to inclusiveness and duration,” the opinion said. “Accordingly, we hold that the nondisclosure requirement … survives strict scrutiny.”

Andrew Crocker, an attorney with EFF, said in a statement that he’s disappointed the court “failed to recognize that the NSL statute violates the free speech rights of technology companies that are required to turn over customer data to the FBI and banned indefinitely from ever publicly discussing the requests.”

He added that NSLs prevent companies from being open with their customers.

“Unfortunately, the Ninth Circuit avoided addressing the serious First Amendment problems with NSLs, particularly the fact that they are often left in place permanently,” Crocker said. “We’re considering our options for next steps in challenging this unconstitutional authority.”

The US Justice Department declined to comment on the ruling.

Samsung To Recycle Rare Metals From Old Galaxy Note 7s

July 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Electronics giant Samsung Electronics Co Ltd announced plans to recover 157 tons worth of rare metals from recalled Galaxy Note 7 smartphones in a bid to minimize the environmental impact of the fire-prone devices.

Samsung said in a statement it planned to reuse components such as camera modules, chips and displays as replacement parts on devices sent in for repairs or sell them. It would also recover metals such as cobalt, copper, gold and silver from components that would not be reused.

The world’s top smartphone maker is trying to move on from the withdrawal of the Note 7 premium devices last year due to safety concerns, a failure which cost the firm $5.4 billion in operating profit.

Sales of the flagship Galaxy S8 launched in April have been healthy, analysts say, suggesting a recovery is underway. The firm had sold 3.06 million Note 7s to consumers before its second and final recall in October, roughly 2 months after launch.

Environmental activists such as Greenpeace have called on Samsung to recycle or recover the rare materials contained in the devices.

The South Korean firm launched a modified version of the Note 7 in its domestic market earlier this month as part of the recycling effort.

Is Google Involved In Shady Research

July 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

A watchdog group has accused Google of funding academic research to try to influence public opinion and policymakers.

Campaign for Accountability (CfA), a Washington-based non-profit that recently launched the Google Transparency Project, said in a report that the company has thrown money at research papers in the US and Europe that appear to support its business interests, covering topics including antitrust, privacy, net neutrality, patents, and copyright.

“Google uses its immense wealth and power to attempt to influence policymakers at every level,” said Daniel Stevens, CfA executive director. “At a minimum, regulators should be aware that the allegedly independent legal and academic work on which they rely has been brought to them by Google.”

CfA claims that 329 papers published between 2005 and 2017 on public policy matters relevant to Google were in “some way” funded by the company, and alleges that authors of the papers – who were paid between $5,000 and $400,000 – did not disclose the source of their funding in 66 per cent of all cases.

Google has been quick to deny the accusations, and has slammed the CfA’s report as “highly misleading”.

In a blog post, Google’s director of public policy Leslie Miller said that the CfA had inflated numbers by attributing funding to Google when it actually came from associations to which Google.

She also said it was ironic that the CfA talked about transparency given that the watchdog’s only known backer is Oracle. 

“The irony of discussing disclosures and transparency with the Campaign for Accountability is that this group consistently refuses to name its corporate funders. And those backers won’t ‘fess up either,” wrote Miller.

“The one funder the world does know about is Oracle, which is running a well-documented lobbying campaign against us. In its own name and through proxies, Oracle has funded many hundreds of articles, research papers, symposia and reports.

“Oracle is not alone. You can easily find similar activity by companies and organisations funded by our competitors, like AT&T, the MPAA, ICOMP, FairSearch and dozens more, including hundreds of pieces directly targeting Google.”

Courtesy-TheInq

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