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Is A.I. Ready For The Big Time

February 19, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

AI is set to be a massive disappointment for those who think it is going to take over the world.

While there have been remarkable advances in AI, after decades of frustration there are too many things that people can do quickly that smart machines cannot.

For example, natural language is beyond deep learning, sure AI machine translators are great tools, but they are leagues behind a competent human translator and will remain that way for decades. AI can’t handle new situations.

Senior partner at Flagship Pioneering, a firm in Boston that creates, builds, and funds companies that solve problems in health, food, and sustainability Jason Pontin has written in Wired that AI is good at a few things but terrible at others.

“Deep learning’s advances are the product of pattern recognition: neural networks memorise classes of things and more-or-less reliably know when they encounter them again. But almost all the interesting problems in cognition aren’t classification problems at all.”

Google researcher François Chollet said that people naively believe that if you take deep learning and scale it 100 times more layers, and add 1000 times more data, a neural net will be able to do anything a human being can do… But that’s just not true.

Gary Marcus, a professor of cognitive psychology at NYU and briefly director of Uber’s AI lab, recently published a trilogy of essays blasting deep learning.

He said that deep learning was not “a universal solvent, but one tool among many”. And without new approaches, Marcus worries that AI is rushing toward a wall, beyond which lie all the problems that pattern recognition cannot solve.

Deep learning is greedy, brittle, opaque, and shallow. The systems are greedy because they demand broad sets of training data. Brittle because when a neural net is given a “transfer test”—confronted with scenarios that differ from the examples used in training—it cannot contextualise the situation and frequently breaks.

Unlike traditional programs with their formal, debuggable code, the parameters of neural networks can only be interpreted using their weights within mathematical geography. Consequently, they are black boxes, whose outputs cannot be explained, raising doubts about their reliability and biases. Finally, they are shallow because they are programmed with little innate knowledge and possess no common sense about the world or human psychology.

Pedro Domingos, a professor of computer science at the University of Washington said that a self-driving car could drive millions of miles, but it will eventually encounter something new for which it has no experience. Of course a driver in Rome or Sofia encounters these random events every ten minutes so we suspect the AI driving unit would explode.

The theory is that humans might have a better learning algorithm in our heads than anything we’ve come up with for machines.


Reddit Finally Goes Two-Factor

February 6, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Reddit is finally getting two-factor authentication (2FA) to keep user accounts better locked down.

Reddit has been testing the use of 2FA for some time, but now it looks to be finally ready to push it out to all.

“You asked for it, and we’re delivering! Today, all Reddit users have the option to enable two-factor authentication for an additional layer of account security,” said the company in a Reddit post, naturally.

“We have been slowly rolling this feature out, starting with beta testers, moderators, and third-party app developers, to ensure a positive experience across devices. Your feedback has been incredibly valuable, from pointing out bugs to recommending features. Thank you to everyone involved in testing.”

“Two-factor adds more security to your Reddit account by requiring a second step to sign in. In this case, if you opt into 2FA, you’ll access a six-digit verification code generated by your phone after a new sign-in attempt. With two-factor enabled, even if someone else obtained your Reddit username and password, they still could not log in as you.”

If users lose their phone or the Reddit app has a case of the tech hiccups, Reddit will supply each user with 10 one-off codes to allow them to authenticate their accounts securely.

So that’s all good news for paranoid Reddit users who want to make sure any of the noise they spout on the site does indeed come from them and not someone else masquerading as an angry poser peeved at… well… pretty much everything under the sun.

While 2FA is enabled on desktop, mobile and third-party versions of Reddit, it needs to be turned on by users by accessing the ‘password/email’ tab in the desktop version.

One might wonder why 2FA isn’t switched-on automatically, especially for new Reddit users. But the reason for having it as an option could simply be for user ease-of-use in the same way two-factor authentication isn’t enabled by default in Google’s Gmail.

2FA isn’t the be all and end all of cybersecurity but it at least throws another hurdle in the way of have-a-go hackers.


Is the UK Doomed To Face A Major Cyber Security Attack

February 1, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

It is inevitable that the UK will be hit by a major cyberattack in the next two years according to the head of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC). 

Speaking to The Guardian, Ciaran Martin said that the US, France and other parts of Europe had been whacked by so-called “category one” (C1) cyber-attacks, which aim to cripple infrastructure including energy companies and financial services, and that it was a question of “when, not if” Britain will be hit.

“Most comparable western countries have experienced what we would consider a category one attack, so we have been fortunate in avoiding that to date,” he said. “I think it is a matter of when, not if and we will be fortunate to come to the end of the decade without having a category one attack.

“Some attacks will get through. What you need to do [at that point] is cauterize the damage,” he added.

Martin noted that the country’s worst attack so far has been the WannaCry ransomware attack that struck in May last year, which forced NHS hospitals across the UK to shut down IT systems and telephones lines, and in some cases cancel operations and send patients home.

However, this attack – which also infected traffic lights in Australia and forced Honda to shut down a production plant in Japan – was only categorized as a “category two” attack, of which there have been 34 since the NCSC was set up in October 2016, Martin said. There have been 762 category three incidents, he added.

Martin’s comments come after the head of the British Army, Gen Sir Nick Carter, called for more defense spending to tackle the threat of cyberattacks, saying that the UK needed to protect itself from “cyber-warfare” from Russia.

Speaking of which, Martin warned that while no successful attempts have yet been made to interfere with the UK’s democratic process, there may have been intelligence-gathering taking place for possible future attacks.

“What we have seen from Russia thus far against the UK is a series of intrusions for espionage and possible pre-positioning into key sectors but in a more controlled form of attack from others,” he said.

Martin’s claims come just weeks after a report from think-tank Chatham House warned that nuclear weapons systems are becoming increasingly vulnerable to cyber-attacks, which could lead to the ‘inadvertent’ nuclear launches.


FCC Updates Cellphone Alerts, Requires Greater Location Accuracy

January 31, 2018 by  
Filed under Mobile

The Federal Communications Commission will require emergency alerts sent to mobile devices during a crisis to be more geographically precise.

The agency approved an item ensuring that when wireless providers send messages through the Wireless Emergency Alert system, the alerts are more targeted to individuals affected by the natural disaster or crisis in question.

In some cases, authorities have been reluctant to issue alerts because the messages were being broadcast over a wider area than necessary. These officials said they didn’t want to warn people for no reason or inundate them with irrelevant alerts.

“Overbroad alerting can cause public confusion, lead some to opt out of receiving alerts altogether, and, in many instances, complicate rescue efforts by unnecessarily causing traffic congestion and overloading call centers,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said.

The system update arrives as the nation’s emergency alert setup receives increased scrutiny. Earlier this month, an official in Hawaii mistakenly warned millions of people about an incoming ballistic missile, causing widespread panic. The false alert wasn’t corrected for 38 minutes.

At Tuesday’s meeting, FCC officials also presented preliminary results of an investigation that points to a mix of human error and poorly designed interfaces as the cause of the incident. The person responsible for the alert misinterpreted instructions and thought the alert was real. The FCC’s inquiry is still ongoing.

The commission’s effort to make the wireless emergency alerts more geographically precise began before the Hawaii mishap. The FCC considered the item at the urging of California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, who told the commission that some local authorities in their state were reluctant to send out alerts during last year’s deadly wildfires.

The FCC also adopted updates to the system in 2016 that require carriers to let messages be sent in multiple languages. It also increased the character limit for messages from 90 to 360. And messages will be able to support hyperlinks and multimedia. Those changes won’t take effect until May 2019.

Google and China’s Tencent Agree On Patent Deal

January 23, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Alphabet Inc’s Google has agreed to a patent licensing agreement with Tencent Holdings Ltd as it seeks ways to expand in China where many of its products, such as app store, search engine, and email service, are blocked by regulators.

The U.S. technology company has signed similar agreements before with Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, and Cisco Systems Inc, but the deal with Tencent is a first with a large Chinese tech firm.

 Google has previously said that agreements such as these reduce the potential of litigation over patent infringement.
 The agreement with the Chinese social media and gaming firm Tencent covers a broad range of products and paves the way for collaboration on technology in the future, Google said on Friday, without disclosing any financial terms of the deal.

Tencent oversees China’s top social media and payments app, WeChat, which has close to a billion users. It also oversees one of the country’s most popular app stores and hosts the country’s biggest gaming and livestream platforms.

Google did not disclose the scope of the new patent deal and Tencent did not immediately respond to questions about which products the patent agreement will cover.

“By working together on agreements such as this, tech companies can focus on building better products and services for their users,” said Mike Lee, Google’s head of patents.

Over the past year, Google has indicated that it was looking to increase it presence in the restrictive Chinese market, with the launch of a local AI research lab, introduction of a version of its translation app and expansion into new cities.

The company announced this month that it had invested in Chinese livestream gaming app Chushou, which is similar to Google’s own YouTube game livestreaming services.

In December, Google CEO Sundar Pichai spoke at a conference in China hosted by the Cyberspace Administration of China, which oversees censorship in the country.

The EU To Challenge China In The Supercomputing Space

January 22, 2018 by  
Filed under Computing

British computer scientist are worried about missing out on the benefits of a new initiative to build supercomputers in Europe, because of Brexit.

13 countries have formally signed up to the initiative, launched in March last year, to develop computers that can perform at least a hundred quadrillion (that’s a million billion) calculations per second.

The goal of the EuroHPC project is to build two ‘world-class’ machines, with at least two mid-range systems that can perform tens of quadrillions calculations, by 2020. The EU is spending €1bn on the project, in an effort to catch up with similar schemes in the USA, China and Japan and keep sensitive data in Europe.

These computers will act as a stepping stone to progress towards the ultimate goal of a next-gen ‘exascale’ system, which could perform at least a quintillion calculations each second – and yes, that’s a billion billion.

The EU will put €486m towards the project by 2020, with a similar figure being sourced from other member states and ‘associated countries’. So far Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland have signed up to be part of the scheme. Private entities are also able to make contributions.

But where’s the UK?

The United Kingdom has still not formally signed on to EuroHPC, and scientists have expressed concerns.

Alastair Clifton, a spokesman for the UK’s Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which looks after the government’s science budget, did not say why the UK had not signed the declaration.

Clifton did, however, tell Bloomberg that the UK has been taking “an active part in development” and whether the country would sign up to the initiative “is an open question.”

Simon McIntosh-Smith, a professor of high-performance computing at the University of Bristol, said: “Brexit has thrown a lot of uncertainty around the UK’s participation and it is really unfortunate and causing delay and confusion.”

Mark Parsons of the University of Edinburgh said that it would make much more sense for the UK to work on supercomputer development with other countries and that a lot of the viability would depend on the country’s political status post-Brexit.

“Associated countries [like Switzerland and Norway] can participate in the research programs just like a member state,” Parsons said. However, research teams from so-called third countries, like Canada, cannot receive EU funding even though they can bid to take part in projects.


Bitcoin Continues Slide Over Banning Fears

January 17, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Bitcoin fell 18 percent on Tuesday to a four-week trough close to $11,000, after reports that a ban on trading of cryptocurrencies in South Korea was still an option drove fears grew of a wider regulatory crackdown.

Bitcoin’s slide triggered a massive selloff across the broader cryptocurrency market, with biggest rival Ethereum down 23 percent on the day, according to trade website Coinmarketcap, and the next-biggest, Ripple, plunging 33 percent.

South Korean news website Yonhap reported that Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon had told a local radio station that the government would be coming up with a set of measures to clamp down on the “irrational” cryptocurrency investment craze.

South Korea had said on Monday that its plans to ban virtual coin exchanges had not yet been finalized, as government agencies were still in talks to decide how to regulate the market.

 Bitcoin slid on the latest news, trading as low as $11,191.59 on the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp exchange, down 18 percent on the day, for a short period putting the digital currency on track for its biggest one-day fall in three years.

“It’s mainly been regulatory issues which are haunting the cryptocurrency, with news around South Korea’s further crackdown on trading the driver today,” said Think Markets chief strategist Naeem Aslam, who holds what he described as “substantial” amounts of bitcoin, Ethereum and Ripple.

“But we maintain our stance. We do not think that the complete banning of cryptocurrencies is possible,” he said.

Cryptocurrencies enjoyed a bumper year in 2017 as mainstream investors entered the market and as an explosion in so-called initial coin offerings (ICOs) – digital token-based fundraising rounds – drove demand for bitcoin and Ethereum, the second-biggest digital unit.

The latest tumble leaves bitcoin down more than 40 percent from the record high around $20,000 it hit in mid-December, wiping about $130 billion off its “market cap” – the unit price multiplied by the total number of bitcoins that have been released into the market.

The news from South Korea came as it emerged a senior Chinese central banker had said authorities should ban centralised trading of virtual currencies as well as individuals and businesses that provide related services, according to an internal memo from a government meeting seen by Reuters.

Bloomberg reported on Monday that Chinese authorities plan to block domestic access to Chinese and offshore cryptocurrency platforms that allow centralised trading.

 “(It) seems like it’s uncertainty spooking the markets,…with regulations unclear,” said Charles Hayter, founder of data analysis website Cryptocompare. “(Traders) are taking profits on the increased risk scenarios going forward.”

A director at Germany’s central bank said on Monday that any attempt to regulate cryptocurrencies must be on a global scale as national or regional rules would be hard to enforce on a virtual, borderless community.

AT&T Urged To Sever Ties With Huawei Over National Security

January 17, 2018 by  
Filed under Mobile

U.S. lawmakers are pushing AT&T Inc, the No. 2 wireless carrier, to sever commercial ties to Chinese phone maker Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and oppose plans by telecom operator China Mobile Ltd to enter the U.S. market because of national security concerns, two congressional aides said.

The warning comes after the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump took a harder line on policies initiated by his predecessor Barack Obama on issues ranging from Beijing’s role in restraining North Korea to Chinese efforts to acquire U.S. strategic industries.

Earlier this month, AT&T was forced to scrap a plan to offer its customers Huawei handsets after some members of Congress lobbied against the idea with federal regulators, sources told Reuters.

The U.S. government has also blocked a string of Chinese acquisitions over national security concerns, including Ant Financial’s proposed purchase of U.S. money transfer company MoneyGram International Inc.

The lawmakers are also advising U.S. firms that if they have ties to Huawei or China Mobile, it could hamper their ability to do business with the U.S. government, one aide said, requesting anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

One of the commercial ties senators and House members want AT&T to cut is its collaboration with Huawei over standards for the high-speed next-generation 5G network, the aides said. Another is the use of Huawei handsets by AT&T’s discount subsidiary Cricket, the aides said.

 Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said on Tuesday he did not know anything about the details of the commercial cooperation cases, but added China hopes other countries would provide a fair operating environment for Chinese firms.

“We hope that China and the United States can work hard together to maintain the healthy and stable development of trade and business ties. This accords with the joint interests of both,” Lu told a daily news briefing in Beijing.

China Mobile, the world’s biggest mobile phone operator, did not respond to requests for comment.

AT&T declined to comment but said that it had made no decisions on 5G suppliers.

U.S. lawmakers who have in the past expressed concerns about the prospect of the deal between AT&T and Huawei either declined to comment or were not immediately available.

Huawei declined to comment, but earlier this week told Reuters that it sells its equipment through more than 45 of the world’s top 50 carriers and puts the privacy and security of its customers as its top priority.

National security experts fear that any data from a Huawei device, for example about the location of the phone’s user, would be available to Chinese government intelligence services.

In 2012, Huawei and ZTE Corp were the subject of a U.S. investigation into whether their equipment provided an opportunity for foreign espionage and threatened critical U.S. infrastructure – a link that Huawei has consistently denied.

“The next wave of wireless communication has enormous economic and national security implications. China’s participation in setting the standards and selling the equipment raises many national security issues that demand strict and prompt attention,” said Michael Wessel, a member of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, which was set up by Congress.

 U.S. lawmakers do not want China Mobile to be given a license to do business in the United States, the congressional aides said. China Mobile applied for the license in 2011, and the application is pending before the Federal Communications Commission.

Huawei and Chinese telecom firms have long struggled to gain a toehold in the U.S. market, partly because of U.S. government pressure on potential U.S. partners.

Two Republican lawmakers, Representatives Michael Conaway and Liz Cheney, introduced a bill this week that bars the U.S. government from using or contracting with Huawei or ZTE Corp, a Chinese telecommunications and equipment and systems company.

Can Samsung Sell Over 300 Million Smartphones In 2018

January 10, 2018 by  
Filed under Mobile

According to a fresh report, Samsung aims to sell a total of 320 million smartphones in 2018.

The South Korean The Investor, spotted by, reported that Samsung plans to retain its lead in the smartphone market without increasing its targets from last year.

In addition to the high 320 million target for standard smartphones, the company also wants to flog 40 million feature phones, 20 million tablet units, and five million wearables.

The goal is similar to its last yearly target,  and the company reckons that it should be enough to keep the lead in the smartphone market, ahead of Apple, which sold around 200 million devices in 2017.


Germany Implements New Online Hate Speech Law

January 3, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

In Germany, social media companies were hoping to avoid the fireworks marking the start of the new year.

On Jan. 1, the country began enforcing strict rules that could see platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube being fined up to €5 million (about $6 million) if they don’t remove posts containing hate speech within 24 hours of receiving a complaint, BBC reported Monday.

The new hate speech rules, passed last June, require companies to maintain an “effective and transparent procedure for dealing with complaints” that users can access readily at any time. Upon receiving a complaint, social media companies have to remove or block “obviously illegal content” within 24 hours, although they have up to a week when dealing with “complex cases.”

Social media companies haven’t been viewed too favorably in many countries due to the massive volume of hate content on their platforms. To fight that, Facebook in June said it removes 66,000 posts every week, saying it wants to do better but admitting the task is not easy. Last month, Twitter escalated its fight against hate, enforcing an updated policy that bans users from promoting violence and hate in their usernames and bios, and threatening to remove accounts if users tweeted hate speech, symbols, and images.

German isn’t the only country that wants social media companies to do more about hate speech. While the European Union acknowledged Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft for being better at the job, it said it managed to block twice the volume of hate content at a faster rate than those companies did in the beginning of the year.

“We’re committed to being part of the solution to illegal hate speech and extremist content online — around the world, and in Germany, working within its new legal framework,” a YouTube spokesperson told CNET in an emailed statement. “We’ll continue to invest heavily in teams and technology to allow us to go further and faster in removing content that breaks our rules or German law, and by working with government, law enforcement, civil society groups and other companies.”

North Korea Accused Of Crytocurrency Theft

January 3, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

North Korea has expanded its reason for hacking, alleges its Southern counterpart.

North Korean hackers known as Andariel breached a server at a company in South Korea to steal 70 Monero coins last summer, Bloomberg reported Tuesday, citing analysis from the South Korean government. The coins, supported bymusicians such as Mariah Carey and Fall Out Boy, are valued at a total of $25,000 (£18,440 or AU$31,880).

The news comes as reports surface of North Korea turning to cryptocurrencies as a source of funding for the government at a time when international sanctions against the reclusive state are tightening. Last month, the US accused North Korea of having orchestrated the WannaCry cyberattack which crippled over 300,000 servers worldwide in May, although the state denied any involvement. Victims of the attack found their computers locked and had to pay a ransom in Bitcoin in order to retrieve their files. The potential of Bitcoin to be used by the North Koreans as an “economic weapon” is also thought to be one reason the South Korean government wants to launch a crackdown on cryptocurrencies and is fighting the trend so aggressively.

The Monero cryptocurrency is designed for those with a keen preference for privacy, as it’s harder to trace (claimed to be “untraceable” by its creators) than competitors like Bitcoin and Ethereum. Monero for this reason is an easier currency to launder, said Kwak Kyoung-ju, head of South Korean government’s Financial Security Institute, according to Bloomberg.

“Andariel is going after anything that generates cash these days,” Kwak told the publication. “Dust gathered over time builds a mountain.”

Does China’s WeChat Store User’s Chat History?

January 3, 2018 by  
Filed under Mobile

Tencent Holdings’ WeChat, China’s most popular messenger app, refuted claims that they are storing users’ chat histories, after a top businessman was quoted in media reports as saying he believed Tencent was monitoring everyone’s account.

“WeChat does not store any users’ chat history. That is only stored in users’ mobiles, computers and other terminals,” WeChat said in a post on the social media platform.

“WeChat will not use any content from user chats for big data analysis. Because of WeChat’s technical model that does not store or analyze user chats, the rumor that ‘we are watching your WeChat everyday’ is pure misunderstanding.”

 Li Shufu, chairman of Geely Holdings, owner of the Volvo car brand, was quoted in Chinese media on Monday as saying Tencent Chairman Ma Huateng “must be watching all our WeChats every day”.

Like all Chinese social media platforms, WeChat is required to censor public posts deemed “illegal” by the Communist Party. WeChat’s privacy policy says it may need to retain and disclose users’ information “in response to a request by a government authority, law enforcement agency or similar body”.

WeChat did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.

According to a report by Amnesty International, Tencent ranked at the bottom of 11 tech firms running the world’s most popular messenger apps for how they use encryption to protect user privacy.

 China’s cyber watchdog in September announced a new rule making chat group administrators and companies accountable for breaches of content rules.

In the same month it handed down maximum penalties to tech firms including Tencent, Baidu Inc and Weibo Corp for failing to properly censor online content, and asked them to increase content auditing measures.


North Korea Rejects Claims It’s Responsible For ‘WannaCry’

December 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

A spokesman for North Korea’s foreign ministry pushed back that Pyongyang is linked to any cyber attacks, the North’s first response since the United States publicly blamed it for a massive worldwide cybersecurity breach.

“As we have clearly stated on several occasions, we have nothing to do with cyber attack and we do not feel a need to respond, on a case-by-case basis, to such absurd allegations of the U.S.,” the spokesman said, according to the North’s official KCNA news agency.

The U.S. accusation was a serious political provocation against North Korea that Pyongyang would never tolerate, the spokesman said. The May cyber attack crippled hospitals, banks and other companies.


WhatsApp Under Scrutiny In France Over Data Privacy

December 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

France’s data privacy watchdog may levy fines against messaging app WhatsApp if it does not comply with an order to bring its sharing of user data with parent company Facebook into line with French privacy law.

The French data protection authority – CNIL – said on it had told WhatsApp to comply with the order within one month, and pay particular attention to obtaining users’ consent. If WhatsApp does not comply it could sanction the company, it said.

The CNIL said WhatsApp did not have the legal basis to share user data with Facebook and had violated its obligation to cooperate with the French authority.

WhatsApp, bought by Facebook in 2014, said it would begin sharing some user data with the social media group in 2016, drawing warnings from European privacy watchdogs about getting the appropriate consent.

 In October, European Union privacy regulators criticized WhatsApp for not resolving their concerns over the messaging service’s sharing of user data with Facebook a year after they first issued a warning.

The French regulator said WhatsApp had not properly obtained users’ consent to begin sharing their phone numbers with Facebook for “business intelligence” purposes.

“The only way to refuse the data transfer for “business intelligence” purpose is to uninstall the application,” the CNIL said in a statement.

The regulator accepted the transfer of user data for security purposes seemed to be essential to the functioning of the application. But the watchdog also said the same did not apply for “business intelligence” purposes which aim to improve the apps’ performance.

“Privacy is incredibly important to WhatsApp. It’s why we collect very little data, and encrypt every message,” a spokeswoman for WhatsApp said.

“We will continue to work with the CNIL to ensure users understand what information we collect, as well as how it’s used. And we’re committed to resolving the different, and at times conflicting, concerns we’ve heard from European Data Protection Authorities with a common EU approach before the General Data Protection Regulation comes into force in May 2018.”

 European data protection authorities can only impose small fines at the moment, but a new EU privacy law entering into force next year will increase fines to up to 4 percent of a company’s global turnover.

The CNIL said it had repeatedly asked WhatsApp to provide a sample of French users’ data transferred to Facebook but the company had explained it could not do so as it is located in the United States and “it considers that it is only subject to the legislation of this country.”

Separately, Germany’s cartel office said on Tuesday it had found Facebook had abused its dominant market position, in a ruling that questioned the company’s model of monetizing the personal data of its users through targeted advertising.


Kasperky Challenges Software Ban In US Court

December 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Moscow-based security software maker Kaspersky Lab confirmed it has asked a U.S. federal court to overturn a Trump administration ban on the use of its products in government networks, saying the move deprived the company of due process.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in September issued a directive ordering civilian government agencies to remove Kaspersky software from their networks within 90 days. It came amid mounting concern among U.S. officials that the software could enable Russian espionage and threaten national security.

The appeal is part of an ongoing campaign by Kaspersky to refute allegations the company is vulnerable to Kremlin influence. The company has repeatedly denied it has ties to any government and said it would not help a government with cyber espionage.

 “DHS has harmed Kaspersky Lab’s reputation and its commercial operations without any evidence of wrongdoing by the company,” the company’s founder, Eugene Kaspersky, said in an open letter to the Homeland Security agency published on Monday.

The department did not respond to requests for comment.

The lawsuit alleges that the government largely relied on uncorroborated news media reports as evidence in a review of Kaspersky software. It asks the court to overturn the ban and also declare that the Russian company’s products do not pose a security threat to U.S. government computers.

The value of Kaspersky’s software sales to the U.S. government totaled less than $54,000, or about 0.03 percent of its U.S. subsidiary’s sales in the United States, according to the complaint.

Still, the allegations about the software have hurt its much bigger consumer software business, prompting retailers such as Best Buy Co to pull Kaspersky products.

 Kaspersky said in October that it would submit the source code of its software and future updates for inspection by independent parties. U.S. officials have said that step, while welcome, would not be sufficient.

The September DHS order applied only to civilian government agencies and not the Pentagon. U.S. intelligence agencies said earlier this year that Kaspersky products were already generally not allowed on military networks.


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