Yahoo is asking the U.S. government to provide further clarity on requests for user data, following reports that said the internet company secretly scanned customer emails for terrorism-related information.
On Wednesday, Yahoo sent a letter to James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, saying the company has been “unable to respond” to news articles earlier this month detailing the alleged government-mandated email scanning.
“Your office, however, is well positioned to clarify this matter of public interest,” the letter said.
The scanning allegedly involved searching through the email accounts of every Yahoo user and may have gone beyond other U.S. government requests for information, according to a report from Reuters.
However, Yahoo has called the Reuters report misleading. “The mail scanning described in the article does not exist on our systems,” the company said.
A separate report from The New York Times suggested the email scanning was done on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice and was intended to look for signs of code belonging to a foreign terrorist group.
The recent news stories on the email scanning have “provoked broad speculation” about Yahoo and U.S. government activities, the internet company said in its letter. Although Yahoo respects the need for confidentiality, the company is urging more transparency over how the U.S. government goes about legally obtaining users’ private communications.
“Transparency underpins the ability of any company in the information and communications technology sector to earn and preserve the trust of its customers,” the letter said.
Yahoo has agreed to be sold to Verizon as part of a $4.8 billion deal. But the internet company’s value may have diminished on news of the secret email scanning and a massive data breach publicized in September.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Alphabet Inc unit Google has inked a deal with CBS Corp to carry the network on its planned web TV service and is in advanced negotiations with 21st Century Fox and Viacom Inc to distribute its channels, three sources told Reuters.
The service, which will be part of Google’s YouTube Platform, is expected to launch in the first quarter and will include all of CBS’ content, including live NFL games, one of the sources said.
Google’s so-called “skinny bundle,” with fewer channels than a typical cable subscription, will cost $30 to $40 a month, the source said. It was unclear which Fox and Viacom networks would be part of the Google service, two of the sources said.
The sources requested anonymity because the discussions are confidential. A spokesperson for YouTube declined to comment.
Google will be launching into an increasingly crowded market. Dish Network Corp and Sony Corp, which in the past year have launched skinny bundles to appeal to younger viewers who do not want to pay for cable.
And both AT&T Inc and Hulu, the online video service owned by Disney, Fox, Comcast Corp and Time Warner Inc, have streaming television offerings that are expected to go live in the next few months.
The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news, said Google was also in advanced talks with Walt Disney Co.
A representative at Disney was not immediately available for comment. CBS, Viacom and Fox declined to comment.
Google has been talking to media companies about its web TV for years, but its plans have just ramped up over the past few months, one of the sources said. Apple Inc had looked at a similar service but has shelved that plan for the time being, sources had previously told Reuters.
According to Piper Jaffray Companies, a recent survey of 10,000 U.S. teenagers showed that 52% used Facebook at least once a month this fall, compared to 60% who used it monthly in the spring.
“Factoring out shifts in the population surveyed, core Facebook usage likely declined by three basis points, which indicates Facebook is gradually becoming less relevant versus Instagram and Snapchat,” Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster wrote in a research note to investors.
The same survey, however, showed that teen use of Facebook-owned Instagram has gone from 70% to 74% in the same time frame — and rose from 75% to 80% for rival Snapchat.
When asked what their favorite social network was this fall, 35% said Snapchat; 24% said Instagram; and 13% said Twitter and Facebook (which tied for third place).
While older users – say anywhere from 35 to 65 years old – have shown to be loyal Facebook users, the site isn’t pulling in enough users 24 and younger to offset losses as older users die off.
“Well, think about it,” said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research. “If Facebook just lost 8% of all teens, that’s millions of users…. Over time, they need to keep the funnel of users coming in on the younger side. I think it creates a huge issue down the road. It’s not likely they can add users that are of older generations. They probably have all they will get from anyone 30 and older.”
Facebook certainly has been working to draw in younger users.
In August, Facebook unveiled its Lifestage stand-alone app. Designed for iOS devices, the app enables teen users to share videos with other people in their schools.
Lifestage was born as a rival to Snapchat and basically a video version of an early stage Facebook.
Also, in March, the company bought face-swapping app Masquerade or MSQRD. The app enables users to dress up their photos and selfies with an Iron Man helmet or a panda outfit.
Facebook hoped that by being able to add special effects to their pics, teens and young adults would be pulled onto Facebook — or at least one of the apps. But so far, at least, those efforts don’t appear to be panning out.
Singapore has signed an agreement to begin testing self-driving buses, as the city-state pushes ahead with its vision of using autonomous technology to help deal with the challenges posed by its limited land and labor.
Countries around the world are encouraging the development of such technologies, and high-density Singapore is hoping driverless vehicles will prompt its residents to use more shared vehicles and public transport.
“They say big dreams start small, so we are collaborating with NTU (Nanyang Technological University) on an autonomous bus trial, starting with two electric hybrid buses,” Singapore’s transport regulator said in a Facebook post.
The Land Transport Authority hopes eventually to outfit existing buses with sensors and develop a self-driving system that can effectively navigate Singapore’s traffic and climate conditions.
It did not specify when the trial would start.
Earlier this week, Singapore said it would seek information from the industry and research institutes on the potential use of self-driving vehicles for street cleaning and refuse collection.
Self-driving vehicles are also being tested in another western Singapore district, where a driverless car collided with a truck on Tuesday when changing lanes. Developer nuTonomy, which started trials of the world’s first robo-taxis in August, said it was investigating the accident.
The X50 modem won’t ship until the first half of 2018, and 5G networks aren’t expected to go commercial until 2020. But Qualcomm will have a lot to say about the new technology at its 4G/5G Summit in Hong Kong. At the same event, it’s announcing plans around its gigabit-speed X16 LTE modem.
The X50 will offer download speeds as high as 5Gbps (bits per second), where networks support them, using millimeter-wave frequencies and futuristic techniques for beaming signals to devices, according to slides prepared for the 4G/5G Summit. Qualcomm shared the materials in advance.
The X50 initially will use the 28GHz band, which is also the focus of 5G development work at the Verizon 5G Technology Forum and Korea Telecom 5G Special Interest Group. It’s one of several millimeter-wave bands that are widely expected to be used for 5G.
Cellular networks up to now have stayed below 6GHz, because higher frequencies don’t naturally travel as far or go through objects as easily. But a lot more bandwidth is expected to become available in millimeter-wave bands in the coming years. Qualcomm says the X50 will be able to use a combined 800MHz of spectrum, compared with up to 80MHz for the X16.
The future modem will use several emerging techniques to make this work. Key tools are beam-forming and beam-tracking, in which a cell can focus its signal to reach a specific mobile device and then follow that device as it moves around. The X50 will even be able to bounce its signal off hard surfaces in order to get around objects between the cell and the user.
Qualcomm expects the X50 modem to ship to system makers in sample quantities starting in the second half of next year. Combined with a gigabit-speed LTE modem, the X50 will form the basis of dual-mode 4G/5G devices. LTE and 5G are expected to coexist for many years.
Meanwhile, the X16 LTE modem will be coming out in a consumer device in the next few months. The NetGear Mobile Router MR1100, a mobile hotspot that provides a Wi-Fi connection on the go, will be sold by Australian carrier Telstra, Qualcomm announced Tuesday.
Qualcomm’s Sy Choundhury, Senior Director of Product Management, talked to the media audience in Hong Kong at the 4G and 5G summit about the security mechanisms and machine learning capabilities of Snapdragon processors.
He came up with a nice reference when talking about security, saying it is comparable with talking about hygiene. You don’t know where it starts and where it stops and this topic doesn’t get a lot of traffic unless one gets hacked / compromised.
Sy talked about security beyond fingerprint and predicts that eye-based security will happen with a lot of OEM devices next year.
Fingerprint sounds secure and it is good enough for most customers, but it looks like eye-based technologies will take over in more devices over the next year.
Microsoft and HP launched rather low volume Windows-based phones, first with iris-based recognition last year. On the other hand, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 was the high volume phone that got positive reviews on iris recognition and security performance.
Unfortunately, Samsung canned the Note 7 due the battery issues but there will be more phones with iris security in the near future. Some companies chose to use the retina recognition, which is interesting as it doesn’t require any additional hardware. While iris recognition needs additional hardware that adds a few dollars to the Bill of Materials (BOM), retina scanning uses the RGB camera that you already have on your phone.
The downside is that you need a lot of computation power on both the CPU and GPU side, but since the SoCs are getting better and faster this should be a matter of software optimization to really make good use of the mobile chipsets.
Iris scanning seems to be an industry leader, and it will coexist with retina scanning, but it can take up to 4 years for both iris and retina sensors to be as widely used as fingerprint sensors are used now. Not to mention, security experts will love the fact that with iris and fingerprint sensors, you can get a two-factor authentication.
Companies like AliPay are investing a lot of money and they acquired EyeVerify, the company that was working on a retina-based verification solution. AliPay naturally works on a secured payment and as many of you know Apple Pay, along with Android Pay and Samsung Pay do rely on a fingerprint and with that authentication they do quite a good job.
Face recognition is also something that might be used by some devices and there is a lot of research about it as apparently your face has enough distinctive features to make it work reliably.
The future will bring some additional ways of security, and should be viewed as a good thing. Despite the whole fuss, most computers still use passwords, and most homes still use a physical key to unlock.
Qualcomm has surprised the audience at the 4G/5G summit this week in Hong Kong by launching the world’s first 5G modem. The Snapdragon X50, as it is called, supports operations in the millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum in the 28GHz band.
It will employ Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) antenna technology with adaptive beamforming and beam tracking techniques. Before we get you any additional details, we want to let you know that with 800 MHz bandwidth support, you get to peak download speeds of 5Gbps. That translates to about 625MB/s maximum download speed.
Qualcomm’s X16 modem is the world’s first gigabit-class modem that can theoretically get you to 1000Mbps, or 125MB/s maximal speed.
One of the limitations of the mmWave spectrum is that it doesn’t really penetrate walls, but with the help of beam forming and beam tracking the signal can propagate off walls and get you the desired speeds.
Snapdragon X50, on the other hand, is a chip that works together with Snapdragon 4G modems. Since Snapdragon X50 is launching in the second part of 2017, it should launch in devices in 2018. Fudzilla wrote before that 2018 is the year when real life trials of 5G networks will start around the world. The real deployment is expected by 2020 by at least major telecoms, but you got to start somewhere.
“The Snapdragon X50 5G modem heralds the arrival of 5G as operators and OEMs reach the cellular network and device testing phase,” says Cristiano Amon, Executive Vice President, QTI and President, Qualcomm CDMA Technologies. “Utilizing our long history of LTE and Wi-Fi leadership, we are thrilled to deliver a product that will help play a critical role in bringing 5G devices and networks to reality. This shows that we’re not just talking about 5G, we’re truly committed to it.”
The 5G modem will need a 4G modem to use the standard LTE 1 Gbps class services. The Snapdragon X80 is designed to be used for multi-mode 4G/5G mobile broadband via dual connectivity.
The Snapdragon X50 will provide 5G services while Snapdragon X16 will provide traditional 4G LTE-A services. Naturally with times we can see that the 4G part will get integrated in the 5G modem, but this is a bit down the road from now.
If you have any doubts that 5Gbps peak speeds are too much, you think about 360 videos, 4K and 8K video, virtual reality streaming, and you will quickly realize that we will one again be able to eat up the data.
The data caps will largely increase, but just give it some time. T-Mobile in the US has a sort of unlimited data plan today, and things will only get better from this point.
“Facebook has demonstrated the power of social media to engage more people to register to vote, helping thousands take a big step to casting a ballot this November,” said California Secretary of State Alex Padilla in a statement. “For many who may be new to the political process, an invitation to register can be a powerful nudge to get involved.”
Facebook dove into the voter registration process this fall. On Sept. 23, Facebook sent reminders to its U.S. users, who were at least 18 years old, about registering to vote. The effort, which ran through Sept. 26, provided a link to voter registration sites at the top of Facebook’s News Feed.
According to Padilla, it caused a “major surge” in online voter registrations in California.
The state reported that on Sept. 23 alone, 123,279 Californians completed registrations or updates of their registration information on the Secretary of State’s online voter registration site. The next day another 43,888 registrations were completed online, and on the 25th, there were 29,256 more registrations or updates.
Padilla said that before the Facebook reminder went up, there was an average of 9,307 completed registrations or registration updates per day in September, and many of those registering were younger voters.
California reported that 23.8% of these registrations and updates were from people between 17 and 25 years old. Another 29.7% were between ages 26 and 35.
Facebook, which has provided users with Election Day reminders for the past eight years, wanted to do more this year to encourage voter registrations.
“Going back to 2008, we’ve been reminding people on Facebook to vote on Election Day and directing them to information on where to vote,” Samidh Chakrabarti, Facebook’s product manager for civic engagement said in an email to Computerworld. “This is the natural next step. We want people to have a voice in the process, and getting registered means that there’s one less hurdle for them.”
Since it did not come with some of the latest AMD Radeon Software Crimson Edition driver packages, the guys over at Wccftech.com contacted AMD which gave them an official response that since September 12th, AMD is no longer bundling the AMD Gaming Evolved App by Raptr with its Radeon Software and will not provide any official support for it, including compatibility testing, install support or general technical support.
Those that still want to use it can get the Gaming Evolved App directly from Raptr or with previous builds of Radeon Software drivers package.
AMD is either making a new in-house app that will replace the one from Raptr or is simply now focusing on hardware and drivers. Unfortunately, this leaves it without any competition for the Nvidia’s Geforce Experience app which recently got completely overhauled and looks quite good.
The PC and printer firm, which was created about a year ago after Hewlett-Packard was split into two companies, said in a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday that it expects about “3,000 to 4,000 employees to exit between fiscal 2017 and fiscal 2019.”
The company’s “printing business is challenged right now but the PC business is hitting on all cylinders,” said Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst of Moor Insights & Strategy. “The PC Group is gaining market share, increasing profits and innovating more than I have seen in years,” he added.
The workforce changes will “vary by country, based on local legal requirements and consultations with employee works councils and other employee representatives, as appropriate,” HP said in the filing.
The company said earlier that it would be cutting 3,000 jobs during the company’s 2016 fiscal year ending Oct. 31. It had nearly 50,000 employees as of Nov. 1, according to its website.
The new job cuts are expected to cost HP $200 million in labor costs related to the workforce reduction, out of $350 million to $500 million in total restructuring and other charges. The entire restructuring plan, approved by the HP board earlier this week, has been forecast by the company to generate gross annual run rate savings of about $200 million to $300 million starting in fiscal 2020.
Although its core markets are challenged and the macroeconomic conditions are in flux, the company continues to “see long-term growth opportunities in commercial mobility and services, the disruption of the A3 copier market, and the digitization of graphics and manufacturing through our leading 3D printing solutions,” company president and CEO Dion Weisler said in a statement.
According to new estimates from Digitimes Research, the recently announced Google Pixel smartphone is expected to reach 3 to 4 million shipments in the second half of this year, giving a 10 percent increase in HTC’s total smartphone shipments from the first half.
Google’s latest Pixel and Pixel XL devices come in 5-inch and 5.2-inch display sizes and feature a quad-core Snapdragon 821 processor, a 12.3-megapixel rear camera, an 8-megapixel front camera and look very similar to Apple’s iPhone from an aesthetic perspective. Pricing is also very similar, as the Pixel starts at $649 for 32GB and the Pixel XL starts at $769, while the iPhone 7 is also $649 for 32GB and the iPhone 7 Plus is $769 for 32GB.
Performance similar to Snapdragon 820 devices
Recently, the performance of the latest Snapdragon 821-powered flagship Android devices has become a recent site of investigation, When averaging the top eight Geekbench 4.0.1 scores sorted by multi-core performance, the results show the Pixel and Pixel XL receiving scores of around 1,603 single-core and 4,106 multi-core, still lower on average than the iPhone 6S (2,506 / 4,320). Meanwhile, the A10-powered iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus manage scores of around 3,473 single-core and 5,707 multi-core.
For the most part, the Pixel and Pixel XL seem more in line with the HTC 10 (1,745 / 3,961) and LG G5 (1,699 / 4,108), both of which feature the Snapdragon 820 with 2.15GHz high-performance cores and 1.6GHz power-efficient cores. The Snapdragon 821 features two 2.4GHz high-performance cores and two 2GHz power-efficient cores, meaning Google’s Pixel smartphones should be at least 10 percent faster than these devices, but this does not seem to be the case in this benchmarking utility for now.
Battery life is another story entirely, and this is where the Snapdragon 821 shows improvement over Snapdragon 820 devices including the previous Nexus 5X and 6P. Internet browsing over LTE improves by 60.2 percent over the Nexus 5X and 30 percent over the 6P, while talk time improves about 30 percent over the Nexus 5X and 13 percent over the 6P, according to a list compiled independently by Reddit user TyGamer125.
Pixel, Pixel XL will be 40 to 50 percent of HTC shipments
Meanwhile, Google’s launch of the HTC-manufactured Pixel smartphones is projected to increase HTC’s total handset shipments to around 6.5 and 7 million units by the end of the year, up from between 5.8 and 6.1 million units in the first half.
According to Luke Lin, a senior analyst at Digitimes Research, Pixel shipments should account for around 40 to 50 percent of HTC’s total smartphone shipments in the second half of this year.
Shipments of devices ran by Apple’s and Microsoft’s operating systems will end 2016 down from the year before. But Apple’s will recover next year, while Microsoft’s will continue with growth challenges, research firm Gartner said this week.
In 2017, Apple’s combination of iOS and macOS — the former powering iPhones, the latter Macs — will have taken second place from Windows on the devices shipped during the year. The gap between the two will widen slightly in 2018.
According to Gartner, which provided Computerworld with its forecast broken out by operating system, Windows will power about 260 million devices shipped in 2016, a 12% decline year-over-year. The 260 million represents 11.2% of the total of 2.3 billion total devices, which overwhelmingly run Google’s Android.
Gartner has progressively downsized its estimates of total devices shipped and Windows’ portion of those shipments, throughout 2015 and 2016. In March 2016, for example, the research firm projected that more than 2.4 billion devices would ship this year, and that Windows would power 283 million, or 11.7% of the total.
Microsoft’s shrinking share of the operating system market has been both ongoing and well documented. This year, however, Windows took a new hit as Microsoft quit the battle with Apple and Google when it walked away from the smartphone business.
But Windows now has company: Gartner also downgraded its 2016 forecast for Apple’s operating systems.
In 2016, iOS and macOS will account for 259 million of the year’s shipped devices, or 11.1% of the total. The 259 million represents a 7% decline from 2015’s 276 million, and is down 14% from the March 2016 forecast. The cause: Soft sales of the iPhone, Apple’s dominant device, by far.
iOS and macOS, however, will recover in 2017, Gartner predicted, climbing 9% to 280 million — admittedly only a few million more than during 2015 — and adding 3% in 2018 to reach 290 million.
Under the latest Gartner forecast, Windows should drop another 3%, to 253 million, in 2017, then claw back a half a percentage point to 254 million in 2018.
Overall, Gartner’s latest forecast was gloomier for almost every device category than earlier estimates.
Software king of the world Microsoft will not support the upcoming Intel Cannonlake and Coffeelake CPU architectures in its current Long-Term Servicing Branch version of Windows 10.
Vole has said that users who want support for the next generation Intel CPUs will require a regular ‘current branch’ Windows 10 version.
The next update of Windows 10 LTSB will appear in 2019, but before that happens Intel will release two new CPU architectures.
The LTSB version of Windows 10 is designed for long term support of hardware and software. It receives security updates but doesn’t get any new features, including no support for newer hardware.
Michael Niehaus, Director of Product Marketing at Microsoft, told Heise.de the company is aware of the problem but, “officially every new CPU and chipset requires a new version of Windows, which is the same for LTSB versions.”
“In the past you only needed new drivers to support new CPUs and chipsets, however nowadays chipsets need specific setting in the operating system to work with reasonable performance and battery life.”
This means that users of the current LTSB build 1607 can’t use any of the new CPUs and Intel Cannonlake and Coffeelake architectures will only be supported by ‘current branch’ Windows 10 versions, such as installed on most computers.
Normally new LTSB versions are released every two or three years, however Microsoft also released an update for together with the Anniversary Update. The first LTSB version saw the light in 2015 together with the RTM version of Windows 10.
Diffie-Hellman is a key exchange protocol that is slowly replacing the widely used RSA key agreement for the TLS (Transport Layer Security) protocol. Unlike RSA, Diffie-Hellman can be used with TLS’s ephemeral modes, which provide forward secrecy — a property that prevents the decryption of previously captured traffic if the key is cracked at a later time.
However, in May 2015, a team of researchers devised a downgrade attack that could compromise the encryption connection between browsers and servers if those servers supported DHE_EXPORT, a version of Diffie-Hellman key exchange imposed on exported cryptographic systems by the National Security Agency in the 1990s and which limited the key size to 512 bits. In May 2015 around 7 percent of websites on the internet were vulnerable to the attack, which was dubbed LogJam.
“In response to recent developments attacking Diffie-Hellman key exchange and to protect the privacy of Firefox users, we have increased the minimum key size for TLS handshakes using Diffie-Hellman key exchange to 1023 bits,” David Keeler, a Mozilla security engineer, said in a blog post Friday.
A small number of servers are still not configured to use strong enough keys and Firefox users trying to access them will receive an error called “ssl_error_weak_server_ephemeral_dh_key,” Keeler said.
According to a recent survey of the top 140,000 HTTPS websites on the internet by traffic, around 5 percent of them used keys smaller than 1024 bits. The currently recommended size is 2048 bits and more than 67 percent of these sites conform to that.
As part of a strategy to focus on core activities, Fujitsu in February spun out its PC business as an independent operating unit. Such spinouts are usually a prelude to a sale.
On Wednesday, Japanese media reported that the company was in talks to sell the PC business to Lenovo.
“These reports are not based on any official announcement made by Fujitsu,” the company said Thursday, adding that it “is currently considering various possibilities, including what is being reported, but a decision has not yet been made.”
Once a powerhouse of PC production, Japan has largely retreated from the market over the last decade. Sharp pulled out of PC manufacturing in 2010 to concentrate on the tablet market. In 2011, NEC put its PC business into a joint venture with Lenovo, which went on to buy the majority of NEC’s stake in July. And in 2014, Sony sold its Vaio PC business to an investment firm.
A person familiar with the Lenovo-Fujitsu discussions told the Wall Street Journal that the deal could be structured similarly to the one with NEC, which now holds a 5 percent stake in its joint venture with Lenovo.
Lenovo made a name for itself outside China as a PC manufacturer when it bought IBM’s PC division for $1.75 billion in 2005, vaulting into third place in the global PC market.
Fujitsu targets the data center market with its servers, networking equipment, batteries and cooling systems, and also runs an IT services and cloud hosting business. But it also has other businesses not directly related to that, including smartphones, semiconductors and PCs.
Like IBM before it, Fujitsu wants to hang on to its more lucrative services and servers businesses — although even this could change. Almost a decade after its PC deal, IBM went on to sell part of its server business to Lenovo, too.