Technology

Supreme Court: Warrant Generally Needed To Track Cell Phone Location Data

Slashdot - 1 hour 43 min ago
daveschroeder writes: The Supreme Court on Friday said the government generally needs a warrant if it wants to track an individual's location through cell phone records over an extended period of time. The ruling [PDF] is a major victory for advocates of increased privacy rights who argued more protections were needed when it comes to the government obtaining information from a third party such as a cell phone company. The 5-4 opinion was written by Chief Justice John Roberts siding with the four most liberal justices. It is a loss for the Justice Department, which had argued that an individual has diminished privacy rights when it comes to information that has been voluntarily shared with someone else.

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America's Chipmakers Go To War vs. China

Slashdot - 2 hours 17 min ago
Chinese raids of U.S. intellectual property have helped China build a solid high-tech economy. But the U.S. semiconductor industry is still far ahead -- and China is desperate to catch up. From a report: Semiconductor manufacturers are fighting to protect IP from the Chinese, fearing that, without coherent action from the Trump administration, Beijing could bulldoze their industries. Three weeks ago, Micron and South Korean chipmakers Samsung and SK Hynix all reported that the Chinese government had launched antitrust probes into their firms, and accused them of setting artificially high prices for memory chips. American companies and the U.S. government have long been suspicious about the link between China's anti-monopoly policies and its industrial goals. "They want access to the intellectual property. They need us to teach them how to do it. Once they have the industry, they want to push us out," an industry source familiar with China's investigation into Micron tells Axios. The price hikes, the source says, are largely due to a boom in demand for memory chips in everything from smartphones to autonomous vehicles. China's investigation is "a clear indication that they're not ready to make [semiconductors] work," says the source. The New York Times has a story which also details the lawsuit of how a Fujian govt-backed chipmaker allegedly stole secrets from Micron. Then Micron got sued for patent infringement in Fujian. Or as the Times reporter describes it, "This is how you lose a major tech company. First, a Beijing-backed buyout offer. Then friendly Chinese partnership proposals. Then the tech gets stolen. Then when you file a complaint in court, you get hit with investigations in China, your biggest market."

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Someone Is Taking Over Insecure Cameras and Spying on Device Owners

Slashdot - 2 hours 57 min ago
As security webcams, security cameras, and pet and baby monitors become part of our lives, their underlying technology is increasingly receiving scrutiny from researchers. Many of these devices are woefully insecure, and an attacker could -- and in some cases, has -- take over these devices to perform internet scans, among other things. BleepingComputer's Catalin Cimpanu dives into the subject: In the last nine months, two security firms have published research on the matter. Both pieces of research detail how the camera vendor lets customers use a mobile app to control their device from remote locations and view its video stream. The mobile app requires the user to enter a device ID, and a password found on the device's box or the device itself. Under the hood, the mobile app connects to the vendor's backend cloud server, and this server establishes connections to each of the user's device in turn, based on the device ID and the last IP address the device has reported from.

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Should Facial Recognition Cameras Be In Schools?

Slashdot - 3 hours 57 min ago
Facial recognition technology is making its way into schools, raising privacy concerns among parents and officials. The New York Civil Liberties Union issued a report on the matter that focuses on one public school district in particular: Western New York's Lockport School District. "News reports indicate the district plans to have the invasive and error-prone technology installed by next school year," reports NYCLU. The Union sent a letter (PDF) to the New York State Education Department urging it to consider students' and teachers' privacy in reviewing the use of surveillance technology by school districts. They also "sent a freedom of information request to the district seeking details of how and where the technology will be used as well as who will have access to the sensitive data that gets collected." The report highlights some of the concerns/negatives of such a system. For starters, it costs millions of dollars (Lockport spent almost $4 million), which could be used for things like Wi-Fi, new computers, or 3D printers. It has the "potential to turn every step a student takes into evidence of a crime." The databases could include those used for immigration enforcement, making parents of immigrant students afraid to send their children to school for fear that they or their children could end up on ICE's radar. Last but not least, since facial recognition is notoriously inaccurate, "innocent students are likely to be misidentified and punished for things they didn't do." Of course, it isn't all bad. Proponents of the system say it can be used to alert officials to whenever sex offenders, suspended students, fired employees, suspected gang members, or anyone else placed on a school's "blacklist" enters the premises. Do you think facial recognition cameras belong in schools?

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GNOME Web Browser is Adding a Reader Mode

Slashdot - 4 hours 57 min ago
An anonymous reader writes: An experimental reader mode will ship in the next version of GNOME Web, aka Epiphany. The feature is already available to try in the latest development builds of the GTK Webkit-based web browser, released this week as part of the GNOME 3.29.3 milestone. Reader mode (also known as "reader view") is a toggle option that strips a web page down to its bare text. All bespoke styling, background images, buttons, branding and page ephemera is removed. You get a distraction-free, text version of a web page. Because reader mode use its own custom .css to present web content it is (sometimes) possible to adjust a page's text size, background color, and/or layout for improved readability. There's no indication (yet) of customisation options being available in GNOME Web's version.

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'Digital Key' Standard Uses Your Phone To Unlock Your Car

Slashdot - 6 hours 57 min ago
The Car Connectivity Consortium, a mix of major smartphone and automotive brands, has posted a Digital Key 1.0 standard that will let you download a virtual key that can unlock your vehicle, start the engine and even share access with other drivers. Engadget reports: Unsurprisingly, the technology focuses on security more than anything else. Your car manufacturer uses an existing trusted system to send the digital key to your phone, which uses close-range NFC to grant access to your ride. You can't just unlock your car from inside your home, then, but this would also force would-be thieves to be physically present with your phone when trying to unlock your car. Apple, LG and Samsung are among the phone brands in the group, while car brands including BMW, Hyundai and the Volkswagen group are also onboard. There's also talk of a version 2.0 spec that will promise more interoperability between cars and mobile devices in the first quarter of 2019.

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Alzheimer's Link To Herpes Virus In Brain, Say Scientists

Slashdot - 9 hours 57 min ago
Tests of brain tissue from nearly 1,000 people found that two strains of herpes virus were far more abundant in the brains of those with early-stage Alzheimer's than in healthy controls. "[S]cientists are divided on whether viruses are likely to be an active trigger, or whether the brains of people already on the path towards Alzheimer's are simply more vulnerable to infection," reports The Guardian. From the report: "The viral genomes were detectable in about 30% of Alzheimer's brains and virtually undetectable in the control group," said Sam Gandy, professor of neurology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York and a co-author of the study. The study also suggested that the presence of the herpes viruses in the brain could influence or control the activity of various genes linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer's. The scientists did not set out to look for a link between viruses and dementia. Instead they were hoping to pinpoint genes that were unusually active in the brains of people with the earliest stage of Alzheimer's. But when they studied brain tissue, comparing people with early-stage Alzheimer's and healthy controls, the most striking differences in gene activity were not found in human genes, but in genes belonging to two herpes virus strains, HHV6A and HHV7. And the abundance of the viruses correlated with clinical dementia scores of the donors.

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How Twitter Made the Tech World's Most Unlikely Comeback

Slashdot - Thu, 2018-06-21 21:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from BuzzFeed: Two years ago, people were writing eulogies for Twitter. Rudderless and without product direction, the company was losing users and advertisers, and seemed unable to contain a metastasizing trolling crisis that was destroying its credibility. Employees left by the dozens and then got laid off by the hundreds. It tried to sell, and failed at that too. The press, Wall Street, and the public were merciless. The New Yorker declared it "The End of Twitter." Analyst Michael Nathanson said that at $14 per share there was "no compelling reason to own the stock," and his counterparts applied "sell" ratings in bunches. Over a single weekend in February 2016, more than one million people tweeted "#RIPTwitter." But then, even as those eulogies were being published, things started changing. Twitter began beating earnings expectations. Star ex-employees trickled back in, finding a new, more positive internal culture than the toxic one they'd left. Advertisers came back too, as did users. The company finally began addressing its trolling problem. And its stock, once unappealing to analysts like Nathanson at $14, is now trading above $46. It's still somewhat taboo to say it, but it's no longer possible to deny it: Twitter is making an unexpected, somewhat miraculous comeback. It is the first major consumer social company to lose users and start growing again in a meaningful way. The report mentions four major factors that led to Twitter's resurgence: "Its acceptance it would never be Facebook, leading to a decision to focus on news as Facebook pulled back. Its move to aggressively add premium live video to its service. Its CEO Jack Dorsey's directive to its product team to rethink everything. And a key component of many great comebacks: luck."

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SpaceX Wins $130 Million Air Force Launch Contract, Marking a First For Falcon Heavy

Slashdot - Thu, 2018-06-21 19:55
The U.S. Air Force has awarded a $130 million firm-fixed-price contract to SpaceX for the launch of its classified AFSPC-52 satellite on a Falcon Heavy rocket. From a report: It's the first national security contract won for SpaceX's heavy-lift rocket, which had its first test flight in February. AFSPC-52 is tue to lift off in 2020 from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The launch will support the Air Force Space Command's "mission of delivering resilient and affordable space capabilities to our nation while maintaining assured access to space," Lt. Gen. John Thompson, Air Force program executive officer for space and commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center, said today in a news release. In an emailed statement, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said her company was "honored by the Air Force's selection of Falcon Heavy to launch the competitively awarded AFSPC-52 mission."

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Algeria Shuts Off Entire Country's Internet To Stop Students From Cheating

Slashdot - Thu, 2018-06-21 18:30
Algeria has begun instituting nationwide internet blackouts to prevent students from leaking high school diploma exams online. Gizmodo reports: The country will turn off mobile and landline internet service across the country for an hour at a time during the exam period, which started on Wednesday and runs through June 25. The 11 blackouts are scheduled for an hour after each exam begins. In 2016, exam questions were reportedly leaked online and authorities were dissatisfied with a less stringent attempt to limit social media during the 2017 exams. The sweeping shutdown will also block Facebook for the entirety of the exam period, Education Minister Nouria Benghabrit told Algerian newspaper Annahar, according to the BBC. Benghabrit reportedly said they are "not comfortable" with their choice to shut down all internet service, but that they "should not passively stand in front of such a possible leak." Metal detectors are reportedly being used to make sure that no one brings any internet-enabled devices into the exam halls. Surveillance cameras and phone jammers are also being used at the locations where the exams are being printed.

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The iPhones of the Future May Be Wireless, Portless and Buttonless

Slashdot - Thu, 2018-06-21 17:50
The first iPhone to shed its headphone jack was the iPhone 7, which launched in late 2016. Now it seems like the Lightning port may be the next to go. CNET reports: Apple has considered removing the Lightning port on the iPhone X, according to Bloomberg, citing unnamed "people familiar with the company's work." While earlier rumors suggested that Apple would remove the Lightning port in favor of USB-C, Apple's goal may be to remove all ports entirely. Bloomberg's report is about the challenges that Apple faces with its AirPower wireless charger, but it also shares some details about Apple's vision for a wireless future. The report says: "Apple designers eventually hope to remove most of the external ports and buttons on the iPhone, including the charger, according to people familiar with the company's work. During the development of the iPhone X, Apple weighed removing the wired charging system entirely. That wasn't feasible at the time because wireless charging was still slower than traditional methods. Including a wireless charger with new iPhones would also significantly raise the price of the phones."

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Nintendo and Microsoft Team Up To Promote Cross-Play, While Sony Remains Silent

Slashdot - Thu, 2018-06-21 17:10
Minecraft for the Nintendo Switch is getting a big update today that will enable cross-play with PC, Xbox One, and smartphones -- but notably not the PlayStation 4. "Sony is blocking cross-play for Fortnite, Rocket League, and Minecraft so PS4 players can't play against Xbox One or Nintendo Switch owners," reports The Verge. "Meanwhile, Nintendo and Microsoft are partnering to utilize cross-play as a marketing weapon today." From the report: The Minecraft cross-play trailer specifically focuses on the Xbox One and Nintendo Switch being able to play together. It also includes the rare sight of an Xbox One controller in a Switch commercial. If that's not enough of a partnership, the ad even encourages players to create, explore, and survive together in Minecraft on Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.

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Why Antarctica Is Getting Taller

Slashdot - Thu, 2018-06-21 16:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Live Science: Bedrock under Antarctica is rising more swiftly than ever recorded -- about 1.6 inches (41 millimeters) upward per year. And thinning ice in Antarctica may be responsible. That's because as ice melts, its weight on the rock below lightens. And over time, when enormous quantities of ice have disappeared, the bedrock rises in response, pushed up by the flow of the viscous mantle below Earth's surface, scientists reported in a new study. These uplifting findings are both bad news and good news for the frozen continent. The good news is that the uplift of supporting bedrock could make the remaining ice sheets more stable. The bad news is that in recent years, the rising earth has probably skewed satellite measurements of ice loss, leading researchers to underestimate the rate of vanishing ice by as much as 10 percent, the scientists reported. The findings were published in the journal Science.

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Stonehenge Builders Used Pythagoras' Theorem 2,000 Years Before He Was Born

Slashdot - Thu, 2018-06-21 15:48
According to a new book entitled "Megalith," which was released on June 21 to coincide with summer solstice, ancient humans who designed Stonehenge followed Pythagoras' theorem 2,000 years before his birth, around 2500 B.C. The theorem states that the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the other two squares on the triangle. TechTimes reports: [The theorem] was developed by ancient Greek mathematician Pythagoras, who was born in 570 B.C. However, Stonehenge was assembled 2,000 years before his birth, around 2500 B.C. This theory suggests that these ancient humans were smarter than what people give them credit for. In order to use Pythagoras' theorem, they had to be really skilled at geometry. "We think these people didn't have scientific minds but first and foremost they were astronomers and cosmologists," John Matineau, the editor of the book, told the Telegraph. "They were studying long and difficult to understand cycles and they knew about these when they started planning sites like Stonehenge."

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Bitcoin Makes Historic First Appearance In US Supreme Court Opinion

Slashdot - Thu, 2018-06-21 15:15
hyperclocker shares a report from CCN: Thursday marked a historic day for bitcoin, as the flagship cryptocurrency made its first appearance in an opinion published by the U.S. Supreme Court. The case, Wisconsin Central Ltd. v. United States, did not involve bitcoin's regulatory or legal status. Rather, it examined whether employee stock options represent taxable compensation under the Railroad Retirement Tax Act of 1937. That may seem like an unlikely place for a discussion of bitcoin to appear, however, as justices noted in both the majority and dissenting opinions, the case forced them to consider a fundamental question that has also taken on a renewed importance in the decade following the publication of the Bitcoin white paper: "What is money?" "Ultimately, the 5-4 majority ruled that employees should not be taxed for exercising stock options since the action does not constitute 'money remuneration,'" the report adds. "However, writing in a dissenting opinion, Justice Stephen Breyer argued for a 'broader understanding of money' and said that stock options should be classified as taxable compensation."

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Burger Robot Startup Opens First Restaurant

Slashdot - Thu, 2018-06-21 14:35
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Creator's transparent burger robot doesn't grind your brisket and chuck steak into a gourmet patty until you order it. That's just one way this startup, formerly known as Momentum Machines, wants to serve the world's freshest cheeseburger for just $6. On June 27th, after eight years in development, Creator unveils its first robot restaurant before opening to the public in September. Here's how Creator's burger-cooking bot works at its 680 Folsom Street location in San Francisco. Once you order your burger style through a human concierge on a tablet, a compressed air tube pushes a baked-that-day bun into an elevator on the right. It's sawed in half by a vibrating knife before being toasted and buttered as it's lowered to conveyor belt. Sauces measured by the milliliter and spices by the gram are automatically squirted onto the bun. Whole pickles, tomatoes, onions and blocks of nice cheese get slices shaved off just a second before they're dropped on top. Meanwhile, the robot grinds hormone-free, pasture-raised brisket and chuck steak to order. But rather than mash them all up, the strands of meat hang vertically and are lightly pressed together. They form a loose but auto-griddleable patty that's then plopped onto the bun before the whole package slides out of the machine after a total time of about five minutes. The idea is that when you bite into the burger, your teeth align with the vertical strands so instead of requiring harsh chewing it almost melts in your mouth. TechCrunch has produced a video about the company on YouTube.

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Fake Fortnite Android Apps Spread Across Internet

Slashdot - Thu, 2018-06-21 13:40
Fake Fortnite Android apps are spreading around the internet, even though the game has not been officially released for the platform. From a report: Videos on YouTube with links to scam versions of the popular game have been viewed millions of times, according to security experts. None of the fake apps has made it on to the Google Play Store, but they are easy to find on search engines. According to one security firm, the apps look legitimate. Talking about one particular fake app, Nathan Collier, an analyst from security firm Malwarebytes, said: "It's so realistic that some may recognise it from the Apple iOS version. By stealing the icon directly from Apple, how could it not look real? In fact the app redirects users to a browser asking them to download a number of other apps in order to play the game. The scammers are paid each time someone downloads an app from the website.

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A CO2 Shortage is Causing a Beer and Meat Crisis in Britain

Slashdot - Thu, 2018-06-21 12:43
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is used in the production of a wide variety of food and drink products. But with at least five CO2 producers across northern Europe offline, a shortfall in the gas is causing shortages in beer, fizzy drinks, and meat. From a report: Britain is particularly affected because the seasonal shutdown of the plants has meant that the UK has only one big plant producing CO2 left. The British Beer and Pub Association, along with individual beer producers and pubs, has warned of the crisis caused by the shortage. Without naming companies, the trade association said the shortfall has caused beer production shortages. Heineken, the UK's biggest brewer, said its CO2 supplier was facing "a major issue" in the UK. Meanwhile, one of Britain's biggest pub chains, Wetherspoons, said it'll be forced to pull a number of beers and fizzy drinks from its menu soon.

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Days After Buying Time Warner, AT&T Launches New TV Service

Slashdot - Thu, 2018-06-21 12:08
AT&T is launching a new streaming service incorporating television networks from the Time Warner company it just bought. From a report: The WatchTV service, a cable-like package of more than 30 TV channels delivered over the internet, is an example of the "skinny bundles" coming from telecom and broadband providers as more people watch TV online. Competitors include Sling TV, PlayStation Vue and AT&T's own DirecTV Now. WatchTV will be free for subscribers of two unlimited wireless plans AT&T is launching. Others can get WatchTV for $15 -- $20 less than DirecTV Now, but with just half the channels.

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Search is on For Cobalt-Free Batteries As Metal Gets Increasingly Rare and Expensive

Slashdot - Thu, 2018-06-21 11:20
An anonymous reader writes: Conamix, a little-known startup based in Ithaca, New York, has raised several million dollars to accelerate its development of cobalt-free materials for lithium-ion batteries, the latest sign that companies are eager to find alternatives to the increasingly rare and expensive metal. The problem: The price of cobalt has more than doubled in recent months, as global demand skyrockets for the lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles and smartphones. It's also being driven up by the fact that the metal is mined primarily in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where labor and corruption issues are rife. Earlier this year, the nation decided to raise royalties on cobalt and other metals. Given the ambitious expansion plans of lithium-ion producers, the world will face cobalt shortages by the early 2020s, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. This is keeping prices of lithium-ion batteries high and preventing major automakers from lining up long-term supply deals on favorable terms. The mounting threat to electric-vehicle growth has prompted a growing number of companies to explore other solutions.

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