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   133362532 story Privacy 

Google Faces Lawsuit Over Tracking In Apps Even When Users Opted Out (reuters.com)  6

   Posted by BeauHD on Tuesday July 14, 2020 @10:10PM from the always-watching dept.
   Google records what people are doing on hundreds of thousands of mobile apps even when they follow the company's recommended settings for stopping such monitoring, a lawsuit seeking class action status alleged on Tuesday. Reuters reports: The new complaint in a U.S. district court in San Jose accuses Google of violating federal wiretap law and California privacy law by logging what users are looking at in news, ride-hailing and other types of apps despite them having turned off "Web & App Activity" tracking in their Google account settings. The lawsuit alleges the data collection happens through Google's Firebase, a set of software popular among app makers for storing data, delivering notifications and ads, and tracking glitches and clicks. Firebase typically operates inside apps invisibly to consumers.
   "Even when consumers follow Google's own instructions and turn off 'Web & App Activity' tracking on their 'Privacy Controls,' Google nevertheless continues to intercept consumers' app usage and app browsing communications and personal information," the lawsuit contends. Google uses some Firebase data to improve its products and personalize ads and other content for consumers, according to the lawsuit.
    court google lawsuit 
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   133361566 story Government 

White House Reportedly Orders Hospitals To Bypass CDC During COVID-19 Data Collection 42

   Posted by BeauHD on Tuesday July 14, 2020 @09:30PM from the kept-out-of-the-loop dept.
   The Trump administration is now ordering hospitals to send coronavirus patient data to a database in Washington, DC as part of a new initiative that may bypass the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), according to a report from The New York Times published on Tuesday. The Verge reports: As outlined in a document (PDF) posted to the website of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), hospitals are being ordered to send data directly to the administration, effective tomorrow, a move that has alarmed some within the CDC, according to The Times. The database that will
   collect and store the information is referred to in the document as HHS Protect, which was built in part by data mining and predictive analytics firm Palantir. The Silicon Valley company is known most for its controversial contract work with the US military and other clandestine government agencies as well as for being co-founded and initially funded by Trump ally Peter Thiel.
   "A unique link will be sent to the hospital points of contact. This will direct the [point of care] to a hospital-specific secure form that can then be used to enter the necessary information. After completing the fields, click submit and confirm that the form has been successfully captured," reads the HHS instructions. "A confirmation email will be sent to you from the HHS Protect System. This method replaces the emailing of individual spreadsheets previously requested." While the White House's official reasoning is that this plan will help make data collection on the spread of COVID-19 more centralized and efficient, some current and former public health officials fear the bypassing of the CDC may be an effort to politicize the findings and cut experts out of the loop with regard to federal messaging and guidelines, The Times
   reports.
    data usa government 
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   133361502 story Verizon 

Verizon Has Turned To Google Cloud's Contact Center AI To Automate Phone Calls (theregister.com)  6

   Posted by BeauHD on Tuesday July 14, 2020 @08:50PM from the can-you-hear-me-now dept.
   Verizon has turned to Google Cloud's Contact Center AI to automate its customer-service phone calls and chatbot conversations. The Register reports: The Contact Center AI technology will, we're told, use natural-language recognition to transcribe on-the-fly customers as they talk down the line. This speech-to-text output will be fed into Dialogflow, a platform that parses the text and generates responses in real-time. Similarly, written conversations with online support chatbots will be processed in real-time by Google's AI. The overall aim is to allow subscribers to rant, er, complain away using natural language at the computer system, from their keyboards or over the phone, and the artificial intelligence should be able to work out what customers want, and help them out, without them having to
   navigate a menu or bark simple commands.
   And presumably the aim is to sort out simple stuff quickly without a human operator having to come on the line and deal with it. Subscribers with trickier problems should also, we hope, be directed to a human being without having to negotiate their way through a menu or a script of irrelevant procedures. The software agents can also suggest relevant online documentation, such as information on how to view or pay a bill, based on a subscriber's request. Amusingly, if you get through to a human, or demand to speak to a person, the staffer will probably just tell you what the AI wanted to say anyway: the software will, behind the scenes, provide prompts to the call-center workers.
    cloud google verizon 
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   133361424 story Medicine 

Baby Was Infected With Coronavirus In Womb, Study Reports (nytimes.com)  11

   Posted by BeauHD on Tuesday July 14, 2020 @08:10PM from the rare-cases dept.
   An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times: Researchers on Tuesday [reported in the journal Nature Communications] strong evidence that the coronavirus can be transmitted from a pregnant woman to a fetus. A baby born in a Paris hospital in March to a mother with Covid-19 tested positive for the virus and developed symptoms of inflammation in his brain, said Dr. Daniele De Luca, who led the research team and is chief of the division of pediatrics and neonatal critical care at Paris-Saclay University Hospitals. The baby, now more than 3 months old, recovered without treatment and is "very much improved, almost clinically normal," Dr. De Luca said, adding that the mother, who needed oxygen during the delivery, is healthy.
   Dr. De Luca said the virus appeared to have been transmitted through the placenta of the 23-year-old mother. The testing indicated that "the virus reaches the placenta and replicates there," Dr. De Luca said. It can then be transmitted to a fetus, which "can get infected and have symptoms similar to adult Covid-19 patients." [Dr. Yoel Sadovsky, executive director of Magee-Womens Research Institute at the University of Pittsburgh] said, it is important to note that cases of possible coronavirus transmission in utero appear to be extremely rare. With other viruses, including Zika and rubella, placental infection and transmission is much more common, he said. With the coronavirus, he said, "we are trying to understand the opposite -- what underlies the relative protection of the fetus and the placenta?"
   Another study published on Tuesday in eLife, an online research journal, may help answer that question. It found that while cells in the placenta had many of the receptor proteins that allow viruses to propagate, there was evidence of only "negligible" amounts of a key cell surface receptor and an enzyme that are known to be involved in allowing the coronavirus to enter cells and replicate. The study was led by Dr. Robert Romero, chief of the perinatology research branch at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
    health 
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   133361222 story AMD 

Google Steers Users To YouTube Over Rivals (wsj.com)  17

   Posted by BeauHD on Tuesday July 14, 2020 @07:30PM from the secret-advantage dept.
   A Wall Street Journal investigation found that Google gives its online video service YouTube the advantage when choosing the best video clips to promote from around the web. From the report: Take a clip of basketball star Zion Williamson that the National Basketball Association posted online in January, when he made his highly anticipated pro debut. The clip was popular on Facebook Inc., drawing more than one million views and nearly 900 comments as of March. A nearly identical YouTube version of the clip with the same title was seen about 182,000 times and garnered fewer than 400 comments. But when The Wall Street Journal's automated bots searched Google for the clip's title, the YouTube version featured much more prominently than the Facebook version.
   The Journal conducted Google searches for a selection of other videos and channels that are available on YouTube as well as on competitors' platforms. The YouTube versions were significantly more prominent in the results in the vast majority of cases. This isn't by accident. Engineers at Google have made changes that effectively preference YouTube over other video sources, according to people familiar with the matter. Google executives in recent years made decisions to prioritize YouTube on the first page of search results, in part to drive traffic to YouTube rather than to competitors, and also to give YouTube more leverage in business deals with content providers seeking traffic for their videos, one of those people said. A Google spokeswoman, Lara Levin, said there is no preference given to YouTube or any other video provider in Google search. "Our systems use a number of signals from the web to understand what results people find most relevant and helpful for a given query," Ms. Levin
   said. She declined to comment on the specific examples cited in the article.
    !amd google hardware 
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   133360820 story The Almighty Buck 

Is It Time To Kill the Penny? (npr.org)  171

   Posted by BeauHD on Tuesday July 14, 2020 @06:50PM from the good-of-time-as-any dept.
   COVID-19 has constipated the economy and prompted the U.S. Mint to cut back on coin production to keep its workers safe. As NPR's Greg Rosalsky writes, this could be a rallying cry for a long-running movement that has lost steam in recent years: Kill the penny! "With the closure of the economy, the flow of coins through the economy has ... kind of stopped," explained Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell last month. Is now the time to kill the penny? From the report: Last year, almost 60% (PDF) of the coins that the U.S. Mint churned out were pennies. 60 percent. It made more than 7 billion (PDF) pennies. Seven billion.
   That's a lot of manpower that could be used toward making coins we actually need. The penny is basically worthless. Actually, it's worse than worthless. It costs the U.S. government about 2 cents (PDF) to produce every penny. Pennies aren't even worth our time. Wake Forest University economist Robert Whaples has calculated that the typical American worker earns a penny every two seconds. It takes most of us more than two seconds to fumble around with change or pick a penny off the ground, which explains why there are so many pennies on the ground. Money is supposed to be the medium of exchange, not dead weight.
   For most of U.S. history, we never had a coin as worthless as the penny is now. Back in 1857, we killed the half-cent coin -- which, when adjusted for inflation, was as valuable then as about 14 cents is today. And we did just fine. [...] The U.S. Mint lost over $72 million (PDF) making pennies last year. But there doesn't seem to be much urgency about this because in the grand scheme of the federal budget, it's just pennies. We reached out to the U.S. Mint to discuss the coin shortage, and its representative Michael White told us that after retooling to keep its employees safe during the early part of the pandemic, the U.S. Mint has been operating at full capacity since mid-June. But depressed retail activity and reduced deposits by coin processors -- like, you know, those machines at the supermarket that exchange your coins for bills -- have hampered coin
   circulation. Since the U.S. Mint went into overdrive to end the coin shortage, White says, about 40% of the coins that it has produced have been pennies.
    notnewsfornerds money usa 
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   133360672 story The Courts 

German Court Bans Tesla Ad Statements Related To Autonomous Driving (reuters.com)  28

   Posted by BeauHD on Tuesday July 14, 2020 @06:10PM from the cease-and-desist dept.
   An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Germany has banned Tesla from repeating what a court says are misleading advertising statements relating to the capabilities of the firm's driver assistance systems and to autonomous driving, a Munich judge ruled on Tuesday. Tesla can appeal the ruling. The case was brought by Germany's Wettbewerbszentrale, an industry sponsored body tasked with policing anti-competitive practices. The Munich court agreed with the industry body's assessment and banned Tesla Germany from including "full potential for autonomous driving" and "Autopilot inclusive" in its German advertising materials. It said such claims amounted to misleading business practices, adding that the average buyer might be given the impression that the car could drive without human intervention and might
   suggest such a system was now legal on German roads.
    court tesla technology 
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   133359074 story IBM 

IBM Job Ad Calls For a Minimum 12 Years' Experience With Kubernetes -- Which is Six Years Old (theregister.com)  107

   Posted by msmash on Tuesday July 14, 2020 @05:30PM from the help-this-friendly-company-out dept.
   IBM's Global Technology Services has posted a job ad calling for candidates with a "minimum 12+ years' experience in Kubernetes administration and management." From a report: Which is a little odd because the first GitHub commit for the project was made on June 7, 2014. And the feature freeze for version 1.0 was announced on May 22, 2015. Sharp-minded Reg readers will have recognised that -- absent time travel -- it is therefore not possible for anyone to have 12 years' experience with Kubernetes. The ad is sadly silent on just how IBM expects candidates will have found the time to accumulate a dozen years' experience in a six-year-old project.
    morons ibm it 
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   133360554 story United States 

Trump Administration Rescinds Rule on Foreign Students (apnews.com)  54

   Posted by msmash on Tuesday July 14, 2020 @04:35PM from the breaking-news dept.
   Facing eight federal lawsuits and opposition from hundreds of universities, the Trump administration on Tuesday rescinded a rule that would have required international students to transfer or leave the country if their schools held classes entirely online because of the pandemic. From a report: The decision was announced at the start of a hearing in a federal lawsuit in Boston brought by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs said federal immigration authorities agreed to pull the July 6 directive and
   "return to the status quo." A lawyer representing the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said only that the judge's characterization was correct.
   The announcement brings relief to thousands of foreign students who had been at risk of being deported from the country, along with hundreds of universities that were scrambling to reassess their plans for the fall in light of the policy. Under the policy, international students in the U.S. would have been forbidden from taking all their courses online this fall. New visas would not have been issued to students at schools planning to provide all classes online, which includes Harvard. Students already in the U.S. would have faced deportation if they didn't transfer schools or leave the country voluntarily.
    yay noforesightatall usa 
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   133358722 story Security 

Microsoft Warns of a 17-Year-Old 'Wormable' Bug (wired.com)  13

   Posted by msmash on Tuesday July 14, 2020 @04:10PM from the watch-out dept.
   Since WannaCry and NotPetya struck the internet just over three years ago, the security industry has scrutinized every new Windows bug that could be used to create a similar world-shaking worm. Now one potentially "wormable" vulnerability -- meaning an attack can spread from one machine to another with no human interaction -- has appeared in Microsoft's implementation of the domain name system protocol, one of the fundamental building blocks of the internet. From a report: As part of its Patch Tuesday batch of software updates, Microsoft today released a fix for a bug discovered by Israeli security firm Check Point, which the company's researchers have named SigRed. The SigRed bug exploits Windows DNS, one of the most popular kinds of DNS software that translates domain names into IP addresses. Windows DNS runs on the DNS servers of practically every small and medium-sized organization
   around the world. The bug, Check Point says, has existed in that software for a remarkable 17 years. Check Point and Microsoft warn that the flaw is critical, a 10 out of 10 on the common vulnerability scoring system, an industry standard severity rating. Not only is the bug wormable, Windows DNS software often runs on the powerful servers known as domain controllers that set the rules for networks. Many of those machines are particularly sensitive; a foothold in one would allow further penetration into other devices inside an organization.
   On top of all of that, says Check Point's head of vulnerability research Omri Herscovici, the Windows DNS bug can in some cases be exploited with no action on the part of the target user, creating a seamless and powerful attack. "It requires no interaction. And not only that, once you're inside the domain controller that runs the Windows DNS server, expanding your control to the rest of the network is really easy," says Omri Herscovici. "It's basically game over." Check Point found the SigRed vulnerability in the part of Windows DNS that handles a certain piece of data that's part of the key exchange used in the more secure version of DNS known as DNSSEC. That one piece of data can be maliciously crafted such that Windows DNS allows a hacker to overwrite chunks of memory they're not meant to have access to, ultimately gaining full remote code execution on the target server. (Check Point says Microsoft asked the company not to publicize too many details of other elements of the technique,
   including how it bypasses certain security features on Windows servers.)
    it security microsoft 
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   133358536 story China 

China Will Sanction Lockheed Martin Over Arms Sales To Taiwan (cnn.com)  86

   Posted by msmash on Tuesday July 14, 2020 @03:30PM from the tussle-continues dept.
   China said on Tuesday it would place sanctions on Lockheed Martin for its involvement in arms sales to Taiwan, a move that could further escalate tensions between Beijing and Washington. hackingbear writes: "China firmly opposes US arms sales to Taiwan," Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a press conference. Taiwan is a self-ruled island, but China has long vowed to unify it with the mainland. The United States is one of Taiwan's main arms suppliers. The US State Department last week approved a request by Taiwan to upgrade its Patriot Surface-to-Air missiles at an estimated cost of $620 million, according to Taiwan's state-run Central News Agency. In response, China is imposing "sanctions on the main contractor of this arms sale, Lockheed Martin," Zhao said, without going
   into detail. The United States should "stop selling arms to Taiwan and cut its military ties to Taiwan, so it won't do further harm to bilateral relations between China and the United States," he added.
    china usa 
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   133358632 story Earth 

Biden Announces $2 Trillion Climate Plan (nytimes.com)  166

   Posted by msmash on Tuesday July 14, 2020 @02:50PM from the future-ambitions dept.
   Joseph R. Biden Jr. announced on Tuesday a new plan to spend $2 trillion over four years to significantly escalate the use of clean energy in the transportation, electricity and building sectors, part of a suite of sweeping proposals designed to create economic opportunities and build infrastructure while also tackling climate change. DogDude shares a report: In a speech in Wilmington, Del., Mr. Biden built on his plans, released last week, for reviving the economy in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, with a new focus on enhancing the nation's infrastructure and emphasizing the importance of putting the United States on a path to significantly cut fossil fuel emissions. "These are the most critical investments we can make for the long-term health and vitality of both the American economy and the physical
   health and safety of the American people," he said, repeatedly criticizing President Trump's leadership on issues including climate and the pandemic. "When Donald Trump thinks about climate change, the only word he can muster is 'hoax.' When I think about climate change, the word I think of is 'jobs.'"
   The proposal is the second plank in Mr. Biden's economic recovery plan. His team sees an opportunity to take direct aim at Mr. Trump, who has struggled to deliver on his pledges to finance major improvements to American infrastructure. Republicans are sure to criticize the proposal as an attack on jobs in the energy sector -- but the plan will also test whether Mr. Biden has found a way to win over environmental activists and other progressives who have long been skeptical about the scope of his ambitions on climate. His plan outlines specific and aggressive targets, including achieving an emissions-free power sector by 2035 and upgrading four million buildings over four years to meet the highest standards for energy efficiency. The plan also calls for establishing an office of environmental and climate justice at the Department of Justice and developing a broad set of tools to address how "environmental policy decisions of the past have failed communities of color."
    science usa 
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   133358086 story AMD 

Lenovo and AMD Launch Threadripper Pro CPU To Take on Intel Xeon (cnet.com)  30

   Posted by msmash on Tuesday July 14, 2020 @02:10PM from the competition-intensifies dept.
   AMD finally brings a workstation-class -- in other words, security-conscious -- processor to challenge the Intel Xeon on the desktop with its Ryzen Threadripper Pro. With up to 64 cores, the pro version of AMD's multicore powerhouse Threadripper processors incorporates essentials like support for massive amounts of memory and board-level security, critical for uses which move a ton of sensitive data, ranging from aerospace visualization to Hollywood video editing and CGI rendering. The CPU debuts in Lenovo's ThinkStation P620; Lenovo has a limited exclusive on the processor. From a report: The CPU comes in four variants: 3945WX (12 cores, with the fastest single-core speeds), 3955WX (16 cores), 3975WX (32 cores) and 3995WX (64 cores). At the moment, to achieve core counts that high with the Intel Xeon, you have to use multiple CPUs. They all come with some of
   the perks of AMD's architecture, including support for PCI Gen4 -- in this case, up to 128 lanes. And the Pro versions add support for more types of memory, notably RDIMM and LRDIMM, over the high-end consumer-focused Threadripper, plus 8 memory channels vs. 4, which lets it support up to 2TB of memory. On the downside, while AMD supports faster internal transfers than Intel via PCI 4, it doesn't offer any high-speed external data transfer capabilities a la Thunderbolt 3. And in fact, the ThinkStation P620's fastest connections are USB 3.2 Gen 2 and 10Gb Ethernet.
    amd 
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   133357482 story The Media 

Hundreds of Hyperpartisan Sites Are Masquerading as Local News (niemanlab.org)  121

   Posted by msmash on Tuesday July 14, 2020 @01:33PM from the closer-look dept.
   The growth of partisan media masquerading as state and local reporting is a troubling trend we've seen emerge amid the financial declines of local news organizations. But what do these outlets mean for journalism in American communities? NiemanLab: Using previous research and news reports as a guide, we've mapped the locations of more than 400 partisan media outlets -- often funded and operated by government officials, political candidates, PACs, and political party operatives -- and found, somewhat unsurprisingly, that these outlets are emerging most often in swing states, raising a concern about the ability of such organizations to fill community information needs while prioritizing the electoral value of an audience. We found that while left-leaning sites prioritize statewide reporting, right-leaning sites are
   more focused on local reporting, suggesting different strategies for engaging with targeted audiences and indicating the potential for these sites to exacerbate polarization in local communities.
    news 
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   133356770 story Security 

Israeli Court Rules NSO Group Can Continue Exporting Spyware (vice.com)  39

   Posted by msmash on Tuesday July 14, 2020 @12:46PM from the how-about-that dept.
   The infamous spyware company NSO Group scored a major win in what critics are calling a "disgraceful ruling" in an Israeli court this week. From a report: The court ruled that NSO can keep exporting its hacking and surveillance tools, arguing that the human rights organization Amnesty International, which had sued the company in an attempt to block its exports, failed to prove that an NSO customer used its technology to spy on Amnesty staff. In 2018, as Motherboard reported at the time, Amnesty claimed to have found hackers spying on one of the organization's researchers using NSO spyware. After the incident, the organization sued NSO in Israel in an attempt to block the export of its surveillance technology. A Tel Aviv District Court judge dismissed the suit alleging Amnesty did not present enough evidence, and said Israel's Defence Ministry, which
   is tasked with overseeing the export of surveillance technologies, has the right safeguards in place to protect human rights.
    malware security 
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