Tech News

WSJ Criticizes 'the Billionaire Keeping TikTok On Phones In the US'

technology - Posted On:2023-09-24 11:45:00 Source: slashdot

Six months ago Republican Senator Josh Hawley proposed legislation banning downloads of TikTok in the U.S. But this week he told the Wall Street Journal that "TikTok and its dark-money cronies are spending vast amounts of money to kill these bills." The newspaper argues that TikTok's "friends" in the U.S. government — backed by billionaire financier Jeff Yass — "helped stall attempts to outlaw America's most-downloaded app." Yass's investment company, Susquehanna International Group, bet big on TikTok in 2012, buying a stake in parent company ByteDance now measured at about 15%. That translates into a personal stake for Yass of 7% in ByteDance. It is worth roughly $21 billion based on the company's recent valuation, or much of his $28 billion net worth as gauged by Bloomberg. Yass is also one of the top donors to the Club for Growth, an influential conservative group that rallied Republican opposition to a TikTok ban. Yass has donated $61 million to the Club for Growth's political-spending arm since 2010, or about 24% of its total, according to federal records. Club for Growth made public its opposition to banning TikTok in March, in an opinion article by its president, at a time when sentiment against the platform among segments of both parties was running high on Capitol Hill... With many Democrats already skeptical of a ban, the whittling away of Republican support killed momentum for several bills, including the bipartisan Restrict Act backed by the Biden administration... TikTok's own lobbying efforts in Washington have included hundreds of meetings and other contacts, according to a person familiar with the matter. One of its main arguments to Republicans has been that a majority of ByteDance's shareholders are Americans, and some are well-connected conservatives, this person said. The lobbying appears to have helped push House Republican lawmakers to back away from the idea of a ban on TikTok and focus instead on legislation that would put new legal protections in place for users' personal data... The Biden administration hasn't indicated any change in its effort to ban the app or force its sale. It could still try to use executive powers to ban it, or force a sale to remove Chinese control. But without legislation, analysts say those orders could be overturned in court. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Return to the Office? These Workers Quit Instead

it - Posted On:2023-09-23 13:45:00 Source: slashdot

"As more companies enforce their office mandates, some workers are choosing to quit instead of complying and returning to the office," reports the Washington Post. Workers say their reasons for quitting include everything from family to commuting expenses to being required to relocate. And many workers worry that people like those with disabilities or who are primary caregivers may be left behind due to their inability to successfully work from the office... Workers are pushing back, penning letters to executives, staging walkouts and quitting despite the tight labor market. "I'm not surprised at all," Prithwiraj Choudhury, a Harvard Business School professor who studies the future of work, said about workers quitting. "By mandating these rigid policies, you're risking your top performers and diversity. It just doesn't make economic sense." Choudhury said companies should provide overall guidance that allows each to determine how they best work after analysis and feedback from workers. That's especially important for women, whom Choudhury said are resigning in large numbers — a notion multiple surveys support... For some workers who moved or were hired remotely during the pandemic, commuting is a nearly impossible task, they say. In a related note, Grindr tells the Post they're still requiring two-days-per-week in the office starting in October. Grindr they're looking forward to "further improving productivity and collaboration." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Meredith Whittaker Reaffirms That Signal Would Leave UK If Forced By Privacy Bill

it - Posted On:2023-09-23 07:15:00 Source: slashdot

Meredith Whittaker, the president of the Signal Foundation, which maintains the nonprofit Signal messaging app, reaffirmed that Signal would leave the U.K. if the country's recently passed Online Safety Bill forced Signal to build "backdoors" into its end-to-end encryption. From a report: "We would leave the U.K. or any jurisdiction if it came down to the choice between backdooring our encryption and betraying the people who count on us for privacy, or leaving," Whittaker said. "And that's never not true." The Online Safety Bill, which was passed into law in September, includes a clause -- clause 122 -- that, depending on how it's interpreted, could allow the U.K.'s communications regulator, Ofcom, to break the encryption of apps and services under the guise of making sure illegal material such as child sexual exploitation and abuse content is removed. Ofcom could fine companies not in compliance up to $22.28 million, or 10% of their global annual revenue, under the bill -- whichever is greater. Whittaker didn't mince words in airing her fears about the Online Safety Bill's implications. "We're not about political stunts, so we're not going to just pick up our toys and go home to, like, show the bad U.K. they're being mean," she said. "We're really worried about people in the U.K. who would live under a surveillance regime like the one that seems to be teased by the Home Office and others in the U.K." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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FCC Closing Loophole That Gave Robocallers Easy Access To US Phone Numbers

technology - Posted On:2023-09-22 16:15:01 Source: slashdot

The Federal Communications Commission is taking steps to restrict Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers from easily accessing US telephone numbers. Over the past several years, robocallers have exploited VoIP providers to inundate US citizens with unwanted calls, many of which come from falsified numbers. Previously, the regulations allowed VoIP services relatively uncomplicated access to US phone numbers. ArsTechnica: But under rules adopted by the FCC yesterday, VoIP providers will face some extra hurdles. They will have to "make robocall-related certifications to help ensure compliance with the Commission's rules targeting illegal robocalls," and "disclose and keep current information about their ownership, including foreign ownership, to mitigate the risk of providing bad actors abroad with access to US numbering resources," the FCC said. The FCC order will take effect 30 days after it's published in the Federal Register. A public draft of the order was released ahead of the FCC meeting. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Cruise CEO Says SF 'Should Be Rolling Out the Red Carpet' for Robotaxis, Threatens To Maybe Leave Town

technology - Posted On:2023-09-22 12:15:00 Source: slashdot

In his first major public interview since the DMV cut their San Francisco fleet in half, Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt said "we cannot expect perfection" from the self-driving cars, and vaguely threatened to leave town if regulators curtail them any further. From a report: The self-driving robotaxis of GM subsidiary Cruise and Google-owned Waymo seemed like they were heading in a successful direction when they won approval from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) last month to run their self-driving robotaxis at all hours in SF without restrictions. But barely a week later, the California DMV demanded Cruise cut it SF fleet in half, following post-Outside Lands stalling incidents, a night of multiple accidents, and SF City Attorney David Chiu filing a motion to get the CPUC to reverse their decision. Cruse CEO Kyle Vogt sat down for a (very friendly) 40-minute interview Wednesday at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference, which can be seen in its entirety above. And he seems to be going on offense against the regulatory pushback his company is getting from SF and California lawmakers. "It's kind of fun as a society to poke at the differences between AVs (autonomous vehicles) and humans, but if we're serious about safety in our cities, we should be rolling out the red carpet for AVs," Vogt said, according to the SF Standard. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Android 14 Adds Support for Using Smartphones as Webcams

it - Posted On:2023-09-22 08:45:00 Source: slashdot

Esper: Starting in Android 14, it may not be necessary to use a third-party app to turn your smartphone into a webcam for your PC, as that functionality is getting baked into the Android OS itself -- though there's a catch. When you plug an Android phone into a PC, you have the option to change the USB mode between file transfer/Android Auto (MTP), USB tethering (NCM), MIDI, or PTP. In Android 14, however, a new option can appear in USB Preferences: USB webcam. Selecting this option switches the USB mode to UVC (USB Video Class), provided the device supports it, turning your Android device into a standard USB webcam that other devices will recognize, including Windows, macOS, and Linux PCs, and possibly even other Android devices. Webcam support in Android 14 is not enabled out of the box, however. In order to enable it, four things are required: a Linux kernel config needs to be enabled, the UVC device needs to be configured, the USB HAL needs to be updated, and a new system app needs to be preloaded. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Google Mourns Veteran Engineer Luiz Andre Barroso Who Invented the Modern Data Center

technology - Posted On:2023-09-22 03:00:00 Source: slashdot

Brazilian engineer Luiz Andre Barroso, who ripped up the rulebook at Google, has died. His radical ideas for data centers laid the foundations for cloud computing. Wired: Luiz Andre Barroso had never designed a data center before Google asked him to do it in the early 2000s. By the time he finished his first, he had overturned many conventions of the computing industry, laying the foundations for Silicon Valley's development of cloud computing. Barroso, a 22-year veteran of Google who unexpectedly died on September 16 at age 59, built his data centers with low-cost components instead of expensive specialized hardware. He reimagined how they worked together to develop the concept of "the data center as a computer," which now underpins the web, mobile apps, and other internet services. Jen Fitzpatrick, senior vice president of Google's infrastructure organization, says Barroso left an indelible imprint at the company whose contributions to the industry are countless. "We lost a beloved friend, colleague and respected leader," she writes in a statement on behalf of the company. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Google Sued Over Fatal Google Maps Error After Man Drove Off Broken Bridge

technology - Posted On:2023-09-21 23:15:00 Source: slashdot

FrankOVD writes: Google is being sued by a widow who says her husband drowned in September 2022 after Google Maps directed him over a collapsed bridge in Hickory, North Carolina. Google failed to correct its map service despite warnings about the broken bridge two years before the accident, according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday by Alicia Paxson in Wake County Superior Court. Philip Paxson "died tragically while driving home from his daughter's ninth birthday party, when he drove off of an unmarked, unbarricaded collapsed bridge in Hickory, North Carolina while following GPS directions," the complaint said. The Snow Creek Bridge reportedly collapsed in 2013 and wasn't repaired. Barricades were typically in place but "were removed after being vandalized and were missing at the time of Paxson's wreck," according to The Charlotte Observer. The lawsuit has five defendants, including Google and its owner Alphabet. The other defendants are James Tarlton and two local business entities called Tarde, LLC and Hinckley Gauvain, LLC. Tarlton and the two businesses "owned, controlled, and/or were otherwise responsible for the land" containing the bridge, the lawsuit said. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Google Takes a Snarky Shot at Apple Over RCS in Its Latest Ad

technology - Posted On:2023-09-21 18:45:00 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader shares a report: Google has been trying to publicly pressure Apple into adopting the GSMA's RCS (Rich Communications Service) messaging protocol for a long time now, with nothing to show for it. As a matter of fact, Apple CEO Tim Cook seemed to completely dismiss the idea when he answered a question on the subject by saying that consumers should buy their moms an iPhone. Google and its Android platform aren't giving up that easily and they've just released a snarky ad to continue criticizing Apple's preferred messaging platform. The ad's called "iPager" and mimics Apple's marketing language to reveal a retro-styled beeper, indicating that Apple's behind the curve with its chosen messaging platform. The spot states that the iPager uses "outdated messaging tech" to "text with Android," citing many of the perceived disadvantages of sticking with SMS technology when communicating with Android phones. Google didn't invent this comparison whole-cloth, as the 30-year-old SMS tech actually dates back to old-school pagers. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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DuckDuckGo CEO Says It Takes 'Too Many Steps' To Switch From Google

technology - Posted On:2023-09-21 16:15:01 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader shares a report: DuckDuckGo, a privacy-centric search engine founded about 15 years ago, has languished with a small market share as consumers face difficulties switching from Google when the behemoth is the default option on computer screens, the upstart's founder said in an antitrust trial. Founded in 2008, DuckDuckGo currently has about a 2.5% share of the market for search in the US, said CEO Gabriel Weinberg, and conducts about 100 million searches a day globally. In comparison, Google conducts several billion searches daily. Weinberg said about 30% to 40% of DuckDuckGo's users have a "strong preference‚ for privacy and that most of the company's users switch over from Google." The company considers Google to be "far and away" its biggest competitor. "Switching is way harder than it needs to be," Chief Executive Officer Gabriel Weinberg said in federal court on Thursday. "There's just too many steps." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Windows 11 Gains Support for Managing Passkeys

technology - Posted On:2023-09-21 15:15:01 Source: slashdot

At an event today focused on AI and security tools and new Surface devices, Microsoft announced that Windows 11 users will soon be able to take better advantage of passkeys, the digital credentials that can be used as an authentication method for websites and apps. From a report: Once the expanded passkeys support rolls out, Windows 11 users will be able to create a passkey using Windows Hello, Windows' biometric identity and access control feature. They'll then be able to use that passkey to access supported webs or apps using their face, fingerprint or PIN. Windows 11 passkeys can be managed on the devices on which they're stored, or saved to a mobile phone for added convenience. "For the past several years, we've been committed to working with our industry partners and the FIDO Alliance to further the passwordless future with passkeys," Microsoft wrote in a blog post this morning. "Passkeys are the cross-platform, cross-ecosystem future of accessing websites and applications." Microsoft began rolling out support for passkey management several months ago in the Windows Insider dev channel, but this marks the capability's general availability. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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MGM Resorts Computers Back Up After 10 Days as Analysts Eye Effects of Casino Cyberattacks

it - Posted On:2023-09-21 14:30:00 Source: slashdot

MGM Resorts brought to an end a 10-day computer shutdown prompted by efforts to shield from a cyberattack data including hotel reservations and credit card processing, the casino giant said Wednesday, as analysts and academics measured the effects of the event. From a report: "We are pleased that all of our hotels and casinos are operating normally," the Las Vegas-based company posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. It reported last week that the attack was detected Sept. 10. Rival casino owner Caesars Entertainment also disclosed last week to federal regulators that it was hit by a cyberattack Sept. 7. It said that its casino and online operations were not disrupted but it could not guarantee that personal information about tens of millions of customers, including driver's licenses and Social Security numbers of loyalty rewards members, had not been compromised. Caesars, based in Reno, is widely reported to have paid $15 million of a $30 million ransom sought by a group called Scattered Spider for a promise to secure the data. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Windows 11's Next Big Update Arrives on September 26th With Copilot, RAR Support

technology - Posted On:2023-09-21 11:15:00 Source: slashdot

Microsoft will release its next big Windows 11 update, 23H2, on September 26th. The update will include the new AI-powered Windows Copilot feature, a redesigned File Explorer, a new Ink Anywhere feature for pen users, big improvements to the Paint app, native RAR and 7-zip file support, a new volume mixer, and much more. From a report: Windows Copilot is the headline feature for the Windows 11 23H2 update, bringing the same Bing Chat feature straight to the Windows 11 desktop. It appears as a sidebar in Windows 11, allowing you to control settings on a PC, launch apps, or simply answer queries. It's integrated all over the operating system, too: Microsoft executives demoed using Copilot to write text messages using data from your calendar, navigation options in Outlook, and more. This is also Microsoft's latest attempt to deliver a digital assistant inside Windows after the company shut down the Cortana app inside Windows 11 last month. It might be more successful this time, particularly as it's powered by the same technologies behind Bing Chat, so you can ask real questions and get answers (that might not always be accurate) in return. [...] Microsoft is also adding native RAR and 7-zip support to Windows 11 with this update. That means you'll be able to easily open files like tar, 7-zip, rar, gz, and many others using the libarchive open-source project that's now built into Windows 11. Microsoft is also planning to provide support for creating these file formats in 2024. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Waymo Begins Testing the Waters For a Robotaxi Service In Los Angeles

technology - Posted On:2023-09-21 06:15:01 Source: slashdot

Waymo announced a "tour across Los Angeles" that allows curious residents the opportunity to ride in fully autonomous vehicles as the Alphabet-owned company begins to lay the groundwork for the launch of a commercial robotaxi service. The Verge reports: Waymo says it will make six multi-week "tour stops" in LA neighborhoods where people can hail a self-driving car without anyone in the front seat. Interested Angelenos can snag early access tickets at several pop-up events throughout the city or sign up for a waitlist. Once they receive a ticket, riders can use Waymo's fully driverless vehicles for free within the service area for one week during the allotted time. The tour is as follows: Santa Monica and Venice Beach October 11th-November 18th; Century City November 20th-December 17th; West Hollywood December 17th-January 7th; Mid City January 8th-23rd; Koreatown January 24th-February 8th; and Downtown LA February 9th-March 3rd. Waymo's operational design domain -- the area in which its robotaxis are programmed to travel -- stretches from the West Side to Downtown LA, an area that's larger than San Francisco but smaller than its coverage in Phoenix. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Sysadmin, Spouse Admit To Part in 'Massive' Pirated Avaya Licenses Scam

it - Posted On:2023-09-20 13:30:00 Source: slashdot

A sysadmin and his partner pleaded guilty this week to being part of a "massive" international ring that sold software licenses worth $88 million for "significantly below the wholesale price." From a report: Brad and Dusti Pearce admitted one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and each face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. After agreeing to a plea deal, the Pearces must also forfeit at least $4 million as well as gold, silver, collectible coins, cryptocurrency, and a vehicle, and "make full restitution to their victims," the US Department of Justice said. The pair from Tuttle, Oklahoma -- a city better known for its cattle ranchers and alfafa hay than pirated software -- were alleged to have sold pirated Avaya business telephone system software licenses. The licenses were then used to unlock features of the popular telephone system, which is used by thousands of companies around the globe. Dusti Pearce was said by prosecutors to have looked after the accounting side of the business, although only the wire fraud charge remains under the plea deal. Brad Pearce had previously worked as a customer service employee at Avaya, and was said to have used his admin privileges to "generate tens of thousands of ADI software license keys" that he sold to his main customer, Jason Hines, as well as "other customers, who in turn sold them to resellers and end users around the globe," said the DoJ. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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WhatsApp Appears To Be About To Launch Its Long-Overdue iPad App

technology - Posted On:2023-09-20 10:15:00 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader shares a report: A few lucky WhatsApp beta testers got a surprising treat this week: the company appears to be testing a version of its iOS app that is also optimized for the iPad. As first spotted by WABetaInfo, version of WhatsApp's TestFlight app includes the new iPad app as well. From what we can see in screenshots, the iPad app works exactly like you'd expect. You connect to it by scanning a QR code the same way you'd link your account to any other device. You'll see a list of your conversations on the left and your current chat on the right. It's pretty much the iOS app, but instead of seeing one pane at a time, you see both. It almost makes you wonder what took so long, especially when WhatsApp head Will Cathcart said all the way back in January of 2022 that "we'd love to do it." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Google Wants To Map More of the World's Roads With Expansion of 'Road Mapper' Volunteer Community

technology - Posted On:2023-09-19 21:30:00 Source: slashdot

Google announced today that it is opening access to more contributors to participate in Road Mapper, a tool where you can add missing roads to Google Maps in areas of the world that need it most. TechCrunch reports: Road Mapper is an invite-only platform where people participate in challenges, drawing roads located in areas with a large population, yet have a significant amount of road network missing from Google Maps. Users draw road geometry using satellite images. The drawings then go through a review process and, if accepted, will be live on Google Maps in a few days. Those interested in joining Road Mapper can fill out Google's online form. Plus, top contributors that have mapped the most roads can now refer up to five contributors via the Road Mapper Referral form. Google's blog post notes that its contributors have mapped more than 1.5 million kilometers of roads, enabling more than 200 million people to navigate with Google Maps. That's pretty impressive considering Road Mapper only launched two years ago. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Google Bard Extensions Brings More AI Power To Maps, YouTube, Gmail, and More

technology - Posted On:2023-09-19 19:30:00 Source: slashdot

Google Bard is getting support for Extensions today, incorporating essential apps like Google Maps, YouTube, Hotels, and Flights to simplify data retrieval and accelerate the creative process. Android Police reports: This integration ensures that users can seamlessly amalgamate data from myriad sources, thereby accelerating your creative process or just making it easier to accomplish basic tasks across the board. These tools were originally teased at I/O before their wider release today. The company posted an excellent explainer of how this works on its YouTube channel. With today's update, you can now sync Bard with your Gmail, Docs, and Drive. This capability ensures that the AI collaborates with your personal content, making data retrieval and summarization more fluid. With the enhancement of the Google It button, Bard's responses can be cross-checked with Google Search, instilling greater trust in AI-generated data. Additionally, conversations initiated by others via Bard can be continued in your account, emphasizing collaborative creativity. You can learn more about Google Bard Extensions here. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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European Governments Shrinking Railways in Favour of Road-Building, Report Finds

technology - Posted On:2023-09-19 12:15:00 Source: slashdot

European governments have "systematically" shrunk their railways and starved them of funding while pouring money into expanding their road network, a report has found. The Guardian: The length of motorways in Europe grew 60% between 1995 and 2020 while railways shrank 6.5%, according to research from the German thinktanks Wuppertal Institute and T3 Transportation. For every $1 governments spent building railways, they spent $1.7 building roads. "This is a political choice," said Lorelei Limousin, a climate campaigner with Greenpeace, which commissioned the report. "We see the consequences today with the climate, but also with people who have been left without an alternative solution to cars." The report found the EU, Norway, Switzerland and the UK spent $1.6tn between 1995 and 2018 to extend their roads -- but just $0.99tn to extend their rail networks. In the four years that followed (2018-21), the average gap in investment in rail and road decreased from 66% to 34%. During that time, seven countries invested more in rail than roads -- Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the UK -- while the rest spent more on roads than rail. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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37 Signals Says Cloud Repatriation Plan Has Already Saved It $1 Million

it - Posted On:2023-09-18 20:15:00 Source: slashdot

David Heinemeier Hansson, CTO of SaaS project management outfit 37Signals, has posted an update on the cloud repatriation project he's led, writing that it's already saved the company $1 million. The Register: Hansson has previously revealed that his company spent $3.2 million a year on cloud computing, most of it at Amazon Web Services. His repatriation plan called for the company to spend $600,000 on eight meaty servers that each pack 256 virtual CPUs, and have them hosted at an outfit called Deft. That plan was projected to save $7 million over five years. In his Saturday post, Hansson wrote he now thinks he can find $10 million of savings in the same period. "Our cloud spend is down by 60 percent already... from around $180,000/month to less than $80,000," he wrote, qualifying that the number excludes the cost of Amazon Web Services's Simple Storage Service. "That's a cool million dollars in savings at the yearly run rate, and we have another big drop coming in September, before the remaining spend will petter out through the rest of the year," he added. The CTO revealed that the 37 Signals ops team remains the same size even though it now tends its own hardware, which cost "about half a million dollars." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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