Hactivists say they hacked Belarus rail system to stop Russian military buildup

Servicemen of Russia's Eastern Military District units attend a welcoming ceremony as they arrive in Belarus to take part in joint military exercises. Russia's military is combining its own means of transport with train travel.

Enlarge / Servicemen of Russia’s Eastern Military District units attend a welcoming ceremony as they arrive in Belarus to take part in joint military exercises. Russia’s military is combining its own means of transport with train travel. (credit: Getty Images)

Hacktivists in Belarus said on Monday they had infected the network of the country’s state-run railroad system with ransomware and would provide the decryption key only if Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko stopped aiding Russian troops ahead of a possible invasion of Ukraine.

Referring to the Belarus Railway, a group calling itself Cyber ​​Partisans wrote on Telegram:

BelZhD, at the command of the terrorist Lukashenko, these days allows the occupying troops to enter our land. As part of the “Peklo” cyber campaign, we encrypted the bulk of the servers, databases and workstations of the BelZhD in order to slow down and disrupt the operation of the road. The backups have been destroyed.

Dozens of databases have been cyberattacked, including AS-Sledd, AS-USOGDP, SAP, AC-Pred, pass.rw.by, uprava, IRC, etc.

⚠ Automation and security systems were deliberately NOT affected by a cyber attack in order to avoid emergency situations.

The group also announced the attack by Twitter.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#belarus, #biz-it, #hacktivism, #policy, #ransomware, #russia

FCC chair plans to block exclusive deals that limit ISP choice in apartments

FCC member Jessica Rosenworcel sitting at a table and speaking during a Senate committee hearing.

Enlarge / FCC member Jessica Rosenworcel speaks during a Senate Commerce Committee oversight hearing on June 24, 2020, in Washington, DC. (credit: Getty Images | Jonathan Newton)

The Federal Communications Commission is on course to block some types of exclusive deals that ISPs and landlords use to prevent broadband competition in apartment buildings and other multiple-tenant environments.

A plan announced Friday by FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel would “prohibit providers from entering into graduated revenue sharing agreements or exclusive revenue sharing agreements with a building owner; require providers to disclose to tenants in plain language the existence of exclusive marketing arrangements that they have with building owners; [and] end a practice that circumvents the FCC’s cable inside wiring rules by clarifying that existing Commission rules prohibit sale-and-leaseback arrangements that effectively block access to alternative providers,” the FCC said.

Rosenworcel circulated the proposal to other commissioners, meaning they can vote on it at any time. The updated rules would apply to residential buildings that contain apartments or condo units and to office buildings.

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#policy

“Death Star” response from US would lock Russia out of 5G, advanced chips

Russian mobile phone networks could be severely hampered if mooted US tech sanctions go into effect.

Enlarge / Russian mobile phone networks could be severely hampered if mooted US tech sanctions go into effect. (credit: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg)

The US is considering restricting the flow of semiconductors into Russia to deter Russian President Vladimir Putin from invading Ukraine. The move would prevent the Russian military and much of the nation’s economy from advancing technologically.

The details of the sanctions are still being decided, but they would rely on similar restrictions that kneecapped Huawei, the Chinese tech company. Though most semiconductors are made overseas, US companies control huge swaths of the larger market, from chip design and manufacturing equipment to process and quality control. By restricting access to those companies’ products and services, the US can effectively limit Russian access to the latest chips, even if they’re made in other countries.

“It’s one of the tools that US has come to prefer because it’s painful but it doesn’t involve the use of force,” James Andrew Lewis, senior vice president and director of the Strategic Technologies Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Ars. “It sort of freezes Russia at a technological moment.”

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#foreign-direct-product-rule, #policy, #russia, #sanctions, #semiconductors

Bitcoin drops to six-month low as investors dump speculative assets

Bitcoin drops to six-month low as investors dump speculative assets

Enlarge (credit: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Bitcoin dropped to a six-month low on Saturday, extending a steep fall recorded in the previous session as the cryptocurrency market was swept up in a powerful shift by investors out of speculative assets.

The price of the biggest digital token by market value fell 4.3 percent in the European morning on Saturday to $35,127, the lowest level since July 2021. Bitcoin has now lost almost a quarter of its value this year.

Other cryptocurrencies have also come under intense selling pressure, with an FT Wilshire index of the top five tokens excluding bitcoin down 30 percent in the first month of 2022.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#bitcoin, #cryptocurrency, #policy

Airline CEOs make U-turn, now say 5G isn’t a big problem for altimeters

An airplane cockpit seen during flight.

Enlarge / Airbus 320 cockpit. (credit: Getty Images | Skyhobo)

The Federal Aviation Administration’s fight against AT&T’s and Verizon’s new 5G deployment appears to be coming to a temporary close, with the FAA having cleared about 78 percent of US planes for landing in low-visibility conditions. Airline CEOs are striking an upbeat tone, with one saying the process of ensuring that airplane altimeters work in 5G areas is “really not that complicated.”

Over the past week, the FAA announced clearances for 13 altimeters that can filter out 5G transmissions from the C-band spectrum that is licensed to wireless operators, accounting for those used by all Boeing 717, 737, 747, 757, 767, 777, 787, and MD-10/-11 models; all Airbus A300, A310, A319, A320, A330, A340, A350, and A380 models; and some Embraer 170 and 190 regional jets. More approvals will presumably be announced soon, bringing the US closer to 100 percent capacity.

Unfortunately, there could be another showdown in about six months, when AT&T and Verizon lift temporary 5G restrictions around airports—we’ll cover that later in this article. For now, airline CEOs appear to be satisfied, even though the FAA hasn’t said definitively that altimeters will continue working after the temporary 5G limits around airports are lifted.

Read 24 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#5g, #altimeters, #c-band, #faa, #fcc, #features, #policy

Intel says Ohio “megafab” will begin making advanced chips in 2025

Intel's rendering of its two new leading-edge processor factories planned to be built outside Columbus, Ohio.

Enlarge / Intel’s rendering of its two new leading-edge processor factories planned to be built outside Columbus, Ohio. (credit: Intel)

Intel announced the location of its megafab today, a 1,000-acre parcel on the outskirts of the Columbus, Ohio, metro area. The semiconductor manufacturer plans to break ground on two leading-edge fabs by the end of the year and enter production in 2025.

“This is all part of the strategy that our CEO Pat Gelsinger announced back in March,” Intel Senior Vice President Keyvan Esfarjani told Ars.

“We are starting with two fabs, and that’s all in line with the growing demand for what the industry needs,” he said. “It’s also critically important for the balance of the supply chain around the world.”

Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#chip-fab, #chips-for-america-act, #features, #intel, #lithography, #ohio, #policy, #semiconductors

Antitrust bill that bars Big Tech self-preferencing advances in Senate

The dome of the United State Capitol Building against a deep blue sky in Washington, DC.

Enlarge / The dome of the United States Capitol Building in Washington, DC. (credit: Getty Images | Phil Roeder)

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 16-6 today to advance an antitrust bill that would prevent Big Tech firms from giving their own services preferential treatment.

The bill attempts to limit the ability of dominant firms to “unfairly preference” their own products or services in a way that would harm competition. For example, Apple and Google could not rank their own apps higher than competitors’ on app stores or in searches. With five Republican senators voting alongside Democrats, the bill has a reasonable chance of passing once it hits the Senate floor. A similar bill has been introduced in the House.

“We haven’t meaningfully updated our antitrust laws since the birth of the Internet,” said Senate co-sponsor Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) in a committee hearing today. “We have to look at this differently than just startup companies in a garage. That’s not what they are anymore.”

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#antitrust, #app-stores, #big-tech, #policy, #regulation, #search-rankings

Biden revives climate portion of failed Build Back Better bill

President Joe Biden talks to reporters during a news conference in the East Room of the White House on January 19, 2022, in Washington, DC.

Enlarge / President Joe Biden talks to reporters during a news conference in the East Room of the White House on January 19, 2022, in Washington, DC. (credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

President Joe Biden yesterday expressed support for breaking up the Build Back Better Act, saying that the parts intended to combat climate change appear to have the most support.

“I think we can break the package up, get as much as we can now, and come back and fight for the rest later,” Biden said at a press conference. “I’m confident we can get pieces—big chunks—of the Build Back Better law signed into law.”

The initial Build Back Better bill contained provisions for universal preschool, paid family leave, and free community college in addition to clean energy tax credits and other climate-related measures. That bill, which weighed in at $3.5 trillion, was met with skepticism by some moderate Democrats and was pared down to $1.75 trillion after jettisoning free community college and 12-week paid family leave. 

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#biden-administration, #carbon-emissions, #climate-change, #paris-agreement, #policy

OAN panics as DirecTV drops network, asks viewers to find “dirt” on AT&T chairman

OAN host Dan Ball urges viewers to contact AT&T.

Enlarge / Dan Ball, host of One America News show “Real America.” (credit: One America News)

One America News is in panic mode after DirecTV decided to drop the right-wing network from its channel lineup.

OAN host Dan Ball on Monday night urged viewers to dig up “dirt” on AT&T Board Chairman William Kennard, a Democrat who was Federal Communications Commission chairman during the Clinton administration and US Ambassador to the European Union under Obama. (AT&T is DirecTV’s majority owner.)

A Daily Beast article said Ball told viewers that OAN “is now at war with AT&T.” The Daily Beast article continued:

Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#att, #directv, #one-america-news, #policy

FAA clears Boeing 777 and other planes after 5G warning halted some flights

A Boeing 777 flying above the clouds.

Enlarge / A Boeing 777. (credit: Boeing)

The Federal Aviation Administration today said it has cleared 62 percent of US commercial airplanes to perform low-visibility landings at airports where AT&T and Verizon are deploying 5G on C-band spectrum this week.

Several international airlines previously canceled some flights to the US after Boeing issued a recommendation to not fly the 777 into airports where carriers are deploying 5G on the C-band. However, the 777 planes—or at least those that have altimeters capable of filtering out C-band transmissions—were on the FAA’s new list of cleared aircraft. The FAA has been granting Alternate Means of Compliance (AMOCs) to operators with altimeters that are safe to use.

“Airplane models with one of the five cleared altimeters include some Boeing 717, 737, 747, 757, 767, 777, MD-10/-11 and Airbus A300, A310, A319, A320, A330, A340, A350 and A380 models,” the FAA said in a statement issued shortly after 2 pm EST today. These airplanes are now authorized “to perform low-visibility landings at airports where wireless companies deployed 5G C-band,” the FAA said. The word “some” indicates that not every plane with the mentioned model numbers has an approved altimeter.

Read 20 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#5g, #altimeters, #att, #biz-it, #boeing, #c-band, #faa, #policy, #verizon

Inmates sue Arkansas doc, jail after unknowingly taking dangerous doses of ivermectin

Tablets of ivermectin.

Enlarge / Tablets of ivermectin. (credit: Getty | Nurphoto)

Detainees at an Arkansas jail were given ivermectin without their knowledge or consent, a new lawsuit alleges. As early as November 2020, Dr. Robert Karas, the jail’s doctor, told inmates who had contracted COVID that he was giving them a cocktail of vitamins, antibiotics, and steroids when in fact he was administering dangerously high doses of the dewormer. Ivermectin is not authorized by the FDA to treat or prevent COVID, and the agency has repeatedly told people not to take it outside its approved use as an anti-parasitic. 

“At no point were Plaintiffs informed that the medications they were consuming included Ivermectin,” the lawsuit says. “Further, Plaintiffs were not informed of the side effects of the drug administered to them or that any results would be used for research purposes.”

Four detainees are suing Dr. Karas and his company, the Washington County sheriff, and the Washington County Detention Center and 10 of its employees, alleging that they violated the inmates’ rights to informed consent. The ACLU of Arkansas filed the lawsuit on their behalf. The plaintiffs are seeking medical evaluations by independent providers and an injunction preventing Dr. Karas from administering ivermectin to COVID patients.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#civil-rights, #covid-19, #ivermectin, #jail, #policy

US airlines warn of “chaos” as telecoms groups roll out 5G

American Airline planes sit on the tarmac at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) in Arlington, Virginia, on January 15, 2022.

Enlarge / American Airline planes sit on the tarmac at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) in Arlington, Virginia, on January 15, 2022. (credit: Stefani Reynolds | Getty Images)

The imminent rollout of high-speed 5G telecoms services threatens to ground flights across the US, America’s largest airlines warned on Monday, as they urged government agencies to intervene to avoid “chaos” for passengers and “incalculable” disruptions to supply chains.

“The harm that will result from deployment on January 19 is substantially worse than we originally anticipated,” warned Airlines for America, an industry lobby group, pointing to the potential for 5G services to interfere with the sensitive equipment that aircraft use to take off and land.

The letter, seen by the Financial Times and first reported by Reuters, was signed by the largest US carriers as well as the air freight arms of two of the biggest logistics groups, UPS and FedEx.

Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#5g, #airlines, #faa, #fcc, #policy

Microsoft warns of destructive disk wiper targeting Ukraine

Microsoft warns of destructive disk wiper targeting Ukraine

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

Over the past few months, geopolitical tensions have escalated as Russia amassed tens of thousands of troops along Ukraine’s border and made subtle but far-reaching threats if Ukraine and NATO don’t agree to Kremlin demands.

Now, a similar dispute is playing out in cyber arenas, as unknown hackers late last week defaced scores of Ukrainian government websites and left a cryptic warning to Ukrainian citizens who attempted to receive services.

Be afraid and expect the worst

“All data on the computer is being destroyed, it is impossible to recover it,” said a message, written in Ukrainian, Russian, and Polish, that appeared late last week on at least some of the infected systems. “All information about you has become public, be afraid and expect the worst.”

Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#biz-it, #diskwiper, #microsoft, #policy, #russia, #ukraine, #whispergate

Amazon halts plan to ban Visa credit cards in UK

Amazon halts plan to ban Visa credit cards in UK

Enlarge (credit: Leon Neal | Getty Images)

Amazon has halted a plan to ban customers using UK-issued Visa credit cards from this week, as the companies work on a “potential solution” to a rancorous dispute that threatened to severely disrupt shoppers.

The world’s largest online retailer announced the proposed ban in November, citing the “high fees Visa charges for processing credit card transactions,” and advised customers to find new payment methods.

However, on Monday Amazon said that “the expected change regarding the use of Visa credit cards on Amazon.co.uk will no longer take place on January 19.” The group added that it was “working closely with Visa on a potential solution that will enable customers to continue using their Visa credit cards on Amazon.co.uk.”

Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#amazon, #credit-cards, #fees, #policy, #visa

Readers Respond to the September 2021 Issue

Letters to the editor from the September 2021 issue of Scientific American

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#letters, #policy, #social-sciences

North Korean hackers stole nearly $400 million in crypto last year

North Korean hackers stole nearly $400 million in crypto last year

Enlarge

The past year saw a breathtaking rise in the value of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, with Bitcoin gaining 60 percent in value in 2021 and Ethereum spiking 80 percent. So perhaps it’s no surprise that the relentless North Korean hackers who feed off that booming crypto economy had a very good year as well.

North Korean hackers stole a total of $395 million worth of crypto coins last year across seven intrusions into cryptocurrency exchanges and investment firms, according to blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis. The nine-figure sum represents a nearly $100 million increase over the previous year’s thefts by North Korean hacker groups, and it brings their total haul over the past five years to $1.5 billion in cryptocurrency alone—not including the uncounted hundreds of millions more the country has stolen from the traditional financial system. That hoard of stolen cryptocurrency now contributes significantly to the coffers of Kim Jong-un’s totalitarian regime as it seeks to fund itself—and its weapons programs—despite the country’s heavily sanctioned, isolated, and ailing economy.

Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#biz-it, #cryptocurrency, #hacking, #north-korea, #policy

Intel “mega-fab” coming to Ohio, reports say

Intel “mega-fab” coming to Ohio, reports say

Enlarge (credit: ony Avelar/Bloomberg)

Intel is reportedly planning to build a large chip facility in New Albany, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus, the state capital. An official announcement is expected on January 21.

The company reportedly plans to invest $20 billion in the site, and the city of New Albany is working to annex up to 3,600 acres of land to accommodate the facility, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, which first reported the deal.

Given the size of the parcel and the facility’s rumored price tag, it is likely the site of Intel’s “mega-fab,” which CEO Pat Gelsinger said would be like “a little city.” The mega-fab would contain six to eight modules, he said, and would focus on lithography processes and packaging techniques. Suppliers would have space on the site, too.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#chip-fab, #foundry, #intel, #ohio, #policy, #semiconductors

PayPal stole users’ money after freezing, seizing funds, lawsuit alleges

PayPal stole users’ money after freezing, seizing funds, lawsuit alleges

Enlarge (credit: Thomas Trutschel/Photothek)

PayPal is facing a class-action lawsuit alleging that the digital payments company violated racketeering laws by freezing customer funds without offering an explanation.

When users contacted PayPal about the frozen funds, they were told they had violated the company’s “acceptable use policy” but weren’t told how that violation had occurred, the lawsuit says. What’s more, it alleges that in at least one instance, PayPal said that a user would “have to get a subpoena” to find out why.

“PayPal violates its own Agreement by failing to provide adequate notice to users whose accounts have had holds placed on them,” the lawsuit says. When PayPal does let users know it placed a hold on their funds, “it does not inform such users why such funds are being held, how they can obtain a release of the hold, and/or how they can avoid future holds being placed on their accounts.”

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#class-action-lawsuit, #lawsuit, #paypal, #policy, #racketeering, #user-policy

Ukraine says government websites hit by “massive cyber attack”

A Ukrainian Military Forces serviceman watches through a spyglass in a trench on the frontline with Russia-backed separatists near Avdiivka, southeastern Ukraine, on January 9, 2022.

Enlarge / A Ukrainian Military Forces serviceman watches through a spyglass in a trench on the frontline with Russia-backed separatists near Avdiivka, southeastern Ukraine, on January 9, 2022. (credit: Anatolii Stepanov | Getty Images)

Ukraine said it was the target of a “massive cyber attack” after about 70 government websites ceased functioning.

On Friday morning targets included websites of the ministerial cabinet, the foreign, education, agriculture, emergency, energy, veterans affairs, and environment ministries. Also out of service were the websites of the state treasury and the Diia electronic public services platform, where vaccination certificates and electronic passports are stored.

“Ukrainians! All your personal data has been uploaded to the public network,” read a message temporarily posted on the foreign ministry’s website. “All data on your computer is being erased and won’t be recoverable. All information about you has become public, fear and expect the worst.”

Read 20 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#biz-it, #cyberattack, #cyberwarfare, #hacking, #policy, #russa, #ukraine

Comcast trying to “torpedo” Biden FCC pick Gigi Sohn, advocacy group says

Gigi Sohn sitting and answering questions posted by US senators at a hearing.

Enlarge / Gigi Sohn answering questions on December 1, 2021, at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on her nomination to the Federal Communications Commission. (credit: Senate Commerce Committee)

Comcast’s hiring of a new lobbyist is part of an attempt to “torpedo” President Joe Biden’s nomination of Gigi Sohn to the Federal Communications Commission, advocacy group Free Press alleged yesterday.

“Comcast just hired a lobbying firm to try to torpedo Gigi Sohn’s nomination to the FCC. The company clearly knows that Sohn will work for people, not corporations,” Free Press wrote in an email to members. The email asked people to call Commerce Committee Chair Sen. Maria Cantwell (D–Wash.) to urge a vote on Sohn’s nomination by the end of January.

Comcast’s newly hired lobbyist is Kirk Adams of Consilium Consulting in Phoenix, Arizona. Adams’ lobbying disclosure, which was filed with Congress on January 6, lists one specific lobbying issue that he expects to work on: “FCC nominations.” An amended version of the lobbying registration filed about 11 hours later deleted “FCC Nominations” and replaced it with “telecommunications policy.”

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#comcast, #fcc, #gigi-sohn, #policy

Supreme Court on vaccine mandates: Hospitals OK, general employment a no

Statuary and facade outside neoclassical federal building.

(credit: Getty Images)

The Biden administration has made vaccine mandates central to its attempts to limit the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Or at least it has tried to; various states and other organizations have used the courts to challenge the federal government’s authority to impose these mandates. Last week, the Supreme Court heard arguments regarding two of the most significant mandates: one for all hospital workers issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and a second for all employees of large companies issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

By the time the cases were argued before the Supreme Court, the HHS rule was already blocked by a stay issued by a lower court. By contrast, the OSHA rules had seen a lower court lift earlier stays, leaving it on the verge of enforcement.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court issued expedited rules that reflected the tone of the questioning the week before. The OSHA rule is now subject to a stay that blocks its implementation, a decision that saw the court’s three liberal justices issue a dissent. The stay against the HHS rules, by contrast, was lifted, but only by a close 5-4 ruling.

Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#covid-19, #pandemic, #policy, #public-health, #science, #supreme-court, #vaccine-mandates, #vaccines

Holmes to face maximum of 80 years in prison when she’s sentenced in September

Theranos founder and former CEO Elizabeth Holmes leaves the Robert F. Peckham Federal Building in San Jose, California, on December 17, 2021.

Enlarge / Theranos founder and former CEO Elizabeth Holmes leaves the Robert F. Peckham Federal Building in San Jose, California, on December 17, 2021. (credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Elizabeth Holmes’ trial was delayed for months, and now her sentencing will be similarly held up. The judge in her trial scheduled the hearing for late September.

US District Judge Edward Davila’s order, issued yesterday, set sentencing for September 26. He also set aside June 16 to address motions that Holmes’ attorneys are likely to file in which they may ask for the conviction to be reversed or for a new trial.

Holmes was convicted earlier this month of three counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The jury was hung on three counts, which prosecutors moved to dismiss in a filing made jointly with Holmes’ attorneys. The former CEO of Theranos was acquitted of the remaining charges of wire fraud against patients.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#court, #elizabeth-holmes-criminal-trial, #fraud, #policy, #theranos

SpaceX abandons Starlink plan that Amazon objected to, but fight isn’t over

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk appears on a giant video screen while he discusses Starlink.

Enlarge / SpaceX CEO Elon Musk discusses Starlink at Mobile World Congress Barcelona on June 29, 2021 . (credit: Getty Images | NurPhoto )

SpaceX has abandoned a Starlink plan that Amazon objected to during a high-profile battle at the Federal Communications Commission last year and wants to launch its second-generation broadband satellites starting in March. But the dispute isn’t over, as Amazon says that SpaceX’s latest filing “raises a number of issues that call for analysis and a potential response” and asked the FCC for a month-long delay before comments are due.

In August 2021, Amazon satellite-broadband subsidiary Kuiper Systems objected to Starlink proposing “two different configurations for the nearly 30,000 satellites of its Gen2 System, each of which arranges these satellites along very different orbital parameters.” Amazon said that proposing “two mutually exclusive configurations” violates an FCC rule and would force competitors to do double the work to evaluate the potential for interference.

SpaceX said it pitched two possible configurations in case its preferred setup doesn’t work out. The FCC rule doesn’t specifically prohibit SpaceX’s approach but says that an application will be rejected if it “is defective with respect to completeness of answers to questions, informational showings, internal inconsistencies, execution, or other matters of a formal character.”

Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#amazon, #kuiper, #policy, #satellite, #spacex, #starlink

Scammers put fake QR codes on parking meters to intercept parkers’ payments

Illustration of a parking meter and a warning not to scan any QR codes on meters.

Enlarge / Image from the City of Austin’s warning to ignore QR code stickers on parking meters. (credit: City of Austin)

Scammers in a few big Texas cities have been putting fake QR codes on parking meters to trick people into paying the fraudsters. Parking enforcement officers recently found stickers with fraudulent QR codes on pay stations in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio.

San Antonio police warned the public of the scam on December 20, saying that “people attempting to pay for parking using those QR codes may have been directed to a fraudulent website and submitted payment to a fraudulent vendor.” Similar scams were then found in Austin and Houston.

The Austin Transportation Department started examining their own meters after being “notified of a QR code scam by the City of San Antonio in late December—when more than 100 pay stations were stickered with fraudulent codes,” Fox 7 Austin reported last week. Austin officials checked the city’s 900 or so parking pay stations and found fraudulent QR codes on 29 of them, according to a KXAN article.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#policy, #qr-codes, #tech

FTC has a “plausible claim” that Facebook is an illegal monopoly, judge says

A worker picks up trash in front of the new logo in front of Meta's headquarters on October 28, 2021, in Menlo Park, Calif.

Enlarge / A worker picks up trash in front of the new logo in front of Meta’s headquarters on October 28, 2021, in Menlo Park, Calif. (credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The Federal Trade Commission’s antitrust suit against Facebook may proceed, a federal judge has ruled. The company had filed a motion to dismiss the case, which the judge denied.

US District Judge James Boasberg had invited the FTC to refile the case after throwing out its initial attempt when he found it lacking. “Second time lucky?” Boasberg wrote in yesterday’s opinion. Apparently.

“The core theory of the lawsuit remains essentially unchanged,” he said of the FTC’s refiling. “The facts alleged this time around to fortify those theories, however, are far more robust and detailed than before, particularly in regard to the contours of Defendant’s alleged monopoly.”

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#antitrust-lawsuit, #facebook, #ftc, #lina-khan, #meta, #policy

T-Mobile says it isn’t widely blocking iCloud Private Relay, blames iOS bug

A person's hand holding a smartphone in front of a screen with T-Mobile logos.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | SOPA Images )

T-Mobile has responded to complaints that it is blocking iCloud Private Relay on iPhones, saying that the block only affects subscribers who enabled parental controls or other types of content filtering. T-Mobile also says it has identified a bug in iOS that may be messing with users’ iCloud Private Relay settings, but Apple hasn’t confirmed this.

“Customers who chose plans and features with content filtering (e.g. parent controls) do not have access to the iCloud Private Relay to allow these services to work as designed. All other customers have no restrictions,” T-Mobile told Ars last night. This also applies to customers who subscribed to Sprint before the companies merged.

Customers affected by iCloud Private Relay blocking get an error message in the iPhone settings app when they try to enable the Apple privacy feature. The message says, “Your cellular plan doesn’t support iCloud Private Relay. With Private Relay turned off, this network can monitor your Internet activity, and your IP address is not hidden from known trackers or websites.”

Read 18 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#apple, #icloud-private-relay, #policy, #t-mobile

Google hired union-busting consultants to convince employees “unions suck”

A Google employee holds a sign during a walkout to protest how the tech giant handled sexual misconduct at Jackson Square Park in New York on Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018.

Enlarge / A Google employee holds a sign during a walkout to protest how the tech giant handled sexual misconduct at Jackson Square Park in New York on Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018. (credit: Peter Foley/Bloomberg)

For years, Google has attempted to kill employee-led unionization efforts under an initiative codenamed “Project Vivian.” In the words of one senior manager, Project Vivian existed “to engage employees more positively and convince them that unions suck.”

Project Vivian appears to be Google’s response to a surge in worker activism that began in 2018, when thousands of employees walked out in protest of the company’s response to sexual harassment complaints. Months later, employees began pushing for improved working conditions for Google contractors and an end to contracts with US government agencies involved in deportations and family separations. Two employees who helped organize the 2018 walkout later left the company, saying they were facing retaliation.

Ultimately, five employees were fired, and two were disciplined. They filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that Google interfered with their law-protected rights to organize at the workplace. The NLRB agreed and filed a complaint against Google in December 2020. Google refused to settle, and the matter went to the NLRB’s administrative court.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#google, #nlrb, #policy, #union-busting, #unionization

Google in last-ditch lobbying attempt to influence incoming EU tech rules

Google in last-ditch lobbying attempt to influence incoming EU tech rules

Enlarge (credit: Jorisvo | Getty Images)

Google is making a last-ditch effort to change the EU’s incoming laws on Big Tech with a flurry of advertising, emails, and targeted social media posts aimed at politicians and officials in Brussels.

As EU policymakers put the finishing touches to the Digital Markets Act (DMA), executives at Google’s headquarters in Silicon Valley are stepping up their efforts to water down parts of the legislation that they fear may have a severe impact on their business.

“Top executives in California have known about the DMA all along, but they are only waking up now,” said one Google insider.

Read 23 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#antitrust, #eu, #google, #policy, #regulation, #search

“Aw, screw it”: LAPD cops hunted Pokémon instead of responding to robbery

Visitors view a 10-meter-tall Pikachu glass and steel sculpture in Shanghai, China On November 28, 2021.

Enlarge / Visitors view a 10-meter-tall Pikachu glass and steel sculpture in Shanghai, China On November 28, 2021. (credit: Getty Images | Future Publishing)

A California appeals court has upheld the firings of two Los Angeles Police Department officers who failed to respond to a robbery in progress and instead went searching for a Snorlax in the Pokémon Go augmented reality game.

Officers Louis Lozano and Eric Mitchell were being recorded by a digital in-car video system (DICVS) when they decided to catch a Pokémon after not responding to a robbery on Saturday, April 15, 2017, according to the California Court of Appeal ruling issued Friday. A board of rights found the officers “guilty on multiple counts of misconduct” based on part on the “recording that captured petitioners willfully abdicating their duty to assist a commanding officer’s response to a robbery in progress and playing a Pokémon mobile phone game while on duty,” the ruling said.

The former officers appealed, claiming the city “proceeded in a manner contrary to the law by using the DICVS recording in their disciplinary proceeding and by denying them the protections of the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act,” Friday’s ruling said. A trial court denied the petition challenging the firings, and a three-judge panel at the appeals court unanimously upheld that decision on Friday.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#pokemon, #pokemon-go, #policy

ISPs must accept gov’t subsidy on all plans—no more upselling, FCC chair says

A stack of three $10 bills

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | maogg)

Less than a year after Verizon and other ISPs forced users to switch plans in order to get government-funded discounts, a new federal program will prevent such upselling by requiring ISPs to let customers obtain subsidies on any Internet plan.

With last year’s $50-per-month Emergency Broadband Benefit that was created by Congress, the Federal Communications Commission let ISPs participate in the program as long as they offered the discount on at least one service plan. The FCC said it did so to encourage participation by providers, but some major ISPs drastically limited the subsidy-eligible plans—forcing users to switch to plans that could be more expensive in order to get a temporary discount.

Congress subsequently created a replacement program that will offer $30 monthly subsidies to people with low incomes. The program also specified that ISPs “shall allow an eligible household to apply the affordable connectivity benefit to any Internet service offering of the participating provider at the same terms available to households that are not eligible households.” The FCC still has to make rules for implementing the new Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), but that requirement prevented the FCC from using the same one-plan rule that helped ISPs use the program as an upselling opportunity.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#fcc, #policy, #verizon

Canon can’t get enough toner chips, so it’s telling customers how to defeat its DRM

Canon can’t get enough toner chips, so it’s telling customers how to defeat its DRM

Enlarge (credit: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg)

For years, printers have been encumbered with digital rights management systems that prevent users from buying third-party ink and toner cartridges. Printer companies have claimed that their chip-enabled cartridges can “enhance the quality and performance” of their equipment, provide the “best consumer experience,” and “protect [the printers] from counterfeit and third-party ink cartridges.”

Left unsaid is the fact that requiring first-party cartridges also ensures a recurring revenue stream. It’s an old business model—Gillette sold its razor handles cheaply to sell more razors, for example—and it’s one that printer companies have enthusiastically embraced. Lexmark, HP, Canon, Brother, and others all effectively require users to purchase first-party ink and toner.

To enforce the use of first-party cartridges, manufacturers typically embed chips inside the consumables for the printers to “authenticate.” But when chips are in short supply, like today, manufacturers can find themselves in a bind. So Canon is now telling German customers how to defeat its printers’ warnings about third-party cartridges.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#canon, #drm, #first-sale-doctrine, #policy, #printer

Facebook’s data center plans rile residents in the Netherlands

Facebook’s data center plans rile residents in the Netherlands

Enlarge (credit: Robin Utrecht | Abaca Press | Alamy)

When Susan Schaap, 61, travels from her Dutch hometown of Zeewolde to the nearest city of Leylystad, the 30-minute drive takes her through vast tulip fields, interrupted only by wind turbines and sometimes sheep. But if Facebook parent company Meta’s plans are approved, her view would be replaced by the Netherlands’ largest ever data center.

Meta’s data center is “too big for a small town like Zeewolde,” says Schaap, who has become one of the project’s most vocal opponents. “There are 200 data centers in the Netherlands already,” she argues, and the move would give huge swathes of farmland to just one company, “which is not fair.”

Read 22 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#big-tech, #data-centers, #eu, #facebook, #meta, #netherlands, #policy

Biden’s vaccine mandates come before the Supreme Court

The US Supreme Court building in Washington DC.

Enlarge / The US Supreme Court building in Washington, DC. (credit: Getty Images | Mike Kline)

On Friday, the Supreme Court heard arguments in two cases that could severely limit the federal government’s ability to set public health policy during the pandemic. At issue is whether existing health and safety authority given to federal agencies by Congress is broad enough to cover the pandemic or whether Congress needs to step in and explicitly authorize the agencies’ actions.

The arguments occur as the US sees an unprecedented surge in COVID-19 cases. Indeed, two of the state lawyers arguing against these new public health measures were caught up in that surge and had to participate in the hearings remotely.

For and against

Two separate cases are being heard today, both regarding executive actions taken by the Biden administration. The first case involves a rule, issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), covering all health care workers at facilities that accept Medicare and Medicaid. The rule requires these workers to be vaccinated unless they are exempted on medical or religious grounds. The second case involves a vaccine-or-test mandate issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA); the mandate would apply to any businesses with 100 or more employees.

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#government, #mandate, #policy, #science, #supreme-court, #vaccines

Holmes’ testimony backfired—jurors rated her the least credible witness

Elizabeth Holmes trial: Split verdict finds Theranos founder guilty of four counts of criminal fraud, not guilty on four other counts

Enlarge / Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, center, and her family leave the Robert F. Peckham Federal Building and US Courthouse after the jury found her guilty on four counts in San Jose, Calif., on Monday, January 3, 2022. (credit: Dai Sugano/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News)

When jurors deliberated the case of Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of failed medical diagnostic startup Theranos, two pieces of evidence helped them convict her of fraud: a faked pharmaceutical company report and inflated financial projections.

Holmes was convicted earlier this week of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and three counts of wire fraud, all involving investors. She was acquitted of defrauding patients, and the jury deadlocked on charges that she defrauded three other investors. The four women and eight men who served as jurors reached their decision after more than 50 hours of deliberations.

On the four guilty counts, jurors found the evidence clearly convincing, with one juror describing two pieces as “smoking guns” in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. One piece was a Theranos-authored report that Holmes gave to investors; it had a Pfizer logo at the top of every page, making it look like the pharmaceutical company had either written or approved its findings. The second was a set of financial projections that Holmes shared with investors, including Lakeshore Capital Management, the DeVos family office. 

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#court, #elizabeth-holmes-criminal-trial, #fraud, #policy, #theranos

Lawsuit: Facebook recommendations helped extremists meet and plan murder

Members of the Boogaloo Bois gather for the 12th annual Second Amendment March sponsored by Michigan Open Carry Inc. and Second Amendment March outside of the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan, on September 23, 2021.

Enlarge / Members of the Boogaloo Bois gather for the 12th annual Second Amendment March sponsored by Michigan Open Carry Inc. and Second Amendment March outside of the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, Michigan, on September 23, 2021. (credit: Getty Images | Jeff Kowalsky)

The sister of a slain federal security officer has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Facebook owner Meta. The lawsuit alleges that the killing of Dave Patrick Underwood in May 2020 “was not a random act of violence” but rather “the culmination of an extremist plot hatched and planned on Facebook by two men who Meta connected through Facebook’s groups infrastructure and its use of algorithms designed and intended to increase user engagement and, correspondingly, Meta’s profits.”

The lawsuit says that Meta “helped build” the antigovernment “boogaloo” community, which includes white supremacists, militia promoters, and far-right conspiracy theorists. This community “supported [the] criminal planning” of Underwood’s murderer and his accomplice, the complaint says, accusing Facebook of negligence.

The lawsuit was filed yesterday by Angela Underwood Jacobs in California Superior Court for Alameda County, and it seeks damages of at least $25,000. The lawsuit notes that Dave Underwood “was a Federal Protective Services Officer working under a contract with the Department of Homeland Security to provide security” at a federal building and courthouse in Oakland. On May 29, 2020, during protests over the police killing of George Floyd, the 53-year-old Underwood was stationed in a guard post outside the building and was killed in a drive-by shooting. He was shot in the neck and right flank and endured “extreme pain and suffering” before dying in the emergency room, the lawsuit said.

Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#boogaloo, #facebook, #meta, #policy

France orders Google and Facebook to offer one-click cookie rejection

A computer cursor hovering over an

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Sean Gladwell)

French regulators today ordered Google and Facebook to make rejecting cookies as simple as accepting them and fined the companies a total of €210 million for failing to comply with France’s Data Protection Act.

The CNIL (Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés) said that “facebook.com, google.fr and youtube.com offer a button allowing the user to immediately accept cookies” but “do not provide an equivalent solution (button or other) enabling the Internet user to easily refuse the deposit of these cookies. Several clicks are required to refuse all cookies, against a single one to accept them.”

The process making it harder to reject cookies than to accept them “affects the freedom of consent of Internet users and constitutes an infringement of Article 82 of the French Data Protection Act,” the CNIL said. The agency announced fines of €150 million for Google and €60 million for Facebook and said it “ordered the companies to provide Internet users located in France with a means of refusing cookies as simple as the existing means of accepting them, in order to guarantee their freedom of consent, within three months. If they fail to do so, the companies will have to pay a penalty of 100,000 euros per day of delay.”

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#cookies, #facebook, #google, #policy

FAA agrees not to seek any more 5G delays from AT&T and Verizon

Verizon store front displays a large 5G sign.

Enlarge / Verizon store front near Grand Central Terminal in New York City. (credit: Getty Images | SOPA Images /)

The Federal Aviation Administration tentatively agreed not to seek any more 5G delays from AT&T and Verizon, potentially ending a battle over the aviation industry’s unproven claim that 5G transmissions on C-Band frequencies will interfere with airplane altimeters.

The commitment came Monday night, when AT&T and Verizon agreed to one more delay of two weeks, pushing their deployment off until January 19. They had previously agreed to a delay from December 5 until January 5. Terms of Monday’s deal were described in an attachment to a letter that Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg sent to the carriers.

“In light of the foregoing, and subject to any unforeseen aviation safety issues, DOT and FAA will not seek or demand any further delays of C-Band deployment,” the deal terms say.

Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#5g, #altimeters, #att, #faa, #policy, #verizon

Nevermind baby’s child-porn lawsuit against Nirvana dismissed by judge

Nirvana's <em>Nevermind</em> album cover.

Enlarge / Nirvana’s Nevermind album cover. (credit: DGC Records)

A federal judge yesterday dismissed the complaint filed against Nirvana by the man who appeared on the band’s Nevermind album cover when he was a baby. The plaintiff, Spencer Elden, will have one more chance to file an amended complaint.

Elden’s August 2021 lawsuit alleged that the picture of a naked baby in a swimming pool violated criminal child-pornography statutes and sought damages of at least $150,000 from each defendant. Named defendants include Nirvana, Universal Music Group, Warner Records, Courtney Love in her role as executor of frontman Kurt Cobain’s estate, band members Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl, and others.

“[T]he court will grant defendants’ Motion and give plaintiff one last opportunity to amend his complaint,” said yesterday’s ruling by Judge Fernando Olguin in US District Court for the Central District of California. “In preparing the Second Amended Complaint, plaintiff shall carefully evaluate the contentions set forth in defendants’ Motion, including defendants’ assertions that plaintiff’s claims pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 2255 and 18 U.S.C. § 1595 are time-barred. The court expects that defendants will agree to any amendment(s) that will cure the alleged defects.”

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#nevermind, #nirvana, #policy, #spencer-elden

Judge blocks Navy vaccine rule: “No COVID-19 exception to the First Amendment”

Nurse wearing a mask and Navy uniform prepares a vaccine.

Enlarge / A Navy nurse prepares a syringe. (credit: Getty Images | petesphotography)

US Navy Seals who objected to COVID vaccination on religious grounds yesterday won a preliminary injunction that prohibits the Navy from enforcing its vaccine mandate.

“Thirty-five Navy Special Warfare service members allege that the military’s mandatory vaccination policy violates their religious freedoms under the First Amendment and Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” Judge Reed O’Connor wrote in the ruling out of US District Court for the Northern District of Texas. “The Navy provides a religious accommodation process, but by all accounts, it is theater. The Navy has not granted a religious exemption to any vaccine in recent memory. It merely rubber stamps each denial.”

O’Connor, who was nominated by President Bush in 2007, found that the Navy service members are likely to win the case on the merits. He granted the injunction prohibiting the Navy from enforcing its mandate against the plaintiffs and “from taking any adverse action against Plaintiffs on the basis of Plaintiffs’ requests for religious accommodation.”

Read 21 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#covid, #navy, #policy, #vaccine

Elizabeth Holmes found guilty on 4 of 11 charges

Theranos founder and former CEO Elizabeth Holmes and her partner, Billy Evans, right, leave the Robert F. Peckham Federal Building on November 23, 2021, in San Jose, Calif.

Enlarge / Theranos founder and former CEO Elizabeth Holmes and her partner, Billy Evans, right, leave the Robert F. Peckham Federal Building on November 23, 2021, in San Jose, Calif. (credit: Ethan Swope/Getty Images)

Elizabeth Holmes was convicted today of three counts of criminal wire fraud and one count of criminal conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The jury delivered its verdict after six days of deliberation.

The government’s victory in the case is a rare rebuke for tech startups, which often pitch investors on their technological prowess and business acumen using wildly optimistic assumptions.

Theranos was, perhaps, an extreme example, raising over $900 million on the back of claims that its proprietary tests were better, cheaper, and less invasive than the competition. None of those claims was true, and unlike many other Silicon Valley startups, the health and safety of patients was on the line.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#court, #elizabeth-holmes-criminal-trial, #fraud, #medical-diagnostics, #policy, #theranos

AT&T/Verizon reject plea for 5G delay; airlines threaten mass flight cancelations

A person on an airplane using a smartphone to take a photo through the window.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Marco Bottigelli)

AT&T and Verizon yesterday rejected a Federal Aviation Administration request to further delay a 5G rollout on C-Band frequencies but said they will adopt one of the world’s “most conservative” power limits near airports for six months after the planned January 5 deployment. This is in addition to other voluntary limits the carriers recently announced even though it has been almost two years since the Federal Communications Commission determined that use of the spectrum should not interfere with properly designed airplane altimeters.

“Specifically, for six months, until July 5, 2022, we will adopt the same C-Band radio exclusion zones that are already in use in France, with slight adaptation to reflect the modest technical differences in how C-Band is being deployed in the two countries,” the carriers said in yesterday’s letter. “That approach—which is one of the most conservative in the world—would include extensive exclusion zones around the runways at certain airports. The effect would be to further reduce C-Band signal levels by at least 10 times on the runway or during the last mile of final approach and the first mile after takeoff.”

The exclusion zones in France are 910×2100 meters, the letter said. AT&T and Verizon said they will use bigger exclusion zones with “an additional 540m on all four sides to accommodate” the higher power levels permitted in the US.

Read 18 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#5g, #altimeters, #att, #c-band, #faa, #policy, #verizon

Jury in Elizabeth Holmes trial deadlocked on 3 of 11 counts

Former Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes goes through security after arriving for court at the Robert F. Peckham Federal Building on September 17, 2021, in San Jose, California.

Enlarge / Former Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes goes through security after arriving for court at the Robert F. Peckham Federal Building on September 17, 2021, in San Jose, California. (credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Jurors in the Elizabeth Holmes criminal trial have been unable to reach a verdict in three of the 11 counts of fraud she has been charged with, according to a note read in court today.

Eight men and four women have been deliberating for more than 40 hours over six days, much of which occurred before an extended holiday weekend. Today is their first day back from break.

It’s unclear what decision the jury reached in the eight counts they have been able to agree on. 

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#court, #elizabeth-holmes-criminal-trial, #fraud, #policy, #theranos

Twitter permanently suspends Marjorie Taylor Greene’s account over COVID disinfo

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) answers questions in front of the House steps on November 17, 2021, in Washington, DC.

Enlarge / Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) answers questions in front of the House steps on November 17, 2021, in Washington, DC. (credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Twitter permanently suspended the personal account of Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) yesterday, though her professional account remains active.

Greene has been an outspoken opponent of COVID-19 vaccines, routinely posting disinformation about the disease, the vaccines, and other health-related information. Her fifth strike on Twitter (yes, her fifth) came after she posted false claims about vaccine safety based on unverified raw data from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, also known as VAERS.

“We’ve been clear that, per our strike system for this policy, we will permanently suspend accounts for repeated violations of the policy,” Katie Rosborough, a Twitter spokeswoman, said in a statement.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#anti-vaxxer, #covid-19, #covid-19-vaccination, #disinformation, #marjorie-taylor-greene, #policy, #twitter

China upset about needing to dodge SpaceX Starlink satellites

Image of a rocket launch.

Enlarge / A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from pad 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in May 2021 carrying the 29th batch of approximately 60 satellites as part of SpaceX’s Starlink broadband Internet network. (credit: SOPA Images / Getty Images)

Earlier in December, the Chinese government filed a document with the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space at the United Nations. The body helps manage the terms of the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, more commonly known as the Outer Space Treaty. In the document, China alleges that it had to move its space station twice this year due to potential collisions with Starlink satellites operated by SpaceX.

The document pointedly notes that signatories of the treaty, which include the US, are responsible for the actions of any nongovernmental activities based within their borders.

The document was filed back on December 6, but it only came to light recently when Chinese Internet users became aware of it and started flaming Elon Musk, head of SpaceX.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#china, #policy, #science, #space, #spacex, #starlink

Riot Games to pay $100 million to settle gender discrimination lawsuit

Riot Games to pay $100 million to settle gender discrimination lawsuit

Enlarge (credit: Chris Delmas | Getty Images)

Riot Games has settled a class-action lawsuit for $100 million. Filed in 2018 by two female employees and later certified as a class-action, the lawsuit accused the studio of discrimination, sexual harassment, and unequal pay.

Under the terms of the settlement, Riot Games will pay $80 million directly to women who have worked at the company from November 2014 through to the present, including full-time, part-time, and temporary employees. The remaining $20 million will go to attorneys’ fees.

In addition to the $100 million payout, Riot Games will enact workplace policy reforms. These include the creation of an application pipeline for current or former contractors to apply for permanent positions and more transparency regarding salaries for job applicants.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#gaming-culture, #gender-discrimination, #lawsuit, #policy, #riot-games

Elizabeth Holmes and “pinch-to-zoom” in Rittenhouse trial: 2021’s top policy stories

Each photograph in a stack displays a different newsworthy figure from 2021.

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

In the world of tech policy news, 2021 began with Twitter and other social networks banning then-President Donald Trump after the January 6 insurrection. Many other noteworthy stories followed in the ensuing months.

The Elizabeth Holmes trial featured fascinating revelations about Theranos, while the judge in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial didn’t let the prosecutor use an iPad’s pinch-to-zoom feature. Missouri’s Republican governor claimed that viewing HTML code is “hacking,” WhatsApp forced users to share data with Facebook, Apple announced a controversial plan to scan photos, and the Supreme Court saved the software industry from API copyrights. President Joe Biden failed to give Democrats a majority on the Federal Communications Commission, and Republicans are now fighting Biden’s belated attempt to fill the FCC’s empty seat.

As usual, we wrote plenty of stories about telecom companies behaving badly—such as when Verizon forced users onto pricier plans to get $50-per-month government subsidies. This article lists and summarizes our top policy stories of the year, which we selected based on reader interest and importance.

Read 26 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#policy

Intel apologizes for banning use of components from Xinjiang

Photo taken on Aug. 2, 2019 shows the booth of CPU chip manufacturer Intel at China Digital Entertainment Expo and Game Expo in Shanghai, China.

Enlarge / Photo taken on Aug. 2, 2019 shows the booth of CPU chip manufacturer Intel at China Digital Entertainment Expo and Game Expo in Shanghai, China. (credit: Future Publishing |Getty Images)

Intel has apologized for a ban on using components from Xinjiang in response to attacks from Chinese nationalist media over the policy, becoming the latest multinational to become embroiled in China’s battle with the US over human rights issues.

The episode quickly became one of the most talked-about topics online in China with netizens on Twitter-like Weibo calling for the government to hit Intel with fines and other punishments.

The controversy erupted after Intel sent a year-end letter to suppliers noting that components made in the north-western Chinese region of Xinjiang should not be used in its chips. The message attracted the attention of nationalist media outlet Guancha.

Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#china, #human-rights, #intel, #policy, #tech, #uighur, #xinjiang

State Climate Action Raced Forward in 2021

A raft of laws and regulations have included limits on power-sector emissions and cap-and-trade provisions

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#climate-change, #environment, #policy

Big Tech split leads to demise of Internet Association

Street sign for K Street, the Wall Street of political influence in the US capital.

Enlarge / Street sign for K Street, the Wall Street of political influence in the US capital. (credit: Bjarte Rettedal | Getty Images)

Growing tensions between Microsoft, Amazon, Alphabet, Meta, and Apple lie behind the death of the Internet Association (IA), the nine-year-old lobby group that was Big Tech’s voice in Washington, according to insiders and industry observers.

The Washington-based group, which dubbed itself the “unified” voice of the internet industry, will shut at the end of the year after both Microsoft and Uber, among others, pulled their financial support, leaving an insurmountable funding gap.

“Our industry has undergone tremendous growth and change,” it said in a statement, adding that its closure was “in line with this evolution.”

Read 24 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#alphabet, #apple, #big-tech, #facebook, #google, #internet-association, #lobbyists, #meta, #microsoft, #policy

2021 was the year the world finally turned on Facebook

2021 was the year the world finally turned on Facebook

Enlarge (credit: Jens Buettner/picture alliance)

Wish 2021 had been a better year? Facebook probably does, too. The company has long been maligned by politicians, media observers, and consumer advocates, but it wasn’t until 2021 that it felt like the tide truly began to turn.

Though Facebook had faced scandals in the past, from Cambridge Analytica to the Myanmar genocide, this year’s string of missteps and revelations may have tipped the company and its reputation past the point of no return.

For Facebook, trouble started shortly after the new year. On January 6, the company found itself enmeshed in the insurrection at the US Capitol. Both Facebook and Instagram played a key role in radicalizing users who later attended the deadly rally. While the company had acted swiftly in November 2020 to shutter the “Stop the Steal” group formed to undermine the results of the presidential election, it let splinter groups and individuals spawn a “harmful movement” that spread across its platforms. For two months, those groups operated more or less unfettered.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#facebook, #features, #frances-haugen, #mark-zuckerberg, #meta, #policy, #social-media, #whistleblower