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Patents

Patent Troll VirnetX Wants To Ban FaceTime and iMessage, Increase Damages Award By $190M (9to5mac.com) 12

An anonymous reader writes: Earlier this year, patent troll VirnetX won a court battle with Apple to the tune of $625 million. Now, the company wants to increase the damages award by $190 million. Law360 reports: "At a post-trial hearing Wednesday, Texas technology company VirnetX argued that although an injunction blocking Apple's popular video chatting and messaging features, along with a virtual private network on demand feature, may seem like a harsh remedy, it is necessary because of the irreparable harm Apple's infringement caused the company. VirnetX also asked the court to increase the jury's damages award by at least $190 million, arguing that Apple has been the 'poster child' for unreasonable litigation tactics." VirnetX also wants the court to block FaceTime and iMessage entirely. "Meanwhile, Apple argued that in light of U.S. Patent and Trademark Office decisions rejecting the four patents-in-suit, an injunction would be inappropriate, as would any ongoing royalty based on FaceTime, iMessage and virtual private network on demand features. The tech giant also sought a mistrial based on a purportedly inappropriate argument to the jury and argued that the company is entitled to a judgment of non infringement, despite the jury verdict, based on VirnetX's allegedly insufficient evidence," reports Law360.
Businesses

Anonymous Hackers Turned Stock Analysts Are Targeting US, Chinese Corporations (softpedia.com) 42

An anonymous reader writes: A smaller group of Anonymous, called Anonymous Analytics, reached the conclusion that DDoSing is stupid and never fixes anything, so they decided to use their hacking skills and stock market knowledge to make a difference in another way. For the past years, the group has been compiling market reports on U.S. and Chinese companies and publishing their results. Their reports have been noticed by the stock market, who recently started to react to their findings. The most obvious case was of Chinese lottery machine maker REXLot. The hackers discovered that REXLot inflated its revenue and the amount of cash on its balance sheet, based on the amount of interest earned. "The group published its findings on June 24, 2015, and REXLot stock price plummeted from 0.485 Hong Kong dollar per share to 0.12, before trading was suspended [for ten months]. REXLot rejoined the market on April 18, 2016, this year, but even after submitting a 53-page report, the company stock fell again by 50 percent," reports Softpedia. Anonymous Analytics then published two more reports on the company, urging the market to sell, and two days later, Reuters reported that REXLot did not have enough cash to make due bond payments, which meant the company had to sell assets to repay bonds. Other companies on which the group published market reports include Qihoo 360 and Western Union.
Advertising

Smartphone Surveillance Tech Used To Target Anti-Abortion Ads At Pregnant Women (rewire.news) 93

VoiceOfDoom writes: Rewire reports: "Last year, an enterprising advertising executive based in Boston, Massachusetts, had an idea: Instead of using his sophisticated mobile surveillance techniques to figure out which consumers might be interested in buying shoes, cars, or any of the other products typically advertised online, what if he used the same technology to figure out which women were potentially contemplating abortion, and send them ads on behalf of anti-choice organizations?"

Regardless of one's personal stance on the pro-choice/anti-abortion debate, the unfettered use of tracking and ad-targeting technology which makes this kind of application possible is surely a cause for concern. In Europe, Canada and many other parts of the world, the use of a person's data in this way would be illegal thanks to strict privacy laws. Is it time for the U.S. to consider a similar approach to protect its citizens?
Google has been reportedly tracking users on around 80 percent of all 'Top 1 Million' domains. Facebook is doing something similar. A recent report shows that Facebook uses smartphone microphones to identify the things users are listening to or watching based on the music and TV shows its able to identify. Facebook says the feature must be turned on, and that "it's only active when you're writing a status update."
Republicans

Scott Walker Rents Out Email and Donor Lists To Pay Campaign Debt (wisconsingazette.com) 46

An anonymous reader writes: In an effort to pay off his hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt racked up from his failed presidential run, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is renting out his email and donor lists to other candidates. Wisconsin Gazette reports: "The campaign owed $1.2 million at the end of 2015 and has paid off about $308,000 since then, according to campaign finance records. The bulk of those payments have been made possible by income from Granite Lists, a New Hampshire-based company that rents out Republican donor lists. Granite Lists has paid more than $172,000 to Walker's campaign since it ended in September. In April alone, Granite Lists brought the campaign nearly $50,000, comprising most of the total $70,930 the campaign brought in that month. In addition to flat-rate charges, candidates can set up revenue-sharing agreements, where some of the proceeds they obtain from donors are diverted back to the list owner. Candidates can also pay a flat rate of $10,500 to email Walker's entire 675,000-person email list and $7,000 to email the 225,000 donors and presidential sign-ups, according to Granite Lists website. [Granite Lists] calls Walker's donor file 'one of the hottest donor lists to hit the market in years.'"
United States

Antibiotic-Resistant E Coli Reaches The US For The First Time (reuters.com) 76

New submitter maharvey writes: A woman in Pennsylvania has contracted a strain of E Coli that is unaffected by all known legal antibiotics, including the antibiotics of last resort. We have had bacteria that were resistant, but this is the first bacteria that is completely immune. Such bacteria were known in China, but since the woman has not traveled recently it means she contracted it in the wild in the USA. This is a major step toward the terrifying post-antibiotic world.
Social Networks

Study: '50% of Misogynistic Tweets From Women' (bbc.com) 134

An anonymous reader writes: A study performed by researchers behind the Internet campaign "Reclaim," suggests that half of all misogynistic tweets posted on Twitter come from women. The campaign is designed to show the public the impact of hate speech and abuse on social media. They have opened an online forum to discuss ways to make the internet less aggressive, sexist, racist and homophobic. For the study, thinktank Demos counted the number of uses of "slut" and "whore" were used on Twitter to indicate misogyny. They analyzed 1.5 million tweets sent by UK Twitter users over a three-week period and used its own Natural Language Processing tool to filter the tweets in order to determine whether they were used aggressively, conversationally, or for self-identification. Demos found 6,500 unique users being targeted by 10,000 explicitly aggressive and misogynistic tweets. Internationally, they recorded more than 200,000 aggressive tweets using the same terms that were sent to 80,000 people in the same three-week period. It claims it found 50 percent of the abusive tweets to have come from women. BBC also notes a study performed in 2014 from cosmetics firm Dove that found over five million negative tweets were posted about beauty and body image. Four out of five of those tweets were sent by women.
Privacy

Millennials Value Speed Over Security, Says Survey (dailydot.com) 89

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Daily Dot: Millennials stand apart from other Americans in preferring faster Internet access to safer Internet access, according to a new survey. When digital-authentication firm SecureAuth asked people from all age groups whether they would rather be safer online or browse faster online, 57 percent of Americans chose security and 43 percent chose speed. But among millennials, the results were almost reversed: 54 percent chose speed over security. Young people are also more willing than the overall population to share sensitive information over public Wi-Fi connections, which are notoriously insecure as they allow anyone on the network to analyze and intercept passing traffic. While a clear majority (57 percent) of Americans told SecureAuth that they transmitted such information over public Wi-Fi, nearly eight in 10 (78 percent) of millennials said they did so. A surprising 44 percent of millennials believe their data is generally safe from hackers, and millennials are more likely than members of other age groups to share account passwords with friends. Americans overall are paying more attention to some aspects of digital security. An October 2015 study by the wireless industry's trade group found that 61 percent of Americans use passwords on their smartphones and 58 percent use them on their tablets, compared to 50 percent and 48 percent, respectively, in 2012. The recent study lines up with a report published on May 24 that found that the elderly use more secure passwords than millennials.
Google

Android Is 'Fair Use' As Google Beats Oracle In $9 Billion Lawsuit (arstechnica.com) 148

infernalC writes: Ars Technica is reporting that the verdict is in, and that the jury decided that Google's duplication of several Java interfaces is fair use. Ars Technica writes that Google's Android OS does not infringe upon Oracle-owned copyrights because its re-implementation of 37 Java APIs is protected by "fair use." The jury unanimously answered "yes" in response to whether or not Google's use of Java APIs was a "fair use" under copyright law. The trial is now over, since Google won. "Google's win somewhat softens the blow to software developers who previously thought programming language APIs were free to use," Ars Technica writes. "It's still the case that APIs can be protected by copyright under the law of at least one appeals court. However, the first high-profile attempt to control APIs with copyright law has now been stymied by a "fair use" defense." The amount Oracle may have asked for in damages could have been as much as $9 billion.
Transportation

A Third Of New Cellular Customers Last Quarter Were Cars (recode.net) 60

Ina Fried, reporting for Recode: With the U.S. smartphone market saturated, most of the growth in the cellular industry is actually coming from other kinds of devices including tablets, machine-to-machine connections and lots and lots of cars. In the first quarter, for example, the major carriers actually added more connected cars (Editor's note: amounting to a 32 percent capture) as new accounts than they did phones.
Microsoft

Microsoft and Facebook Building Underwater Transatlantic 'MAREA' Data Cable (betanews.com) 55

An anonymous reader writes: On Thursday, Microsoft and Facebook announced a partnership to build a transatlantic subsea data cable. Called 'MAREA' (Editor's note: it is Spanish for "tide"), it will connect the United States to Europe. More specifically, it will connect the State of Virginia to the country of Spain. The project will begin this August, with a targeted completion date of October 2017.Microsoft says: "MAREA will be the highest-capacity subsea cable to ever cross the Atlantic -- featuring eight fiber pairs and an initial estimated design capacity of 160Tbps. The new 6,600 km submarine cable system, to be operated and managed by Telxius, will also be the first to connect the United States to southern Europe: from Virginia Beach, Virginia to Bilbao, Spain and then beyond to network hubs in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. This route is south of existing transatlantic cable systems that primarily land in the New York/New Jersey region. Being physically separate from these other cables helps ensure more resilient and reliable connections for our customers in the United States, Europe, and beyond."

The fact that these two giants felt the need to have their own cables indicates how much data they intend to move. Wired has an in-depth piece on it (though the publication blocks users with adblockers).
Privacy

Virtual Assistants Such As Amazon's Echo Break US Child Privacy Law, Experts Say (theguardian.com) 62

Mark Harris, reporting for The Guardian: An investigation by the Guardian has found that despite Amazon marketing the Echo to families with young children, the device is likely to contravene the US Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), set up to regulate the collection and use of personal information from anyone younger than 13. Along with Google, Apple and others promoting voice-activated artificial intelligence systems to young children, the company could now face multimillion-dollar fines. "This is part of the initial wave of marketing to children using the internet of things," says Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, a privacy advocacy group that helped write the law. "It is exactly why the law was enacted in the first place, to protect young people from pervasive data collection."
Businesses

Comcast Users Must Now Pay $50 Per Month Extra To Avoid Caps (dslreports.com) 198

Karl Bode, reporting for DSLReports: In a letter being sent to Comcast customers in usage capped markets, the company says that with the recent announcement of usage caps being bumped to 1 terabyte, the company is also capping the amount of additional charges capped users can incur -- to $200 in a single month. As it stands, customers that cross the 1 terabyte limit face overage fees of $10 per each additional 50 GB consumed. But under the revised plans, customers have to pay $50 (up from $30 to $35) extra per month to avoid usage caps entirely. "Because you are an unlimited data customer, we will maintain your current rate of $35 until the end of 2016," the letter reads. Comcast's recent decision to bump their caps to 1 terabyte weren't driven by altruism. With the FCC preventing Charter from imposing caps for seven years as a merger condition, the agency has signaled that it may start getting more serious about cracking down on usage caps in the broadband market.
Google

Get Ready To Be Bombarded With Ads When Using Google Maps (news.com.au) 131

An anonymous reader writes: The chance to squeeze some extra advertising dollars is something rarely missed by Google. This week the company quietly announced changes to two of its most widely used services, offering businesses the chance to pay for featured advertisements in Google.com and Google Maps. In a blog post, Google senior ads vice president Sridhar Ramaswamy outlined the likely changes to Google Maps that will see users met with pop-up ads for local businesses when they use the GPS-based app. The announcement has been facetiously described online as "the Ad-pocalypse" but Google has shown more tact in their use of language, referring to the ads as "promoted pins".
Education

American Schools Teaching Kids To Code All Wrong (qz.com) 328

theodp writes: Over at Quartz, Globaloria CEO Idit Harel argues that American schools are teaching our kids how to code all wrong. She writes, "The light and fluffy version of computer science -- which is proliferating as a superficial response to the increased need for coders in the workplace -- is a phenomenon I refer to as 'pop computing.' While calling all policy makers and education leaders to consider 'computer science education for all' is a good thing, the coding culture promoted by Code.org and its library of movie-branded coding apps provide quick experiences of drag-and-drop code entertainment. This accessible attraction can be catchy, it may not lead to harder projects that deepen understanding." You mean the "first President to write a line of computer code" may not have progressed much beyond moving Disney Princess Elsa forward? Harel says there must be a distinction drawn between "coding tutorials" and learning "computer science." Building an app, for example, can't be done in a couple of hours, it "requires multi-dimensional learning contexts, pathways and projects." "Just as would-be musicians become proficient by listening, improvising and composing, and not just by playing other people's compositions, so would-be programmers become proficient by designing prototypes and models that work for solving real problems, doing critical thinking and analysis, and creative collaboration -- none of which can be accomplished in one hour of coding," she writes.
AI

Xiaomi Unveils Budget-Friendly Mi Drone, $460 For 4K Or $380 For 1080p (theverge.com) 54

An anonymous reader writes: Chinese consumer electronics company Xiaomi has officially journeyed into the drones product category. The Xiaomi Mi Drone is a quadcopter with a three-axis gimbal, 4K camera, and a remote control that uses your Mi smartphone as a viewfinder. The 4K version retails for about $460 while the 1080p model retails for about $380. When compared to drones from DJI or Yuneec, the Mi Drone seriously undercuts them as they typically retail for more than $1,000. Some other features of the Mi Drone center around modularity and serviceability -- the camera module and rotors are detachable. The 5,100 mAh battery that Xiaomi claims can last 27 minutes of continuous flight time on a single charge is also replaceable. It uses GPS and GLONASS for positioning. It even features a visual positioning system on the rear that allows itself to remain stable when flying at low altitudes in environments where a satellite signal cannot be reached. Some of the autonomous flight modes include: takeoff, landing, return to home, waypoint navigation and orbit, with the ability to create a geofence to limit its movement. The 1080p Mi Drone "will be crowdfunded on the Mi Hope app starting May 26, 2016," while the 4K Mi Drone "will be available for testing via an open beta program at the end of July." With such an affordable price tag relative to the competition, the Xiaomi Mi Drone may help increase revenues for the company whose sales barely grew last year.
Network

Tor To Use Distributed RNG To Generate Truly Random Numbers (softpedia.com) 121

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Softpedia: Tor developers have been working on the next iteration of the Tor network and its underbelly, the Onion routing protocol, in order to create a stronger, harder-to-crack anonymous communications system. To advance the project, the developer team schedules brainstorming and planning meetings at regular intervals. The most recent of these meetings took place last week, in Montreal, Canada. In this session, the team tested the next generation of the Tor network working on top of a revamped Onion protocol that uses a new algorithm for generating random numbers, never before seen on the Internet. The Tor Project says it created something it calls "a distributed RNG" (random number generator) that uses two or more computers to create random numbers and then blends their outputs together into a new random number. The end result is something that's almost impossible to crack without knowing which computers from a network contributed to the final random number, and which entropy each one used. Last week, two University of Texas academics have made a breakthrough in random number generation. The work is theoretical, but could lead to a number of advances in cryptography, scientific polling, and the study of various complex environments such as the climate.
AI

Researchers Teaching Robots To Feel and React To Pain (ieee.org) 62

An anonymous reader writes: Researchers from Leibniz University of Hannover in Germany are developing what they call an "artificial robot nervous system" that would allow robots to "feel" pain and react accordingly so they can avoid potential damages to their components. According to IEEE, the system uses a "nervous robot-tissue model that is inspired by the human skin structure" to measure different pain levels and move the robot in a way that prevents damaging interactions. [The model transmits pain information in repetitive spikes if the force exceeds a certain threshold, and the pain controller reacts after classifying the information into light, moderate, or severe pain.] Johannes Kuehn, one of the researchers, argues that in addition to avoiding potential damages to their components, robots will be protecting humans as well, since a growing number of them will be operating in close proximity to human workers. Kuehn, who worked on the project with Professor Sami Haddadin, reasoned that if our biological mechanisms to sense and respond to pain are so effective, why not devise a bio-inspired robot controller that mimics those mechanisms?
Microsoft

Microsoft May Ban Your Favorite Password (securityweek.com) 227

wiredmikey writes from a report via SecurityWeek.Com: Microsoft is taking a step to better protect users by banning the use of weak and commonly-used passwords across its services. Microsoft has announced that it is dynamically banning common passwords from Microsoft Account and Azure Active Directory (AD) system. In addition to banning commonly used passwords to improve user account safety, Microsoft has implemented a feature called smart password lockout, meant to add an extra level of protection when an account is attacked. [Alex Weinert, Group Program Manager of Azure AD Identity Protection team explains in a blog post that] Microsoft is seeing more than 10 million accounts being attacked each day, and that this data is used to dynamically update the list of banned passwords. This list is then used to prevent people from choosing a common or similar password. Microsoft's new feature comes after last week's leak of 117 million LinkedIn credentials.
Cellphones

FCC Formalizes Massive Fines For Selling, Using Cell-Phone Jammers (networkworld.com) 126

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Network World: Two years ago the FCC announced its intention to fine a Chinese electronics maker $34.9 million and a Florida man $48,000 for respectively selling and using illegal cell-phone jammers. Today the agency has issued press releases telling us that those fines have finally been made official, without either of the offending parties having bothered to mount a formal defense of their actions. From the press release announcing the fine against CTS. Technology: "[...] The company's website falsely claimed that some jammers had been approved by the FCC, and advertised that the company could ship signal jammers to consumers in the United States." The company did not respond to the FCC's allegations, although the agency does report that changes were made to its website that appear to be aimed at complying with U.S. law. Next up is Florida man, Jason R. Humphreys, who is alleged to have used a jammer on his commute: "Mr. Humphreys' illegal operation of the jammer continued for up to two years, caused interference to cellular service along Interstate 4, and disrupted police communications." Last Fall, a Chicagoan was arrested for using a cell-phone jammer to make his subway commute more tolerable.
Piracy

The Pirate Bay Sails Back To Its .ORG Domain (cnet.com) 84

An anonymous reader writes: Following a report that the Swedish Court would seize the domain names 'ThePirateBay.se' and 'PirateBay.se,' The Pirate Bay is now sailing back to where it started in 2003, ThePirateBay.org. CNET reports: "The site is currently redirecting all traffic from the above two domains back to its .org home." In 2012, The Pirate Bay moved to the .se domain. It then moved to more secure domains, such as .sx and .ac, eventually returning to .se in 2015. Every alternative domain the site was using has been seized. Since the registry that manages the top level .org domains is based in Virginia, it's likely we'll see some legal action from the U.S. in response to the move. Meanwhile, Pirate Bay co-founder Fredrik Neij plans to appeal the Swedish's court's decision to seize the .se domains.

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