Power

Switzerland Votes To Abandon Nuclear Power In Favor of Renewables (bbc.com) 365

Slashdot reader bsolar writes: Swiss voters approved a new energy strategy proposed by the government. Under this new policy no new nuclear power plant will be built and the five existing nuclear power plants will continue operating and will be shut down at the end of their operating life (expected to last about 20-30 years). The plan is to offset the missing nuclear energy production by renewables and lower energy consumption.
Though one-third of the country's power comes from nuclear energy, the BBC reports that more than 58% of the voters "backed the move towards greener power sources." One Swiss news site notes that "regions where the country's five nuclear reactors are situated rejected the reform with clear majorities."
EU

EU Passes 'Content Portability' Rules Banning Geofencing (torrentfreak.com) 119

Long-time Slashdot reader AmiMoJo writes: The European Parliament has passed draft rules mandating 'content portability', i.e. the ability to take your purchased content and services across borders within the EU. Freedom of movement rules, which allow EU citizens to live and work anywhere in the EU, require that the individual is able to take their life with them -- family, property, and services. Under the new rules, someone who pays for Netflix or BBC iPlayer and then moves to another EU country will retain access to those services and the same content they had previously. Separately, rules to prevent geofencing of content within the EU entirely are also moving forward.
Facebook

EU Fines Facebook $122 Million Over Misleading Information On WhatsApp Deal (siliconrepublic.com) 31

On Thursday, the European Union's powerful antitrust chief fined Facebook 110 million euros, or about $122 million, for giving misleading statements during the company's $19 billion acquisition of the internet messaging service WhatsApp in 2014. From a report: During the review process, the EC discussed the possibility of Facebook matching its users' accounts with WhatsApp users' accounts, to which Facebook replied that it "would be unable to establish reliable automated matching" between the two. Since then, though, the company has found a way, and it seems pretty straightforward. Unhappy with this, the EC today revealed a "proportionate and deterrent fine." How it acts as a deterrent, however, is unclear. Facebook was at risk of a fine totalling 1 percent of its turnover, which would have been closer to 200 million euros, but the figure was lower due to its compliance during the investigation. "The commission has found that, contrary to Facebook's statements in the 2014 merger review process, the technical possibility of automatically matching Facebook and WhatsApp users' identities already existed in 2014, and that Facebook staff were aware of such a possibility," the EC said.
EU

US and EU Reject Expanding Laptop Ban To Flights From Europe (bbc.com) 87

An anonymous reader writes: US and EU officials have decided against a ban on laptops and tablets in cabin baggage on flights from Europe. But after a four-hour meeting in Brussels to discuss the threats to aviation security, officials said other measures were still being considered. US officials had previously said they were looking into extending to Europe a ban on electronics on flights from eight mostly Muslim countries. The measure was introduced over fears a bomb could be concealed in a device. The meeting was requested by EU officials after recent reports suggested US authorities had new information regarding laptop parts being turned into explosives.
Piracy

Popular Torrent Site ExtraTorrent Permanently Shuts Down (torrentfreak.com) 169

ExtraTorrent, the world's second largest torrent index, on Wednesday said it is permanently shutting its doors. The site, which launched in 2006, had steadily climbed the ranks in the piracy world to become the second most popular torrent site, observing millions of daily views. TorrentFreak adds: "ExtraTorrent with all mirrors goes offline.. We permanently erase all data. Stay away from fake ExtraTorrent websites and clones. Thx to all ET supporters and torrent community. ET was a place to beâ¦." TorrentFreak reached out to ExtraTorrent operator SaM who confirmed that this is indeed the end of the road for the site. "It's time we say goodbye," he said, without providing more details. [...] ExtraTorrent is the latest in a series of BitTorrent giants to fall in recent months. Previously, sites including KickassTorrents, Torrentz.eu, TorrentHound and What.cd went offline.
Facebook

European Privacy Regulators Take Coordinated Action Against Facebook 53

An anonymous reader writes: European privacy regulators from as number of countries has made a coordinated action against Facebook for violating data protection laws. The French CNIL has sanctioned Facebook with a 150,000 EUR fine, and the regulator from Netherlands is considering a similar action. Regulators are concerned with new privacy policies of Facebook, lack of transparency, cookie handling and tracking Facebook users on third-party sites -- all without user knowledge or control. Such coordinated move is unprecedented in the history of European data protection regulators.
United Kingdom

British PM Candidate Promises Social Media Crackdown (politico.eu) 218

Theresa May's party "is expected to win a majority at the June 8 election," reports Reuters -- and she's promising they'll pass new social media laws. An anonymous reader quotes Politico: They want to introduce a new measure that could fine or punish internet firms which fail to adequately flag and take down content harmful to minors or "direct users unintentionally to hate speech, pornography or other sources of harm," according to a press release. "The internet has brought a wealth of opportunity but also significant new risks which have evolved faster than society's response to them," May said. "We want social media companies to do more to help redress the balance and will take action to make sure they do"... The Conservative digital platform also promises to better protect Brits' personal information, compelling social media companies to trash user records from before the age of 18. The party plans to encourage the development of digital by default government and business services, as well.
Earth

French President-Elect Macron Urges Action On Climate Change (newsweek.com) 174

After Sunday's election in France, Macron's victory "is likely to be a boon for the French digital economy and its startup scene," writes a foreign policy think tank blog, "but the country's frosty relationship with U.S. tech companies is likely to remain over the next five years." Yet even before he was elected as France's new president, Emmanuel Macron was already warning the U.S. that withdrawing from the international Paris Climate change agreement could cost America its brightest innovators. Thelasko writes: French President elect Emmanuel Macron has a message to U.S. scientists and engineers working on climate change. "Please, come to France. You are welcome. It's your nation. We like innovation. We want innovative people. We want people working on climate change, energy renewables and new technologies. France is your nation."
Newsweek reports this week that without America's involvement, the Paris Climate agreement "will have no way of meeting its goals of reducing global net carbon emissions" -- but that Macron could persuade the U.S. to honor its agreement. ("It reportedly took just one phone call conversation between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the president for Trump to reconsider withdrawing entirely for NAFTA, another international agreement signed into law prior to his tenure in the Oval Office.") And in the meantime, Macron has also promised not to cut France's energy-research budget, and will even reinforce it "to accelerate our initiative."
Google

German Publishers' Lawsuit Against Google May Backfire (npr.org) 29

jowifi writes: VG Media, a German publishing company, filed a lawsuit against Google claiming Google's use of snippets in their search results infringed the publishers' copyrights. However, the suit may backfire because the Berlin court is now reviewing the law itself to determine if it is even valid. The question arose because Germany did not submit the rule for review by the EU before enacting it, violating an EU Directive. If the law is invalidated, the decision could present problems for a proposed EU-wide directive that is similar to the German rule. Germany's rule had a rough start when it was implemented in 2014. Google refused to pay fees to publishers, instead allowing them to opt in to having snippets shown. One publisher declined to opt in, but changed their mind after traffic from Google dropped 40% and traffic from Google News dropped 80%. Handelsblatt Global explains why Germany decided not to notify the EU about the draft of this law: "While typically a formality, notification reviews of national laws by Brussels can take up to two years or more. In 2013, Germany did not submit the copyright law for notification, citing a Justice Ministry argument that the law's scope was so limited, it didn't fall under the E.U.'s notification requirement."
EU

US To Ban Laptops in All Cabins of Flights From Europe (thedailybeast.com) 435

An anonymous reader shares an article: The Department of Homeland Security will ban laptops in the cabins of all flights from Europe to the United States, European security officials told The Daily Beast. An official announcement is expected Thursday. Initially a ban on laptops and tablets was applied only to U.S.-bound flights from 10 airports in North Africa and the Middle East. The ban was based on U.S. fears that terrorists have found a way to convert laptops into bombs capable of bringing down an airplane. It is unclear if the European ban will also apply to tablets. DHS said in a statement to The Daily Beast: "No final decisions have been made on expanding the restriction on large electronic devices in aircraft cabins; however, it is under consideration. DHS continues to evaluate the threat environment and will make changes when necessary to keep air travelers safe."
Businesses

Why Do Gas Station Prices Constantly Change? Blame the Algorithm (wsj.com) 109

Retailers are using artificial-intelligence software to set optimal prices, testing textbook theories of competition, says a WSJ report. An anonymous reader shares the article: One recent afternoon at a Shell-branded station on the outskirts of this Dutch city, the price of a gallon of unleaded gas started ticking higher, rising more than three-and-a-half cents by closing time. A little later, a competing station three miles down the road raised its price about the same amount. The two stations are among thousands of companies that use artificial-intelligence software to set prices (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternative source). In doing so, they are testing a fundamental precept of the market economy. [...] Advances in AI are allowing retail and wholesale firms to move beyond 'dynamic pricing' software, which has for years helped set prices for fast-moving goods, like airline tickets or flat-screen televisions. Older pricing software often used simple rules, such as always keeping prices lower than a competitor. These new systems crunch mountains of historical and real-time data to predict how customers and competitors will react to any price change under different scenarios, giving them an almost superhuman insight into market dynamics. Programmed to meet a certain goal -- such as boosting sales -- the algorithms constantly update tactics after learning from experience. Even as the rise of algorithms determining prices poses a challenge to anti-trust law, authorities in the United States and Europe haven't opened probes or accused anyone of impropriety for using AI to set prices.
Businesses

Support For a Universal Basic Income Is Inching Up In Europe (qz.com) 696

An anonymous reader writes: Finland and the Netherlands are running modest pilots, and others are being considered by governments in France, Switzerland, and the UK, and by a host of nonprofits. To gauge public enthusiasm for the idea, Dalia Research, a Berlin-based market research firm, has been surveying Europeans' attitudes toward basic income since 2016. They've found a warm welcome. In a March survey, 68% of Europeans said they would vote yes in a basic-income referendum, up from 64% last year. The survey was put to 11,000 citizens in 28 European Union states and has a 1.1% margin of error. But not everyone is ready to see it implemented right away -- 48% said they wanted to test the policy first, while 31% advocated for adopting it as soon as possible. The 24% of respondents who opposed a UBI in both years were most concerned about the economic impact, including the expense, the risk of reducing the motivation to work, and the possibility foreigners would take exploit it. Those in favor of a UBI were most convinced by the promise of increased security and freedom, namely a reduced financial anxiety over meeting basic needs, more equality in opportunities, and the prospect of greater financial independence and self-reliance.
EU

Le Pen Concedes Defeat To Macron In France's Post-Hack Election (reuters.com) 671

"France has voted for continuity," candidate Marine Le Pen said in the wake of her defeat in France's presidential election, conceding that Emmanuel Macron had a decisive lead. Reuters has ongoing coverage of Le Pen's concession phone call and reactions from world leaders. "France Rejects Far Right," read a headline at CNN, touting their own live updates and early results showing Macron with a 65.9% to 34.1% lead, "on course for a decisive win." Macron is schedule to speak at the Louvre museum (where the grounds were "briefly evacuated" this morning after discovery of a suspicious bag.) Quartz is calling 39-year-old Macron "the second Generation X president of a major world power" (after Canada's Justin Trudeau).

The election was closely watched after a 9-gigabyte trove of emails from Macron's campaign were leaked online. CNBC reports that "One of the most talked about emails makes reference to binge-watching Dr. Who and masturbating to the sound of running water. It sounds generally incoherent. It could be false, or maybe the person wrote it after a few too many." The New Yorker traces the leak to a right-leaning Canadian site, whose editor says he found the documents on 4chan. But Reuters is crediting WikiLeaks with providing "the largest boost of attention" to the leaked documents, according to an analysis pubished by the Digital Forensic Research Lab of the Atlantic Council, a D.C.-based think tank on international affairs. WikiLeaks tweeted about the leak 15 times, bragging to Reuters that "we were hours ahead of all other major outlets." On Friday WikiLeaks also disputed the Macron campaign's claim that the leak mixed real documents with fake ones. "We have not yet discovered fakes in #MacronLeaks & we are very skeptical that the Macron campaign is faster than us."

Saturday WikiLeaks noted that several of the Office files "have Cyrillic meta data. Unclear if by design, incompetence, or Slavic employee." And Saturday afternoon they added "name of employee for Russian govt security contractor Evrika appears 9 times in metadata for 'xls_cendric.rar' leak archive."

Meanwhile, on the International Space Station, French astronaut Thomas Pesquet voted from space. Feel free to discuss the election's results in the comments.
Government

The FBI Defends Deploying Malware From A Tor Child Porn Site (gizmodo.com) 244

An anonymous reader writes: The FBI issued a press release about the 30-year prison sentence for a 58-year-old Florida man running "the world's largest child pornography website, with more than 150,000 users around the world." But their investigation involved what Gizmodo describes as "a decision controversial to this day" -- taking over the child pornography site and running it "for almost two weeks while distributing malware designed to unmask its visitors." Thursday the FBI described it as "a court-approved network investigative technique" which led to more than 1,000 leads in the U.S. and "thousands more" for law enforcement partners in other countries, leading to arrests in the EU, Israel, Turkey, Peru, Malaysia, Chile, and the Ukraine. Those 1,000 U.S. leads led to "at least 350 U.S-based individuals arrested", as well as actual prosecutions of 25 producers of child pornography and 51 hands-on abusers, while 55 children were "identified or rescued" in America, and another 296 internationally who were sexually abused.

Though Motherboard describes it as hacking "over 8,000 computers in 120 countries based on one warrant," the FBI calls it their "most successful effort to date against users of Tor's hidden service sites," adding that the agency "has numerous investigations involving the dark web." Though they'd soon became aware of the site's existence, "given the nature of how Tor hidden services work, there was not much we could do about it" -- until a foreign law enforcement agency discovered the site had "slipped up" by revealing its actual IP address, and notified the U.S. investigators. The FBI also says the investigation "has opened new avenues for international cooperation in efforts to prosecute child abusers around the world."

The site's two other administrators -- both men in their 40s -- were also given 20-year prison sentences earlier this year.
EU

'Weaponized' Twitter Bots Spread Info From French Campaign Hack (recode.net) 255

"The French media and public have been warned not to spread details about a hacking attack on presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron," writes Slashdot reader schwit1, with the election commission threatening criminal charges. But meanwhile, "the leaked documents have since spread like wildfire across social media, particularly on Twitter," reports Recode. Nicole Perlroth, a cybersecurity reporter with the New York Times, pointed out that an overwhelming amount of the tweets shared about the Macron campaign hack appear to come from automated accounts, commonly referred to as bots. About 40% of the tweets using the hashtag #MacronGate, Perlroth noted, are actually coming from only 5% of accounts using the hashtag. One account tweeted 1,668 times in 24 hours, which is more than one tweet per minute with no sleep... Twitter appears not to have done anything to combat what is obviously a bot attack, despite the fact the social media company is well aware of the problem of bot accounts being used to falsely popularize political issues during high-profile campaigns to give the impression of a groundswell of grassroots support.
The Times reporter later tweeted "This could be @twitter's death knell. Algorithms exist to deal with this. Why aren't you using them?" And one Sunlight Foundation official called the discovery "statistics from the front lines of the disinformation wars," cc-ing both Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg. In other news, the BBC reports France's president has promised to "respond" to the hacking incident, giving no further details, but saying he was aware of the risks because they'd "happened elsewhere"."
Education

EU Leader Says English Is Losing Importance (politico.eu) 711

An anonymous reader writes: Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president, opted to deliver a speech in French on Friday morning because he said "English is losing importance" in Europe. He gave the comments, which are unlikely to mend fences after a war of words between Brussels and London over Brexit negotiations, at the "State of the Union" conference in Florence's Palazzo Vecchio -- an annual event for European dignitaries. Juncker said he was opting for French because "slowly but surely English is losing importance in Europe and France has elections this Sunday and I want the French people to understand what I am saying about the importance of the EU." He spoke in English.
Books

Amazon Will Change Its Ebook Contracts With Publishers as EU Ends Antitrust Probe (theverge.com) 29

The EU has reached an agreement with Amazon following an antitrust investigation into the company's ebook business. From a report: In 2015, the European Commission began a probe into the licensing deals Amazon was making with publishers, suggesting that the US giant was forcing them into unfair contracts that stifled competition in Europe's 1 billion Euro ($1.09 billion) ebook market. In January, Amazon suggested a number of changes it would make to its contracts, and the EU now says it's happy to accept them, bringing a close to the investigation. The parts of the contract the EU objected to were a number of "most-favored-nation" clauses. These required any publishers doing a deal with Amazon to reveal the terms of the contracts they made with rival distributers. Amazon could then demand that it got the same deal (or better) on things like ebook prices, agency commissions, promotion campaigns, and release dates.
Government

San Francisco Politician Jane Kim Is Exploring a Tax On Robots (businessinsider.com) 239

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Business Insider: In San Francisco, where robots already run food deliveries for Yelp's Eat24 and make lattes at a mall coffee kiosk, one politician is working to ensure the city stays ahead of the curve. Supervisor Jane Kim is exploring a tax on robots as one solution to offset the economic devastation a robot-powered workforce might bring. Companies that use robots to perform tasks previously done by humans would pay the city. Those public funds might be used to help retrain workers who lose their jobs to robots or to finance a basic income initiative. Kim, one of 11 city supervisors in San Francisco, has been interviewing tech leaders, labor groups, and public policy experts in the hopes of creating a task force that will explore how a "robot tax" might be implemented. San Francisco would become the first city to create such a tax, after European lawmakers rejected a similar proposal in February. Kim learned the concept of a robot tax when Bill Gates called for one in an interview with Quartz. It struck a chord with the San Francisco politician, who represents some of the poorest and wealthiest residents across the Tenderloin, South of Market, Civic Center, Treasure Island, and several other neighborhoods. She hears of robots cropping up in hotels, hospitals, and even her local bar, and worries about how automation might deepen the income gap.
China

Chinese, European Space Agencies In Talks To Build a Moon Base (techcrunch.com) 88

ESA's Pal Hvistendahl has confirmed via Bloomberg that Chinese and European space agencies are talking with one another about plans to build a base on the moon. The discussions "involve working together to build a human-occupied 'moon village' from which both agencies can potentially launch Mars missions, conduct research, and possibly explore commercial mining and tourism projects," reports TechCrunch. From the report: China's upcoming projects in space include a mission to collect samples from the moon via an uncrewed craft by the end of this year, and to also launch an exploratory mission to the far side of the moon next year, with the similar aim of returning samples for study. The ESA's collaboration with China thus far include participating in the study of those returned samples, and potentially sending a European astronaut to the Chinese space station (which is currently unoccupied) at some future date.
EU

EU Lawmakers Include Spotify and iTunes In Geoblocking Ban (reuters.com) 74

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: European Union lawmakers voted on Tuesday to ban online retailers from treating consumers differently depending on where they live and expanded their proposed law to include music streaming services such as Spotify and Apple's iTunes. Ending so-called geoblocking is a priority for the European Commission as it tries to create a single market for digital services across the 28-nation bloc, but many industries argue that they tailor their prices to specific domestic markets. The proposal, which will apply to e-commerce websites such as Amazon, Zalando and eBay, as well as for services provided in a specific location like car rental, forbids online retailers from automatically re-routing customers to their domestic website without their consent. In a blow for the book publishing and music industries, European Parliament members voted to include copyright-protected content such as music, games, software and e-books in the law. That would mean music streaming services such as Spotify and iTunes would not be able to prevent, for example, a French customer buying a cheaper subscription in Croatia, if they have the required rights.

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