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AT&T

AT&T Begins Capping Broadband Users (dslreports.com) 91

Karl Bode, reporting for DSLReports (edited for clarity): Just a reminder to AT&T customers: the company's usage caps on U-Verse broadband connections is now in effect. When AT&T originally announced broadband caps on fixed-line connections back in 2011, it capped DSL customers at 150 GB per month and U-Verse customers at 250 GB per month. But while the DSL customer cap was enforced (by and large because AT&T wants these users to migrate to wireless anyway), AT&T didn't enforce caps for its U-Verse customers. Until now, anyway. Back in March AT&T announced it would begin enforcing usage caps on all connections starting May 23. As of today, U-Verse customers face different caps depending on their speed tier. AT&T says customers on U-Verse tiers with speeds between 768 Kbps and 6 Mbps will now face a 300 GB cap; customers on U-Verse tiers of speeds between 12 Mbps and 75Mbps will see a 600 GB cap, and customers on speeds between 100 Mbps and 1 Gbps will see a cap of 1 terabyte. Users who exceed these caps in any given month will automatically have to pay for 50 GB of additional data for $10 each.
Government

FBI Wants Biometric Database Hidden From Privacy Act (onthewire.io) 71

Trailrunner7 quotes a report from onthewire.io: The FBI is working to keep information contained in a key biometric database private and unavailable, even to people whose information is contained in the records. The database is known as the Next Generation Identification System (NGIS), and it is an amalgamation of biometric records accumulated from people who have been through one of a number of biometric collection processes. That could include convicted criminals, anyone who has submitted records to employers, and many other people. The NGIS also has information from agencies outside of the FBI, including foreign law enforcement agencies and governments. Because of the nature of the records, the FBI is asking the federal government to exempt the database from the Privacy Act, making the records inaccessible through information requests. From the report: "The bureau says in a proposal to exempt the database from disclosure that the NGIS should be exempt from the Privacy Act for a number of reasons, including the possibility that providing access 'could compromise sensitive law enforcement information, disclose information which would constitute an unwarranted invasion of another's personal privacy; reveal a sensitive investigative technique; could provide information that would allow a subject to avoid detection or apprehension; or constitute a potential danger to the health or safety of law enforcement personnel, confidential sources, and witnesses.'" RT released a similar report on the matter.
Desktops (Apple)

Apple Opens First 'Next Generation' Retail Store (usatoday.com) 90

An anonymous reader writes: Apple has opened its new flagship store on Thursday in San Fransisco, throwing the curtain back on a design that puts a premium on hanging out over shopping. About 20 percent of the new store's space features an open Forum area where visitors can learn about Apple's various products. The new design is rolling out to stores in Brussels, Memphis and Guilderland, N.Y. "This is the next generation of Apple retail," Angela Ahrendts, Apple's senior vice president of retail and online operations, told media. "Fifteen years ago today Apple opened its first two stores and we're thrilled to mark the occasion with the opening of Apple Union Square in San Francisco," she said. "We are not just evolving our store design, but its purpose and greater role in the community as we educate and entertain visitors and serve our network of local entrepreneurs." The new stores were designed by Ahrendts and Apple's design chief, Jony Ive. "Among the other big changes in evidence is morphing Apple's Genius Bar to Genius Grove; the addition of a new Boardroom area dedicated to small business customers; and the advent of a new staff position, Apple Creative Pro, tasked with helping consumers with specific questions on music, photography, videos and the like," writes USA Today. "In addition, some of Apple's most significant store locations, include the [Apple Union Square in San Fransisco], will feature a public Plaza that will be open 24/7 and feature free Wi-Fi as well as occasional concerts and other performances." Oh, and you can't forget about the new 6K video wall, which display broadcasts various Apple products.
United States

Silicon Valley Tech Workforce Is Vastly Different From US, Say Feds (computerworld.com) 222

Reader dcblogs shares an article on Computer World: In recent years, major high-tech firms have started releasing workforce diversity data, along with a promise to improve. And there is much room for improvement, according to federal officials. Among the top 75 Silicon Valley tech firms, whites make up 47% of the workforce, Asian Americans 41%, Hispanics, 6% and African Americans 3%, according to an analysis by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Women account for 30% of the workforce at these 75 firms. The diversity makeup of these Silicon Valley high-tech firms is very different from the national employment picture. When compared to overall private industry employment, the tech sector nationally -- not just Silicon Valley -- employed a larger share of whites (63% to 68%), as well as a larger share of Asian Americans (6% to 14%) and a smaller share of African Americans (14% to 7%) and Hispanics (14% to 8%). Employers with a workforce greater than 100 file reports to the EEOC about their employees' race, color, gender and national origin. Nationally, 64% of the employees in high-tech are men versus 52% in the broader workforce. Women account for 36% of the tech workforce, versus comprising 48% of the broader workforce.
Security

Foul-Mouthed Worm Takes Control Of Wireless ISPs Around the Globe (arstechnica.com) 36

Dan Goodin, reporting for Ars Technica (edited and condensed): ISPs around the world are being attacked by self-replicating malware that can take complete control of widely used wireless networking equipment, according to reports from customers. San Jose, California-based Ubiquiti Networks confirmed recently that attackers are actively targeting a flaw in AirOS, the Linux-based firmware that runs the wireless routers, access points, and other gear sold by the company. The vulnerability, which allows attackers to gain access to the devices over HTTP and HTTPS connections without authenticating themselves, was patched last July, but the fix wasn't widely installed. Many customers claimed they never received notification of the threat.ISPs in Argentina, Spain, Brazil have been attacked by the worm, said Nico Waisman, a research at security firm Immunity, adding that it's likely that ISPs in the U.S. and other places have also been attacked by the same malware. From the report, "Once successful, the exploit he examined replaces the password files of an infected device and then scans the network it's on for other vulnerable gear. After a certain amount of time, the worm resets infected devices to their factory default configurations, with the exception of leaving behind a backdoor account, and then disappears."
Power

US Bans Electronic Cigarettes From Checked Baggage Over Fire Risks (foxnews.com) 131

An anonymous reader writes: Earlier this month, the FDA announced it would regulate electronic cigarettes and other new tobacco products. Now, the U.S. Transportation Department announced it is permanently banning passengers and crew members from carrying electronic cigarettes in checked baggage or charging the devices onboard aircraft. They have cited a number of recent incidents that show the devices can catch fire during flight. Passengers can still carry e-cigarettes in their carry-on baggage or on their person, they just can't use the devices on flights. "Fire hazards in flight are particularly dangerous," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. "Banning e-cigarettes from checked bags is a prudent and important safety measure." The new rule covers e-cigarettes, e-cigars, e-pipes, and battery-powered portable electronic smoking devices in general. It does not prohibit passengers from transporting other battery-powered devices for personal use like laptop computers or cellphones.
AI

Humanoid 'Pepper' Robot Needs US Android Programmers (usatoday.com) 29

An anonymous reader quotes a report from USA Today: Japan-based SoftBank Robotics announced Wednesday at Google I/O, the company's annual developer's conference, that it is opening a new Pepper-focused outpost in San Francisco and unveiling an Android SDK, or software development kit, in the hopes of enticing programmers to write code for the robot. Asked if SoftBank will roll out at SDK for iOS developers, Carlin says he wouldn't rule anything out but "for the moment Android is the pervasive language." Pepper is a white hard-plastic robot with humanoid features such as large eyes and arms as well as a display screen for a chest. The robot is said to be able to read human emotions by processing visual and vocal inputs through its various microphones and cameras. Its purpose is to be "much more than a robot, he is a genuine humanoid companion created to communicate with you in the most natural and intuitive way," according to the company's website. Pepper already has been deployed commercially in Japan, where it is used to greet customers at 140 SoftBank Mobile stores as well as help take orders at fast food eateries and discuss car model details at dealerships. Carlin says programmers working on Pepper-related tech will get access to "a best in class developer portal" that includes a developer forum, links to robotics workshops, access to SoftBank's engineering team and scientific details about Pepper. Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced the Tensor Processing Unit (TPU) at Google I/O, which the company claims advances machine learning capability by a factor of three generations.
United States

Computers and Warrants: Some Senators Oppose Justice Plan (go.com) 46

A group of bipartisan senators introduced a bill on Thursday that blocks a pending judicial rule change allowing U.S judges to issue search warrants for remote access to computers in any jurisdiction, even overseas. Associated Press reports: Justice Department officials say that requirement is not practical in complex computer crime cases where investigators don't know the physical location of the device they want to search. In instances when cybercriminals operate on networks that conceal their identity and location, the government wants to ensure that any magistrate in a judicial district where a crime may have occurred can sign off on a search warrant that gives investigators remote access to the computer. The Obama administration says that authority is especially critical in cases involving botnets, which are networks of computers infected with a virus that spill across those districts. As it now stands, federal officials say, they might have to apply for nearly identical warrants in 94 different courthouses to disrupt a botnet.The U.S. Justice Department has pushed for the rule change since 2013. It has assumed it as a "procedural tweak" needed to modernize the criminal code to pursue sophisticated 21st century criminals, reports Reuters. Congress has until Dec 1 to vote to reject, amend or postpone the changes to Rule 41 of the federal rules of criminal procedure. If lawmakers fail to act, the change will automatically take effect, a scenario seen as likely given the short timeline. ZDNet has more details.
Google

Chromebooks Outsell Macs For the First Time In the US (theverge.com) 177

An anonymous reader shares a report on The Verge: Google's low-cost Chromebooks outsold Apple's range of Macs for the first time in the U.S. recently. IDC analyst Linn Huang confirmed the milestone to The Verge. "Chrome OS overtook Mac OS in the US in terms of shipments for the first time in 1Q16," says Huang. "Chromebooks are still largely a US K-12 story." IDC estimates Apple's U.S. Mac shipments to be around 1.76 million in the latest quarter, meaning Dell, HP, and Lenovo sold nearly 2 million Chromebooks in Q1 combined. Chromebooks have been extremely popular in US schools, and it's clear from IDC's comments the demand is driving US shipments. Outside of the US, it's still unclear exactly how well Google's low-cost laptops are doing. Most data from market research firms like IDC and Gartner focuses solely on Google's wins in the US.
Medicine

Pfizer Blocks The Use Of Its Drugs In Executions 563

HughPickens.com writes: Erik Eckholm reports in the NYT that the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has announced that it has imposed sweeping controls on the distribution of its products to ensure that none are used in lethal injections, a step that closes off the last remaining open-market source of drugs used in executions. "Pfizer makes its products to enhance and save the lives of the patients we serve," the company says, and "strongly objects to the use of its products as lethal injections for capital punishment." "With Pfizer's announcement, all F.D.A.-approved manufacturers of any potential execution drug have now blocked their sale for this purpose," says Maya Foa. "Executing states must now go underground if they want to get hold of medicines for use in lethal injection." The mounting difficulty in obtaining lethal drugs has already caused states to furtively scramble for supplies. Some states have used straw buyers or tried to import drugs from abroad that are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, only to see them seized by federal agents. Other states have experimented with new drug combinations, sometimes with disastrous results, such as the prolonged execution of Joseph Wood in Arizona in 2014, using the sedative midazolam. A few states have adopted the electric chair, firing squad or gas chamber as an alternative if lethal drugs are not available. Since Utah chooses to have a death penalty, "we have to have a means of carrying it out," said State Representative Paul Ray as he argued last year for authorization of the firing squad.
United States

Apple, Microsoft and Other US Tech Companies Undergoing 'Security Reviews' in China (neowin.net) 34

An anonymous reader writes: Chinese government is keeping an ever watchful eye on the companies doing business in the country, especially when foreign companies compete with local ones. To that end, the Chinese authorities have begun a security review among many different American technology companies like Apple and others. These, while mostly done out of the public sphere, seem to target issues like encryption and data storage. According to a report from the New York Times (paywalled; alternate source), government representatives have been questioning engineers and executives from different technology companies with regards to these issues for the last nine months. The so-called security reviews are being done by the Cyberspace Administration of China, with the government committee including experts tied to the country's military and security agencies.The Verge has more details.
Security

CIA Watchdog 'Mistakenly' Destroyed Its Only Copy Of A Senate Torture Report (yahoo.com) 209

An anonymous reader writes: According to Yahoo News, the CIA inspector general's office "mistakenly" destroyed its only copy of a mammoth Senate torture report at the same time lawyers for the Justice Department were assuring a federal judge that copies of the document were being preserved. Agency officials described the deletion of the document to Senate investigators as an "inadvertent" foul-up by the inspector general. "CIA inspector general officials deleted an uploaded computer file with the report and then accidentally destroyed a disk that also contained the document, filled with thousands of secret files about the CIA's use of 'enhanced' interrogation methods," reports Yahoo News. The Senate Intelligence Committee and Justice Department knew about the incident last summer, sources said. However, the destruction of a copy of the sensitive report was never made public, nor was it reported to the federal judge at the time who was overseeing a lawsuit seeking access to the still classified document under the Freedom of Information Act. Despite this incident, a CIA spokesperson has said another unopened computer disk with the full report is still locked in a vault at agency headquarters. "I can assure you that the CIA has retained a copy," wrote Dean Boyd, the agency's chief of public affairs, in an email. Feinstein is calling for the CIA inspector general to obtain a new copy of the report to replace the one that disappeared. A 500-page summary was released in 2014, and concluded that the CIA misled Americans on the effectiveness of "enhanced interrogation." Specifically, the interrogations were poorly managed and unreliable.
United States

Al-Qaeda Calls For the Execution Of Bill Gates and Others To 'Damage the US Economy' (betanews.com) 486

An anonymous reader writes: Al-Qaeda's official online propaganda magazine, Inspire, contains a montage of violent images -- things like guns and blood -- next to an image of Bill Gates. The terrorist group is urging its followers to murder successful business folks, such as Gates, which is absolutely sickening. The terrorist group says that murdering high ranking people can damage the U.S. economy.
Privacy

Privacy Fears Deterring Almost Half of American Households From Online Shopping (bbc.com) 64

Many Americans are growing increasingly concerned about privacy and security. According to a survey, almost half of American households with at least one Internet user have been deterred from online activity recently. The online activity includes doing online transactions, banking, and posting things on social media, said the survey of 41,000 households by a Department of Commerce agency. BBC reports: When respondents were asked what concerned them the most about online privacy and security, 63% said identity theft. The respondents, who were allowed to give multiple answers, also cited credit card or banking fraud (45%), data collection by online services (23%), loss of control over personal data (22%) and data collection by the government (18%); 13% also said they were concerned about threats to personal safety. The data suggested 19% of US online households had been affected by an online security breach in the previous year. The NTIA said this represented about 19 million American households.
Government

The NYPD Was Ticketing Legally Parked Cars; Open Data Put an End to It (tumblr.com) 177

Data analyst Ben Wellington claims that that the NYPD has been systematically ticketing legally parked cars for years. Doing so, he says, helps NYPD collect millions of dollars every year. In a blog post, Wellington notes about a change of law in 2008 (PDF) which allowed one in New York City to park their car in front of a sidewalk pedestrian ramp -- provided it's not connected to a crosswalk. Despite this, the NYPD continues to ticket people. To check how many more people are falling for this, Wellington looked into NYC's Open Data portal, and his findings are startling. In front of 575 Ocean Avenue in Brooklyn, which is in the middle of the block, with no crosswalk, over $48,000 in parking fines were issued in the last 2.5 years. He writes: 1705 Canton Avenue in Brooklyn, 273 Tickets, $45,045: Legal. 270-05 76 Avenue in Queens, 256 Tickets ($42,440) Legal. 143-49 Cherry Ave, Queens, 246 Tickets, ($40,590). Legal. A spot in Battery Park, ranked #16 on my list and the top spot in Manhattan, had 116 tickets ($19,140) and turned out to be legal.Wellington wrote to the NYPD about this, and he got the following response: Mr. Wellington's analysis identified errors the department made in issuing parking summonses. It appears to be a misunderstanding by officers on patrol of a recent, abstruse change in the parking rules. We appreciate Mr. Wellington bringing this anomaly to our attention. The department's internal analysis found that patrol officers who are unfamiliar with the change have observed vehicles parked in front of pedestrian ramps and issued a summons in error. When the rule changed in 2009 to allow for certain pedestrian ramps to be blocked by parked vehicles, the department focused training on traffic agents, who write the majority of summonses.
Google

Sue Googe Uses Google's Font To Run For US Congress (theverge.com) 179

An anonymous reader writes: Sue Googe is running to represent the 4th Congressional District of North Carolina in United States Congress. Since her last name resembles "Google," she has decided to use Google's font to help market her campaign. You can view a picture of Sue Googe standing next to two people holding her campaign signs here. You'll see that "Googe" is written just like "Google," but without the "l." Even the "e" in "Googe" is slanted like the "e" in "Google." "Sue" on the other hand, is not written in the same font as "Googe." It's possible the campaign accidentally selected this font, but upon closer inspection, that seems highly unlikely. It begs the question: Will Google sue Sue Googe? While we wait for Google to comment on the story, you can read all about Sue Googe on her website.
United States

Billionaire Tech Investor Peter Thiel To Back Trump As GOP Presidential Candidate (techcrunch.com) 281

An anonymous reader writes: Billionaire tech investor, co-founder and former CEO of PayPal Peter Thiel has agreed to back Trump as a California delegate in Cleveland this summer. He will be one of 172 selected Golden State delegates headed to the Republican National Convention. His support for Trump contrasts many other leaders, like A16z's Marc Andreessen who has voiced his distaste for Trump, tweeting: "OH: Trump is like an Internet comments section decided to run for President." In the past, Thiel, who is a libertarian at heart, has donated $2.6 million to Ron Paul in 2012 and added $2 million to a Super PAC backing Ted Cruz's former running mate ex-HP CEO Carly Fiorina. He also gave $250,000 to Ted Cruz's bid for Texas attorney general in 2009.
Earth

Five Solomon Islands Disappear Into The Pacific Ocean As A Result Of Climate Change (go.com) 287

An anonymous reader writes: Climate change strikes again. A paper published in the journal Environmental Research Letters says five of the Solomon Islands have completely submerged underwater due to man-made climate change, and six more have experienced a dramatic reduction in shoreline. The Solomon Islands has a population of a little more than 500,000 people, many of whom have been adversely affected by rising sea levels in recent years. NASA scientist James Hansen estimated that seas could rise by seven meters within the next century. In 2014, Losing Ground issued a report that shows how large areas of the Louisiana coastline are being lost to rising sea levels. A 2011 study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey determined that the state's wetlands were being lost at a rate of "a football field per hour." Michael Edison Hayden writes from ABC News, "The Solomon Islands provides a preview of how sea-level rise could affect other coastal communities in the coming years, according to the study, largely because the speed which erosion is taking place has been accelerated by a "synergistic interaction" with the waves that surround it.
Businesses

4Mbps Still The Standard For One Govt Broadband Grant Program (arstechnica.com) 107

An anonymous reader cites an Ars Technica report: Four U.S. senators say that the Internet speed standard for a government grant program shouldn't be stuck at 4Mbps. The Community Connect program run by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) funds broadband deployment in rural communities, but it uses a speed standard of just 4Mbps downstream and 1Mbps upstream. Even that speed is an increase over the 3Mbps (download and upload combined) standard the program used until just a few weeks ago. US Senators Angus King (I-Maine), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) say that the USDA didn't raise the standard high enough. In a letter last week to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, the senators questioned the decision to set the grant program's speed threshold below the 10Mbps/1Mbps standard used by a separate USDA loan program. "Earlier this month, USDA upped broadband speed requirements for the Broadband Access Loan Program to 10Mbps, while Community Connect was only upped to 4Mbps," the senators noted. "In order to maintain the programs' relevance in an age of rapidly increasing demand for bandwidth, we strongly urge you to consider updating their broadband speed definitions, particularly the Community Connect Program's Minimum Broadband Service benchmark."
Twitter

Twitter Blocks Feds From Data Mining Service (usatoday.com) 60

An anonymous reader cites a report on USA Today: Online social media company Twitter has reportedly blocked U.S. intelligence agencies from access to a widely used data mining service it partly owns. Twitter told Dataminr, the business partner that sifts through and provides access to the full output of the San Francisco-based firm's social media postings known as tweets, that it didn't want the service provided to government investigators, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. Twitter made the decision because the company did not like the "optics" of appearing too close to U.S. spy agencies, the Journal reported, citing an unidentified intelligence official. The issue could further escalate the public privacy vs. government security tensions between high tech firms and the federal government as investigators seek access to social media and other electronic data in an effort to detect and avert suspected terrorist plots. Newsweek's Kenneth Li said: "This makes no sense. So, dataminr's hedge fund customers are ok, but not the government?"

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