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The Internet

FCC Approves Net Neutrality Rules 569

Posted by Soulskill
from the done-and-done dept.
muggs sends word that the U.S. Federal Communications Commission has voted 3-2 to approve an expansion of their ability to regulate ISPs by treating them as a public utility. Under the rules, it will be illegal for companies such as Verizon or Cox Communications to slow down streaming videos, games and other online content traveling over their networks. They also will be prohibited from establishing "fast lanes" that speed up access to Web sites that pay an extra fee. And in an unprecedented move, the FCC could apply the rules to wireless carriers such as T-Mobile and Sprint -- a nod to the rapid rise of smartphones and the mobile Internet. ... The FCC opted to regulate the industry with the most aggressive rules possible: Title II of the Communications Act, which was written to regulate phone companies. The rules waive a number of provisions in the act, including parts of the law that empower the FCC to set retail prices — something Internet providers feared above all. However, the rules gives the FCC a variety of new powers, including the ability to: enforce consumer privacy rules; extract money from Internet providers to help subsidize services for rural Americans, educators and the poor; and make sure services such as Google Fiber can build new broadband pipes more easily.
Security

Schneier: Everyone Wants You To Have Security, But Not From Them 107

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-can-trust-us dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Bruce Schneier has written another insightful piece about the how modern tech companies treat security. He points out that most organizations will tell you to secure your data while at the same time asking to be exempt from that security. Google and Facebook want your data to be safe — on their servers so they can analyze it. The government wants you to encrypt your communications — as long as they have the keys. Schneier says, "... we give lots of companies access to our data because it makes our lives easier. ... The reason the Internet is a worldwide mass-market phenomenon is that all the technological details are hidden from view. Someone else is taking care of it. We want strong security, but we also want companies to have access to our computers, smart devices, and data. We want someone else to manage our computers and smart phones, organize our e-mail and photos, and help us move data between our various devices. ... We want our data to be secure, but we want someone to be able to recover it all when we forget our password. We'll never solve these security problems as long as we're our own worst enemy.
AI

The Believers: Behind the Rise of Neural Nets 43

Posted by samzenpus
from the back-in-the-day dept.
An anonymous reader writes Deep learning is dominating the news these days, but it's quite possible the field could have died if not for a mysterious call that Geoff Hinton, now at Google, got one night in the 1980s: "You don't know me, but I know you," the mystery man said. "I work for the System Development Corporation. We want to fund long-range speculative research. We're particularly interested in research that either won't work or, if it does work, won't work for a long time. And I've been reading some of your papers." The Chronicle of Higher Ed has a readable profile of the minds behind neural nets, from Rosenblatt to Hassabis, told primarily through Hinton's career.
The Internet

Reddit Imposes Ban On Sexual Content Posted Without Permission 297

Posted by samzenpus
from the permission-slip-or-get-out dept.
Mark Wilson writes If you want to post naked pictures or videos of people on Reddit without their consent, you only have a couple of weeks to do so. As of March, the site is imposing a ban on content of an explicit nature that the subject has not given permission to be posted. The cleanup of the site comes hot on the heels of news from Google that explicit content will be banned from Blogger. It also comes in the wake of last year's Fappening which saw a glut of naked celebrity photos leaked online.
AI

Artificial Intelligence Bests Humans At Classic Arcade Games 148

Posted by samzenpus
from the king-of-combat! dept.
sciencehabit writes The dream of an artificially intelligent computer that can study a problem and gain expertise all on its own is now reality. A system debuted today by a team of Google researchers is not clever enough to perform surgery or drive a car safely, but it did master several dozen classic arcade games, including Space Invaders and Breakout. In many cases, it surpassed the best human players without ever observing how they play.
Advertising

Google Now Automatically Converts Flash Ads To HTML5 187

Posted by samzenpus
from the have-some-ads dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Google today began automatically converting Adobe Flash ads to HTML5. As a result, it's now even easier for advertisers to target users on the Google Display Network without a device or browser that supports Flash. Back in September, Google began offering interactive HTML5 backups when Flash wasn't supported. The Flash-to-HTML5 conversion tools for the Google Display Network and DoubleClick Campaign Manager created an HTML5 version of Flash ads, showing an actual ad rather than a static image backup. Now, Google will automatically convert eligible Flash campaigns, both existing and new, to HTML5."
Censorship

Google Knocks Explicit Adult Content On Blogger From Public View 284

Posted by timothy
from the start-your-own dept.
Ellie K writes As of 23 March 2015, Google will remove blogs on its Blogger platform that don't conform to its new anti-adult policies. This is an abrupt reversal of policy. Until today, Google allowed "images or videos that contain nudity or sexual activity," and stated that "Censoring this content is contrary to a service that bases itself on freedom of expression." The linked article quotes the message which has been sent to Blogger users thus: (...) In the coming weeks, we'll no longer allow blogs that contain sexually explicit or graphic nude images or video. We'll still allow nudity presented in artistic, educational, documentary, or scientific contexts, or presented where there are other substantial benefits to the public from not taking action on the content. The new policy will go into effect on the 23rd of March 2015. After this policy goes into effect, Google will restrict access to any blog identified as being in violation of our revised policy. No content will be deleted, but only blog authors and those with whom they have expressly shared the blog will be able to see the content we've made private.
Google

Google Teams Up With 3 Wireless Carriers To Combat Apple Pay 185

Posted by samzenpus
from the working-together dept.
HughPickens.com writes AP reports that in an effort to undercut Apple's hit service Apple Pay, Google is teaming up with three wireless carriers by building its payment service into Android smartphones sold by AT&T Inc., Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA. Besides trying to make it more convenient to use Wallet, Google also is hoping to improve the nearly 4-year-old service. Toward that end, Google is buying some mobile payment technology and patents from Softcard, a 5-year-old venture owned by the wireless carriers. Financial terms weren't disclosed but Apple Pay's popularity probably helped forge the unlikely alliance between Google and the wireless carriers. Google traditionally has had a prickly relationship with the carriers, largely because it doesn't believe enough has been done to upgrade wireless networks and make them cheaper so more people can spend more time online.

The biggest challenge however is one that both Apple and Google face: Only a small fraction of the 10 million or so retail outlets in the U.S.–220,000 at last count–have checkout readers that can accept payments from either system. Both wallets use a radio technology called Near Field Communication to send payment, and it's expected to take years for most stores to be upgraded. What's at play? The big tech companies and carriers seem convinced that our phones will eventually replace our wallets. For carriers, that could make mobile wallet technology table stakes over the next few years as they compete for consumers.
Google

Google Lunar XPrize Teams Partner For a 2016 SpaceX Moonshot 18

Posted by samzenpus
from the working-together dept.
An anonymous reader writes Two competing teams for the Google Lunar XPrize have announced that they are partnering for a mission to the moon in the second half of 2016. From the article: "The Google Lunar XPrize , a $30 million purse of prizes encouraging private teams to put lunar rovers on the moon, this morning took if not quite a giant leap, then at least a big step. Two of those teams, Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic and Japan-based Hakuto, signed on to share a rocket ride to the moon in late 2016. Hakuto, which developed a pair of rovers to explore the lunar surface, will hitch a ride on Astrobotic's lander, which plans to set down in Lacus Mortis, located in the northeastern portion of the moon. Once on the surface, both teams will deploy their rovers and go exploring. The first to cover 500 meters (around 550 yards) while broadcasting high-definition footage will take home the $20 million grand prize."
Youtube

YouTube Kids Launches On Android and iOS 81

Posted by samzenpus
from the won't-somebody-please-think-of-the-children? dept.
An anonymous reader writes As expected, YouTube today launched YouTube Kids for Android and iOS, described as a "family-friendly destination" and "the first Google product built from the ground up with little ones in mind." You can download the new app for free, available only in the U.S., directly from Google Play and Apple's App Store. The app's main selling point is that it only has content deemed appropriate for kids. In other words, the pitch to parents is very simple: This app will ensure that your kids can watch videos posted online without stumbling on clips you wouldn't want them to see.
Open Source

Linux Kernel Switching To Linux v4.0, Coming With Many New Addons 261

Posted by timothy
from the year-of-the-hurr-durr dept.
An anonymous reader writes Following polling on Linus Torvald's Google+ page, he's decided to make the next kernel version Linux 4.0 rather than Linux 3.20. Linux 4.0 is going to bring many big improvements besides the version bump with there being live kernel patching, pNFS block server support, VirtIO 1.0, IBM z13 mainframe support, new ARM SoC support, and many new hardware drivers and general improvements. Linux 4.0 is codenamed "Hurr durr I'ma sheep."
Censorship

Iran Allows VPNs To Make Millions In Profit 57

Posted by timothy
from the have-cake-and-eat-it-too dept.
New submitter Patrick O'Neill writes with this excerpt from The Daily Dot: Anti-censorship technology is de jure illegal in Iran, but many VPNs are sold openly, allowing Iranians to bounce around censorship and seemingly render it ineffective. Nearly 7 in 10 young Iranians are using VPNs, according to the country's government, and a Google search for "buy VPN" in Persian returns 2 million results. Iran's Cyber Police (FATA) have waged a high-volume open war against the VPNs, but it's still very easy to find, buy, and use the software. It's so easy, in fact, that you can use Iran's government-sanctioned payment gateways (Pardakht Net, Sharj Iran, Jahan Pay & Baz Pardakht) to buy the tools that'll beat the censors. To use these gateways, however, customers have to submit their Iranian bank account and identity, all but foregoing hopes of privacy or protection from authorities."
Google

Antitrust Case Against Google Thrown Out of SF Court 62

Posted by timothy
from the like-the-swiss-miss-marshallow-scam dept.
Mark Wilson (3799011) writes "Just a few days ago Google was threatened with legal action for anti-competitive behavior in Russia. While we don't yet know if that will amount to anything, there has been some better news for the search giant in the US. A San Francisco judge dismissed a case brought against the firm by two men who thought the inclusion of Google services in Android pushed up the prices of their handsets."
Graphics

Smart Rendering For Virtual Reality 24

Posted by Soulskill
from the works-way-better-than-dumb-rendering dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Researchers from Intel have been working on new methods for improving the rendering speed for modern wide-angle head-mounted displays like the Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard. Their approach makes use of the fact that because of the relatively cheap and lightweight lenses the distortion astigmatism happens: only the center area can be perceived very sharp, while with increasing distance from it, the perception gets more and more blurred. So what happens if you don't spend the same amount of calculations and quality for all pixels? The blog entry gives hints to future rendering architectures and shows performance numbers.
Businesses

Samsung Takes On Apple Pay By Acquiring Mobile Wallet Startup LoopPay 62

Posted by samzenpus
from the circle-of-business dept.
An anonymous reader writes Samsung is buying major Apple Pay and Google Wallet competitor LoopPay. "Our goal has always been to build the smartest, most secure, user-friendly mobile wallet experience, and we are delighted to welcome LoopPay to take us closer to this goal," JK Shin, Samsung co-CEO and head of the company's mobile business, said in a press release. "What's a real differentiator is this uses technology that's in stores today," David Eun, executive vice president of Samsung's global innovation center, said in an interview. "We don't have to wait for a point in the future where there are a lot more [NFC-enabled] terminals."
Displays

Apple Patent Could Have "Broad Ramifications" For VR Headsets 128

Posted by timothy
from the it's-on-your-face dept.
An anonymous reader writes Filed in 2008, published in 2013, and legally granted to Apple this week, the company's patent for a 'Head-mounted display apparatus for retaining a portable electronic device with display' could have "broad ramifications" for mobile VR headsets like Samsung's Gear VR and Google Cardboard, says patent attorney Eric Greenbaum. "This Apple HMD patent is significant. I would say it introduces potential litigation risks for companies that have or are planning to release a mobile device HMD," he said. "There is no duty for Apple to make or sell an HMD. They can sit on this patent and use it strategically either by enforcing it against potential infringers, licensing it, or using it as leverage in forming strategic partnerships."
Privacy

Gadgets That Spy On Us: Way More Than TVs 129

Posted by timothy
from the it-looks-like-you're-writing-a-letter dept.
Presto Vivace writes with a reminder that it's not just Samsung TVslots of other gadgets are spying on you "But Samsung's televisions are far from the only seeing-and-listening devices coming into our lives. If we're going to freak out about a Samsung TV that listens in on our living rooms, we should also be panicking about a number of other emergent gadgets that capture voice and visual data in many of the same ways. .... Samsung's competitor, the LG Smart TV, has basically the same phrase about voice capture in its privacy policy: "Please be aware that if your spoken word includes personal or other sensitive information, such information will be among the Voice Information captured through your use of voice recognition features." It isn't just TVs, Microsoft's xBox Kinect, Amazon Echo, GM's Onstar, Chevrolet's MyLink and PDRs, Google's Waze, and Hello's Sense all have snooping capabilities. Welcome to the world of Stasi Tech.
Security

Lenovo Allegedly Installing "Superfish" Proxy Adware On New Computers 246

Posted by timothy
from the hey-man-you're-s'posed-to-join-the-nsa-first dept.
An anonymous reader writes It looks like Lenovo has been installing adware onto new consumer computers from the company that activates when taken out of the box for the first time. The adware, named Superfish, is reportedly installed on a number of Lenovo's consumer laptops out of the box. The software injects third-party ads on Google searches and websites without the user's permission. Another anonymous reader points to this Techspot article, noting that that it doesn't mention the SSL aspect, but this Lenovo Forum Post, with screen caps, is indicating it may be a man-in-the-middle attack to hijack an SSL connection too. It's too early to tell if this is a hoax or not, but there are multiple forum posts about the Superfish bug being installed on new systems. Another good reason to have your own fresh install disk, and to just drop the drivers onto a USB stick. Also at ZDnet.
Google

Google Faces Anti-Trust Probe In Russia Over Android 149

Posted by samzenpus
from the taking-a-good-look dept.
First time accepted submitter Mark Wilson writes Google has a new battle on its hands, this time in the form of a potential anti-trust probe in Russia. Yandex, the internet company behind the eponymous Russian search engine, has filed a complaint to the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS). Yandex claims that the US search giant is abusing its position by bundling Google services with Android. It claims that users are forced into using the Google ecosystem including Google Search, and that it is difficult to install competing services on smartphones and tablets. There are distinct echoes of the antitrust lawsuits Microsoft has faced for its bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows.
Google

Google: FBI's Plan To Expand Hacking Power a "Monumental" Constitutional Threat 51

Posted by samzenpus
from the lets-see-what-you-got dept.
schwit1 writes with news about Google's reservations to a Justice Department proposal on warrants for electronic data. "Any change in accessing computer data should go through Congress, the search giant said. The search giant submitted public comments earlier this week opposing a Justice Department proposal that would grant judges more leeway in how they can approve search warrants for electronic data. The push to change an arcane federal rule "raises a number of monumental and highly complex constitutional, legal, and geopolitical concerns that should be left to Congress to decide," wrote Richard Salgado, Google's director for law enforcement and information security. The provision, known as Rule 41 of the federal rules of criminal procedure, generally permits judges to grant search warrants only within the bounds of their judicial district. Last year, the Justice Department petitioned a judicial advisory committee to amend the rule to allow judges to approve warrants outside their jurisdictions or in cases where authorities are unsure where a computer is located. Google, in its comments, blasted the desired rule change as overly vague, saying the proposal could authorize remote searches on the data of millions of Americans simultaneously—particularly those who share a network or router—and cautioned it rested on shaky legal footing."