Crime

Backpage Founders Charged With Money Laundering, Aiding Prostitution (theverge.com) 256

Federal authorities have charged the two founders of classified site Backpage.com, along with five other employees, with laundering money and facilitating prostitution. According to The Washington Post, the Justice Department claims Backpage took "consistent and concerted action" to knowingly allow ads for illegal sex work. The indictment alleges that "virtually every dollar flowing into Backpage's coffers represents the proceeds of illegal activity." The Verge reports: Law enforcement agencies seized Backpage's servers last week, and co-founder Michael Lacey was charged in a sealed 93-count indictment, which has now been revealed. Lacey, as well as his co-founder James Larkin, were already charged with violating California money laundering laws, although a judge threw out state-level pimping charges. Beyond Lacey and Larkin, the Backpage indictment includes charges against the site's chief financial officer, operations manager, assistant operations manager, and marketing director. It also charges the executive vice president of one of Backpage's parent companies. Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer, who was previously charged with pimping in California, was not charged in this indictment. The Justice Department claims Backpage's owners tried to cover up the fact that most of its "adult services" ads involved prostitution, and that Backpage allowed child sex traffickers to keep ads on the site as long as they deleted age-related keywords. The indictment also claims that Backpage disguised payments for illegal services by having customers funnel money to foreign bank accounts or apparently unrelated companies, or by transferring funds into cryptocurrency. These federal chargers are reportedly unrelated to the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, a bill that would make website operators liable for illegal content posted to their sites. The bill is currently awaiting Trump's signature.
IOS

Recent iOS Update Kills Functionality On iPhone 8s Repaired With Aftermarket Screens (vice.com) 229

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Apple released iOS 11.3 at the end of March, and the update is killing touch functionality in iPhone 8s repaired with some aftermarket screens that worked prior to the update. That means people who broke their phone and had the audacity to get it repaired by anyone other than Apple is having a hard time using their phone. "This has caused my company over 2,000 reshipments," Aakshay Kripalani, CEO of Injured Gadgets, a Georgia-based retailer and repair shop, told me in a Facebook message. "Customers are annoyed and it seems like Apple is doing this to prevent customers from doing 3rd party repair." According to Michael Oberdick -- owner and operator of iOutlet, an Ohio-based pre-owned iPhone store and repair shop, every iPhone screen is powered by a small microchip, and that chip is what the repair community believes to be causing the issue. For the past six months, shops have been able to replace busted iPhone 8 screens with no problem, but something in the update killed touch functionality. According to several people I spoke to, third-party screen suppliers have already worked out the issue, but fixing the busted phones means re-opening up the phone and upgrading the chip. It remains to be seen whether Apple will issue a new software update that will suddenly fix these screens, but that is part of the problem: Many phones repaired by third parties are ticking timebombs; it's impossible for anyone to know if or when Apple will do something that breaks devices fixed with aftermarket parts. And every time a software update breaks repaired phones, Apple can say that third-party repair isn't safe, and the third-party repair world has to scramble for workarounds and fixes.
Space

Northrop Grumman, Not SpaceX, Reported To Be at Fault For Loss of Top-Secret Zuma Satellite (cnbc.com) 70

Northrop Grumman built and operated the components that failed during the controversial January launch of the U.S. spy satellite known as Zuma, WSJ reported over the weekend. From a report: Two independent investigations, made up of federal and industry officials, pointed to Northrop's payload adapter as the cause of the satellite's loss, the report said, citing people familiar with the probes. The payload adapter is a key part of deploying a satellite in orbit, connecting the satellite to the upper stage of a rocket. Zuma is believed to have cost around $3.5 billion to develop, according to the report. The satellite was funded through a process that received a lesser degree of oversight from Congress compared with similar national security-related satellites, industry officials said.
Transportation

Dual-Motor Tesla Model 3 Possibly Coming In July (electrek.co) 71

According to Elon Musk, the dual-motor Tesla Model 3 is expected to be released in July. "Musk linked the release of the new Model 3 powertrain with the automaker achieving a production rate of 5,000 Model 3 vehicles per week," reports Electrek. From the report: Earlier this year, we reported on Tesla registering 19 Model 3 VINs with dual motor powertrain with NHTSA in the latest batch of new VINs. It happened right after the Tesla Model 3 dual motor powertrain design leaked in the latest design studio update. Then in February, Tesla registered a new batch of Model 3 VINs, including two dozen Model 3 VINs with the dual motor powertrain. It raised Model 3 reservation holders' hope that the new configuration could soon become available, but now Musk confirmed that it is still a few months away in a series of tweets last night. The CEO also linked the timing with the release of the Model 3 white interior. Tesla currently only offers a single interior option with black upholstery. The dual motor Model 3 is expected to deliver a slightly longer range and offer a quicker acceleration than the current single motor rear-wheel-drive version.
Power

All Apple Operations Now Run Off 100 Percent Renewable Energy (9to5mac.com) 116

According to a recently-shared press release, Apple has finally hit its goal of running its own operations off 100% renewable energy. "All Apple facilities, from Apple Park to its data centers to worldwide fleet of Apple retail stores, are now solely powered by green energy," reports 9to5Mac. From the report: This figure does not include Apple's third-party suppliers or manufacturers, although the company is convincing many of those to switch to 100% renewable sources too. Apple's environment VP Lisa Jackson discussed the news in an interview with Fast Company. Jackson highlights how Apple has not only focused on reducing emissions but also contributed to the availability of green energy on the grid. Apple has gone from 16% renewable energy to 100% in eight years, with CO2 emissions falling by 58%. The company has built numerous wind and solar farms in cooperation with local institutions, as well as intense focus on environmental sustainability during development of its new buildings like Apple Park. Its data centers are flanked by fields of solar panels. Filling out the last 4% required Apple to find renewable energy sources in some of its more remote retail stores and offices. It has signed power purchase agreements in Brazil, India, Israel, Mexico and Turkey.
Security

Don't Give Away Historic Details About Yourself (krebsonsecurity.com) 158

Brian Krebs: Social media sites are littered with seemingly innocuous little quizzes, games and surveys urging people to reminisce about specific topics, such as "What was your first job," or "What was your first car?" The problem with participating in these informal surveys is that in doing so you may be inadvertently giving away the answers to "secret questions" that can be used to unlock access to a host of your online identities and accounts. I'm willing to bet that a good percentage of regular readers here would never respond -- honestly or otherwise -- to such questionnaires (except perhaps to chide others for responding). But I thought it was worth mentioning because certain social networks -- particularly Facebook -- seem positively overrun with these data-harvesting schemes. What's more, I'm constantly asking friends and family members to stop participating in these quizzes and to stop urging their contacts to do the same.

On the surface, these simple questions may be little more than an attempt at online engagement by otherwise well-meaning companies and individuals. Nevertheless, your answers to these questions may live in perpetuity online, giving identity thieves and scammers ample ammunition to start gaining backdoor access to your various online accounts.

The Internet

'Erotic Review' Blocks US Internet Users To Prepare For Government Crackdown (arstechnica.com) 154

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A website that hosts customer reviews of sex workers has started blocking Internet users in the United States because of forthcoming changes in U.S. law. Congress recently passed the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act bill (SESTA), and President Trump is expected to sign it into law. SESTA will make it easier to prosecute websites that host third-party content that promotes or facilitates prostitution, even in cases when the sex workers aren't victims of trafficking. After Congress approved the bill, Craigslist removed its "Personals" section and Reddit removed some sex-related subreddits. The Erotic Review (TER) has followed suit by blocking any user who appears to be visiting the website from the United States.

"As a result of this new law, TER has made the difficult decision to block access to the website from the United States until such time as the courts have enjoined enforcement of the law, the law has been repealed or amended, or TER has found a way to sufficiently address any legal concerns created by the new law," the website's home page says in a notice to anyone who accesses the site from a US location. The Erotic Review explained in an FAQ why it blocked US-based users even before SESTA takes effect. (The bill is also known as the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, or FOSTA.) "TER has always operated within the law, and it takes SESTA seriously," the FAQ says. "Because we do not know when SESTA will be signed into law, TER wants to be certain that it is in compliance with the statute the moment it becomes effective."
TER can still be accessed outside the U.S., and U.S.-based users can still access the site via a VPN service. "Non-U.S. are asked to agree to a disclaimer, which requires users to agree to 'report suspected exploitation of minors and/or human trafficking' and that they 'will not access TER from a Prohibited Country,'" reports Ars.
Businesses

The Uber-For-Bikes Startup Is Now Officially Part of Uber (qz.com) 51

Uber's first acquisition under CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is of Jump Bikes, a startup that rents out shared electric dockless bikes in San Francisco and Washington DC. "The deal comes two months after Uber partnered with Jump in San Francisco to make bike rentals available through the Uber app," reports Quartz. From the report: TechCrunch reports that the deal was valued at close to $200 million. Jump, which launched in 2008 as Social Bicycles, had raised about $15 million in funding. In January the company became the first in San Francisco to receive a permit for a dockless e-bike program. Jump's team will stay "independent and focused on growth vs. integration," with CEO Ryan Rzepecki reporting directly to Khosrowshahi, Uber's CEO told his company in an email this morning (April 9). In a post on Medium, Rzepecki said Khosrowshahi's leadership made Jump feel more comfortable with the deal. "We could see the shift in the company once Dara was named CEO as he began leading with humility and in a way that we felt reflected our values," Rzepecki wrote.
Facebook

Steve Wozniak Drops Facebook: 'The Profits Are All Based On the User's Info' (arstechnica.com) 246

Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak has formally deactivated his Facebook account. In an email interview with USA Today, Wozniak wrote that he was no longer satisfied with Facebook, knowing that it makes money off of user data. "The profits are all based on the user's info, but the users get none of the profits back," he wrote. "Apple makes its money off of good products, not off of you. As they say, with Facebook, you are the product." Ars Technica reports: His Sunday announcement to his Facebook followers came just ahead of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's scheduled testimony before Congress on Tuesday. The CEO is also reportedly set to meet with members of Congress privately on Monday. Wozniak wrote that Facebook had "brought me more negatives than positives." Still, when Wozniak tried to change some of his privacy settings in the aftermath of Cambridge Analytica, he said he was "surprised" to find out how many categories for ads he had to remove. "I did not feel that this is what people want done to them," added Wozniak. "Ads and spam are bad things these days and there are no controls over them. Or transparency."
Open Source

Microsoft Open-Sources Original File Manager From the 1990s So It Can Run On Windows 10 (theverge.com) 173

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Microsoft is releasing the source code for its original Windows File Manager from nearly 28 years ago. Originally released for Windows 3.0, the File Manager was a replacement for managing files through MS-DOS, and allowed Windows users to copy, move, delete, and search for files. While it's a relic from the past, you can still compile the source code Microsoft has released and run the app on Windows 10 today. The source code is available on GitHub, and is maintained by Microsoft veteran Craig Wittenberg under the MIT license. Wittenberg copied the File Manager code from Windows NT 4 back in 2007, and has been maintaining it before open sourcing it recently. It's a testament to the backward compatibility of Windows itself, especially that this was originally included in Windows more than 20 years ago.
Youtube

YouTube Is Illegally Collecting Data From Children, Say Advocacy Groups (gizmodo.com) 69

Nearly two-dozen privacy and children's advocacy groups have filed a Federal Trade Commission complaint against YouTube, alleging the platform of illegally collecting data from children. From a report: The groups, led by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), allege YouTube is violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by collecting data from children under 13 without parents' permission.

"It's just fundamentally unfair," Josh Golin, executive director of the CCFC, told Gizmodo, "to use Google's powerful behavioral targeting on a child that doesn't yet understand what's going on." COPPA requires platforms "give parents notice of its data collection practices, and obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting the data." But, as Golin argues, YouTube violates COPPA because it doesn't differentiate between videos marketed to children and the rest of the site.

Businesses

Amazon Spent Close To $23B on R&D in 2017, Outpacing Fellow Tech Giants (geekwire.com) 62

Amazon powered its prolific 2017, which saw the release of a cavalcade of new products and services, with $22.6 billion in spending on research and development, tops among U.S. companies. From a report: According to data from FactSet, Google parent Alphabet came in second in R&D spending in 2017 at $16.6 billion, followed by Intel at $13.1 billion, Microsoft at $12.3 billion and Apple at $11.6 billion. Facebook jumped into the top 10, spending $7.8 billion in 2017. One of Amazon's biggest R&D efforts in recent years has been the cashier-less grocery store concept Amazon Go. The company spent 2017 getting the technology, first announced in December 2016, ready for prime time before opening the first location in January. Amazon has invested heavily in its market-leading cloud computing arm, Amazon Web Services. AWS juiced Amazon.
United States

Tech Group Urges US To Recruit Allies To Take on China, Not Tariffs (venturebeat.com) 186

A trade group representing top technology companies on Monday told U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that it opposes the Trump administration's focus on tariffs to try to change China's unfair trade practices. From a report: The Information Technology Industry Council said in a letter to Mnuchin that it supports the Trump administration's "Section 301" investigation into China's abuses of intellectual property, but instead of tariffs, it advocates a U.S.-led international coalition to put pressure on Beijing. "Our opposition to tariffs is pragmatic. Tariffs do not work," wrote ITIC President and CEO Dean Garfield. "Instead of tariffs, we strongly encourage the administration to build an international coalition that can challenge China at the World Trade Organization and beyond," Garfield added. "Numerous countries share the United States' concerns about China and its unfair trade practices. The United States is uniquely well-situated to lead that coalition."
The Internet

A Broken Undersea Cable Knocked Mauritania Offline For Two Days, Affected Another Five Nations (fortune.com) 36

The West African nation of Mauritania lost all internet access for 48 hours due to an undersea cable break, according to infrastructure analysts. From a report: The break, which took place a couple weeks ago, provides a reminder of how much internet users rely on the cables that connect their countries. According to Dyn, the Oracle-owned internet performance firm, the African Coast to Europe (ACE) cable was cut near Noukachott in Mauritania on March 30. It's not clear what caused the break, but six countries entirely rely on that one cable for their connectivity, and all -- Sierra Leone, Mauritania, Liberia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea and the Gambia -- saw a big impact. The impact in Mauritania was the worst, with its two-day outage, while Sierra Leone also had big problems. The latter country also had a big outage on April 1, but that may well have been down to government action -- African governments are notorious for interfering with citizens' internet access, particularly around election time or during periods of unrest.
Twitter

Two-Thirds of Tweeted Links Come From Bots, Report Says (cnet.com) 33

We already know bots have a significant presence on Twitter. But a report published Monday by the Pew Research Center suggests automated accounts are more prevalent than we may previously have thought. From a report: Pew estimates that two-thirds, or about 66 percent, of the links shared on Twitter come from bots rather than people. The research specifically focused on the 2,315 most popular websites and over 1 million tweets sent between July 27 and Sept. 11, 2017.
Facebook

Zuckerberg Gets a Crash Course in Charm. Will Congress Care? (bgr.com) 165

An anonymous reader writes: It goes without saying that no tech CEO ever wants to make the trek down to Washington D.C. and appear before congress. And Zuckerberg -- at a surface level -- seems particularly ill-suited for the task. Though clearly an incredible mind, remember that Zuckerberg is a tech-minded programmer and far from a savvy and political operator. That being the case, many people are curious as to how the Facebook founder, who it's worth noting is just 33 years old, will fare when confronted with hard hitting questions from politicians.

In an effort to ensure that everything runs smoothly and that Zuckerberg's appearance goes off without a hitch, The New York Times is reporting that Facebook recently hired a team of experts and coaches tasked with ensuring that Zuckerberg has the tools to deftly navigate the potentially deep waters of Congress. Of particular interest is that Zuckerberg has been learning how to be charming and exhibit humility in the face of heavy-handed and probing questions. The report says, "It [ Facebook] has also hired a team of experts, including a former special assistant to President George W. Bush, to put Mr. Zuckerberg, 33, a cerebral coder who is uncomfortable speaking in public, through a crash course in humility and charm. The plan is that when he sits down before the Senate Commerce and Judiciary committees on Tuesday, Mr. Zuckerberg will have concrete changes to talk about, and no questions he can't handle."

Facebook

Facebook Suspends Another Data Analytics Firm After CNBC Discovers It Was Using Tactics like Cambridge Analytica (cnbc.com) 83

Facebook suspended a company from its site over the weekend while it investigates claims it harvested user information under the guise of academic research, in a case with echoes of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. From a report: Facebook is suspending a data analytics firm called CubeYou from the platform after CNBC notified the company that CubeYou was collecting information about users through quizzes. CubeYou misleadingly labeled its quizzes "for non-profit academic research," then shared user information with marketers. The scenario is eerily similar to how Cambridge Analytica received unauthorized access to data from as many as 87 million Facebook user accounts to target political marketing. CubeYou, whose CEO denies any deception, sold data that had been collected by researchers working with the Psychometrics Lab at Cambridge University, similar to how Cambridge Analytica used information it obtained from other professors at the school for political marketing.
Medicine

FDA Worried Drug Was Risky; Now Reports of Deaths Spark Concern (cnn.com) 183

Blake Ellis and Melanie Hicken, writing for CNN: Two years ago, Brendan Tyne pleaded with the Food and Drug Administration to approve a drug that he was hopeful could finally bring his mother some peace. She could no longer move without assistance and had fallen victim to the debilitating and frightening psychosis that haunts many people with Parkinson's disease. "She thinks there are people in the house and animals are trying to get her," he told an FDA advisory committee. He believed that a new medication called Nuplazid, made by San Diego-based Acadia Pharmaceuticals, was the answer.

Nuplazid's review was being expedited because it had been designated a "breakthrough therapy" -- meaning that it demonstrated "substantial improvement" in patients with serious or life-threatening diseases compared to treatments already on the market. Congress created this designation in 2012 in an effort to speed up the FDA's approval process, which has long been criticized for being too slow. Around 200 drugs have been granted this designation since its creation. [...] The committee voted 12-2 and recommended that the FDA approve Nuplazid for the treatment of Parkinson's disease psychosis based on a six-week study of about 200 patients. It hit the market in June 2016. As caregivers and family members rushed to get their loved ones on it, sales climbed to roughly $125 million in 2017

[...] In November, an analysis released by a nonprofit health care organization, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, warned that 244 deaths had been reported to the FDA between the drug's launch and March 2017. [...] Since the institute released its analysis, FDA data shows that the number of reported deaths has risen to more than 700. As of last June, Nuplazid was the only medication listed as "suspect" in at least 500 of the death reports.

Media

Ask Slashdot: How Do You Stream/Capture Video? 155

datavirtue writes: I am starting to look at capturing and streaming video, specifically video games in 4K at 60 frames per second. I have a Windows 10 box with a 6GB GTX 1060 GPU and a modern AMD octa-core CPU recording with Nvidia ShadowPlay. This works flawlessly, even in 4K at 60 fps. ShadowPlay produces MP4 files which play nice locally but seem to take a long time to upload to YouTube -- a 15-minute 4K 60fps video took almost three hours. Which tools are you fellow Slashdotters using to create, edit, and upload video in the most efficient manner?
Bitcoin

George Soros, Rockefeller Take Their Marks Before Diving Into the Cryptocurrency Pool (businessinsider.com) 100

john of sparta shares a report from Business Insider (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source): Reports of a crackdown on cryptocurrency advertisements by tech giants such as Google and Facebook as well as regulatory uncertainty in Asia and the U.S. have weighed on the coin for much of March and April. The coin is down 50% since the beginning of the year. But investors appeared to be more bullish during Sunday's trade following reports that two Wall Street icons were looking to get into the market for cryptos. More notably, the investment fund founded by billionaire George Soros is preparing to dive into cryptocurrency trading, even though Soros himself previously described them as a "bubble." Adam Fisher, who oversees global macroeconomic investing for Soros Fund Management, has gained internal approval to invest in and trade cryptocurrencies, according to a Bloomberg News report. Also, Venrock -- a venture capital firm founded by descendants of famed capitalist John D. Rockefeller -- announced it was partnering with a cryptocurrency investment firm based in Brooklyn. Fortune first reported on the partnership.
Businesses

Electronics Surplus Shop 'WeirdStuff Warehouse' Is Closing (fastcompany.com) 99

Fast Company's harrymcc writes: When technological goods are no longer of use to anyone in Silicon Valley, they end up in the WeirdStuff Warehouse -- where, it turns out, there often is someone willing to pay for them. Sadly, the 32-year-old Sunnyvale store is closing forever on Sunday. I paid a final visit and, as usual, felt like I could rummage through this vast storehouse of obsolete gadgets and software forever. WeirdStuff first made an appearance on Slashdot in 2003 when editor chrisd asked Slashdotters about their favorite surplus stores. Also mentioned was Skycraft.

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