Submission + - The Tech Used To Monitor Inmate Calls Is Able To Track Civilians Too (thedailybeast.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Securus Technologies’ programs are used in thousands of prisons and detention centers nationwide to track calls to inmates, but the company’s offerings are also capable of tracking and geolocating people’s cellphones without any warrant or oversight, The New York Times reports. Securus obtains location information though data from major cellphone providers the same way marketers do. It also advertises the technology to law-enforcement agencies as a tool to find murder suspects, missing people, and those at-large — but the feature can easily be abused for access to millions of cellphone users.

One Missouri sheriff used the service at least 11 times between 2014 and 2017, and secretly tracked state highway patrol members and a judge, prosecutors said. While the company said it “required customers to upload a legal document” to certify the location lookup, the Federal Communications Commission claims Securus did not “conduct any review of surveillance requests” — giving law enforcement tracking power without verification of approval or oversight.

Submission + - Tesla's Giant Battery In Australia Reduced Grid Service Cost By 90 Percent (electrek.co)

An anonymous reader writes: Tesla’s giant Powerpack battery in Australia has been in operation for about 6 months now and we are just starting to discover the magnitude of its impact on the local energy market. A new report now shows that it reduced the cost of the grid service that it performs by 90% and it has already taken a majority share of the market. It is so efficient that it reportedly should have made around $1 million in just a few days in January, but Tesla complained last month that they are not being paid correctly because the system doesn’t account for how fast Tesla’s Powerpacks start discharging their power into the grid.

The system is basically a victim of its own efficiency, which the Australian Energy Market Operator confirmed is much more rapid, accurate and valuable than a conventional steam turbine in a report published last month. Now McKinsey and Co partner Godart van Gendt presented new data at the Australian Energy Week conference in Melbourne this week and claimed that Tesla’s battery has now taken over 55% of the frequency control and ancillary services (FCAS) services and reduced cost by 90%.

Submission + - Falcon 9 Block 5 Lands Successfuly on Drone Ship (theverge.com)

Thelasko writes: ...The vehicle that will carry humans to space for NASA. The Block 5 is meant to be SpaceX’s most reusable rocket yet, with many upgrades put in place that negate the need for extensive refurbishment between flights.

Submission + - South African parliament approves 'Internet Censorship Bill' (mybroadband.co.za) 1

An anonymous reader writes: According to mybroadband.co.za :

The National Assembly has approved legislation that aims to allow the FPB to regulate the distribution of online content in South Africa.

Known as the Internet Censorship Bill, the Film and Publications Amendment Bill includes provisions to give the FPB powers to have online content blocked in South Africa.

This includes âoeuser-generated contentâ, such as posts published to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media services.

According to reports, the National Assembly vote was 189 in favour, 35 against, and no abstentions.

Having gone through the National Assembly, the Bill must now be debated and approved in the National Council of Provinces before it can be sent to President Cyril Ramaphosa to be signed into law.

According to the government, the aim is to protect children from sexually-explicit material, and curb hate speech and revenge porn.

Opposition parties and detractors of the Bill have warned that it is unenforceable, however, and in many cases it is unconstitutional.

Submission + - "Father of GPS" receives the IEEE Medal of Honor today (eetimes.com)

dkatana writes: A former paperboy from Wisconsin passionate about maps led the team in the Air Force responsible of designing the navigation system we use everyday.

From IoT Times:

'At the IEEE honors ceremony today in San Francisco, Bradford Parkinson, a retired Air Force colonel who spent his life between maps and navigation systems, will be awarded the 2018 IEEE Medal of Honor, “For fundamental contributions to and leadership in developing the design and driving the early applications of the Global Positioning System.”'

The current Global Positioning System (GPS) did not exist until 1995, just 22 years ago, and the engineer who led the project for the US Department of Defense (DOD) was Mr. Parkinson.

Submission + - The jogging humanoid robot video that is 'terrifying' the Internet (washingtonpost.com) 1

hyperclocker writes: Few things succeed in riling up the Internet faster, unleashing a unique cocktail of amazement and terror, than a new Boston Dynamics robot video.

In the past, the tech company, owned by Japan’s SoftBank Group, has released videos showing their robots climbing stairs, executing perfect back flips and opening doors with shocking facility.

The company’s latest YouTube submission: a 34-second clip of their boxy humanoid robot, Atlas, going for a jog in a grassy residential area on what appears to be a bright spring day.

With his electronic appendages unleashing a animatronic whine that falls somewhere between an electronic knife and a Xerox machine, Atlas even stops to hop over a log before casually going on his bipedal way.

Submission + - Teachable Moment: How Outrage Over Google's AI "Duplex" Could Have Been Avoided (vortex.com)

Lauren Weinstein writes: We find ourselves in a “teachable moment” in the history of Artificial Intelligence — we should not squander this opportunity. The global controversy that erupted over the last few days regarding Google’s AI-based “Duplex” phone calling system can be viewed as a harbinger of things to come if a holistic approach to AI is not a fundamental design factor from the ground up.

Submission + - Fake News 'Echo-system' Targets Syrian Human Rights Workers (securityledger.com)

chicksdaddy writes: Kremlin linked news sites like RT and Sputnik figure prominently in an online disinformation campaign portraying Syrian humanitarian workers (“White Helmets”) as terrorists and crisis actors, according to an analysis by researchers at University of Washington and Harvard. (http://faculty.washington.edu/kstarbi/Starbird-et-al-ICWSM-2018-Echosystem-final.pdf)

An online “echosystem” of propaganda websites including Russia backed news outlets Sputnik and RT is attacking the credibility of humanitarian workers on the ground in rebel occupied Syria, according to a new analysis by researchers at The University of Washington and Harvard University.

Online rumors circulated through so called “alternative” media sites have attacked the Syrian Civil Defence (aka “White Helmets”) as “crisis actors” and Western agents working on behalf of the U.S. and NATO. Statistical analysis of the online rumors reveal a tight network of websites sharing nearly identical content via Twitter and other social media platforms, wrote Kate Starbird, (https://medium.com/@katestarbird). Starbird is an Assistant Professor of Human Centered Design & Engineering at University of Washington and a leading expert on so-called “crisis informatics.”

In activity reminiscent of the disinformation campaigns that roiled the U.S. Presidential election in 2016 (https://democrats-intelligence.house.gov/facebook-ads/social-media-advertisements.htm), articles by what Starbird describes as “a few prominent journalists and bloggers” writing for self described “alternative” news sites like 21stCenturyWire, GlobalResearch, MintPressNews, and ActivistPost are picked up by other, smaller and more niche web sites including both left- and right-leaning partisan news sites, “clickbait sites” and conspiracy theory websites.

Government funded media outlets from Syria, Iran, Hezbollah and Russia figure prominently in the Syrian disinformation campaign, Starbird’s team found. In particular, “Russian government-funded media outlets (i.e. SputnikNews and RT) play a prominent and multi-faceted role within this ecosystem,” she wrote.

Submission + - Hacker Shuts Down Copenhagen's Public City Bikes System (bleepingcomputer.com)

An anonymous reader writes: An unidentified hacker has breached Bycyklen —Copenhagen's city bikes network— and deleted the organization's entire database, disabling the public's access to bicycles over the weekend. The hack took place on the night between Friday, May 4, and Saturday, May 5, the organization said on its website. Bycyklen described the hack as "rather primitive," alluding it may have been carried out "by a person with a great deal of knowledge of its IT infrastructure."

Almost 2,000 bikes were affected, and the company's employees have been working for days, searching for bikes docked across the city and installing a manual update to restore functionality. The company is holding a "treasure hunt", asking users to hunt down and identify non-functional bikes.

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