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Submission + - Ex-Google Engineer Launches Blockchain-Based System For Banks (

An anonymous reader writes: A former Google engineer, whose speech recognition software is used in more than a billion Android smartphones, has launched a company that uses blockchain technology to build a new operating system for banks. Paul Taylor, a Cambridge University academic with an expertise in artificial intelligence, speech synthesis and machine learning, started working on the system, called Vault OS, two years ago in a basement in London's Shoreditch district, known for being a tech start-up hub. The technology, which underpins the digital currency bitcoin, creates a shared database in which participants can trace every transaction ever made. The ledger is tamper-proof and transparent, meaning that transactions can be processed without the need for third-party verification. The system also negates the need for costly in-house data centers, as it uses cloud-based systems, which banks can use on a "pay-as-you-go" basis, which means that there is no single point of failure. Taylor said major high-street banks were spending around a billion pounds ($1.3 billion) a year on computer technology, much of which he said was being used for propping up the current "legacy" systems rather than on any innovative technology. The start-up has been working with about ten banks, Taylor said, at least one of which would be starting a trial using the new system in August. He expects the system to be up-and-running within about a year.

Submission + - Apple not allowed to open stores in India (

ffkom writes: Reuters writes:

India has said Apple Inc must meet a rule obliging foreign retailers to sell at least 30 percent locally-sourced goods if it wishes to open stores in the country, a senior government official told Reuters.

A change in legislation last year exempted foreign retailers selling high-tech goods from the rule, which states 30 percent of the value of goods sold in the store should be made in India.

However, Apple's products were not considered to be in this category, said the official, who has direct knowledge of the matter.

Now just imagine what Apple stores in the US would look like if 30% of their offerings had to be made in the US...

Submission + - Walker Rents Out Email and Donor Lists To Pay Campaign Debt (

An anonymous reader writes: In an effort to pay off his hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt racked up from his failed presidential run, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is renting out his email and donor lists to other candidates. Wisconsin Gazette reports: "The campaign owed $1.2 million at the end of 2015 and has paid off about $308,000 since then, according to campaign finance records. The bulk of those payments have been made possible by income from Granite Lists, a New Hampshire-based company that rents out Republican donor lists. Granite Lists has paid more than $172,000 to Walker's campaign since it ended in September. In April alone, Granite Lists brought the campaign nearly $50,000, comprising most of the total $70,930 the campaign brought in that month. In addition to flat-rate charges, candidates can set up revenue-sharing agreements, where some of the proceeds they obtain from donors are diverted back to the list owner. Candidates can also pay a flat rate of $10,500 to email Walker's entire 675,000-person email list and $7,000 to email the 225,000 donors and presidential sign-ups, according to Granite Lists website. [Granite Lists] calls Walker's donor file 'one of the hottest donor lists to hit the market in years.'"

Submission + - Smartphone surveillance tech used to target anti-abortion ads at pregnant women

VoiceOfDoom writes: From Rewire

Last year, an enterprising advertising executive based in Boston, Massachusetts, had an idea: Instead of using his sophisticated mobile surveillance techniques to figure out which consumers might be interested in buying shoes, cars, or any of the other products typically advertised online, what if he used the same technology to figure out which women were potentially contemplating abortion, and send them ads on behalf of anti-choice organizations?

Regardless of one's personal stance on the pro-choice/anti-abortion debate, the unfettered use of tracking and ad-targeting technology which makes this kind of application possible is surely a cause for concern. In Europe, Canada and many other parts of the world, the use of a person's data in this way would be illegal thanks to strict privacy laws. Is it time for the US to consider a similar approach to protect its citizens?

Submission + - WikiLeaks Exposes TISA Trade Deal Secrets (

An anonymous reader writes: The leaked documents show how stipulations outlined in the TISA documents advanced the "deregulation" of big corporations entering overseas markets.

According to the leaked documents, the TISA rules would also restrict governmentsâ(TM) ability to determine the size or growth of certain economic activities and entities, preventing nations from limiting the size of foreign companies in the market.

"The TISA provisions in their current form will establish a wide range of new grounds for domestic regulations to be challenged by corporations â" even those without a local presence in that country," WikiLeaks warned on Wednesday.

The whistleblowing website went on to note that the proposals and language contained in the text promotes what it described as âoethe corporatization of public services.â

There is growing evidence that the privatization of state-owned companies leads to an increase in costs for consumers. In the 34 OECD countries, for example, the average price for energy charged by private companies is 23.1 percent higher than the price charged by public companies.

Submission + - Valve's Dota 2 Shows Vulkan API Beginning To Meet Performance Promise (

An anonymous reader writes: This week marked the availability of Vulkan support in Dota 2, Valve's multiplayer online battle arena game. This support is still in its early stages — as are Vulkan graphics drivers after making their initial debut in February, but already the Dota 2 numbers are promising. OpenGL vs. Vulkan benchmarks of Dota 2 under Ubuntu Linux show in the more CPU-limited cases that Vulkan is noticeably faster than OpenGL. The results for both AMGPU-PRO and NVIDIA Linux drivers show Dota 2's Vulkan renderer being around 16% faster than the Source 2's OpenGL renderer. At higher resolutions, there were minimal performance differences. When the Vulkan renderer was in use, the reported CPU utilization was also measurably lower.

Submission + - FBI Wants to Exempt Its Massive Biometric Database from Federal Privacy Rules (

schwit1 writes: The FBI wants to block individuals from knowing if their information is in a massive repository of biometric records, which includes fingerprints and facial scans, if the release of information would "compromise" a law enforcement investigation.

The FBI’s biometric database, known as the “Next Generation Identification System,” gathers a wide scope of information, including palm prints, fingerprints, iris scans, facial and tattoo photographs, and biographies for millions of people.

On Thursday, the Justice Department agency plans to propose the database be exempt from several provisions of the Privacy Act — legislation that requires federal agencies to share information about the records they collect with the individual subject of those records, allowing them to verify and correct them if needed.

Aside from criminals, suspects and detainees, the system includes data from people fingerprinted for jobs, licenses, military or volunteer service, background checks, security clearances, and naturalization, among other government processes.

Submission + - Buzz Aldrin brings his message of going to Mars to CPAC 2016 (

MarkWhittington writes: Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who rumor has it is advising Donald Trump on space policy, addressed the 2016 CPAC in Washington DC on his favorite subject, which is sending humans to Mars. CPAC is an unusual venue to talk about space missions. One usually hears speeches about burning issues such as immigration and health care at CPAC meetings. 2016 is an election year, so a lot of political posturing from speakers, many of them candidates for public office, can be expected.

Submission + - Former NASA officials vent on Obama space policy at the House Science Committee (

MarkWhittington writes: As Ars Technica noted, the House Science Committee held a hearing that was labeled as a discussion of a bill called The Space Leadership Preservation Act being offered by Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas. The hearing did touch on the bill, meant to provide some stability to NASA by reforming the appointment of administrators and how its budget is developed. But the session soon morphed into an airing of grievances over the abrupt cancellation of the Constellation program by President Obama. Six years after the deed, many at the space agency still seethe.

Submission + - Why Are Apple's Competitors Staying Silent On The iPhone Unlocking Fight?

erier2003 writes: A court order forcing Apple to help the FBI access a terrorism suspect's iPhone has drawn responses from leading tech companies, newspaper editorial boards, and security experts. But one major faction is staying largely silent: the computer and smartphone manufacturers who compete with Apple for business and could be subject to similar orders in the future if the company loses its high-profile case.

Silicon Valley software firms have universally backed Apple in its fight against the Justice Department, which won a ruling Tuesday from a California magistrate judge compelling Apple to design custom software to bypass security features on an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters. But Apple's hardware competitors are staying on the sidelines.

Submission + - Dual-GPU AMD R9 Fury X2 To Deliver 12 TFLOPs Single Precision Compute Power (

MojoKid writes: In advance of what's sure to be a barrage of VR-related product hitting the market over the next couple of months, a VR-focused conference took place last week in Los Angeles, called VRLA. It also included presentations from notable people in the industry, including AMD VP of Alliances Roy Taylor. Back in December, we learned that AMD is holding off on the release of its dual-GPU Radeon R9 Fury X2 to make a bigger impact on VR. At VRLA, Taylor let it slip that the card will boast performance of 12 TFLOPs, single precision. Whether this is impressive or not depends on how you slice up the performance projections from there. The Fury X, AMD's current top-end card, is spec'd at 8.6 TFLOPs, which means that the Fury X2 will be roughly 40% faster (at least on paper). Potential pricing aside, 12 TFLOPs is a lot of horsepower. NVIDIA's GeForce TITAN X, for example, is just half that, at 6.1 TFLOPs. It's safe to say that the Fury X2, whenever it does get here, is going to be powerful and likely rather pricey.

Submission + - Drug Case in Ireland Has Fingerprints of Carnegie Mellon's Attack on Tor

blottsie writes: Newly released evidence shows that Irish detectives who worked the case of two convicted drug dealers may have also used data obtained through CMU’s Software Engineering Institute's methods.

Mannion and O'Connor were arrested on Nov. 5, 2014, according to a database of Dark Net arrests created by independent researcher Gwern Branwen. That’s the same day that the owner of Silk Road 2.0, the replacement for the infamous drug marketplace Silk Road, was arrested. The IP addresses of Silk Road 2.0 were provided to the FBI by a “source of information,” according to a search warrant in another case impacted by the attack on Tor, which court documents later confirmed was a university-based research institute.

Submission + - Attacks Using TeslaCrypt Ransomware Intensify (

itwbennett writes: The number of attacks using the TeslaCrypt file-encrypting ransomware program has picked up in the past two weeks. Infection attempts detected by Symantec have gone up from around 200 a day to 1,800. One cybercriminal group using TeslaCrypt sends spam emails whose subject lines 'begin with 'ID,' followed by a random number and a request related to alleged invoices, successful orders or wire transfers,' writes Lucian Constantin. This suggests that the attackers are targeting businesses, a trend that started over the summer.

Submission + - Ex-US State Dept. worker pleads guilty to extensive sextortion case (

coondoggie writes: The former US Department of State man accused of hacking into hundreds of victims’ e-mail and social media accounts, stealing thousands of sexually explicit photographs, and threatening at least 75 victims that he would post those photos and other personal information unless they agreed to his “sextortionate” demands has entered a guilty plea to the nefarious attacks.

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