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Facebook Sues Analytics Firm Rankwave Over Data Misuse

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Wt, 2019-05-14 01:30
Facebook revealed last Friday that it has filed a lawsuit alleging South Korean analytics firm Rankwave abused its developer platform's data, and has refused to cooperate with a mandatory compliance audit and request to delete the data. TechCrunch reports: Facebook's lawsuit centers around Rankwave offering to help businesses build a Facebook authorization step into their apps so they can pass all the user data to Rankwave, which then analyzes biographic and behavioral traits to supply user contact info and ad targeting assistance to the business. Rankwave also apparently misused data sucked in by its own consumer app for checking your social media "influencer score." That app could pull data about your Facebook activity such as location checkins, determine that you've checked into a baseball stadium, and then Rankwave could help its clients target you with ads for baseball tickets. The use of a seemingly fun app to slurp up user data and repurpose it for other business goals is strikingly similar to how Cambridge Analytica's personality quiz app tempted millions of users to provide data about themselves and their friends. TechCrunch has attained a copy of the lawsuit that alleges that Rankwave misused Facebook data outside of the apps where it was collected, purposefully delayed responding to a cease-and-desist order, claimed it didn't violate Facebook policy, lied about not using its apps since 2018 when they were accessed in April 2019, and then refused to comply with a mandatory audit of its data practices. Facebook Platform data is not supposed to be repurposed for other business goals, only for the developer to improve their app's user experience.

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Twitter Bug Shared Location Data For Some iOS Users

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Wt, 2019-05-14 00:51
Twitter today disclosed a bug in its platform that impacted the privacy of some its iOS app's users. From a report: "We have discovered that we were inadvertently collecting and sharing iOS location data with one of our trusted partners in certain circumstances," Twitter said. The company said the bug only occurred on its iOS app where users added a second Twitter account on their phones. If they allowed Twitter access to precise location data in one account, then that setting was applied to both accounts managed via the iOS app. This meant the app sent precise location data to Twitter, which then made it available to "a trusted partner during an advertising process known as real-time bidding," even for accounts users didn't agree to share such info.

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Accused of 'Terrorism' For Putting Legal Materials Online

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pn, 2019-05-13 21:30
Carl Malamud believes in open access to government records, and he has spent more than a decade putting them online. You might think states would welcome the help. From a report: But when Mr. Malamud's group posted the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, the state sued for copyright infringement. Providing public access to the state's laws and related legal materials, Georgia's lawyers said, was part of a "strategy of terrorism." A federal appeals court ruled against the state, which has asked the Supreme Court to step in. On Friday, in an unusual move, Mr. Malamud's group, Public.Resource.Org, also urged the court to hear the dispute, saying that the question of who owns the law is an urgent one, as about 20 other states have claimed that parts of similar annotated codes are copyrighted. The issue, the group said, is whether citizens can have access to "the raw materials of our democracy." The case, Georgia v. Public.Resource.Org, No. 18-1150, concerns the 54 volumes of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, which contain state statutes and related materials. The state, through a legal publisher, makes the statutes themselves available online, and it has said it does not object to Mr. Malamud doing the same thing. But people who want to see other materials in the books, the state says, must pay the publisher.

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Supreme Court Says Apple Will Have To Face App Store Monopoly Lawsuit

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pn, 2019-05-13 18:51
A group of iPhone owners accusing Apple of violating US antitrust rules because of its App Store monopoly can sue the company, the Supreme Court ruled Monday. From a report: The Supreme Court upheld the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' decision in Apple v. Pepper, agreeing in a 5-4 decision that Apple app buyers could sue the company for allegedly driving up prices. "Apple's line-drawing does not make a lot of sense, other than as a way to gerrymander Apple out of this and similar lawsuits," wrote Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Apple had claimed that iOS users were technically buying apps from developers, while developers themselves were Apple's App Store customers. According to an earlier legal doctrine known as Illinois Brick, "indirect purchasers" of a product don't have the standing to file antitrust cases. But in today's decision, the Supreme Court determined that this logic doesn't apply to Apple.

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Facebook Says Breaking Up Facebook Won't Do Any Good

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - N, 2019-05-12 20:38
Thursday Facebook's co-founder called for the government to break up the company. Saturday Facebook responded, according to an article shared by Slashdot reader soldersold: Nick Clegg, Facebook's vice president for global affairs and communications wrote the piece, and in it, he agrees with Hughes that "companies should be held accountable for their actions," and that tech companies such as Facebook shouldn't be the ones handling all of the "important social, political and ethical questions" for the internet. But he notes that breaking Facebook up -- as Hughes calls for -- would be the wrong way to go. "The challenges he alludes to," Clegg writes, "including election interference and privacy safeguards, won't evaporate by breaking up Facebook or any other big tech company...." Zuckerberg also responded to the op-ed while in France, saying that "my main reaction was that what [Hughes is] proposing that we do isn't going to do anything to help solve those issues." Notably, Clegg sidesteps what's probably the op-ed's main focus: Zuckerberg himself. Hughes notes that while the CEO is a good person, he holds far too much power at Facebook, and can't be held accountable there -- he calls the shots. "The government must hold Mark accountable," Hughes wrote. The article also notes that Clegg "pushed back" against the argument that Facebook is a dominant monopoly, by "saying that its revenue only makes up 20 percent of the advertising marketplace..." "He goes on to reiterate many of Facebook's regular talking points: that it's been a net-positive for the world by connecting everyone, allowing businesses to thrive and people to raise lots of money for important causes around the world."

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Bitcoin-Trading 'Seasteader' Now on the Run For His Life

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - N, 2019-05-12 05:34
An American bitcoin trader and his girlfriend became the first couple to actually live on a "seastead" -- a 20-meter octagon floating in international waters a full 12 nautical miles from Thailand. Long-time Slashdot reader SonicSpike shared this article from the libertarian Foundation for Economic Education describing what happened next: [W]hile they got to experience true sovereignty for a handful of weeks, their experiment was cut short after the Thai government declared that their seastead was a threat to its national sovereignty... Asserting that [their seastead] "Exly" was still within Thailand's 200-mile exclusive economic zone, the government made plans to charge the couple with threatening Thailand's national sovereignty, a crime punishable by death. However, before the Thai Navy could come detain the couple, they were tipped off and managed to escape. They are now on the run, fleeing for their lives. Venture capitalist and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel has donated over $1 million to the Seasteading Institute -- though news about this first experiment must be discouraging. "We lived on a floating house boat for a few weeks and now Thailand wants us killed," one of the seasteaders posted on his Facebook feed. Last week the Arizona Republic reported that since the Thai government dismantled his ocean home, he's been "on the run" for over two weeks.

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Feds Nab Exec On Allegations He Hacked To Steal Info About School Lunches

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2019-05-11 22:34
"After a year-long investigation, a top California exec has been arrested by the FBI for allegedly hacking into a competitor's website and stealing their customer data in an effort to ruin their business," writes long-time Slashdot reader sandbagger. "There is an unusual twist, however: this isn't the high-stakes world of big tech or high finance, but American school lunches." The Register reports: Chief financial officer of Choicelunch, Keith Wesley Cosbey, 40, was collared last month over claims that he illegally grabbed details from competitor The LunchMaster on what precisely youngsters across the San Francisco Bay Area like to eat and are allergic to. He has been charged with unlawful computer access and fraud, and identity theft. If found guilty, Cosbey faces up to three years behind bars. According to the criminal complaint against him, filed in San Mateo County, Cosbey stole data on hundreds of students, and then sent it anonymously to the local government department that oversees the school lunch program in an apparent effort to undermine his competitor. The approach backfired, though, when the California Department of Education contacted The LunchMaster about the data leak, and the company searched its access logs, it is claimed. It apparently tracked the intrusion down to an IP address associated with Danville, California -- where Choicelunch is headquartered. The LunchMaster then contacted the FBI, the San Francisco Chronicle reported... The school lunch provider's CFO is now out on $125,000 bail, the article points out -- another reminder of the cutthroat competition for annual multi-million-dollar contracts with school districts. Previously the same school lunch provider had even tried suing that same competitor for "copyright infringement" over their web site and software -- even issuing DMCA notices. "The case landed in front of tech-savvy Judge William Alsup," reports the Register, "who made it plain he wasn't happy about people using copyright laws on web designs to tear down someone's online operation."

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'Is TikTok a Chinese Cambridge Analytica Data Bomb Waiting to Explode?'

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2019-05-11 21:34
CBS News calls TikTok "the first major contender since Snapchat to possibly disrupt a market dominated by social media behemoth Facebook. "The mere three-year-old startup even comes with a history of data-privacy controversies." Created by China start-up ByteDance in 2016, TikTok has already been downloaded over 1 billion times globally, surpassing both Facebook and Instagram in app installs last year, according to analytics site Sensor Tower.... It's also more than just a plucky tech start-up. ByteDance, which owns TikTok, is the single largest start-up in the world, surpassing Uber in valuation with $78 billion. It has funding from some of the world's highest-profile investors, including Japanese conglomerate SoftBank (also an investor in Uber). However, TikTok has already come under fire from government regulators and parents for data-privacy concerns and what some critics call predatory practices on the app regarding children. And additional concerns were raised this week by data rights advocate David Carroll, an associate professor of media design whose 2017 lawsuit against Cambridge Analytica indirectly led to a January criminal conviction of the administrators of Cambridge Analytica in the UK. If the cataclysmic scandal taught us anything, it was that some of the secrets of the data trade wars are buried in the fine print no one reads. In preparation for when my kids begin asking about the hugely popular lip-sync app TikTok, I dug into its privacy policy and its recent revisions. If you joined TikTok before 2019, what I found should worry you... Having learned the crucial lesson of data sovereignty through my experiences with Facebook's favorite democracy-destabilizing personality quiz, I'm now hyper-sensitized to the question of where our personal data ends up... I did the thing that almost no one does: I read their privacy policy. I was alarmed to see this section, which in late 2018 stated that TikTok user data may be transferred to China. This discovery leads him to one inevitable question. "Is TikTok a Chinese Cambridge Analytica data bomb waiting to explode?"

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After City Switched To a New Bodycam Vendor, Axon Threatened Its Credit Score

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2019-05-11 20:34
Long-time Slashdot reader v3rgEz shares an article from MuckRock: The deal Fontana Police Department struck with Axon sounded simple enough: a trial of five inexpensive body cameras and, for each of them, a Professional subscription to the company's cloud storage system. When the California city decided to use a different vendor years later, however, it found itself stuck continuing to pay $4,000 per year for an unused service. Exiting the contract, the department was told, could tarnish the city's credit rating -- even though the contract included a "termination for convenience" clause to avoid just that situation. A police department lieutenant tells the site that they ultimately spent over $8,000 for the cloud subscription which they'd already stopped using. (Last year Axon made $160 million from the recurring payments for its data-storage products.) The article also notes that Axon (the company formerly known as Taser, the stun gun manufacturers) now has "some form of customer relationship with 17,000 of the roughly 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the U.S., and it's actively working to grow its international customer base, making it one of the most ubiquitous providers of police technology."

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US Regulators Approve New Silicon Valley Stock Exchange

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2019-05-11 05:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: U.S. regulators on Friday approved a new stock exchange that is the brainchild of a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, a move that will give high-growth technology companies more options to list their shares outside of the traditional New York exchanges. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission approved the creation of the Long-Term Stock Exchange, or LTSE, a Silicon Valley-based national securities exchange promoting what it says is a unique approach to governance and voting rights, while reducing short-term pressures on public companies. The LTSE is a bid to build a stock exchange in the country's tech capital that appeals to hot startups, particularly those that are money-losing and want the luxury of focusing on long-term innovation even while trading in the glare of the public markets. The stock exchange was proposed to the SEC in November by technology entrepreneur, author and startup adviser Eric Ries, who has been working on the idea for years. He raised $19 million from venture capitalists to get his project off the ground, but approval from U.S. regulators was necessary to launch the exchange. The new exchange would have extra rules designed to encourage companies to focus on long-term innovation rather than the grind of quarterly earnings reports by asking companies to limit executive bonuses that award short-term accomplishments. It would also require more disclosure to investors about meeting key milestones and plans, and reward long-term shareholders by giving them more voting power the longer they hold the stock.

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Researchers Are Liberating Thousands of Pages of Forgotten Hacking History From the Government

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2019-05-10 22:11
An anonymous reader writes: In 1989, just a few months after the web became a reality, a computer worm infected thousands of computers across the world, including those of NASA. Late last month -- 30 years after the "WANK worm" struck NASA -- the agency released an internal report that the agency wrote at the time, thanks to a journalist and a security researcher who have embarked on a project to use the Freedom of Information Act to get documents on historical hacking incidents. The project is called "Hacking History," and the people behind it are freelance journalists Emma Best, and security researcher (and former NSA hacker) Emily Crose. The two are crowdfunding to raise money to cover the costs of the FOIA requests via the document requesting platform MuckRock. In the last few years, hackers and the cybersecurity industry have gone mainstream, earning headlines in major newspapers, becoming key plotlines in Hollywood movies, and even getting a hit TV show. But it hasn't always been this way. For decades, infosec and hacking was a niche industry that got very little news coverage and very little public attention. As a result, the ancient and not so ancient history of hacking has a lot of holes. Now, the two women are trying to fill in those gaps in hacker history, like missing pieces of a puzzle, sending FOIA requests to several US government agencies, including the FBI.

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Tenants Win as Settlement Orders Landlords Give Physical Keys Over Smart Locks

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2019-05-10 19:31
The physical key has prevailed over the smart lock for a group of tenants with privacy concerns. From a report: In a settlement released Tuesday, a judge ordered landlords of an apartment building in New York to provide physical keys to any tenants who don't want to use the Latch smart locks installed on the building last September. The settlement is a first, as there's no legal precedent or legislation deciding how landlords can use smart home technology. Since the technology is relatively new, lawmakers haven't had time to catch up with smart home devices, and this case in New York is one of the few legal challenges to appear in court. It won't set a legal precedent because it's a settlement, but it represents a win for tenants who had issues with smart locks and landlords installing them against their will.

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Drones Used Missiles With Knife Warhead To Take Out Single Terrorist Targets

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2019-05-10 12:00
Zorro shares a report from The Wall Street Journal: The U.S. government has developed a specially designed, secret missile for pinpoint airstrikes that kill terrorist leaders with no explosion (Warning: source paywalled; alternative source), drastically reducing damage and minimizing the chances of civilian casualties. Both the Central Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon have used the weapon while closely guarding its existence. A modified version of the well-known Hellfire missile, the weapon carries an inert warhead. Instead of exploding, it is designed to plunge more than 100 pounds of metal through the tops of cars and buildings to kill its target without harming individuals and property close by. To the targeted person, it is as if a speeding anvil fell from the sky, the officials said. But this variant of the Hellfire missile, designated as the R9X, also comes equipped with a different kind of payload: a halo of six long blades that are stowed inside and then deploy through the skin of the missile seconds before impact, shredding anything in its tracks. The R9X is known colloquially to the small community of individuals who are familiar with its use as "the flying Ginsu," for the blades that can cut through buildings or car roofs and kill the target. The nickname is a reference to the popular knives sold on TV infomercials in the late 1970s and early 1980s that showed them cutting through both tree branches and tomatoes. The weapon has also been referred to as the Ninja bomb.

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The Rise of Fear-Based Social Media Like Nextdoor, Citizen, and Now Amazon's Neighbors

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2019-05-10 05:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Vox: Violent crime in the U.S. is at its lowest rate in decades. But you wouldn't know that from a crop of increasingly popular social media apps that are forming around crime. Apps like Nextdoor, Citizen, and Amazon Ring's Neighbors -- all of which allow users to view local crime in real time and discuss it with people nearby -- are some of the most downloaded social and news apps in the U.S., according to rankings from the App Store and Google Play. Nextdoor was the ninth most-downloaded lifestyle app in the U.S. on iPhones at the end of April, according to App Annie, a mobile data and analytics provider; that's up from No. 27 a year ago in the social networking category. (Nextdoor changed its app category from social to lifestyle on April 30; on April 29 it was ranked 14th in social, according to App Annie.) Amazon Ring's Neighbors is the 36th most-downloaded social app. When it launched last year, it was 115th. Citizen, which considers itself a news app, was the seventh most-downloaded news app on iOS at the end of April, up from ninth last year and 29th in 2017. These apps have become popular because of -- and have aggravated -- the false sense that danger is on the rise. Americans seem to think crime is getting worse, according to data from both Gallup and Pew Research Center. In fact, crime has fallen steeply in the last 25 years according to both the FBI and the Bureau of Justice Statistics. David Ewoldsen, professor of media and information at Michigan State University, says these apps foment fear around crime, which feeds into existing biases and racism and largely reinforces stereotypes around skin color. As Steven Renderos, senior campaigns director at the Center for Media Justice, put it, "These apps are not the definitive guides to crime in a neighborhood -- it is merely a reflection of people's own bias, which criminalizes people of color, the unhoused, and other marginalized communities." A recent Motherboard article found that the majority of people posted as "suspicious" on Neighbors in a gentrified Brooklyn neighborhood were people of color.

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San Francisco Proposes 'IPO Tax' On Eve of Uber Offering

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2019-05-10 04:10
"San Francisco voters this November will be asked to approve a corporate tax increase on stock-based compensation from 0.38% to 1.5%," reports Axios. Since the rate hike would be retroactive to May 7, it would apply to Uber's recent $8 billion IPO. From a report: San Francisco Board of Supervisor Gordon Mar said six supervisors are supporting the ordinance -- the minimum number needed to get the measure on the Nov. 5 ballot. The full board is expected to vote on the plan within the next two months. At least two-thirds of voters would need to support the proposal for it to pass. Mar's proposal calls for raising the stock-based compensation tax from 0.38 percent to 1.5 percent. That increase would generate hundreds of millions of dollars for the city. The tax is levied on San Francisco companies when employees who receive stock as part of their compensation decide to cash in those shares on the public markets or on secondary markets. But Mar's proposed ordinance concerns the Bay Area Council, which advocates for businesses. "There's no version of this poorly conceived scheme that would get our support," said Rufus Jeffris, a spokesman for the Bay Area Council. "And if the BOS approves putting this misguided proposal on the ballot, we believe voters will communicate the same message." The Bay Area Council is concerned that the higher tax would discourage investment, innovation and jobs in the region.

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New HHS Rule To Force Drug Companies To List Prices In TV Ads

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2019-05-10 03:30
schwit1 writes: The new rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will force companies to disclose the prices of prescription drugs covered by Medicare and Medicaid that cost $35 or more for a month's supply. Addressing high prescription drug prices has been one issue that the Trump administration and Democrats have agreed on over the past two years, with Congress calling big pharma executives and pharmacy heads to testify. "Requiring the inclusion of drugs' list prices in TV ads is the single most significant step any administration has taken toward a simple commitment: American patients deserve to know the prices of the healthcare they receive," Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement.

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Millions of People Uploaded Photos To the Ever App. Then the Company Used Them To Develop Facial Recognition Tools.

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2019-05-09 22:50
An anonymous reader shares a report: "Make memories": That's the slogan on the website for the photo storage app Ever, accompanied by a cursive logo and an example album titled "Weekend with Grandpa." Everything about Ever's branding is warm and fuzzy, about sharing your "best moments" while freeing up space on your phone. What isn't obvious on Ever's website or app -- except for a brief reference that was added to the privacy policy after NBC News reached out to the company in April -- is that the photos people share are used to train the company's facial recognition system, and that Ever then offers to sell that technology to private companies, law enforcement and the military. In other words, what began in 2013 as another cloud storage app has pivoted toward a far more lucrative business known as Ever AI -- without telling the app's millions of users.

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Singapore Passes New Law To Police Fake News Despite Concerns

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2019-05-09 17:30
After an intense debate, Singapore's parliament has passed a sweeping "anti-fake news" bill despite concerns raised by journalists, academics and global technology companies over free speech and abuse of power. From a report: Legislators in the island-nation on Wednesday voted to grant government ministers broad powers such as the ability to demand corrections, order the removal of content, or block websites deemed to be propagating falsehoods contrary to the public interest. Penalties for not complying with orders include steep fines and jail time. Critics say the legislation grants arbitrary powers to government officials to determine what is deemed as fact, arguing that the private sector should be the final arbiter of what constitutes false and irresponsible statements. They say the answer lies in fact-checking websites, vigilance by tech giants such as Google, Facebook and Twitter and increased media literacy to help news consumers better distinguish between the plausible and the improbable.

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Ajit Pai Refuses To Investigate Frontier's Horrible Telecom Service

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2019-05-09 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has rejected a request to have the FCC investigate Frontier Communications' business practices in Minnesota, despite evidence that the company has failed to properly maintain its telecom network. An investigation by the Minnesota Commerce Department already found that Frontier's network has "frequent and lengthy" phone and Internet outages, that Frontier has failed to provide refunds or bill credits to customers even when outages lasted for months, that Frontier is guilty of frequent billing errors that caused customers to pay for services they didn't order, and that it has failed to promptly provide telephone service to all customers who request it. When we wrote about the investigation in January, Frontier said it "strongly disagrees" with the findings but did not dispute any of the specific allegations. The Minnesota Attorney General's office is investigating whether Frontier violated state consumer-protection laws, and the state's two U.S. senators asked Pai to have the FCC investigate as well. When Pai wrote back to the senators, he said that he has asked his staff to "monitor" the state investigation but made no commitment to have the FCC investigate, too. Pai's response and the senators' letter were posted on the FCC's website this week. "For a chairman who is so concerned with rooting out waste, fraud and abuse, it's baffling that the commission tasked with overseeing billions of dollars in public money is declining to investigate the more than a thousand allegations of poor service by a company that receives that public money to provide those services," U.S. Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) told Ars in a statement today. (The Minnesota investigation was based partly on more than 1,000 consumer complaints and statements.)

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Britain Passes One Week Without Coal Power For First Time Since 1882

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2019-05-09 05:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Britain has gone a week without using coal to generate electricity for the first time since Queen Victoria was on the throne, in a landmark moment in the transition away from the heavily polluting fuel. The last coal generator came off the system at 1.24pm on 1 May, meaning the UK reached a week without coal at 1.24pm on Wednesday, according to the National Grid Electricity System Operator, which runs the network in England, Scotland and Wales. The latest achievement – the first coal-free week since 1882, when a plant opened at Holborn in London – comes only two years after Britain's first coal-free day since the Industrial Revolution. Burning coal to generate electricity is thought to be incompatible with avoiding catastrophic climate change, and the UK government has committed to phasing out coal-fired power by 2025.

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