aggregator

Should Airlines Weigh Passengers To Help Cut Carbon Emissions?

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - N, 2019-04-28 03:34
"The equation is simple: The heavier the plane, the more environmentally unfriendly the trip is," notes one report -- yet airplanes are still relying on estimates for their total weight. "A British tech start-up thinks it has a solution: weighing customers to more accurately calculate fuel costs..." "The capture of passenger weights is not complicated," says Roy Fuscone, Chairman & CEO of Fuel Matrix Limited. "A simple weighing device added to the current equipment will capture the weight and the software will register and transmit it in relation to a flight but not necessarily identified to a particular passenger...." The company's website states that benefits from this system include statistically robust information feedback based on airlines' data, significant reduction of CO2 emissions, significant fuel savings, and reduced mechanical stress on aircraft. If you're worried about this data being made public, Fuscone says that the company plans to enable the passenger to retain direct control of their own data so that they can delete it once it has been "employed in the interests of fuel efficiency." It seems like it'd be easier to just weigh the plane after everyone's onboard -- or find some way to calculate weights using the boarding ramp. But the current plans aren't that simple, CNN reports: One proposal is for passengers to supply the information ahead of arriving at the airport, in the same way that they supply passport details. Otherwise, it could be made part of the security process before boarding. "You stand in a scanner that goes round you -- now, clearly while you're standing there being scanned, you could also be being weighed -- very discreetly -- if you haven't wanted to supply your information ahead of time," says Fuel Matrix CEO Roy Fuscone. "It would be very discreet, very private and very confidential." Fuscone stresses that Fuel Matrix has been working with GDPR consultants to ensure the data would remain classified. He points out that airports already collect a lot of information on passengers. This would be just one more element to the equation. "Airports already use biometric data on passengers because they associate an image of your face with your boarding card, so that means that when you buy a ticket it's already in the contract that they can do that," says Fuscone. "So there's no problem with us introducing this, it can be done at various places during the journey through the airport and so we're starting to discuss with people involved in those various phases of the airport. If this is all done properly [...] it will alleviate carbon in the atmosphere and climate change and air pollution."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Is Cyberwarfare War? Insurers Balk At Paying For Some Cyberattacks

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - N, 2019-04-28 00:34
From the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: In an era of unceasing cyberattacks, including cases of state-sponsored hacking, insurance companies are beginning to re-interpret an old line in their contracts known as the "war exclusion." Stripping away the metaphorical connotation of the term "cyberwarfare," big insurers like Zurich Insurance have decided that state-sponsored attacks are basically just plain warfare. This shift comes as the U.S. government is increasingly attributing state-sponsored cyberattacks to their alleged perpetrators, a development that some argue is a means of holding bad actors accountable. But the policy certainly doesn't seem to be doing any favors to the private sector. The maker of Oreo cookies was hit by 2017's "NotPetya" attack, but its insurer refused to cover its $100 million in losses, citing an exclusion for "hostile or warlike action in time of peace or war...by any government or sovereign power." Oreo called their response "unprecedented," saying the war exclusion has always been applied only to "conventional armed conflict" -- and not to cyber-attacks. Slashdot reader Lasrick argues that an insurance company win in court "could make cyberwar much more real -- and costly."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

'They're Basically Lying' - Mental Health Apps Caught Secretly Sharing Data

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2019-04-27 21:34
"Free apps marketed to people with depression or who want to quit smoking are hemorrhaging user data to third parties like Facebook and Google -- but often don't admit it in their privacy policies, a new study reports..." writes The Verge. "You don't have to be a user of Facebook's or Google's services for them to have enough breadcrumbs to ID you," warns Slashdot schwit1. From the article: By intercepting the data transmissions, they discovered that 92 percent of the 36 apps shared the data with at least one third party -- mostly Facebook- and Google-run services that help with marketing, advertising, or data analytics. (Facebook and Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment.) But about half of those apps didn't disclose that third-party data sharing, for a few different reasons: nine apps didn't have a privacy policy at all; five apps did but didn't say the data would be shared this way; and three apps actively said that this kind of data sharing wouldn't happen. Those last three are the ones that stood out to Steven Chan, a physician at Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System, who has collaborated with Torous in the past but wasn't involved in the new study. "They're basically lying," he says of the apps. Part of the problem is the business model for free apps, the study authors write: since insurance might not pay for an app that helps users quit smoking, for example, the only ways for free app developer to stay afloat is to either sell subscriptions or sell data. And if that app is branded as a wellness tool, the developers can skirt laws intended to keep medical information private. A few apps even shared what The Verge calls "very sensitive information" like self reports about substance use and user names.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

PepsiCo Sues Four Indian Farmers For Using Its Patented Lay's Potatoes

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2019-04-27 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: PepsiCo has sued four Indian farmers for cultivating a potato variety that the snack food and drinks maker claims infringes its patent, the company and the growers said on Friday. Pepsi has sued the farmers for cultivating the FC5 potato variety, grown exclusively for its popular Lay's potato chips. The FC5 variety has a lower moisture content required to make snacks such as potato chips. The company is seeking more than $142,840 each for alleged patent infringement. "We have been growing potatoes for a long time and we didn't face this problem ever, as we've mostly been using the seeds saved from one harvest to plant the next year's crop," said Bipin Patel, one of the four farmers sued by Pepsi. Patel did not say how he came by the PepsiCo variety. PepsiCo, which set up its first potato chips plant in India in 1989, supplies the FC5 potato variety to a group of farmers who in turn sell their produce to the company at a fixed price. The company said the four farmers could join the group of growers who exclusively grow the FC5 variety for its Lay's potato chips. "PepsiCo India has proposed to amicably settle with the people who were unlawfully using the seeds of its registered variety. PepsiCo has also proposed that they may become part of its collaborative potato farming program," the company spokesman said in a statement. While the spokesman said the farmers can sign an agreement to cultivate other available varieties if they do not wish to grow the FC5 potato variety for PepsiCo, it raises the question of whether farmers should have the right to grow and sell trademarked crops. More generally, it brings up the controversial question: should plants be patented? The original ending of the "Little Shop of Horrors" movie musical has a scene with an agent haggling over the rights to the giant plant. He shouts "We don't have to deal with you. A god-damn vegetable is public domain! You ask our lawyers!"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Elon Musk Makes Deal With SEC Not To Discuss Tesla's Finances Without a Lawyer's Approval

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2019-04-27 03:25
Two months after the SEC asked a federal judge to hold Tesla CEO Elon Musk in contempt for breaking terms of a settlement agreement with a tweet, the two have reportedly reached an agreement. Under the terms of the agreement, which still needs to be approved by a judge, Musk agreed not to tweet or otherwise disseminate information about Tesla's finances, production numbers or certain other information without a lawyer's approval. CNBC reports: The late Friday agreement [...] lays out exactly what kind of information requires formal legal review before being shared. This oversight process is now required for the company's blog, statements made on investor calls, as well as social media posts for material information. [CNBC has the laundry list of items laid out in the filing included in their report.] This superseding agreement settles a dispute between the SEC and Musk about whether the Tesla chief violated the terms of their original deal in which he had agreed to clear his tweets containing material information about the company before posting. The SEC had asserted that Musk never sought clearance for any tweet. The SEC first charged Musk last year, alleging he made fraudulent statements on Twitter. On Aug. 7, Musk tweeted that he had "funding secured" to take Tesla private at $420 per share. In the first deal, Musk had also agreed to pay a civil penalty of $20 million and forfeit his role as chairman of the board for at least three years. The company also paid a $20 million fine. "Some feared the SEC situation was not going to be resolved favorably so this resolution is a sigh of relief for the bulls. Tesla has enough bad news on its plate so this removes one headache for the Street with the focus now core demand and profitability," said Dan Ives, managing director for equity research at Wedbush Securities.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

FBI Searches Microbiome Testing Startup uBiome In Billing Probe

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2019-04-27 01:20
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Wall Street Journal: Special agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation searched the offices of lab-test startup uBiome Inc. on Friday morning (Warning: source paywalled; alternative source), according to a person with knowledge of the matter. The FBI is investigating uBiome's billing practices. An FBI spokeswoman said, "I can confirm that special agents from the FBI San Francisco Division are present at 360 Langton Street in San Francisco conducting court-authorized law-enforcement activity. Due to the ongoing nature of the investigation, I cannot provide any additional details at this time." According to public records, uBiome has a headquarters office at that address. uBiome sells tests for the microbiome, which refers to the group of microorganisms that live in the digestive tract and other parts of the body, under names including Explorer and SmartGut. The company, which calls itself the "leading microbial genomics company," was one of the earliest firms in the microbiome testing field, launching in 2012 with a crowdfunding campaign that raised $350,000. Last year, uBiome said it had raised $83 million from firms including OS Fund and Y Combinator. uBiome describes its SmartGut and SmartJane tests as "an insurance-reimbursed test ordered by a health-care provider." "We are cooperating fully with federal authorities on this matter. We look forward to continuing to serve the needs of healthcare providers and patients," a spokeswoman for uBiome said Friday. In an interview last week that included questions about scrutiny of uBiome's billing practices, uBiome Chief Executive Jessica Richman said that "compliance is our highest value" and that uBiome's billing and other practices are proper.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Bitcoin Drops 7 Percent On Allegations of $850 Million Fraud By Bitfinex By New York Attorney General

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2019-04-27 00:03
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Register: The price of Bitcoin has dropped seven per cent after New York's Attorney General accused leading exchange Bitfinex of trying to hide $850 million in missing funds. The accusation came in a legal filing [PDF] on Thursday that claims Bitfinex raided the reserves of Tether -- a digital currency that is kept at parity with the U.S. dollar in order to allow traders to switch easily between real and virtual currencies -- in order to make up the massive shortfall. Both Tether and Bitfinex are headquartered in the tax haven of the British Virgin Islands and, according to the NY Attorney General, are owned and run by the same group of executives and staff. Tether is a so-called "stablecoin" and the company claims that every Tether virtual coin is backed by a dollar held in reserves, the idea being that people can be assured of its stability. But last month, on March 4, the NY Attorney General notes that Tether changed that assurance to note that "every Tether is always 100 per cent backed by our reserves, which include traditional currency and cash equivalents and, from time to time, may include other assets and receivables from loans made by Tether to third parties." [...] As part of that investigation, the OAG uncovered documents that purportedly show that in mid-2018 Bitfinex didn't have sufficient real-world currency deposits to meet customer demand.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Founder of Voat, the 'Censorship-Free' Reddit, Begs Users To Stop Making Death Threats

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2019-04-26 21:27
New submitter scullyitsaliens writes: The Reddit clone Voat has reportedly been contacted by a "US agency" about threats being made on the censorship-free website, according to its founder Justin Chastain. In a post on Wednesday, Chastain (who goes by PuttItOut on Voat) told users they need to "chill on the 'threats,'" as the platform had been officially approached by an unnamed agency over some of its content. Chastain said he didn't want to litigate free speech, but that Voat would cooperate with law enforcement and remove "gray area" posts if asked. Voat users took offense to the perceived curtailing of their ability to post racial slurs and endorse violence.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Zuckerberg Warns of Authoritarian Data Localization Trend

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2019-04-26 20:48
If free nations demand companies store data locally, it legitimizes that practice for authoritarian nations, which can then steal that data for their own nefarious purposes, according to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. From a report: He laid out the threat in a new 93-minute video of a discussion with Sapiens author Yuval Noah Harari released today as part of Zuckerberg's 2019 personal challenge of holding public talks on the future of tech. Zuckerberg has stated that Facebook will refuse to comply with laws and set up local data centers in authoritarian countries where that data could be snatched. Russia and China already have data localization laws, but privacy concerns and regulations proposals could see more nations adopt the restrictions. Germany now requires telecommunications metadata to be stored locally, and India does something similar for payments data. While in democratic or justly ruled nations, the laws can help protect user privacy and give governments more leverage over tech companies, they pave the way for similar laws in nations where governments might use military might to see the data. That could help them enhance their surveillance capabilities, disrupt activism or hunt down dissidents.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

New York Attorney General To Investigate Facebook Email Collection

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2019-04-26 02:03
The New York State attorney general's office plans to open an investigation into Facebook's unauthorized collection of more than 1.5 million users' email address books, according to The New York Times, citing two people briefed on the matter. From the report: The inquiry concerns a practice unearthed in April in which Facebook harvested the email contact lists of a portion of new users who signed up for the network after 2016, according to the two people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the inquiry had not been officially announced. Those lists were then used to improve Facebook's ad-targeting algorithms and other friend connections across the network. "Facebook has repeatedly demonstrated a lack of respect for consumers' information while at the same time profiting from mining that data," said Letitia James, the attorney general of New York, in a statement. "It is time Facebook is held accountable for how it handles consumers' personal information." The attorney general's investigation will focus on how the practice came about, and whether or not the email contact collection spread to hundreds of millions more people across the social network, according to the two people. Nearly 2.4 billion people use Facebook each month, with 1.56 billion people visiting the site at least once every day.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Ask Slashdot: Would a Separate, Walled-Off 'SafeNet' Help Reduce Cybercrime?

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2019-04-26 01:20
dryriver writes: Imagine for a second that a second, smaller internet infrastructure is built parallel to, but separate from, the regular internet. Lets call this the SafeNet. The SafeNet, which does not allow anonymous use, is not intended for general purpose use like watching Youtube videos, downloading a Steam game, or going on Facebook. Rather, it is a safer, more policed mini-internet that you access through a purpose-built terminal device and use for security critical tasks like online banking, stock trading, medical data transfer and sending confidential business emails, text messages or documents or other things that you don't trust the general internet with. For example, if you are buying a $250,000 home for your family, you would issue the payments and documents side of this via the SafeNet with a SafeNet terminal device, not over the internet, with a generic computing device. SafeNet requires every user to be government photo-ID registered -- you cannot use SafeNet anonymously like the internet. The network knows who you are, where you are, and you can't hide behind VPNs, proxies or other anonymizers on this network. SafeNet also has a police force that can be alerted if you are hacked, tricked or scammed in any way. Would an internet alternative -- a smaller, separate parallel network -- like this reduce Cybercrime? Again, you wouldn't use the SafeNet for everyday crap like ordering pizza, buying movie tickets, or arguing over something on an internet forum. SafeNet would be used in situations where you are concerned that hackers, cybercriminals or other malevolent agents could get hold of your personal data, steal money from you, impersonate you, or snoop into your confidential communications. Other uses would include letting minors communicate with each other in a controlled fashion without exposing them to the big bad internet itself. Basically, in many situations where you deem performing a task over the larger internet as risky or dangerous, you could perform that task over a SafeNet terminal instead. Shouldn't an "alternative internet" like this exist in some form by now?

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Microsoft Drops 60-Day Password Expiration Policy

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2019-04-26 00:03
Microsoft is dropping its 60-day password expiration policy starting with the Windows 10 May 2019 Update. "Once removed, the preset password expiration settings should be replaced by organizations with more modern and better password-security practices such as multi-factor authentication, detection of password-guessing attacks, detection of anomalous log on attempts, and the enforcement of banned passwords lists (such as Azure AD's password protection currently available in public preview)," reports Bleeping Computer. From the report: Microsoft's Aaron Margosis states that the password expiration mechanism which requires periodic password changes is in itself a flawed defense method given that, once a password is stolen, mitigation measures should be taken immediately instead of waiting for it to expire as per the set expiration policy. In addition, the soon to be removed policies are "a defense only against the probability that a password (or hash) will be stolen during its validity interval and will be used by an unauthorized entity." The removal of the password-expiration policies without the addition of other password-oriented security configurations does not directly translate into a decrease in security but, instead, it simply stands as proof that security-conscious organizations need to implement extra measures to enforce their users' security. As Microsoft further detailed, "to try to avoid inevitable misunderstandings, we are talking here only about removing password-expiration policies -- we are not proposing changing requirements for minimum password length, history, or complexity."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Wireless Carriers Fight Ban On Throttling Firefighters During Emergencies

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2019-04-25 22:45
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The U.S. mobile industry's top lobbying group is opposing a proposed California state law that would prohibit throttling of fire departments and other public safety agencies during emergencies. As reported yesterday by StateScoop, wireless industry lobby group CTIA last week wrote to lawmakers to oppose the bill as currently written. CTIA said the bill's prohibition on throttling is too vague and that it should apply only when the U.S. president or California governor declares emergencies and not when local governments declare emergencies. The group's letter also suggested that the industry would sue the state if the bill is passed in its current form, saying the bill would result in "serious unintended consequences, including needless litigation." "[T]he bill's vague mandates, problematic emergency trigger requirement, and failure to include notification requirements could work to impede activities by first responders during disasters," CTIA wrote. The group said that it "must oppose AB 1699 unless it is amended to address the foregoing concerns." CTIA represents Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and other carriers. Despite CTIA's opposition, the bill proposed by State Assemblymember Marc Levine (D-Marin County) sailed through an Assembly committee yesterday. The Committee on Communications and Conveyance voted 12-0 to advance the bill, Levine's chief of staff, Terry Schanz, told Ars today. A committee analysis of the bill says that CTIA was the only organization to register opposition. The next stop for the bill is an April 30 hearing with the Assembly Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee. It is in response to Verizon throttling an "unlimited" data plan used by Santa Clara firefighters last year during the state's largest-ever wildfire.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

UK Minister: Huawei Leaks 'Unacceptable', Criminal Investigation Possible

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2019-04-25 21:25
The UK Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright said on Thursday he could not rule out a criminal investigation over the "unacceptable" disclosure of confidential discussions on the role of China's Huawei in 5G network supply chains. From a report: Huawei, the world's biggest producer of telecoms equipment, is under intense scrutiny after the United States told allies not to use its technology because of fears it could be a vehicle for Chinese spying. Huawei has categorically denied this. Sources told Reuters on Wednesday Britain's National Security Council (NSC) had decided to bar Huawei from all core parts of the country's 5G network and restrict its access to non-core parts. The leak of information from a meeting of the NSC, first reported in national newspapers, has sparked anger in parliament because the committee's discussion are supposed to be secret. "We cannot exclude the possibility of a criminal investigation here," Wright said, speaking in response to an urgent question on Huawei in parliament. "I do not think that the motivation for this leak matters in the slightest. This was unacceptable and it is corrosive to the ability to deliver good government."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Facebook Breached Canadian Privacy Laws, Watchdogs Say

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2019-04-25 18:05
Privacy watchdogs are accusing Facebook of "serious contraventions of Canadian privacy laws" in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. From a report: In a joint report released Thursday, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and the Privacy Commissioner of British Columbia said the Menlo Park, California-based technology giant didn't obtain proper consent from users to disclose their personal data, didn't have adequate safeguards to protect that data and didn't take proper responsibility for the information under its control. "Facebook's refusal to act responsibly is deeply troubling given the vast amount of sensitive personal information users have entrusted to this company," Privacy Commissioner of Canada Daniel Therrien said in a news release. "Their privacy framework was empty, and their vague terms were so elastic that they were not meaningful for privacy protection." Therrien's office plans to take the matter to Federal Court to "seek an order to force the company to correct its privacy practices," according to the release.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

41% of Voice Assistant Users Have Concerns About Trust and Privacy, Report Finds

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2019-04-25 16:43
Forty-one percent of voice assistant users are concerned about trust, privacy and passive listening, according to a new report from Microsoft focused on consumer adoption of voice and digital assistants. From a report: And perhaps people should be concerned -- all the major voice assistants, including those from Google, Amazon, Apple and Samsung, as well as Microsoft, employ humans who review the voice data collected from end users. [...] While some users may not have realized the extent of human involvement on Alexa's backend, Microsoft's study indicates an overall wariness around the potential for privacy violations and abuse of trust that could occur on these digital assistant platforms. For example, 52 percent of those surveyed by Microsoft said they worried their personal information or data was not secure, and 24 percent said they don't know how it's being used. Thirty-six percent said they didn't even want their personal information or data to be used at all.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

NSA Recommends Dropping Phone-Surveillance Program

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2019-04-25 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Wall Street Journal: The National Security Agency has recommended that the White House abandon a surveillance program that collects information about U.S. phone calls and text messages (Warning: source paywalled; alternative source), saying the logistical and legal burdens of keeping it outweigh its intelligence benefits, according to people familiar with the matter. The recommendation against seeking the renewal of the once-secret spying program amounts to an about-face by the agency, which had long argued in public and to congressional overseers that the program was vital to the task of finding and disrupting terrorism plots against the U.S. The latest view is rooted in a growing belief among senior intelligence officials that the spying program provides limited value to national security and has become a logistical headache. Frustrations about legal-compliance issues forced the NSA to halt use of the program earlier this year, the people said. Its legal authority will expire in December unless Congress reauthorizes it. It is up to the White House, not the NSA, to decide whether to push for legislation to renew the phone-records program. The White House hasn't yet reached a policy decision about the surveillance program, according to the people familiar with the matter.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

The Feds Are Dropping Child Porn Cases Instead of Revealing Their Surveillance Systems

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2019-04-25 04:45
SonicSpike shares a report from Reason: The Department of Justice has been dismissing child pornography cases in order to not reveal information about the software programs used as the basis for the charges. An array of cases suggest serious problems with the tech tools used by federal authorities. But the private entities who developed these tools won't submit them for independent inspection or hand over hardly any information about how they work, their error rates, or other critical information. As a result, potentially innocent people are being smeared as pedophiles and prosecuted as child porn collectors, while potentially guilty people are going free so these companies can protect "trade secrets." The situation suggests some of the many problems that can arise around public-private partnerships in catching criminals and the secretive digital surveillance software that it entails (software that's being employed for far more than catching child predators). With the child pornography cases, "the defendants are hardly the most sympathetic," notes Tim Cushing at Techdirt. Yet that's all the more reason why the government's antics here are disturbing. Either the feds initially brought bad cases against people whom they just didn't think would fight back, or they're willing to let bad behavior go rather than face some public scrutiny. An extensive investigation by ProPublica "found more than a dozen cases since 2011 that were dismissed either because of challenges to the software's findings, or the refusal by the government or the maker to share the computer programs with defense attorneys, or both," writes Jack Gillum. Many more cases raised issues with the software as a defense. "Defense attorneys have long complained that the government's secrecy claims may hamstring suspects seeking to prove that the software wrongly identified them," notes Gillum. "But the growing success of their counterattack is also raising concerns that, by questioning the software used by investigators, some who trade in child pornography can avoid punishment."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Apple Allegedly 'Plotted' To Hurt Qualcomm Years Before It Sued the Company

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2019-04-25 04:02
Apple allegedly wanted to hurt Qualcomm before it ever filed suit against the company, according to documents obtained by Qualcomm as the two companies prepared to meet in court. CNET reports on what has been made public: In September 2014, a document from Apple titled "QCOM - Future scenarios" detailed ways the company could exert pressure on Qualcomm, including by working with Intel on 4G modems for the iPhone. Apple and its manufacturing partners didn't actually file suit against Qualcomm until more than two years later. A second page of that document, titled "QCM - Options and recommendations (2/2)" revealed that Apple considered it "beneficial to wait to provoke a patent fight until after the end of 2016," when its contracts with Qualcomm would expire. "They were plotting it for two years," Qualcomm attorney Evan Chesler, of the firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore, said during his opening arguments last week. "It was all planned in advance. Every bit of it." The unknown Apple team behind the September 2014 document recommended applying "commercial pressure against Qualcomm" by switching to Intel modems in iPhones. Apple ultimately started using Intel modems in about half of its iPhones with devices that came out in 2016. In the US, it embedded Intel modems in AT&T and T-Mobile models of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, but it still used Qualcomm in versions for Verizon and Sprint. Qualcomm, for its part, knew by June 2014 about Apple's plans to use Intel chips in 2016, according to an internal email from its president, Cristiano Amon, that was displayed during opening arguments. "Decision already has been made and beyond the point of no return on the 2nd source (Intel) for the 2016 premium tier," Amon wrote to CEO Steve Mollenkopf, CTO Jim Thompson, General Counsel Don Rosenberg and then-licensing chief Derek Aberle. Apple "said that as a result of our policies, other chip companies can't compete with us," Chesler said during his opening arguments. "Where did Intel get the chips from? From god? They made them using our technology." Another Apple internal document from June 2016 said the company wanted to "create leverage by building pressure three ways," according to a slide shown in court. The internal document said, in part, that Apple wanted to "hurt Qualcomm financially" and "put Qualcomm's business model at risk."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Amazon's Alexa Team Can Access Users' Home Addresses

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2019-04-25 02:45
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: An Amazon team auditing Alexa users' commands has access to location data and can, in some cases, easily find a customer's home address, according to five employees familiar with the program. The team, spread across three continents, transcribes, annotates and analyzes a portion of the voice recordings picked up by Alexa. The program, whose existence Bloomberg revealed earlier this month, was set up to help Amazon's digital voice assistant get better at understanding and responding to commands. Team members with access to Alexa users' geographic coordinates can easily type them into third-party mapping software and find home residences, according to the employees, who signed nondisclosure agreements barring them from speaking publicly about the program. While there's no indication Amazon employees with access to the data have attempted to track down individual users, two members of the Alexa team expressed concern to Bloomberg that Amazon was granting unnecessarily broad access to customer data that would make it easy to identify a device's owner. When Bloomberg first reported on the Alexa auditing program, Amazon said "employees do not have direct access to information that can identify the person or account as part of this workflow." In a new statement responding to this story, Amazon said "access to internal tools is highly controlled, and is only granted to a limited number of employees who require these tools to train and improve the service by processing an extremely small sample of interactions. Our policies strictly prohibit employee access to or use of customer data for any other reason, and we have a zero tolerance policy for abuse of our systems. We regularly audit employee access to internal tools and limit access whenever and wherever possible."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.