Government

UK Conservatives Pledge To Create Government-Controlled Internet (independent.co.uk) 186

Martin S. writes: Theresa May, the leader of the UK Conservative Party has pledged to create new internet that would be controlled and regulated by government on re-election. An early lead in the polls appears to be slipping but not slowly enough to change the result. Social Media has rapidly become an intense political battlefield. Known as #Mayhem in some circles, but seemingly able to command significant support from new and old media. Also, applying new social media analytics. According to the manifesto, the plans will allow Britain to become "the global leader in the regulation of the use of personal data and the internet." It states, "Some people say that it is not for government to regulate when it comes to technology and the internet... We disagree."
IBM

IBM is Telling Remote Workers To Get Back in the Office Or Leave (wsj.com) 215

For the last few years, IBM has built up a remote work program for its 380,000 employees. Now the Wall Street Journal reports that IBM is "quietly dismantling" this option, and has told its employees this week that they either need to work in the office or leave the company (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternative source). From the report: IBM is giving thousands of its remote workers in the U.S. a choice this week: Abandon your home workspaces and relocate to a regional office -- or leave the company. The 105-year-old technology giant is quietly dismantling its popular decades-old remote work program to bring employees back into offices, a move it says will improve collaboration and accelerate the pace of work. The changes comes as IBM copes with 20 consecutive quarters of falling revenue and rising shareholder ire over Chief Executive Ginni Rometty's pay package. The company won't say how many of its 380,000 employees are affected by the policy change, which so far has been rolled out to its Watson division, software development, digital marketing, and design -- divisions that employ tens of thousands of workers. The shift is particularly surprising since the Armonk, N.Y., company has been among the business world's staunchest boosters of remote work, both for itself and its customers. IBM markets software and services for what it calls "the anytime, anywhere workforce," and its researchers have published numerous studies on the merits of remote work.
Government

Apple Is Lobbying Against Your Right To Repair iPhones, New York State Records Confirm (vice.com) 235

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Lobbying records in New York state show that Apple, Verizon, and the tech industry's largest trade organizations are opposing a bill that would make it easier for consumers and independent companies to repair your electronics. The bill, called the "Fair Repair Act," would require electronics companies to sell replacement parts and tools to the general public, would prohibit "software locks" that restrict repairs, and in many cases would require companies to make repair guides available to the public. Apple and other tech giants have been suspected of opposing the legislation in many of the 11 states where similar bills have been introduced, but New York's robust lobbying disclosure laws have made information about which companies are hiring lobbyists and what bills they're spending money on public record. According to New York State's Joint Commission on Public Ethics, Apple, Verizon, Toyota, the printer company Lexmark, heavy machinery company Caterpillar, phone insurance company Asurion, and medical device company Medtronic have spent money lobbying against the Fair Repair Act this year. The Consumer Technology Association, which represents thousands of electronics manufacturers, is also lobbying against the bill. The records show that companies and organizations lobbying against right to repair legislation spent $366,634 to retain lobbyists in the state between January and April of this year. Thus far, the Digital Right to Repair Coalition -- which is generally made up of independent repair shops with several employees -- is the only organization publicly lobbying for the legislation. It has spent $5,042 on the effort, according to the records.
Communications

Net Neutrality Goes Down in Flames as FCC Votes To Kill Title II Rules (arstechnica.com) 422

As we feared yesterday, the rollback of net neutrality rules officially began today. The FCC voted along party lines today to formally consider Chairman Ajit Pai's plan to scrap the legal foundation for the rules and to ask the public for comments on the future of prohibitions on blocking, throttling and paid prioritization. ArsTechnica adds: The Federal Communications Commission voted 2-1 today to start the process of eliminating net neutrality rules and the classification of home and mobile Internet service providers as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) proposes eliminating the Title II classification and seeks comment on what, if anything, should replace the current net neutrality rules. But Chairman Ajit Pai is making no promises about reinstating the two-year-old net neutrality rules that forbid ISPs from blocking or throttling lawful Internet content, or prioritizing content in exchange for payment. Pai's proposal argues that throttling websites and applications might somehow help Internet users.
Wireless Networking

Comcast's New Wireless Service Goes Live For Current Xfinity Subscribers (digitaltrends.com) 52

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Digital Trends: Comcast already pipes internet into millions of homes, and now it wants to take its service to the airwaves. In April, the media giant announced the details of a new service, Xfinity Mobile, that will compete toe-to-toe with Google Fi, US Cellular, and incumbents like AT&T and T-Mobile. Now it appears the company is in the initial stages of launching the service nationwide. If you're already an Xfinity subscriber, you can head to the company's new mobile website now to get started. The service is available in all markets in which Comcast already operates. Xfinity Mobile features an unlimited data, talk, and text plan starting at $65 a month for up to five lines ($45 per line for customers with Comcast's top X1 TV packages), or $12 per GB a month a la carte. The unlimited option has been reduced to $45 a month through July 31 for the network's first customers. A combination of Comcast's 16 million Wi-Fi hot spots and Verizon's network will supply coverage, and, as with Google's Fi technology, phones will automatically switch between Wi-Fi and cellular depending on network conditions. Xfinity Mobile customers have their choice of the iPhone, 7, 6S, and SE series, the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S7 series, and the LG X Power.
Republicans

The Republican Push To Repeal Net Neutrality Will Get Underway This Week (washingtonpost.com) 141

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Washington Post: Federal regulators will move to roll back one of the Obama administration's signature Internet policies this week, launching a process to repeal the government's net neutrality rules that currently regulate how Internet providers may treat websites and their own customers. The vote on Thursday, led by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, will kick off consideration of a proposal to relax regulations on companies such as Comcast and AT&T. If approved by the 2-1 Republican-majority commission, it will be a significant step for the broadband industry as it seeks more leeway under government rules to develop new business models. For consumer advocates and tech companies, it will be a setback; those groups argue that looser regulations won't prevent those business models from harming Internet users and website owners. The current rules force Internet providers to behave much like their cousins in the legacy telephone business. Under the FCC's net neutrality policy, providers cannot block or slow down consumers' Internet traffic, or charge websites a fee in order to be displayed on consumers' screens. The net neutrality rules also empower the FCC to investigate ISP practices that risk harming competition. Internet providers have chafed at the stricter rules governing phone service, which they say were written for a bygone era. Pai's effort to roll back the rules has led to a highly politicized debate. Underlying it is a complex policy decision with major implications for the future of the Web.
Google

Google Will Soon Add Job Listings To Search Results (usatoday.com) 83

Google's mission is to steer people to the information they need in their daily lives. One crucial area the Internet giant says could use some work: Jobs. USA Today adds: So Google is launching a new feature, Google for Jobs, that collects and organizes millions of job postings from all over the web to make them easier for job seekers to find. In coming weeks, a Google search for a cashier job in Des Moines or a software engineering gig in Boise will pop up job openings at the top of search results. With Google for Jobs, job hunters will be able to explore the listings across experience and wage levels by industry, category and location, refining these searches to find full or part-time roles or accessibility to public transportation. Google is determined to crack the code on matching available jobs with the right candidates, CEO Sundar Pichai said during his keynote address Wednesday at Google's annual I/O conference for software developers here. "The challenge of connecting job seekers to better information on job availability is like many search challenges we've solved in the past," he said.
AI

Software Is Eating the World, But AI Is Going To Eat Software, Nvidia CEO Says (technologyreview.com) 135

An anonymous reader writes: Nvidia's revenues have started to climb in the recent quarters as it looks at making hardware customized for machine-learning algorithms and use cases such as autonomous cars. At the company's annual developer conference in San Jose, California last week, the company's CEO Jensen Huang spoke about how the machine-learning revolution is just starting. "Very few lines of code in the enterprises and industries all over the world use AI today. It's quite pervasive in Internet service companies, particularly two or three of them," Huang said. "But there's a whole bunch of others in tech and other industries that are trying to catch up. Software is eating the world, but AI is going to eat software."
China

Chinese State Media Says US Should Take Some Blame For Cyberattack (cnbc.com) 82

An anonymous reader shares a CNBC report: Chinese state media on Wednesday criticized the United States for hindering efforts to stop global cyber threats in the wake of the WannaCry ransomware attack that has infected more than 300,000 computers worldwide in recent days. The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) should shoulder some blame for the attack, which targets vulnerabilities in Microsoft systems and has infected some 30,000 Chinese organisations as of Saturday, the China Daily said. "Concerted efforts to tackle cyber crimes have been hindered by the actions of the United States," it said, adding that Washington had "no credible evidence" to support bans on Chinese tech firms in the United States following the attack. The malware attack, which began on Friday and has been linked by some researchers to previous hits by a North Korean-run hacking operation, leveraged a tool built by the NSA that leaked online in April, Microsoft says.
United States

The Tech Sector Is Leaving the Rest of the US Economy In Its Dust (theverge.com) 155

Yesterday afternoon, the S&P 500 closed at a record high, and is up over $1.5 trillion since the start of 2017. "And the companies doing the most to drive that rally are all tech firms," reports The Verge. "Apple, Alphabet, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft make up a whopping 37 percent of the total gains." From the report: All of these companies saw their share prices touch record highs in recent months. This is in stark contrast to the rest of the U.S. economy, which grew at a rate of less than 1 percent during the first three months of this year. That divide is the culmination of a long-term trend, according to a recent report featured in The Wall Street Journal: "In digital industries -- technology, communications, media, software, finance and professional services -- productivity grew 2.7% annually over the past 15 years...The slowdown is concentrated in physical industries -- health care, transportation, education, manufacturing, retail -- where productivity grew a mere 0.7% annually over the same period." There is no industry where these players aren't competing. Music, movies, shipping, delivery, transportation, energy -- the list goes on and on. As these companies continue to scale, the network effects bolstering their business are strengthening. Facebook and Google accounted for over three-quarters of the growth in the digital advertising industry in 2016, leaving the rest to be divided among small fry like Twitter, Snapchat, and the entire American media industry. Meanwhile Apple and Alphabet have achieved a virtual duopoly on mobile operating systems, with only a tiny sliver of consumers choosing an alternative for their smartphones and tablets.
Security

Group Linked To NSA Spy Leaks Threatens Sale of New Tech Secrets (reuters.com) 105

Hacker group Shadow Brokers, which has taken credit for leaking NSA cyber spying tools -- including ones used in the WannaCry global ransomware attack -- has said it plans to sell code that can be used to hack into the world's most used computers, software and phones. From a report on Reuters: Using trademark garbled English, the Shadow Brokers group said in an online statement that, from June, it will begin releasing software to anyone willing to pay for access to some of the tech world's biggest commercial secrets. In the blog post, the group said it was setting up a "monthly data dump" and that it could offer tools to break into web browsers, network routers, phone handsets, plus newer exploits for Windows 10 and data stolen from central banks. It said it was set to sell access to previously undisclosed vulnerabilities, known as zero-days, that could be used to attack Microsoft's latest software system, Windows 10. The post did not identify other products by name. It also threatened to dump data from banks using the SWIFT international money transfer network and from Russian, Chinese, Iranian or North Korean nuclear and missile programs, without providing further details.
Microsoft

Microsoft Job Posting Hints At VR MMO (roadtovr.com) 18

sqorbit writes: Microsoft has posted a job opening for a Senior Design Manager for a mixed-reality team. The posting states they are "looking to build a massively social gaming and entertainment experience for both the PC and the console." It looks like they are targeting both PC and Xbox Platforms for a VR socially geared development project. The requirements: "The Xbox Mixed Reality team is looking for an experienced senior design manager with deep expertise and passion around crafting immersive social systems and experiences. [...] Here is an opportunity to join a fun and collaborative team that experiments with the latest toys, works with state of the art tech, and crafts the future of entertainment." Road to VR notes that the company says they're looking for someone who has "Shipped at least 3 AAA consumer entertainment products" and has 7+ years using design tools; bonus points if they've got experience in "NUI, VR, AR, game design, art direction, and video storytelling."
Robotics

A Lowe's Hardware Store Is Trialling Exoskeletons To Give Workers a Helping Hand (theverge.com) 48

slew writes: Okay, this isn't Aliens 2, but hardware chain Lowe's is "outfitting employees with a simple exoskeleton to help them on the job," reports The Verge. "The company has partnered with Virginia Tech to develop the technology, which makes lifting and moving heavy objects easier. The non-motorized exoskeletons are worn like a harness, with carbon fiber rods acting as artificial tendons -- bending when the wearer squats, and springing back when they stand up. Lowe's has issued four of the custom-built suits to employees at a store in Christiansburg, Virginia. The equipment has been in use for over a month and the company says early feedback is extremely positive. '[Employees] wear it all day, it's very comfortable, and it makes their job easier,' says Kyle Nel, the director of Lowe's Innovation Labs, adding that Lowe's is working with scientists from Virginia Tech to conduct a proper survey of the technology's usefulness. 'It's early days, but we're doing some major studies,' he says."
The Courts

Judge's Order Bars Uber Engineer From LiDAR Work, Demands Returns of Stolen Files (arstechnica.com) 43

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A U.S. federal judge has ordered Uber to bar its top self-driving car engineer from any work on LiDAR, and return stolen files to Google's self-driving car unit Waymo. Today's order by U.S. District Judge William Alsup demands Uber do "whatever it can to ensure that its employees return 14,000-plus pilfered files to their rightful owner." The files must be returned by May 31. The order was granted last week, but just made public in an unsealed document this morning. U.S. District Judge William Alsup found that Uber "likely knew or at least should have known" that the man it hired as its top self-driving car engineer, Anthony Levandowski, took and kept more than 14,000 Waymo files. Those files "likely contain at least some trade secrets," making some "provisional relief" for Waymo appropriate. Levandowski has previously asserted his Fifth Amendment rights with respect to his possession of the files. "If Uber were to threaten Levandowski with termination for noncompliance, that threat would be backed up by only Uber's power as a private employer, and Levandowski would remain free to forfeit his private employment to preserve his Fifth Amendment privilege," Alsup wrote. Several factors limit the amount of relief Waymo might receive. First of all, in the judge's view, not all of the 121 elements that Waymo defines as "trade secrets" are really trade secrets. Additionally, the judge has slapped aside Waymo's patent infringement accusations as "meritless."
Government

Gizmodo Went Phishing With the Trump Team -- Will They Catch a Charge? (arstechnica.com) 122

Earlier this month, technology publication Gizmodo published a report on how it "phished" members of the administration and campaign teams of President Donald Trump. The blog said it identified 15 prominent figures on Trump's team and sent e-mails to each posing as friends, family members, or associates containing a faked Google Docs link. But did the publication inadvertently break the law? ArsTechnica reports: "This was a test of how public officials in an administration whose president has been highly critical of the security failures of the DNC stand up to the sort of techniques that hackers use to penetrate networks," said John Cook, executive editor of Gizmodo's Special Projects Desk, in an e-mail conversation with Ars. Gizmodo targeted some marquee names connected to the Trump administration, including Newt Gingrich, Peter Thiel, (now-ex) FBI director James Comey, FCC chairman Ajit Pai, White House press secretary Sean Spicer, presidential advisor Sebastian Gorka, and the administration's chief policymakers for cybersecurity. The test didn't appear to prove much. Gingrich and Comey responded to the e-mail questioning its provenance. And while about half of the targeted officials may have clicked the link -- eight devices' IP addresses were recorded accessing the linked test page -- none entered their login credentials. The test could not determine whose devices clicked on the link. What the test did manage to do is raise the eyebrows of security experts and some legal experts. That's because despite their efforts to make it "reasonably" apparent that this was a test, Gizmodo's phishing campaign may have violated several laws, ignoring many of the restrictions usually placed on similar tests by penetration-testing and security firms. At a minimum, Gizmodo danced along the edges of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).
Android

Slashdot Asks: In the Wake Of Ransomware Attacks, Should Tech Companies Change Policies To Support Older OSs Indefinitely? 360

In the aftermath of ransomware spread over the weekend, Zeynep Tufekci, an associate professor at the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina, writes an opinion piece for The New York Times: At a minimum, Microsoft clearly should have provided the critical update in March to all its users, not just those paying extra. Indeed, "pay extra money to us or we will withhold critical security updates" can be seen as its own form of ransomware. In its defense, Microsoft probably could point out that its operating systems have come a long way in security since Windows XP, and it has spent a lot of money updating old software, even above industry norms. However, industry norms are lousy to horrible, and it is reasonable to expect a company with a dominant market position, that made so much money selling software that runs critical infrastructure, to do more. Microsoft supported Windows XP for over a decade before finally putting it to sleep. In the wake of ransomware attacks, it stepped forward to release a patch -- a move that has been lauded by columnists. That said, do you folks think it should continue to push security updates to older operating systems as well?
AI

Lyft And Waymo Announce They'll Collaborate On Self-Driving Cars (nbcnews.com) 49

An anonymous reader quotes NBC: In the race to the self-driving future, Lyft has agreed to work with Waymo, the self-driving car company owned by Google's parent company, to bring autonomous vehicles to the masses, both companies told NBC News on Sunday night. The announcement comes as Waymo has accused Lyft's biggest competitor, Uber, of stealing trade secrets from the company to advance its own self-driving operation...
Both companies issued gushy statements about their new partners. Lyft said Waymo "holds today's best self-driving technology, and collaborating with them will accelerate our shared vision of improving lives with the world's best transportation." And Waymo applauded Lyft's "vision and commitment to improving the way cities move", saying it would help their technology "reach more people, in more places."
Cloud

Microsoft Wants To Monitor Your Workplace With AI, Computer Vision and the Cloud (gizmodo.com) 112

"If you're an employee under the heel of a giant corporation you should probably be terrified by the vision of the future of connected gadgets that Microsoft just revealed at its Build developer conference here in Seattle," warns Gizmodo. Slashdot reader dryriver writes: Gizmodo reports on a Microsoft Workplace Monitoring demo where CCTV cameras watch a workplace -- like a construction site -- on 24/7 basis, and AI algorithms constantly oversee and evaluate what is happening in that workplace. The system can track where employees are, where physical equipment and tools are at what time, who does what at what time in this workplace and apparently use Cloud-based AI of some sort to evaluate what is happening in the workplace being monitored. Spotting employees misbehaving, breaking workplace rules or putting themselves and expensive equipment at risk may be the intended "value proposition" this system brings to the workplace. Another aspect may be reducing insurance premiums employers pay by creating a strict, highly monitored work environment. But the system is also very Big Brother -- an AI is monitoring people and equipment in a workplace in realtime at all times, and all the data ends up being processed in the Microsoft Cloud.
Gizmodo gave their article the title, "Microsoft's Latest Workplace Tech Demos Creep Me Out."
Earth

French President-Elect Macron Urges Action On Climate Change (newsweek.com) 174

After Sunday's election in France, Macron's victory "is likely to be a boon for the French digital economy and its startup scene," writes a foreign policy think tank blog, "but the country's frosty relationship with U.S. tech companies is likely to remain over the next five years." Yet even before he was elected as France's new president, Emmanuel Macron was already warning the U.S. that withdrawing from the international Paris Climate change agreement could cost America its brightest innovators. Thelasko writes: French President elect Emmanuel Macron has a message to U.S. scientists and engineers working on climate change. "Please, come to France. You are welcome. It's your nation. We like innovation. We want innovative people. We want people working on climate change, energy renewables and new technologies. France is your nation."
Newsweek reports this week that without America's involvement, the Paris Climate agreement "will have no way of meeting its goals of reducing global net carbon emissions" -- but that Macron could persuade the U.S. to honor its agreement. ("It reportedly took just one phone call conversation between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the president for Trump to reconsider withdrawing entirely for NAFTA, another international agreement signed into law prior to his tenure in the Oval Office.") And in the meantime, Macron has also promised not to cut France's energy-research budget, and will even reinforce it "to accelerate our initiative."
DRM

FSF Supports Today's Boston March Against DRM In HTML5 (defectivebydesign.org) 89

Atticus Rex writes: A small artist-led group called Ethics in Tech is joining the long-simmering struggle between streaming video giants and Internet freedom activists over whether the Web should include Digital Rights Management in its technical standards. This Saturday, Ethics in Tech will lead a march on the W3C, the body -- led by Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee -- that decides on Web standards.
The Free Software Foundation is promoting the march, and their "Defective By Design" site is sharing this quote from the march's organizers. Dear W3C: we demand you comply with UNESCO and international civil and political rights. Halt EME -- ensure the protection of a secure, accessible, and open web. Make ethical standards or stand on the wrong side of history.

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