School Surveillance: How Millions of Kids are Spied On

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When we hear the word “surveillance” we usually think about the NSA, or perhaps tech companies like Facebook and Google. What we probably don’t think about is school surveillance used to spy on kids.

The new school surveillance technology doesn’t turn off when the school day is over: anything students type in official school email accounts, chats or documents is monitored 24 hours a day, whether students are in their classrooms or their bedrooms.

Tech companies are also working with schools to monitor students’ web searches and internet usage, and, in some cases, to track what they are writing on public social media accounts.

Firefox 70 Brings Enhanced Tracking Protection Today

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Mozilla released Firefox 70 today and one of the new features is Enhanced Tracking Protection turned on by default on all platforms.

More privacy protections from Enhanced Tracking Protection:

Social tracking protection, which blocks cross-site tracking cookies from sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, is now a standard feature of Enhanced Tracking Protection.

The Privacy Protections report shows an overview, with details, of the trackers Firefox has blocked. It provides consolidated reports from Monitor and Lockwise.

Lee Pace, Jared Harris Star in Apple's 'Foundation'

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Apple is bringing Jared Harris (Chernobyl) and Lee Pace (Halt and Catch Fire) to star in its Foundation series.

Based on Isaac Asimov’s novel series of the same name, Foundationchronicles the epic saga of The Foundation, a band of exiles who discover that the only way to save the Galactic Empire from destruction is to defy it. Harris will star as Hari Seldon, a mathematical genius who predicts the demise of the empire. Pace is set as Brother Day, the current Emperor of the Galaxy.

totallee's New Green Case Matches the Green iPhone 11 Pro

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totallee makes thin iPhone cases so your smartphone doesn’t become bulky. It recently released a line of green cases for the midnight green iPhone 11 Pro.

This case covers every corner of your phone and features a camera lens “lip” for added protection. Like a brushed finish? Go matte. Looking for invisible protection? Transparent all the way. Want a sophisticated backing? Leather is for you. This case maintains the original look of your iPhone 11 Pro. No branding. No bulk. No nonsense.

You can pick up one of these cases for US$29.

Future Apple Watch Band May Allow Replaceable Power Source or Additional Sensors

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Apple Watch Series 5 video

In the future, the Apple Watch might have electrical and data contacts. This would allow it to do things like have a replaceable power source or additional sensors not in the watch itself. That’s according to a new patent, discovered by AppleInsider.

In a patent granted to Apple by the US Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday for “Accessory Contacts,” the company suggests a solution could be found in the form of contacts embedded within the connector used to affix bands to the Apple Watch. According to the filing, the system would be somewhat reminiscent of the existing method of connectivity for Apple Watch bands, with a section that slides in from a side and is held in place using spring-loaded pins that pop into recesses within the Apple Watch body. A button can be pressed to pull the pin sections back, allowing the band connector to slide out.

Encryption Hasn't Stopped the FBI From Fighting Child Porn

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Despite arguments from governments that encryption would hinder their ability to fight criminals, this clearly isn’t the case. In a recent example one of the biggest child porn sites on the dark web was recently taken down.

No backdoors were needed to track down the owner of the server or hundreds of the site’s visitors. For that matter, the FBI didn’t even need a warrant. The FBI did not deploy its infamous NIT (Network Investigative Technique) to track down site users. The flaw was the payment system linked to the site. Users may have thought their Bitcoin transactions couldn’t be traced back to them, but they were wrong.

The Four Horsemen of the Infocalypse: Terrorists, pedophiles, drug dealers, organized crime.

Facebook Claims it can Protect Elections But Lets Politicians Lie

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Facebook announced new features today that it claims can stop 2020 election interference. However, its advertising policy lets politicians lie and gladly pockets the money it gets from allowing it.

One new feature is called Facebook Protect. By hijacking accounts of political candidates or their campaign staff, bad actors can steal sensitive information, expose secrets, and spread disinformation. So to safeguard these vulnerable users, Facebook is launching a new program with extra security they can opt into.

Mark Zuckerberg on letting politicians lie in Facebook ads: “I don’t think people want to live in a world where you can only say things that tech companies decide are 100 percent true. And I think that those tensions are something we have to live with.”

Trend Micro Apps Caught Harvesting User Browser History

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Several Trend Micro apps were removed from the Mac App Store after they were found collecting user browser history.

Dr Cleaner, Dr Antivirus, and App Uninstall – utilities owned by the Japan-headquartered security house and distributed on the Mac App Store – are no longer available for download…Mac security guru Patrick Wardle noted last week that in addition to the advertised functions of removing adware and malware from Macs, the software also collected people’s personal data including their browsing history, then transmitted that data as a password-protected archive to a server on the internet.

As of this writing Dr. Antivirus is still in the MAS.

Should You Warn Your Guests About Smart Devices?

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David Murphy asks if people are morally obligated to inform their guests that their home contains smart devices like HomePod, Amazon Alexa, and Google Home. Given the fact that these devices can listen to you, should you post a sign in your house that says, “Warning: This Area Under Surveillance?”

If you’re simply sporting a smart speaker, I think announcing its presence is less of a deal—overkill, really. But if a camera is recording me at any point, and that’s something you can view later, I think it’s the friendly thing to do to let me know before I start gossiping…or worse.

What do you mean by worse??

Google to Fix HEIC Photo Backup 'Bug'

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Redditor u/stephenvsawyer found that HEIC photos were given unlimited backups to Google Photos because they are smaller than JPGs. If Google tried to compress them the files would actually get bigger, which would be a waste of storage space. But Google calls it a bug and says it will fix it.

However, what that means remains unclear. Would Google start charging for HEIC images stored in Photos, even if they’re small and don’t take up much space? Would it forcibly re-convert those pics to compressed JPEG, or compress them further under the HEIC format? And will the fix apply to all HEIC images or just iPhones?

I’m not sure how Google will fix it unless they just check if the file extension is .HEIC and arbitrarily limit these files (arbitrary since converting them would increase their size).

MacGeneration Finds Icon of 16-inch MacBook Pro in macOS 10.15.1 Beta

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French website MacGeneration (via MacRumors) has found references to and an image of a 16-inch MacBook Pro in the beta of macOS 10.15.1. Looking similar to the current 15-inch MacBook Pro, the not-yet-announced device has a thinner bezel. Cool, yeah? Here’s a snippet from the Google Translate version of the article, but read the full thing for more images and info.

macOS 10.15.1 contains references to a MacBook Pro 16″, which accredit the many rumors about this new model.In the code of the first two beta of this version of Catalina, we found with the help of a reader, Maxime, the mention “MacBookPro16,1” which designates a new laptop of 16 “. Better than that, there are even the icons of the machine!

For All Mankind Stars Given New iPhone 11s

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For All Mankind cast premiere

It seems that being in “a billion pockets,” as Oprah put it, is not the only perk of media stars working with Apple. The stars of For All Mankind were all given iPhone 11s ahead of the premiereVariety reported.

Apple’s clean-cut aesthetics for the big premiere weren’t surprising for the multinational company and perhaps even less surprising was how generous the company has been with granting the cast and crew access to their latest technology. The entire cast even received new iPhone 11s from Apple ahead of the premiere. “[Apple has] been so supportive. They come and do set visits and they’re excited to see us. They gave us all free iPhones. That is a perk,” star Krys Marshall told Variety on the carpet. “We all got the 11 yesterday. It’s nice. But aside from the free phones, they have just been fabulous, really encouraging. They believe in us.”

UK Drops Plans for Controversial 'Porn Blocker'

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The UK Government has dropped controversial plans for a ‘porn blocker’ law, BBC News reported. It was going to introduce stringent age verification checks intended to stop under-18s viewing porn online.

It said the policy, which was initially set to launch in April 2018, would “not be commencing” after repeated delays, and fears it would not work. The so-called porn blocker would have forced commercial porn providers to verify users’ ages, or face a UK ban. Digital Secretary Nicky Morgan said other measures would be deployed to achieve the same objectives. The government first mooted the idea of a porn blocker in 2015, with the aim of stopping youngsters “stumbling across” inappropriate content.

Apple Hit with iPhone Throttling Class Action Suit

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Apple logo and iPhone 6

Another day, another lawsuit against Apple. The latest class action lawsuit, brought in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, accused Apple of a variety of offenses, including iPhone throttling, AppleInsider reported.

Among the causes of action laid out by plaintiffs are counts of trespass to chattels, violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), violation of California’s Computer Data Access and Fraud Act, unfair business practices and false advertisement. Plaintiffs allege Apple harmed owners of iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, SE, 7 and 7 Plus units by implementing an iOS feature that, under certain conditions, temporarily throttles an iPhone’s processor during instances of heavy load.

 

A Technique to Help AI Understand Video Better

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Which AI is smarter, Siri or Alexa?

AI technology is improving at an amazing rate. However, video is still a significant challenge. Wired reported on a development that may improve things, whilst also using less processing power.

A group from MIT and IBM developed an algorithm capable of accurately recognizing actions in videos while consuming a small fraction of the processing power previously required, potentially changing the economics of applying AI to large amounts of video. The method adapts an AI approach used to process still images to give it a crude concept of passing time. The work is a step towards having AI recognize what’s happening in video, perhaps helping to tame the vast amounts now being generated. On YouTube alone, over 500 hours of video were uploaded every minute during May 2019. Companies would like to use AI to automatically generate detailed descriptions of videos, letting users discover clips that haven’t been annotated. And, of course, they would love to sell ads based on what’s happening in a video.

Patent Suggests Radar System in Bodywork of Apple's Self-Driving Car

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Car with Apple logo

Apple’s much speculated upon self-driving car might have a radar system hidden within the bodywork. That’s according to a patent granted Tuesday and uncovered by AppleInsider.

In Apple’s design, it suggests the use of antennas to transmit a radar beam towards a portion of a field of view, along with a vertical antenna array to receive the bounced-back signal. The receive antenna array can consist of multiple antenna elements grouped into sub-arrays, with each sub-array used to receive scatter signals reflected back at it from a smaller subsection of the field of view. Circuitry is then used to combine the received scatter signals from the antenna array into a combined scatter signal, which is then digitized. A second horizontal receive array performs a similar job, again with sub-arrays and the same process. A signal processor is then used to process the scatter signals from both vertical and horizontal arrays, and to correlate the data from each to give effectively a 3D radar layout.

Amazon's Move Into the Elections Market

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U.S. elections are big business. Reuters published a fascinating report into how Amazon moved into the world of politics.

Amazon pitches itself as a low-cost provider of secure election technology at a time when local officials and political campaigns are under intense pressure to prevent a repeat of 2016 presidential elections, which saw cyber-attacks on voting systems and election infrastructure. “The fact that we have invested heavily in this area, it helps to attest to the fact that in over 40 states, the Amazon cloud is being trusted to power in some way, some aspect of elections,” Michael Jackson, leader, Public Health & U.S. Elections at AWS, told prospective government clients in February via a presentation on a webinar, which was viewed by Reuters.

Things Are Not Gong Well for Facebook's Cryptocurrency

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Facebook cryptocurrency has lost a number of big-name backers in recent times. Reuters reported on the problems facing Libra, and looked at where the project might go next.

PayPal (PYPL.O) started the Libra Association exodus this month, leaving Facebook without the backing of any major payments firms for the project, due for launch by June 2020. Libra said this month it would give details after the meeting of the 1,500 “entities” that have indicated “enthusiastic interest” to take part in the project. Members will review a charter and appoint a board at the Libra meeting, which will be held in Geneva, the Wall Street Journal reported this month. A spokeswoman did not immediately respond to enquiries on the meeting of the Libra Association, whose remaining members include Vodafone (VOD.L) and ride-hailing firms Uber and Lyft.

Custom 5G Apple Modem has Goal of 2022 Release

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Reports say that Apple has moved its timeline for a custom 5G Apple modem to 2022.

It won’t be easy. In fact, bringing a new modem to the finish line in two years is really pushing it, my source said. After all the design work is done, and the fabrication of the chips themselves is underway, an arduous testing and certification process still awaits.

Right now I think 5G is overhyped and even the previous rumor of a 5G iPhone in 2020 didn’t make sense.

iOS 13.2 Will Let You Delete Your Siri Audio History

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The latest Apple betas like iOS 13.2 have a feature that lets you delete your Siri audio history in settings.

In addition to offering an explicit opt-in, Apple has promised that only employees, and not contractors, will be involved in reviewing the audio clips. However, this doesn’t stop the automated text transcriptions of your Siri requests from being transmitted to Apple, irrespective of whether you opt-in or -out, although they will pseudonymized and dissociated from your Apple ID. What’s more, these transcripts could be reviewed by employees and contractors.

I’m glad that Apple is adding this feature, and given its privacy stance I’m surprised it’s a feature we don’t already have.