John Lister

Wed
30
May
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Country Plans to Ban Facebook for a Month

Papua New Guinea is set to ban Facebook for a month. Unlike with bans in more authoritarian countries, it's designed to research cyber crime laws rather than stifle debate - or so the official explanation goes. However, the country's government have ... warned it might need to create a "more conducive" site that meets local laws. The government says its necessary to block access to the site while it investigates if and how Facebook helps users breach the Cyber Crime Act passed in 2016. The act was an attempt to update numerous laws to cover activity that was often already illegal in the "real ... (view more)

Tue
29
May
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Apple Watch Alerts Man to Serious Heart Condition

A man says his life may have been saved by his Apple watch. A heart rate alert revealed he was experiencing a serious problem. Kevin Pearson was, by coincidence, visiting his father in hospital when he got the alert. It came from his watch, which ... tracked his heart rate. Normally that's to reveal general patterns as well as tracking how quickly the rate returns to normal after exercise, an important fitness indicator. However, the watch alerted Pearson to the fact his heart rate was at 161 beats per minute even though he was sitting down reading a book. Given his age of 52, that's a rate that ... (view more)

Thu
24
May
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Google Autocomplete Could Breach Court Orders

Google has inadvertently revealed the names of rape victims whose identity is legally secret. It's all down to over-enthusiastic behavior by the search engine's "autocomplete" feature. Autocomplete works when a user starts typing a term into the ... Google search bar, then the search bar presents a drop-down menu with suggested terms based on what is being typed in. The user can then click or tap on any of these terms to carry out the search without having to type out the search query in full. As they continue typing more characters, the list of suggested terms will update to become ... (view more)

Wed
23
May
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Microsoft: New Processor Bug Could Leak Data

Both Microsoft and Google are warning of another bug in computer processors. It's similar to previous bugs known as 'Spectre' and 'Meltdown'. For now the new issue has the less dramatic codenames 'Speculative Store Bypass Variant 4' and ... 'CVE-2018-3639'. As with Spectre and Meltdown , it involves a processor function known as speculative execution that's meant to improve computation processes. Unlike some bugs, it's classed as a low risk to users but is significant because of the sheer number of computers that could be affected. The processor is the part of the computer that physically carries ... (view more)

Tue
22
May
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Google Sued $4B for 'Secretly Tracking Users'

Google is being sued for a potential $4 billion over claims it intentionally bypassed security settings on iPhones. It's likely to succeed following similar cases in the past. The case has been filed in the UK by a group called 'Google You Owe Us'. ... They are seeking "representative action" status, which is similar to class action status in the United States. If that's granted, any settlement or damages in the case could apply to as many as 4.4 million people. (Source: theguardian.com ) Claims May Sound Familiar On the face of it, the case looks bad for Google as it covers the same issue ... (view more)

Thu
17
May
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Exams Plagued By 'Cheater' Wristwatches

British students have been banned from wearing any form of wristwatch in exams. It follows concerns that 'smart watches' containing helpful information could be disguised as ordinary watches. The new rules will affect most national exams for school ... students aged 16 and 18, including those which determined whether students can get a particular place on a university course. The rules say normally students must take off their watch and leave it in a visible place on their desk, though in some cases supervisors are collecting the watches and keeping them outside. The changes follow on from ... (view more)

Wed
16
May
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Facebook Reveals Content Removal Stats

Facebook says it deleted 583 million fake accounts in the first three months of the year. That means on average three to four percent of active accounts in this period were bogus. The figure comes in the company's first Community Standards ... Enforcement Report, which gives statistics about the action it takes over content that breaks its rules. It's part of an effort to improve transparency about the site and follows last month's publication of the full detail of the 'community standards' for the first time. Spam The Most Prevalent Problem As well as improving transparency, the figures are ... (view more)

Tue
15
May
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Google Drone Military Involvement Sparks Resignations

Around a dozen Google employees have resigned over the company developing artificial intelligence for use with military drones. An internal petition against the work has reportedly been signed by 4,000 employees. The protest is over Google's ... involvement in Project Maven, a program the US Department of Defense is developing to make better use of its aerial drones. It is said to collect so much video footage from its drones in war zones and other areas where the US has a military presence that it's not viable to have humans analyze all the material. The idea of Project Maven is to use computers ... (view more)

Thu
10
May
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YouTube Deletes Videos Promoting Cheating

YouTube has removed hundred of videos which included promotions for essay-writing services. The company says it breaches its rules but the video presenters say they weren't given enough warning. The case doesn't involve ads placed via YouTube itself ... that are shown to viewers before popular videos, or display ads shown on the site. Instead the 'ads' were part of the videos themselves. 700 Million Views For Promotions A BBC investigation found that more than 250 people who produce popular YouTube videos had broken off in the middle of a clip to promote EduBirdie, a Ukraine-based service which ... (view more)

Wed
09
May
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Robocalls on the Rise; FCC rethinks Restrictions

Robocalls are on the rise according to one company which tries to fight them. Sneaky new tactics and a recent court ruling are both contributing factors. The rise has been reported by YouMail, which produces apps for smartphones designed to block ... automated robocalls that aren't made by a human and instead play a recorded message when the recipient picks up. Based on records collated from its apps, YouMail estimates 3.4 billion such calls were made in April, up from around 2.5 billion in the same period last year. While the nature of the estimate means the figures themselves shouldn't be taken ... (view more)

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