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EU Takes First Step in Passing Controversial Copyright Law That Could 'Censor the Internet'

The European Union has taken the first step in passing new copyright legislation that critics say will tear the internet apart. From a report: This morning, the EU's Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) voted in favor of the legislation, called the Copyright Directive. Although most of the directive simply updates technical language for copyright law in the age of the internet, it includes two highly controversial provisions. These are Article 11, a "link tax," which would force online platforms like Facebook and Google to buy licenses from media companies before linking to their stories; and Article 13, an "upload filter," which would require that everything uploaded online in the EU is checked for copyright infringement. (Think of it like YouTube's Content ID system but for the whole internet.) EU lawmakers critical of the legislation say these Articles may have been proposed with good intentions -- like protecting copyright owners -- but are vaguely worded and ripe for abuse.

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AMC is Creating a Rival Service To MoviePass

AMC said on Wednesday it is creating a VIP tier of its loyalty program, a subscription movie theater pass called AMC Stubs A-List, which will allow users to see three movies a week in AMC theaters for $20 a month. From a report: The offering rivals that of MoviePass, a subscription movie service with longstanding tensions in negotiating pricing and theater distribution agreements with AMC. Tensions between AMC and MoviePass had gotten so bad that last year that AMC said it would try to block MoviePass. MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe told Axios in an interview in January that MoviePass brought in 1 million tickets for AMC in December alone. Like MoviePass, the AMC subscription will let users see a certain number of films for a monthly flat fee, but will only be viewable in AMC theaters.

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Uber Tests Cheaper Fares For Riders Who Are Willing To Wait Longer

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Quartz: The ride-hailing company has started testing a feature that gives riders the option to trade a shorter wait for a cheaper fare. "Prices are lower at 17:00," Uber recently advised an Uber employee who requested a ride in Berkeley, California, and tweeted a screenshot of the feature. The image showed the Uber employee that he could request a ride "now" (4:56pm local time) for $10.18, or wait until 5pm and pay $8.15, about 25% less. "If you're OK leaving later, we'll request your ride at 17:00 for a lower price," Uber's app stated. The option to wait longer in exchange for a cheaper ride is being tested among all Uber employees in San Francisco and Los Angeles, a company spokeswoman told Quartz in an email. "Affordability is a top reason riders choose shared rides, and we're internally experimenting with a way to save money in exchange for a later pickup," she said.

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Urgent Needs To Prepare For Manmade Virus Attacks, Says US Government Report

A major U.S. government report warns that advances in synthetic biology now allow scientists to have the capability to recreate dangerous viruses from scratch; make harmful bacteria more deadly; and modify common microbes so that they churn out lethal toxins once they enter the body. The Guardian reports: In the report, the scientists describe how synthetic biology, which gives researchers precision tools to manipulate living organisms, "enhances and expands" opportunities to create bioweapons. "As the power of the technology increases, that brings a general need to scrutinize where harms could come from," said Peter Carr, a senior scientist at MIT's Synthetic Biology Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The report calls on the U.S. government to rethink how it conducts disease surveillance, so it can better detect novel bioweapons, and to look at ways to bolster defenses, for example by finding ways to make and deploy vaccines far more rapidly. For every bioweapon the scientists consider, the report sets out key hurdles that, once cleared, will make the weapons more feasible. The Guardian references a case 20 years ago where geneticist Eckard Wimmer recreated the poliovirus in a test tube. Earlier this year, a team at the University of Alberta built an infectious horse pox virus. "The virus is a close relative of smallpox, which may have claimed half a billion lives in the 20th century," reports The Guardian. "Today, the genetic code of almost any mammalian virus can be found online and synthesized."

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OpenBSD Disables Intel CPU Hyper-Threading Due To Security Concerns

The OpenBSD project announced today plans to disable support for Intel CPU hyper-threading due to security concerns regarding the theoretical threat of more "Spectre-class bugs." Bleeping Computer reports: Hyper-threading (HT) is Intel's proprietary implementation of Simultaneous Multithreading (SMT), a technology that allows processors to run parallel operations on different cores of the same multi-core CPU. The feature has been added to all Intel CPUs released since 2002 and has come enabled by default, with Intel citing its performance boost as the main reason for its inclusion. But today, Mark Kettenis of the OpenBSD project, said the OpenBSD team was removing support for Intel HT because, by design, this technology just opens the door for more timing attacks. Timing attacks are a class of cryptographic attacks through which a third-party observer can deduce the content of encrypted data by recording and analyzing the time taken to execute cryptographic algorithms. The OpenBSD team is now stepping in to provide a new setting to disable HT support because "many modern machines no longer provide the ability to disable hyper-threading in the BIOS setup."

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GitHub, Medium Willfully Destroy Public ICE Employee Data Repository

owenferguson shares a report from Obscene Works: and GitHub have today conspired to quash the release of a set of data comprising of all the ICE employees who openly list themselves on The data was assembled by Sam Lavigne of and was published as a repository on GitHub, and announced via an article on (link to a copy is available here, as the original has since been deleted by corporate.) GitHub, which was recently acquired by Microsoft, also deleted the shared data, but a copy was made first, and it is available here and also as a single archive here.

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Bumbling Hacker 'Bitcoin Baron' Sentenced To 20 Months In Prison

An anonymous reader writes: "A hacker once considered 'the Internet's most inept criminal' received on Monday a prison sentence of 20 months in prison for launching DDoS attacks against the city of Madison, Wisconsin -- attacks which caused delays and outages to various municipality services, including its 911 emergency call center," reports Bleeping Computer. He was sentenced for this attack in particular, part of a plea deal, but his attacks span over two years. The hacker, Randall Charles Tucker, 23, known as Bitcoin Baron, never bothered hiding his attacks, advertised them on Twitter, and used public chats and Skype to brag about his deeds. According to a timeline of events, Tucker carried out all of these hacks -- most of which were downright silly -- as a way to boost his reputation before going to jail for stabbing his father with a prison knife. The plan backfired when authorities linked him to the hacks and received another 20 months in prison on top of the original 18 months.

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New 'Tent' Assembly Line Is 'Way Better' Than Conventional Factory, Says Tesla CEO

A few days ago, Elon Musk announced a "new general assembly line" made with "minimal resources." As Ars Technica reports, this new tented facility "is seemingly the first phase of an entirely new building, dubbed 'Factory 2.0.'" From the report: The tent is easily visible from the nearby Warm Springs BART station platform. When Ars visited on Monday afternoon, there appeared to be cranes and forklifts moving around the site. We could not easily see inside the long white temporary structure, but there did not appear to be any newly completed vehicles rolling off the lines in the adjacent parking lot. Still, one automotive expert that Ars spoke with said that a new temporary manufacturing facility on the same site as conventional automotive factories was unprecedented in the industry. Dave Sullivan, an analyst with Auto Pacific, told Ars that he wondered what was wrong with Tesla's existing facilities, if Musk decided the company needed more capacity. "It's almost a sign of desperation," he said. "It's a sprint to be profitable in the third quarter." Ars notes that "each tent is 53-feet-high by 150-feet-long -- there seem to be several connected in a long line, mounted with aluminum framing." In a tweet, Musk said: "It's actually way better than the factory building. More comfortable & a great view of the mountains."

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Square Obtains New York State Cryptocurrency License

The payment company Square has obtained a license to offer New York state residents the ability to buy and sell bitcoin through its Cash App, the company announced on Monday. "This makes Square the ninth firm to have obtained a so-called 'BitLicense' by the New York State Department of Financial Services," reports Reuters. From the report: To grant the license, the financial watchdog conducted a comprehensive review of Square's app, including its anti-money laundering, anti-fraud and cybersecurity policies, NYDFS said in statement. Square also holds a money-transmitter license from NYDFS. The San Francisco-based company, best known for selling a device that enables small businesses to accept credit card payments easily, first enabled bitcoin purchases on its app in other states in January.

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Portland Kicks Off Smart City Initiative With Traffic Sensor Safety Project

An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: Portland, Oregon officials claim its city has some of the best bike data in the United States -- data revealing how many people ride bicycles, where they're going and what streets they're using. Their collection of that data, however, has been as low-tech as it gets: city staffers and volunteers stand out on street corners for two hours at a time and count. Now, the city is aiming for more comprehensive, accurate data collection with the installation of 200 sensors installed on street lights on three of Portland's deadliest streets: Southeast Division St., SE Hawthorne Blvd. and 122nd St. The Traffic Sensor Safety Project, for a price tag of just over $1 million, represents the first major milestone for the Smart City PDX initiative. It relies on GE's Current CityIQ sensors, which are powered with Intel IoT technology and use AT&T as the data carrier. GE, Intel and AT&T have already worked together to deploy smart streetlight sensors in San Diego.

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T-Mobile and Sprint Ask For Merger Approval

According to documents filed Monday, T-Mobile and Sprint have formally asked the FCC to approve their proposed merger. Axios reports: In their filing, the companies said that the deal would "generate substantial public interest benefits for the customers of T-Mobile and Sprint and for U.S. wireless customers as a whole, and do not give rise to any competitive harms." "The merger unlocks the door to new broadband choices and capabilities for consumers across the country while accelerating the arrival of transformative 5G services that will produce innovation, jobs, and economic growth for our country," the companies said. Basically, the two companies have to prove to the FCC that the deal benefits consumers, and avoid antitrust concerns currently being investigated by the Department of Justice.

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Uber 'Neglected' Simulation Testing For Its Autonomous Vehicles, Says Report

According to a report from The Information, Uber allegedly "neglected" simulation testing for its autonomous vehicles. "The publication's sources claim that there was a dearth of investment in the simulation software, and lots of incompatible code between the autonomous vehicle software and simulation software Uber is developing internally," reports Engadget. "However, the sources said there isn't a direct link between the lack of investment and the fatal accident involving one of Uber's autonomous taxis and a pedestrian." From the report: It's worth noting that the Unreal Engine-powered simulation software is still relatively new. The Information writes that the suite wasn't developed until after self-driving project lead Anthony Levandowski was fired mid-2017. To add insult to injury, initially, there were also differences in pay between simulation engineers and other engineers in the department. The end goal was to release a self-driving car in Arizona this year, codenamed "Roadrunner," to compete with Waymo's offering just outside of Phoenix.

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Facebook Ordered To Explain Deleted Profile

An anonymous reader quotes a report from BBC: Facebook has been ordered by a UK high court judge to reveal who told it to delete the profile of a jazz musician and his band, six months after he died. The Times reports that the firm said it had acted on a request but had declined to reveal to the family who had instructed it. Mirza Krupalija's partner Azra Sabados says she is certain that it was not a family member or friend. She said losing his posts and messages felt like losing him "a second time." Mr Krupalija, who lived in Sarajevo, suffered a fatal heart attack just after his 57th birthday in 2016. Ms Sabados said she spent a year talking to Facebook before pursuing legal action. Ms Sabados' lawyer Greg Callus from the law firm 5BR confirmed to the BBC that Facebook is now required to provide the details under what is legally known as a Norwich Pharmacal Order -- where Facebook is innocent but may have information about a third party who could be involved in wrongdoing. The firm will have 21 days to respond.

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China-based Campaign Breached Satellite Operators, Defense Contractors and Telecommunications Companies in US: Symantec

A sophisticated hacking campaign launched from computers in China burrowed deeply into satellite operators, defense contractors and telecommunications companies in the United States and southeast Asia, security researchers at Symantec Corp said on Tuesday. Reuters: Symantec said the effort appeared to be driven by national espionage goals, such as the interception of military and civilian communications. Such interception capabilities are rare but not unheard of, and the researchers could not say what communications, if any, were taken. More disturbingly in this case, the hackers infected computers that controlled the satellites, so that they could have changed the positions of the orbiting devices and disrupted data traffic, Symantec said. "Disruption to satellites could leave civilian as well as military installations subject to huge [real world] disruptions," said Vikram Thakur, technical director at Symantec. "We are extremely dependent on their functionality." Satellites are critical to phone and some internet links as well as mapping and positioning data. Symantec, based in Mountain View, California, described its findings to Reuters exclusively ahead of a planned public release. It said the hackers had been removed from infected systems.

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Amazon Brings Alexa To Hotels

Amazon is finally bringing Alexa to the hotel room. The e-commerce giant announced Tuesday the launch of Alexa for Hospitality, a specialized version of the voice assistant that integrates into popular hotel software systems for guest services. From a report: Housed inside of an Echo device, Alexa for Hospitality is functionally identical to the Alexa used in homes, except tailored to a hotel's service options. Guests can tell Alexa to order room service, book a spa appointment, call for housekeeping, provide directions, or play music in their room, for example. On the privacy side, Amazon said hotels will not have access to voice recordings of Alexa interactions or responses, and recordings of Alexa commands are remotely wiped when the guest checks out of the hotel. However, hotels can use Alexa for Hospitality to "measure engagement through analytics and adapt services based on guest feedback," Amazon said. Alexa for Hospitality is available to hotels, vacation rentals, and other hospitality providers starting today, with Marriott International signed up to deploy the service across its hotel portfolio this summer.

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