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All That Has Happened In Technology In the Last 24 Hours

All That Has Happened In Technology In the Last 24 Hours

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10 July 2019

Twitter is updating its hate-speech rules to ban posts that use dehumanizing terms against religious groups 

Over time, the ban would be extended to cover to some other groups, it said. But a public consultation had indicated users still wished to use dehumanising language to criticise political organisations and hate groups.

Tech companies have struggled to strike a balance between free expression and protecting users from attack. Twitter said it had taken “months of conversations” to decide on the policy.

“Our primary focus is on addressing the risks of offline harm – and research shows that dehumanising language increases that risk,” the company said in a blog. Twitter’s hateful conduct policy had already banned users from spreading scaremongering stereotypes about religious groups – such as claiming all adherents were terrorists.

In addition, it had prohibited the use of imagery that might stir up hatred, including photos edited to give individuals animal-like features or add “hateful symbols” such as the yellow Star of David badges associated with the Holocaust.

Mobile phone dealers demand to unblock all used phones via an amnesty scheme

The mobile phone dealers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have rejected the tax imposed by the government on used mobile phones and demanded the authorities to verify all of the blocked phones via an amnesty scheme for mobiles and unblock them.

The All Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Action Committee Mobile Phones Association held a press conference at Peshawar Press Club and presented their demands. The representative of the association, Hamadullah said that the government’s decision to apply 10% tax on used mobile phones similar to what is being applied on the new cellphones is not fair. He said that this tax amount will destroy the mobile phone business in the country.

Hamadullah further said that the mobile dealers have already suffered massive losses when the government blocked the imported smartphones from the country. 80% imported mobile phones in Pakistan are registered, and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) blocking the rest is completely unfair, he added. The government should deal with blocked cellphones via type and tag system.

Pakistan’s electricity losses can be reduced by 90% with ElectroCure governance tool

Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology has recently held a meeting to discuss various problems in which the IT sector can provide assistance. The committee also discussed how electricity losses of the country can be minimized using modern technology. Upon which, CEO Ignite Yusuf Hussain said that ElectroCure governance tool for Electricity Data Management can help reduce Pakistan’s electricity losses to 90 percent. He said that the Ministry of Energy has already been given a briefing on adopting this new system.

The Senate committee meeting was presided by Ali Khan Jadoon. Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecom Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui who also attended the meeting, said that ElectroCure technology aims to address electricity theft arising from meter tampering, theft from transmission and distribution lines, and billing irregularities. He said that we have briefed Prime Minister Imran Khan and Ministry of Energy about the system. This system can only be implemented with the collaboration of bureaucracy, he remarked.

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9 July 2019

Online ad growth predicted to slow down in 2021, by which point it will account for 52% of Global advertising

Global advertising spend is expected to grow 4.6 per cent in 2019, a dip from previous estimates, with internet advertising seen slowing to single digits in 2021 for first since the dotcom bubble burst, industry forecaster Zenith said.

Zenith, owned by French advertising group Publicis, said in a report published on Monday that internet advertising would account for 52pc of global advertising expenditure in 2021, surpassing the 50pc mark for the first time.

The report comes during the time when advertising companies including market leader WPP Plc have seen clients switching to using online platforms such as Google and Facebook to reach consumers.

A Facebook tip-off leads the police to shut down a rave in England

Five people arrested over an illegal rave over the weekend have been released while inquiries continue. Officers alerted by advertisements on social media on Saturday evening later found about 600 people, at the event on Massingham Heath, Grimston, Norfolk.

They monitored it through the night and disrupted it at about 15:45 on Sunday. Three men, aged 25, 28 and 31, were arrested in connection with organising the event. Police then received further calls from residents complaining about noise and the event was discovered.

About 150 vehicles were on site throughout the night and specially trained officers went in to disrupt the event and seize sound equipment. Two other men, aged 20 and 33, arrested at the scene on suspicion of drug driving have also been released under investigation.

A security firm says deepfaked audio is being used to steal millions of pounds

Symantec said it had seen three cases of seemingly deepfaked audio of different chief executives used to trick senior financial controllers into transferring cash. Deepfakes use artificial intelligence to create convincing fake footage.

The AI system could be trained using the “huge amount” of audio the average chief executive would have innocently made available, Symantec said.

Corporate videos, earning calls, media appearances as well as conference keynotes and presentations would all be useful for fakers looking to build a model of someone’s voice, chief technology officer Dr Hugh Thompson said. “The model can probably be almost perfect,” he said.

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8 July 2019

Jordan banned the hugely popular online game Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds(PUBG), citing its “negative effects”

Often likened to the blockbuster book and film series “The Hunger Games”, PUBG pits marooned characters against each another in a virtual fight to the death, and has become one of the world’s most popular mobile games.

A source in Jordan’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority warned the game “had negative effects on its users, which led to its being officially blocked”.

The move follows similar bans in Iraq, Nepal, the Indian state of Gujarat and the Indonesian province of Aceh. In May, Chinese tech giant Tencent ceased offering the game, instead directing users to a newly launched and nearly identical programme it created.

PUBG is widely popular in Jordan and institutions in the kingdom have issued warnings to employees not to play it. Psychologists in the country have repeatedly warned the game encourages violence and contributes to bullying among youth.

A drone sighting that caused the closure of a British Airport could just have been a bird

TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY PHILIPPE BERNES-LASSERRE A royal eagle catches a drone during flight during a military exercise at the Mont-de-Marsan airbase, southwestern France, on February 10, 2017. As malicious or poorly controlled drones are becoming more and more a security threat, the French army explores all options for defence. They train royal eagles for six months at the airbase to chase drones. / AFP / GEORGES GOBET (Photo credit should read GEORGES GOBET/AFP/Getty Images)

Reports of a drone being spotted at the airport on Wednesday morning are still being investigated by police. They said “the movement” of the object suggested it was a drone. However, an expert who analyses reports of sightings said it was “extremely unlikely” a drone would have been able to fly near the airport.

This is because of something called “geo-fencing”, which prevents most commercially available drones from being flown near airports. “The drone simply won’t take off if it is in a restricted location,” said Simon Dale, from Airprox Reality Check.

“It is therefore extremely unlikely that a drone was operating in proximity to East Midlands Airport.” Mr Dale said the sighting could have been a bird, a party balloon, a Chinese lantern or a manned aircraft in the distance.

The Lahore High Court has directed the PTA to stop unwanted promotional calls and text messages 

Justice Shahid Jamil had called upon Muhammad Shafique, Communication Director of PTA. On being asked why PTA is not taking any action against these spam messages. Shafique mentioned that no proper mechanism exists to stop these unwarranted messages.

But Shahid Jamil pointed out that if such messages can not be stopped, an action can be taken against numbers spreading these promotional messages. He mentioned that PTA is a regulatory body and should be able to take such actions against spam. The case will be heard on 19th July again and PTA Chairman might be called upon if PTA doesn’t take satisfactory action against these complaints

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5 July 2019

According to a new study, overuse of mobiles by university students may have been related to lower grades, drinking problems and more sexual partners

In a survey of more than 3,400 people taking degrees in the US, those who said they had problems with the amount of time they spent on their phones also reported having more sexual partners. But they also were more likely to report anxiety or depression.

One psychiatrist said the findings were “concerning”. Researchers from the University of Chicago, University of Cambridge, and the University of Minnesota developed the Health and Addictive Behaviours Survey. Its aim was to assess mental health and wellbeing among university students and to see what impact mobile phones had on them.

Samsung is being sued by Australia’s consumer watchdog for allegedly making misleading claims about the water-resistant properties of its phones

In its statement, the ACCC said Samsung adverts depicted phones being exposed to seawater and swimming pools and claimed that this would not affect the device during its working life. Although Samsung adverts say its phones have an IP68 water resistance, said the ACCC, this rating does not cover salt water or that found in swimming pools.

Samsung’s own website advises people against using the Galaxy S10 in a swimming pool or on the beach, said the consumer watchdog. Samsung had not done enough testing to make its advertised claims about the longevity of its products, alleges the ACCC. “Samsung showed the Galaxy phones used in situations they shouldn’t be, to attract customers,” said the ACCC.

Calorie counting app creators have been criticised for allowing the platforms to be misused by people with eating disorders

The BBC found content logging self-harm and punishments for over-eating on MyFitnessPal, Lose It! and Lifesum. Eating disorder charity Beat said the mobile apps could exacerbate unhealthy behaviours and make recovery harder. The app developers said they promoted healthy eating, and safeguards to protect vulnerable users were in place.

An investigation by the BBC found more than 20 harmful entries generated by users of MyFitnessPal, Lose It! or Lifesum, including some promoting dangerous cycles of starving and binging.

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4 July 2019

TikTok says it is “sorry” that some children have felt pressured into sending money to their favourite influencers

PARIS, FRANCE – MARCH 05: In this photo illustration, the social media application logo, Tik Tok is displayed on the screen of an iPhone on March 05, 2019 in Paris, France. The social network broke the rules for the protection of children’s online privacy (COPPA) and was fined $ 5.7 million. The fact TikTok criticized is quite serious in the United States, the platform, which currently has more than 500 million users worldwide, collected data that should not have asked minors. TikTok, also known as Douyin in China, is a media app for creating and sharing short videos. Owned by ByteDance, Tik Tok is a leading video platform in Asia, United States, and other parts of the world. In 2018, the application gained popularity and became the most downloaded app in the U.S. in October 2018. (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)

TikTok lets fans send their favourite videomakers “digital gifts”, which can cost up to £48.99. A BBC investigation found influencers promising to share their phone numbers with fans in exchange for the gifts.

TikTok said it would strengthen its policies and guidelines but did not explain exactly how. Claire (not her real name) told BBC News she regretted spending £100 to obtain her favourite TikTok star’s phone number – and he had never answered his phone.

Claire, 12, who lives in the north-west of England, sent TikTok star Sebastian Moy a £48.99 “drama queen” gift to show her appreciation for his videos. And when he had asked for another one in exchange for his personal phone number, she said she was swept up in the moment.

The US-based video-maker has 3.8 million fans on TikTok and has not broken any of the app’s rules.

The chief executive of Chinese tech giant Baidu has been doused with water during a speech about artificial intelligence 

Robin Li, co-founder of the firm, was mid-presentation when a man walked on to the stage, grabbed his arm and emptied a bottle of water on his head. The incident happened at the Baidu Create 2019 conference in Beijing.

Among the announcements was the news that the firm’s smart speaker can now be activated without a “wake word”. This means the device can respond to users’ commands automatically.

After Mr Li was drenched with water, he was heard to say, “What’s your problem?” as he wiped liquid from his face. The man who took to the stage gave no indication of why he poured the water on Mr Li.

United States government staff told to treat Huawei as blacklisted

A senior US official told the Commerce Department’s enforcement staff this week that China’s Huawei should still be treated as blacklisted, days after US President Donald Trump sowed confusion with a vow to ease a ban on sales to the firm. Trump surprised markets on Saturday by promising Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Japan that he would allow US companies to sell products to Huawei Technologies Co Ltd.

In May, the company was added to the so-called Entity List, which bans American firms from selling to it without special permission, as punishment for actions against US national security interests.

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3 July 2019

German court fines Facebook over inability to combat hate speech effectively

Under a new regulation that came into force on Jan 1, 2018, companies like Twitter and Facebook have 24 hours to remove posts that openly violate German law after they are flagged by users.

Offensive content that is more difficult to categorise must be deleted within seven days after it is reported and reviewed. Social media companies that fail to comply face up to 50 million euros ($60m) in fines.

Further, online giants are required to publish every six months a report on how they have gone about combating hate speech.In a decision that can still be appealed by Facebook, the BfJ court levied a fine equivalent to $2.26m as it found that the company failed to provide a complete picture about complaints made by users in its report covering Jan to June 2018.

US officials are investigating a secret Facebook group where border patrol members allegedly posted racist and sexist jokes about migrants

The private group had about 9,500 members, including former and current border patrol agents, ProPublica reported.

Some posts mocked migrant deaths, while others targeted Latino members of Congress, ProPublica said. The Border Patrol chief has called the posts “completely inappropriate”.

“Any employees found to have violated our standards of conduct will be held accountable,” Carla Provost said. The group was called “I’m 10-15”, ProPublica said – 10-15 being Border Patrol code for “aliens in custody”. According to ProPublica, members of the group mocked Latino members of Congress who visited migrant detention centres in Texas on Monday. Democrats Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Veronica Escobar were among those said to have been called “hoes” and “scum buckets” in the private postings. In one post, a member reportedly suggested throwing burritos at them, while another shared a doctored image depicting Ms Ocasio-Cortez performing a sex act on President Donald Trump.

Virginia has become one of the first places to outlaw the sharing of computer-generated pornography known as deepfakes

The US state has done so by amending an existing law which criminalised so-called revenge porn – the malicious sharing of explicit photos or videos without the victim’s consent. It now makes clear that the category includes “falsely-created” material. The move coincides with a report critical of the UK’s own laws.

The study, published by Durham University and Kent University, highlighted that artificial intelligence software had made it much easier to create deepfakes and at the same time the imagery was becoming more difficult to identity as having been manipulated.

“We must overhaul our out-of-date and piecemeal laws, including criminalising the paralysing and life-threatening impact of threats, and recognising the significant harms of fake porn,” said one of the authors, Prof Clare McGlynn.

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2 July 2019

A cat flap that automatically bars entry to a pet if it tries to enter with prey in its jaws has been built as a DIY project by an Amazon employee

Ben Hamm used machine-learning software to train a system to recognise when his cat Metric was approaching with a rodent or bird in its mouth.

When it detected such an attack, he said, a computer attached to the flap’s lock triggered a 15-minute shut-out. Mr Hamm unveiled his invention at an event in Seattle last month. The presentation was subsequently brought to light by tech news site The Verge.

App that can remove women’s clothes from images has been shut down

An app that claimed to be able to digitally remove the clothes from pictures of women to create fake nudes has been taken offline by its creators. The $50 (£40) Deepnude app won attention and criticism because of an article by tech news site Motherboard.

One campaigner against so-called revenge porn called the app “terrifying”. The developers have now removed the software from the web saying the world was not ready for it. “The probability that people will misuse it is too high,” wrote the programmers in a message on their Twitter feed. “We don’t want to make money this way.”

Anyone who bought the app would get a refund, they said, adding that there would be no other versions of it available and withdrawing the right of anyone else to use it.

Wikipedia founder has called for a social media strike

People are being urged to stop using social media for up to 48 hours later this week in an effort to pressure the networks into restoring control of personal data to users.

The call to strike has been issued by Dr Larry Sanger – a co-founder of the Wikipedia online encyclopaedia. In his call to action, Dr Sanger said the strike – from 4 to 5 July – would show the “massive demand” for change. However, some people have questioned how much impact the strike will have. Those taking part will avoid social networks on those two days to show they have a “serious grievance” against the services.

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1 July 2019

Nokia distances itself from boss’s warning over Huawei 5G kit

Nokia’s chief technology officer Marcus Weldon told the BBC that the UK should be wary of using the Chinese hardware.He said Huawei’s telecoms kit had vulnerabilities that meant it posed a risk to 5G networks.

In a statement issued after the BBC story was published, the Finnish firm said his comments do “not reflect the official position of Nokia”. It added: “Nokia is focused on the integrity of its own products and services and does not have its own assessment of any potential vulnerabilities associated with its competitors.” The statement undermines assertions made by Mr Weldon in which he said Huawei’s failings were serious.

 Instagram ‘sympathy scammers’ exploit support for Sudanese protesters

Scammers making bogus claims about sending aid to Sudan in exchange for clicks have continued to crop up on Instagram despite the exposure and suspension of fraudulent accounts, some of which had hundreds of thousands of followers.

The death of 26-year-old Sudanese activist Mohamed Mattar captured worldwide attention on social media.

Mattar was one of around 100 people killed in a crackdown on protesters in Khartoum in early June. His online avatar at the time of his death was a simple circle in his favourite colour, a deep blue.

Reddit places one of the internet’s most popular forums for supporters of President Trump  on restricted access 

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The platform now warns visitors that some members of the community have been involved in making “threats of violence against police and public officials”.

Users must now click an opt-in button to access The_Donald forum, and its content no longer appears in Reddit’s search results or recommendations.

Members have complained of censorship.

The forum, which is known as a subreddit, has more than 760,000 subscribers and once hosted an “ask me anything” session with Donald Trump in which he replied to questions from the public before the presidential election.

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28 June 2019

Twitter says it will hide tweets by world leaders and politicians that break its rules but have been left online “in the public interest”

Tweets from prominent government officials that break the platform’s rules but have been left online will be hidden behind a notice. The company accepted it had not clearly communicated many of the decisions it had made in the past. But the new notice will only be applied to tweets sent after 27 June. Twitter’s critics say the platform does not enforce its rules evenly, allowing politicians to break its rules on abuse, harassment and incitement. In the past, Twitter has defended some of its decisions by saying the tweets in question were “newsworthy”.

For example, in September 2017 the company said it had decided to leave a controversial tweet by US President Donald Trump online. In the tweet, Mr Trump said: “Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at UN. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!”

Sir Jony Ive, the Briton who over two decades helped turn Apple into the world’s most valuable company, is leaving

Sir Jonathan, designer of the iMac, iPod and iPhone, leaves later this year to start a creative firm, LoveFrom, with Apple as its first client. “This just seems like a natural and gentle time to make this change,” he said. Apple boss Tim Cook said his “role in Apple’s revival cannot be overstated”.

But the departure comes at a time of wider change at the tech giant. Retail chief Angela Ahrendts left in April and investors have been worried about falling iPhone sales.

Facebook is working on introducing a new feature which may allow you to make in-app customization

According to Jane Manchun Wong, an app researcher, and a reverse engineer, Facebook is currently testing the ability to toggle notification dots of specific tabs within the app. In simple words, for those who get annoyed by those continuous and trivial red dots/notifications and don’t really care much about ‘Watch’ or groups then you will not have to worry about staring down at them anymore.

We are testing new ways to give people more control over the notifications they receive in the Facebook app,” a Facebook spokesperson told the TechCrunch.

Interestingly, the spokesperson told that Facebook was aware of the fact that users need not be continuously reminded multiple times about the notifications that are unchecked/waiting. The Facebook spokesperson said:

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27 June 2019

A town in Florida has paid $500,000 (£394,000) to hackers after a ransomware attack

The total paid by Florida municipalities over ransomware in the last two weeks now stands at $1.1m.

Officials in Lake City voted to pay hackers in Bitcoin after suffering downed computer systems for two weeks. Coastal suburb Riviera Beach recently paid hackers $600,000 following a similar incident that locked municipal staff out of important files.

According to reports, IT staff in Lake City disconnected staff computers within minutes of the attack starting, but it was too late. Workers were locked out of email accounts and members of the public were left unable to make municipal payments online.

US chipmaker Micron has restarted some shipments to Huawei despite a ban on selling products to the Chinese firm

The US banned companies from selling components and technology to Huawei and 68 affiliates on 15 May. But boss Sanjay Mehrotra said Micron had found it could lawfully “resume shipping a subset of current products”.

Intel and other market leaders have also reportedly restarted selling some products to the world’s biggest telecoms equipment manufacturer.

Micron, Intel and other industry leaders had managed to partly circumvent the ban by avoiding labelling goods as American-made, the New York Times reported on Tuesday.

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg said the firm took too long to flag a doctored video of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

The firm was criticised for not taking down the altered clip which made Ms Pelosi appear incoherent. Mr Zuckerberg also addressed the firm’s wider struggle with “deepfake” videos. Made by AI software, deepfakes use photos of a person to create a video of them in action.

The controversy surrounding the clip of Ms Pelosi erupted in May when Facebook said it would not remove the doctored video that had been slowed and made the US politician appear to slur. One version of the clip has been viewed more than 2.5 million times.

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26 June 2019

Police investigating the disappearance of YouTuber Etika have confirmed that they have found his body

The gamer, 29, whose real name is Desmond Amofah, was reported missing six days ago. His belongings were found on Manhattan Bridge on Monday. He had uploaded an eight-minute YouTube video in which he talked about suicide. Etika was popular for playing and discussing Nintendo games on YouTube and the streaming platform Twitch.

His Twitch account has been deleted but other social media platforms, including Twitter and Instagram, remain visible. He has 321,000 followers on Twitter and 252,000 on Instagram.

Report claims that Hackers using telecoms like ‘global spy system’

Faceless Computer Hacker

An ambitious group of state-backed hackers has been burrowing into telecommunications companies in order to spy on high-profile targets across the world, a US cybersecurity firm said in a report published Tuesday.

Boston-based Cybereason said the tactic gave hackers sweeping access to VIPs’ call records, location data and device information effectively turning the targets’ cellular providers against them.

Cybereason Chief Executive Lior Div said that because customers weren’t directly targeted, they might never discover their every movement was being monitored by a hostile power.

Robots ‘to replace up to 20 million factory jobs’ by 2030

Up to 20 million manufacturing jobs around the world could be replaced by robots by 2030, according to analysis firm Oxford Economics. People displaced from those jobs are likely to find that comparable roles in the services sector have also been squeezed by automation, the firm said. However, increasing automation will also boost jobs and economic growth, it added. The firm called for action to prevent a damaging increase in income inequality.

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25 June 2019

League of Legends players in Iran have reported being blocked from playing the game due to US sanctions 

Players in Iran have been sharing their experiences in League forums online. Due to rising tensions at the moment, the US has imposed tough new sanctions on Iran. That’s when trading with other countries is blocked, or costs so much that businesses in the country with sanctions can’t do it.

Now, it appears those penalties have extended to online gaming as well. “Due to US laws and regulations, players in your country cannot access League of Legends at this time,” says a message shared on the game’s forums, where a player shared a message he claims he received when trying to log on to play in Iran.

“Such restrictions are subject to change by the US government, so if and when that happens, we look forward to having you back on the Rift,” it continued.

PTA launches two-step authentication to restrict misuse of identity for mobile registration

After the launch of PTA’s phone blocking system DIRBS in Pakistan, illegal smartphone registration is on the rise and according to last week’s report around 45,000 IDs were used for fake registration of smartphones. In its efforts to curb the misuse of identity for mobile registration, PTA has unveiled a new two-step authentication process in DIRBS to confirm the identity of a person who wants to register any phone on the system.

It is worth mentioning here that PTA had started blocking the unregistered or illegal smartphones and feature phones in Pakistan earlier this year in April, after a delay of several months. However, people had found a way out of this. The blocked phones from PTA are being unblocked in the black market for as low as Rs. 1000 depending on the price of the handset.

Google Maps has around 11 million fake business listings

A malicious practice is becoming a headache for the search giant Google as millions of hijackers are taking over legitimate business listings on Google Maps in order to make you think that you are contacting the actual business. According to the latest report by The Wall Street Journal, there are around 11 million “falsely listed businesses” on any given day on Google Maps.

As you know that creating a business listing on Google Maps is free and quite easy indeed. Businesses can simply verify their listing’s address and phone number via SMS message, a phone call or a postcard mailed to their listed location. The easiness of this process lead to Google Map’s enormous growth i.e. 150 million businesses, which are currently listed on Google My Business and the tech giant earns a lot of profit from this large user base. However, the ease of joining this online site also opened the door for millions of scammers, which now Google will have to deal with regularly.

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24 June 2019

US cyberattack reportedly launched against Iranian military

The target of the attacks was an “intelligence group” that either has ties to or is part of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, depending on which report you read. That group had been connected to recent attacks on commercial ships in the region, according to Yahoo News. The Post says that the attack was “crippling to Iran’s military command and control systems,” but did not result in any loss of life. The Times reports that Iranian missile control systems were also targeted.

The US cyberattacks were launched by US Cyber Command, and the Times reports that they “had been planned for several weeks” and were meant as a response both to the attacks on oil tankers as well as the recent downing of an US drone aircraft.

YouTube hides comments section by default while testing out new version

YouTube is working on a new feature that would hide comments by default.

YouTube didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment but it confirmed the test in a statement to TechCrunch on Friday. “This is one of many small experiments we run all the time on YouTube, and we’ll consider rolling features out more broadly based on feedback on these experiments,” the Google-owned site told the publication. XDA developers had spotted the test in India on Wednesday.

You have to scroll past engagement buttons and recommended videos to find the comments section on Android and iOS now, but the new test reportedly hides the comments section entirely. Comments would instead be accessible by clicking a new icon, beneath the video and to the right of the thumbs-down icon. Comments could also be found by scrolling past the recommended videos, like before, but you’d have to tap to see them.

A robot ‘duck’ could help Japanese rice farmers keep paddy fields clear of weeds

For centuries, rice farmers in Asia have used ducks as a natural alternative to pesticides. While paddling around in flooded paddy fields, ducks tear up weeds and snack on insects, with their manure even acting as additional fertilizer. In the 21st century, this practice is not widespread, but a new technological twist on the method could change that.

An engineer working for Japanese carmaker Nissan has built a robot alternative to paddy field ducks. As reported by Nippon.com and Nerdist, he’s currently testing his prototype in the Yamagata Prefecture in northeastern Japan. It seems it’s just a DIY project at the moment, with no plans for commercialization or even any data on how effective it is, but it’s a fascinating use of technology all the same.

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23 June 2019

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that they are not planning to slash visas commonly used by Indian technology workers

US has backed internet behemoths and major corporations in opposing India’s orders that all online data be stored within the country, a move to ensure that authorities in New Delhi have access to it. A US official denied reports that Washington was linking the issue to H-1B visas for professionals, for which the vast majority of recipients are Indian.

“We attach great importance to the US-India relationship,” the official told reporters on condition of anonymity. “Indians have contributed under the H-1B programme to the US economy and I think the secretary will be able to assure the Indian leadership that we have no plans to place caps on H-1B work visas for nations that are having foreign companies store data locally,” she said.

Gambling ads that appeared on an app “appealing to under 18s” have been banned by the advertising watchdog

The ads for LottoGo EuroMillions, William Hill Vegas, Betfair Bingo and Dunder came up in the Looney Tunes World of Mayhem app in February. All four firms say they have since stopped working with affiliate company Tapjoy, which placed ads on the app.

The ASA ruled the ads must not be used again without limiting the risk of children being exposed to them. In its ruling, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said Tapjoy acknowledged the Looney Tunes app had been mistakenly categorised with a “mature-gambling” setting.

Apple has joined a growing chorus of firms urging the Trump administration to drop a plan for more US tariffs on Chinese goods

The US has said it may impose duties on $300bn (£236.1bn) worth of Chinese products if the two sides can’t reach a trade deal. In a letter, Apple “urged” the White House to drop the tariff plan. The tech giant said the duties would “tilt the playing field” to its global rivals. The company said the proposed tariffs would cover its major products including iPhone, iPads and Airpods, as well as parts used to repair devices in the US.

“We urge the US government not to impose tariffs on these products,” Apple said in its filing to US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who is considering submissions on the proposed duties.

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22 June 2019

A Florida town has decided to pay malicious hackers $600,000 to get its computers working again

Municipal computers for Riviera Beach, a suburb of Palm Beach, were rendered unusable by the ransomware attack.The virus disabled email, hit emergency response systems and forced staff to use paper-based admin systems.

The local council for the community of 35,000 people voted to pay off the hackers after employing cyber-security consultants to investigate.

The US has blocked more Chinese tech firms on national security concerns

The US Commerce Department blacklisted five Chinese tech entities Friday in a new move against Beijing’s supercomputing industry likely to raise tensions ahead of a meeting between President Trump and Xi Jinping next week.

The notice targets Sugon — a prominent Chinese supercomputer manufacturer — along with three of its microchip subsidiaries and a computing institute owned by the People’s Liberation Army.

All of the entities will be effectively barred from obtaining US technology after the government determined they were “acting contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States.”


Virtual Facebook currency ‘Libra’ has been facing real-world resistance

When it launches next year, Libra will be backed by a basket of real-world currencies and a consortium of companies. To mint and store new coins, access to its underlying “blockchain” technology will be more restrictive than for the free-for-all of bitcoin.

Companies rooted in traditional finance such as Visa and MasterCard have joined from the start, betting that Facebook’s clout gives the project enough potential to overcome any downside to their existing business models.

“I will definitely use Libra as the idea seems good and they have a big partnership list thereby offering credibility,” 23-year-old consultant Prasad Khake said in Mumbai.

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21 June 2019

The Nobel Museum has been gifted Albert Einstein’s first paper published discussing his then still controversial relativity theory

Swedish businessman Per Taube bought the handwritten two-page document at an auction for 1.2 million krona ($124,062) in December last year. He has now made good on his promise to gift the manuscript to the Nobel Museum, which will put it on display in a glass frame this autumn.

The paper, written in November 1922 while Einstein was attending conferences in south-east Asia, was published a month later by the Prussian Academy of Sciences.

Incomprehensible to many, the text is a rebuttal of an article by German mathematician Erich Trefftz debating the “large-scale geometrical structure of the universe” — notably the forces and masses separating and enveloping celestial bodies.

Global e-gaming expected to become a $152 billion industry this year

With video and electronic gaming spanning various dimensions of human entertainment and connection in recent years, it is no wonder that the industry is booming. The e-gaming market is set to generate a whopping $152.1 billion in 2019, which is a 9.6 percent increase over last year.

This information arrives courtesy of a report published by gaming analytics firm NewZoo on Tuesday. Aside from showing the undeniable rise of the gaming industry, it also highlights the key factors responsible for driving its growth. CEO of the Dutch firm Peter Warman believes that “the complete convergence of different forms of digital entertainment all coming together” has played a pivotal role in making e-gaming so attractive.

Samsung’s Galaxy Fold is ready to be launched again

According to SamMobile Samsung’s display Vice President Kim Seong-Cheol reportedly made an announcement at a ‘Korean Information Display Society’ event where he said:

Most of the display problems have been ironed out, and the Galaxy Fold is ready to hit the market. The Galaxy Fold, when released, will receive a lot of attention in the market, he added.

His comments, however, did not give any information on the launch date of the phone. Whether the phone will be launched in August or September is still unknown. Considering Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10 launch is scheduled to be in August, it remains to be seen whether the company will choose launch dates close to the Note 10 launch or not. Since there is a chance that one of the phones might eat the sales of the other.

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20 June 2019

Apple is considering moving around 15-30% of its production capacity from China

Apple Inc has asked its major suppliers to assess the cost implications of moving 15-30% of their production capacity from China to Southeast Asia as it prepares for a restructuring of its supply chain.

Apple’s request was a result of the extended Sino-United States trade dispute, but a trade resolution will not lead to a change in the company’s decision. The iPhone maker has decided the risks of depending heavily on manufacturing in China are too great and even rising.

Global advertising agencies have banded together to tackle dangerous content online

This group of advertising agencies, known as the Global Alliance for Responsible Media will consist of media buying groups and platform owners from some of the biggest ad groups, including WPP, IPG, Publicis, Omnicom and Dentsu. This announcement was made yesterday at the advertising industry’s annual meeting in the coastal city of Cannes in France.

One of the most undesirable and potentially dangerous pieces of content online is fake news, which is propagated largely by social media. This will naturally involve a move to compel Facebook, Google and YouTube to do much more about ridding our online space of misleading as well as generally harmful content.

Google is planning to bring its own version of iMessage on Android called Chat

Google is finally going to bring its own Android version of iMessage, a texting service called Chat on its platform. The search giant is going to bring this chat service in the UK and France later this month, and all of the Android smartphone users will be able to select this new messaging service for texting.

Similar to the iMessages, Chat provides an easy way of texting on Android, it features read receipts and ellipsis symbols which pops-up inside the chat and indicates if people start typing a message. Moreover, the Chat service allows users to send messages using Wi-Fi, so they can save their cellular data easily. Users can also send high-resolution pictures and videos using this texting service. They are also allowed to activate or disable the texting service whenever they want.