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Senate votes to kill privacy rules guarding your online info

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 23:02:43 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — The Senate voted to kill Obama-era online privacy regulations , a first step toward allowing internet providers such as Comcast, AT&T and Verizon to sell your browsing habits and other personal information as they expand their own online ad businesses. "Advertisers and marketers are lining up to get access to all the information that's now available about us," said Jeff Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy, which advocates for tougher internet privacy measures. [...] proponents of the privacy measure argued that the company that sells you your internet connection can see even more about you: every website you visit, every app that sends or receives data, everyone you email and many that you message. The Trump-appointed chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, is a critic of the broadband privacy rules and has said he wants to roll them back , along with other Obama-era policies meant to protect consumers and promote competition. "At the FCC, consumers are much more protected with strong privacy rules that give (internet service providers) clear rules as to what's fair and what's foul," Dallas Harris, a policy fellow with consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge, said last month.



WikiLeaks: CIA hacked Apple devices in ways users can't fix

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 20:29:03 UT

"The most notable part of this latest WikiLeaks release is that it shows the CIA doing exactly what we pay them to — exploit specific targets with limited attacks to support our national interests," said Rich Mogull, CEO of the security research firm Securosis.  




17,000 AT&T workers will come back on the job Thursday

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 17:36:23 UT

A Communications Workers of America union local official had said Wednesday that AT&T was asking technicians who install cable to also work outside maintaining phone and cable wires, which is a higher-paid job. AT&T says its agreement with the union "clarified some work processes on assignments for a group of technicians."



Google's YouTube losing major advertisers upset with videos

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 22:54:26 UT

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — AT&T, Verizon and several other major advertisers are suspending their marketing campaigns on Google's YouTube site after discovering their brands have been appearing alongside videos promoting terrorism and other unsavory subjects. YouTube's popularity stems from its massive and eclectic library of video, spanning everything from polished TV clips to raw diatribes posted by people bashing homosexuals. [...] Google can ensure this won't happen again, we are removing our ads from Google's non-search platforms. In its statement, Verizon said it decided to pull ads from YouTube to protect its website while it investigates the "weak links" among its digital advertising partners.



For some airline passengers, new warnings bring new hurdles

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 20:50:05 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — As far as the indignities of modern air travel go, the latest ban on laptops and tablets on some international flights falls somewhere between taking off shoes at the security checkpoint and testing baby food and milk for bomb residue. "Why are only Middle Eastern airlines subject to this ban?" asked Kelsey Norman, a doctoral student who plans to fly home Friday to Los Angeles from Beirut — and expects to have to check her laptop, a Kindle tablet and her DSLR camera. New restrictions from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security prohibit the transportation in carry-on baggage of laptop computers, tablets, Kindles, some gaming devices, cameras and other electronics larger than a smartphone. People can still bring with them to their seat items like smartphones, duffel bags, coats, small bottles of hand lotion, snacks, earplugs and other small items. Features can be limited for some apps; Microsoft's Office app, for instance, allows users to open only one document at a time. Last fall, Samsung asked users of its fire-prone Galaxy Note 7 to "power down and stop using the device" on planes. [...] he worries about laptop lithium-ion batteries — which have been blamed for past aircraft fires — stored in the plane's cargo hold.



UN atomic chief: Iran inspections at risk without more money

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 19:52:24 UT

WASHINGTON (AP) — The inspections regime put in place to closely monitor Iran's nuclear activity is in jeopardy unless the U.S. and other nations contribute more money, the head of the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency said Wednesday. Yukiya Amano, the agency's director general, said he used his visit to Washington to make the case for an increase to the Trump administration and to U.S. lawmakers who control the federal budget. Under the nuclear deal, Iran agreed to limits on its ability to enrich uranium and strict monitoring to ensure compliance, in exchange for easing of economic sanctions. Trump, during the presidential campaign, threatened to scuttle the deal or to renegotiate it, and as recently as this week said that "nobody" could figure out why President Barack Obama signed it.



17,000 AT&T workers in California and Nevada go on strike

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 19:47:11 UT

AT&T is asking technicians who install cable to also work outside maintaining phone and cable wires, which is a higher-paid job, said Sheila Bordeaux, who works in an AT&T call center and is an executive board member of the union local that covers Los Angeles and surrounding areas. Verizon agreed to add new call center jobs and promised raises but also adopted some cheaper health insurance plans.



AP Interview: Emirates defends security as laptop ban looms

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 19:13:00 UT

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The president of Emirates, the Middle East's biggest airline, defended security measures at the carrier's Dubai hub on Wednesday and said the ban on personal electronics onboard U.S.-bound flights came without warning. Dubai was one of 10 cities in Muslim-majority countries affected by the new rule, which will force passengers to forego their tablets, laptops and other gadgets on direct flights to the U.S. Mobile phones and medical devices will be allowed onboard. Britain issued similar restrictions a few hours after U.S. officials announced theirs, though Dubai and Abu Dhabi - the two United Arab Emirates hubs on the U.S. list - were not included in the British ban. Many of the passengers it carries are not going to or from the Middle East, but transit through Dubai International Airport to points all over Emirates' far-flung global network. Emirates' success and that of smaller rivals Qatar Airways and Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways has rattled big U.S. airlines, who accuse the Gulf carriers of receiving billions of dollars of unfair government subsidies. The airline boss said Emirates was stung by the Trump administration's executive order to restrict travel for passengers from seven Muslim-majority nations, with demand for the U.S. less robust than before.



Google Maps already tracks you; now other people can, too

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 17:07:55 UT

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google Maps users will soon be able to broadcast their movements to friends and family — the latest test of how much privacy people are willing to sacrifice in an era of rampant sharing. [...] location sharing in one of the world's most popular apps could cause friction in marriages and other relationships if one partner demands to know where the other is at all times. If no time limit is selected, Google will periodically send people email reminders that they're still sharing their location, a step that Glenn said may help anyone who didn't know an abusive partner was still following them.



Report: Climate outlook improves as fewer coal plants built

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 02:40:39 UT

BEIJING (AP) — Led by cutbacks in China and India, construction of new coal-fired power plants is falling worldwide, improving chances climate goals can be met despite earlier pessimism, three environmental groups said Wednesday. A joint report by the groups CoalSwarm, the Sierra Club and Greenpeace follows a warning this week by two international agencies that the world needs to shift quickly away from fossil fuels to curb global warming. Environmentalists were dismayed by President Donald Trump's U.S. government budget proposal last week that would cut spending on renewable energy. The latest developments "appear to have brought global climate goals within feasible reach, raising the prospect that the worst levels of climate change might be avoided," said the report. Signed by 170 countries, it calls for holding global temperature increases to no more than 2 degrees centigrade (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) in hopes of preventing sea level rise and other drastic change. Industry experts cautioned that countries including India, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Vietnam need to keep adding coal power because it is the only affordable option in a region where 500 million people lack access to electricity. China canceled half its planned additional coal-fired generating capacity over the past year but will still add 100 gigawatts by 2020, according to Xizhou Zhou, who heads the Asian gas and power practice for IHS Markit, a research firm. China's power demand is cooling as the government seeks to reduce reliance on heavy industry and encourage services and technology, Zhou said.



Altered Facebook news headline jolts Virginia governor race

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 00:55:04 UT

(AP) — An altered Facebook headline on a newspaper story involving a statue of Robert E. Lee has blown up into a major sore point in the Virginia GOP primary for governor — another instance of politicians or their allies changing headlines to suit their own purposes on that platform. A group aligned with gubernatorial hopeful Corey Stewart, a firebrand conservative Trump backer, has weaponized a fake headline to attack rival Ed Gillespie, the GOP establishment's pick for governor. A conservative nonprofit with ties to Stewart campaign aides — the Conservative Response Team — subsequently posted and promoted a Facebook post linking to the article but with a fake headline: "Gillespie: I'm OK with Charlottesville Taking Down the General Lee Monument." [...] Gillespie has said he doesn't support moving the statue and thinks local officials who approved moving it should be voted out of office. The social media site has special tools available to page administrators allowing them to change headlines in ways that make it look like they were written by legitimate news organizations. In North Carolina, a GOP state senator drew fire for an altered headline stating Democratic Gov. Roy "Cooper flip flops on refugees." The instances highlight Facebook's increasingly important presence in political campaigns, thanks to its vast reach and ability to target specific subgroups of voters.



Uber vows to change direction, become more humane company

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 23:24:39 UT

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Uber is vowing to head down a new road and become a more humane company following a wave of ugly developments, including allegations of rampant sexual harassment and a video of a profanity-laced confrontation between the ride-hailing company's CEO and a disgruntled driver. The pledge came in a contrite conference call held Tuesday with some of the reporters who have been covering the incidents that have painted an unflattering portrait of the company, threatening to trigger a backlash among the riders and drivers who have propelled its rapid rise. Company representatives said Kalanick couldn't attend because he was busy interviewing the candidates vying to become the company's chief operating officer, a helping hand that Kalanick has said he needs to "grow up" at the age of 40. Besides berating an Uber driver last month for complaining about the company's pay scale, Kalanick also has been skewered for creating a boorish culture that culminated in a former female engineer alleging management looked the other way after she and other women reported being propositioned by their male colleagues.



Comey corrects Trump's tweets in real time

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 22:24:01 UT

WASHINGTON (AP) — As FBI Director James Comey was in the hot seat, being grilled on Russia's interference in the 2016 election, the White House was busy trolling him on Twitter. The official White House account was used to tap out a series of tweets Monday trying to shift the focus to problematic leaks instead of what they'd revealed. The episode resulted in a real-time fact-checking of President Donald Trump by the FBI director — an unprecedented moment that put a sharp focus on a pattern of misstatements and mischaracterizations by the White House. In another tweet, the White House quoted Comey saying that former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was "'right' to say no evidence of collusion between Russia and Trump Campaign." [...] again, the video accompanying the tweet makes clear that the question that prompted the response dealt specifically with the contents of a Jan. 6 report issued by the intelligence agencies — not whether evidence exists generally. "For two months now, I've been very worried about presidential credibility," he said, arguing that, at some point, the president will have to talk frankly to the American people, explaining, for instance, why he might feel the country needs to go to war.



Police: Chicago teen apparently gang-raped on Facebook Live

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 22:15:24 UT

CHICAGO (AP) — A 15-year-old Chicago girl was apparently sexually assaulted by five or six men or boys on Facebook Live, and none of the roughly 40 people who watched the live video reported the attack to police, authorities said Tuesday. Police only learned of the latest alleged attack when the girl's mother approached the head of the police department, Superintendent Eddie Johnson, late Monday afternoon as he was leaving a department station in the Lawndale neighborhood on the city's West Side, department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said. Jeffrey Urdangen, a professor at Northwestern University's law school and the director of the school's Center for Criminal Defense, said it isn't illegal to watch such a video or to not report it to the police.



Apple cuts prices on lower-end iPads, releases red iPhones

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 20:34:07 UT

Apple unveiled them through press releases Tuesday rather than a staged event, as it typically does for bigger product releases. According to IDC, tablet shipments fell 20 percent to 53 million worldwide in the final three months of 2016, compared with the same period in 2015. Apple is also releasing a red edition of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus; for each phone sold, Apple is donating an unspecified amount to HIV and AIDS programs. [...] Apple typically sparks consumer interest when it has new sizes and designs, Vela said, as seen by a jump in sales following the introduction of larger iPhones in 2014 (iPhone sales have since dropped.) Vela said a 10.5-inch version might have been enough for existing iPad owners to upgrade. A 10.5-inch version may still come this year, closer to the holiday shopping season, along with updates to existing Pro sizes. Yet Apple CEO Tim Cook has expressed optimism because many people were buying iPads for the first time, indicating that the market had yet to reach saturation, the point at which everyone who wants a particular product already has one. [...] Apple might be able to preserve higher profit margins by pushing people into a model with four times the storage, or 128 gigabytes; the extra storage costs Apple far less than the extra $100 that model sells for, Vela said. Apple remains the market leader, accounting for about a quarter of all tablets shipped in the fourth quarter, according to IDC.