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Cyberconscripts: Baltic draftees can choose IT over infantry

Tue, 24 Jan 2017 17:21:51 UT

LILLE, France (AP) — The tiny Baltic nation of Estonia is experimenting with the idea of cyberconscription, a move that gives draftees with tech skills the chance to work shoring up their military's electronic infrastructure, an Estonian defense official said Tuesday. Estonia's compulsory military service means teens can serve between eight to 11 months in the military depending on their role on whether they serve as sailors, soldiers or in other roles. Government agencies and militaries across the world have long struggled to attract and keep cybersecurity professionals in the face of fierce private-sector competition, and Kodar said the plan could be a way of drawing them into the country's military or its reserves.



Diversity in tech: Lots of attention, little progress

Tue, 24 Jan 2017 17:18:45 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — The tech industry has brought us self-driving cars, artificial intelligence, disappearing photos and 3-D printers. Despite loudly touted efforts to hire more black, Latino and female workers, especially in technical and leadership positions, diversity numbers at the largest tech companies are barely budging. Tech companies themselves tend to blame a "pipeline problem," meaning a shortage of woman and minorities with technical qualifications. Similar programs are everywhere throughout the tech industry, from outreach at high schools and historically black colleges to internship and mentoring programs to sponsorships for coding boot camps to bias training and support groups. Interviews with more than 30 tech workers, executives and diversity advocates suggest the blame lies with subtle biases in hiring, unwelcoming work environments and a paucity of diverse role models in top positions. Aniyia Williams, founder and CEO of the startup Tinsel, says companies should focus on their own culture rather than blaming external factors they can't control, such as limited computer-science education in U.S. schools. For tech companies hoping to reach millions or billions of users, a lack of diversity could mean their products "will not appeal to a large population," says Lillian Cassel, chairwoman of computer sciences at Villanova University. — Snapchat's release of two photo filters that contorted facial features into bucktoothed Asian caricatures or blackface (one later withdrawn after public outcry, the other had "expired" and the company said it won't put it back into circulation); In a New York Times opinion piece , Microsoft researcher Kate Crawford urges companies working on artificial intelligence to address diversity, warning that otherwise "we will see ingrained forms of bias built into the artificial intelligence of the future." Some minority applicants, meanwhile, earn their computer science chops through community colleges or coding boot camps instead — places often overlooked by recruiters. Nancy Lee, the Google official in charge of diversity efforts, says the gorilla face-recognition incident was a "wake-up call" for the company.



South Dakota Senate panel approves science instruction bill

Tue, 24 Jan 2017 17:15:47 UT

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — A Senate panel has approved a bill that says teachers can't be prohibited from discussing the strengths and weaknesses of scientific information on issues such as climate change and evolution during classes. Republican Sen. Jeff Monroe, the bill's prime sponsor, says teachers should be able to talk about weaknesses in scientific theories.



Plan to run pipeline through Pinelands gets public hearing

Tue, 24 Jan 2017 16:59:51 UT

PEMBERTON, N.J. (AP) — As jobs-versus-environment clashes go, few issues have been as hard fought and generated as much passion in New Jersey as a proposal to run a natural gas pipeline through federally protected woods atop some of the nation's purest drinking water. With a new Republicanadministration in power in Washington that is more receptive to fossil-fuel energy projects, the fate of the Pinelands pipeline is sure to be closely watched by national energy and environmental groups. The proposed pipeline has been hotly fought by environmental groups, who fear it will harm the fragile Pinelands and set a bad precedent for future development there. Four former state governors — two Republicans and two Democrats — also oppose the pipeline, citing their desire to protect a vulnerable natural resource. South Jersey Gas maintains that in addition to providing a cleaner fuel source to the power plant, the new pipeline would provide a second transmission vehicle for natural gas to thousands of customers in Atlantic and Cape May counties.



Dying from cancer: Could your location determine your fate?

Tue, 24 Jan 2017 16:37:37 UT

The picture was rosiest the Colorado ski country, where cancer deaths per 100,000 residents dropped by almost half, from 130 in 1980 to just 70 in 2014; and bleakest in some eastern Kentucky counties, where they soared by up to 45 percent. The Affordable Care Act took effect in the study's final years and emphasized prevention services including no-cost screenings for breast, colorectal and cervical cancers. An editorial published with the study by Stephanie Wheeler, a University of North Carolina health policy specialist and Dr. Ethan Basch, a University of North Carolina cancer specialist, notes that many areas with the highest cancer death rates also strongly supported Donald Trump, "raising hopes that future policies developed by the incoming administration will provide resources" for these communities. [...] relatively high rates of testicular cancer were found in parts of Southern California and far southern Texas for reasons that are unclear. Since treatments for this rare cancer are extremely effective, "almost nobody should die of testicular cancer," Murray said. The foundation funded a study that found that Kentucky's 2014 Medicaid expansion under the ACA covered costs for many cancer-related preventive health measures including mammograms and colon cancer screenings.



Appeals court denies full hearing in data surveillance case

Tue, 24 Jan 2017 16:23:15 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal appeals court said Tuesday it won't rehear a panel's decision letting companies like Microsoft refuse to turn over to the government customer emails stored overseas. Judge Dennis Jacobs noted in his dissent, which was joined by three other judges, that the information sought by prosecutors in a 2013 narcotics trafficking investigation was easily accessible in the United States at a computer terminal even though it was stored on a server in Dublin, Ireland. The government had asked the 2nd Circuit to take the rare move of letting all its judges hear the case after a three-judge panel last July said prosecutors cannot force corporations to release customers' emails and other data stored on servers overseas.



French internet censorship rose sharply in 2016

Tue, 24 Jan 2017 16:21:07 UT

LILLE, France (AP) — French authorities ordered the blockage or removal of more than 2,700 websites in 2016, Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux said Tuesday, a spike in censorship that some critics in the tech industry fear will do little to snuff out extremist content online. "To face an extremely serious terror threat, we've given ourselves unprecedented means to reinforce the efficacy of our actions," he said, also pointing to reinforced online policing units and new forensic laboratories for analyzing digital evidence. Le Roux didn't provide a breakdown or other details but the website censorship numbers represent a sharp increase over the figures tracked by France's online privacy watchdog, known by its French acronym CNIL.



Saudi Arabia warns destructive computer virus has returned

Tue, 24 Jan 2017 14:36:37 UT

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Saudi Arabia is warning that a computer virus that destroyed systems of its state-run oil company in 2012 has returned to the kingdom, with at least one major petrochemical company apparently affected by its spread. A report Monday by Saudi state-run television included comments suggesting that 15 government agencies and private institutions had been hit by the Shamoon virus, including the Saudi Labor Ministry. Sadara, a joint venture between the Saudi Arabian Oil Co. and Michigan-based Dow Chemical Co., shut down its computer network Monday over a disruption. Computers affected had their hard drives erased and displayed a photograph of the body of 3-year-old Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi, who drowned fleeing his country's civil war, Symantec said. In that attack, which hit Saudi Aramco and Qatari natural gas producer RasGas, the virus deleted hard drives and then displayed a picture of a burning American flag on computer screens. Shortly before Panetta's speech, a former U.S. official told The Associated Press that American officials firmly believed Iranian hackers likely backed by Tehran were responsible for the attack.



Japan's military launches first communications satellite

Tue, 24 Jan 2017 13:24:19 UT

TOKYO (AP) — Japan successfully launched its first military communications satellite Tuesday that is designed to upgrade its network in the face of China's increasingly assertive maritime activity and North Korea's missile threat. The new satellites are also aimed at stepping up Japan's emergency response capability in case of natural disaster, China's maritime activity from southern Japanese waters to the South China Sea, as well as missile threats from North Korea.



Amazon moves to avoid EU fines over publishing contracts

Tue, 24 Jan 2017 13:18:08 UT

The European Commission said Tuesday that the online giant has committed not to enforce any contract clause that might force publishers to offer Amazon similar terms and conditions as those offered to competitors. The Commission, which polices anti-trust issues, says Amazon's "parity clauses" could breach EU rules, reduce competition and limit choice for consumers.



LaBeouf-led livestream says 'He Will Not Divide Us'

Tue, 24 Jan 2017 05:55:06 UT

For the first few days of Donald Trump's presidency, the actor has been repeating that sentence into a live camera mounted on a wall outside a New York City museum, usually with a backdrop of everyday New Yorkers chanting and singing along. The livestream from outside the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens is for a participatory public art project LaBeouf and two collaborators intend to have running for the duration of Trump's presidency. The site is around the corner from a New York City performing arts high school and a couple of students were there Monday, singing into the camera. At off hours, the livestream has captured puzzled dog walkers checking out the camera up close, people showing up to play music, a man and woman delivering the message and then kissing and quiet debates between visitors about what it all means. The line as to what constitutes partisan politicking is a blurry one, but IRS rules say charities are barred from "intervening in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office."



iPhone assembler Foxconn may invest $7B in US display plant

Tue, 24 Jan 2017 03:47:34 UT

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — The Taiwanese company that assembles Apple's iPhones and other electronics is considering investing $7 billion in a U.S. factory to produce display panels that would create as many as 50,000 jobs. Most of its operations are in mainland China, where its vast factories employ more than 1 million people. "If American state governments were willing to provide these terms and we calculate it is cheaper than shipping from China or Japan, why shouldn't Sharp build a factory in the United States?" Gou said.



US fights Microsoft's bid to tell users when feds take data

Tue, 24 Jan 2017 00:03:19 UT

SEATTLE (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department asked a judge Monday to throw out a lawsuit from Microsoft and keep a law that prohibits technology companies from telling customers when the government demands their electronic data. Microsoft says its customers have a constitutional right to know when the government collects their private information during criminal investigations. "People need to get notice when the government comes knocking at the door to seize all that stuff that historically would have been stored in a file cabinet," Microsoft lawyer Stephen Rummage told U.S. District Judge James Robart. Jennie Kneedler, another government lawyer, told the judge that Microsoft does not have the legal standing to argue for its customers' Fourth Amendment rights, which protect against unreasonable searches and seizures. Historically, people would keep their confidential information, such as health and tax records and love letters, in file cabinets or storage lockers, said Rummage, the Microsoft attorney.



'Net neutrality' foe Ajit Pai is new FCC head

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 22:51:16 UT

The Republicans' new majority at the FCC, along with their control of Congress and the White House, is expected to help them roll back policies applauded by consumer advocates that upset many phone and cable industry groups, including net neutrality rules that bar internet service providers from favoring some websites and apps over others. In a December speech, he expressed confidence that the 2015 net neutrality rules would be undone and said the FCC needed to take a "weed whacker" to what he considered unnecessary regulations that hold back investment and innovation. Consumer advocates have been concerned that a deregulation-minded FCC could potentially allow more huge mergers, overturn new protections for internet users and lead to higher costs for media and technology companies that rely on the internet to reach consumers. Pai opposed online privacy regulations that force broadband providers to ask consumers for permission before using their data, saying they are more onerous than the requirements for internet companies like Google and Facebook. The report, issued in the last days of the Obama administration, took issue with the way companies like AT&T and Verizon exempted their own video services from wireless data caps, effectively making them cheaper to stream on phones and tablets than rival services such as Netflix.



Yahoo's 4Q shows modest strides amid security breach fallout

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 22:40:05 UT

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Yahoo's financial performance improved slightly during the fourth quarter while the company dealt with the fallout from massive security breaches that have jeopardized the $4.8 billion sale of its internet operations to Verizon Communications. [...] after striking the Verizon deal, Yahoo revealed that it had been hit by two separate hacking attacks that stole the email addresses, birth dates, answers to security questions, and other personal information from more than 1 billion user accounts. The Securities and Exchange Commission has opened an investigation into whether Yahoo should have announced the security breaches sooner than it did, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal that cited unidentified people familiar with the matter. Yahoo pointed to an SEC filing in November that acknowledged the company is cooperating with various government agencies, including the SEC, that are seeking information and documents pertaining to the breaches. Verizon has been doing its own review to determine whether it should re-negotiate the sales price or cancel the deal entirely on the premise that the news of the security breaches will cause many people to become leery of using Yahoo's email and other services in the future.