Category Archives: Technology

(BBC) Huawei risk can be managed, say UK cyber-security chiefs

(BBC)

The Huawei logo outside their research facility in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Image captionHuawei has said it is independent and gives nothing to Beijing, aside from taxes

Any risk posed by involving the Chinese technology giant Huawei in UK telecoms projects can be managed, cyber-security chiefs have determined.

The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre’s decision undermines US efforts to persuade its allies to ban the firm from 5G communications networks.

The Chinese government is accused of using Huawei as a proxy so it can spy on rival nations.

But Huawei has said it gives nothing to Beijing, aside from taxes.

Australia, New Zealand, and the US have already banned Huawei from supplying equipment for their future fifth generation mobile broadband networks, while Canada is reviewing whether the company’s products present a serious security threat.

Most of the UK’s mobile companies – Vodafone, EE and Three – have been working with Huawei on developing their 5G networks.

They are awaiting on a government review, due in March or April, that will decide whether they can use Huawei technology.

Huawei in numbers

As first reported by the Financial Times, the conclusion by the National Cyber Security Centre – part of the intelligence agency GCHQ – will feed into the review.

The decision has not yet been made public, but the security agency said in a statement it had “a unique oversight and understanding of Huawei engineering and cyber security”.

Huawei booth
Image captionHuawei has denied that it poses any risk to the UK or any other country

BBC business correspondent Rob Young said the National Cyber Security Centre’s conclusion “will carry weight”, but said the review could still rule against Huawei.

In an interview, Huawei’s cyber security chief John Suffolk told the BBC: “We are probably the most open and transparent organisation in the world. We are probably the most poked and prodded organisation too.”

The former UK chief information officer added: “We don’t say ‘believe us’ we say ‘come and check for yourself’, come and do your own testing and come and do your own verification.

“The more people looking, the more people touching, they can provide their own assurance without listening to what Huawei has to say.”

Presentational grey line

Analysis

Rory Cellan-Jones, technology correspondent

If anybody knows just how Huawei works and the threat it might pose to the UK’s security, it is the National Cyber Security Centre.

This arm of GCHQ has been in charge of an annual examination of the Chinese telecoms giant’s equipment, and expressed concerns in its most recent report – not about secret backdoors, but sloppy cyber-security practices.

The NCSC has also been giving advice to UK mobile operators as they order the equipment for the rollout of their 5G networks later this year.

They feel they have been given the same cautious nod the agency appears to have given the government’s Supply Chain Review: keep Huawei out of the core of your 5G networks, but you are OK to use its equipment at phone masts as part of the mix of suppliers.

Australia and New Zealand have taken a very different view by taking a far harder line against Huawei.

That isn’t because they know something about the Chinese firm which the NCSC has missed.

Their decisions were probably based on an assessment of the political as well as security risk of ignoring the urging from the US to shut Huawei out.

And whatever the NCSC’s advice, similar factors will determine the UK government’s final decision.

Presentational grey line

A spokesperson for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, which is leading the review into the future of the telecoms industry, said its analysis was “ongoing”.

“No decisions have been taken and any suggestion to the contrary is inaccurate,” they said in a statement.

Asked whether the findings changed her country’s stance towards Huawei, the prime minister of New Zealand – which is a member of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing network that includes the UK – said her government would conduct its own assessment.

Jacinda Ardern told reporters: “It is fair to say Five Eyes, of course, share information, but we make our own independent decisions.”

Last year, BT confirmed that it was removing Huawei’s equipment from the EE core network that it owns.

The network provides a communication system being developed for the UK’s emergency services.

Fifth-generation mobile broadband is coming to the UK over the next year or so, promising download and browsing speeds 10 to 20 times faster than those 4G networks can offer.

Media captionWill superfast 5G mobile be worth the money?

The US argues Huawei could use malign software updates to spy on those using 5G.

It points to China’s National Intelligence Law passed in 2017 that says organisations must “support, co-operate with and collaborate in national intelligence work”.

Critics of Huawei also highlight that its founder Ren Zhengfei was a former engineer in the country’s army and joined the Communist Party in 1978.

Huawei recently attracted attention when its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, was arrested and accused of breaking American sanctions on Iran.

(Politico) Trump likely to sign executive order banning Chinese telecom equipment next week

(Politico)

The White House wants to highlight its commitment to telecom security ahead of a key wireless industry conference.

President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order, banning Chinese telecom equipment from U.S. wireless networks before a major industry conference at the end of February, three sources told POLITICO.

The administration plans to release the directive, part of its broader effort to protect the U.S. from cyber threats, before MWC Barcelona, formerly known as Mobile World Congress, which takes place Feb. 25 to Feb. 28.

The current plan is for Trump to sign the long-delayed executive order next week, according to a source close to the administration, who requested anonymity to candidly discuss internal deliberations.

“There’s a big push to get it out before MWC,” said an industry source familiar with the matter, who also requested anonymity to speak candidly.

By preempting MWC, the world’s largest conference for the wireless industry, the White House hopes to send a signal that future contracts for cutting-edge technology must prioritize cybersecurity. That could further roil the Trump administration’s already tense relationship with Beijing, especially if the U.S. push erodes Chinese firms’ significant European market share.

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The Chinese telecom giants Huawei and ZTE have been in the Trump administration’s crosshairs as part of a broader focus on Chinese national security threats that has paralleled the ongoing trade war. Trump officials have repeatedly slammed Beijing for its theft of intellectual property and its more traditional cyber espionage.

In December, the Justice Department indicted two Chinese operatives for a decadelong campaign of digital intrusions into U.S. businesses and government agencies. And in January, DOJ unsealed a suite of charges against Huawei and its chief financial officer, who faces extradition to the U.S. for violating sanctions on Iran.

Many countries are eager to deploy next-generation 5G wireless networks to power the rapidly proliferating internet of things, and Chinese firms such as Huawei and ZTE are aggressively pushing to build these networks — at a lower cost than virtually all of their competitors.

With these 5G build outs looming, senior officials want “to move the needle” with their security messaging, said the source close to the administration.

“Contracts are going out now,” this person told POLITICO. “Extra stigma could change the situation out in the countries on this major decision.”

“We’re going to be asking people to do things, but the U.S. legal and regulatory environment hasn’t really closed the circle yet on this issue,” said Paul Triolo, who leads the consulting firm the Eurasia Group’s global technology practice. “So there’s a lot of pressure now to get this EO out there.”

The White House declined to comment for this story, but National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis said the U.S. was “working across government and with our allies and like-minded partners to mitigate risk in the deployment of 5G and other communications infrastructure.”

Justice Department seal

FOREIGN POLICY

Chinese broadcaster registers as foreign agent

By JESSE CHASE-LUBITZ

MWC is expected to feature several telecom security meetings, and a second industry source said the U.S. is sending an interagency delegation of at least 20 officials and staffers. Attendees will include FCC Chairman Ajit Pai; Rob Strayer, the State Department’s top cyber official; Strayer’s boss Manisha Singh, the acting undersecretary of state for economic growth, energy and the environment; and Brian Bulatao, Trump’s nominee to be under secretary of state for management.

Trump’s telecom directive, which will invoke the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, has been finished for months. As POLITICO first reportedlast August, it was originally paired with a second order formalizing an interagency team that reviews foreign entities’ telecom investment requests. At the time, sources said that Trump would also sign a memorandum explaining how agencies should implement both directives. It is unclear if that will still happen.

Concerns about foreign firms helping U.S. adversaries infiltrate sensitive computer systems, whether wittingly or unwittingly, have gained prominence in recent years. After alleged Russian government hackers interfered in the 2016 election, officials increased their scrutiny of the Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab, and DHS eventually banned its antivirus products from government systems.

DHS has recently taken a lead role in helping to protect the sprawling and often opaque global web of manufacturers and resellers — also known as the “supply chain” — that delivers equipment and software to the U.S. The department created a task force that will, among other things, develop criteria for security assessments, assemble an approved-manufacturers list and advise companies about supply chain threats.

In addition, the latest defense policy bill bans agencies from buying and using Huawei and ZTE equipment.

Meanwhile, State Department officials are warning their foreign counterparts about 5G security as often as possible.

“We’re raising it at the highest diplomatic levels,” Rob Strayer of the State Department said Wednesday during an event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “We’re making sure that the most senior policymakers in governments are aware of the momentousness of this decision and what is at stake in the decision they’re about to make.”

But the U.S. still hasn’t developed an alternative, Huawei-free vision for the massive, complicated and high-stakes global 5G buildout.

Trump administration officials are still “trying to understand the full range of options,” John Costello, director of strategy, policy and plans at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, said at the CSIS event.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

CONGRESS

‘Too hot to handle’: Pelosi predicts GOP won’t trigger another shutdown

By HEATHER CAYGLESARAH FERRIS and JOHN BRESNAHAN

The message to Europe about 5G, according to the second industry source, has been, “Go slow. There’s no need to rush into this. We need to figure out how to do this now.”

Right now, the source said, U.S. telecom companies have “no clear guidance on how to proceed” with a 5G buildout that excludes Huawei, which controls 28 percent of the global telecom equipment market.

If Trump signs the telecom directive before MWC, the U.S. will be able to attend the conference armed with fresh evidence of its commitment to the issue.

The administration’s desire to make a strong impression at MWC is so great that, at one point, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo planned to attend the event, according to the second industry source. This person said that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, one of Trump’s closest outside advisers, “called Pompeo and said, ‘What the hell are we doing on 5G?’” (Gingrich did not respond to a request for comment, and the State Department declined to discuss its delegation.)

“The geopolitics of 5G have come home to roost,” said Triolo, “and Barcelona is now the epicenter of the whole thing.”

(BBG) Tesla Model 3 Owners Vent About Polar Vortex Affecting Cars

(BBG)

The next time a polar vortex rips through the U.S., electric vehicle owners should be prepared to be frustrated if they don’t take special care of their battery-powered rides.

Winter has come for Tesla Inc. and its army of car owners, which swelled in size last year. And some of those customers have cooled on the company along with freezing temperatures.

Model 3 owners have taken to social media and online forums to air issues they’ve had with their sedans due to the frigid weather of the last week. Cold conditions are a drain on battery range, no matter the car brand. But other predicaments are particular to Tesla.

Ronak Patel, a CPA auditor in New Jersey, bought a Model 3 last August. He’s driven about 150 miles in the cold over the last few days. “My biggest concern is the cold weather drained my battery 20 to 25 miles overnight and an extra five to ten miles on my drive to work,” he said. “I paid $60,000 to not drain my battery so quickly.”

Tesla isn’t alone in facing this flaw.

“It’s Panasonic that manufactures Tesla batteries,” said Salim Morsy, an analyst with Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “It’s not something specific to Tesla. It happens to Chevy with the Bolt and Nissan with the Leaf.”

Tesla delivered more than 245,000 cars last year, tripling its total from 2017, and much of its growth took place in the second half after overcoming what Elon Musk called “production hell.”

“What’s specific to Tesla is the quality of manufacturing,” Morsy said.

Tesla made a door design decision that is coming back to bite some buyers. The Model 3’s handles are flush with the exterior of the car and require customers to push on one side, then pull on the other to open them. Ice is making that maneuver difficult for drivers who’ve posted pictures online of their frozen handles.

Some are just venting, and others are writing to Tesla or Musk himself, asking for a fix.

Andrea Falcone, a software engineer in Boston, tweeted a picture of her frozen handle, commenting, “I can’t wait all day for this silly car.” Less than two months earlier, she had purchased the Model 3 and posted a smiley emoji and a picture of herself posing with the new car.View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

The cold temperatures came even earlier for customers in Canada, prompting instructional videos suggesting ways to overcome frozen handles. One almost 7-minute YouTube video shows how an owner had taped dental adhesive film over his door handles to protect them from freezing.

Another owner in New Brunswick tweeted out a video in December. He was more blunt.

Embedded video

Driving Slate@DrivingSlate

It is Canada, things are going to freeze. The #tesla #model3 is a car, not a crystal glass; give it a smack and stop complaining about frozen handles… here is a simple video instruction.57312:43 PM – Dec 10, 2018131 people are talking about thisTwitter Ads info and privacy

Musk tweeted on Jan. 25 that Tesla was preparing over-the-air software updates that would improve how its cars were holding up in cold weather.

Elon Musk@elonmuskReplying to @m40dotcom @justinandgreg

Many cold weather improvements coming via OTA software8896:20 PM – Jan 25, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy110 people are talking about this

(BBG) US warns world not to trust Huawei’s 5G networks

(BBG) B

The scores of pages of U.S. indictments handed down Monday against Huawei Technologies Co. don’t explicitly mention anything about 5G networks or China’s spy agency.

But they sent a clear message to world leaders weighing whether to use Huawei equipment for next-generation wireless networks connecting everything from phones to cars to supertankers: China’s largest technology company is a threat to national security.

“They aren’t just going after the notion that there is hard evidence of previous spying,” said Graham Webster, a fellow at Washington-based research group New America who studies China’s digital economy. “They are trying to undermine trust in Huawei overall, saying that this company cannot be trusted in your infrastructure.”

The case is a further sign that wider strategic tensions between the world’s two largest economies will persist even if they reach a deal to end a months-long trade war that is starting to hit global growth and company earnings. That may be harder now as Chinese President Xi Jinping’s top economic aide visits Washington this week for talks to stave off more tariff increases.

The indictments intensify the spotlight on Huawei, which has come to symbolize China’s economic rise and challenge to the U.S.’s status as the world’s top superpower. In particular, the decision to prosecute Meng Wanzhou — daughter of billionaire Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei — has riled Beijing and increased concerns around the globe of a new Cold War.

For Huawei, the indictments couldn’t come at a worse time. Since Meng — Huawei’s chief financial officer — was arrested in Canada on Dec. 1 after a U.S. request, the company has struggled to convince the world its equipment won’t be used for espionage. This month, Poland arrested one of its employees for spying, prompting Huawei to disavow any responsibility for his actions. Canada has until March 1 to assess a U.S. request to extradite Meng.

Ren, Huawei’s founder and CEO, used a rare press appearance this month at its Shenzhen headquarters to insist the company doesn’t help Beijing spy.

“I love my country, I support the Communist Party, but I will not do anything to harm the world,’’ Ren said. On Tuesday, Huawei issued a statement saying once again it had done nothing wrong in either case.

The indictments, however, are a direct attack on Huawei’s credibility.

In one, the U.S. alleges that Ren and Meng misrepresented Huawei’s business with Iran to the American government and four financial institutions since 2007, in violation of U.S. sanctions. The indictment also accused the company of destroying evidence once it became aware of the investigation.

The other set of charges cite emails between Huawei USA and China to explain how engineers conspired to steal trade secrets from T-Mobile USA Inc. They show how employees in China repeatedly pressed their colleagues to collect key information on “Tappy,” a robot used to test mobile phones that Huawei wanted for its own use.

When T-Mobile complained about the attempted theft, Huawei allegedly covered up the matter with a faulty internal investigation and blamed rogue employees for any wrongdoing. In fact, Huawei had set up an internal committee that handed out monthly bonuses to employees who stole the most valuable intellectual property from competitors, the suit alleges. Twice a year, special bonuses were paid to employees from three regions who had collected especially important confidential information.

“Employees were directed to post confidential information obtained from other companies on an internal Huawei website, or, in the case of especially sensitive information, to send an encrypted email to a special email inbox,” the indictment says.

Taken together, the charges bolster the Trump administration’s case that Huawei is operating at the behest of the Chinese government. While there’s no explicit evidence that the company’s products are compromised, it’s very difficult to know for sure — a risk the U.S. argues is too big for critical infrastructure like 5G.

“While this wouldn’t change the opinions of the Pentagon and intel agencies, which would already be well set, it certainly would make the public case easier to push to other countries,” said Victor Abramowicz, a former Australian Department of Defence intelligence analyst who is now a security researcher at Curtin University in Perth.

Already Australia and New Zealand have joined the U.S. in keeping Huawei out of its 5G networks. Other countries like Canada, the U.K., Germany and France have yet to make a decision.

It’s not an easy choice. On the commercial side, Huawei presents a cheaper option than its competitors: The company said it has already won more than 30 5G contracts globally, including 18 from European countries. Australia’s TPG Telecom Ltd. on Tuesday pulled the plug on plans to build the country’s fourth mobile network, saying it no longer made financial sense after the government banned Huawei.

“Because the global market is now deeply consolidated and Huawei enjoys a lead in technology and solutions, I don’t think the recent news about the company will impact Huawei’s 5G deployment — both in China and abroad,” said Bing Duan, an analyst with Nomura Asset Management.

‘Cannot Be Naive’

Even more than current technology, control over 5G networks could allow an enemy to wreak mass industrial sabotage and social collapse, according to U.S. officials. This week the European Union’s digital chief Andrus Ansip urged companies to reconsider partnerships with Chinese companies due to an intelligence law that says any organization and citizen must assist Beijing’s spy agencies with investigations.

“We cannot be naive anymore,” he said.

China’s government sees the charges as part of a bigger U.S. plan to hold back the world’s second-biggest economy. On Tuesday, the foreign ministry in Beijing urged the U.S. to revoke Meng’s arrest warrant and stop its “unreasonable crackdown” on Chinese companies.

“For some time now, the United States has used its national power to smear and attack specific Chinese enterprises in an attempt to stifle their legitimate operations,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in a statement. “There are strong political attempts and manipulation behind this.”

‘Tech War’

China has threatened countermeasures against governments that ban Huawei, and detained two Canadians on espionage charges — a move that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government saw as retaliation for Meng’s arrest. Those actions have only helped confirm the links between Huawei and the government, according to a European diplomat in Beijing who asked not to be identified.

The battle over Huawei and 5G is only part of the fight. The U.S. is also looking to curb China’s “ Made in China 2025” plan to dominate other vital technologies, from robotics to new-energy vehicles to biotechnology, as part of its trade war.

“The tech war between the U.S. and China is going to intensify over the course of this year,” David Loevinger, a former Treasury official who is now a managing director at TCW, a Los Angeles based asset manager, said on Bloomberg Television. “And it’s not just legal actions against Chinese firms and Chinese executives: We’re going to see much broader restrictions on exports of technology to China and much broader restrictions on Chinese investment in the tech sector.”

(JTA) Israel takes 5th place in Bloomberg ranking of world’s most innovative nations

(JTA)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel moved up to fifth place in the 2019 Bloomberg Innovation Index, an annual ranking of the world’s 60 most innovative countries.

The index, unveiled Tuesday, reviews dozens of criteria using seven metrics, including research and development spending, manufacturing capability and concentration of high-tech public companies.

Israel was ranked 10th in 2018. The United States finished eighth after being 11th last year.

South Korea led the index, followed by Germany, Finland and Switzerland.

Israel was ranked first in the R&D intensity category and fell to second place from first last year in research concentration.

(BBC) Germany ‘considers ban on Huawei’ amid global backlash

(BBC)

Visitors try out the Honor 7 smartphone at the Huawei stand at the 2015 IFA consumer electronics and appliances trade fair on September 4, 2015 in Berlin, Germany.

Germany is considering ways to block Huawei from its next generation mobile phone network, according to reports.

Berlin is exploring stricter security requirements which may prevent Huawei products being used in its 5G network.

Many countries have pushed against the involvement of the Chinese technology firm in their 5G networks over security concerns.

The networks represent the next big wave of mobile infrastructure.

The Chinese company, one of the world’s biggest producers of telecoms equipment, has faced resistance from foreign governments over the risk that its technology could be used for espionage.

Huawei has denied claims it poses a spying risk.

In a statement, the firm said it sees “no rational reason why it should be excluded from building 5G infrastructure in Germany, or indeed in any country in the world.”

Germany’s interior ministry had previously said it opposes banning any suppliers from its 5G network.

But it may consider stricter security requirements and other ways to exclude Huawei, according to reports.

Such a move would bring it in line with other Western countries.

The US, Australia and New Zealand have all blocked local firms from using Huawei to provide the technology for next-generation 5G mobile networks.

The UK has raised concerns with Huawei, and Canada is also reviewing its relationship with the firm.

Last month BT said it would not use Huawei’s equipment for its 5G mobile network when it is rolled out in the UK.

On Thursday, China’s ambassador to Canada warned of “repercussions” if the country banned the company from its 5G network.

The two countries are embroiled in a diplomatic row.

A court in China this month sentenced a Canadian to death for drug smuggling in a ruling that comes after Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, a top official at Huawei and its founder’s daughter, on a request from the US.

The US is also reportedly investigating Huawei for “stealing trade secrets” from US businesses, and has accused it of contravening sanctions by lying about its business in Iran.

(ZH) Google Manipulated YouTube Search Results To Program Users’ Behavior

(ZH)

In a new leak that can be accurately labeled “the smoking gun,” Google has been busted manipulating search results on YouTube in order to manipulate social behaviors and control minds. An internal discussion thread leaked to Breitbart News reveals that Google regularly intervenes in search results on its YouTube video platform.

According to Breitbart, the existence of the blacklist (terms Google considered sensitive) was revealed in an internal Google discussion thread leaked to Breitbart News by a source inside the company who wishes to remain anonymous. A partial list of blacklisted terms was also leaked to Breitbart by another Google source. Some of the blacklisted terms included “abortion,” and terms related to the Irish abortion referendum, Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters, and anti-gun activist and communist, David Hogg.

In the leaked discussion thread, Breitbart further reported that a Google site reliability engineer hinted at the existence of more search blacklists, according to the source. “We have tons of white- and blacklists that humans manually curate,” said the employee. “Hopefully this isn’t surprising or particularly controversial.”

According to the source, the software engineer who started the discussion called the manipulation of search results related to abortion a “smoking gun.”

The software engineer noted that the change had occurred following an inquiry from a left-wing Slate journalist about the prominence of pro-life videos on YouTube and that pro-life videos were replaced with pro-abortion videos in the top ten results for the search terms following Google’s manual intervention.

“The Slate writer said she had complained last Friday and then saw different search results before YouTube responded to her on Monday,” wrote the employee. “And lo and behold, the [changelog] was submitted on Friday, December 14 at 3:17 PM.” –Breitbart

The manual (human) adjustment of search results by a Google-owned platform  contradicts a key claim made under oath by Google CEO Sundar Pichai in his congressional testimony earlier this month. Pichai actually said that his company does not “manually intervene on any search result.” A Google employee in the discussion thread drew attention to Pichai’s claim, noting that it “seems like we are pretty eager to cater our search results to the social and political agenda of left-wing journalists.”

And it cannot get more dystopian than that. Hitler insured his propaganda minister was able to manipulate the minds of many during his reign as a tyrant. Journalists in America are now no better and they are using Google to alter the minds and morals of otherwise good people. We live in strange and disturbing times.

(DW) German hacker behind massive political data leak identified

(DW) German authorities say a 20-year-old, acting alone, was behind a huge leak of personal data concerning leading politicians and celebrities. The man has confessed, but questions remain about German cybersecurity.

Tastatur und Bildschirm mit Programmiercode und Binärcode (picture-alliance/K. Ohlenschläger)

Germany’s investigative police force, the BKA, has arrested the hacker responsible for what some have called one of the largest data leaks in Germany’s history. The 20-year-old from the western German state of Hesse could now face charges of stealing and illegally publishing private data.

“The suspect was questioned on January 7 by the responsible prosecutor and BKA officials,” the BKA announced in a statement. “He extensively confessed to the accusations against him and provided helpful information beyond his own crimes.”

According to the BKA, the suspect said he was acting alone, and there are no indications of anyone else or any foreign state being involved. The BKA said the suspect had indicated he was motivated by “anger at the public statements of the politicians, journalists and public figures concerned.”

The published material included personal data from Chancellor Angela Merkel and other political leaders, celebrities and journalists. Hundreds of politicians from all political parties except the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) were affected.

But BKA President Holger Münch said authorities were not treating the hack as a political crime and that the suspect had no known ties to right-wing extremism in Germany.

The BKA said the suspect’s apartment had been searched on Sunday, after which he was taken into custody. The home of a 19-year-old man in Heilbronn, a town north of Stuttgart, who had contact with the hacker was also searched. He is cooperating with authorities as a witness.

Read more: The top 10 mistakes that make life easy for hackers

Berlin: Seehofer at press conference

The hacks have increased the pressure on Interior Minister Seehofer (right)

The authorities’ performance

At a press conference with Münch and the head of the government’s IT security agency, Arne Schönbohm, German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said the identity of the suspect had been known since Sunday.

“In important matters like this, we do our job,” Seehofer insisted, most likely in response to detractors in the political opposition, who had accused him of not taking the hack seriously enough.

Seehofer said attempts had been made to delete the stolen data immediately after the leak became known late on January 3, and that the Interior Ministry had advised members of the German parliament on what to do about the hack. He said authorities had worked “very well, very quickly and very efficiently.”

Münch added that a task force had initially been set up under the assumption that the hack was more extensive than it was. The sole suspect, he said, had been located within 48 hours of the leak becoming known, and authorities had succeeded in preventing the data from being further disseminated.

Schönbohm characterized the hack as “remarkable” in terms of the prominence of the victims, but played down the significance of the data.

Whether these explanations will be enough to take the heat off Seehofer personally remains to be seen. The spectacle of Germany’s highest security organs breathlessly pursuing a 20-year-old, who by all accounts is no elite IT professional, for the better part of a week can hardly assuage public fears that the government’s digital infrastructure isn’t up to scratch. 

Smartphone (imago/photothek/T. Trutschel)

Authorities said stronger passwords could help keep hackers at bay

‘Absolute security’

The German government has repeatedly been targeted by hacks in recent years, and calls for Seehofer to resign over his handling of this and other issues are growing louder. The minister stressed that most victims had very little sensitive data stolen.

“The incident was certainly personally painful for those affected, but it doesn’t reflect a new security situation,” Seehofer said, adding that an “early warning system” and better public education would be important steps toward solving the problem.

Seehofer, Münch and Schönbohm all underscored the need for people, including politicians, to handle their data carefully and responsibly.

“We can promise to do everything we can, but we cannot promise absolute cybersecurity,” Seehofer said, adding that he was “amazed” at the sort of inadequate passwords people used.

Robert Habeck (picture-alliance/dpa/C. Rehder)

Greens co-leader Robert Habeck had private family chats leaked

Holiday leaks

The data leaked in December included personal phone numbers and addresses, internal party documents and credit card details. It was published online via Twitter accounts. 

On Tuesday, Deputy Interior Minister Stephan Mayer said government networks had not been breached in the attack.

“One bit of positive news is that government networks are apparently not affected by this or these hacker attacks,” Mayer said. “But it’s clear that we as the federal government … must do more to improve cybersecurity.”

Read more: Six hack attacks that shook the world

The documents were published online in December in the form of an advent calendar with one post per day from the @_0rbit account, which appears to have gone unnoticed until the first week of January, when it was closed down. The account attracted 18,000 followers.

(BBG) Before the Electric Car Takes Over, Someone Needs to Reinvent the Battery

(BBG)

To deliver an electric vehicle that’s cheaper, safer and capable of traveling 500 miles on a single charge, the auto industry needs a breakthrough in battery technology. Easier said than done.

Scientists in Japan, China and the U.S. are among those struggling to crack the code of how to significantly boost the amount of energy a battery cell can store and bring an EV’s driving range into line with a full tank of gas. That quest has zeroed in on solid-state technology, an overhaul of a battery’s internal architecture to use solid materials instead of flammable liquids to enable charging and discharging. The technology promises major improvements on existing lithium-ion packs, which automakers say are hitting the limits of their storage capabilities and may never hold enough power for long-distance models.

If it can be mastered, solid-state technology could help speed the demise of the combustion-engine car and potentially slash EV charging times to about 10 minutes from as much as several hours. The supercharger network built by Tesla Inc., now offering some of the fastest charge times, needs approximately 30 minutes to bring a depleted car to 80 percent.“We don’t see another way to get there without solid-state technology,” said Ted Miller, Detroit-based senior manager of energy storage strategy and research at Ford Motor Co., which has studied various technologies aimed at delivering a more powerful EV battery. “What I can’t predict right now is who is going to commercialize it.”

Currently, the best prototype with solid-state batteries is only powerful enough to propel a one-person vehicle across a Toyota Motor Corp. parking lot near Japan’s Mount Fuji. Car companies such as Daimler AG and Fisker Inc. are working on the task, as are a Chinese lithium giant, the French oil company Total SA, and spinoffs from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University. Fisker may conduct vehicle tests as early as this year, while Toyota and Daimler timelines extend into the 2020s.

The stakes are enormous. Adoption of electric vehicles is already expected to fuel an exponential increase in lithium-ion batteries, the reigning replacement for the internal combustion engine. The latest report from BloombergNEF found that electric busses and passenger cars accounted for 44 gigawatt hours of lithium-ion battery demand in 2017—and by 2030  that demand is forecast to surge to over 1,500 gigawatt hours per year. Anyone with a viable solid-state battery that can outperform lithium-ion technology could gain the upper hand in a market for all EV batteries that will be worth about $84 billion by 2025, compared with about $23 billion now, according to UBS Group AG.

What Solid-State Success Takes

Lithium-ion technology, the standard for decades in mobile phones and personal electronics before moving into EVs and utility-scale energy storage, uses a liquid electrolyte to shuttle ions between the anode and cathode to charge or discharge a battery. A solid-state battery, as the name suggests, replaces this liquid with a solid material such as ceramic, glass or a polymer.

That should reduce the risks of batteries bursting into flames and allow for thinner cells and smaller packs that fit under a car seat. Researchers also want to pair the solid electrolyte with a lithium metal anode to improve energy density and enable EVs to travel longer distances without stopping. That could help stoke sales by erasing consumer worries about running out of juice midtrip.

Read More: The QuickTake Guide to Better Batteries

To achieve all that, there’s a list of puzzles to solve. Prototypes currently have battery life that’s too short for a vehicle and suffer from poor conductivity, uncompetitive costs and a sometimes violent swelling and shrinking of materials when charged or discharged. When scientists solve one problem, that typically exacerbates another, said Yasuo Ishiguro, managing director of Japan’s Consortium for Lithium Ion Battery Technology and Evaluation Center, or LIBTEC. The group of more than 25 companies—including Toyota, Panasonic Corp. and Nissan Motor Co.—is backed by about $90 million in government funding to speed up progress.

Henrik Fisker and lead scientist Dr. Fabio Albano, front, examine an equipment at the Fisker Solid-State Technology Lab in Los Angeles. Source: Fisker Inc. 

“Among all the players out there, it seems like everyone has solved one or two or three of five of the most important things, but nobody has really solved everything,” said Henrik Fisker, chairman and chief executive officer of his namesake Los Angeles-based EV maker.

China’s Qingtao New Energy Research Institute will experiment with cars within two years and considers a commercial product possible by 2025. Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd., China’s biggest cell-producer, includes solid-state in its advanced-battery research. South Korea’s Samsung SDI Co., SK Innovation Co. and Hyundai Motor Co. said they’re also studying the technology, as is Dyson Ltd., the U.K.-based home-appliance maker now targeting EVs.

“For passenger cars, we should see prototypes in the early 2020s,” said Andreas Hintennach, head of battery research at Stuttgart, Germany-based Daimler. The automaker behind brands including Mercedes-Benz agreed last month on orders for $23 billion of current generation lithium-ion battery cells through 2030.

Volkswagen AG plans to begin trial production with partner QuantumScape Corp. as soon as 2022.

Those timelines may prove optimistic.

“It’s a brutal battlefield actually making these batteries work, and nobody is anywhere close,” said Sam Jaffe, managing director at Boulder, Colorado-based Cairn Energy Research Advisors, an industry consultant.

Workers examine equipment used in the development of solid-state battery cells at Solid Power’s pilot-production facility in Louisville, Colorado.Source: Solid Power

It will be the end of the 2020s before solid-state batteries with all the promised advantages are available, and even then, they still could be priced at a premium, said James Frith, a London-based analyst with BNEF.

Tesla, which says it talks frequently to developers and reviews battery prototypes, doesn’t yet see a technology that’s better than its existing lithium-ion packs. Its Model S can travel as far as 335 miles (539 kilometers) on a single charge. “We’ve looked as hard as we possibly can,” Chief Technology Officer JB Straubel told an annual meeting in June. “We are all ears, we’d love to find it, but we haven’t found it yet.”

Tesla supplier Panasonic said it continues researching solid-state technology, though there are “many hurdles left before commercialization is possible.”

Toyota’s Potential for a Breakthrough

The biggest hope for a breakthrough rests on Toyota, according to rivals, academics and patent data.

Toyota COMS super-compact electric vehicles at Toyota City, located in Japan’s Aichi Prefecture.Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg

Asia’s largest automaker has at least 233 patents or applications concerning the technology—almost triple the number of its closest competitor, according to an analysis by Bloomberg Law’s Tommy Shen. The company is investing 1.5 trillion yen ($13.9 billion) in its battery business and plans to commercialize solid-state technology by the early 2020s, according to its annual report released in October.

During the past decade, Toyota has deployed as many as 200 employees at a time to pursue the technology, primarily at its Higashi-Fuji research center close to Mount Fuji. The company has progressed in using solid-state batteries to power a digital clock, a two-wheel scooter and a conveyor belt before testing the technology in an adapted version of the COMS, its single-seat, low-speed car. The vehicle serves more as an inspiration to researchers than a mode of transportation, said LIBTEC’s Ishiguro, a former Toyota manager.

With many existing EV battery makers focused on lifting volumes and lowering costs, Toyota’s key challengers could be a cluster of U.S. startups, Ford’s Miller said. In a reflection of this possibility, VW last year paid $100 million to increase its stake in QuantumScape, founded by former Stanford researchers and based in San Jose, California.

Ionic Materials Inc., based in Woburn, Massachusetts, counts Sun Microsystems co-founder Bill Joy and a venture-capital fund comprising automakers Renault SA, Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. as backers. SolidEnergy Systems, an MIT spinoff also based in Woburn, expects to begin trials with EVs after 2021, CEO Qichao Hu said at an October forum in Osaka, Japan.

Solid Power, a Louisville, Colorado-based battery company, has had a development partnership with BMW AG since December 2017. CEO Doug Campbell said he’s confident solid-state technology will be commercially viable in cars. Just not for another five to 10 years. 

“I’m not going to say that there aren’t challenges in front of us,” Campbell said. “But I am confident that I don’t see challenges where it says: ‘Insert Miracle Here.’”

(PUB) Pegadas digitais e privacidade: uma discussão urgente – Arlindo Oliveira

(PUB)

É possível tomar medidas que reduzem a pegada digital e preservam alguma da privacidade a que estamos habituados.4 de Janeiro de 2019, 6:20Partilhar notícia

Cada um de nós, praticamente sem excepção, deixa uma pegada digital permanente e indelével quando usa um computador, um telemóvel ou qualquer outro equipamento ligado à Internet. Ao contrário das pegadas físicas, que se desvanecem com o tempo, as pegadas digitais são praticamente eternas, guardadas em numerosos servidores anónimos, espalhados pelo mundo.

Determinadas acções deixam, obviamente, registos explícitos. Um email enviado ficará provavelmente guardado durante muito tempo nos servidores, mesmo quando o remetente e o destinatário o apagam explicitamente. Quando se interage com uma rede social, quer comentando conteúdos existentes, quer contribuindo com novos conteúdos, as empresas que gerem as redes guardam não só os contributos mas também informação adicional (metadados) que pode ser recuperada posteriormente, como a hora, local e dispositivo usado.PUB

Mas mesmo outras actividades menos públicas, desde que usem um qualquer dispositivo electrónico, deixam provavelmente uma pegada praticamente indelével, quer o utilizador se aperceba, quer não. O simples acto de visitar uma página na Web deixa um registo no servidor que aloja a página e, na maior parte dos casos, no computador do utilizador; efectuar uma chamada num telemóvel deixa o registo não só do número chamado, mas também de informação adicional, como o local onde a chamada foi feita e a duração da mesma (para além do registo da conversa, se a mesma estiver a ser gravada); a simples utilização do telemóvel ao longo do dia cria, na maior parte dos casos, um registo completo dos locais onde se esteve (a menos que o telemóvel seja explicitamente configurado para o evitar).

Não é fácil, para um cidadão comum, evitar o registo permanente e indelével da maior parte das suas actividades no mundo digital. O Regulamento Geral sobre a Protecção de Dados (RGPD) é um regulamento europeu que tem como objectivo garantir que os dados pessoais apenas podem ser registados com a autorização explícita do indivíduo a quem estes pertencem. Na prática, embora o RGPD limite a actuação das empresas e instituições, ao obrigá-las a obter a permissão dos utilizadores, acaba por ser pouco eficaz uma vez que sem esta permissão muitas aplicações e serviços ficam indisponíveis. Na prática, a grande maioria dos utilizadores autorizam (tipicamente através de um simples clique num botão) o registo dos dados, uma vez que sem essa autorização não podem usar a maior parte das funcionalidades disponíveis na Internet. Embora possa ser eficaz contra o uso indevido da informação privada, o RGPD acaba por não impedir o registo dessa informação, para posterior utilização pelas empresas que gerem os serviços.

É possível tomar medidas que reduzem a pegada digital e preservam alguma da privacidade a que estamos habituados. Reduzir ou eliminar as informações que disponibilizamos nas redes sociais, substituir os emails por outras formas de comunicação e aceder à Web em modo anónimo são mecanismos que reduzem a quantidade de informação que é guardada sobre cada um de nós. Mas, na realidade, cada uma destas opções reduz também a utilidade que extraímos da Web e limita a nossa acção. Para a maioria das pessoas, a preservação de alguma privacidade não compensa o incómodo de manter sempre sobre apertada vigilância a interacção com os computadores e os telemóveis. E, nos dias que correm, quem estará disposto a deixar de usar o telemóvel ou o computador, para garantir a anonimidade no mundo digital?

Por outro lado, existem aspectos positivos no facto de cada um de nós deixar uma cada vez maior pegada digital. Fotos, vídeos, sites e outras memórias de pessoas que já não estão connosco preservam, de alguma forma, as suas personalidades junto dos seus entes queridos e, nesse aspecto, não são diferentes das versões que existiam antes da tecnologia digital. Poucos de nós apagam as fotos dos que já não estão connosco e, em muitos casos, essas fotos e o restante legado digital ajudam a preservar a memória dos que nos deixaram. A pegada digital não é, neste aspecto, diferente de outros registos físicos, mais tradicionais. Os escritores, os realizadores, os músicos e os artistas que já morreram perduram, de alguma forma, através das obras que nos deixaram. Os registos digitais serão, apenas, mais detalhados e esclarecedores do que os que existiam antes.PUB

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Há quem pense que, com o acumular da pegada digital que cada habitante do planeta deixa atrás de si, de forma cada vez mais marcada, poderá um dia vir a ser possível criar agentes digitais que se comportem, em muitos aspectos, como as pessoas que deram origem aos registos digitais. Martine Rothblatt, uma conhecida empreendedora, jurista e autora do livro Virtually Human, acredita que, num futuro não muito distante, os registos digitais deixados por cada um de nós permitirão recriar seres humanos virtuais, agentes digitais que se comportem como uma espécie de alter-ego para cada um de nós, e que poderão ser usados para preservar digitalmente não só as memórias mas também as personalidades e os interesses dos indivíduos que decidirem usar este mecanismo. Ficaria assim assegurada uma espécie de imortalidade digital. A tecnologia actual está muito longe de conseguir reproduzir, através da análise da pegada digital de cada um, os comportamentos específicos que cada ser humano teria, perante uma nova situação ou a forma como responderia a uma pergunta. É até muito possível que tal tecnologia nunca venha a existir. Mas a verdade é que existe uma tendência para usar a pegada digital de cada pessoa para criar modelos, cada vez mais fidedignos, das suas preferências políticas, económicas, religiosas e sociais. Muitas empresas criam a comercializam esses modelos, que têm um enorme valor económico, pela sua capacidade de previsão das tendências e comportamentos de cada ser humano, individualmente, e da sociedade como um todo.

LER MAIS

A criação dos humanos virtuais a partir dos registos digitais, preconizada por Rothblatt, a acontecer algum dia, corresponderia ao extremo do dataismo, um termo inventado por um escritor do New York Times, David Brooks, e popularizado pelo escritor Yuval Noha Harari. Na visão destes escritores, o dataismo tornar-se-á a filosofia ou religião dominante da sociedade capitalista, usada pelos agentes económicos para maximizar o lucro e a eficiência. Nesta visão fortemente negativa da evolução tecnológica cada ser humano será desumanizado pelo dataismo, e visto apenas como um agente económico, caracterizado pelas suas opções, pelas suas escolhas e pelas suas opiniões. A visão positiva desta mesma questão, preconizada por Rothblatt e muitos outros seguidores do transumanismo, é que partes da nossa natureza humana poderão prevalecer para além da morte física, se for possível preservar a essência do nosso intelecto e dos nossos sentimentos.

A discussão entre estas duas visões, uma muito pessimista e a outra muito optimista, irá com certeza acentuar-se nas próximas décadas, à medida que as tecnologias se desenvolvem e questões cada vez mais complexas se coloquem às sociedades e aos indivíduos. O direito à privacidade será apenas a mais urgente destas grandes questões e, talvez, nem seja a mais complexa. Mas é aquela que coloca questões mais prementes e incontornáveis, pelo potencial que tem para permitir manipulações sociais, económicas e políticas que estão já ao alcance das tecnologias existentes.

Presidente do Instituto Superior Técnico

(ECO) Anúncios chegam este ano ao WhatsApp. E vêm aí mais novidades

(ECO) Vão chegar anúncios, novos emojis, novas ferramentas contra as fake news, mas também uma lista de telemóveis nos quais o Whatsapp vai deixar de funcionar.

A aplicação de mensagens instantâneas e chamadas de voz para smartphones tem uma longa checklist para 2019. Uma das maiores novidades, e que já tinha sido anunciada pelo próprio WhatsApp, tem a ver com os anúncios de publicidade. É que este ano, os anúncios vão chegar também a esta rede social.

Mas as novidades não se ficam por aqui. De acordo com o Business Insider (acesso livre, conteúdo em espanhol), este ano trará, ainda, mais emojis, avanços na luta contra as fake news e, como também já é costume, uma nova lista de telemóveis em que a rede social deixará de funcionar. Conheça, uma a uma, as novidades de 2019 para o WhatsApp.

Anúncios publicitários entre estados e histórias

Facebook está a criar uma moeda virtual para o Whatsapp Ler Mais

Deste ano não passa. A publicidade vai, por fim, entrar no WhatsApp, e de uma forma semelhante ao que acontece atualmente no Intstagram, ou até no Facebook. Não é que vá saltar um anúncio antes de iniciar uma conversa com algum contacto, pelo contrário, será de uma forma mais contida. Os anúncios aparecerão entre os estados e as histórias dos utilizadores, sobretudo.

Espera-se que esta novidade no WhatsApp chegue aos Estados Unidos da América (EUA) nos primeiros dias de 2019, e que, posteriormente, se propague gradualmente pelos restantes países onde a rede social está presente.

Fake news na mira

O combate às fake news foi um assunto que dominou o mundo tecnológico em 2018. E este ano não será exceção. O tema não sai de moda e o WhatsApp promete mantê-lo debaixo de olho. Depois de ter estreado em apenas um país uma nova função que limita o número de vezes que se pode reenviar uma mensagem, o WhatsApp quer agora fazer chegar esta funcionalidade — que considera imprescindível para combater as notícias falsas — aos restantes países que o utilizam.

Numa fase inicial, o WhatsApp restringiu para 20 o número de utilizadores a quem é possível reenviar-se a mesma mensagem, uma forma de evitar o spam.Posteriormente, a aplicação quis ser mais restritiva, reduzindo esse número para apenas cinco pessoas.

Mais de 300 novos emojis

Mas nem tudo é tão sério como o combate às notícias falsas ou a introdução de publicidade. Os bonequinhos amarelos a chorar a rir ou com os óculos de sol escuros vieram para nos animar. Aliás, são mesmo outra das novidades de 2019. Imagine que, este ano, vão chegar mais de três centenas de novos emojis para tornar as conversas mais divertidas e carismáticas.

Agora, só falta mesmo que a aplicação lance novas ferramentas como, por exemplo, para ser possível programar mensagens ou reproduzir áudios em diferentes velocidades.

Adeus WhatsApp… Mas só para alguns

Como já é costume, todos os anos há telemóveis nos quais o WhatsApp deixa de funcionar. Para já, apenas quem tem um Nokia S40 tem motivos para se preocupar.Neste modelo de telemóvel, que já conta com mais de dez anos, a aplicação já não deve, aliás, estar a funcionar normalmente.

Para o ano, a situação piora. A partir do dia 1 de fevereiro, o WhatsApp irá deixar de funcionar em todos os telemóveis com a versão 2.3.7, assim como em todos os iPhones com iOS 7. Telemóveis Windows Phone 8.0, iPhone 3GS com iOS 6 e Blackberry 10 ou Blackberry OS serão alguns dos sacrificados.

(IrishTimes) Apps sending users’ data to Facebook without their consent

(IrishTimes) Some apps pass on data the second they’re opened on a smartphone

Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg: Several app developers have complained about the issue to Facebook since May. Photograph: Getty

Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg: Several app developers have complained about the issue to Facebook since May. Photograph: Getty

Some of the most popular apps for Android smartphones, including SkyscannerTripAdvisor and MyFitnessPal, are transmitting data to Facebookwithout the consent of users in a potential breach of EU regulations.

In a study of 34 popular Android apps, the campaign group Privacy International found that at least 20 of them send certain data to Facebook the second that they are opened on a phone, before users can be asked for permission.

Information sent instantly included the app’s name, the user’s unique ID with Google, and the number of times the app was opened and closed since being downloaded. Some, such as travel site Kayak, later sent detailed information about people’s flight searches to Facebook, including travel dates, whether the user had children and which flights and destinations they had searched for.

European law on data-sharing changed in May with the introduction of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and mobile apps are required to have the explicit consent of users before collecting their personal information. Fines for breaching GDPR can be up to 4 per cent of revenues or €20 million, whichever is greater.

The researchers looked at apps with built-in Facebook trackers and intercepted data as it was sent. Many of the apps are free, suggesting that they make money from data-sharing and advertising.

Developer kit

Frederike Kaltheuner, who carried out the research, added that while Facebook places responsibility for complying with regulations on app developers, the US company’s developer kit did not give the option of waiting for a user’s permission before transmitting some types of data.

“At least four weeks after GDPR, it wasn’t even possible to ask for consent, because of the default setting of Facebook’s SDK [software development kit]. This means data is automatically shared the moment the app opens,” she said.

Several app developers have complained about the issue to Facebook since May, filing bug reports on Facebook’s developer platform saying they were unable to comply with the law.

For instance, on May 29th, four days after GDPR came into effect in the EU, a developer posted: “Hi all. We analized [sic] network activity of Facebook SDK for Unity and found that on application start it sends some requests to graph.facebook.com. It seems to be violation of GDPR: we can not send anything about a user until he allows us to do that. Could you please fix that or strongly confirm that these requests don’t violate GDPR.”

A few weeks, and several complaints later, Facebook responded to say it had created a fix but that developers would need to download the upgrade to use it. But developers have continued to file bug reports and it is not clear if the fix works.

“Six months after the release of the feature, we are still seeing very little evidence that developers are implementing it. Of all the apps that we have tested, 67.7 per cent automatically transmit data to Facebook the moment the app is launched,” the Privacy International report noted.

App analytics

A spokesperson for Facebook said that app developers could disable automatic data collection, and that this year it had introduced a new option that allows developers to delay collection of app analytics information.

The researchers also found that many apps were running older versions of the SDK as recently as this month that would not allow them to use the voluntary feature as it was designed.

Facebook can tie an Android ID to a user’s social network profile, instantly identifying them

Another major concern raised by activists is the “de-anonymisation” of the data – the practice of linking personal data back to a user, which is prohibited by GDPR.

Facebook can tie an Android ID to a user’s social network profile, instantly identifying them and adding any additional information to their personal profile.

“For example, an individual who has installed the following apps that we have tested, Qibla Connect (a Muslim prayer app), Period Tracker Clue (a period tracker), Indeed (a job search app), My Talking Tom (a children’s app), could be potentially profiled as likely female, likely Muslim, likely job seeker, likely parent,” the report said.

Facebook can also use the data to cross-target multiple people – for example, if a married couple use apps on the same wifi, or at the same location, their Android IDs can be tied together to target similar advertising to both of them.

Third-party tracker

Previous research from Oxford university has shown that 43 per cent of free apps on the Google Play store could share data with Facebook, making the social network the second most prevalent third-party tracker after Google’s parent company Alphabet.

A Facebook spokesperson wrote to the Privacy International researchers in response to their study, saying: “We agree that . . . it’s important for people to have access when we receive information about them when they’re not using our services, and to have control over whether we associate this information with them.

“Recognising the value of improvements in this area, we’re currently working on a suite of changes, including developing a new tool called Clear History, that we hope will address your feedback.”

A Skyscanner spokesperson said: “We were not aware that data was being sent to Facebook in this way without prior consent from our users, which went against our own internal rules on the integration of third-party technologies. We are still investigating how this happened.

“We’re currently reviewing our approach, both to this issue and to the use of similar technologies more generally, to ensure we’re doing everything we should be.”

TripAdvisor and Kayak did not respond to requests for comment and MyFitnessPal declined to comment.

(Axios) What Facebook knows about you

(Axios)

Illustration of FB profile image filled with data
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

On Facebook’s map of humanity, the node for “you” often includes vast awareness of your movements online and a surprising amount of info about what you do offline, too.

The big picture: Even when you’re cautious about sharing, Facebook’s dossier on you will be hefty. Facebook tackles its mission of “bringing the world closer together” by creating a map of humanity, and each of us represents a tiny node on this “social graph.Show less

Assembling your profile: This is where your Facebook presence begins.

  • When you create an account, Facebook asks for your name and birthdate, along with either a phone number or e-mail.
  • Then there’s all the information you give Facebook as you fill out your profile, potentially including schools, current and past occupations, relationship status, hometown and current city, as well as your physical address, birth name, web site and other social links.
  • All of this forms the core of the profile Facebook uses to serve you ads. It’s why you see offers for clever T-shirts based on your college or job.

Following what you do on Facebook: The company has near-total awareness of every move you make on its website or in its apps, including:

  • When you log in, how long you spend online and where you are logging in from — hence it can welcome you to new cities and suggest places to visit and eat (and also serve up local ads).
  • Places you check in.
  • The pages, accounts, and hashtags you connect with on Facebook — and not just who you are connected with, but how often you interact and for how long.
  • Your contacts, if you choose to upload your phone book or call history.
  • Things you buy directly from or through Facebook, but also things you may not think about, like the metadata from photos you upload.
  • Your friends can tag you in posts and photos, which gives Facebook additional information. (You can choose to have this displayed publicly or not via privacy settings.)

Following what you say on Facebook Messenger: Facebook does scan your chat messages, but it isn’t exactly reading them— it runs an automated scan for child pornography and other banned content.

  • Messenger can collect information on who you talk to, how often and for how long, as well as phone history if users opt in. But the company says it isn’t serving ads based on the content of users’ messages.
  • It also has an option for users to encrypt their messages, but this is turned off by default.

Following you outside Facebook: Facebook sees you less thoroughly outside its own digital turf, but it still sees a lot. This data comes from two places: partner services and third-party information brokers.

  • Facebook has tools that partner websites use to integrate with Facebook, including the inclusion of “Like” and “Share” buttons, as well as a tracking cookie known as Facebook Pixel.
  • Thanks to an inquiry from Britain’s Parliament, we have a sense of how prevalent these methods are. According to Facebook, between April 9 and April 16 of 2018 there were 2.2 million Facebook Pixels, 8.4 million pages with a Like button and 931,000 pages with a button to Share on Facebook.
  • Facebook knows your location, even if you haven’t directly given it permission to access your phone’s GPS, by tracking the IP address of the phones, computers and other devices you use to access its servers.
  • Facebook also reserves the right to enhance its data trove by adding information from outside providersthough it has ended one program that mixed Facebook and third-party data for advertisersFrom its policy page: “We also receive information about your online and offline actions and purchases from third-party data providers who have the rights to provide us with your information. “

Following you across your apps: Many apps are connected to Facebook, including through its popular Facebook Login feature, which uses your Facebook account as a shortcut for you to sign in.

  • Developers can also use this system to get your permission to access Facebook data. In addition to iOS and Android, it also works across the web and on some smart TVs.
  • Integrating Facebook was once a way for outside apps to get a lot of info about you, but Facebook has tightened that up considerably, setting rules and instituting a review process for apps that want anything beyond basic identity information.

Following you at home and around town: Facebook’s new Portal video chat system is basically a camera that lives in your home.

What Facebook does with all this data: Facebook says, emphatically, that it doesn’t sell your information.

  • It does use the data to sell you to advertisers who set criteria for people they want to target. The more the company knows about you, the more valuable those advertisements can be.
  • It also uses the information to enhance its social graph, which it uses to build new features and products, and to power its suggestions of “People you may know.”

What Facebook doesn’t know about you: Facebook insists it doesn’t monitor your phone calls or secretly record you via microphone, despite long-running suspicions to the contrary.

The bottom line: Facebook’s privacy policies reinforce the message that”you have control over who sees what you share on Facebook.” But if you use Facebook at all, you don’t have much control over what Facebook itself sees about you.

Go deeper:

(ECO) O ano em que decidimos ser estúpidos – Diogo Queiroz de Andrade

(ECO)

Em 2018 a máscara do Facebook caiu em definitivo. A gananciosa máquina que converte ódio e crimes em lucros é generosamente sustentada por todos nós, que já não temos desculpa.

Há um ano, já tínhamos ouvido falar da interferência russa nas presidenciais americanas e no papel que o algoritmo do Facebook desempenhou conscientemente em tudo isso. Sabíamos que o Facebook era uma excelente plataforma para a disseminação do discurso de ódio contra minorias, para a promoção do suicídio e para a fazer equivaler mentiras a verdades científicas. Mas não sabíamos a dimensão da coisa. Aliás, o quarto dia de 2018 começou com o senhor Zuckerberg a prometer resolver os problemas do Facebook. A partir daí foi uma animação. Só para destacar os casos mais graves, fica um resumo mensal do ano que passou:

  • Ainda em janeiro, no World Economic Forum, a plataforma é apresentada como uma ameaça à sociedade e um obstáculo à inovação.
  • Em fevereiro a Wired publica uma enorme investigação que detalha os pormenores e a dimensão da interferência russa na vida política americana através do Facebook.
  • Em março, o Observer dá a conhecer o imenso escândalo Cambridge Analytica, em que se confirmam os abusos de privacidade dos utilizadores para os manipular politicamente; os fundadores do WhatsApp, comprado pelo Facebook em 2016 e até aí funcionários da casa, aderem à campanha #deletefacebook; e o BuzzFeed dá a conhecer um memorando interno em que se defende o crescimento a todo o custo, mesmo que morram pessoas pela utilização da aplicação.
  • Chegamos a abril e são os próprios responsáveis a admitir que é muito provável que quase todos os dois mil milhões de utilizadores tenha sido, num momento ou noutro, vítimas de invasão de privacidade; e nas inquirições no congresso americano e no Parlamento Europeu, a postura robótica de Zuckerberg e a imagem das frases que deveria repetir expuseram a falácia de todo o processo.
  • Em maio entrou em vigor na Europa o GDPR, que deu imediatamente origem a centenas de processos contra a plataforma; e o relatório provisório da comissão parlamentar britânica que investigou o Brexit é demolidor para a suposta isenção política do Facebook.
  • Em junho o New York Times revelou que o Facebook deu aos produtores dos telemóveis acesso aos dados pessoais dos utilizadores; três dias depois, admitiu ter encontrado um erro em que a informação que estaria reservada apenas para amigos era afinal publicamente visível; e numa entrevista ao Guardian a comissária europeia Verstager alertou contra os riscos para a democracia que vêm dali, dizendo que não sabe se o Facebook tem demasiado poder porque teria antes de definir uma “teoria de maldade” aplicada à plataforma.
  • O verão não correu melhor, porque em plena ronda de relações públicas decorrida em julho, Zuckerberg admite que não quer limitar a liberdade de expressão e por isso defende o direito dos negacionistas do holocausto a estar presentes, mesmo que isso custe vidas e aumente a descriminação; uma semana depois, a publicação dos resultados financeiros faz desaparecer mais de 20% da valorização bolsista da empresa.
  • E em agosto as Nações Unidas acusam a plataforma de ter desempenhado um papel consciente no genocídio dos Royhinga em Myanmar, mesmo depois de sucessivos alertas oficiais em público e em privado; e uma nova investigação demonstrou como, na Alemanha, a propagação do discurso anti-refugiados coincidiu com ataques coordenados a refugiados.
  • Em setembro ficou a conhecer-se a extensão da manipulação política nas Filipinas e na Líbia graças à plataforma e às suas ferramentas; outra investigação jornalística mostra como o Instagram promoveu vídeos de abusos de crianças, acelerando a saída dos fundadores do Instagram por choques com Zuckerberg; e a própria empresa admitiu outra falha que permitiu o roubo de dados privados subsequentemente usados para manipulação financeira.
  • O último trimestre, por si só, seria suficiente para desgraçar qualquer empresa: em outubro chegaram as eleições brasileiras e com elas a revelação da forma como os grupos que promovem desinformação usaram o Facebook e o WhatsApp para atacar os concorrentes de Bolsonaro; na Índia, uma campanha anti-vacinação de crianças levou à suspensão de uma ação da OMS; e novos dados sobre os anúncios no Facebook demonstrou como se publicita a venda de casas e novos empregos excluindo minorias raciais e sexuais, como se falsificam informações políticas e como se podem colocar anúncios a recrutar para… o Estado Islâmico.
  • Em novembro relatou-se o impacto do Facebook nas campanhas de ódio étnico e nas matanças de minorias na Nigéria; o New York Times revelou como o Facebook pagou a empresas de relações públicas para denegrir publicamente, por vezes com base em insultos raciais, os críticos da empresa; a ameaça da nova lei de proteção de dados da União Europeia vai abrir caminho a novos processos; e a justiça britânica tomou posse de uma série de documentos que mostram como a empresa abusa do seu poder para esmagar a concorrência e abre caminho a novos processos milionários.
  • Chegados a dezembro, os próprios responsáveis de segurança da empresa admitem que as fotos de sete milhões de utilizadores foram partilhadas com mais de mil e quinhentas apps; e logo a seguir o New York Times publicou mais uma investigação em que revela como deu a empresas acesso às mensagens privadas dos utilizadores; Um dos papas de Silicon Valley, Walt Mossberg, apagou-se do Facebook pelo desconforto; o Senado americano publicou um relatório em que se revê em alta a interferência russa nas eleições americanas através do Facebook e Washington anunciou uma ação legal contra a plataforma e os seus responsáveis por causa dos falhanços na proteção de dados, provocando mais um trambolhão na bolsa (este “apenas” de sete por cento).

Nada disto acontece por acaso. Todos estes crimes ocorrem porque são inerentes ao funcionamento da própria plataforma e à forma como esta trafica tráfego e informações pessoais por publicidade.

Todos os dias, todos nós, com a participação nesta plataforma, aceitamos ser cúmplices conscientes destes crimes. Estamos a contribuir para crimes raciais, para genocídios, para manipulações políticas e para violações de privacidade. Somo parte ativa de uma máquina que promove emoções e difunde mentiras, enterrando verdades científicas debaixo de camadas e camadas de discursos de ódio. Pior do que isso, estamos a ser parte ativa de um sistema que está a pôr em causa o modelo de democracia liberal em que vivemos, com consequências dramáticas para o futuro. Sabemos isto tudo e continuamos lá. A culpa é nossa, toda nossa.

Para o ano, as coisas vão piorar. Em Inglaterra, porque o Brexit não vai ser bonito. Nos EUA, porque o Trumpismo está cada vez mais afinado como máquina de destruição da coesão nacional. Na Europa, porque vem aí uma eleição – e um parlamento – em que os populistas vão ganhar muito poder. Em Portugal, porque a informação livre vai continuar a morrer e a demagogia vai aumentar na aproximação às legislativas. Mas nada disto é grave: afinal, podemos sempre usar o Facebook para nos queixarmos.

Ler mais: O melhor resumo do caso contra o Facebook está resumido em Anti SocialMedia: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy. O livro foi publicado no início de 2018 e, apesar de não ter quase nenhum dos factos aqui relatados, demonstra quão grave já era a situação. E o seu autor, Siva Vaidhyanathan, é uma voz autorizada e reconhecida: doutorado pela Universidade do Texas, fundou a disciplina de Critical Information Studies e é uma voz influente no estudo das influências culturais dos média.

(ZH) WSJ Discovers How Algos Broke The Market

(ZH) For years, as the market rose in seemingly uninterrupted fashion buoyed by trillions in excess central bank liquidity and algos programmed to buy any dip while frontrunning each and every buy order, virtually nobody – except for a few “fringe”, “fake news” blogs – complained about the threat posed by algo trading and the quiet but dire deterioration in market liquidity.

Now that the S&P has finally suffered its first bear market in a decade, the mass media is out in full force looking for scapegoats and, predictably, in an attempt to deflect attention from the biggest, and only, culprit behind each and every bull-bust cycle namely the US central bank, has focused on “computerized trading.”

In a front page article, the WSJ is out today with “Behind the Market Swoon: The Herdlike Behavior of Computerized Trading“, in which a bevy of WSJ authors, among which the paper’s new ‘Fed whisperer‘ Nick Timiraos (who may or may not have been tasked with delivering a piece drawing attention from the inhabitants of the Marriner Eccles building), write that “behind the broad, swift market slide of 2018 is an underlying new reality: Roughly 85% of all trading is on autopilot—controlled by machines, models, or passive investing formulas, creating an unprecedented trading herd that moves in unison and is blazingly fast.”

A quick note: 85% of this “autopilot” trading also took place on the upside, yet the WSJ – and all the other bulls – were oddly quiet for years and years. Of course, to Zero Hedge readers, the story is all too familiar: after all we have covered all of this not just when the market snapped lower, but more importantly, during its levitation phase, setting up the inevitable crash:

Today, quantitative hedge funds, or those that rely on computer models rather than research and intuition, account for 28.7% of trading in the stock market, according to data from Tabb Group–a share that’s more than doubled since 2013. They now trade more than retail investors, and everyone else.

Add to that passive funds, index investors, high-frequency traders, market makers, and others who aren’t buying because they have a fundamental view of a company’s prospects, and you get to around 85% of trading volume, according to Marko Kolanovic of JP Morgan.

In terms of specific downside factors, the collapse in momentum has been explicitly highlighted:

One reason the dynamic might have changed: Many of the trading models use momentum as an input. When markets turn south, they’re programmed to sell. And if prices drop, many are programmed to sell even more.

Of course, the topic of collapsing momentum was widely discussed here just last Saturday, when we said that as a result of the dominance of algo trading, Deutsche Bank argued that momentum has emerged as the most important force in markets, something we have claimed for years:

However, one key reason why trading has become so complicated for most, and certainly the algos, is that there is currently virtually no momentum in the market – with the MTUM ETF which tracks momentum stocks having its worst month and quarter since its 2013 inception – results in making any attempt to piggyback on the market a money-losing trade.

There are the usual quotes from traders who are suddenly very concerned about stuff:

Boaz Weinstein, founder of credit hedge fund Saba Capital Management LP, said the market had been underpricing uncertainty. Now it’s taking into account political issues “at the same time as the Fed is hiking, the economy is slowing, and a lot of people are feeling like the best days for markets are over,” he said.

Mr. Weinstein says there are dangers building in the junk-bond market. One worry, he says, is that so many junk bonds—he estimated about 40%—are held by mutual funds or exchange-traded funds that allow their investors to sell any day they like, even though bonds inside the funds are hard to sell.

When enough investors want to cash out, such a fund has to start selling bonds. But without much liquidity, finding buyers could be hard.

A selloff could start simply, he said. “It has its own gravity.”

It’s “suddenly” so bad, in fact, that comparisons to virtually every previous crash are coming out of the woodwork:

Some analysts see similarities to the late 1998 pullback in U.S. stocks that followed a year of turmoil in emerging markets, punctuated by the Asian financial crisis of 1997 and the Russian default of 1998 and culminating in the collapse of the highly leveraged Long Term Capital Management hedge fund.

Others point to the market shakeout in late 2015. Like the current episode, it lacked an obvious trigger and was accompanied by anxiety over the Federal Reserve’s plans to raise interest rates—in that case, the Fed’s first rate increase in nearly a decade. Like this year, the 2015 retreat featured a sharp decline in oil prices and a significant drop in the S&P 500.

And the punchline:

Electronic traders are wreaking havoc in the markets,” says Leon Cooperman, the billionaire stock picker who founded hedge fund Omega Advisors.

There is much more in the full WSJ article, which also focuses on the collapse in market liquidity (which we covered just last week), the equity contagion to credit markets (which we also just covered), and virtually all other pernicious aspects of pervasive algo trading which have been discussed ad nauseam on this website for years.

Odd how electronic traders were not “wreaking havoc in the markets” when the markets were rising. A cynic may almost say that the president, the Fed and/or traders such as Cooperman (who have had an abysmal year) are desperate for a diversionary cover, and hence the WSJ article finally reporting on the other key facet of what made market levitation possible for the past decade: HFTs, algos and various other computerized traders, which however merely do what their human programmers instruct them to do, and which is to simply accentuate momentum either up, or as the case may be for the past 3 months, down by frontrunning key shifts in investor sentiment (as a reminder, all HFTs really do is frontrun orderflow) and in the process confirming that instead of adding liquidity to the market, HFTs were notorious in soaking it all up as recent market moves demonstrate.

In any case, we are content that the mainstream press is finally reporting on the event which we have warned for the better part of the past 10 years will ultimately catalyze the next big crash – the takeover of the market by computerized trading – a crash which, however, will only be made possible by the Fed blowing the biggest asset bubble in history to monstrous proportions, something which the WSJ article does at least acknowledge in its final paragraph:

“It’s not just about the equity market throwing a temper tantrum, it’s far deeper than that,” said David Rosenberg, chief economist at Gluskin Sheff & Associates in Toronto. “This is a much broader global liquidity story.”

Encouraged by signs of economic strengthening, the Fed has been gradually raising interest rates from rock-bottom levels and selling back the trillions of dollars in bonds it bought in the postcrisis years. The central bank says the roll-back of stimulus is smooth. Others aren’t so sure what comes next. There has never been such a huge stimulus, and one has never before been unraveled.

Some believe there’s a hidden risk in debt that consumers and companies took on when borrowing was inexpensive. The Fed’s campaigns were  “fundamentally designed to encourage corporate America to lever up, which makes them more vulnerable to rising borrowing costs,” said Scott Minerd, chief investment officer at Guggenheim Partners. “The reversing of the process is actually more powerful,” he said.

Read the full WSJ article here.

(Reuters) Intel to get 700 million shekel grant for Israel expansion

(Reuters) JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel will give Intel Corp (INTC.O) a 700 million shekel ($185 million) grant in return for a planned $5 billion expansion of its production operations in Israel.

Intel is one of the biggest employers and exporters in Israel, where many of its new technologies are developed. Earlier this year it submitted plans to upgrade its Kiryat Gat manufacturing plant in southern Israel.

The Finance Committee in Israel’s parliament has now approved a 700 million shekel grant for the company, a statement from the committee said.

It noted that along with the $5 billion investment, the government expects Intel to hire 250 new employees and make 2.1 billion shekels in local purchases.

Intel may decide to expand its Israeli operations even further in 2019, according to Israel’s economy minister.

“Intel will make, in my estimation, another significant investment in the coming year,” Economy Minister Eli Cohen said last week at a business conference in Jerusalem.

(Beiruting) This Cheap Selfie Drone Is Putting Large Drone Companies Out Of Business; — Here’s Why It’s Gone Viral

(Beiruting)

This Selfie trend is going viral worldwide…

Phone selfies are boring. People aren’t doing them anymore and they’ve become unpopular…

First, there was the standard selfie, then the selfie stick, and now the next evolution of the selfie has arrived!

Nobody knows who did it first, but soon thousands of people in  started uploading incredible selfies from insane angles. They uploaded them to social media and soon EVERYONE wanted to do the same!

Now, this new type of selfie has taken off – Literally – across the world!

What are we talking about?

It’s the new Drone X Pro, a brand new type of drone made so that anyone can fly it. It’s perfect for making the ultimate selfies!

 

 

The Drone X Pro was designed by two German engineers who love drones. They found that the drones they had were very bulky, heavy and difficult to travel with.

So, they designed this ultra-compact, light drone, and all without sacrificing any of the main benefits of a top HD model.

It’s firm, it’s easy to control and it can live-stream and record to your phone!

People are using them to take ‘the ultimate selfies’ – the results are incredible…

 

How does it work?

We were surprised by how easy it is to set up! First, you have to install an app (just scan the QR code in the manual). It’s all very easy.

Once you have done that, just plug in the battery, connect to your drone and start up the app. In less than 10 seconds you’re ready to fly your drone!

And then the best part comes: flying is so incredibly easy. The controls are just superb, really intuitive. Flying the drone feels natural. A colleague’s kids happened to be at the office, and they figured it all out in seconds-on their first drone flight ever. It’s Just amazing how easy and smooth the controls are!

 

Once you’re in the air, it’s time to use the built-in camera. You can take the most stunning pictures and videos. Take videos from otherwise impossible angles and impress your friends with the coolest selfies!

 

How Much Is It?

That’s what we all want to know, right? I guessed it would be like $300 to $400, but I was wrong. They sell it for only $99, (deal only available online, $150 in shops) which is tremendously cheap for a drone of this quality!

How to buy a Drone X Pro

That’s super easy. You can buy it from the official website.

 

This drone is perfect because…

What makes this drone so special?

 

The main benefits of the Drone X Pro are its portability, price, camera and its ease of use.

The drone is the same size as a large smartphone. Combine that with its foldable rotors and you probably have the world’s most portable drone. It will comfortably fit in any pocket or bag!

 

Absolutely, anyone can easily fly this drone! Its controls were designed to perfection. The Drone X Pro also has an incredible hovering capability. No need to focus on the height; just steer and enjoy the flight!

A drone with this name needs a quality camera of course. This drone is just perfect to take awesome pictures and videos.

 

 

When flying is so easy, you can fully concentrate on taking stunning shots. Film nature, friends and even yourself in amazing quality!

 

 

 

And so far, we have not even mentioned that the drone is made of ABS plastic. This makes the drone much lighter and stronger.

Last but not least, the price is just amazing. It’s less than $100 for a drone of this quality. This must be the single best price-quality drone there is!

Conclusion: Is it worth it?

Such a quality drone for this price makes us definitely say YES! Just think of the amazing pictures and videos you can take with the Drone X Pro. Even just the fun of flying a drone already makes this worth it. If you’ve never flown a drone, this is the moment you should start!

 

(BBG) Mountain Air Keeps One of Europe’s Largest Data Centers Cool

(BBG) Designed to keep the servers running efficiently even during heat waves.

Data centers contribute about the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions as the aviation sector, according to the United Nations. Climate change activists have been pushing providers of digital services to reduce electricity use, especially as the sector booms in an era of Big Data.

Portugal’s Covilhã Data Center, one of the largest in Europe, doesn’t just look cool. It was designed to stay cool—even if deadly heat waves like the one that hit Europe this summer become more frequent. The brutalist facility is spread over 75,500 square meters, an area equivalent to about 10 soccer fields; it’s big enough to house as many as 56,000 servers. The owner, Altice Portugal, the biggest telecommunications services provider in the country and a subsidiary of Altice Europe NV, says the five-year-old center was built with efficiency in mind.

Its location, in Covilhã, a ski and hiking destination 170 miles northeast of Lisbon, was chosen partly because of the mild mountain climate. Outside air cools the building’s servers 99 percent of the time, according to the company. The center also collects and stores rainwater, creating a sustainable water source—and surrounding its campus with a striking moatlike feature.

The center is a candidate to handle data from the proposed Square Kilometre Array, which would be the world’s largest radio telescope. Part of the SKA’s mission is to find out why the universe’s expansion is accelerating. Indeed, it seems Big Data is undergoing its own cosmic expansion.

Photo editor: Donna Cohen