Tech News Feed

'Stalkerware' Phone Spying Apps Have Escaped Google's Ad Ban

SlashDot - Tue, 2020-08-11 23:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Several companies offering phone-spying apps -- known as "stalkerware" -- are still advertising in Google search results, despite the search giant's ban that took effect today, TechCrunch has found. These controversial apps are often pitched to help parents snoop on their child's calls, messages, apps and other private data under the guise of helping to protect against online predators. But some repurpose these apps to spy on their spouses -- often without their permission. It's a problem that the wider tech industry has worked to tackle. Security firms and antivirus makers are working to combat the rise of stalkerware, and federal authorities have taken action when app makers have violated the law. One of the biggest actions to date came last month when Google announced an updated ads policy, effectively banning companies from advertising phone-snooping apps "with the express purpose of tracking or monitoring another person or their activities without their authorization." Google gave these companies until August 11 to remove these ads. But TechCrunch found seven companies known to provide stalkerware -- including FlexiSpy, mSpy, WebWatcher and KidsGuard -- were still advertising in Google search results after the ban took effect. Google did not say explicitly say if the stalkerware apps violated its policy, but told TechCrunch that it removed ads for WebWatcher. Despite the deadline, Google said that enforcement is not always immediate. "We recently updated our policies to prohibit ads promoting spyware for partner surveillance while still allowing ads for technology that helps parents monitor their underage children," said a Google spokesperson. "To prevent deceitful actors who try to disguise the product's intent and evade our enforcement, we look at several signals like the ad text, creative and landing page, among others, for policy compliance. When we find that an ad or advertiser is violating our policies, we take immediate action."

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Samsung's 120Hz mobile displays use variable refresh rates to save power

Engadget - Tue, 2020-08-11 23:18
Last week Samsung revealed its new Galaxy Note line, and the highest-end model comes with a 120Hz screen. A higher refresh rate allows it to feel more responsive using a pen or playing mobile games and scroll even more smoothly, but as people with 90...

Alphabet's Verily builds COVID-19 testing lab focused on 'rapid turnaround' of results - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2020-08-11 22:23
The lab is in-house at the Google sibling company's South San Francisco headquarters.

Police Use of Facial Recognition Violates Human Rights, UK Court Rules

SlashDot - Tue, 2020-08-11 22:02
An appeals court ruled today that police use of facial recognition technology in the UK has "fundamental deficiencies" and violates several laws. Ars Technica reports: South Wales Police began using automated facial recognition technology on a trial basis in 2017, deploying a system called AFR Locate overtly at several dozen major events such as soccer matches. Police matched the scans against watchlists of known individuals to identify persons who were wanted by the police, had open warrants against them, or were in some other way persons of interest. In 2019, Cardiff resident Ed Bridges filed suit against the police, alleging that having his face scanned in 2017 and 2018 was a violation of his legal rights. Although he was backed by UK civil rights organization Liberty, Bridges lost his suit in 2019, but the Court of Appeal today overturned that ruling, finding that the South Wales Police facial recognition program was unlawful. "Too much discretion is currently left to individual police officers," the court ruled. "It is not clear who can be placed on the watchlist, nor is it clear that there are any criteria for determining where AFR can be deployed." The police did not sufficiently investigate if the software in use exhibited race or gender bias, the court added. The South Wales Police in 2018 released data admitting that about 2,300 of nearly 2,500 matches -- roughly 92 percent -- the software made at an event in 2017 were false positives. The ruling did not completely ban the use of facial recognition tech inside the UK, but does narrow the scope of what is permissible and what law enforcement agencies have to do to be in compliance with human rights law. Other police inside the UK who deploy facial recognition technology will have to meet the standard set by today's ruling. That includes the Metropolitan Police in London, who deployed a similar type of system earlier this year.

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Facebook Removed Seven Million Posts In Second Quarter For False Coronavirus Info

SlashDot - Tue, 2020-08-11 21:25
Facebook said on Tuesday it removed 7 million posts in the second quarter for sharing false information about the novel coronavirus, including content that promoted fake preventative measures and exaggerated cures. Reuters reports: It released the data as part of its sixth Community Standards Enforcement Report, which it introduced in 2018 along with more stringent decorum rules in response to a backlash over its lax approach to policing content on its platforms. The world's biggest social network said it would invite proposals from experts this week to audit the metrics used in the report, beginning in 2021. It committed to the audit during a July ad boycott over hate speech practices. The company removed about 22.5 million posts with hate speech on its flagship app in the second quarter, a dramatic increase from 9.6 million in the first quarter. It attributed the jump to improvements in detection technology. It also deleted 8.7 million posts connected to "terrorist" organizations, compared with 6.3 million in the prior period. It took down less material from "organized hate" groups: 4 million pieces of content, compared to 4.7 million in the first quarter. The company does not disclose changes in the prevalence of hateful content on its platforms, which civil rights groups say makes reports on its removal less meaningful.

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Ram's Raptor-fighting 1500 TRX will debut on Aug. 17 - Roadshow

CNET News - Tue, 2020-08-11 21:15
The whole thing will be livestreamed too, so you can be a part of it all.

Xbox Series X Launching In November, But Halo Infinite Is Delayed Until 2021

SlashDot - Tue, 2020-08-11 20:45
Microsoft isn't providing a specific release date for its next-gen Xbox Series X console, but the company did reveal it will launch in the month of November. Sadly, Microsoft and 343 Industries also announced today that Halo Infinite is being delayed to 2021. The Verge reports: The lack of Halo Infinite does mean there's no big launch title for the Xbox Series X later this year. Microsoft is choosing to highlight Xbox Game Pass, alongside "more than 50 new games" that are launching this year with optimizations for Xbox Series X. More than 40 existing games will also be optimized for Xbox Series X, which can include anything from hardware-accelerated DirectX ray tracing, 120fps frame rates, faster loading times, and Quick Resume support. Existing backward compatible games across Xbox, Xbox 360, and Xbox One will also run on the Xbox Series X when it launches in November. We're now waiting to hear exactly when the Xbox Series X will be available, its price, and when people can start preordering the next-gen console. In addition to Xbox Game Pass, Microsoft is also highlighting its Project xCloud gaming service. "Project xCloud will enter a beta stage from August 11 as a new version of the Xbox Game Pass app will launch on Android devices," reports NME. "While the full service won't be available in the beta phase, users will have the ability to test a smaller selection of titles ahead of the launch next month. [A]round 30 games will be available in the beta stage, with the full 100+ titles added next month (September)."

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Ford mockumentary ponders the fate of legendary fake pitchman John Bronco - Roadshow

CNET News - Tue, 2020-08-11 20:35
Could it possibly be a roundabout way of getting people to preorder the new Bronco?

SpongeBob pal Patrick Star is getting his own spinoff show - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2020-08-11 20:23
Baby, he's a star: The Patrick Star Show will introduce more of the starfish's family.

WSJ: TikTok used a loophole to track MAC addresses on Android

Engadget - Tue, 2020-08-11 20:13
The future of TikTok is still up in the air as it’s treated as an acquisition target and security risk all at once, and now the Wall Street Journal is reporting a detail on the kind of information it had been tracking about users. Their analysis of i...

TikTok Tracked User Data Using Tactic Banned By Google

SlashDot - Tue, 2020-08-11 20:02
An anonymous reader quotes a report from MarketWatch: TikTok skirted a privacy safeguard in Google's Android operating system to collect unique identifiers from millions of mobile devices, data that allows the app to track users online without allowing them to opt out, a Wall Street Journal analysis has found. The tactic, which experts in mobile-phone security said was concealed through an unusual added layer of encryption, appears to have violated Google policies limiting how apps track people and wasn't disclosed to TikTok users. TikTok ended the practice in November, the Journal's testing showed. The identifiers collected by TikTok, called MAC addresses, are most commonly used for advertising purposes. The White House has said it is worried that users' data could be obtained by the Chinese government and used to build detailed dossiers on individuals for blackmail or espionage. In a statement, a spokesperson said the company is "committed to protecting the privacy and safety of the TikTok community. Like our peers, we constantly update our app to keep up with evolving security challenges." The company said "the current version of TikTok does not collect MAC addresses."

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How to watch Steve Wozniak's star-studded 70th birthday party tonight - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2020-08-11 19:27
Big stars, including William Shatner, George Takei, Chris Rock, Richard Branson and Jewel, will help the Apple co-founder celebrate and raise money for charity.

Russia Claims To Have Registered World's First COVID-19 Vaccine

SlashDot - Tue, 2020-08-11 19:20
New submitter Hmmmmmm shares a report from CNBC: Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the registration of what Russia claims to be the first vaccine for the coronavirus in the world and said one of his daughters had already taken it. "Although I know that it works quite effectively, it forms a stable immunity and, I repeat, has passed all the necessary checks," Putin said. Clinical trials of this Russian vaccine have been completed in less than two months and phase three trials are set to begin on Wednesday, despite the vaccine having already been registered. Countries including the United Arab Emirates, the Philippines and Saudi Arabia are taking part in those trials. "The vaccine developed by Russia is a so-called viral vector vaccine, meaning it employs another virus to carry the DNA encoding of the needed immune response into cells," reports Al Jazeera. "[The Gamaleya research institute's vaccine] is based on the adenovirus, a similar technology to the coronavirus vaccine prototype developed by China's CanSino. The state-run Gamaleya institute came under fire after researchers and its director injected themselves with the prototype several months ago, with specialists criticizing the move as an unorthodox and rushed way of starting human trials.

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2021 Bentley Bentayga Speed is a 626-hp, 190-mph bruiser in a Saville Row suit - Roadshow

CNET News - Tue, 2020-08-11 19:01
The Speed is Bentley's pinnacle-of-performance SUV and it looks like the 2021 model will deliver on that promise.

2021 Bentley Bentayga Speed is a well-dressed bruiser - Roadshow

CNET News - Tue, 2020-08-11 19:01
With a 6.0-liter W12 and all the leather, Alcantara and carbon fiber you could ever want, the Bentayga Speed is a serious statement of intent.

Biden campaign website has mask message hidden in the code - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2020-08-11 19:01
The site's code encourages all to "wear a mask."

Best smart countertop ovens of 2020 - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2020-08-11 19:00
Smart ovens for your countertop are a thing now, and there are actually some very good ones. From remote cooking to food recognition, there's a whole new world of cooking out there.

The Last Blockbuster Has Been Turned Into An Airbnb

SlashDot - Tue, 2020-08-11 18:40
The world's last Blockbuster is offering movie fans the opportunity to spend the night in the store by booking through Airbnb. The Independent reports: The opportunity to book a one-night stay in the last of the nearly defunct video rental stores, which only remains in Bend, Oregon, will be possible thanks to the property's owner, Sandi Harding. "As the last standing location in the world, our BLOCKBUSTER store is an ode to movie magic, simpler times and the sense of community that could once be found in BLOCKBUSTER locations around the world," Harding explains in the Airbnb listing. Starting on 17 August, residents of Deschutes County will be able to book the store, which has been transformed into a living room complete with TV and pull-out couch, for either 18, 19, or 20 September. According to the press release, guests who successfully book the store, which will be available for just $4, will be treated to "all the movies your heart could desire." "Whether you want to stay up until sunrise or pass out on the couch, we've created the perfect space complete with a pull-out couch, bean bags and pillows for you to cosy up with 'new releases' from the 90s," the Airbnb listing reads. "Crack open a two-liter of Pepsi before locking into a video game, charting your future in a game of MASH, or watching movie after movie." Those who aren't eligible for the opportunity can visit the store's living room set-up as customers starting on 21 September -- or call the store for a personalized movie recommendation.

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5 best Peloton alternatives: Great indoor exercise bikes that cost less - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2020-08-11 18:28
Before you spend $2,200 or more, check out these less expensive cycles from Bowflex, Echelon, Myx Fitness, NordicTrack and ProForm.

Senator calls for Google to ban TikTok after allegedly tracking user data - CNET

CNET News - Tue, 2020-08-11 18:23
TikTok sidestepped a privacy safeguard in Android, according to a Wall Street Journal report.