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Showing posts from June, 2016

World's first 'robot lawyer' overturns 160,000 parking tickets in London and New York

World's first 'robot lawyer' overturns 160,000 parking tickets in London and New York·15:46, 28 JUN 2016 ·UPDATED19:23, 28 JUN 2016 ·BYLIBBY PLUMMER The free chatbot has saved users an estimated £2.9 million in just 21 monthsA free online chatbot laywer has managed to overturn a staggering 160,000 parking tickets in London and New York City, saving users an estimated £2.9 million. The artificial intelligence bot was launched just 21 months ago and is touted as the "world's first robot lawyer". DoNotPayuses a simple chat-based interface to guide users through a range of basic questions to establish if an appeal on their parking ticket is possible. These include queries on whether there were any visible parking signs at the location where the ticket was given. The AI lawyer then guides the user through the lengthy appeals process. The chatbot is the brainchild of 19-year-old British student and self-taught coder Joshua Browder.
He created the DoNotPay website by scannin…

The 24 ways we're tracked on a regular basis reveal something disturbing about the future

The 24 ways we're tracked on a regular basis reveal something disturbing about the future
Kevin Kelly, "The Inevitable", Contributor Jun. 28, 2016, 10:53 AM      
The design of the internet of everything, and the nature of the cloud that it floats in, is to track data. The 34 billion internet-enabled devices we expect to add to the cloud in the next five years are built to stream data. And the cloud is built to keep the data. Anything touching this cloud that is able to be tracked will be tracked.
Recently, with the help of researcher Camille Hartsell, I rounded up all the devices and systems in the U.S. that routinely track us. The key word is "routinely." I am leaving off this list the nonroutine tracking performed illegally by hackers, criminals, and cyberarmies. I also skip over the capabilities of the governmental agencies to track specific targets when and how they want to. (Governments' ability to track is proportional to their budgets.)
This list,…

Airbnb sues San Francisco over registration of homes

Airbnb sues over registration of San Francisco homes
June 28, 2016
San Francisco (AFP) - Home sharing site Airbnb is suing San Francisco over a new law requiring that anyone who offers their home through the rental site first register the dwelling with the city.
Under the new rule, Airbnb would be fined $1,000 a day for each listing on its site that has not been registered in advance.
Airbnb contends that the new rule -- which mandates that registrants submit the requisite paper work in person, along with a $50 fee -- violates the federal Communications Decency Act and the Stored Communications Act.
The ordinance, which goes into effect next month, "will harm thousands of everyday San Francisco residents who depend on Airbnb," the company wrote in a blog post on its website.
Airbnb said that its suit, filed in court on June 27, is "the best way to protect our community of hosts and guests."
Officials in San Francisco and other cities worry that rental apartments a…

Texting Produces an Entirely New Kind of Brain Wave Pattern

Texting Produces an Entirely New Kind of Brain Wave Pattern
By George Dvorsky June 28, 2016 7:03 AM PDT
A research team from the Mayo Clinic has shown that text messaging changes the rhythm of brain wave patterns in a way that’s never seen before. The discovery shows that smartphones are literally altering the way our minds work.
We’re texting more than ever, yet little is known about the neurological effects of smartphone use. A new study shows that textural communication elicits a unique waveform, or “texting rhythm,” in the brains of some individuals. It’s a fascinating finding, one that shows how incredibly adaptable our brains really are, and how our cognitive processes change when confronted with new and mentally challenging technologies.
Now, sending texts on your smartphone may not sound like a particularly challenging task, but there’s a lot going on when you’re putting together a message. In addition to formulating a succinct, nonverbal message (not to mention choosing that…

Google to be hit by new complaint from Brussels

Google to be hit by new complaint from Brussels Alex Barker in Brussels, Robert Cookson in London and Richard Waters in San Francisco June 27, 2016 6:25 pm
Brussels is to step up the antitrust pressure against Google next month with and a fresh official complaint and a sharpening of its first case against the company from last year.
Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition commissioner, is planning to issue two separate “statements of objections” against the company for allegedly abusing its market power in online advertising and shopping, said people familiar with the case.
The advertising charges — covering Google businesses such as AdWords — open a new front in the commission’s antitrust battle with the company and cover one of its biggest revenue-generating businesses.
The charge sheet on online shopping is a “supplementary statement of objections”, which builds on commission charges issued last year, which accused Google of misusing its power in internet search to steer Europea…

China moves closer to adopting controversial cybersecurity law

China moves closer to adopting controversial cybersecurity law
June 27, 2016
BEIJING (Reuters) - China moved closer on Monday to adopting a controversial cybersecurity law, after parliament held a second reading of the draft rules, which carry significant consequences for domestic and foreign business and threaten greater censorship.
China enforces widespread controls over the internet that it has sought to codify in law, and Chinese laws often go through multiple readings and drafts before they are adopted.
The draft, presented before the standing committee of the National People's Congress, requires network operators to comply with social morals and accept the supervision of the government and public, official news agency Xinhua said.
It also reiterated that Chinese citizens' personal data, as well as "important business data" must be stored domestically, adding that those wishing to provide that information overseas faced a government security evaluation.
Parliam…

Google, Facebook quietly move toward automatic blocking of extremist videos

Exclusive: Google, Facebook quietly move toward automatic blocking of extremist videos
By Joseph Menn and Dustin Volz      June 24, 2016
By Joseph Menn and Dustin Volz
SAN FRANCISCO/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Some of the web’s biggest destinations for watching videos have quietly started using automation to remove extremist content from their sites, according to two people familiar with the process.
The move is a major step forward for internet companies that are eager to eradicate violent propaganda from their sites and are under pressure to do so from governments around the world as attacks by extremists proliferate, from Syria to Belgium and the United States.
YouTube and Facebook are among the sites deploying systems to block or rapidly take down Islamic State videos and other similar material, the sources said.
The technology was originally developed to identify and remove copyright-protected content on video sites. It looks for "hashes," a type of unique digital fingerprin…

Goodbye, Password. Banks Opt to Scan Fingers and Faces Instead.

Goodbye, Password. Banks Opt to Scan Fingers and Faces Instead. By MICHAEL CORKERY JUNE 21, 2016
The banking password may be about to expire — forever.
Some of the nation’s largest banks, acknowledging that traditional passwords are either too cumbersome or no longer secure, are increasingly using fingerprints, facial scans and other types of biometrics to safeguard accounts.
Millions of customers at Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo routinely use fingerprints to log into their bank accounts through their mobile phones. This feature, which some of the largest banks have introduced in the last few months, is enabling a huge share of American banking customers to verify their identities with biometrics. And millions more are expected to opt in as more phones incorporate fingerprint scans.
Other uses of biometrics are also coming online. Wells Fargo lets some customers scan their eyes with their mobile phones to log into corporate accounts and wire millions of dollars. Cit…

Proposals to curb online speech viewed as threat to open internet

Proposals to curb online speech viewed as threat to open internet
By Yasmeen Abutaleb and Alastair Sharp June 21, 2016
SAN FRANCISCO/ TORONTO (Reuters) - At least a dozen countries are considering or have enacted laws restricting online speech, a trend that is alarming policymakers and others who see the internet as a valuable medium for debate and expression.
Such curbs are called out as a threat to the open internet in a report on internet governance set to be released today at an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development meeting in Cancun, Mexico.
The report, reviewed by Reuters, warns of dangers for the global internet, including intrusive surveillance, rising cybercrime and fragmentation as governments exert control of online content.
It was prepared by the London-based Chatham House think tank and the Centre for International Governance Innovation, founded by former BlackBerry Ltd co-chief Jim Balsillie.
China and Iran long have restricted online speech. Now limitat…

Senate Falls 1 Vote Short of Giving FBI Access to Browser Histories Without Court Order

Senate Falls 1 Vote Short of Giving FBI Access to Browser Histories Without Court Order
Privacy advocates brace for another vote, say it's time to flood Senate offices with phone calls. By Steven Nelson | Staff Writer June 22, 2016, at 1:25 p.m.
Privacy-minded senators on Wednesday blocked an amendment that would give the FBI power to take internet records, including browser histories and email metadata, without a court order. But the victory may be fleeting.
Just one vote kept the measure from clearing a 60-vote procedural hurdle, and political arm-twisting may soon result in a second vote. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., switched his vote to "no" to allow reconsideration in the near future. That made the final tally 58-38, with four senators not voting.
Critics of the proposed expansion of the FBI's ability to demand records with national security letters, or NSLs, are urging opponents to flood their senators with calls. There were some unexpected &…

How did Google become the internet’s censor and master manipulator, blocking access to millions of websites?

The New Censorship How did Google become the internet’s censor and master manipulator, blocking access to millions of websites? ByRobert Epstein| Contributor June 22, 2016, at 9:00 a.m. Google, Inc., isn't just the world's biggest purveyor of information; it is also the world's biggest censor. The company maintains at least nine different blacklists that impact our lives, generally without input or authority from any outside advisory group, industry association or government agency. Google is not the only company suppressing content on the internet. Reddit has frequently beenaccusedof banning postings on specific topics, and arecent reportsuggests that Facebook has been deleting conservative news stories from its newsfeed, a practice that might have a significant effect on public opinion – even on voting. Google, though, is currently the biggest bully on the block. When Google's employees or algorithms decide to block our access to information about a news item, political ca…