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NewsBot

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  1. Seeing as another major round of updates to Windows 10 is about to take place next week it only makes sense to see some fear-inducing articles. In fairness, the articles themselves aren't that bad (see PC World) as the content mostly explains away the so-called controversy. Nonetheless in the age of "I only read the headline" things like "You can't turn off Cortana in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update" with the fine print "...but you can lessen her awareness" does a disservice to the community. Normally, I ignore such articles as in June we wrote a detailed guide called "How to turn off Cortana and stop personal data gathering in Windows 10". That guide mostly applies to the current version of Cortana, but a lot of the privacy tips are relevant for the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. View the full article
  2. The U.S.’s most popular third-party presidential candidate says he would “consider” pardoning the highest profile convicts of computer-related crimes in the country, including Chelsea Manning, Ross Ulbricht, and Jeremy Hammond. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, a former governor of New Mexico, also reiterated his possible willingness to pardon Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency analyst who gave a cache of agency documents to journalists in 2013. Snowden currently resides in Russia, which granted him temporary asylum after the U.S. charged him with violating the Espionage Act. “Having actually served as a governor and administered the power to grant pardons and clemency, Gary Johnson is very conscious and respectful of the need for processes for using that authority,” Joe Hunter, Johnson’s communications director, told Vocativ in a statement. “However, he has made it clear on numerous occasions that he would ‘look seriously at’ pardoning Edward Snowden, based on public information that Snowden’s actions did not cause actual harm to any U.S. intelligence personnel. Likewise, he has said he would look favorably on pardoning Ross Ulbricht, consistent with his broader and long-standing commitment to pardon nonviolent drug offenders, whistleblowers, and others imprisoned under unjust and ill-advised laws,” Hunter said. View the full article
  3. Facebook Inc.’s future cash flows and results could suffer a major blow if it loses a battle over new U.S. tax liabilities related to the transfer of its global operations to Ireland in 2010. The Internal Revenue Service delivered a notice of deficiency to the social media giant Wednesday for $3 billion to $5 billion, plus interest and penalties, based on the agency’s audit of Facebook’s transfer pricing, the company said in a regulatory filing Thursday. Facebook, which plans to challenge the notice in federal tax court, said its balance sheet could suffer if it’s held liable. Facebook said in the filing that the liability “could have a material adverse impact” on its finances, results or cash flows. “In addition, the determination of our worldwide provision for income taxes and other tax liabilities requires significant judgment by management, and there are many transactions where the ultimate tax determination is uncertain.” The IRS on Monday asked a federal magistrate judge in California to force the company to turn over detailed internal corporate records related to the value of the assets moved to Ireland. They included all operations outside the U.S. and Canada. View the full article
  4. The real test for any new technology is how quickly it gets picked up by the adult industry. As porn embraces virtual reality, what does that mean for the rest of us? Talking about virtual reality is a bit like “dancing” about “architecture;” we lack the vocabulary to do it properly, and you have to experience it to understand. That quickly becomes evident when watching someone try it out for the first time. People are invariably blown away — they gasp, they laugh, and they usually can’t help reaching out their hands to touch things that aren’t really there. “I’ve been introducing a lot of people to VR over the past few months, and that first experience is incredibly intense,” Ian Paul, Chief Information Officer of Naughty America, tells me as he sets up our demo in a San Francisco hotel room. “But when you’re throwing hardcore pornography at them on top of that, it can sometimes feel like a bit of sensory overload,” he laughs. View the full article
  5. Unbranded Firefox versions are created specifically for developers to test their add-ons in without having to get development versions signed. Mozilla introduced add-on signing some time ago and will make it a requirement without override in Stable and Beta starting with Firefox 48. Firefox Stable and Beta versions cannot override add-on signing anymore which means that users cannot install unsigned add-ons in those browser versions. A switch was provided up until now to bypass this, but it will be removed with the release of Firefox 48. Firefox ESR, Developer and Nightly editions ship with the override so that unsigned add-ons can be installed. This posed a problem for add-on developers who wanted to test add-ons in development against Stable and Beta versions of Firefox. Simply speaking, with the restriction in place, they could not do so anymore without getting the development version signed first. View the full article
  6. Google has taken additional measures to strengthen its data encryption by implementing HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS). While most of Google's data is already encrypted, Google's utilization of HSTS goes a step further by preventing users from mistakenly heading to HTTP URLs by converting potentially unsafe HTTP URLs into more secure HTTPS URLs. For instance, you might accidentally type in a URL without protocols and find yourself redirected to an unsafe destination. HSTS help curb those issues, especially among less internet-savvy users. View the full article
  7. It's just two days until July 29th, the last day that you can get the Windows 10 upgrade free from Microsoft. The free offer is currently available to Windows 7 and Windows 8 users. The upgrade process is simple, though a bit time consuming. It can take a few hours for the entire upgrade process. However, if you do the upgrade process through Windows Update you will have the latest version - 1511 10586.494 - which is current until August 2nd when the Anniversary Update is scheduled to arrive. Your Windows key will be converted to a Windows 10 key through Digital Entitlement. In the future you can either use your Windows 10 key or Windows 7/8 key to reinstall Windows 10. It is strongly recommended to back up any data that you deem important. If you like you can do a clean install of Windows 10 after the upgrade. You'll need the Media Creation Tool from Microsoft to create a bootable USB or get an ISO to burn to a DVD. From there you can use either your Windows 7/8 key or use Magical Jellybean Keyfinder to get your new Windows 10 key and use that key. The clean install will go much faster than the upgrade process, so you'll be up and running with a clean Windows 10 in no time! View the full article
  8. Netflix and Comcast will be available on the same cable box later this year, but Netflix video will still count against Comcast data caps. Netflix's deal to get its online video on Comcast's X1 set-top boxes alongside traditional cable TV channels was reported earlier this month by Recode, with the companies saying they "have much work to do before the service will be available to consumers later this year." The deal raised questions about whether Netflix would be exempt from Comcast data caps, but it has already been decided. A Comcast spokesperson answered "yes" when asked if Netflix will continue counting against data caps after being integrated into Comcast cable boxes. "All data that flows over the public Internet (which includes Netflix) counts toward a customer’s monthly data usage," Comcast told Ars today. Comcast imposes 1TB monthly caps in portions of its territory, with overage fees ranging from $10 to $200 a month unless customers pay an extra $50 for unlimited data. View the full article
  9. It’s been a busy week for the Google Maps team. As we reported earlier today, the Google Maps apps are getting a Wi-Fi-only mode and the team is also bringing more crowdsourcing tools to the mobile apps. The company kept the biggest announcement for today, though: Google Maps on iOS, Android and the web is getting a new and cleaner look with a more subtle color scheme. The idea behind the new look for the maps is to remove clutter. As Google notes, the team removed road outlines, for example, and also improved the typography on the maps so it’s easier to read street names, points of interest and transit stations. At the same time, the team also decided to try a new way of showing local information on the map. When you zoom in to a city now, you’ll likely see a few areas that are shaded in orange. These are “areas of interest” that feature a large number of hotels, restaurants, music venues or other points of interest. View the full article
  10. Thanks to some digging around in the inner workings of Twitter’s video website Vine, white hat hacker avicoder was able to download the entire source code to the popular service. As he was looking at various ways to breach the website’s security, he found an interesting domain that could recreate a local version of Vine. There are a lot of things hidden in a website’s source code that makes it vulnerable to attacks. Luckily, avicoder has helped fix multiple Twitter bugs in the past and wasn’t looking to do any harm. View the full article
  11. Cellular data can be expensive and Wi-Fi is often free. Thankfully it seems Google Maps will soon work on just Wi-Fi. Google has yet to announce this option. Users are reporting the additional mode is found in the settings of Google Maps and replaces the “Offline areas” option. Once activated, Google Maps will load the majority of the data through Wi-Fi signals, though, as a warning notifies users, a small amount of cellular data might still be consumed. Without an official announcement from Google, it’s unclear how this new option is different from the app’s offline area mode — though one can hope that the new option is superior. With a constant cellular connection, Google Maps is fantastic. But when data is not available, the app falters. Other mapping apps better handle this situation. View the full article
  12. Facebook admitted it briefly blocked links to Wikileaks files containing internal Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails. The block seems to be the result of another algorithm accident that may have incorrectly determined the links to be malicious or spam. Facebook Chief Security Officer says the company has fixed the error, after receiving heavy criticism from WikiLeaks. This isn’t the first time Facebook has accidentally blocked high profile news events on the platform. Earlier this month, Facebook briefly removed video showing Philando Castile dying, covered in blood, moments after being shot by a police officer. Prior to that, the company admitted to removing a meme circulating about convicted Stanford rapist Brock Turner. View the full article
  13. After months of leaks and speculation, Verizon Communications Inc. has emerged as the most likely buyer of Yahoo! Inc. The deal, which may be announced in the next few days according to people familiar with the matter, will likely bring to an end the tumultuous reign of Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer, who tried and failed to re-invent Yahoo as an independent company. If finalized, the nation’s largest wireless carrier would add the iconic web pioneer and its millions of daily users to a growing stable of media properties. Verizon is discussing a price close to $5 billion for Yahoo’s core internet business, one of the people said. While the deal doesn’t include the company’s patents at this stage, it does include real estate assets. The non-core sale of intellectual property assets will be sold separately, a person familiar with the deal said, and won’t be finished for another month at least. They could fetch “hundreds of millions of dollars,” the person said. View the full article
  14. By default, on Windows, Firefox is a 32-bit application. This means that it is limited to using at most 4 GiB of memory, even on machines that have more than 4 GiB of physical memory (RAM). In fact, depending on the OS configuration, the limit may be as low as 2 GiB. Now, 2–4 GiB might sound like a lot of memory, but it’s not that unusual for power users to use that much. This includes: users with many (dozens or even hundreds) of tabs open; users with many (dozens) of extensions; users of memory-hungry web sites and web apps; and users who do all of the above! Furthermore, in practice it’s not possible to totally fill up this available space because fragmentation inevitably occurs. For example, Firefox might need to make a 10 MiB allocation and there might be more than 10 MiB of unused memory, but if that available memory is divided into many pieces all of which are smaller than 10 MiB, then the allocation will fail. View the full article
  15. The European Commission is preparing a software source code security audit on two software solutions, Apache HTTP server and Keepass, a password manager. The source code will be analysed and tested for potential security problems, and the results will be shared with the software developers. The audits will start in the coming weeks. The security test is the next phase in the pilot project, involving the IT departments of both the Commission and the European Parliament. The choice for Apache HTTP Server and Keepass is the result of a public survey. Between 17 June and 8 July, the EU-FOSSA project asked the public to help select the most-appropriate software solution, based on a pre-selection of open source solutions in use at the two European institutes. The survey received 3282 comments, with respondents favouring Keepass and Apache HTTP Server. View the full article
  16. Today, EFF joined a broad coalition of other public interest groups at Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi's office in San Francisco, to present her with a petition carrying an incredible 209,419 signatures with a request to oppose the introduction of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) during the post-election "lame duck" session of Congress. And with your help, we succeeded! In a letter that she handed us at our meeting, Leader Pelosi wrote: Thank you, Leader Pelosi, for standing up for users to block this undemocratic, anti-user deal. Combined with the stated opposition to the TPP of both presidential candidates, and the likelihood that other House Democrats will follow Leader Pelosi's courageous lead, it is now significantly less likely that the TPP will be introduced during the lame duck session, or if introduced, that it will pass the House. View the full article
  17. Even though the Federal Communications Commission has repeatedly said that wireless and landline phone providers are allowed to offer robocall-blocking services to their customers, some carriers have continued to incorrectly insist — and provide misinformation to consumers — that they simply don’t have the authority to deploy this technology. In an effort to make things clear once and for all, FCC Chair Tom Wheeler has sent letters to these companies that there are no regulatory roadblocks stopping them from helping their customers stop annoying — often illegal — automated and prerecorded robocalls. “Nothing in the Commission’s rules and orders prevents [phone companies] from offering customers robocall blocking technology,” writes Wheeler in letters to the chief executives at AT&T, CenturyLink, Frontier, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon. “I strongly urge you to offer your customers robust call blocking at no cost.” Between the Do Not Call List and rules prohibiting private robocallers from sending prerecorded messages or texts without having received prior consent, robocalling as a legitimate-but-annoying telemarketing tool has virtually disappeared. Yet complaints about robocalls continue to grow in number, indicating that most of these calls are being placed illegally, often by scammers. View the full article
  18. Apple's legal battle over encryption dominated headlines earlier this year, but another tech giant is fighting a quieter legal war over user privacy: Microsoft. It won a major victory last week, when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit sided with the company, ruling that a U.S. warrant could not be used to force Microsoft to turn over email data stored in an Irish data center. The decision, which the Justice Department is considering appealing to the Supreme Court, could have major implications for tech companies who routinely move data around the world so it can be backed up or quickly accessed by users. The Washington Post talked with Microsoft president and chief legal officer Brad Smith about the case and the company's other privacy efforts. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. View the full article
  19. uBlock Origin is a lightweight ad blocker that consumes fewer system resources than the likes of Adblock Plus (never tested on Firefox where the addon started). The open-source ad blocker is officially available as an extension for Chromium and Firefox, but a New Zealand-based web developer has ported the extension for Microsoft Edge. Nik Rolls has forked the project on GitHub, and a working prototype of the extension is now available for download as a .zip file for those on the Edge Preview. Interested in taking a look? Here's how you sideload the extension on Edge: View the full article
  20. If you don’t already have iOS 9.3.3, you better download and install it — quick. Cisco Talos, a security and research group, recently discovered a bug in Mac and iPhones that allows hackers to steal passwords with a single text message. The researchers at Cisco Talos alerted Apple, and the tech company immediately worked on a patch, which was released this week. “This is very high severity issue,” Craig Wiliams, head of global outreach at Cisco Talos, told Fortune. “The fact that you have an exploit without any user interaction makes me very concerned.” Although the iOS update is out, it doesn’t automatically install itself — people who own iPhones have to download and install the update themselves. View the full article
  21. Redbox is officially venturing back into streaming — on a trial basis, anyway. A Redbox spokesperson told Variety Thursday that the company has started to test its new streaming service, dubbed Redbox Digital, with some customers. Variety first reported in April about Redbox’s plans to launch a new streaming service. “We are testing a potential new transactional digital VOD and EST offering, with a small subset of our customers, designed to complement our core kiosk rental business,” a company spokesperson said via email. “As we test and learn from our customers, we will make evaluations that determine any future course of action.” As part of these tests, Redbox recently published an iPad app for the new service, dubbed Redbox Digital, on the App Store. It also updated its official terms of service on its website with an entire section devoted to the streaming service, which spells out territorial and other common usage restrictions for digital services. View the full article
  22. Edward Snowden wants you to know at all times whether the NSA is keeping tabs on your iPhone. Along with Andrew Huang, his coauthor and fellow hacker, Snowden presented his research on phone "hardware introspection" at MIT, which aims to give users the ability to see whether their phone is sending out secret signals to an intelligence agency. "This work aims to give journalists the tools to know when their smart phones are tracking or disclosing their location when the devices are supposed to be in airplane mode," the pair wrote in their technical paper. Snowden, an ex-NSA contractor living in exile in Moscow, and Huang, a prominent hacker who has reverse-engineered the Xbox and other hardware, believe that their solution can protect journalists and activists from being betrayed by their smartphones. View the full article
  23. We reported earlier on France's demands to Microsoft with regards to bolstering its Windows 10 OS to better protect user data, and ultimately, their privacy. The fact that a watchdog would target Microsoft for collecting too much data probably strikes no one as a surprise, as that very complaint has been one shared by many users since the launch of Microsoft's latest OS. In the complaint, France's Chair of the National Data Protection Commission noted a couple of big issues, from the fact that the PIN code can be entered as many times as an attacker needs it to be and also that certain mechanisms of the operating system collect much more user data than is required for it to function. View the full article
  24. If you're a Spotify user, your friends and family aren't the only ones who are able to check out your playlists. The popular streaming service is now the latest platform that is opening its data to targeted advertising. Everything from your age and gender, to the music genres you like to listen will be available to various third-party companies. Spotify is calling it programmatic buying and has already enabled it. Advertisers will have access to the 70 million people that use Spotify's free, ad-supported streaming across 59 countries. By viewing your song picks, these buyers will be able to look for specific users who might be the best matches for the products they're selling. View the full article
  25. Windows 10 breaches French law by collecting too much personal information from users and failing to secure it adequately, according to the French National Data Protection Commission (CNIL). Some of the privacy failings identified can be remedied by users willing to delve deep into the Windows 10 settings, but one of the commission's gripes is that better privacy should be the default setting, not one users must fight for. CNIL served Microsoft with a formal notice on June 30, giving it three months to comply with the law, but only made it public on Wednesday. The commission conducted seven tests of the data sent back to Microsoft by Windows 10 in April and June of this year. Among Microsoft's faux pas was the collection of data about all the apps downloaded and installed on a system, and the time spent on each one, a process CNIL said was both excessive and unnecessary. View the full article
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