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Industry & Technology

Police use of Amazon’s face-recognition service draws privacy warnings

Ars Technica - 32 min 12 sec ago

Enlarge (credit: Amazon)

Amazon is actively courting law-enforcement agencies to use a cloud-based facial-recognition service that can identify people in real time, the American Civil Liberties Union reported Tuesday, citing the documents obtained from two US departments.

The service, which Amazon markets under the name Rekognition, can recognize as many as 100 people in a single image and can compare images against databases containing tens of millions of faces. Company executives describe deployment by law enforcement agencies as common use case.

“Cameras all over the city”

Rekognition is already being used by the Orlando Police Department and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon, according to documents the ACLU obtained under Freedom of Information requests. Both agencies became customers last year. The entire list of returned documents is here.

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EPA boots reporters from meeting on chemicals called a PR disaster

Ars Technica - 1 hour 1 min ago

Enlarge / US EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. (credit: Gage Skidmore / Flickr)

Scott Pruitt's tenure as head of the US' Environmental Protection Agency has often been bogged down in scandals involving questionable spending and the unjustifiable rollback of regulations.

But the latest controversy is one the agency's own making. This morning, Pruitt was speaking at a workshop convened to discuss the handling of specific chemical contaminants that have been found in water supplies. The EPA was already under fire for what appeared to be an attempt to stall a report that suggests these chemicals were more toxic than previously thought, so the workshop provided an opportunity to show that the agency took the risks seriously. Instead, the EPA started a brand-new controversy by specifically excluding CNN and the AP from Pruitt's speech and by having security physically escort a reporter out of the building.


The controversy focuses on a large class of chemicals that are variations of perfluorooctanoic acid. This is a chain of eight carbon atoms, seven of which have fluorine atoms attached to them; the eighth is linked to two oxygen atoms, typical of an organic acid. There are many variations of perfluorooctanoic acid that can be made by substituting for various fluorines, and many of these variants have found uses in the production of everything from non-stick cooking to fire-fighting foams.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Fortnite now has jetpacks... and everyone is dying - CNET - News - 1 hour 17 min ago
They're not *quite* as easy to control as you might think.

Folks are shocked – SHOCKED – that CIA-backed Amazon is selling face-recog tech to US snoops, cops

The Register - 1 hour 18 min ago
ACLU warns of biases in AWS cloud tech

Analysis The American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday expressed dismay that Amazon Web Services has been urging US government agencies to use its Rekognition API for state-sponsored facial recognition.…

Ovie Smarterware lets Alexa manage your leftovers - CNET - News - 1 hour 27 min ago
This Bluetooth button sticks on your containers and tracks how long until your food expires.

Samsung promises four generations of new chip technology - CNET - News - 1 hour 32 min ago
Moore's Law ain't what it used to be, but it's not dead.

Deadpool 2 star Ryan Reynolds, Michael Bay team for Netflix action movie - CNET - News - May 22, 2018 - 10:56pm
The Deadpool star and screenwriters will work together on Six Underground, coming to the digital streaming service in 2019.

The Razer Phone adds portrait mode - CNET - News - May 22, 2018 - 10:54pm
The built-for-gaming phone just learned a new photo trick.

Dell, Lenovo, HP start Memorial Day sales on laptops, desktops - CNET - News - May 22, 2018 - 10:41pm
The clock is ticking on these PC deals. You've been warned.

Xbox meets PlayStation in this $200 monster of a PS4 gamepad - CNET - News - May 22, 2018 - 10:40pm
Scuf's Vantage controller packs in extra buttons like the Microsoft Elite does, and it ain't cheap.

New calendar controls let Alexa move that meeting you can't make - CNET - News - May 22, 2018 - 10:34pm
You can now schedule appointments and move them around using shared availability from your Google, Apple and Microsoft calendars.

Mark Zuckerberg gets grilled by EU over data mining, election meddling - CNET - News - May 22, 2018 - 10:29pm
The CEO of the world’s largest social network was supposed to charm European regulators. It didn't work after he dodged some questions.

One year late, US senators act on FCC fake comment debacle

The Register - May 22, 2018 - 10:17pm
It's not a real problem until a Congressman is affected

Two US senators say they were among those whose identities were forged to file bogus comments on the FCC's net neutrality process.…

SpaceX launches NASA, Iridium satellites with used Falcon 9 - CNET - News - May 22, 2018 - 10:15pm
A Falcon 9 from Elon Musk's rocket company delivered seven satellites to their new home in space.

Microsoft's XiaoIce is an AI bot that can also converse like a human - CNET - News - May 22, 2018 - 9:49pm
It could give Google's Duplex a run for its money.

GDPR for everyone, cries Microsoft: We'll extend Europe's privacy rights worldwide

The Register - May 22, 2018 - 9:49pm
Euroland is the new California – but not everyone is happy

Microsoft has said it will extend new privacy rights that become law in Europe this week to all its users worldwide.…

Netflix and other online video are killing cable in customer satisfaction

Ars Technica - May 22, 2018 - 9:49pm

(credit: Getty Images | amesy)

TV watchers are far more satisfied with streaming video services than cable or satellite TV systems, a new survey has found. That isn't much of an accomplishment, as cable and satellite TV providers were already among the most-hated companies in the US and saw their customer-satisfaction scores sink even lower in the latest survey.

The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) included video streaming in its annual telecom report for the first time. Streaming video services averaged a score of 75 on the ACSI's 100-point scale, better than all other telecom sectors and well ahead of the broadband and pay-TV industry scores of 62.

"Customer satisfaction with subscription television service falls 3.1 percent to an ACSI score of 62, an 11-year low as the industry faces a seismic shift of subscribers defecting to lower-cost online video streaming services," the report said. "In response, many cable and telecom companies are offering new Internet TV streaming in addition to legacy pay TV, but cord cutting continues."

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Starbucks, not Apple Pay, is the king of mobile payments - CNET - News - May 22, 2018 - 9:42pm
If we're talking "tap-to-pay" services, anyhow.

Navy’s F-35 doesn’t have range for real stealth strikes, House report says

Ars Technica - May 22, 2018 - 9:30pm

Enlarge / Lt Cmdr Chris Tabert, Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23, pilots Navy F-35C test aircraft CF-02 on Flt 595 for an external GBU-31 flutter and Flying Qualities test flight from Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, April 10, 2018. Congress is concerned that the F-35 doesn't have the range to attack "contested" targets without putting carriers in danger. (credit: US Navy)

The House Armed Services Committee has sent its report on the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to the floor. And buried in that report are words of caution about the F-35C, the Navy's version of the F-35 Lightning II, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter—and the Navy's whole carrier air capability in general. The reason for that concern is that the F-35C doesn't have the range to conduct long-range strikes without in-flight refueling—and the Navy's tanker planes are not exactly "stealth."

The F-35C suffers somewhat from the length of its development cycle. Competition for the Joint Strike Fighter program began in 1993—25 years ago—when the military threats facing the United States were significantly different. In 1993, there was no concern about Chinese "carrier killer" anti-ship ballistic missiles, for example; but in 2010, China introduced the Dongfeng (or Dong-Feng) 21D, an anti-ship ballistic missile with a range of 900 miles and a circular error probability of 20 meters. That's accurate enough, with satellite tracking and terminal guidance, to hit an aircraft carrier far offshore.

The F-35C's advertised range is 1,200 nautical miles (roughly 2,200 kilometers), roughly 10 percent longer than that of the F/A-18. But for most strikes, that would require the carriers launching F-35C sorties to be much closer to the coast than falls within the comfort zone. And with advanced air and coastal defense systems—including, for example, the sorts that are popping up on islands in the South China Sea these days—less-than-stealthy tanker planes would give up the whole game.

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Slack's new 'action buttons' could let you get more things done - CNET - News - May 22, 2018 - 9:29pm
Press a button to fire up a task.

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