- Scientists Develop 10-Minute Universal Cancer Test
- DeepMind Produces a General-Purpose Game-Playing System, Capable of Mastering Games Like Chess and Go Without Human Help
- Facial Recognition Has To Be Regulated To Protect the Public, Says AI Report
- Google Translate Learns To Reduce Gender Bias
- Apple Watch Series 4 ECG, Irregular Heart Rate Features Are Now Available
- Tesla's Giant Battery In Australia Saved $40 Million During Its First Year, Report Says
- Eastern European Banks Were Attacked Via Backdoors Directly Connected To Local Networks, Report Finds
- China Calls For Release of Arrested Huawei CFO Detained In Canada
- Snapdragon 8cx Gives Windows Its Most Extreme Arm Chip Yet
- Intel Optimistic About Its Next-Gen 7nm Process Technology
- Facebook Will Bring Political Ad Transparency Tools To India Ahead of 2019 Elections
- Microsoft Is Embracing Chromium, Bringing Edge To Windows 7, Windows 8, and Mac
- Motion Impossible: Tom Cruise Declares War on TV Frame Interpolation
- Microsoft's Designers Are Now Working Together on the Future of Windows, Office and Surface
- Opinion: 5G Has an Exciting Future When It Comes To Dedicated Mobile Apps But Will Do Little To Improve Our General Browsing Experiences.
- Facebook Employees Are So Paranoid They're Using Burner Phones To Talk To Each Other
- Hackers Behind Breach at Hotel Group Marriott Left Clues Suggesting They Were Working For Chinese Government Intelligence Gathering Operation, Report Says
- Microsoft's New Study Finds 162.8 Million People in the US Do Not Use the Internet at Broadband Speeds, Up From FCC's 24.7 Million Estimate
- Cuba Offers 3G Mobile Internet Access To Citizens
- Sea Levels May Rise More Rapidly Due To Greenland Ice Melt
- 24 Amazon Workers Sent To Hospital After Robot Accidentally Unleashes Bear Spray
- Australia Passes Anti-Encryption Laws [Update]
Scientists Develop 10-Minute Universal Cancer Test
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian:
Scientists have developed a universal cancer test that can detect traces of the disease in a patient's bloodstream. The cheap and simple test uses a color-changing fluid to reveal the presence of malignant cells anywhere in the body and provides results in less than 10 minutes. The test has a sensitivity of about 90%, meaning it would detect about 90 in 100 cases of cancer. It would serve as an initial check for cancer, with doctors following up positive results with more focused investigations. The test was made possible by the Queensland team's discovery that cancer DNA and normal DNA stick to metal surfaces in markedly different ways. This allowed them to develop a test that distinguishes between healthy cells and cancerous ones, even from the tiny traces of DNA that find their way into the bloodstream.
Healthy cells ensure they function properly by patterning their DNA with molecules called methyl groups. These work like volume controls, silencing genes that are not needed and turning up others that are. In cancer cells, this patterning is hijacked so that only genes that help the cancer grow are switched on. While the DNA inside normal cells has methyl groups dotted all over it, the DNA inside cancer cells is largely bare, with methyl groups found only in small clusters at specific locations. Writing in the journal Nature Communications, the Queensland team described a series of tests that confirmed the telltale pattern of methyl groups in breast, prostate and colorectal cancer as well as lymphoma. They then showed that the patterns had a dramatic impact on the DNA's chemistry, making normal and cancer DNA behave very differently in water. The suspect DNA is added to water containing tiny gold nanoparticles, which turn the water pink. "If DNA from cancer cells is then added, it sticks to the nanoparticles in such a way that the water retains its original color," The Guardian reports. "But if DNA from healthy cells is added, the DNA binds to the particles differently, and turns the water blue."
DeepMind Produces a General-Purpose Game-Playing System, Capable of Mastering Games Like Chess and Go Without Human Help
DeepMind has created a system that
can quickly master any game in the class that includes chess, Go, and Shogi, and do so without human guidance. "The system, called
AlphaZero, began its life last year by
beating a DeepMind system that had been specialized just for Go," reports IEEE Spectrum. "That earlier system had itself made history by beating one of the world's best Go players, but it needed human help to get through a months-long course of improvement. AlphaZero trained itself -- in just 3 days." From the report:
The research, published today in the journal Science, was performed by a team led by DeepMind's David Silver. The paper was accompanied by a commentary by Murray Campbell, an AI researcher at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. AlphaZero can crack any game that provides all the information that's relevant to decision-making; the new generation of games to which Campbell alludes do not. Poker furnishes a good example of such games of "imperfect" information: Players can hold their cards close to their chests. Other examples include many multiplayer games, such as StarCraft II, Dota, and Minecraft. But they may not pose a worthy challenge for long.
DeepMind developed the self-training method, called deep reinforcement learning, specifically to attack Go. Today's announcement that they've generalized it to other games means they were able to find tricks to preserve its playing strength after giving up certain advantages peculiar to playing Go. The biggest such advantage was the symmetry of the Go board, which allowed the specialized machine to calculate more possibilities by treating many of them as mirror images. The researchers have so far unleashed their creation only on Go, chess and Shogi, a Japanese form of chess. Go and Shogi are astronomically complex, and that's why both games long resisted the "brute-force" algorithms that the IBM team used against Kasparov two decades ago.
Facial Recognition Has To Be Regulated To Protect the Public, Says AI Report
new report (PDF) from the AINow Institute
calls for the U.S. government to take general steps to improve the regulation of facial recognition technology amid much debate over the privacy implications. "The implementation of AI systems is expanding rapidly, without adequate governance, oversight, or accountability regimes," it says. The report suggests, for instance, extending the power of existing government bodies in order to regulate AI issues, including use of facial recognition: "Domains like health, education, criminal justice, and welfare all have their own histories, regulatory frameworks, and hazards." MIT Technology Review reports:
It also calls for stronger consumer protections against misleading claims regarding AI; urges companies to waive trade-secret claims when the accountability of AI systems is at stake (when algorithms are being used to make critical decisions, for example); and asks that they govern themselves more responsibly when it comes to the use of AI. And the document suggests that the public should be warned when facial-recognition systems are being used to track them, and that they should have the right to reject the use of such technology.
The report also warns about the use of emotion tracking in face-scanning and voice detection systems. Tracking emotion this way is relatively unproven, yet it is being used in potentially discriminatory ways -- for example, to track the attention of students. "It's time to regulate facial recognition and affect recognition," says Kate Crawford, cofounder of AINow and one of the lead authors of the report. "Claiming to 'see' into people's interior states is neither scientific nor ethical."
Google Translate Learns To Reduce Gender Bias
Google is working to make Translate less gender-biased by
giving both a feminine and masculine translation for a single word. "Previously, the service defaulted to the masculine options," reports CNET. "The new function is available when translating words from English into French, Italian, Portuguese, Turkish and Spanish. It provides a similar function when translating into English." From the report:
Google Translate learns from the hundreds of millions of already-translated examples available on the internet, creating an opportunity for the tool to incorporate the gender bias it encountered online, according to a Google blog post announcing the change. With the update, Google Translate will present translations for both genders. For example, if you translate "o bir doktor" from Turkish to English, you'll see "she is a doctor" and "he is a doctor" in the translation box. In November, Google also made
Gmail's Smart Compose technology stop suggesting gender-based pronouns. Previously, it defaulted to masculine pronouns.
Apple Watch Series 4 ECG, Irregular Heart Rate Features Are Now Available
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge:
Today, with an update to watchOS, Apple is making its electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) reading feature available to Apple Watch Series 4 owners. It's also releasing an irregular rate notification feature that will be available on Apple Watches going back to Series 1. Both are a part of watchOS 5.1.2. To take an EKG, you open up the EKG app on the Watch and lightly rest your index finger on the crown for 30 seconds. The Watch then acts like a single-lead EKG to read your heart rhythm and record it into the Health app on your phone. From there, you can create a PDF report to send to your doctor.
The irregular heart rate monitoring is passive. Apple says that it checks your rhythm every two hours or so (depending on whether you're stationary or not), and if there are five consecutive readings that seem abnormal, it will alert you and suggest you reach out to a doctor. If you have been previously diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, Apple's setup process tells you not to use the feature. Apple tells me these features are most definitely not diagnostic tools. In fact, before you can activate either of them, you will need to page through several screens of information that try to put their use into context and warn you to contact your doctor if needed. They are also not the sort of features Apple expects users to really use on a regular basis. The EKG feature, in particular, should only really be used if you feel something abnormal going on, and then you should only share the resulting report with your doctor, not act on it directly.
Angela Chen from The Verge notes that these features have
only received "clearance" from the FDA, which is not the same thing as FDA "approval":
The Apple Watch is in Class II. For Class II and Class I, the FDA doesn't give "approval," it just gives clearance. Class I and Class II products are lower-risk products -- as [Jon Speer, co-founder of Greenlight Guru] puts it, a classic Class I example is something like a tongue depressor -- and it's much easier to get clearance than approval.
Tesla's Giant Battery In Australia Saved $40 Million During Its First Year, Report Says
Last December, Tesla switched on the
world's biggest lithium ion battery in South Australia to feed the country's shaky power grid for the first day of summer. Neoen, the owner of the giant battery system, released
a new report for the first full year of operation and revealed that the energy storage system
saved about $40 million over the last 12 months. Electrek reports:
The energy storage capacity is managed by Neoen, which operates the adjacent wind farm. They contracted Aurecon to evaluate the impact of the project and they estimate that the "battery allows annual savings in the wholesale market approaching $40 million by increased competition and removal of 35 MW local FCAS constraint." It is particularly impressive when you consider that the massive Tesla Powerpack system cost only $66 million, according to another report from Neoen. Here are the key findings from the report:
- Has contributed to the removal of the requirement for a 35 MW local Frequency Control Ancillary Service (FCAS), saving nearly $40 million per year in typical annual costs
- Has reduced the South Australian regulation FCAS price by 75% while also providing these services for other regions
- Provides a premium contingency service with response time of less than 100 milliseconds
- Helps protect South Australia from being separated from the National Electricity Market
- Is key to the Australian Energy Market Operator's (AEMO) and ElectraNet's System Integrity Protection Scheme (SIPS) which protects the SA-VIC Heywood Interconnector from overload
Eastern European Banks Were Attacked Via Backdoors Directly Connected To Local Networks, Report Finds
An anonymous reader writes:
Karspesky security researcher Sergey Golovanov writes about recent cybertheft incidents involving hardware backdoors planted by criminals. Each attack had a common springboard: an unknown device directly connected to the company's local network. In some cases, it was the central office, in others a regional office, sometimes located in another country. At least eight banks in Eastern Europe were the targets of the attacks, which caused damage estimated in the tens of millions of dollars. Hardware backdoors are cheap and immune to antivirus. A firmware modified OpenWrt based router can provide covert remote access, painless packet captures, and secure VPN connections with the flip of a switch. Will a flashlight and a ladder be common tools of computer security someday? After the cybercriminals entered a organization's building, connected a device to the local network and scanned the local network seeking to gain access to the resources, they proceeded to stage three. "Here they logged into the target system and used remote access software to retain access," writes Golovanov. "Next, malicious services created using msfvenom were started on the compromised computer. Because the hackers used
fileless attacks (PDF) and PowerShell, they were able to avoid whitelisting technologies and domain policies. If they encountered a whitelisting that could not be bypassed, or PowerShell was blocked on the target computer, the cybercriminals used impacket, and winexesvc.exe or psexec.exe to run executable files remotely."
China Calls For Release of Arrested Huawei CFO Detained In Canada
demanding the release of a senior executive at Huawei after she was detained in Canada on extradition charges to the U.S. Wanzhou Meng, who is also the deputy chair of Huawei's board and the daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei, is
suspected of violating U.S. trade sanctions against Iran. NBC News reports:
The arrest of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer and daughter of the company's founder Ren Zhengfei, spooked investors with U.S. stocks tumbling on fears of a flare-up in Chinese-U.S. tensions. She was arrested in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Dec. 1. China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said officials have been contacted both in the U.S. and Canada to demand Meng's release. Geng Shuang, a spokesman for the ministry, said her detention needed to be explained, and both countries had to "effectively protect the legitimate rights and interests of the person concerned." A spokesperson for Huawei said in a statement that it "complies with all applicable laws and regulations where it operates, including applicable export control and sanction laws and regulations."
Snapdragon 8cx Gives Windows Its Most Extreme Arm Chip Yet
Qualcomm has announced the Snapdragon 8cx Compute Platform, a new flagship "Extreme" chipset for Windows on Arm notebooks, tablets, and 2-in-1s that
promises more connectivity, more power, and battery life in excess of 25 hours. From a report:
The new platform also debuts Qualcomm's new nomenclature for that ecosystem of devices, borrowing technologies from Snapdragon for smartphones but shaping them for ultraportable computing. It comes twelve months after Qualcomm announced its first Windows on Arm products. At last year's Snapdragon Summit, partners ASUS and HP revealed a Windows 10 notebook and 2-in-1, respectively, each running Microsoft's software on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835.
The Snapdragon 8cx Compute Platform won't replace the 850 -- or, indeed, be called the Snapdragon 1000 or Snapdragon 8180 as the rumors suggested -- but instead sit above it in the Windows on Arm ecosystem. Described as "a new tier of premium computing" by Qualcomm's Miguel Nunes, senior director of product management, ahead of the Snapdragon Summit 2018 at which SlashGear is Qualcomm's guest, it was also developed from the ground up with computing in mind. Its predecessors were, of course, mobile chipsets coopted into laptop use.
Intel Optimistic About Its Next-Gen 7nm Process Technology
From a report:
Originally planned to enter mass production in the second half of 2016, Intel's 10 nm process technology is still barely used by the company today. Currently the process is used to produce just a handful of CPUs, ahead of an expected ramp to high-volume manufacturing (HVM) only later in 2019. Without a doubt, Intel suffered delays on its 10 nm process by several years, significantly impacting the company's product lineup and its business. Now, as it turns out, Intel's 10 nm may be a short-living node as the company's 7 nm tech is on-track for introduction in accordance with its original schedule.
For a number of times Intel said that it set too aggressive scaling/transistor density targets for its 10 nm fabrication process, which is why its development ran into problems. Intel's 10 nm manufacturing tech relies exclusively on deep ultraviolet lithography (DUVL) with lasers operating on a 193 nm wavelength. To enable the fine feature sizes that Intel set out to achieve on 10 nm, the process had to make heavy usage of mutli-patterning. According to Intel, a problem of the process was precisely its heavy usage of multipatterning (quad-patterning to be more exact).
Facebook Will Bring Political Ad Transparency Tools To India Ahead of 2019 Elections
As India inches closer to its general elections, Facebook announced today that it is
bringing transparency to political ads on its platform in the country early next year. From a report:
This would make India the fourth market -- after the U.S., Brazil, and the U.K. -- where Facebook offers users a disclaimer on political ads. Facebook began offering users in the U.S. information about the buyer of a political ad as part of a series of changes last year to fight misinformation and foreign meddling in elections. [...] Facebook said Thursday that it will also maintain an online searchable Ad Library, as it has in other markets, which will document all the ads related to politics from a particular advertiser alongside other information such as range of impressions, demographics that saw the ad, and the budget that went behind an individual ad. India, which is Facebook's largest market, could be the biggest test yet for whether the company has learned from its recent mistakes.
Microsoft Is Embracing Chromium, Bringing Edge To Windows 7, Windows 8, and Mac
An anonymous reader writes:
Microsoft today embraced Google's Chromium open source project for Edge development on the desktop. The company also announced Edge is coming to all supported versions of Windows and to macOS. Microsoft wants to make some big changes, which it says will happen "over the next year or so." The first preview builds of the Chromium-powered Edge will arrive in early 2019, according to Microsoft.
And yes, this means Chrome extension support.
Motion Impossible: Tom Cruise Declares War on TV Frame Interpolation
An anonymous reader shares a report:
At 9:46 last night, Tom tweeted an 87-second video in which he and his go-to director Christopher McQuarrie explained the concept of video interpolation and why it is the death of all good things. Video interpolation, they explained, is a digital video effect used to improve the quality of high-definition sport. "The unfortunate effect is that it makes most movies look like they were shot on high-speed video rather than film," said Cruise. "This is sometimes referred to as the 'soap-opera effect'." They explained that most HD televisions come with video interpolation switched on by default, they explained how to switch it off, and then they both nodded with total sincerity.
Now, it's worth noting that Tom Cruise is by no means the first film-maker to rail against motion smoothing. Back when he was still the Guardians of the Galaxy director, James Gunn tweeted that he, Edgar Wright, Rian Johnson and Matt Reeves were also peeved about the default nature of video interpolation, to which Reed Morano replied that she started a petition to fix the issue a number of years ago, to little avail.
Why did it fail? Possibly because none of these people are Tom Cruise. Because Tom Cruise has made a career of total commitment. Take him to a premiere and he'll spend hours on the red carpet, shaking every single hand until everyone's happy. Put him in a movie with helicopters in it and he'll teach himself to fly a helicopter to the level of a veteran stunt coordinator. Break his ankle on the side of a building, and he'll stagger out of frame on his ruined legs rather than blow a shot.
Microsoft's Designers Are Now Working Together on the Future of Windows, Office and Surface
Microsoft has changed the way it approaches design. The new Office icons unveiled this week are the first glimpse at a far bigger design overhaul that's going on inside the company. Windows is also getting its own icon changes, but the bigger change is a collaborative effort going on between the Windows, Office, and Surface teams. From a report:
"This is definitely a cross company effort," explains Jon Friedman, Microsoft's head of Office design, in an interview with The Verge. The company's design leaders -- Friedman with Office, Albert Shum on the Windows side, and Ralf Groene for Surface -- all work together now. "We operate like an internal open source team," Friedman says.
"So we're all openly sharing our design work, critiquing the work, working on it together. What we've found is that the best way to develop our Fluent Design system is to truly open source it internally. What's happened is that we're getting the best of everyone's work that way."
Opinion: 5G Has an Exciting Future When It Comes To Dedicated Mobile Apps But Will Do Little To Improve Our General Browsing Experiences.
writing for ZDNet:
However, there is a problem that no-one is talking about: the conflict between the rapid acceleration of wireless technologies and politics which is, unwittingly, going to render some of these improvements potentially pointless.
In the UK and across Europe, there are two laws of particular interest: the EU's 2018 General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the so-called Cookie Law, passed in 2012. Ever heard someone expel a breath and a long list of expletives while they are attempting to look something up, book a service, or fact-check through the Internet on their smartphone? The likelihood is, they've come across both regulations in full force, stirring up annoyance and a rapid, frustrated smashing of fingers to screen as pop-ups scream for consent, T&Cs demand acceptance, and visitors must go through tick-lists of what data they are happy to be collected and in what manner.
The EU's GDPR, which enforced data reform, protection, and collection changes across Europe, has resulted in a plethora of pop-ups which delight in lecturing visitors on data collection practices. Combine these two well-meaning regulations and you have a melting pot of sheer frustration when it comes to mobile browsing. When you are forced to stop and be lectured by pop-ups at every turn which must be manually shut down, one by one, it really doesn't matter how quickly you were brought to the page in the first place.
Facebook Employees Are So Paranoid They're Using Burner Phones To Talk To Each Other
Facebook's reputation has only continued to get more sullied in recent weeks, and it's taking a toll on employees. According to a new report, things over at the old FB are, well, kind of grim. From the report:
"People now have burner phones to talk shit about the company -- not even to reporters, just to other employees," one former employee said. Another described the current scene as a "bunker mentality," meaning that after nearly two years of continuous bad press some people are, to borrow a phrase, leaning in as hard as they can to cope. "It's otherwise rational, sane people who're in Mark's orbit spouting full-blown anti-media rhetoric, saying that the press is ganging up on Facebook," said the former employee.
Facebook Employees Are Calling Former Colleagues To Look For Jobs Outside the Company and Asking About the Best Way To Leave.
Hackers Behind Breach at Hotel Group Marriott Left Clues Suggesting They Were Working For Chinese Government Intelligence Gathering Operation, Report Says
Marriott said last week that a hack that began four years ago had
exposed the records of up to 500 million customers in its Starwood hotels reservation system. Private investigators looking into the breach have found
hacking tools, techniques and procedures previously used in attacks attributed to Chinese hackers,
Reuters reported, citing three sources who were not authorized to discuss the company's private probe into the attack. From the report:
That suggests that Chinese hackers may have been behind a campaign designed to collect information for use in Beijing's espionage efforts and not for financial gain, two of the sources said. While China has emerged as the lead suspect in the case, the sources cautioned it was possible somebody else was behind the hack because other parties had access to the same hacking tools, some of which have previously been posted online.
Microsoft's New Study Finds 162.8 Million People in the US Do Not Use the Internet at Broadband Speeds, Up From FCC's 24.7 Million Estimate
An anonymous reader shares a report:
A new study by Microsoft researchers casts a light on the actual use of high-speed internet across the country, and the picture it presents is very different from the F.C.C. numbers. Their analysis, presented at a Microsoft event on Tuesday in Washington, D.C., suggests that the speedy access is much more limited than the F.C.C. data shows.
Over all, Microsoft concluded that 162.8 million people do not use the internet at broadband speeds, while the F.C.C. says broadband is not available to 24.7 million Americans. The discrepancy is particularly stark in rural areas. In Ferry County, for example, Microsoft estimates that only 2 percent of people use broadband service, versus the 100 percent the federal government says have access to the service.
[...] Accurate measurements on the reach of broadband matter because the government's statistics are used to guide policy and channel federal funding for underserved areas. "It's a huge problem," said Phillip Berenbroick, a telecommunications expert at Public Knowledge, a nonprofit technology policy group. "The result is that we're not getting broadband coverage and funding to areas that really need it."
Cuba Offers 3G Mobile Internet Access To Citizens
Cuba's population is to be offered internet access via a 3G mobile network from later this week. From a report:
Telecom provider Etecsa said citizens would be able to start subscribing to the service from Thursday. Until now, locals have mostly relied on wi-fi hotspots and internet cafes and the 3G service has been restricted to state-employed journalists and foreign businesses among others. This will change -- but many will still be unable to afford the new contracts. Etecsa's packages range from a month's use of 600MB of data for 7CUC ($7) to 4GB for 30CUC. Users get a bonus 300MB use of local .cu domain websites. But the average state wage for the island's 11.2 million residents is the equivalent of about $30 per month.
Sea Levels May Rise More Rapidly Due To Greenland Ice Melt
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian:
Rising sea levels could become overwhelming sooner than previously believed, according to the authors of the most comprehensive study yet of the accelerating ice melt in Greenland. Run-off from this vast northern ice sheet -- currently the biggest single source of meltwater adding to the volume of the world's oceans -- is 50% higher than pre-industrial levels and increasing exponentially as a result of manmade global warming, says the paper, published in Nature on Wednesday. Almost all of the increase has occurred in the past two decades -- a jolt upwards after several centuries of relative stability. This suggests the ice sheet becomes more sensitive as temperatures go up.
The researchers used ice core data from three locations to build the first multi-century record of temperature, surface melt and run-off in Greenland. Going back 339 years, they found the first sign of meltwater increase began along with the industrial revolution in the mid-1800s. The trend remained within the natural variation until the 1990s, since when it has spiked far outside of the usual nine- to 13-year cycles.
24 Amazon Workers Sent To Hospital After Robot Accidentally Unleashes Bear Spray
Joe_Dragon shares a report from ABC News:
Twenty-four Amazon workers in New Jersey have been hospitalized after a robot accidentally tore a can of bear repellent spray in a warehouse, officials said. The two dozen workers were treated at five local hospitals, Robbinsville Township communications and public information officer John Nalbone told ABC News. One remains in critical condition and 30 additional workers were treated at the scene. The official investigation revealed "an automated machine accidentally punctured a 9-ounce bear repellent can, releasing concentrated Capsaican," Nalbone said. Capsaican is the major ingredient in pepper spray. The fulfillment center was given the all clear by Wednesday evening. "All of the impacted employees have been or are expected to be released from hospital within the next 24 hours. The safety of our employees is always our top priority and a full investigation is already underway. We'd like to thank all of the first responders who helped with today's incident," Amazon said in a statement Wednesday night.
Australia Passes Anti-Encryption Laws [Update]
Earlier today, Australia's House of Representatives
passed the Assistance and Access Bill. The Anti-Encryption Bill, as it is known as, would allow the nation's police and anti-corruption forces to ask, before forcing, internet companies, telcos, messaging providers, or anyone deemed necessary, to break into whatever content agencies they want access to. "While the Bill can still be blocked by the Senate -- Australian Twitter has been quite vocal over today's proceedings, especially in regards to the [Australian Labor Party's] involvement," reports Gizmodo. ZDNet
highlights the key findings from
a report from the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS):
The threshold for industry assistance is recommended to be lifted to offenses with maximum penalties in excess of three years; Technical Assistance Notices (TANs) and Technical Capability Notices (TCNs) will be subjected to statutory time limits, as well as any extension, renewal, or variation to the notices; the systemic weakness clause to apply to all listing acts and things; and the double-lock mechanism of approval from Attorney-General and Minister of Communications will be needed, with the report saying the Communications Minister will provide "a direct avenue for the concerns of the relevant industry to be considered as part of the approval process."
The report's recommendations also call for a review after 18 months of the Bill coming into effect by the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor; TANs issued by state and territory police forces to be approved by the Australian Federal Police commissioner; companies issued with notices are able to appeal to the Attorney-General to disclose publicly the fact they are issued a TCN; and the committee will review the passed legislation in the new year and report by April 3, 2019, right around when the next election is expected to be called.
In short: "Testimony from experts has been ignored; actual scrutiny of the Bill is kicked down the road for the next Parliament; Labor has made sure it is not skewered by the Coalition and seen to be voting against national security legislation on the floor of Parliament; and any technical expert must have security clearance equal to the Australia's spies, i.e. someone who has been in the spy sector."
Further reading: Australia Set To Spy on WhatsApp Messages With Encryption Law.
UPDATE: The encryption bill
has passed the Senate with a final vote of 44-12, with Labor and the Coalition voting for it. "Australia's security and intelligence agencies now have legal authority to force encryption services to break the encryptions,
reports The Guardian. Story is developing...