Twitch Will Ban Users For 'Severe Misconduct' That Occurs Away From Its Site
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters:
Live-streaming service Twitch will ban users for offenses such as hate-group membership or credible threats of mass violence that occur entirely away from the site, in a new approach to moderating the platform, the company said on Wednesday. The Amazon-owned platform, which is popular among video gamers, said under its new rules it would take enforcement actions against offline offenses that posed a "substantial safety risk" to its community.
It said examples of this "severe misconduct" include terrorist activities, child sexual exploitation, violent extremism, credible threats of mass violence, carrying out or deliberately acting as an accomplice to sexual assault and threatening Twitch or its staff. "Taking action against misconduct that occurs entirely off our service is a novel approach for both Twitch and the industry at large, but it's one we believe -- and hear from you -- is crucial to get right," the company said in a blog post. The company said users will be able to report such behaviors but it may also investigate cases proactively, for instance if there is a verified news report that a user has been arrested. Twitch said it would rely more heavily on law enforcement in "off-service" cases and is partnering with an investigative law firm to support its internal team. It declined to name the firm. The new standards will apply even if the target of the offline behaviors is not a Twitch user or if the perpetrator was not a user when they committed the acts. Perpetrators would also be banned from registering a Twitch account, it said.
Twitch said it would take action only when there was evidence, such as screen shots, videos of off-Twitch behavior or police filings, verified by its internal team or third-party investigators. Users who submit a large amount of frivolous reports will face suspension. The company said in cases where the behavior happened in the distant past, users had gone through rehabilitation such as time in a correctional facility, and they no longer presented a danger to the community, it might not take action or might reinstate users on appeal. It said it would share updates with the involved parties but would not share public updates about actions under this policy.
YouTube Is Once Again the Most Popular Social Media Platform
According to a new report, YouTube has dethroned Facebook to
become the most popular social media platform. Engadget reports:
According to the report, YouTube and Facebook are the most widely used platforms. But of the two, only YouTube is still growing, increasing its share of users from 73 percent of adults in 2019, to 81 percent in 2021. Facebook's numbers, meanwhile, remained unchanged from 2019 at 69 percent. "Facebook's growth has leveled off over the last five years, but it remains one of the most widely used social media sites among adults in the United States," Pew writes in its report.
Flat growth wasn't unique to just Facebook, either. According to Pew, the only other platform to see "statistically significant" growth since 2019 was Reddit, which grew from 11 percent in 2019 to 18 percent in 2021. "This represents a broader trend that extends beyond the past two years in which the rapid adoption of most of these sites and apps seen in the last decade has slowed," Pew says. The report also found that 49 percent of Facebook users say they check the site multiple times a day, compared to just over a third of YouTube users visiting the platform more frequently than once a day.
Another interesting insight is that YouTube is the most dominant platform among 18 to 29-year-olds at 95 percent, followed by Instagram with 71 percent, Facebook at 70 percent, Snapchat with 65 percent, and TikTok at 48 percent.
Saskatchewan To Roll Out $150 Annual Tax For Passenger Electric Vehicles
The Saskatchewan government will implement a new tax for passenger electric vehicles. The announcement was made Tuesday. The new $150 annual tax on passenger electric vehicles (EVs) will take effect Oct. 1, 2021. The government said the reason for this tax is that EVs do not contribute to highway maintenance through the provincial fuel tax. The new tax will be collected when the vehicle is registered. The province says it will continue to examine the future potential for expanding the EV tax to commercial vehicles and inter-jurisdictional trucking. The province will also consider options to apply a tax at EV charging stations.
NBA Partners With Biometric Screening Company To Allow Full Capacity Arenas Next Season
expects all arenas to be at full capacity next season, thanks to increased COVID-19 testing and more vaccines being administered. Another key aspect toward that effort is the NBA's new multiyear leaguewide partnership with Clear, a biometric screening company known for its expedited security process at hundreds of airports worldwide. ESPN reports:
The partnership makes Clear's COVID-19 health screening technology available to all 30 teams in their NBA arenas, and it's expected to help facilitate more fans returning to games, though it's up to each team how to use the technology. Conversations for a leaguewide partnership began in early September. This is Clear's first leaguewide partnership with a professional sports league, but the company has been working with teams in MLS, MLB, NHL and the NFL. Clear first rolled out this program in a leaguewide format with the NHL's bubble season across two cities in Canada last year.
As it pertains to attendance, fans can download the Clear app and upload an identifying document along with a selfie. To link their COVID-19 test results, fans log into their testing account through the app, and results will be linked to their health pass. Before entering the venue, fans can open the app, verify their identity with another selfie and then answer health survey questions. (There are also expected to be an unspecified number of Clear kiosks where fans receive a temperature check and scan their QR code.) Fans are issued a red or green notification depending on their COVID-related health information. A Clear spokesperson noted that the arenas only receive information about whether a fan has passed the requirements for access and not any private health information from the individual. They said that the Clear program is scalable, and could facilitate thousands of fans entering arenas.
Polish Blogger Sued After Revealing Security Issue In Encrypted Messenger
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Record:
The company behind the UseCrypt Messenger encrypted instant messaging application filed a lawsuit last month against a Polish security researcher for publishing an article that exposed a vulnerability in the app's user invite mechanism. The lawsuit targets Tomasz Zieliski, the editor of Informatyk Zakadowy, a Polish blog dedicated to IT topics, and denounces one of the site's articles, published in October 2020. The article describes how Zielinski found that in some cases, when UseCrypt Messenger users wanted to invite a friend to the app, the application used an insecure domain (autofwd.com) to send out user invitations. Zielinski found that besides running on an insecure HTTP connection, the AutoFWD.com website was also vulnerable to SQL injection and cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities that would have allowed anyone to hijack the site and then read or tamper with UseCrypt invitations. But while the authors of the AutoFWD.com website admitted to the security weaknesses in their service and shut down their website, Zieliski received a firm rebuttal of his research from V440 SA, the legal entity behind the UseCrypt Messenger.
In a message the company sent Zieliski a day after his blog post went live, they claimed his research contained "false information." In a message the company sent Zieliski a day after his blog post went live, they claimed his research contained "false information." V440 SA said their app did not use the AutoFWD.com service to handle user invitations but instead relied on an in-house solution hosted on the get.usecryptmessenger.com domain. But in a subsequent update, Zieliski claims that the UseCrypt team was lying and that, in reality, they silently patched their app to remove the AutoFWD.com from its user invite mechanism after his research was posted online and were merely trying to dismiss his findings, even after he notified them in advance of his research. To make matters worse, V440 SA had reportedly filed criminal complaints against not only Zielinksi's blog but also against Niebezpiecznik and Zaufana Trzecia Strona, two other Polish IT security blogs, claiming that the three were working as part of an "organized criminal group."
"Requests to remove articles, requests for apologies and other letters from law firms addressed to our editors will not make us stop being interested in a certain issue," the editors of the Polish blogs said in a joint statement. It's currently unknown if there is
actually a criminal investigation underway against the three sites or if this is just an intimidation tactic.
Google Illegally Tracking Android Users, According To New Complaint
schwit1 shares a report from Ars Technica:
Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems has filed a complaint against Google in France alleging that the US tech giant is illegally tracking users on Android phones without their consent. Android phones generate unique advertising codes, similar to Apple's Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), that allow Google and third parties to track users' browsing behavior in order to better target them with advertising. In a complaint filed on Wednesday, Schrems' campaign group Noyb argued that in creating and storing these codes without first obtaining explicit permission from users, Google was engaging in "illegal operations" that violate EU privacy laws.
Noyb urged France's data privacy regulator to launch a probe into Google's tracking practices and to force the company to comply with privacy rules. It argued that fines should be imposed on the tech giant if the watchdog finds evidence of wrongdoing. "Through these hidden identifiers on your phone, Google and third parties can track users without their consent," said Stefano Rossetti, privacy lawyer at Noyb. "It is like having powder on your hands and feet, leaving a trace of everything you do on your phone -- from whether you swiped right or left to the song you downloaded." Last year, Schrems won a landmark case at Europe's highest court that ruled a transatlantic agreement on transferring data between the bloc and the US used by thousands of corporations did not protect EU citizens' privacy.
Best Buy's New Beta Program Promises Concierge Tech Support For $200 a Year
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge:
Best Buy is piloting a new paid membership service that would provide exclusive perks, including concierge-style tech support and exclusive pricing. The subscription service, which will cost $200 a year or $180 if you have a Best Buy credit card, bears similarities with Amazon's Prime subscription as Best Buy looks to expand its services outside the sale of consumer tech products. The new membership, called Best Buy Beta, grants members access to a slew of benefits, including free standard shipping, unlimited Geek Squad technical support, exclusive member pricing, and a 60-day extended return window. Best Buy confirmed that Beta members will also have 24/7 access to a concierge team, which they can contact by phone, email, chat, or through the Best Buy mobile app. The retailer is piloting the new Beta membership in three states: Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Oklahoma, with plans to expand the annual subscription to select stores in Minnesota, North Carolina, and Tennessee sometime this month.
Facebook Does Not Plan To Notify Half-Billion Users Affected by Data Leak
Facebook did not notify the more than 530 million users whose details were
obtained through the misuse of a feature before 2019 and recently made public in a database, and
does not currently have plans to do so, a company spokesman said on Wednesday. Reuters:
Business Insider reported last week that phone numbers and other details from user profiles were available in a public database. Facebook said in a blog post on Tuesday that "malicious actors" had obtained the data prior to September 2019 by "scraping" profiles using a vulnerability in the platform's tool for synching contacts. The Facebook spokesman said the social media company was not confident it had full visibility on which users would need to be notified. He said it also took into account that users could not fix the issue and that the data was publicly available in deciding not to notify users. Facebook has said it plugged the hole after identifying the problem at the time.
Facebook Says It's Your Fault That Hackers Got Half a Billion User Phone Numbers.
Broadband Use Surged More Than 30% During Pandemic
surged 30% to 40% during the COVID-19 pandemic in the US, and even reached 60% in some areas, an industry group has concluded. CNET reports:
The Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group released data this week that it gathered from internet service providers, broadband analytics firms, and networking companies that help deliver data. We all consumed more downstream data -- the flow from the internet to the home -- but upstream use grew faster. That's an important consideration given that most cable and DSL services offer much higher downstream capacity. All those videoconferences for work meetings and online schooling likely were involved in the upstream data traffic. "Some networks saw more than 300% increase in the amount of video conferencing traffic from February to October 2020," the report said.
Though the internet itself held up well overall, there are problems. "Rural and low-income households have struggled" with broadband access to online services, the report said, and some households suffered with older equipment that couldn't handle heavy traffic or the increase in networked devices in the home. If you're having problems at home, you should consider an Ethernet cable connection to your network router, upgrading to a mesh network with multiple network access points, upgrading your PC or phone, or paying for a faster internet connection if it's available.
Twitter Held Discussions To Buy Clubhouse For $4 Billion
Twitter held talks in recent months to
acquire Clubhouse, the buzzy audio-based social network,
Bloomberg reported Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter. From the report:
The companies discussed a potential valuation of roughly $4 billion for Clubhouse, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. Discussions are no longer ongoing, and it's unclear why they stalled, the people added. [...] Clubhouse is barely a year old but has drawn appearances from some of the biggest names in business and Hollywood. Established social media companies have quickly gone to work on their own versions of Clubhouse, including Twitter. Facebook is exploring one, too, and Microsoft's LinkedIn and Slack have also said they're working on similar features for their networks.
With Virus Origins Still Obscure, WHO and Critics Look To Next Steps
The joint international and Chinese mission organized by the World Health Organization on the origins of Covid
released its report last week suggesting that for almost every topic it covered, more study was needed. What kind of study and who will do it is the question. From a report:
The report suggested pursuing multiple lines of inquiry, focused on the likely origin of the coronavirus in bats. It concluded that the most likely route to humans was through an intermediate animal, perhaps at a wildlife farm. Among future efforts could be surveys of blood banks to look for cases that could have appeared before December 2019 and tracking down potential animal sources of the virus in wildlife farms, the team proposed. Critics of the report have sought more consideration of the possibility that a laboratory incident in Wuhan could have led to the first human infection. A loosely organized group of scientists and others who have been meeting virtually to discuss the possibility of a lab leak released an open letter this week, detailing several ways to conduct a thorough investigation. It called for further action, arguing that "critical records and biological samples that could provide essential insights into pandemic origins remain inaccessible."
Much of the letter echoes an earlier release from the same group detailing what it saw as the failures of the W.H.O. mission. This second letter is more specific in the kind of future investigations it proposes. The group is seeking a new inquiry that would include biosecurity and biosafety experts, one that could involve the W.H.O. or a separate multination effort to set up a different process to explore the beginnings of the pandemic and its origins in China. Jamie Metzl, an author, senior fellow of the Atlantic Council, an international policy think tank and signer of the scientists' letter, said the renewed calls for a more thorough investigation reflected the need for greater monitoring of and restrictions on what viruses can be studied in labs around the world. "This is not about ganging up on China," Mr. Metzl said. Mr. Metzl's group was among those disappointed by the report issued last week, as it dismissed out of hand the possibility of a leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, calling it extremely unlikely.
Data Withheld From WHO Team Probing COVID-19 Origins in China: Tedros.
Gazelle Brings Back Its Phone Trade-in Program Two Months After Discontinuing It
Trade-in provider Gazelle
exited the online trade-in business back in February, and now the company says it's
changing its mind. From a report:
Gazelle is back to accepting online trade-ins of iPhones, Samsung phones, Google Pixel devices, and iPads and other tablets on its website, the company confirms to The Verge. The program resumed accepting new offers on April 5th, a Gazelle representative clarified. "Earlier this year, we announced that we will no longer be offering our trade-in option on Gazelle. After careful consideration, including feedback from customers like you, we have decided to keep Gazelle Trade-In going. Today, we are happy to say, 'We're back, baby!'" reads an email Gazelle sent to prospective customers. "Gazelle Trade-In is a pioneer of the electronics trade-in space and we are happy to continue building on our legacy by offering a simple process and immediate payouts for those unwanted devices." Gazelle emerged as one of the leading trade-in providers of the smartphone era. But its business model didn't fare as well when the US mobile phone business underwent major shifts away from two-year contracts and outright device purchases and toward phone leasing and carrier and device maker trade-in programs like Apple's.
YouTube Kids 'a Vapid Wasteland', Say US Lawmakers
A US government committee has described YouTube Kids as a "
wasteland of vapid, consumerist content." From a report:
In a letter to YouTube chief executive Susan Wojcicki, the US sub-committee on economic and consumer policy said the platform was full of "inappropriate... highly commercial content". Google launched YouTube Kids in 2015 as a safe place for children to view appropriate content. YouTube said it had worked hard to provide "enriching content for kids."
Microsoft Previews Its Open Source Java Distribution, Microsoft Build of OpenJDK
Mark Wilson writes:
Microsoft has launched a preview version of its own distribution of Java, making it available for Windows, macOS and Linux. The company has named the release Microsoft Build of OpenJDK, and describes it as its "new way to collaborate and contribute to the Java ecosystem". The company has made available Microsoft Build of OpenJDK binaries for Java 11, which are based on OpenJDK source code. Microsoft says it is looking to broaden and deepen its support for Java, "one of the most important programming languages used today".
Uber, Lyft Tout US Ride-Hail Driver Pay, Incentives Amid Demand Uptick
Uber and Lyft said U.S. drivers on their ride-hail platforms were
earning significantly more than before the pandemic as trip demand outstrips driver supply, prompting the companies to offer extra incentives. From a report:
Uber on Wednesday said it would invest an additional $250 million to boost driver earnings and offer payment guarantees in an effort to incentivize new and existing drivers. Uber's Vice President of U.S. & Canada Mobility, Dennis Cinelli, in a blog post told drivers to take advantage of higher earnings before pay returns to pre-COVID-19 levels as more drivers return to the platform. Lyft on Tuesday said drivers in the company's top-25 markets were earning an average of $36 per hour compared to $20 per hour pre-pandemic. Those numbers include tips, but Lyft did not disclose the share of tips in earnings. Lyft is also offering additional incentives and promotions in select markets.
Uber and Lyft have a driver shortage problem, and it's costing them a lot of money
Particle Mystery Deepens, As Physicists Confirm That the Muon Is More Magnetic Than Predicted
A potential chink in physicists' understanding of fundamental particles and forces now looks more real. New measurements confirm a fleeting subatomic particle called the muon may be ever so slightly more magnetic than theory predicts, a team of more than 200 physicists reported this week. That small anomaly -- just 2.5 parts in 1 billion -- is a welcome threat to particle physicists' prevailing theory, the standard model, which has long explained pretty much everything they've seen at atom smashers and left them pining for something new to puzzle over. "Since the 1970s we've been looking for a crack in the standard model," says Alexey Petrov, a theorist at Wayne State University. "This may be it." But Sally Dawson, a theorist at Brookhaven National Laboratory, notes the result is still not definitive. "It does nothing for our understanding of physics other than to say we have to wait a little longer to see if it is real."
For decades, physicists have measured the magnetism of the muon, a heavier, unstable cousin of the electron, which behaves like a tiny bar magnet. They put muons in a vertical magnetic field that makes them twirl horizontally like little compass needles. The frequency at which the muons twirl reveals how magnetic they are, which in principle can point to new particles, even ones too massive to be blasted into existence at an atom smasher like Europe's Large Hadron Collider. That's because, thanks to quantum uncertainty, the muon sits amid a haze of other particles and antiparticles flitting in and out of existence. These "virtual" particles can't be observed directly, but they can affect the muon's properties. Quantum mechanics and Albert Einstein's theory of special relativity predict the muon should have a certain basic magnetism. Familiar standard model particles flitting about the muon increase that magnetism by about 0.1%. And unknown particles lurking in the vacuum could add another, unpredictable increment of change.
Finding From Particle Research Could Rewrite Known Laws of Physics.
T-Mobile Launches Home Internet Service and Small Town Initiative as Part of Latest 'Un-carrier' Move
T-Mobile made a series of announcements Wednesday as part of its latest 'Un-carrier' initiative, including the official
launch of its new home internet service, 5G phone offerings, and new investment in rural areas. From a report:
T-Mobile Home Internet: After piloting a home internet service powered by its wireless network, T-Mobile Home Internet is now available to more than 30 million U.S. households. It costs $60 per month -- $10 more per month than the pilot program -- with average expected speeds of 100 Mbps for most customers and an included 4G/5G gateway device.
T-Mobile Hometown: The Bellevue, Wash.-based company will build hundreds of new retail stores and create 5,000 jobs in small U.S. towns. It is also adding "Hometown Experts" to towns where it can't build a store, and committing $25 million over five years to fund community development projects in rural areas.
5G phones: T-Mobile said it will let postpaid customers trade in any old phone in working condition for a new Samsung Galaxy A32 5G smartphone for free after 24 monthly bill credits.
Facebook Says It's Your Fault That Hackers Got Half a Billion User Phone Numbers
A database containing the phone numbers of more than half a billion Facebook users is
being freely traded online, and Facebook is
trying to pin the blame on everyone but themselves. From a report:
A blog post titled "The Facts on News Reports About Facebook Data," published Tuesday evening, is designed to silence the growing criticism the company is facing for failing to protect the phone numbers and other personal information of 533 million users after a database containing that information was shared for free in low level hacking forums over the weekend, as first reported by Business Insider. Facebook initially dismissed the reports as irrelevant, claiming the data was leaked years ago and so the fact it had all been collected into one uber database containing one in every 15 people on the planet -- and was now being given away for free -- didn't really matter.
So instead of apologizing for failing to keep users' data secure, Facebook's product management director Mike Clark began his blog post by making a semantic point about how the data was leaked. "It is important to understand that malicious actors obtained this data not through hacking our systems but by scraping it from our platform prior to September 2019," Clark wrote. This is the identical excuse given in 2018, when it was revealed that Facebook had given Cambridge Analytica the data of 87 million users without their permission, for use in political ads. Clark goes on to explain that the people who collected this data -- sorry, "scraped" this data -- did so by using a feature designed to help new users find their friends on the platform.
Software developer Stephen Diehl on
Signal's move to introduce support for cryptocurrency:
Many technologists viscerally felt yesterday's announcement as a punch to the gut when we heard that the Signal messaging app was bundling an embedded cryptocurrency. This news really cut to heart of what many technologists have felt before when we as loyal users have been exploited and betrayed by corporations, but this time it felt much deeper because it introduced a conflict of interest from our fellow technologists that we truly believed were advancing a cause many of us also believed in. So many of us have spent significant time and social capital moving our friends and family away from the exploitative data siphon platforms that Facebook et al offer, and on to Signal in the hopes of breaking the cycle of commercial exploitation of our online relationships. And some of us feel used. Signal users are overwhelmingly tech savvy consumers and we're not idiots. Do they think we don't see through the thinly veiled pump and dump scheme that's proposed? It's an old scam with a new face.
Allegedly the controlling entity prints 250 million units of some artificially scarce trashcoin called MOB (coincidence?) of which the issuing organization controls 85% of the supply. This token then floats on a shady offshore cryptocurrency exchange hiding in the Cayman Islands or the Bahamas, where users can buy and exchange the token. The token is wash traded back and forth by insiders and the exchange itself to artificially pump up the price before it's dumped on users in the UK to buy to allegedly use as "payments." All of this while insiders are free to silently use information asymmetry to cash out on the influx of pumped hype-driven buys before the token crashes in value. Did I mention that the exchange that floats the token is the primary investor in the company itself, does anyone else see a major conflict of interest here? Let it be said that everything here is probably entirely legal or there simply is no precedent yet. The question everyone is asking before these projects launch now though is: should it be?
I think I speak for many technologists when I say that any bolted-on cryptocurrency monetization scheme smells like a giant pile of rubbish and feels enormously user-exploitative. We've seen this before, after all Telegram tried the same thing in an ICO that imploded when SEC shut them down, and Facebook famously tried and failed to monetize WhatsApp through their decentralized-but-not-really digital money market fund project. The whole Libra/Diem token (or whatever they're calling its remains this week) was a failed Facebook initiative exploiting the gaping regulatory loophole where if you simply call yourself a cryptocurrency platform (regardless of any technology) you can effectively function as a shadow bank and money transmistter with no license, all while performing roughly the same function as a bank but with magic monopoly money that you can print with no oversight while your customers assume full counterparty risk. If that sounds like a terrible idea, it's because it is. But we fully expect that level of evil behavior from Facebookers because that's kind of their thing.
Jeff Bezos Comes Out in Support of Increased Corporate Taxes
As the White House considers raising taxes on corporations for the first time in more than 25 years, the head of one of America's largest companies is backing such a plan. From a report:
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement Tuesday that the company is "supportive of a rise in the corporate tax rate." Bezos said, "We support the Biden Administration's focus on making bold investments in American infrastructure. Both Democrats and Republicans have supported infrastructure in the past, and it's the right time to work together to make this happen. We recognize this investment will require concessions from all sides -- both on the specifics of what's included as well as how it gets paid for." The White House is laying the groundwork for lifting the corporate tax rate above its current level of 21% to help pay for an ambitious infrastructure package. Bezos' statement is a notable show of approval for the move given that many others in the business community have warned that it could threaten recovery from the pandemic.
The outgoing Amazon chief executive is, in some ways, a surprising advocate for a corporate tax hike. In 2019, the then-former Vice President Joe Biden called out Amazon for its history of using tax credits and deductions to reduce its corporate income tax bill. The company fired back, saying, "we pay every penny we owe," and that it had paid $2.6 billion in corporate taxes since 2016. And again last year, then-Presidential candidate Biden said Amazon should "start paying their taxes," as part of a broader critique of large, successful businesses. Amazon has repeatedly said that it follows all applicable tax laws. The company also recently sparred with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has advocated for raising taxes on big corporations. Last month Warren said in a tweet: "Giant corporations like Amazon report huge profits to their shareholders -- but they exploit loopholes and tax havens to pay close to nothing in taxes. That's just not right."
EPA To Propose Vehicle Emissions Standards To Meet 'The Urgency of Climate Crisis' By July's End
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Hill:
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is preparing to propose stricter emissions standards for vehicles by the end of July, EPA Administrator Michael Regan said Tuesday. Regan told Bloomberg News in an interview that the new standards would be sufficient to meet "the urgency of the climate crisis." "We need to go as far as we can to meet the demands of the day," Regan added. "The science indicates we have a short window in time to reverse the path that we're on and mitigate against certain climate impacts."
An EPA spokesperson told The Hill that the timeline was dictated by an executive order from President Biden that requires the administration to review the former Trump administration's rule that relaxed the emissions limits by July. The spokesperson confirmed that the EPA is on track to meet that timeline. That rule also loosened the requirement for fuel economy standards, which dictate how much gasoline per mile that the U.S. fleet can consume, which the Biden administration could also tighten.
The executive order also requires a review this month of the decision to revoke California's ability to set its own tailpipe emissions standards, which have been stricter than the federal government's standards and adopted by a number of other states. Regan told Bloomberg that he is "a firm believer in the state's statutory authority to lead." According to the news outlet, he also did not rule out the possibility for additional regulations in the future that would essentially ban new conventional gas-powered cars.
Government Audit of AI With Ties To White Supremacy Finds No AI
Khari Johnson writes via VentureBeat:
In April 2020, news broke that Banjo CEO Damien Patton, once the subject of profiles by business journalists, was previously convicted of crimes committed with a white supremacist group. According to OneZero's analysis of grand jury testimony and hate crime prosecution documents, Patton pled guilty to involvement in a 1990 shooting attack on a synagogue in Tennessee. Amid growing public awareness about algorithmic bias, the state of Utah halted a $20.7 million contract with Banjo, and the Utah attorney general's office opened an investigation into matters of privacy, algorithmic bias, and discrimination. But in a surprise twist, an audit and report released last week found no bias in the algorithm because there was no algorithm to assess in the first place.
"Banjo expressly represented to the Commission that Banjo does not use techniques that meet the industry definition of artificial Intelligence. Banjo indicated they had an agreement to gather data from Twitter, but there was no evidence of any Twitter data incorporated into Live Time," reads a letter Utah State Auditor John Dougall released last week. The incident, which VentureBeat previously referred to as part of a "fight for the soul of machine learning," demonstrates why government officials must evaluate claims made by companies vying for contracts and how failure to do so can cost taxpayers millions of dollars. As the incident underlines, companies selling surveillance software can make false claims about their technologies' capabilities or turn out to be charlatans or white supremacists -- constituting a public nuisance or worse. The audit result also suggests a lack of scrutiny can undermine public trust in AI and the governments that deploy them.
SpaceX President Says Starlink Doesn't Plan To Offer Tiered Pricing
Starlink opened up pre-orders for its service in February for a $99 deposit, but it
doesn't appear that the company plans to offer any kind of tiered plan to folks who were hoping for some options. Gizmodo reports:
SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell, speaking during a Satellite 2021 LEO Digital Forum panel on Tuesday, said that she doesn't "think we're going to do tiered pricing to consumers" for Starlink's satellite internet service. Shotwell added that the company was "going to try to keep it as simple as possible and transparent as possible, so right now there are no plans to tier for consumers."
That could be a make-or-break for potential subscribers who were hoping for a discounted -- or for that matter, even more premium -- version of the service than the one it's currently offering. The $99 refundable security deposit offering that rolled in February does not cover the total cost for the service. The Starlink installation kit costs $499 and includes a power supply, a wifi router, and a mountable dish antenna. Shipping and handling will add at least another $50 to that price. And then there's the service itself, which costs $99 per month.