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      How your sensitive data can be sold after a data broker goes bankrupt

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · Yesterday - 11:57

    Blue tone city scape and network connection concept , Map pin business district

    Enlarge (credit: Mongkol Chuewong, GettyImages )

    In 2021, a company specializing in collecting and selling location data called Near bragged that it was “The World’s Largest Dataset of People’s Behavior in the Real-World,” with data representing “1.6B people across 44 countries.” Last year the company went public with a valuation of $1 billion (via a SPAC ). Seven months later it filed for bankruptcy and has agreed to sell the company.

    But for the “1.6B people” that Near said its data represents, the important question is: What happens to Near’s mountain of location data? Any company could gain access to it through purchasing the company’s assets.

    The prospect of this data, including Near’s collection of location data from sensitive locations such as abortion clinics, being sold off in bankruptcy has raised alarms in Congress. Last week, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) wrote the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) urging the agency to “protect consumers and investors from the outrageous conduct” of Near, citing his office’s investigation into the India-based company.

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      Yelp: It’s gotten worse since Google made changes to comply with EU rules

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · 2 days ago - 11:34 · 1 minute · 3 visibility

    illustration of google and yelp logos

    Enlarge (credit: Anjali Nair; Getty Images)

    To comply with looming rules that ban tech giants from favoring their own services, Google has been testing new look search results for flights, trains, hotels, restaurants, and products in Europe. The EU’s Digital Markets Act is supposed to help smaller companies get more traffic from Google, but reviews service Yelp says that when it tested Google’s design tweaks with consumers it had the opposite effect—making people less likely to click through to Yelp or another Google competitor.

    The results, which Yelp shared with European regulators in December and WIRED this month, put some numerical backing behind complaints from Google rivals in travel, shopping, and hospitality that its efforts to comply with the DMA are insufficient—and potentially more harmful than the status quo. Yelp and thousands of others have been demanding that the EU hold a firm line against the giant companies including Apple and Amazon that are subject to what’s widely considered the world’s strictest antitrust law, violations of which can draw fines of up to 10 percent of global annual sales.

    “All the gatekeepers are trying to hold on as long as possible to the status quo and make the new world unattractive,” says Richard Stables, CEO of shopping comparison site Kelkoo, which is unhappy with how Google has tweaked shopping results to comply with the DMA. “That’s really the game plan.”

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      RTO doesn’t improve company value, but does make employees miserable: Study

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · 3 days ago - 23:05 · 3 visibility

    Empty cubicles

    Enlarge / Empty cubicles

    For some, having to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic was stressful. Parents balanced job duties while caring for children. Some struggled to set up a home office and adjust to new tools, like video conferencing. Lonely workdays at home added to social isolation. The line between work and life blurred.

    For others, working from home was a boon—comfort, convenience, flexibility, no commuting or rush-hour traffic, no office-environment distractions. When the acute aspects of the pandemic receded, some who at first struggled began to settle into a work-from-home (WFH) groove and appreciated the newfound flexibility.

    Then, bosses began calling their employees back to the office. Many made the argument that the return-to-office (RTO) policies and mandates were better for their companies; workers are more productive at the office, and face-to-face interactions promote collaboration, many suggested. But there's little data to support that argument. Pandemic-era productivity is tricky to interpret, given that the crisis disrupted every aspect of life. Research from before the pandemic generally suggested remote work improves worker performance—though it often included workers who volunteered to WFH, potentially biasing the finding.

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      Vending machine error reveals secret face image database of college students

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · 3 days ago - 22:02

    Vending machine error reveals secret face image database of college students

    Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson | Mars | Getty Images)

    Canada-based University of Waterloo is racing to remove M&M-branded smart vending machines from campus after outraged students discovered the machines were covertly collecting facial-recognition data without their consent.

    The scandal started when a student using the alias SquidKid47 posted an image on Reddit showing a campus vending machine error message, "Invenda.Vending.FacialRecognitionApp.exe," displayed after the machine failed to launch a facial recognition application that nobody expected to be part of the process of using a vending machine.

    "Hey, so why do the stupid M&M machines have facial recognition?" SquidKid47 pondered.

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      Plucky crew of Star Trek: Discovery seeks a strange artifact in S5 trailer

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · 3 days ago - 21:16

    Star Trek: Discovery returns for its fifth and final season after a two-year hiatus.

    It's been two years since we had new episodes of Star Trek: Discovery , which debuted back in 2017. Now Paramount+ has dropped the official trailer for the fifth and final season of the spinoff series.

    (Spoilers for prior seasons below.)

    As previously reported , Sonequa Martin-Green plays Michael Burnham, an orphaned human raised on the planet Vulcan by none other than Sarek (James Frain) and his human wife, Amanda Grayson (Mia Kirshner)—aka, Spock's (Ethan Peck) parents. So she is Spock's adoptive sister. As I've written previously , the S2 season-long arc involved the mysterious appearances of a "Red Angel" and a rogue Starfleet AI called Control that sought to wipe out all sentient life in the universe.

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      Avast ordered to stop selling browsing data from its browsing privacy apps

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · 3 days ago - 20:37

    Avast logo on a phone in front of the words

    Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

    Avast, a name known for its security research and antivirus apps, has long offered Chrome extensions, mobile apps, and other tools aimed at increasing privacy.

    Avast's apps would "block annoying tracking cookies that collect data on your browsing activities," and prevent web services from "tracking your online activity." Deep in its privacy policy, Avast said information that it collected would be "anonymous and aggregate." In its fiercest rhetoric, Avast's desktop software claimed it would stop "hackers making money off your searches."

    All of that language was offered up while Avast was collecting users' browser information from 2014 to 2020, then selling it to more than 100 other companies through a since-shuttered entity known as Jumpshot , according to the Federal Trade Commission. Under a proposed recent FTC order (PDF), Avast must pay $16.5 million, which is "expected to be used to provide redress to consumers," according to the FTC . Avast will also be prohibited from selling future browsing data, must obtain express consent on future data gathering, notify customers about prior data sales, and implement a "comprehensive privacy program" to address prior conduct.

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      A meteorite has been lost in the Sahara since 1916—here’s how we might find it

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · 3 days ago - 20:24 · 1 minute

    Chinguetti slice at the National Museum of Natural History

    Enlarge / Chinguetti slice at the National Museum of Natural History. A larger meteorite reported in 1916 hasn't been spotted since. (credit: Claire H./CC BY-SA 2.0 )

    In 1916, a French consular official reported finding a giant "iron hill" deep in the Sahara desert, roughly 45 kilometers (28 miles) from Chinguetti, Mauritania —purportedly a meteorite (technically a mesosiderite ) some 40 meters (130 feet) tall and 100 meters (330 feet) long. He brought back a small fragment, but the meteorite hasn't been found again since, despite the efforts of multiple expeditions, calling its very existence into question.

    Three British researchers have conducted their own analysis and proposed a means of determining once and for all whether the Chinguetti meteorite really exists, detailing their findings in a new preprint posted to the physics arXiv. They contend that they have narrowed down the likely locations where the meteorite might be buried under high sand dunes and are currently awaiting access to data from a magnetometer survey of the region in hopes of either finding the mysterious missing meteorite or confirming that it likely never existed.

    Captain Gaston Ripert was in charge of the Chinguetti camel corps. One day he overheard a conversation among the chameliers (camel drivers) about an unusual iron hill in the desert. He convinced a local chief to guide him there one night, taking Ripert on a 10-hour camel ride along a "disorienting" route, making a few detours along the way. He may even have been literally blindfolded, depending on how one interprets the French phrase en aveugle , which can mean either "blind" (i.e. without a compass) or "blindfolded." The 4-kilogram fragment Ripert collected was later analyzed by noted geologist Alfred Lacroix , who considered it a significant discovery. But when others failed to locate the larger Chinguetti meteorite, people started to doubt Ripert's story.

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      Here’s what we know after three days of Formula 1 preseason testing

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · 3 days ago - 19:49 · 1 minute

    Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB20 on track during day one of F1 Testing at Bahrain International Circuit on February 21, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain.

    Enlarge / While it's hard to read too much into preseason testing times, it's also hard to see anyone really challenging Red Bull or Max Verstappen for outright speed. (credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

    The sixth season of Drive to Survive, Netflix's blockbuster behind-the-scenes sportumentary, went live today. This isn't a review of that. Instead, for the past few days my attention has been turned to Formula 1's preseason testing, which got underway on Wednesday morning at the Bahrain International Circuit in Bahrain.

    In the olden days, preseason testing was a thing you'd read about in the specialty press—a reason to buy a copy of Autosport in February, if you will. There was a lot more of it back then , too; up to five official preseason tests, although it was unusual for a team to attend all of them.

    In F1's current era, there isn't really time for so much testing, even if it weren't strictly limited by the rules. The first race of what should be a 24-race calendar takes place next Saturday (March 2), with the final round, also in the Middle East, not scheduled until December 8. Contrast that with the early 2000s, when a season might run for 16 or 17 races between early March and mid-October.

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      India’s plan to let 1998 digital trade deal expire may worsen chip shortage

      news.movim.eu / ArsTechnica · 3 days ago - 18:32

    India’s plan to let 1998 digital trade deal expire may worsen chip shortage

    Enlarge (credit: Narumon Bowonkitwanchai | Moment )

    India's plan to let a moratorium on imposing customs duties on cross-border digital e-commerce transactions expire may end up hurting India's more ambitious plans to become a global chip leader in the next five years , Reuters reported .

    It could also worsen the global chip shortage by spiking semiconductor industry costs at a time when many governments worldwide are investing heavily in expanding domestic chip supplies in efforts to keep up with rapidly advancing technologies.

    Early next week, world leaders will convene at a World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting, just before the deadline to extend the moratorium hits in March. In place since 1998, the moratorium has been renewed every two years since—but India has grown concerned that it's losing significant revenues from not imposing taxes as demand rises for its digital goods, like movies, e-books, or games.

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