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Eagles Changed Migration Route To Avoid Ukraine War

Slashdot - Sat, 25/05/2024 - 09:00
Scientists report that Greater Spotted Eagles altered their migration routes across Ukraine to avoid conflict and habitat destruction caused by the war. The BBC reports: The scientists studied GPS data from tagged birds in the months after the February 2022 invasion, a time of heavy fighting in northern Ukraine as Russia tried to take Kyiv by sending troops south from Belarus. The researchers from the Estonian University of Life Sciences and the British Trust for Ornithology reported their findings in the journal Current Biology. "The war in Ukraine has had a devastating impact on people and the environment. Our findings provide a rare window into how conflicts affect wildlife," said lead author Charlie Russell, a postgraduate researcher at the University of East Anglia. Classified as a vulnerable species, the Greater Spotted Eagle is a large, brownish-colored bird of prey. Researchers started following them using GPS tracking devices in 2017 but didn't expect to be monitoring them through an active conflict zone five years later. The findings reveal they made large deviations from their previously tracked routes. They also spent less time stopping at their usual refueling sites in Ukraine or avoided them entirely. As a result, they traveled farther, about an extra 52 miles (85km) on average. For migrating birds, stopover sites are essential places to get food, water, and shelter. These changes delayed the birds' arrival at the breeding grounds and likely made them use more energy, to damaging effect. "No doubt about it. I think the take-home story is that the conflict in Ukraine is fundamentally disrupting the migratory ecology of this species," said Dr Jim Reynolds, Assistant Professor in Ornithology and Animal Conservation at the University of Birmingham, who was independent from the study. "For a vulnerable species like this, anything that disrupts breeding performance is a major problem. As a conservation biologist, you worry about that in a massive way." Despite all the tagged birds surviving, researchers believe their experience may have affected their ability to breed.

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Best Buy and Geek Squad Were Most Impersonated Orgs By Scammers In 2023

Slashdot - Sat, 25/05/2024 - 05:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Register: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has shared data on the most impersonated companies in 2023, which include Best Buy, Amazon, and PayPal in the top three. The federal agency detailed the top ten companies scammers impersonate and how much they make depending on the impersonation. By far the most impersonated corp was Best Buy and its repair business Geek Squad, with a total of 52k reports. Amazon impersonators came in second place with 34k reports, and PayPal a distant third with 10,000. Proportionally, the top three made up roughly 72 percent of the reports among the top ten, and Best Buy and Geek Squad scam reports were about 39 percent on their own. Though, high quantity doesn't necessarily translate to greater success for scammers, as the FTC also showed how much scammers made depending on what companies they impersonated. Best Buy and Geek Squad, Amazon, and PayPal scams made about $15 million, $19 million, and $16 million respectively, but that's nothing compared to the $60 million that Microsoft impersonators were able to fleece. [...] The FTC also reported the vectors scammers use to contact their victims. Phone and email are still the most common means, but social media is becoming increasingly important for scamming and features the most costly scams. The feds additionally disclosed the kinds of payment methods scammers use for all sorts of frauds, including company and individual impersonation scams, investment scams, and romance scams. Cryptocurrency and bank transfers were popular for investment scammers, who are the most prolific on social media, while gift cards were most common for pretty much every other type of scam. However, not all scammers ask for digital payment, as the Federal Bureau of Investigation says that even regular old mail is something scammers are relying on to get their ill-gotten gains.

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Feds Add Nine More Incidents To Waymo Robotaxi Investigation

Slashdot - Sat, 25/05/2024 - 03:25
Nine more accidents have been discovered by federal safety regulators during their safety investigation of Waymo's self-driving vehicles in Phoenix and San Francisco. TechCrunch reports: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) opened an investigation earlier this month into Waymo's autonomous vehicle software after receiving 22 reports of robotaxis making unexpected moves that led to crashes and potentially violated traffic safety laws. The investigation, which has been designated a "preliminary evaluation," is examining the software and its ability to avoid collisions with stationary objects and how well it detects and responds to "traffic safety control devices" like cones. The agency said Friday it has added (PDF) another nine incidents since the investigation was opened. Waymo reported some of these incidents. The others were discovered by regulators via public postings on social media and forums like Reddit, YouTube and X. The additional nine incidents include reports of Waymo robotaxis colliding with gates, utility poles, and parked vehicles, driving in the wrong lane with nearby oncoming traffic and into construction zones. The ODI said it's concerned the robotaxis "exhibiting such unexpected driving behaviors may increase the risk of crash, property damage, and injury." The agency said that while it's not aware of any injuries from these incidents, several involved collisions with visible objects that "a competent driver would be expected to avoid." The agency also expressed concern that some of these occurred near pedestrians. NHTSA has given Waymo until June 11 to respond to a series of questions regarding the investigation.

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Google Threatens To Pause Google News Initiative Funding In US

Slashdot - Sat, 25/05/2024 - 02:45
Google has warned nonprofit newsrooms that a new California bill taxing Big Tech for digital ad transactions would jeopardize future investments in the U.S. news industry. "This is the second time this year Google has threatened to pull investment in news in response to a regulatory threat in California -- but this time, hundreds of publishers outside of California would also feel the impact," reports Axios. From the report: Google's new outreach to smaller news outlets is happening in response to a different bill, introduced this year by State Sen. Steve Glazer, that would tax Big Tech companies like Google and Meta for "data extraction transactions," or digital ad transactions. Tax revenue would fund tax credits meant to support the hiring of more journalists in California by eligible nonprofit local news organizations. With the link tax bill, Google only threatened to pull news investments in California. But the company is telling partners that the ad tax proposal will threaten consideration of new grants nationwide by the Google News Initiative, which funds hundreds of smaller news outlets, sources told Axios. Previous commitments, however, should be secure. A spokesperson for the Institute for Nonprofit News said the organization believes that grants previously committed through GNI as described here "are secure, so INN members should continue to benefit through this particular Fundamentals Labs program." Google's concern, sources familiar with the company's thinking told Axios, is that the new California ad tax bill could set a troubling wider precedent for other states. California's Senate tax committee approved the "ad tax" bill May 8. Days after that, Google started making calls to nonprofits about potentially pausing future Google News Initiative funding, sources told Axios. Opponents argue (PDF) the ad tax burden would get passed down to consumers and businesses. They also say the measure would face legal challenges, similar to a digital ad tax introduced in Maryland last year.

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FTC Chair: AI Models Could Violate Antitrust Laws

Slashdot - Sat, 25/05/2024 - 02:02
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Hill: Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Lina Khan said Wednesday that companies that train their artificial intelligence (A) models on data from news websites, artists' creations or people's personal information could be in violation of antitrust laws. At The Wall Street Journal's "Future of Everything Festival," Khan said the FTC is examining ways in which major companies' data scraping could hinder competition or potentially violate people's privacy rights. "The FTC Act prohibits unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices," Khan said at the event. "So, you can imagine, if somebody's content or information is being scraped that they have produced, and then is being used in ways to compete with them and to dislodge them from the market and divert businesses, in some cases, that could be an unfair method of competition." Khan said concern also lies in companies using people's data without their knowledge or consent, which can also raise legal concerns. "We've also seen a lot of concern about deception, about unfairness, if firms are making one set of representations when you're signing up to use them, but then are secretly or quietly using the data you're feeding them -- be it your personal data, be it, if you're a business, your proprietary data, your competitively significant data -- if they're then using that to feed their models, to compete with you, to abuse your privacy, that can also raise legal concerns," she said. Khan also recognized people's concerns about companies retroactively changing their terms of service to let them use customers' content, including personal photos or family videos, to feed into their AI models. "I think that's where people feel a sense of violation, that that's not really what they signed up for and oftentimes, they feel that they don't have recourse," Khan said. "Some of these services are essential for navigating day to day life," she continued, "and so, if the choice -- 'choice' -- you're being presented with is: sign off on not just being endlessly surveilled, but all of that data being fed into these models, or forego using these services entirely, I think that's a really tough spot to put people in." Khan said she thinks many government agencies have an important role to play as AI continues to develop, saying, "I think in Washington, there's increasingly a recognition that we can't, as a government, just be totally hands off and stand out of the way." You can watch the interview with Khan here.

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UK Law Will Let Regulators Fine Big Tech Without Court Approval

Slashdot - Sat, 25/05/2024 - 01:20
Emma Roth reports via The Verge: The UK could subject big tech companies to hefty fines if they don't comply with new rules meant to promote competition in digital markets. On Thursday, lawmakers passed the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Bill (DMCC) through Parliament, which will let regulators enforce rules without the help of the courts. The DMCC also addresses consumer protection issues by banning fake reviews, forcing companies to be more transparent about their subscription contracts, regulating secondary ticket sales, and getting rid of hidden fees. It will also force certain companies to report mergers to the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The European Union enacted a similar law, called the Digital Markets Act (DMA). Only the companies the CMA designates as having Strategic Market Status (SMS) have to comply. These SMS companies are described as having "substantial and entrenched market power" and "a position of strategic significance" in the UK. They must have a global revenue of more than 25 billion euros or UK revenue of more than 1 billion euros. The law will also give the CMA the authority to determine whether a company has broken a law, require compliance, and issue a fine -- all without going through the court system. The CMA can fine companies up to 10 percent of the total value of a business's global revenue for violating the new rules.

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OpenAI Releases Former Employees From Controversial Exit Agreements

Slashdot - Sat, 25/05/2024 - 00:40
OpenAI has reversed its decision requiring former employees to sign a perpetual non-disparagement agreement to retain their vested equity, stating that they will not cancel any vested units and will remove non-disparagement clauses from departure documents. CNBC reports: The internal memo, which was viewed by CNBC, was sent to former employees and shared with current ones. The memo, addressed to each former employee, said that at the time of the person's departure from OpenAI, "you may have been informed that you were required to execute a general release agreement that included a non-disparagement provision in order to retain the Vested Units [of equity]." "Regardless of whether you executed the Agreement, we write to notify you that OpenAI has not canceled, and will not cancel, any Vested Units," stated the memo, which was viewed by CNBC. The memo said OpenAI will also not enforce any other non-disparagement or non-solicitation contract items that the employee may have signed. "As we shared with employees, we are making important updates to our departure process," an OpenAI spokesperson told CNBC in a statement. "We have not and never will take away vested equity, even when people didn't sign the departure documents. We'll remove non-disparagement clauses from our standard departure paperwork, and we'll release former employees from existing non-disparagement obligations unless the non-disparagement provision was mutual," said the statement, adding that former employees would be informed of this as well. "We're incredibly sorry that we're only changing this language now; it doesn't reflect our values or the company we want to be," the OpenAI spokesperson added.

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Google Search's 'udm=14' Trick Lets You Kill AI Search For Good

Slashdot - Sat, 25/05/2024 - 00:05
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: If you're tired of Google's AI Overview extracting all value from the web while also telling people to eat glue or run with scissors, you can turn it off -- sort of. Google has been telling people its AI box at the top of search results is the future, and you can't turn it off, but that ignores how Google search works: A lot of options are powered by URL parameters. That means you can turn off AI search with this one simple trick! (Sorry.) Our method for killing AI search is defaulting to the new "web" search filter, which Google recently launched as a way to search the web without Google's alpha-quality AI junk. It's actually pretty nice, showing only the traditional 10 blue links, giving you a clean (well, other than the ads), uncluttered results page that looks like it's from 2011. Sadly, Google's UI doesn't have a way to make "web" search the default, and switching to it means digging through the "more" options drop-down after you do a search, so it's a few clicks deep. Check out the URL after you do a search, and you'll see a mile-long URL full of esoteric tracking information and mode information. We'll put each search result URL parameter on a new line so the URL is somewhat readable [...]. Most of these only mean something to Google's internal tracking system, but that "&udm=14" line is the one that will put you in a web search. Tack it on to the end of a normal search, and you'll be booted into the clean 10 blue links interface. While Google might not let you set this as a default, if you have a way to automatically edit the Google search URL, you can create your own defaults. One way to edit the search URL is a proxy site like udm14.com, which is probably the biggest site out there popularizing this technique. A proxy site could, if it wanted to, read all your search result queries, though (your query is also in the URL), so whether you trust this site is up to you.

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Countries Fail To Agree on Treaty To Prepare the World for the Next Pandemic

Slashdot - Fri, 24/05/2024 - 23:05
Countries around the globe have failed to reach consensus on the terms of a treaty that would unify the world in a strategy against the inevitable next pandemic, trumping the nationalist ethos that emerged during Covid-19. From a report: The deliberations, which were scheduled to be a central item at the weeklong meeting of the World Health Assembly beginning Monday in Geneva, aimed to correct the inequities in access to vaccines and treatments between wealthier nations and poorer ones that became glaringly apparent during the Covid pandemic. Although much of the urgency around Covid has faded since the treaty negotiations began two years ago, public health experts are still acutely aware of the pandemic potential of emerging pathogens, familiar threats like bird flu and mpox, and once-vanquished diseases like smallpox. "Those of us in public health recognize that another pandemic really could be around the corner," said Loyce Pace, an assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services, who oversees the negotiations in her role as the United States liaison to the World Health Organization. Negotiators had hoped to adopt the treaty next week. But canceled meetings and fractious debates -- sometimes over a single word -- stalled agreement on key sections, including equitable access to vaccines. The negotiating body plans to ask for more time to continue the discussions.

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Another US State Repeals Law That Protected ISPs From Municipal Competition

Slashdot - Fri, 24/05/2024 - 22:25
Minnesota this week eliminated two laws that made it harder for cities and towns to build their own broadband networks. From a report: The state-imposed restrictions were repealed in an omnibus commerce policy bill signed on Tuesday by Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat. Minnesota was previously one of about 20 states that imposed significant restrictions on municipal broadband. The number can differ depending on who's counting because of disagreements over what counts as a significant restriction. But the list has gotten smaller in recent years because states including Arkansas, Colorado, and Washington repealed laws that hindered municipal broadband. The Minnesota bill enacted this week struck down a requirement that municipal telecommunications networks be approved in an election with 65 percent of the vote. The law is over a century old, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance's Community Broadband Network Initiative wrote yesterday.

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After You Die, Your Steam Games Will Be Stuck in Legal Limbo

Slashdot - Fri, 24/05/2024 - 21:20
As Valve's Steam gaming platform approaches its 21st anniversary, aging PC gamers are grappling with the question of what will happen to their extensive digital game collections after they pass away. Recent inquiries to Steam support have highlighted the platform's policy that accounts and games are non-transferable, even through a last will and testament. While some potential loopholes exist, such as sharing account information with descendants or bequeathing a physical device with games installed, the legal ownership of these digital assets remains murky.

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Apple Built a Tetris Clone For the iPod But Never Released It

Slashdot - Fri, 24/05/2024 - 20:40
Apple once designed a Tetris clone that has been found on a prototype version of the third-generation iPod, indicating the company was experimenting with releasing the game on the music player. From a report: It's called Stacker and, obviously, is controlled via the iPod's scroll wheel. The software was spotted by X user AppleDemoYT, who is known for finding rare prototype devices. The prototype iPod is a "DVT" device, meaning it was a mid-stage device that was still in "Design Validation Testing." It has a model number of A1023, which is not a known model number of any iPod version. The device runs a prototype version of iPodOS 2.0, which is where Stacker comes from. The pieces are moved from left to right using the scroll wheel and they fall when the middle button is pressed. The goal is to clear lines and score points. You know the deal. It's Tetris. It's not the only game found on the prototype iPod. There's something called Block0, which is likely an early version of Brick. The device also features a game called Klondike, which is likely an early version of Solitaire. The music player did eventually get some games, including the aforementioned Solitaire and Brick. AppleDemoYT asked former Apple VP Tony Fadell why Stacker was never released and he said it was because games didn't show up until a "later software release."

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Apple Explains Rare iOS 17.5 Bug That Resurfaced Deleted Photos

Slashdot - Fri, 24/05/2024 - 20:02
Apple has shed more light on the bizarre iOS 17.5 bug that caused long-deleted photos to mysteriously reappear on users' devices. In a statement to 9to5Mac, the iPhone maker clarified that the issue stemmed from a corrupted database on the device itself, not iCloud Photos. This means the photos were never fully erased from the device, but they also weren't synced to iCloud. Interestingly, these files could have hitched a ride to new devices through backups or direct transfers.

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Messaging Service ICQ To Shut Down Next Month After Nearly 30 Years

Slashdot - Fri, 24/05/2024 - 19:20
ICQ, a once-popular IM, is shutting down on June 26, it says on its website. It once served tens of millions of users daily.

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Environment Agency Chief Admits Regulator Buries Freedom of Information Requests

Slashdot - Fri, 24/05/2024 - 18:40
The head of the UK Environment Agency has admitted that freedom of information requests have been buried by the regulator because the truth about the environment in England is "embarrassing." From a report: Philip Duffy, the body's chief executive, told an audience at the UK River Summit in Morden, south London, this week that his officials were "worried about revealing the true state of what is going on" with regards to the state of the environment. The regulator holds information including about pollution, the state of England's waterways, the meetings its bosses have with water company CEOs, and other data about the state of nature in the country. The Information Commissioner's Office, which oversees the law on the Freedom of Information Act, has warned the regulator that the public have a right to have their requests answered and that transparency should be taken seriously. An ICO spokesperson said: "People have the legal right to promptly receive information they're entitled to and we take action when they don't. We've been clear that public sector leaders should take transparency seriously and see the benefits it brings, including scrutiny of processes and approaches that can then benefit from improvement."

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Signal Slams Telegram's Security

Slashdot - Fri, 24/05/2024 - 18:00
Messaging app Signal's president Meredith Whittaker criticized rival Telegram's security on Friday, saying Telegram founder Pavel Durov is "full of s---" in his claims about Signal. "Telegram is a social media platform, it's not encrypted, it's the least secure of messaging and social media services out there," Whittaker told TechCrunch in an interview. The comments come amid a war of words between Whittaker, Durov and Twitter owner Elon Musk over the security of their respective platforms. Whittaker said Durov's amplification of claims questioning Signal's security was "incredibly reckless" and "actually harms real people." "Play your games, but don't take them into my court," Whittaker said, accusing Durov of prioritizing being "followed by a professional photographer" over getting facts right about Signal's encryption. Signal uses end-to-end encryption by default, while Telegram only offers it for "secret chats." Whittaker said many in Ukraine and Russia use Signal for "actual serious communications" while relying on Telegram's less-secure social media features. She said the "jury is in" on the platforms' comparative security and that Signal's open source code allows experts to validate its privacy claims, which have the trust of the security community.

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Australia Takes Singtel-owned Optus To Court Over 2022 Cyber Attack

Slashdot - Fri, 24/05/2024 - 17:30
Australia's media regulator is taking legal action against telecom carrier Optus, owned by Singapore Telecommunications, over a cyber attack it faced in September 2022, the telecom operator said on Wednesday. From a report: Australia's No.2 telco, had in September 2022 faced a massive data breach which exposed customers' personal information, including home addresses, passport and phone numbers. Following the incident, the country's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese called for tougher privacy rules to force companies to notify banks faster when they experience similar data breaches. About 10 million Australians, 40% of the population, are Optus customers and could not use smartphones, broadband internet or landlines for much of the day of the breach. The Australian Communications and Media Authority is alleging that Optus Mobile failed to protect the confidentiality of personally identifiable information of its customers from unauthorised interference or unauthorised access.

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California Advances Bill For Porn Site Age Verification

Slashdot - Fri, 24/05/2024 - 16:41
California is another state lining up to pass a law requiring adult sites to verify the ages of porn watchers. From a report: The California State Assembly passed the Parent's Accountability and Child Protection Act that will require porn companies doing business in the state to verify that users are 18 years or older. This law would also affect other businesses such as fireworks, body branding, and even BB guns. Democrat Rebecca Bauer-Kahan and Republican Juan Alanis pushed for passage of the bill, which ended up receiving 65 out of possible 80 yes votes, and zero no votes with 15 assembly members listed as not voting. Before the bill becomes law, it still has to pass the State Senate and then be signed by Governor Gavin Newsom. Louisiana was the first state to pass an age verification law for adult sites in 2022. In the past year, several other states jumped on the bandwagon including Utah, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.

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Courtroom Recording Software Compromised With Backdoor Installer

Slashdot - Fri, 24/05/2024 - 16:01
Hackers have compromised a popular courtroom recording software, JAVS, gaining full control through a backdoored update. Louisville, Kentucky-based Justice AV Solutions, its maker, pulled the compromised software, reset passwords, and audited its systems. Cybersecurity firm Rapid7 found that the corrupted installer grants attackers full access and transmits host system data to a command-and-control server. The Record adds: In its advisory, Rapid7 stressed the need to reimage all endpoints where the software was installed, and to reset credentials on web browsers and for any accounts logged into affected endpoints, both local and remote. "Simply uninstalling the software is insufficient, as attackers may have implanted additional backdoors or malware. Re-imaging provides a clean slate," they wrote. "Completely re-imaging affected endpoints and resetting associated credentials is critical to ensure attackers have not persisted through backdoors or stolen credentials."

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Crows Can 'Count' Out Loud, Study Shows

Slashdot - Fri, 24/05/2024 - 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ScienceAlert: A team of scientists has shown that crows can 'count' out loud -- producing a specific and deliberate number of caws in response to visual and auditory cues. While other animals such as honeybees have shown an ability to understand numbers, this specific manifestation of numeric literacy has not yet been observed in any other non-human species. "Producing a specific number of vocalizations with purpose requires a sophisticated combination of numerical abilities and vocal control," writes the team of researchers led by neuroscientist Diana Liao of the University of Tubingen in Germany. "Whether this capacity exists in animals other than humans is yet unknown. We show that crows can flexibly produce variable numbers of one to four vocalizations in response to arbitrary cues associated with numerical values." The ability to count aloud is distinct from understanding numbers. It requires not only that understanding, but purposeful vocal control with the aim of communication. Humans are known to use speech to count numbers and communicate quantities, an ability taught young. [...] "Our results demonstrate that crows can flexibly and deliberately produce an instructed number of vocalizations by using the 'approximate number system', a non-symbolic number estimation system shared by humans and animals," the researchers write in their paper. "This competency in crows also mirrors toddlers' enumeration skills before they learn to understand cardinal number words and may therefore constitute an evolutionary precursor of true counting where numbers are part of a combinatorial symbol system." The findings have been published in the journal Science.

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