Microsoft’s standing to sue over secret US data requests in question

Microsoft’s lawsuit objecting to the indiscriminate use by U.S. law enforcement of orders that demand user data without the opportunity to inform the customer may run into questions about the software giant’s standing to raise the issue on behalf of its customers.

A government motion to dismiss Microsoft’s complaint comes up for oral arguments Monday and significantly the judge said on Thursday that the issue of whether Fourth Amendment rights are personal or can be “vicariously” asserted by third-parties on behalf of their customers would have to be addressed by both sides. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits unreasonable searches and seizure of property.

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Data shows Tesla vehicle crashes dropped 40% with Autopilot

After closing an investigation into a fatal crash between a Tesla driver using Autopilot and a tractor-trailer, the U.S. Department of Transportation has found no safety issues with the semi-autonomous driving technology.

The federal investigation by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), which included crash rate data provided by Tesla, found that vehicles using Autopilot features were actually 40% less likely to crash.

The NHTSA examination did not identify any defects in the design or performance of either the Model S sedan or Model X crossover SUV’s automatic emergency braking (AEB) or Autopilot systems, nor any incidents in which the systems did not perform as designed.

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Inside Intel’s bold plan to personalize live 3D sports broadcasts

Viewers may soon see a big change coming in the way they experience the chills and thrills of live sports broadcasts. It’ll be customizable, interactive, and it will put them at the center of the experience.

If it goes as envisioned, Intel’s multi-year plan will allow viewers to tailor their own live sports broadcasts, and watch events as if they were on the field.

The live sports broadcasts will be available for VR headsets, PCs, and even TVs. The experience will be unlike live sports today, in which the views and angles are selected by the broadcasters.

Instead, viewers in real-time will be able to create their own 3D broadcast of a sports event. Viewers will be able to select any type of view or camera angle they want for the live broadcast.

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Assange seeks to discuss his US extradition with the feds

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said he stands by an earlier pledge to face trial in the U.S., but he is first urging federal investigators to name the exact charges against him.

“I stand by what I said,” Assange stated during a webcast on Thursday. “We look forward to having a conversation with the DOJ (U.S. Department of Justice) about what the correct way forward is.”

Assange previously made his pledge on the condition that President Barack Obama grant clemency to Chelsea Manning, a former U.S. soldier who was jailed for disclosing sensitive documents to WikiLeaks back in 2010.

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Mozilla’s new corporate logo evokes URL lingo

new mozilla logo

Mozilla yesterday unveiled a new logo for the company and foundation, one that includes typographical elements of a standard URL to “design the language of the Internet into our brand identity.”

The move dismissed the old dinosaur image and “Mozilla” typeface that the organization had relied on for decades.

Mozilla’s new logo — the characters “moz://a” with the colon and two slashes nabbed from a traditional URL — was one of several semi-finalists revealed in August. The logo submissions that didn’t make the cut included a large M, another that resembled origami, and a third that evoked a hieroglyph or petrograph.

Mozilla

“We want to be known as the champions for a healthy Internet,” wrote Mozilla’s creative director, Tim Murray, on the organization’s website, as he explained the need for a new branding logo. “Because we are so committed to ensuring the Internet is a healthy global public resource, open and accessible to everyone, we’ve designed the language of the Internet into our brand identity.”

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Avaya says bankruptcy is a step toward software and services

Networking and collaboration vendor Avaya declared bankruptcy on Thursday, calling the move part of its transition from a hardware to a software and services company.

Avaya emerged from Lucent Technologies in 2000 with a focus on phone switches, enterprise networking gear, and call-center systems. But with the shift toward mobile phones and cloud-based tools for communication, and a tight market for enterprise network equipment, the company has been changing its focus.

It plans to keep operating during the bankruptcy thanks to its cash from operations and US$725 million in financing that still needs approval by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Avaya said its foreign affiliates aren’t included in the filing and won’t be affected.

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As with PCs, you can now customize Raspberry Pi-like computers

The Raspberry Pi 3 is a great product, but it can’t be customized. People may desire more storage or a faster processor, but have to settle for features on the board computer.

The lack of customization with board computers is driven by their low prices. Buyers get features commensurate with the low price of boards like the US$35 Raspberry Pi and $15 Pine64.

No one’s complaining about the low prices, but the one-size-fits-all nature may not be for everyone. Taking a page from PC makers, Via Technology is now making it possible to configure board computers to specific needs through its website.

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Encrypted email service ProtonMail is now accessible over Tor

The creators of encrypted email service ProtonMail have set up a server that’s only accessible over the Tor anonymity network as a way to fight possible censorship attempts in some countries.

ProtonMail was created by computer engineers who met while working at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). The service provides end-to-end encrypted email through a web-based interface and mobile apps, but the encryption is performed on the client side, and the ProtonMail servers never have access to plaintext messages or encryption keys.

On Thursday, Proton Technologies, the Geneva-based company that runs ProtonMail, announced that it has set up a Tor hidden service, or onion site, to allow users to access the service directly inside the Tor anonymity network.

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Google reveals its stealthy moves to keep Android phones free from malware

Way back when Android 4.2 Jelly Bean was released, Google added a feature called Verify Apps that sought to protect users who inadvertently may have downloaded a piece of malware and attempted to side-load it onto their phone. The service, which is enabled by default on all Android devices, scans apps that are installed from sources other than the Play Store, and warns the user if they may be potentially harmful.

It’s so silent and unobtrusive, most users don’t even know Verify Apps is running, which also means they don’t know when it’s not running. As Google explains in a blog post, that could be the result of an app that has snuck by its gate-keeping and purposefully turned it off, opening the door for potential problems. Google calls these devices Dead or Insecure (DOI), and in turn, if an app has a high percentage of DOI devices downloading it, it will be considered a DOI app. That’s where Google’s security wizardry comes into play.

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EU antitrust regulators praise audiobooks deal from Apple, Amazon

Antitrust regulators from the European Union have welcomed an agreement between Apple and Amazon to end exclusivity deals for audiobooks.

The agreement between Apple and Amazon and its Audible service to remove the exclusivity obligations allows Audible to supply its downloadable audiobooks to third-party platforms beyond iTunes, the European Commission said Thursday. In addition, the agreement will allow Apple to source audiobooks from new suppliers and will allow publishers to enter into distributions agreements directly with Apple, the Commission said.

Audible and Apple’s iTunes store are two of the world’s largest distributors of downloadable audiobooks to consumers. Audible, owned by Amazon since 2008, is the world’s largest seller and producer of downloadable audiobooks.

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Attackers start wiping data from CouchDB and Hadoop databases

It was only a matter of time until ransomware groups that wiped data from thousands of MongoDB databases and Elasticsearch clusters started targeting other data storage technologies. Researchers are now observing similar destructive attacks hitting openly accessible Hadoop and CouchDB deployments.

Security researchers Victor Gevers and Niall Merrigan, who monitored the MongoDB and Elasticsearch attacks so far, have also started keeping track of the new Hadoop and CouchDB victims. The two have put together spreadsheets on Google Docs where they document the different attack signatures and messages left behind after data gets wiped from databases.

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