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Industry & Technology

Twitter tags Trump tweet with fact-checking warning

BBC Technology News - 52 min 10 sec ago
This is the first time the social media giant has said President Trump's tweet could be misleading.

Meet unc0ver, the new jailbreak that pops shell—and much more—on any iPhone

Ars Technica - 2 hours 17 min ago

Enlarge (credit: Maurizio Pesce / Flickr)

Hackers have released a new jailbreak that any user can employ to gain root access on any iPhone, regardless of the hardware as long as it runs iOS 11 or later.

Dubbed unc0ver, the exploit works only when someone has physical access to an unlocked device and connects it to a computer. Those requirements mean that the jailbreak is unlikely to be used in most malicious scenarios, such as through malware that surreptitiously gains unfettered system rights to an iPhone or iPad. The inability for unc0ver to survive a reboot also makes it less likely it will be used in hostile situations.

Rather, unc0ver is more of a tool that allows users to break locks Apple developers put in place to limit key capabilities such as what apps can be installed, the monitoring of OS functions, and various other tweaks that are standard on most other OSes. The jailbreak, for instance, allows users to gain a UNIX shell that has root privileges to the iPhone. From there, users can use UNIX commands to do whatever they’d like.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Coronavirus: NHS app paves the way for 'immunity passports'

BBC Technology News - 2 hours 44 min ago
"Passports" showing individuals' health status could become the next front for fighting the pandemic.

Coronavirus: Apprentice star's ads banned over Covid-19 claims

BBC Technology News - 2 hours 45 min ago
Watchdog said Revival Shots had suggested its rehydration sachets could help treat the disease.

Facebook shareholders try to block encryption plan

BBC Technology News - 2 hours 45 min ago
A groups of investors is concerned the social network could become a haven for child exploitation.

Twitter’s first fact-check on President Trump calls out “false claims” [Updated]

Ars Technica - 3 hours 5 min ago

Enlarge / Twitter's policies currently protect apparent rule-breaking posts due to a "world leader" clause. Tuesday saw the social media service try a different tack. (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

Twitter's newest fact-checking initiative, which slaps warnings on misleading posts by major public officials, appeared on arguably the biggest possible account in North America on Tuesday: President Donald Trump.

Earlier that day, Trump used Twitter to allege that mail-in voting is inherently "fraudulent." Hours later, his posts were updated by Twitter to include a clickable, plain-text notice—"get the facts about mail-in ballots"—next to an exclamation-point icon.

Clicking that notice directs users to a page that cites "CNN, Washington Post and other fact checkers" in disputing the president's Tuesday-morning allegation. But before the Twitter page links to these citations, it opens with what appears to be entirely original language, as opposed to a quote from a press outlet:

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

House expected to vote on search and browsing privacy this week

Ars Technica - May 26, 2020 - 10:33pm

Enlarge / Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), center, on Capitol Hill in March 2020. (credit: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

An amendment to protect Americans' search and browsing records from government snooping is gaining momentum in the House of Representatives. A vote on the proposal could come as soon as Wednesday.

Two weeks ago, the Senate passed legislation renewing a controversial Patriot Act spying provision known as Section 215. Privacy advocates in the Senate proposed an amendment prohibiting the FBI from using Section 215 to obtain Americans' search and browsing histories. The proposal was supported by 59 out of 100 senators—one fewer than the 60 votes required for the amendment to pass under the Senate's dysfunctional rules.

Now the bill has moved to the House of Representatives, where privacy advocates are hoping to have more success. The House doesn't have the same supermajority rule, so it shouldn't take more than a simple majority to pass the amendment. That would set up a showdown with the Senate about the final text of the bill.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Which Batmobile is best? This documentary looks at all Batman’s rides

Ars Technica - May 26, 2020 - 9:42pm

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Warner Bros)

There can't be many vehicles in popular culture as well-known as Batman's Batmobile. The car is as much a character as the Caped Crusader himself, and it's the topic of a documentary simply titled The Batmobile that Warner Bros. put online recently. I must confess, I'm a couple of weeks late to the party, for I only learned about the video—which I think was originally one of the extras on 2012's Blu-ray of The Dark Knight Rises—in our virtual office this morning. And I was originally going to write this piece as an argument for the one true Batmobile, but actually, that would be wrong. Instead, the documentary convinced me that each iteration of Batman's ride is equally valid in its own right.

OK, maybe not the unmodified Cadillac that he used in a 1943 production, but definitely the rest of them. As the character developed in print, the Batmobile went through a series of changes, usually at the whim of whomever was drawing it at the time. But for many, the name Batmobile probably conjures up images of the 1960s TV version. Designed by legendary customizer George Barris and driven by Adam West, I'm currently struck by just how well-labeled every batgadget happens to be.

In the 1980s, director Tim Burton brought the darkness back to live-action Batman, influenced by comics like Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns and Brian Bolland and Alan Moore's The Killing Joke. Did you know that the Burton Batmobile's jet-like canopy came about because the film's art director forgot to leave room for more conventional doors? Other neat facts I have learned today are that the taillights are borrowed from a Ferrari, and the fuel filler comes from one of London's Routemaster buses.

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SpaceX and US Army sign deal to test Starlink broadband for military use

Ars Technica - May 26, 2020 - 8:33pm

Enlarge / CEO Elon Musk at SpaceX Headquarters in Hawthorne, California, on October 10, 2019. (credit: Getty Images | NurPhoto)

The US Army has signed a three-year deal with SpaceX to test the company's Starlink satellite-broadband service, SpaceNews reported today.

On May 20, the Army and SpaceX signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA), an Army source told the news organization. This will allow the Army to use Starlink broadband in order to determine whether it should be rolled out for wider use.

"CRADAs are commonly used by the military to evaluate technologies and services from the private sector before it commits to buying them," SpaceNews wrote. "The Army in this case wants to be able to assess the performance of the Starlink low-Earth orbit [LEO] Internet service when connected to military systems. The Army will seek answers to key questions such as what ground equipment it will need to use Starlink and how much systems integration work could be required."

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Proposed bill would ban microtargeting of political advertisements

Ars Technica - May 26, 2020 - 8:19pm

Enlarge / Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) chairing a House committee hearing pandemic-style on Thursday, May 14 2020. (credit: Greg Nash—Pool | Getty Images)

Internet-based advertising has been a boon for both political campaigns and disinformation campaigns, which love to take advantage of the ability to slice and dice the electorate into incredibly tiny and carefully targeted segments for their messaging. These ads—which may or may not be truthful and are designed to play very specifically on tiny groups—are incredibly difficult for regulators, researchers, and anyone else not in the targeted group to see, identify, analyze, and rebut.

Google prohibits this kind of microtargeting for political ads, while Twitter tries not to allow any political advertising. Facebook, on the other hand, is happy to let politicians lie in their ads and continue microtargeting on its platform. Members of Congress have challenged Facebook and its CEO to explain this stance in the face of rampant disinformation campaigns, but to no avail.

Lawmakers now want to go further and make this kind of microtargeting for political advertising against the law. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) today introduced a bill (PDF) that would amend federal election law to do just that.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Motorola is taking a second swing at a modern Moto Razr reboot

Ars Technica - May 26, 2020 - 7:39pm

It looks like Motorola is going to take another crack at reviving the Moto Razr. Two sources now say a second-gen Moto Razr reboot is on the way, after the embarrassing public flop of the first-gen Razr reboot.

The first source is straight from Lenovo, Motorola's parent company. During a discussion on the Reframed Tech podcast, Lenovo South Africa General Manager Thibault Dousson said "a new iteration" of the Moto Razr was on the way "in September, I think." That's not really the normal way to announce a new product, but it would not be the first time a Lenovo executive has taken a personal approach to product news.

Source #2 is XDA Developers, which, after nailing the specs for the first-gen Razr months ahead of launch, has a set of specs for the second-gen Razr that promise a much higher-end device.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

New Android vulnerability Strandhogg 2.0 exploits user trust

Ars Technica - May 26, 2020 - 7:26pm

Enlarge / Strandhogg 2.0 can be thought of as the ultimate phishing attack. When the user taps a legitimate icon—which could be for email, camera, etc—the malware intercepts the tap and can present a copycat dialog instead. (credit: Promon)

A Norwegian infosec firm discovered a new Android vulnerability, which they've dubbed Strandhogg 2.0. Security firm Promon says "Strandhogg" is an old Norse strategy for coastline raids and abductions, and today's vulnerability is the "evil twin" of a similar one discovered in 2019.

The original Strandhogg used an Android feature called taskAffinity to hijack applications—by setting the taskAffinity of one of its activities to match the packageName of any other app, then setting allowTaskReparenting="true" in its own manifest, the Strandhogg app would be launched in place of the target app.

Imagine tapping the legitimate Gmail icon on your phone and getting what appears to be a legitimate login prompt, pixel-for-pixel identical with the one you'd see if your account had been logged off. Would you enter your credentials? If one of the free games or apps you or a child might have installed was a Strandhogg vessel, you just gave your credentials to an attacker—which might even launch the Gmail application itself immediately after testing your credentials, leaving no obvious sign you had been compromised.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Take $30 off a new Amazon Kindle, our recommended budget ebook reader

Ars Technica - May 26, 2020 - 6:53pm

Enlarge (credit: Ars Technica)

Today's Dealmaster is headlined by a nice discount on the Amazon Kindle, which is currently down to $60. That's tied for the lowest price we've tracked for Amazon's entry-level ebook reader and a $30 drop from its usual going rate. The deal also bundles a three-month subscription to Amazon's Kindle Unlimited ebook service, which typically costs $30 on its own. Just note that the subscription will be set to auto-renew at $10 a month once the free period is up, so you may want to set a reminder for yourself if you wish to cancel.

The Kindle is the "best budget" option in our guide to the best ebook readers. We like it for offering a decent 6-inch display with adjustable front lighting that helps it stay visible in darker environments, a lightweight (6.01 oz.) and comfortable design that takes up little room in a bag, solid battery life that lasts roughly four weeks a charge, and Bluetooth connectivity that lets you connect wireless headphones and listen to Audible audiobooks. And like any other Kindle, it comes with access to Amazon's massive ebook library.

To be clear, though, this is priced below Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite, our favorite ebook reader, for a reason. By comparison, the entry-level Kindle's display isn't as sharp, with a 167-pixel-per-inch (ppi) density compared to the Paperwhite's crisper 300ppi display. This won't be a major nuisance unless you're coming from a sharper ereader display, but the Kindle's text is fuzzier, and the drop-off will be particularly noticeable with image-heavy material like comic books and manga. Beyond that, the Kindle lacks the Paperwhite's waterproofing, its display is a tad dimmer due to having one fewer LED front light, it has half as much storage space at 4GB, and its display is recessed from the rest of the design, not set flush à la the higher-end model. In either case, you still have to put up with home-screen ads (unless you pay a one-time fee) and DRM protection that effectively locks your ebook library into Amazon's platform.

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Early tests of vaccine for COVID-19 pass peer review, look promising

Ars Technica - May 26, 2020 - 6:34pm

Enlarge / Test doses of another potential SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. (credit: MLADEN ANTONOV / Getty Images)

We still don't know how well a robust immune response protects people from SARS-CoV-2 infection. But we've got a further indication that vaccines can induce a strong immune response. Just prior to the holiday weekend, a Chinese team released the results of a safety trial done using a harmless virus that had been modified to carry one of the coronavirus genes. While there were a number of side effects, everyone getting the vaccine had a robust antibody response, including some antibodies that neutralized the virus.

Familiar virus, new protein

The first indication of progress toward a vaccine that we're aware of came in the form of a company press release. This new one comes in the form of a peer-reviewed article in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet. Most of its authors are academic researchers or public health authorities; only two have affiliations with a company.

The two reports also differ significantly in terms of their approach to generating an immune response. The earlier announcement, from a company called Moderna, involved injecting carefully packed RNAs that encode the spike protein that normally resides on the surface of the virus. The RNAs transit inside a person's cells and induce them to produce the spike protein, thereby exposing the immune system to it.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

YouTube auto-deletes comments with phrases critical of Chinese government [Updated]

Ars Technica - May 26, 2020 - 5:50pm

Enlarge / Protesters in Taipei, Taiwan, demonstrate for granting political asylum to Hong Kongers in January 2020. (credit: Walid Berrazeg/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

YouTube's software is automatically deleting comments with two phrases critical of the Chinese Communist Party, the Verge reported on Tuesday morning.

“共匪” means "communist bandit." It was a derogatory term used by Nationalists during the Chinese Civil War that ended in 1949. It continues to be used by Chinese-speaking critics of the Beijing regime, including in Taiwan.

“五毛” means “50-cent party.” It's a derogatory term for people who are paid by the Chinese government to participate in online discussions and promote official Communist Party positions. In the early years of China's censored Internet, such commenters were allegedly paid 50 cents (in China's currency, the yuan) per post.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Audi parks driver for using a ringer in charity esports race

Ars Technica - May 26, 2020 - 4:06pm

Enlarge / Daniel Abt in happier times, taking part in a sim race at this year's Santiago ePrix in Chile. After doing unusually well in a sim race this weekend, it turned out Abt had brought in a ringer. (credit: Audi Communications Motorsport / Michael Kunkel)

The combination of racing drivers and esports is turning out to be full of drama. When COVID-19 put a stop to real-world racing in March, professional series moved the action, using sims like iRacing and rFactor 2 along with streaming platforms like Twitch to give drivers something to do and fans something to watch. But the transition hasn't been a smooth one for some of the professional drivers, particularly those who had little interest or experience in the simulation side of things before the pandemic.

Audi's Daniel Abt is the latest to discover that it's not just a game when you're being paid to show up. The latest incident took place on Saturday in Formula E's Race at Home challenge, where the sport's real-world stars show up to compete in rFactor 2 to raise money for UNICEF. Set in a virtual version of Berlin's Tempelhof airport, Abt qualified well and raced to third place, a performance that was in stark contrast to his previous esports races. This, and the fact that he was obscured from view in his video feed, raised suspicions among some of the other drivers.

Rage-quitting, racist remarks, now a ringer

Those suspicions had merit. When the esports race organizers investigated, they checked IP address data and discovered the presence of a ringer—sim racing professional Lorenz Hoerzing, who raced pretending to be Abt. Disqualified from the race, Abt was ordered to donate $10,817 (€10,000) to charity. (Hoerzing was also stripped of his sixth-place finish in the companion event held for professional sim racers, and banned from competing in that series again.) After admitting he swapped in Hoerzing, Abt apologized in a statement on Sunday.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Google deletes millions of negative TikTok reviews

BBC Technology News - May 26, 2020 - 3:24pm
Angry users had flooded the app with one-star reviews over a controversial video.

Coronavirus: First Google/Apple-based contact-tracing app launched

BBC Technology News - May 26, 2020 - 2:37pm
A Swiss contact-tracing app gains a limited release but may be overtaken by a Latvian effort.

Minecraft Dungeons review: A smashing good Diablo clone for any age

Ars Technica - May 26, 2020 - 1:42pm

Enlarge / Redstone golems are a real pain in the Minecraft Dungeons butt. (credit: Mojang)

When Microsoft acquired the game studio Mojang in 2014 for a whopping $2.5 billion, fans of its biggest series, Minecraft, immediately wondered what would happen next. Would this be the end of Minecraft on rival platforms like PlayStation? Was the Java version toast? Would we have to suffer through some ill-fitting abomination like Minecraft: Kinect Dance Party?

Turns out, Microsoft has largely been a solid shepherd for the blocky series. The traditional Minecraft game continues receiving regular free updates across every platform imaginable, and its cross-platform builds sit alongside the original Java incarnation. Also, we didn't wind up with a bunch of annoying spin-off games; so far, there has just been a well-reviewed Telltale adventure and a decent Pokemon Go clone.

Microsoft and Mojang's combined ambitions grow this week with Minecraft Dungeons, the first series spin-off to germinate from within Mojang's offices. At E3 2019, the studio admitted to having run a skunkworks division for some time, focused on finding the right game concept for its mega-hit universe. Its first spinoff salvo comes in the form of a family-friendly action-RPG.

Read 23 remaining paragraphs | Comments

I laughed a lot at Netflix’s Space Force, but my inner space wonk cried

Ars Technica - May 26, 2020 - 1:22pm

Enlarge / Dan Bakkedahl as secretary of defense spells it out: Boots on the Moon by 2024. (credit: Netflix)

Note: This is not a review of Netflix's Space Force, but in discussing differences between the series' first season and the real world, this article contains minor plot spoilers—but not enough to spoil 99 percent of the series' jokes and plot developments.

One of the opening scenes of Netflix's new comedy series Space Force hilariously depicts General Mark Naird (Steve Carell) at his first meeting as part of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

This scene establishes the premise for the main story line of the show. Comedian Dan Bakkedahl (similar to his portrayal of a congressman in Veep) plays the part of Secretary of Defense John Blandsmith. After introducing Naird as a new four-star general, Blandsmith gets to the point:

Read 18 remaining paragraphs | Comments


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