- Technology The RSS feed of en Bangladesh News 24 Hours Ltd. 2013-05-11 10:08:19 +0600 2013-05-11 10:08:19 +0600 Technology 1 1 Technology technology Technology news 236 1604857 >>Brian X Chen, The New York Times empty >>Brian X Chen, The New York Times empty 2019-03-22 02:07:45 +0600 2019-03-22 02:07:45 +0600 Facebook did not securely store passwords Facebook did not securely store passwords. Here’s what you need to know Its employees had the capacity to access to millions of accounts without their knowledge Facebook said on Thursday that millions of user account passwords had been stored insecurely, potentially allowing employees to gain access to people’s accounts without their knowledge. false FILE PHOTO: A man reads a newspaper at the reception area of Facebook's new office in Mumbai, India May 27, 2016. Reuters
The Silicon Valley company publicised the security failure around the same time that Brian Krebs, a cybersecurity writer, reported the password vulnerability. Krebs said an audit by Facebook had found that hundreds of millions of user passwords dating to 2012 were stored in a format known as plain text, which makes the passwords readable to more than 20,000 of the company’s employees.

Facebook said it had found no evidence of abuse and that it would begin alerting millions of its users and thousands of Instagram users about the issue. The company said it would not require people to reset their passwords.

The security failure is another embarrassment for Facebook, a $470 billion colossus that employs some of the most sought-after cybersecurity experts in the industry. It adds to a growing list of data scandals that have tarnished Facebook’s reputation over the last few years. Last year, amid revelations that a political consulting firm improperly gained access to the data of millions, Facebook also revealed that an attack on its network had exposed the personal information of tens of millions of users.

In response, the company has repeatedly said it plans to improve how it safeguards people’s data.

“There is nothing more important to us than protecting people’s information, and we will continue making improvements as part of our ongoing security efforts at Facebook,” Pedro Canahuati, Facebook’s vice president of engineering in security and privacy, said in a blog post on Thursday.

Here’s a rundown of what you need to know about the password vulnerability and what you can do.


Storing passwords in plain text is a poor security practice. It leaves passwords wide open to cyberattacks or potential employee abuse. A better security practice would have been to keep the passwords in an encrypted format, which would have scrambled the data so no one could decipher the passwords without a key.

Facebook said it has not found evidence of abuse, but that does not mean it did not occur. Citing a Facebook insider, Krebs said access records revealed that 2,000 engineers or developers made 9 million queries for data that included plain-text user passwords.

A Facebook employee could have shared your password with someone else who would then have improper access to your account, for instance. Or an employee could have read your password and used it to log on to a different site where you used the same password. There are plenty of possibilities.

Ultimately, a company as large, rich and as well-staffed as Facebook should have known better.


There’s no easy way to know. Facebook is still in the process of its investigation and will begin alerting people who might have had their passwords stored in the plain text format.


Facebook is not requiring users to change their passwords, but you should do it anyway.

There are many methods for how to set strong passwords — for example, do not use the same password across multiple sites, and do not use your Social Security number as a username or a password. You can set up security features such as two-step verification as well.

There are a few other steps to take. I recommend also setting up your Facebook account to receive alerts in the event that an unrecognised device logs in to the account. To do so, go to your Facebook app settings, tap Security and Login, and then tap Get alerts about unrecognised logins. From here, you can choose to receive the alerts via messages, email or notifications.

An audit of devices that are logged in to your account may also be in order, so that you know what laptops, phones and other gadgets are already accessing your account. On Facebook’s Security and Login page, under the tab labelled “Where You’re Logged in,” you can see a list of devices that are signed into your account, as well as their locations.

If you see an unfamiliar gadget or a device signed in from an odd location, you can click the “Remove” button to boot the device out of your account.

© 2019 New York Times News Service

1604856 FILE PHOTO: A man reads a newspaper at the reception area of Facebook's new office in Mumbai, India May 27, 2016. Reuters
2 1 Technology technology Technology news 236 1604555 >>Daisuke Wakabayashi and Brian X Chen, The New York Times >>Daisuke Wakabayashi and Brian X Chen, The New York Times 2019-03-21 13:11:21 +0600 2019-03-21 13:11:21 +0600 Google introduces streaming video game service Google's new gaming service will let game makers use rival clouds, executive say Stadia will allow people to play HD games instantly over the internet Google introduced a new video game service on Tuesday that allows people to play high-definition games instantly over the internet, joining an industrywide experiment to offer a so-called Netflix of gaming. false Google stadia: Google vice president and general manager Phil Harrison speaks on stage during a keynote address announcing Google's new cloud gaming service, Stadia at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, US, Mar 19, 2019. REUTERS
The new service, called Stadia, will work for anyone with a fast internet connection and a computer, phone or tablet. The service will also work with Google’s Chromecast, an inexpensive dongle that plugs into television sets to stream videos.

Google said Stadia would be released later this year, but did not announce a price.

By focusing on streaming games — titles that are pulled from servers instead of downloaded to the customer’s device — Google is trying to catch the next wave of gaming. The premise: users pay a subscription to access a library of games that they can immediately play, as opposed to the traditional model of paying for a disc or waiting to download a game.

There are pros and cons to each approach. The streaming model lets people try lots of games until they find some they enjoy, but the games tend to be superficial with rougher graphics. Downloaded games typically have more polished graphics, but they can take time to install and require a sizable one-time payment.

Console makers having been pushing into streaming services. Sony offers a monthly subscription to a service called PlayStation Now with hundreds of titles, while Microsoft said it planned to offer a trial service later this year to stream games to Xbox consoles, computers and mobile devices.

But video games still present a significant technical challenge compared with streaming a song or movie because of the amount of data involved and the unpredictability of game play. So the industry has continued to largely revolve around the releases of new game machines from Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo.

Google, though, is trying to take a leap beyond that — by starting with no game machine at all.

“This new generation of gaming is not a box,” Phil Harrison, a veteran video game industry executive who is leading Stadia for Google, said at the Game Developers Conference, an annual industry event in San Francisco where the service was announced. “We will be handing over the extraordinary power of the data centres to you, the game developers.”

Lewis Ward, an IDC analyst that follows the video games industry, said the viability of Google’s online games strategy relied on many factors that had not been addressed. For one, it remains unclear how much the service will cost and how revenue will be shared with game developers. And much of Google’s success will rely on building a library of deep, compelling games, meaning the company must attract game developers of blockbuster franchises like Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption.

“If the catalog that launches this year is overwhelmingly casual PC titles and Android titles, that will be a huge disappointment,” he said. “I don’t think ‘Candy Crush Saga’ is going to drive up Google data centre traffic by a whole lot.”

This new service builds on Project Stream, a trial program introduced in October to iron out the kinks of streaming video games. It offered a select group of users the opportunity to play “Assassin’s Creed Odyssey,” a game that is part of one of the industry’s biggest franchises, over the internet through a Chrome browser.

In a demonstration Tuesday, Google showed a YouTube trailer for “Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.” A “Play Now” button appeared on the screen, and clicking on it loaded the game in five seconds.

Google also demonstrated a Wi-Fi connected game controller with a button to access the company’s artificial-intelligence assistant. A player could, for example, ask for help in defeating a certain level in a game.

The company said Stadia would rely on Google’s powerful data centres to do the heavy lifting and let consumers, including those with old, sluggish computers, stream high-quality games immediately.

“We are dead serious about making technology accessible for everyone,” said Sundar Pichai, the company’s chief executive.


© 2019 New York Times News Service

1604554 Google stadia: Google vice president and general manager Phil Harrison speaks on stage during a keynote address announcing Google's new cloud gaming service, Stadia at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, US, Mar 19, 2019. REUTERS
3 1 Technology technology Technology news 236 1604280 >> Reuters >> Reuters 2019-03-20 17:19:12 +0600 2019-03-21 01:59:50 +0600 EU fines Google 1.49bn euros EU regulators fine Google 1.49bn euros for blocking advertising rivals The European Union’s antitrust regulators imposed the fine on the tech giant for blocking rival online search advertisers Reuters Alphabet Inc unit Google was fined 1.49 billion euros ($1.7 billion) on Wednesday, its third large European Union antitrust penalty in two years marking the company's decade-long regulatory battle in Europe. false
The EU antitrust chief, however, gave a cautious welcome to Google's measures to boost competition and give Android users a choice of browsers and search apps, suggesting the company's regulatory woes may be coming to an end.

The European Commission, which said the fine amounted to 1.29 percent of Google's turnover in 2018, said that the case focused on the company's illegal practises in search advertising brokering from 2006 to 2016.

"Today's decision is about how Google abused its dominance to stop websites using brokers other than the AdSense platform," European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager told a news conference.

She said its actions meant advertisers and website owners had less choice and likely faced higher prices that would then be passed on to consumers.

The case concerned websites, such as of newspaper or travel sites, with a search function that produces search results and search adverts. Google's AdSense for Search provided such search adverts.

The misconduct included stopping publishers from placing any search adverts from competitors on their search results pages, forcing them to reserve the most profitable space on these pages for Google's adverts and a requirement to seek written approval from Google before making changes to how rival adverts were displayed.


The AdSense advertising case was triggered by a complaint from Microsoft Corp in 2010. Both companies subsequently dropped complaints against each other in 2016.

Google said it was taking action to comply with EU orders in two previous cases, one of which concerned its Android mobile operating system that resulted in a record 4.34 billion euro fine last year while the shopping comparison case led to a 2.42 billion euro fine.

"We've always agreed that healthy, thriving markets are in everyone's interest. We've already made a wide range of changes to our products to address the Commission's concerns," Kent Walker, senior vice-president of global affairs, said in a statement.

"Over the next few months, we'll be making further updates to give more visibility to rivals in Europe," he added.

Vestager welcomed the move, saying: "We see positive developments both in the shopping and Android case."

Google's foe, the Initiative for a Competitive Online Marketplace, said regulators should stay vigilant.

"Competitors have withered or died. It's time for the EU and governments around the world to step in and address the underlying wrong," its chairman Michael Weber said in a statement. ($1 = 0.8811 euros)

4 1 Technology technology Technology news 236 1602788 Daniel Victor, The New York Times empty Daniel Victor, The New York Times empty 2019-03-16 04:22:27 +0600 2019-03-16 04:22:27 +0600 A gunman steeped in internet trolling In New Zealand, signs point to a gunman steeped in internet trolling He started livestreaming by casually making reference to a current internet meme A camera mounted to his head, the gunman who livestreamed part of his savage attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, on Friday began his video by casually making reference to a current internet meme. false Ammunition is seen in this undated photo posted on twitter on March 12, 2019 by the apparent gunman who attacked a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. Twitter/via REUTERS
He appeared to be steeped in the culture of the extreme-right internet. And in the terrible minutes of video that followed, he proved to be a nonchalant, unrepentant killer.

As of Friday night, the gunman had not been identified by the authorities. But just before the attack began, a man who said he was a 28-year-old from Australia published a link on a right-wing forum to a 74-page manifesto, and another link on the same forum to a personal Facebook page with the video that would soon document the slaughter.

Based on the video, the manifesto and social media posts, a picture has begun to emerge of a man primarily driven by white nationalism and a desire to drive cultural, political and racial wedges between people across the globe. That, he hoped, would stoke discord and, eventually, more violence between races.

It is unclear whether the Facebook user is the man whom the authorities in New Zealand have charged in the shootings that have left at least 49 people dead. They have said only that the suspect is a man in his 20s.

The gunman appeared to pair the shooting with the typical trolling tactics of the internet’s most far-right instigators, playing to a community of like-minded supporters online who cheered him on in real time as they watched bodies pile up. And the manifesto states plainly what usually goes unstated by internet trolls: By design, its author wanted to get everyone upset and arguing with each other.

One of the goals of his bloodshed, he wrote, was to “agitate the political enemies of my people into action, to cause them to overextend their own hand and experience the eventual and inevitable backlash as a result.” He said he wanted to “incite violence, retaliation and further divide.”

What might appear to be a bizarre, rambling section of the manifesto was actually a relatively old meme known as Navy Seal Copypasta, a faux rant that is copied and pasted to indicate faux toughness.


© 2019 New York Times News Service

1602550 Ammunition is seen in this undated photo posted on twitter on March 12, 2019 by the apparent gunman who attacked a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. Twitter/via REUTERS
5 1 Technology technology Technology news 236 1602487 >> Mike Isaac, The New York Times empty >> Mike Isaac, The New York Times empty 2019-03-15 10:33:35 +0600 2019-03-15 10:33:35 +0600 2 Facebook leaders quit, adding to Churn at top Facebook loses two executives: Product chief and head of WhatsApp Chris Cox, who is one of the social network’s highest ranking executives, and Chris Daniels, head of WhatsApp, are leaving Facebook Two of Facebook’s top executives — one regarded as the company’s No 3, and the other the head of its WhatsApp messaging service — are leaving after disagreements with Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive, over the social network’s future direction. false Facebook’s chief product officer, Chris Cox, said Thursday that he was leaving the company. The New York Times
The differences stemmed from Zuckerberg’s asserting control over his company and its apps — Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger — by rolling out a plan to integrate the services into a single privacy-focused platform, according to six people involved in the situation.

The change is a substantial shift for Facebook, which has traditionally encouraged people to publicly share posts, videos and photos. Executives at Facebook who had run the various services were concerned that knitting together the apps would take a toll on the popularity and growth of their individual products, said the people, who were not authorised to speak publicly. And with Zuckerberg exerting more control, the executives were also fearful of losing autonomy and power, they said.

Chris Cox, Facebook’s chief product officer and a member of Zuckerberg’s inner circle, is one of the two executives leaving. He alluded to the disagreements Thursday in a public post about his departure. “As Mark has outlined, we are turning a new page in our product direction,” wrote Cox, 36. “This will be a big project and we will need leaders who are excited to see the new direction through.”

The other executive who is exiting is Chris Daniels, 43, who runs WhatsApp. Neither one responded to requests for comment.

Facebook is undergoing a tricky transition as it tries to recover from two years of scandals over data privacy and disinformation. Those issues have buffeted the Silicon Valley giant, causing internal turmoil as its leaders have tried to find a way to adjust. Zuckerberg has made several attempts to rid Facebook of toxic content, false news and other problems, with limited success.

Now, Zuckerberg is barrelling ahead with his shift to focus Facebook on private messaging and away from public broadcasting, even if it means shedding some of his top lieutenants.

Cox has worked with Zuckerberg for 13 years and joined Facebook as one of its first 15 software engineers. Cox also was instrumental in building the News Feed, the stream of posts that people see when they log into the service, and which more recently has been under scrutiny for being a hive of misinformation. Among some in Silicon Valley, he had been mentioned as a possible successor to Zuckerberg.

“Embarking on this new vision represents the start of a new chapter for us,” Zuckerberg said in a note to staff Thursday. “While it is sad to lose such great people, this also creates opportunities for more great leaders who are energised about the path ahead to take on new and bigger roles.”

The departures add to the executive turnover at Facebook, which for years had been stable in its top ranks. Zuckerberg kept close many key executives, including his chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, as well as Cox and others.

Chris Cox, chief product officer of Facebook, at the company's headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif, May 12, 2015. Cox, who is one of the social network’s highest ranking executives, said on March 14, 2019, that he was leaving the company. Cox joined Facebook in 2005 as one of the company’s first 15 software engineers and was instrumental in building the News Feed feature. The New York Times

But that bench has undergone numerous changes more recently as Facebook has grappled with its lapses and tried to reorient itself. Last year, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, the co-founders of Instagram, left the company after clashing with Zuckerberg over the future of the photo-sharing network. Jan Koum and Brian Acton, the co-founders of WhatsApp, also left after similar disagreements with Zuckerberg. Other executives, including Facebook’s head of communications and policy and its security chief, have also departed.

Ben Horowitz, a venture capitalist at Andreessen Horowitz, said on Twitter that Zuckerberg’s new direction for Facebook was controversial because it was such a cultural departure for what had been an open and public social network. But he said Zuckerberg appeared committed to privacy by ploughing ahead with the changes even “in the face of extremely strong dissent.”

“So much so, that he is willing to lose outstanding executives who disagree with this direction,” Horowitz said. (Horowitz is a partner at Andreessen Horowitz with Marc Andreessen, a venture capitalist who sits on Facebook’s board.)

Inside Facebook, frustration over Zuckerberg’s planned changes have been mounting for months, said the people involved the situation. Combining Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger will be a companywide effort that will take years of infrastructure work and deep changes to some of its products, they said.

Daniels, who previously ran Facebook’s business development team and had other roles, was appointed head of WhatsApp last May. He disagreed with some of the choices that were being made to connect the apps, said people familiar with his thinking. He was also concerned that Zuckerberg’s plan would harm the success of WhatsApp, which is particularly popular outside the United States.

Because of those changes, Daniels handed in his resignation months ago, said two of the people, though the decision did not become public until Thursday.

Cox has also been frustrated with Zuckerberg’s decisions in recent months, some of the people said. Less than a year ago, Cox shifted into one of the most powerful positions at Facebook as chief product officer, responsible for overseeing Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger and Facebook itself.

Almost immediately, Cox ran into difficulties, the people said. Employees said he disagreed with some of Zuckerberg’s product ideas and changes, including the “unified messaging” project intended to connect the apps. But Zuckerberg had already made his decision. Cox informed Facebook of his decision to leave Monday, according to a company filing.

“For over a decade, I’ve been sharing the same message that Mark and I have always believed: Social media’s history is not yet written, and its effects are not neutral,” Cox said in his post. “As its builders we must endeavour to understand its impact — all the good, and all the bad — and take up the daily work of bending it towards the positive, and towards the good.”

Zuckerberg has promoted others to take the place of those who have left. Adam Mosseri, a long-time Facebook employee, was promoted to head of Instagram last year. On Thursday, Zuckerberg said Will Cathcart, another Facebook employee, would run WhatsApp, and Fidji Simo would lead Facebook’s main app.


© 2019 New York Times News Service

1602486 Facebook’s chief product officer, Chris Cox, said Thursday that he was leaving the company. The New York Times 1602485 Chris Cox, chief product officer of Facebook, at the company's headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif, May 12, 2015. Cox, who is one of the social network’s highest ranking executives, said on March 14, 2019, that he was leaving the company. Cox joined Facebook in 2005 as one of the company’s first 15 software engineers and was instrumental in building the News Feed feature. The New York Times
6 1 Technology technology Technology news 236 1602121 News Desk, News Desk, 2019-03-14 01:26:43 +0600 2019-03-14 04:26:19 +0600 Some users having trouble: Facebook Facebook says ‘some’ users are having trouble, it is fixing the issue In a post on its rival Twitter, the social media giant says it is working to fix the issue Facebook’s website and apps are partially down and the social media giant says it is working to fix the issue. false
”We’re aware that some people are currently having trouble accessing the Facebook family of apps. We’re working to resolve the issue as soon as possible,” the social media giant said in a Twitter post on Wednesday night.

It has not cleared what the issue is but later said it “can confirm that the issue is not related to a DDoS attack”.

A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack is one of the most powerful weapons on the internet, according to an article uploaded on the website of anti-virus and anti-malware software package Norton.

“When you hear about a website being ‘brought down by hackers,’ it generally means it has become a victim of a DDoS attack. In short, this means that hackers have attempted to make a website or computer unavailable by flooding or crashing the website with too much traffic,” the article reads.

Many of the users in Bangladesh told that they were unable to access Facebook’s website and its apps like Messenger and Instagram.

Some said they could log in but could not post anything on Facebook and Instagram or send messages through Messenger. 

Some others said their pages were not refreshing. 

The number of problems reported at Facebook skyrocketed from a few to over 10,000 globally sometime after 10pm, according to Downdetector, a platform that tracks technology fails.

As many as 34 percent Facebook users across the globe were facing log-in problems, 33 percent on their newsfeeds and 32 percent a total blackout, according to Downdetector data.

After 3am on Thursday, some services like posting links resumed as the number of issues reported to Downdetector came down to zero, but Facebook was yet to make any announcement on full resumption of its services.    

7 1 Technology technology Technology news 236 1600535 Senior Correspondent, Senior Correspondent, 2019-03-09 10:06:39 +0600 2019-03-09 10:06:39 +0600 Nasrul Hamid’s Facebook, email hacked State Minister Nasrul Hamid’s Facebook page, email hacked The incident comes two days after the Facebook page of the minister of industries was hacked The Facebook page of State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid has been hacked, soon after a similar incident involving the page of the minister of industries. false File Photo
In addition to the verified Facebook page, the state minister’s email ID has also been hacked, said Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources public relations official Mir Aslam Uddin.

“We are requesting that you verify any statuses from the state minister’s Facebook page and any email from his ID,” he told on Saturday.

The verified Facebook page of Minister of Industries Nurul Majid Humayun had been hacked two days ago. A case was filed over the incident.

1491816 File Photo
8 1 Technology technology Technology news 236 1599928 >> Reuters >> Reuters 2019-03-07 09:32:59 +0600 2019-03-07 09:32:59 +0600 Huawei sues US government Huawei sues US government saying ban on its equipment is unconstitutional Huawei challenges ban on federal agencies using Huawei gear Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei Technologies Co Ltd on Thursday confirmed it is suing the US government over a section of a defence bill passed into law last year that restricted its business in the United States. false FILE PHOTO: People walk past a sign board of Huawei at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) Asia 2018 in Shanghai, China June 14, 2018. REUTERS
Huawei said it had filed a complaint in a federal court in Texas challenging the constitutionality of Section 889 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a section signed into law by the US president in August that banned federal agencies and their contractors from procuring its equipment and services.

"The US Congress has repeatedly failed to produce any evidence to support its restrictions on Huawei products. We are compelled to take this legal action as a proper and last resort," Huawei Rotating Chairman Guo Ping said in a statement.

"This ban not only is unlawful, but also restricts Huawei from engaging in fair competition, ultimately harming US consumers. We look forward to the court's verdict, and trust that it will benefit both Huawei and the American people."

While Huawei had very little market share in the US telecoms market before the bill, it is the world's biggest producer of telecoms equipment and is seeking to be at the forefront of a global roll-out of fifth generation (5G) mobile networks and services.

"Lifting the NDAA ban will give the US Government the flexibility it needs to work with Huawei and solve real security issues," Guo said.

In its lawsuit, Huawei said its "equipment and services are subject to advanced security procedures, and no backdoors, implants, or other intentional security vulnerabilities have been documented in any of the more than 170 countries in the world where Huawei equipment and services are used."

The privately owned firm has embarked on a public relations and legal offensive as Washington lobbies allies to abandon Huawei when building 5G mobile networks, centring on a 2017 Chinese law requiring companies cooperate with national intelligence work.

Founder and Chief Executive Ren Zhengfei has said Huawei, the world's biggest telecoms gear maker, has never and will never share data with China's government.


The NDDA bans the US government from doing business with Huawei or compatriot peer ZTE Corp or from doing business with any company that has equipment from the two firms as a "substantial or essential component" of their system.

In its lawsuit, filed in US District Court in the Eastern District of Texas, Huawei argues that the section of the law is illegal because it could sharply limit the company's ability to do business in the United States despite no proof of wrongdoing.

Separately, the lawsuit also alleges that Huawei has been denied due process and that Congress, by stripping Huawei of US commercial opportunities, has violated the "separation of powers" portion of the constitution by doing the work of the courts.


Some legal experts, however, said Huawei's lawsuit is likely to be dismissed because US courts are reluctant to second-guess national security determinations by other branches of government.

The lawsuit "will be an uphill battle because Congress has broad authority to protect us from perceived national security threats," said Franklin Turner, a government contracts lawyer at McCarter & English.

In November 2018, a federal appeals court rejected a similar lawsuit filed by Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab, which was challenging a ban on the use of the company's software in US government networks.

The Texas court hearing Huawei's case will not be bound by that decision, but will likely adopt its reasoning because of the similarities in the two disputes, said Steven Schwinn, a professor at the John Marshall Law School in Chicago.

"I don't see how (Huawei) can really escape that result," said Schwinn.

If a judge decides Huawei has a plausible claim the case will proceed to the discovery phase, in which internal documents are shared and US government officials could be forced to provide testimony and lay out their national security concerns.


The legal action and public relations outreach compare with a more restrained response in December emphasising "trust in justice" when its chief financial officer, Sabrina Meng Wanzhou, was arrested in Vancouver at US request.

The United States has accused Meng - Ren's daughter - of bank and wire fraud related to breaches of trade sanctions against Iran.

Meng appeared in court on Wednesday during which her lawyer expressed concern that the allegations have a political character, raising US President Donald Trump's comments on the case.

Separately, Meng, who is fighting extradition, is suing Canada's government for procedural wrongs in her arrest.

The case had strained relations with China, which this week accused two arrested Canadians of stealing state secrets in a move widely seen as retribution for Meng's arrest.

While Meng is under house arrest in Vancouver, it is unclear where the two Canadians are being detained in China. Sources previously told Reuters that at least one of the Canadians did not have access to legal representation.


Ren met international media for the first time in several years in mid-January, calling US President Donald Trump "great" and refraining from commenting directly on Meng's case. Shifting tone, Ren in mid-February said Meng's arrest was politically motivated and "not acceptable".

Long before Trump initiated a trade war with China, Huawei's activities were under scrutiny by US authorities, according to interviews with 10 people familiar with the Huawei probes and documents related to the investigations seen by Reuters.

1599927 FILE PHOTO: People walk past a sign board of Huawei at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) Asia 2018 in Shanghai, China June 14, 2018. REUTERS
9 1 Technology technology Technology news 236 1598405 >> Reuters >> Reuters 2019-03-02 12:17:26 +0600 2019-03-02 12:17:26 +0600 SpaceX readies for key launch SpaceX to launch capsule to space station in key milestone Unmanned crew capsule’s launch is a major step to reviving the US human spaceflight programme Elon Musk's SpaceX was due to launch an unmanned crew capsule atop a Falcon 9 rocket early on Saturday bound for the International Space Station, a major step toward NASA's goal of reviving the US human spaceflight programme this year. false
SpaceX's 16-foot-tall (4.88-meter) Crew Dragon capsule atop a Falcon 9 rocket was set for lift off from Florida's Kennedy Space Center at 2:49 am (1049 GMT) local time.

The station's three-member crew is expected to greet the capsule, carrying 400 pounds of supplies and test equipment, early Sunday morning, NASA said. During its five-day stay, US astronaut Anne McClain and Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques will run tests and inspect Crew Dragon's cabin.

NASA has awarded SpaceX and Boeing Co $6.8 billion to build competing rocket and capsule systems to launch astronauts into orbit from American soil for the first time since the US Space Shuttle was retired from service in 2011.

The Boeing and SpaceX launch systems are aimed at ending US reliance on Russian rockets for rides to the $100 billion orbital research laboratory, which flies about 250 miles (402 km) above Earth, at about $80 million per ticket.

While Saturday's SpaceX test mission is a crucial step in the long-delayed project, there are questions about whether NASA can achieve its 2019 flight goal. Reuters reported on Feb 21 that SpaceX and Boeing both must address significant design and safety concerns before they can fly humans.

Early on Friday, Musk, who is also chief executive officer of electric carmaker Tesla Inc, tweeted a photo of the inside of Crew Dragon capsule with a mannequin nicknamed Ripley strapped inside.

SpaceX said the spacesuit for Ripley, apparently a reference to the protagonist in the science fiction movie "Alien," has been embedded with sensors around its head, neck, and spine to monitor how a flight would feel for a human astronaut.

10 1 Technology technology Technology news 236 1596330 >>Luis Ferré-Sadurní, The New York Times empty >>Luis Ferré-Sadurní, The New York Times empty 2019-02-24 15:57:08 +0600 2019-02-24 15:57:08 +0600 Rise and fall of an Airbnb empire Rise and fall of a New York Airbnb empire A real estate scheme used the hospitality app to make millions by circumventing New York’s laws From the outside, there was nothing especially notable about the small white building on the corner of a cobblestone street in Tribeca. But until recently, it was a crucial location in a sprawling empire. false An undated handout screenshot of the Airbnb listing for a four-bedroom unit at 200 East 116th St, in Harlem. Multiple misleading identities, more than 100 host accounts and 18 corporations were created to run an illegal hotel business in Manhattan, according to a lawsuit filed by the city. Handout via The New York Times
“Beautiful Loft Prime Tribeca 4BR/2BA Sleep 10,” read the listing on Airbnb for one apartment there.

Two of the three apartments in the building were popular with tourists looking to stay in one of Manhattan’s most desirable neighbourhoods — at $600 a night each, they were a bargain for a large group.

But they were also illegal — part of an elaborate real estate scheme to make millions by circumventing state and local laws and Airbnb’s own rules.

The building, on Greenwich Street, was part of a larger enterprise that made more than $20 million in revenue by unlawfully renting 130 Manhattan apartments to almost 76,000 guests through Airbnb, city officials said.

The plot was geared toward getting around city regulations that are intended to keep blocks of apartments from being turned into makeshift hotels that avoid lodging taxes and oversight.

The crackdown on the empire last month was a milestone in the escalating battle between Airbnb and New York City — the company’s largest market in the country. Airbnb condemned the exploitation of its platform, but the scheme showed how the home-sharing site has given opportunists a new kind of hustle.

Interviews and documents offer a glimpse at how the New York scheme worked. According to the suit, the ring used multiple misleading identities to dodge Airbnb’s rules, text tourists and book apartments to budget-minded travellers. Addresses were fudged to avoid scrutiny.

In all, more than 100 Airbnb host accounts and 18 corporations were created to run an illegal hotel business that stretched north from Tribeca to SoHo, Gramercy, the Upper East Side and Harlem, according to a lawsuit brought by the city.

An undated handout screenshot of the Airbnb listing for an apartment at 78 East 119th St, in East Harlem. Multiple misleading identities, more than 100 host accounts and 18 corporations were created to run an illegal hotel business in Manhattan, according to a lawsuit filed by the city. Handout via The New York Times

New York regulations are supposed to keep apartments from being pulled out of an already tight rental market to cater to the tourist trade. They specify that it is illegal to rent an entire apartment in most buildings for fewer than 30 days unless the permanent tenant is present while the renter is there.

Posting a unit that should not be listed on Airbnb is a civil offense, not a criminal one, and the city typically issues violations that can result in fines of thousands of dollars; lawsuits are filed in the most egregious of cases. In this lawsuit, the city is seeking more than $20 million from the defendants.

At the centre of the scheme was Max Beckman, 35, a former real estate broker, according to the lawsuit. Beckman, who moved to the United States 18 years ago from Israel, was one of five people accused. There has not been a verdict, and the case is continuing.

Beckman agreed to be interviewed, making clear that he believed that he did nothing wrong.

“We’re not criminals,” he said at his lawyer’s office.

In 2012, Beckman, in his own telling, was struggling to make it as a real estate broker. He said he had a dismal credit score and $100 to his name when he used that money to pay the application fee for a one-bedroom on the Upper East Side.

He began renting it out, short term, to tourists through Airbnb and pocketed the difference after paying rent. It was a simple business model he would go on to replicate.

“It took off, and I made more money, and then I got another one,” Beckman said. “I couldn’t stop.”

In 2015, Beckman quit his job as a real estate broker for Metropolitan Property Group, a brokerage firm in Manhattan, to devote himself full time to his Airbnb venture.

He persuaded two friends who were also brokers at the firm to become his partners, he said. The men, Alon Karasenty and Simon Itah, were also sued by the city. They did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

By the end of the year, the trio was managing dozens of listings on Airbnb, including large spaces in some of the city’s most sought-after neighbourhoods, according to court documents.

“We made money, we lost money, we learned,” Beckman said.

The lawsuit alleged that Beckman’s former employer, Metropolitan Property Group, and its chief executive officer, Sami Katri, along with his wife, Shely Katri, were also involved.

An undated handout screenshot of the Airbnb listing for an apartment at 385 Greenwich St, in TriBeCa. Multiple misleading identities, more than 100 host accounts and 18 corporations were created to run an illegal hotel business in Manhattan, according to a lawsuit filed by the city. Handout via The New York Times

Some of the 18 corporations that received payouts from Airbnb had been registered using Metropolitan Property Group’s office addresses. The suit also claimed the Katris’ names were linked to two Airbnb accounts and the utility bills for two apartments at 200 E. 116th St. in East Harlem, where all seven units were on Airbnb.

But Beckman said the addresses were used without the company’s knowledge and the Katris were not involved.

Douglas Pick, a lawyer for the Katris and the brokerage firm, also denied that his clients were involved and said the city has not provided any evidence that Airbnb had disbursed payments to them. He said the three men had stopped working for the firm by 2015 and had “began operating for themselves.”

Sami Katri, through his lawyer, said he had worked with Karasenty and Itah to legally lease apartments at the East Harlem building but was unaware they were rented out through Airbnb.

Yoram Nachimovsky, the lawyer representing the three men and their corporations, said the lawsuit was “a political move by the mayor.”

“Basically, the mayor is being sponsored by these hotel operators and he’s doing what’s in their best interest,” he said.

Christian Klossner, executive director of the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement, which led the investigation, said his office was “here to preserve housing for New Yorkers and to make sure both New Yorkers and visitors are kept safe and treated fairly.”

Airbnb has long said the majority of its hosts are everyday New Yorkers who rent out a spare bedroom or list their apartment while on a long vacation.

Still, the company has voluntarily taken down more than 5,000 commercial listings since late 2015. The city estimates that about one-third of listings on home-sharing websites are run by commercial operators; Airbnb disputes those numbers.

Under Airbnb’s “One Host, One Home” policy, New Yorkers can list only one apartment, with few exceptions.

But Beckman and his partners appear to have bypassed that policy by creating host accounts using different email addresses and multiple identities, including those of relatives and some with variations of the same name.

200 East 116th St, in Harlem, where apartments were illegally offered through Airbnb, city officials said, on Jan 28, 2019. Multiple misleading identities, more than 100 host accounts and 18 corporations were created to run an illegal hotel business in Manhattan, according to a lawsuit filed by the city. Chang W Lee/The New York Times

They also provided Airbnb with incorrect or incomplete addresses for apartments to avoid scrutiny, according to the city’s lawsuit.

Josh Meltzer, head of public policy for Airbnb in the Northeast, condemned the behavior and acknowledged the limitations of the company’s rules, which he said were intended as a short-term remedy.

“We’re talking about a very narrow set of actors that are working very creatively and very diligently,” he said. “That’s why we’ve supported what I would say is a very restrictive, comprehensive piece of legislation at the state level that would essentially require platform and government to work together to target this type of behavior.”

The city also sued five buildings for not cracking down on Airbnbs managed by Beckman and his partners despite violations issued by the city.

Abington Properties, owner of three of the buildings, did not reply to multiple requests for comment. A secretary for Helm Management, which runs an East Harlem building that became a de facto hotel, said the company did not comment on pending litigation.

Beckman said he intended to reach a settlement with the city, even if that meant paying a hefty fine. He said that, despite the lawsuit, he spoke to The Times because he thought the city had unfairly portrayed him as a criminal.

“There is nothing bad about us,” he said. “That’s why I’m happy to do this interview with you.”

© 2019 New York Times News Service

1596326 An undated handout screenshot of the Airbnb listing for a four-bedroom unit at 200 East 116th St, in Harlem. Multiple misleading identities, more than 100 host accounts and 18 corporations were created to run an illegal hotel business in Manhattan, according to a lawsuit filed by the city. Handout via The New York Times 1596327 An undated handout screenshot of the Airbnb listing for an apartment at 78 East 119th St, in East Harlem. Multiple misleading identities, more than 100 host accounts and 18 corporations were created to run an illegal hotel business in Manhattan, according to a lawsuit filed by the city. Handout via The New York Times 1596328 An undated handout screenshot of the Airbnb listing for an apartment at 385 Greenwich St, in TriBeCa. Multiple misleading identities, more than 100 host accounts and 18 corporations were created to run an illegal hotel business in Manhattan, according to a lawsuit filed by the city. Handout via The New York Times 1596325 200 East 116th St, in Harlem, where apartments were illegally offered through Airbnb, city officials said, on Jan 28, 2019. Multiple misleading identities, more than 100 host accounts and 18 corporations were created to run an illegal hotel business in Manhattan, according to a lawsuit filed by the city. Chang W Lee/The New York Times
11 1 Technology technology Technology news 236 1595685 >> Kevin Roose, The New York Times empty >> Kevin Roose, The New York Times empty 2019-02-22 12:00:02 +0600 2019-02-22 12:05:41 +0600 Can YouTube conspiracy booms be contained? YouTube unleashed a conspiracy theory boom. Can it be contained? Part of the problem for the platform is that the definition of ‘harmful’ misinformation is circular In January, YouTube star Shane Dawson uploaded his new project: a 104-minute documentary, “Conspiracy Theories With Shane Dawson.” false
In the video, set to a spooky instrumental soundtrack, Dawson unspooled a series of far-fetched hypotheses. Among them: that iPhones secretly record their owners’ every utterance; that popular children’s TV shows contain subliminal messages urging children to kill themselves; that the recent string of deadly wildfires in California was set on purpose, either by homeowners looking to collect insurance money or by the military using a type of high-powered laser called a “directed energy weapon.”

None of this was fact-based, of course, and some of the theories seemed more like jokey urban legends than serious accusations. Still, his fans ate it up. The video has gotten more than 30 million views, a hit even by Dawson’s standards. A follow-up has drawn more than 20 million views and started a public feud with Chuck E. Cheese’s, the restaurant chain, which was forced to deny claims that it recycles customers’ uneaten pizza slices into new pizzas.

Dawson’s conspiracy series arrived at a particularly awkward moment for YouTube, which has been reckoning with the vast troves of misinformation and extreme content on its platform.

In late January, the company announced it was changing its recommendations algorithm to reduce the spread of “borderline content and content that could misinform users in harmful ways.” It cited, as examples, “videos promoting a phony miracle cure for a serious illness, claiming the Earth is flat or making blatantly false claims about historic events like 9/11.”

Dawson, whose real name is Shane Lee Yaw, has more than 20 million subscribers and a devoted teenage fan base. He has built his lucrative career by, among other talents, understanding what kinds of content plays well on YouTube.

For years, that meant conspiracy theories — lots and lots of them, all delivered with the same wide-eyed credulity. In a 2016 video, he wondered aloud if the first Apollo moon landing was staged by NASA. (“It’s a theory,” he said, “but, I mean, all the evidence is not looking good.”) In 2017, he discussed the false theory that the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, were a hoax. (“I know it’s crazy,” he said, “but just look at some of these videos.”) And last year, he devoted a segment of a video to flat-Earth theory, which he concluded “kind of makes sense.”

In fairness, Dawson is a far cry from partisan cranks like Alex Jones, the Infowars founder, who was barred in 2018 by YouTube and other social networks for hate speech. Most of Dawson’s videos have nothing to do with conspiracies, and many are harmless entertainment.

But the popularity of Dawson’s conspiracy theories illuminates the challenge YouTube faces in cleaning up misinformation. On Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms, the biggest influencers largely got famous somewhere else (politics, TV, sports) and have other vectors of accountability. But YouTube’s stars are primarily homegrown, and many feel — not entirely unreasonably — that after years of encouraging them to build their audiences with viral stunts and baseless rumor-mongering, the platform is now changing the rules on them.

Innocent or not, Dawson’s videos contain precisely the type of viral misinformation that YouTube now says it wants to limit. And its effort raises an uncomfortable question: What if stemming the tide of misinformation on YouTube means punishing some of the platform’s biggest stars?

A representative for Dawson did not respond to a request for comment. A YouTube spokeswoman, Andrea Faville, said: “We recently announced that we’ve started reducing recommendations of borderline content or videos that could misinform users in harmful ways. This is a gradual change and will get more and more accurate over time.”

Part of the problem for platforms like YouTube and Facebook — which has also pledged to clean up misinformation that could lead to real-world harm — is that the definition of “harmful” misinformation is circular. There is no inherent reason that a video questioning the official 9/11 narrative is more dangerous than a video asserting the existence of UFOs or Bigfoot. A conspiracy theory is harmful if it results in harm — at which point it’s often too late for platforms to act.

Take, for example, Jones’ assertion that the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, was a hoax perpetrated by gun control advocates. That theory, first dismissed as outrageous and loony, took on new gravity after Jones’ supporters began harassing the grieving parents of victims.

Or take Pizzagate, a right-wing conspiracy theory that alleged that Hillary Clinton and other Democrats were secretly running a child-sex ring. The theory, which was spread in a variety of videos on YouTube and other platforms, might have remained an internet oddity. But it became a menace when a believer showed up at a pizza restaurant in Washington, D.C., with an assault rifle, vowing to save the children he believed were locked in the basement.

To its credit, YouTube has taken some minor steps to curb misinformation. In 2018, it began appending Wikipedia blurbs to videos espousing certain conspiracy theories, and changed the way it handles search results for breaking news stories so that reliable sources are given priority over opportunistic partisans. And this past summer, it was among the many social networks to bar Jones and Infowars.

In a multipart Twitter thread this month, Guillaume Chaslot, a former YouTube software engineer, called the company’s decision to change its recommendation algorithm a “historic victory.”

Chaslot noted that this algorithm — which was once trained to maximize the amount of time users spend on the site — often targeted vulnerable users by steering them toward other conspiracy theory videos it predicts they will watch.

The change “will save thousands from falling into such rabbit holes,” he wrote.

In an interview this past week, Chaslot was more circumspect, saying YouTube’s move may have amounted to a “PR stunt.” Because the change will affect only which videos YouTube recommends — conspiracy theories will still show up in search results, and they will still be freely available to people who subscribe to the channels of popular conspiracy theorists — he called it a positive but insufficient step.

“It will address only a tiny fraction of conspiracy theories,” he said.

In 2018, Chaslot built a website,, to give outsiders a glimpse of YouTube’s recommendation algorithms at work. The site draws from a list of more than 1,000 popular YouTube channels, and calculates which videos are most often recommended to people who watch those channels’ videos.

On many days, conspiracy theories and viral hoaxes top the list. One recent day, the most frequently recommended video was “This Man Saw Something at Area 51 That Left Him Totally Speechless!,” which was recommended to viewers of 138 channels. The second most recommended video, which linked a series of recent natural disasters to apocalyptic prophecies from the Book of Revelation, was recommended to viewers of 126 of those top channels.

Chaslot suggested one possible solution to YouTube’s misinformation epidemic: new regulation.

Lawmakers, he said, could amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act — the law that prevents platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter from being held legally liable for content posted by their users. The law now shields internet platforms from liability for all user-generated content they host, as well as the algorithmic recommendations they make. A revised law could cover only the content and leave platforms on the hook for their recommendations.

“Right now, they just don’t have incentive to do the right thing,” Chaslot said. “But if you pass legislation that says that after recommending something 1,000 times, the platform is liable for this content, I guarantee the problem will be solved very fast.”

But even new laws governing algorithmic recommendations wouldn’t reverse the influence of YouTube celebrities like Dawson. After all, many of his millions of views come from his fans, who subscribe to his channel and seek out his videos proactively.

YouTube’s first challenge will be defining which of these videos constitute “harmful” misinformation, and which are innocent entertainment meant for an audience that is largely in on the joke.

But there is a thornier problem here. Many young people have absorbed a YouTube-centric worldview, including rejecting mainstream information sources in favor of platform-native creators bearing “secret histories” and faux-authoritative explanations.

When those creators propagate hoaxes and conspiracy theories as part of a financially motivated growth strategy, it seeps in with some percentage of their audience. And sometimes — in ways no algorithm could predict — it leads viewers to a much darker place.

It’s possible that YouTube can still beat back the flood of conspiracy theories coursing through its servers. But doing it will require acknowledging how deep these problems run and realising that any successful effort may look less like a simple algorithm tweak, and more like deprogramming a generation.

c.2019 New York Times News Service

12 1 Technology technology Technology news 236 1595370 >> Reuters >> Reuters 2019-02-21 14:17:54 +0600 2019-02-21 14:17:54 +0600 Samsung unveils 5G folding phone Samsung announces folding phone with 5G at nearly $2,000 The Galaxy Fold will go on sale at nearly $2,000 on April 26 Samsung Electronics Co Ltd on Wednesday unveiled a nearly $2,000 folding smartphone in a bid to top the technology of Apple Inc and Chinese rivals and reignite consumer interest amid slumping sales. false The Samsung Galaxy Fold phone is shown on a screen at Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s Unpacked event in San Francisco, California, US, Feb 20, 2019 REUTERS
The Galaxy Fold will go on sale on April 26 and take advantage of new and faster 5G mobile networks. The device looks similar to a conventional smartphone, but then opens like a book to reveal a display the size of a small tablet at 7.3 inches (18.5 cm).

The device "answers sceptics who said that everything that could be done has been done," DJ Koh, chief executive of Samsung Electronics, said at an event in San Francisco. "We are here to prove them wrong."

Samsung remains the world's largest smartphone maker with nearly a fifth of global unit sales but underperformed a slumping market last year. Chinese rival Huawei Technologies Co Ltd - whose Mate series of phones also command premium prices - gained market share. Other Chinese makers like Xiaomi Corp have also been increasing prices, leaving Samsung to defend its turf against upstart rivals in addition to its long-time foe Apple.

With the foldable phone, Samsung is going on the offense on two fronts in the smartphone race: It is offering an eye-catching new feature with the big, bending screen and the first 5G connection in a premium phone, a feature analysts do not expect Apple to match until 2020.

Samsung is also making improvements to its flagship Galaxy S devices and plans to offer a 4G version of its folding phone.

It also challenges the notion of what a phone can cost, debuting at nearly twice the price of current top-of-the-line models from Apple and Samsung itself.

Patrick Moorhead, founder of Moor Insights & Strategy, said the new folding device could help Samsung stay at the top and lure consumers to upgrade devices that have looked largely the same over the past five years.

"Samsung and Apple go back and forth" to lead the premium smartphone market, Moorhead said. "I think this is Samsung's chance to take back the innovation crown."

And even though the $1,980 starting price is steep, some dedicated Samsung fans said they would pay it. Navneet Kumar Singh, a Samsung enthusiast from India who traveled to San Francisco to watch the launch, is ready to place his order.

"The prices of the flagship models have been a little aggressive in India," he said, "But in the end, if you invest the money you're getting a different experience."

Samsung also introduced several accessories to compete against Apple, including a pair of wireless headphones called Galaxy Buds. The headphones include wireless charging, a feature that Apple has promised to put into is competing AirPods but has not yet released.

Samsung also said that its new Galaxy phones will be able to wirelessly charge its headphones and new smartwatches by setting the accessories on the back of the phone.


Along with the folding phone, Samsung also added new cameras and a 5G version to its Galaxy series of phones.

Verizon Communications Inc will be the first carrier to offer service for Samsung's 5G phones. The networks are expected to be 10 times faster than current ones, improving viewing of live news and sports events.

With the 5G versions of its flagships, the Korean electronics maker looks to have beaten Chinese rivals in the 5G race, although the device will operate only on the small number of networks launching later this year. Apple is not expected to release a 5G smartphone until late 2020.

The new networks are not available in many places yet but will roll out this year and next. Consumers who want to hold on to their phones for several years before upgrading may be tempted to buy a 5G phone now so that it will be able to take advantage of those networks later, said Bob O'Donnell of TECHnalysis Research. That could sway some Apple buyers over to Samsung and other Android makers with 5G devices.

"People are going to be thinking about, am going to be able to use this a year from now? Two years from now? Three years?" he said.

Rival smartphone makers are expected to announce 5G models at next week's Mobile World Congress, the industry's top annual event, in Spain. Samsung said its 5G handset would be available in the early summer.

The Galaxy 10 series needs to appeal to consumers who are reluctant to upgrade for only incremental technological improvements in performance.

All of the Galaxy series of rigid phones except the 5G will be available from March 8, with the S10+ priced from $1,000, the S10 priced from $900 and the smaller S10e from $750.

The mainline S10 compares with $999 for Apple's iPhone XS and $858 for Huawei's premium Mate 20 Pro.

1595369 The Samsung Galaxy Fold phone is shown on a screen at Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s Unpacked event in San Francisco, California, US, Feb 20, 2019 REUTERS
13 1 Technology technology Technology news 236 1595135 >>Karen Weise, The New York Times >>Karen Weise, The New York Times 2019-02-20 20:24:53 +0600 2019-02-20 20:24:53 +0600 Russian hackers targeted European groups: Microsoft Russian hackers targeted European research groups, Microsoft says They targeted civil society groups ahead of May elections A group of hackers associated with Russian intelligence targeted civil society groups across Europe ahead of May elections there, Microsoft said Tuesday. false A Microsoft store is pictured in New York City, New York, US, August 21, 2018. Reuters
The attacks, disclosed by Microsoft in a blog post, demonstrates the continuing spread of a broad online campaign aimed at disrupting real and potential political opponents of Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin. The company said it had found that hackers targeted more than 100 email accounts at think tanks and nongovernmental organisations that work on issues including election security, nuclear policy and foreign relations.

Microsoft did not address what country the attacks came from, but it blamed a group of hackers sometimes called Fancy Bear. Online security companies have identified Fancy Bear as a Russian group, and it is widely believed to be tied to Russian intelligence.

Fancy Bear was involved in the 2016 hacking of the Democratic National Committee in the United States, according to the party and security researchers. Last year US authorities indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers related to the hacks of the party headquarters and the Clinton presidential campaign.

Russian officials have denied that Moscow had any role in the hacking attempts.

Despite scrutiny of groups like Fancy Bear, the attacks have continued. The same hacking group last year similarly targeted Republican think tanks that had criticised President Donald Trump in advance of the midterm elections in the United States. Microsoft also detected those as part of its cybersecurity operations.

Increasingly the attacks have also targeted groups that are not directly involved in elections but seek to steer debate or focus on specific targets.

Microsoft said the attacks occurred between September and December and took the form of spearfishing campaigns. Spearfishing involves sending emails that appear to come from legitimate sources to get users to click the links inside. If a user clicks those links, hackers can use that to install malware, steal passwords or conduct other online mischief.

The German Council on Foreign Relations, the European offices of the Aspen Institute and the German Marshall Fund of the United States were among the groups Microsoft said were targeted and agreed to be disclosed, the company said.

In a statement on its website, the German Marshall Fund said groups beyond candidates and their political campaign managers must be increasingly vigilant.

“Everything we do as an organisation, from our policy research to our work strengthening civil society, is dedicated to advancing and protecting democratic values,” it said. “The announcement serves as a reminder that the assault on these values is real and relentless.”

The other groups could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.

The targeted research institutes have done work related to issues important to Russian policy and its continuing use of misinformation to influence elections. The German Marshall Fund, for example, has investigated Russia’s use of social media to spread political messages in its favor in various elections in Europe. The German Council on Foreign Relations has published reports related to arms control and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which has been at odds with Russia.

Microsoft has been tracking the increase in hacking attempts by nation states, including Russian actors, as part of its Defending Democracy Program, which it announced last year to provide protection to candidates, political parties and nongovernmental organisations working in the field of elections.

It said it was expanding its AccountGuard cybersecurity service free to campaigns and nongovernmental organisations that use its Office 365 software in 12 new European markets to protect against these kinds of hacks.

Microsoft executive Tom Burt said in the blog post that Europe was the birthplace of democracy and that “as the ongoing attacks demonstrate, this idea is increasingly under threat.”


© 2019 New York Times News Service

1532085 A Microsoft store is pictured in New York City, New York, US, August 21, 2018. Reuters
14 1 Technology technology Technology news 236 1594311 >> Reuters >> Reuters 2019-02-18 17:42:08 +0600 2019-02-18 17:42:08 +0600 Australia accuses foreign govt of cyber attack Australia accuses foreign government of cyber attack on lawmakers The attack had breached the networks of major political parties, said PM Scott Morrison A cyber attack on Australian lawmakers that breached the networks of major political parties was probably carried out by a foreign government, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday, but did not name any suspects. false File Photo - Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison arrives for APEC CEO Summit 2018 at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, Nov 17 2018. Fazry Ismail/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
As Australia heads for an election due by May, lawmakers were told this month told to urgently change their passwords after the cyber intelligence agency detected an attack on the national parliament's computer network.

The hackers breached the networks of major political parties, Morrison said, as he issued an initial assessment by investigators.

"Our cyber experts believe that a sophisticated state actor is responsible for this malicious activity," he told parliament.

"We also became aware that the networks of some political parties, Liberal, Labor and Nationals have also been affected."

Morrison did not reveal what information was accessed, but he said there was no evidence of election interference.

Investors are still securing local networks, said Alastair MacGibbon, head of the Australian Cyber Security Centre, the government department responsible for online security.

"Our political institutions represent high-value targets," MacGibbon told reporters in the capital, Canberra.

"We will continue to work with our friends and colleagues, both here and overseas, to work out who is behind it and hopefully their intent."

Analysts have said China, Russia and Iran were the most likely culprits.

"When you consider motivation, you would have to say that China is the leading suspect, while you wouldn't rule out Russia either," said Fergus Hanson, head of the International Cyber Policy Centre at think-tank the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

"It is the honey pot of juicy political gossip that has been hoovered up. Emails showing everything from the dirty laundry of internal fights through to who supported a policy could be on display."

Ties with China have deteriorated since 2017, after Canberra accused Beijing of meddling in its domestic affairs. Both countries have since sought to mend relations, but Australia remains wary of China.

Tension rose this month after Australia rescinded the visa of a prominent Chinese businessman, just months after barring Chinese telecoms giant Huawei Technologies from supplying equipment to its 5G broadband network.

Officers of Russia's GRU military intelligence agency covertly monitored computers of US Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and campaign committees, and stole large amounts of data, US investigators have concluded.

1594310 File Photo - Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison arrives for APEC CEO Summit 2018 at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, Nov 17 2018. Fazry Ismail/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
15 1 Technology technology Technology news 236 1590457 >>Sarah Mervosh, The New York Times >>Sarah Mervosh, The New York Times 2019-02-07 10:53:54 +0600 2019-02-07 11:03:49 +0600 New emojis are coming New emojis are coming: Interracial couples, guide dogs, falafel and more Interracial Couples, guide Dogs, falafel and more Interracial couples. A guide dog for blind people. A person using a wheelchair. false Some of the new emojis for 2019. (Unicode Consortium via The New York Times)
These were among the new emojis announced this week by the Unicode Consortium, the nonprofit that provides standards for text on the internet and oversees emojis.

The list — which includes 59 new emojis, as well as variants for a total of 230 options — emphasizes inclusivity. People will soon be able to create a “holding hands” emoji to reflect their own relationship, selecting for the skin color and gender identity of each individual. Other options include emojis showing a hearing aid, prosthetic limbs, sign language, a cane or a wheelchair.

A host of other new symbols include an otter, a sloth, a waffle, falafel, a yawning face, a white heart, a sari and a contentious one-piece bathing suit.

In a world where people use emojis to represent everything from weddings to poop, the announcement naturally led to much discussion, with an image of a drop of blood becoming a new way to talk about menstruation and a pinching symbol leading to jokes about a certain male body part being very, very small.

But don’t expect to see the latest offering on your keyboard just yet. That will most likely happen later this year.

The Unicode Consortium sets the standards for emoji compatibility, allowing the symbols to translate across the internet. Then companies like Apple and Google have to design emojis and incorporate the code into their operating systems, Greg Welch, a board member for Unicode, said Wednesday. New emojis typically come to cellphones in September or October, Unicode said in the announcement.

On Wednesday, a representative for Apple pointed to its proposal for Unicode to create accessibility emojis, which said that the new emojis would “foster a diverse culture that is inclusive of disability” and help people express themselves, as well as show support for loved ones.

A representative for Google said Wednesday that it hoped to release the new emoji designs soon.

The latest update continues a trend toward greater emoji diversity, which began in earnest a few years ago when a range of skin tones was introduced. In 2017, a hijab emoji was introduced.

“You see people are asking for curly hair or skin tone and bald and hijab,” said Jennifer 8. Lee, who serves on Unicode’s emoji subcommittee and helped found Emojination, a grassroots effort to make emojis more inclusive.

“In many ways it’s because people are trying to say the word ‘I,'” said Lee, who previously worked as a reporter at The New York Times. "They are trying to represent themselves in emojiland.”

Tinder, the online dating app, had campaigned for Unicode to better represent couples of different races and genders in the “universal language of the digital age.”

“Love is universal,” Tinder said on its website. “And it’s time for interracial couples to be represented in our universal language.”

“It’s huge and historic,” said Ken Tanabe, the founder of Loving Day, an organization that encourages people to celebrate the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that legalized interracial marriage.

“You are talking about marriages and starting families,” he said, adding that he had heard from people who could not find a wedding cake topper that reflected their relationship and chose to use black and white chess pieces instead.

“Having an emoji that’s already there, it feels like hey, we are part of the conversation,” he said. “We are part of the community. We are represented in the most personal part of our lives.”

Apple had advocated adding emojis to represent people with disabilities. In a statement, Howard A. Rosenblum, the chief executive of the National Association of the Deaf, a civil rights organization for deaf and hard of hearing people, said it worked with Apple to help create the deaf emoji and hoped it would help “raise awareness throughout the world about Deaf Culture and the many sign languages that exist.”

One of the new emojis — a guide dog for people who are blind and visually impaired — offers a fun way for people to represent their identity and honor their dogs in texts and emails, said Becky Davidson, who works at Guiding Eyes for the Blind, an organization that provides trained dogs for people who are blind or visually impaired.

“Some people might feel like they just don’t want that to define them. And that’s their choice and they don’t have to use it,” she said. “But I think a lot of us, we love our dogs and we love to show off our dogs.”

Guide dogs are an integral part of life for many blind people, so much so that they often sign emails from “so-and-so and their dog,” Davidson said.

But some people prefer to keep their dog’s name private, so that other people don’t use the dog’s name and distract it from its work, Davidson said. Using a guide dog image, she said, would be a way to include the dog in conversations without sharing specifics.

For Davidson, using emojis does not come naturally, she said, because she was born blind and does not know what some facial expressions look like. But she said she might make an exception for the chance to include an emoji of her 9-year-old yellow lab, Lawson.

“I think it’s kind of a cute idea,” she said.

c.2019 New York Times News Service

1590456 Some of the new emojis for 2019. (Unicode Consortium via The New York Times)
16 1 Technology technology Technology news 236 1590104 >>Kevin Roose, The New York Times empty >>Kevin Roose, The New York Times empty 2019-02-06 12:50:04 +0600 2019-02-06 12:50:04 +0600 Maybe only Apple CEO can fix FB privacy Maybe only Tim Cook can fix Facebook’s privacy problem Tim Cook has recently taken a moonlight gig as the privacy watchdog for the social media giant It’s nowhere in his job description, but Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, has recently taken a moonlight gig as Facebook’s privacy watchdog. false
On Wednesday, Cook and his lieutenants took aim at Facebook for violating Apple’s rules with a research app that allowed Facebook to snoop on users’ online activity. Facebook promoted the app through an Apple program that gives trusted developers the ability to install apps for testing without going through the App Store’s normal approval process. Apple responded by cutting off Facebook’s access to apps and updates that it was working on internally, causing chaos among the company’s software engineers.

The move is the clearest sign yet that the cold war between Facebook and Apple over data use and privacy is heating up.

Cook, who has called privacy a “fundamental human right” and taken Facebook and Google to task for the misuse of user data in the past, could effectively become a technology regulator of last resort — using the power of Apple’s iOS operating system as a cudgel to force software companies to respect user privacy and play by the rules, or risk losing access to millions of iPhone users.

The latest battle came Wednesday, after TechCrunch reported on a Facebook program, known as Project Atlas, that paid users $20 in exchange for installing an app for Apple devices called Facebook Research. The program, offered to teenagers as well as adults, gave Facebook the ability to track app use, the websites users visited, the Amazon purchases they made and other intimate data.

The problem is that Facebook loaded the app onto users’ devices using a kind of fast-track installation that bypasses Apple’s normal App Store download process. This ability, known as side-loading, is available only to companies that are enrolled in Apple’s enterprise developer program, and that agree to side-load apps only for internal testing, not for public use.

Apple was not happy, and cut off Facebook’s enterprise developer access for all of its apps, not just the offending research app.

“We designed our Enterprise Developer Program solely for the internal distribution of apps within an organization,” an Apple spokesman said. “Facebook has been using their membership to distribute a data-collecting app to consumers, which is a clear breach of their agreement with Apple.”

Facebook, which reported strong earnings Wednesday despite the missteps, is negotiating with Apple to restore its developer access. A Facebook spokesman declined to comment.

(On Wednesday, TechCrunch reported that Google had a similar research app, called Screenwise Meter. In a statement, Google said it was disabling the app, which it said “should not have operated under Apple’s developer enterprise program.”)

There’s no doubt that Apple took a firm stand here. But if Cook truly wants to protect Apple users from privacy-violating apps, he could remove all of Facebook’s products — including Instagram and WhatsApp — from the App Store until the company can prove, in a real and measurable way, that it cares about its users’ privacy.

Shutting off Facebook’s access to Apple devices would be a radical step, tantamount to declaring war on a major competitor. But Apple has banned developers for smaller infractions in the past. And in the absence of government regulation, there may be no other option for bringing the company to heel on privacy.

Would temporarily cutting off Facebook’s Apple apps be an effective deterrent? Absolutely. In less than a day, Apple’s move to revoke Facebook’s developer certificate has reportedly become a “critical problem” for the company’s developers. Hundreds of millions of people use Facebook through their iPhones, and without access to Apple’s App Store, Facebook would see an immediate and devastating hit to its bottom line. The ban would quickly become an existential threat, and improving privacy on its apps would become an all-hands-on-deck project for the company’s leadership.

Would it be fair? Yes. Facebook’s privacy violations over the years have been appalling, and its executives have blatantly evaded the rules that Google and Apple, the makers of the two largest mobile operating systems, have put in place to protect their users from being exploited by data-hungry app developers. In emails released late last year, Facebook executives were shown plotting to snoop on Android users’ call and text logs without triggering a permission pop-up. And Facebook’s Onavo VPN app was pulled from Apple’s App Store last year for excessive data collection.

Would cracking down on Facebook backfire on Apple? Possibly. Facebook’s apps are some of the most popular offerings on Apple devices, and without access to their Instagram and Facebook feeds, some iPhone users might get frustrated and switch to Android. But this abandonment would happen slowly, not all at once. (IPhone users could still access Facebook’s products through their mobile web browsers.) And more likely, given how heavily Facebook relies on Apple’s platform, Facebook would almost certainly blink first, and make the necessary changes to get back into Apple’s good graces.

Is such a big crackdown necessary? It probably is, if Apple is truly serious about protecting privacy. Time and time again, Facebook has shown that it cannot be trusted to protect users’ privacy unless it is forced to do so. And while regulators have fined Facebook for privacy violations, those punishments rarely amount to anything truly meaningful — at most, the company pays a few million dollars, promises to do better next time, and goes right back to work.

Would punishing Facebook be an abuse of Apple’s power? Arguably, yes. It’s problematic that by virtue of their strangleholds on the Apple and Android operating systems, Apple and Google have control over huge swaths of the tech industry. And Apple’s own record on privacy is hardly spotless — just this week, the company was forced to shut down the FaceTime feature because of a bug that let users snoop on one another’s phones.

But aggressive behavior among tech companies, for much less noble motives, is business as usual — Facebook, for example, routinely cuts off data access to rival apps like Twitter, Vine, and Prisma. And until government regulators impose rules on the tech giants, the most effective regulation on tech industry excesses may need to happen between companies.

It’s bizarre and somewhat troubling that Apple could unilaterally punish a competitor for its privacy sins. (Imagine if McDonald’s could shut down Burger King franchises for health code violations, with little explanation and no recourse for appeal.) But it’s hard to argue with Apple’s decision here. It made rules governing what developers for Apple products were allowed to do, Facebook broke them, and it’s now paying a price.

Apple’s defense of user privacy, while certainly self-interested, is a boon to its users and a lever for change within the tech industry. And if Cook wants to take a strong stand against app developers that routinely violate users’ trust, he could start with the biggest privacy violator of all. Facebook won’t change on its own, but a chastening from Apple might be what the company needs to get its act together.


c.2019 New York Times News Service

17 1 Technology technology Technology news 236 1590059 Staff Correspondent, Staff Correspondent, 2019-02-06 03:50:08 +0600 2019-02-06 03:50:08 +0600 Internet filtering by March: Jabbar Bangladesh will be able to filter porn, harmful online contents by March: Jabbar The minister speaks at a Safer Internet Day programme Bangladesh will achieve the capability to filter and block pornographic and other harmful contents on the internet by March, Mustafa Jabbar has said. false
The post, telecommunication and IT minister spoke of the development at a Safer Internet Day programme organised by UNICEF at the Software Technology Park in Dhaka's Karwan Bazar on Tuesday.

“A number of our projects are under way, through which we will achieve the much-needed content-filtering capability,” he said.

“We hope to take our technology to a level where pornographic and other harmful sites can be controlled from a single platform by March,” the minister added.

Describing pornography as the “biggest threat”, he said, “It will be impossible for us to tackle the other challenges if we can’t save our children from it.”

He believes raising awareness for safer internet among the parents and guardians is more essential than raising the awareness among the children.


As much as 32 percent children aged 10 to 17 years old who use the internet in Bangladesh face online violence, cyberbullying and digital harassment, according to a UNICEF study published at the programme.

The study titled, Online Safety of Children in Bangladesh, commissioned by UNICEF Bangladesh, surveyed 1,281 school-going children aged 10 to 17 from school, college, madrasa steams of education in Bangladesh who access the internet.

Among other forms of cybercrime, the study also explored exposure to religious provocation.

Some 10 percent of the children reported facing religiously provocative content. Boys and older children aged 16 to 17 have been exposed to such provocative content more than other groups of children, according to the study.

UNICEF has called for concerted action to tackle and prevent violence against children and young people online.

“We’ve heard from children and young people from Bangladesh and around the world and what they are saying is clear: The Internet has become a kindness desert,” UNICEF Bangladesh Representative Edouard Beigbeder said.

“That’s why this Safer Internet Day, UNICEF is following young people’s lead and inviting everyone to be kind online, and calling for greater action to make the Internet a safer place for everyone, especially children,” he added.

According to the study, about 25 percent of the children aged 10-17 started to access the digital world below the age of 11. Besides this, a large majority, 63 percent of the children, use their own room as the primary internet usage point. This indicates the prevalence of “bedroom culture” which allows less supervised internet use.

In Bangladesh, boys, 63 percent, are ahead of girls, 48 percent, in terms of high frequency online access and use, the study says.

Chatting online and watching video are the two most frequent internet activities with 33 percent chatting online and 30 percent watching video daily.

The study found that a staggering 70 percent of the boys and 44 percent girls admitted to befriending unknown people online, while a section of the respondents even admitted to meeting the unknown online ‘friends’ in person, risking their safety.

With the sky-rocketing growth of internet population in Bangladesh, which witnessed 800 times growth since the year 2000, the online population in Bangladesh is getting younger with children as young as 11 accessing and using the internet daily.

While older children may be more exposed to cyberbullying than younger ones, children are not immune from harmful content, sexual exploitation and abuse, and cyberbullying, UNICEF said.

Cyberbullying can cause profound harm as it can quickly reach a wide audience, and can remain accessible online indefinitely, virtually ‘following’ its victims online for life.

Victims of cyberbullying are more likely to use alcohol and drugs and skip school than other students.

They also are more likely to receive poor grades and experience low self-esteem and health problems.

In extreme situations, cyberbullying has even led to suicide, UNICEF warned.

1590018 1590017 1590016
18 1 Technology technology Technology news 236 1589676 News Desk, News Desk, 2019-02-05 05:22:54 +0600 2019-02-05 05:36:55 +0600 Sophia’s ‘little sister’ ready for home Sophia the AI robot’s ‘little sister’ up for grabs Little Sophia is designed to be a learning companion of children To make learning and artificial intelligence a fun for children, especially girls aged between 7 and 13 years, Hanson Robotics has introduced ‘Little Sophia’. false Photo: Hanson Robotics
The ‘little sister’ of Sophia, the AI robot citizen of Saudi Arabia which visited Bangladesh in December 2017, is available on Kickstarter, where their creators are seeking funds.

This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal of $75,000 by Mar 31 while 794 backers already raised $107,921 by Tuesday, Feb 5.

A Little Sophia costs between $99 and $149, depending on when it is ordered.

Photo: Hanson Robotics

If everything goes according to plan, the shipments will be made all over the world by the end of this year.

An additional $25 will be charged for delivery to Bangladesh.


Little Sophia’s creators say she can walk, talk, sing, play games and, like her big sister, even tell jokes!

She is a 14-inch tall programmable, educational companion for children, which is designed to inspire them to learn about coding, AI, science, technology, engineering and math through a safe, interactive, human-robot experience, according to the Hanson Robotics.

Photo: Hanson Robotics

Her ‘elder sister’ Sophia, wearing a Jamdani top and a skirt, amazed Bangladeshis with her intelligent conversations with people, including Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, at the Digital World 2017 tech festival.

“Technologies of our time make the world more complicated. I feel we need to humanise the technologies. We need to make them understand us and be meaningful in our lives,” her creator David Hanson told a function during the festival in Dhaka.


1589677 Photo: Hanson Robotics 1589678 Photo: Hanson Robotics 1589679 Photo: Hanson Robotics 1589680 Photo: Hanson Robotics
19 1 Technology technology Technology news 236 1588297 Mike Isaac, The New York Times empty Mike Isaac, The New York Times empty 2019-02-01 09:32:34 +0600 2019-02-01 09:51:07 +0600 Apple shows Facebook who has power Apple shows Facebook who has the power in an app dispute Apple leaves Facebook employees clueless by shutting down their custom-built iPhone apps as pay back for violating its rules When Facebook employees woke up Wednesday morning, many found they could not perform even the most basic work tasks. false Tim Cook, chief executive of Apple, talks during the company’s event at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York, Oct. 30, 2018. (Erica Yoon/The New York Times)
Their calendars were not working. Nor were campus maps that help people find their co-workers. They were unable to check Facebook’s latest shuttle bus schedule. And they could not see what the company’s cafeterias were serving for lunch.

That’s because those features run on Facebook’s internal, custom-built iPhone apps — and Apple had shut them all down, according to nine current and former employees of the companies, who requested anonymity because they were not authorised to speak publicly.

The situation stemmed from a dispute after Facebook violated Apple’s rules by publicly distributing a research app that allowed it to snoop on users’ online activity. When Apple discovered the transgression this week, it revoked Facebook’s special access to apps and updates that run on its iPhone software.

That immediately cut off Facebook’s 35,000 workers from its internal iPhone apps. And the problem snowballed when mobile apps like Workplace and Messenger — two internal communication tools — also stopped working, frustrating employees and resulting in hours of lost productivity.

Late Thursday, Apple relented and restored Facebook’s access. Yet the episode was a stark reminder of where the power really lies in the technology world. While Facebook is the world’s biggest social network, Apple controls the distribution of apps — including Facebook’s — on its phones. That power is a long-standing concern for Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and chief executive, making his company beholden to the rules of others.

The spat underscored the tensions between two of Silicon Valley’s largest tech companies, which have competed for years over talent and new technologies. Recently, each has taken potshots at the other over data privacy, with Apple’s chief executive, Tim Cook, trading slights with Zuckerberg in interviews. Facebook also worked this past year with a public-relations firm, Definers Public Affairs, to urge reporters to scrutinise Apple and other tech companies. And Apple has made changes to some of its tech features that limit the ability of Facebook and others to track users.

Apple did not immediately have a comment Thursday after reinstating Facebook’s access to its internal apps. In a statement, Facebook said it was “getting our internal apps up and running” and added, “To be clear, this didn’t have an impact on our consumer-facing services.”

In an interview Wednesday, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, said of the dispute with Apple, “Obviously we want to be in full compliance with all of our partners.” She added that the Facebook research app at issue hadn’t been a secret and had been operated only with its users’ consent.

Apple also briefly demonstrated its power Thursday with another Silicon Valley giant, Google. Like Facebook, Google had violated Apple’s rules by publicly distributing an app, Screenwise Meter, through a special Apple developer program. The internet search company said some of its internal apps that run on iPhone software were temporarily disrupted.

Two Google employees, who declined to be identified because they were not allowed to speak publicly on the matter, said iPhone apps for internal services like hailing a bus or viewing cafeteria information were not working. In addition, apps testing unreleased updates of Google products such as Gmail and Google Maps were unavailable, these people said. The disruptions were earlier reported by technology website The Verge.

A Google spokeswoman, Suzanne Blackburn, said in a statement that the company expected the issue to be resolved “soon.” A spokesman for Apple, Tom Neumayr, said it was working with Google to reinstate access “very quickly.” He declined to comment on whether Apple had revoked Google’s access or if it was a technical glitch.

Apple’s dispute with Facebook this week was rooted in the social network’s practice of scooping up information on its users’ practices, a way for it to gain insight into their digital habits so it can improve products to keep consumers regularly coming back to its site.

In 2013, Facebook acquired Onavo, an Israeli company that collected information on how customers used every app on their phones. Onavo’s findings helped Facebook executives predict which apps were rising and trending across App Stores.

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of Facebook, testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Capitol Hill, in Washington, April 11, 2018. (Tom Brenner/The New York Times)

That gave Zuckerberg, who colleagues have said was highly dependent on the data, the foresight to try to buy Snapchat long before it went public. Although that effort failed, Facebook has built products, such as live video streams and group video chat, based on information gleaned from Onavo’s app.

Last year, Apple updated some of its privacy policies and forced Facebook to remove Onavo’s app from its App Store. But Onavo had other ways of collecting consumer data that bypassed some of Apple’s restrictions.

In 2016, the Onavo team had created a research app that vacuumed up all of a user’s phone and web activity; Facebook paid people ages 13 to 35 to install it. Then Facebook distributed the app under an Apple program with a special approval process if apps are used only for internal testing.

On Tuesday, the technology news site TechCrunch published a report detailing Facebook’s research app and its public use, which violated the rules of Apple’s program. Facebook immediately pushed back on privacy concerns and said it was not tricking users with the research app.

“There was nothing ‘secret’ about this; it was literally called the Facebook Research App,” Arielle Argyres, a Facebook spokeswoman, said in a statement. “It wasn’t ‘spying’ as all of the people who signed up to participate went through a clear onboarding process asking for their permission and were paid to participate.”

She added that fewer than 5 percent of users in the research program were teenagers and that all had obtained signed parental consent forms.

But Facebook had no comeback for sidestepping Apple’s rules. On Wednesday morning, Apple revoked Facebook’s “enterprise developer certificate” and paralyzed the social giant from deploying its internal iPhone apps.

“Facebook has been using their membership to distribute a data-collecting app to consumers, which is a clear breach of their agreement with Apple,” Tammy Levine, an Apple spokeswoman, said at the time. “Any developer using their enterprise certificates to distribute apps to consumers will have their certificates revoked, which is what we did in this case to protect our users and their data.”

Apple has been dealing with its own privacy problems. This week, a bug was discovered in its FaceTime app, whereby people could spy on the video and audio FaceTime calls of other users. Apple has pledged to fix the problem by the end of this week.

After Apple’s revocation, employees inside Facebook became furious with the Onavo team, according to four people familiar with the company’s deliberations. Some said they would have to wait weeks to get app updates or changes approved through Apple’s App Store. Several employees in Facebook’s hardware division said they were considering quitting because they could not get any work done.

Late Thursday, after Apple relented, Facebook employees began seeing the next day’s lunch menu again, as well as their calendars and their shuttle bus schedules. Still, they said, Apple had made its point.

c.2019 New York Times News Service

1588295 Tim Cook, chief executive of Apple, talks during the company’s event at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York, Oct. 30, 2018. (Erica Yoon/The New York Times) 1588296 Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of Facebook, testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Capitol Hill, in Washington, April 11, 2018. (Tom Brenner/The New York Times)
20 1 Technology technology Technology news 236 1587639 >> Reuters >> Reuters 2019-01-30 15:10:16 +0600 2019-01-30 15:10:16 +0600 Apple lowers iPhone prices to stem weak sales Apple lowers some iPhone prices outside US to offset strong dollar The company has only once before cut iPhone prices, shortly after it debuted in 2007 Apple Inc plans to cut the price of some of its flagship iPhones for only the second time in the device's 12-year history, pegging its retail value to past prices in local currencies outside the United States instead of the rising US dollar. false An Apple company logo is seen behind tree branches outside an Apple store in Beijing, China Dec 14, 2018. REUTERS
The move is an attempt to stem weak sales of the iPhone, particularly in overseas markets such as China, where a 10 percent rise in the US dollar over the past year or so has made Apple's products - which already compete at the top end of the market - much pricier than rivals.

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook disclosed the plan on Tuesday after the company reported the first-ever dip in iPhone sales during the key holiday shopping period. The company has only once before cut iPhone prices, shortly after it debuted in 2007.

Apple did not say in which countries it would adjust iPhone prices. Resellers in China already began cutting iPhone prices earlier this month after Apple lowered its sales forecast for the quarter ended in December.

The company priced its new iPhone XS, which was released in September, at $999, the same price in US dollars as its predecessor, 2017's iPhone X.

That worked for US consumers, but in countries such as China and Turkey the local currency had fallen so much against the surging US dollar, it made the phone significantly pricier than its predecessor a year before. Apple had essentially asked the consumer to bear the cost of the strengthening dollar.

On Tuesday, Cook said Apple will adjust foreign prices in some markets by resetting them at or close to what they were one year before in local currencies. Effectively that means Apple will absorb the cost of the strengthening dollar.

People look at iPhones at the World Trade Centre Apple Store during a Black Friday sales event in Manhattan, New York City, US, Nov 23, 2018. REUTERS

"We’ve decided to go back to (iPhone prices) more commensurate with what our local prices were a year ago, in hopes of helping the sales in those areas," Cook told Reuters in an interview.


In the company's quarterly earnings call on Tuesday, Cook also highlighted the impact of foreign exchange problems in Turkey, where he said the local lira had depreciated by 33 percent against the dollar and Apple's sales were down by $700 million from the previous year. In November, Apple also cited currency pressure on its prices in Brazil, India and Russia.

Apple has not said when or how often it might reset its prices because of foreign currency changes.

Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri said the price adjustments may not extend to its services business, which includes Apple Music and the App Store.

While that unit beat analyst expectations with $10.8 billion in sales in the quarter ended in December, growth has slowed compared to previous years.

Maestri said slower growth was partly because prices rose for users in non-US markets.

"Roughly 60 percent of our services business is outside the United States, and as you know, the US dollar has appreciated in recent months," Maestri said. "And in general, we tend not to reprice our services for foreign exchange on a very frequent basis."

1587636 An Apple company logo is seen behind tree branches outside an Apple store in Beijing, China Dec 14, 2018. REUTERS 1587635 People look at iPhones at the World Trade Centre Apple Store during a Black Friday sales event in Manhattan, New York City, US, Nov 23, 2018. REUTERS
21 1 Technology technology Technology news 236 1587247 Brian X Chen, The New York Times  empty Brian X Chen, The New York Times  empty 2019-01-29 16:15:38 +0600 2019-01-29 16:15:38 +0600 An iPhone bug lets FaceTime users eavesdrop FaceTime bug lets iPhone users eavesdrop, in a stumble for Apple The FaceTime bug could also give a caller access to a live feed of the recipient’s camera The iPhone as an eavesdropping device? Watch out, it can happen. false The FaceTime bug could also give a caller access to a live feed of the recipient’s camera. The New York Times
On Monday, Twitter and other social networking sites lit up with anxious Apple users after the news site 9to5Mac reported on a strange glitch in the company’s iPhones. The issue: It turns out that an iPhone user can call another iPhone user and listen in on that person’s conversations through the device’s microphone — even if the recipient does not answer the call.

The problem was the result of a bug and involves Apple’s FaceTime app for placing video and audio calls over an internet connection. The bug could also give a caller access to a live feed of the recipient’s camera.

On Monday night, Apple said it had disabled Group FaceTime, the feature that was causing the glitch.

The snafu is embarrassing for Apple, which is set to report disappointing financial earnings Tuesday. The Silicon Valley company has long positioned itself as a protector of user privacy offering more secure devices than its rivals.

“We’re aware of this issue and we have identified a fix that will be released in a software update later this week,” Apple said in a statement.

The glitch has already spurred warnings from officials. In a statement issued late Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York urged FaceTime users to temporarily disable the app.

“The FaceTime bug is an egregious breach of privacy that puts New Yorkers at risk,” he said.

I replicated the bug using two iPhones. I began by placing a FaceTime call to the other iPhone, and while the call was ringing, I swiped up on the screen, hit add person and added myself to the conversation. From there, I was able to listen in on the recipient’s microphone, even if the person did not pick up.

If the recipient hit the volume-down or volume-up buttons during this process, the caller could also see a live video feed of the recipient’s front-facing iPhone camera.

How to handle this? Until the fix is released, iPhone users should go into the phone’s settings and disable FaceTime. Start by opening the Settings app, then tap FaceTime and toggle off FaceTime.


© 2019 New York Times News Service

1587246 The FaceTime bug could also give a caller access to a live feed of the recipient’s camera. The New York Times
22 1 Technology technology Technology news 236 1587153 >> Brian X. Chen, The New York Times empty >> Brian X. Chen, The New York Times empty 2019-01-29 09:54:51 +0600 2019-01-29 12:39:06 +0600 How to declutter your personal tech How to declutter and organise your personal tech in a few simple steps A few simple steps to be free of the digital junk we hoard With a new year and a new Netflix show that features the Japanese organising guru Marie Kondo on the art of “Tidying Up,” many of us are experimenting with how to simplify our lives by purging our homes of unwanted possessions. false Tech accessories and digital data may not take up much physical space, but they contribute to frustration and anxiety. Here’s how to keep our e-junk at bay, Marie Kondo-style. (Glenn Harvey/The New York Times)
But what about the stuff we don’t see?

Think about the digital junk we hoard, like the tens of thousands of photos bloating our smartphones or the backlog of files cluttering our computer drives, such as old work presentations, expense receipts and screenshots we have not opened in years.

In addition to the digital mess, tech hardware adds to the pile of junk that sparks no joy in our lives. Everyone has a drawer full of ancient cellphones, tangled-up wires and earphones that are never touched. And the things we do use every day, like charging cables strewn around the house, are an eyesore.

Why are people so terrible about tech hoarding? Cary Fortin, a professional organizer for the company New Minimalism, summed it up: “We don’t really think about the cost of holding on to things, but we think about the cost of needing it one day and not having it.”

Don’t fret, dear reader. As a technology critic who tests dozens of gadgets a year, I’m in a unique position of having to wrestle with extraordinary amounts of tech products and accessories every day. (Last year, I brought nine new smartphones, two tablets, four smart speakers and 14 power accessories into my home.) So here’s a guide to tidying up your technology physically and digitally, including tips from professional organizers.


The No. 1 culprit of tech clutter in every household, professional organizers say, is the power cable. Part of the problem is that we typically need different wires for products like smartphones, battery packs, cameras and laptops. These then accumulates into one tangled mess.

Here’s how to solve power cable overpopulation in a few simple steps:

Gather them all together and purge the ones you don’t need.

This sounds easier said than done, but here’s a good rule of thumb: “If you don’t know what it goes to, get rid of it,” said Marissa Hagmeyer, an organization consultant and co-owner of Neat Method. Among the wires you keep, if there are extras, cap them at two, such as two Micro USB cables, she said.

Tech accessories and digital data may not take up much physical space, but they contribute to frustration and anxiety. Here’s how to keep our e-junk at bay, Marie Kondo-style. (Minh Uong/The New York Times)

In the process, you may end up discarding a wire that you later need. But don’t beat yourself up. “You can buy a new one if it turns out you needed it,” Fortin said. That’s better than wasting space on something you might hypothetically need.

The same approach can be applied to other tech gadgets, like the obsolete smartphone that is living in your sock drawer. If you haven’t used it for six months, get rid of it. Unwanted tech accessories and gadgets can be discarded responsibly through donation centers or e-recycling programs like Best Buy’s.

Have a designated place for all your tech accessories.

Pick somewhere in your home where your various wires will live, like a closet, cabinet or drawer. From there, categorise the wires and give them compartments. I separate my different types of wires — earbuds, phone chargers, miscellaneous USB cables and computer chargers — into Ziploc bags and label them with a label maker. All the bags live in a drawer in my TV stand.

There are different approaches to organising your power cables. Families with children could give each member a compartment. For example, put your son Joe’s iPhone charger, laptop charger and earbuds into one Ziploc bag and label it “Joe’s tech.”

This step is a must. “If you don’t have a dedicated place for your items, then you’re wasting your time finding them,” said Keith Bartolomei, a professional organizer for Zen Habitat.

Hide wires that live out in the open.

Even if you find a place to stash your spare cables, you probably have a few left plugged in all day. To tidy them up, there are methods to hide the wires or, at the very least, keep them off the floor.

Bartolomei recommends using twisty wires and rubber bands to keep wires wrapped around furniture, like desk legs. There are also products for bundling up and concealing wires, like fabric sleeves or boxes that cover your surge protector. My approach to keeping wires off the ground is to run them through magnetic buckles that clip onto a metal side table.


Tidying up your digital media may not feel worthwhile because your files are not visible in the real world. Yet holding on to all the data takes up valuable space on devices while also making important files more difficult to find. The professionals recommended a process of purging and labeling what’s left. Here’s how it would work:

Do an annual clearance of the files you no longer need.

To streamline this process on a computer, open a folder and sort the files by when they were last opened. From there, you can immediately eliminate the files you have not opened in years.

On your smartphone, prune unnecessary apps that are taking up space. On iPhones, Apple offers the tool iPhone Storage, which shows a list of apps that take up the most data and when they were last used; on Android devices, Google offers a similar tool called Files. From here, you can home in on the data hogs and delete the apps you have not touched in months.

Manage your enormous photo library.

Eradicating photos is the most challenging process, the professional organizers agreed, because the thought of deleting your memories may be painful. But photos are some of the biggest data hogs of all, so some periodic maintenance is crucial.

Start by trimming out the easy ones: duplicate photos, blurry shots and old screenshots.

Then move on to the harder part: deleting the photos that were decent but not your favorites. Bartolomei said people could look at each photo and ask themselves a few questions: “Is this something you want to see again? Does it make you happy? Do you want to spend more time with this photo in the future?” If you answer no to any of those questions, the photo can probably go in the trash bin.

My approach to managing digital photos is to purge everything without doing any organization at all. I use Google Photos, which automatically backs each shot to the cloud, compiles photos into albums and includes a tool for removing images from the device. (I also back up all my photos to an external drive in case I ever become unhappy with Google Photos.) Then I erase all the photos from my iPhone every six months and pay Google $2 a month to manage thousands of my photos at full resolution.

Whatever approach you take, don’t skimp on tidying up your data. Even if it doesn’t use up physical room, it can still cause you harm.

“It takes up so much psychic space and brings up the same negative effect: anxiety,” Fortin said. “Since we all have our phones in our pockets, we’re toting our clutter around with us.”

 © 2019 New York Times News Service

1587152 Tech accessories and digital data may not take up much physical space, but they contribute to frustration and anxiety. Here’s how to keep our e-junk at bay, Marie Kondo-style. (Glenn Harvey/The New York Times) 1587151
23 1 Technology technology Technology news 236 1586065 Mike Isaac, The New York Times empty Mike Isaac, The New York Times empty 2019-01-25 21:23:22 +0600 2019-01-25 22:31:14 +0600 Plan to integrate WhatsApp, Messenger Zuckerberg plans to integrate WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger Zuckerberg also plans to integrate Instagram with these messaging services Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, plans to integrate the social network’s messaging services — WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger — asserting his control over the company’s sprawling divisions at a time when its business has been battered by scandals. false FILE -- Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of Facebook, speaks at a conference in San Jose, Calif. on April 18, 2017. Facebook plans to integrate the technical infrastructure for WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger as Zuckerberg asserts control over all of the apps. (Jim Wilson/The New York Times)
The move, described by four people involved in the effort, requires thousands of Facebook employees to reconfigure how WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger function at their most basic levels. While all three services will continue operating as stand-alone apps, their underlying messaging infrastructure will be unified, the people said. Facebook is still in the early stages of the work and plans to complete it by the end of this year or in early 2020, they said.

Zuckerberg has also ordered all of the apps to incorporate end-to-end encryption, the people said, a significant step that protects messages from being viewed by anyone except the participants in the conversation. After the changes take effect, a Facebook user could send an encrypted message to someone who has only a WhatsApp account, for example. Currently, that isn’t possible because the apps are separate.

By stitching the apps’ infrastructure together, Zuckerberg wants to increase the utility of the social network, keeping its billions of users highly engaged inside its ecosystem. If people turn more regularly to Facebook-owned properties for texting, they may forgo rival messaging services, such as those from Apple and Google, said the people, who declined to be identified because the moves are confidential. If users interact more frequently with Facebook’s apps, the company may also be able to build up its advertising business or add new services to make money, they said.

In a statement, Facebook said it wanted to “build the best messaging experiences we can; and people want messaging to be fast, simple, reliable and private.” It added: “We’re working on making more of our messaging products end-to-end encrypted and considering ways to make it easier to reach friends and family across networks.”

Zuckerberg’s move to take more control of Facebook’s disparate businesses follows two years of scrutiny of its core social network, which has been criticised for allowing election meddling and the spread of disinformation. Those and other issues have slowed Facebook’s growth and damaged its reputation, raising the hackles of lawmakers and regulators around the globe. Zuckerberg has repeatedly apologised and vowed to fix the problems.

Knitting together Facebook’s apps is a stark reversal of Zuckerberg’s previous stance toward WhatsApp and Instagram, which were independent companies that he acquired. At the time that Facebook bought the firms, Zuckerberg promised WhatsApp and Instagram plenty of autonomy from its parent company. (Facebook Messenger was a homegrown messaging service, spun out of the main Facebook app in 2014.)

WhatsApp and Instagram have since grown tremendously, prompting a change in Zuckerberg’s thinking, said one of the people. The chief executive now believes tighter integration will benefit Facebook’s entire “family of apps” over the long term by making them more useful, the person said. Zuckerberg had floated the integration idea for months and began promoting it more heavily to employees toward the end of last year, the people said.

The effort has caused internal strife. Instagram’s founders, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, abruptly left Facebook last fall after Zuckerberg began weighing in more. WhatsApp’s founders, Jan Koum and Brian Acton, departed for similar reasons. More recently, dozens of WhatsApp employees clashed with Zuckerberg over the integration plan on internal message boards and during a contentious staff meeting in December, said four people who attended or were briefed on the event.

The changes may also raise questions of data privacy because of how user information may be shared between the services. Today, WhatsApp requires people to register only a phone number to sign up for the service. By contrast, Facebook and Facebook Messenger ask users to provide their real identities. Matching Facebook and Instagram users to their WhatsApp handles could give pause to those who prefer keeping their use of each app compartmentalised.

“As you would expect, there is a lot of discussion and debate as we begin the long process of figuring out all the details of how this will work,” Facebook said in a statement.

In many countries, people often rely on only one or two text messaging services. In China, WeChat, which is made by Tencent, is popular, while WhatsApp is heavily used in South America. But Americans are fragmented across multiple services, like Apple’s iMessage, SMS and various Google chat apps.

For Facebook, the changes provide a better chance at making money from Instagram and WhatsApp, which currently generate little revenue even though they have vast numbers of users. Instagram has 1 billion monthly active users, while WhatsApp has 1.5 billion.

Zuckerberg does not yet have specific plans for how to profit from the integration of the services, said two of the people. But a more engaged audience could lead to new forms of advertising or other services for which Facebook could charge a fee, they said.

One business opportunity involves behaviour around Facebook Marketplace, a free Craigslist-like product where people can buy and sell goods on the social network. The service has grown popular in Southeast Asia and other markets outside the United States.

When the apps are knitted together, Facebook Marketplace buyers and sellers in Southeast Asia would be able to reach out and communicate with each other using WhatsApp — which is popular there — rather than using Facebook Messenger or another, non-Facebook text messaging service. Eventually, that could lead to new ad opportunities or services for profit, said one of the people.

© 2019 New York Times News Service

1586064 FILE -- Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of Facebook, speaks at a conference in San Jose, Calif. on April 18, 2017. Facebook plans to integrate the technical infrastructure for WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger as Zuckerberg asserts control over all of the apps. (Jim Wilson/The New York Times)
24 1 Technology technology Technology news 236 1586005 Joyanta Saha, back from Gazipur, Joyanta Saha, back from Gazipur, 2019-01-25 18:17:41 +0600 2019-01-25 18:17:41 +0600 1,000 cyber security experts by 2021: Palak Bangladesh turning focus to cyber security, ICT state minister Bangladesh turning focus to cyber security after decade spend in digitising infrastructure, says the ICT state minister  The government is focusing on digital security after spending a decade to set up infrastructure for ‘Digital Bangladesh’, Zunaid Ahmed Palak has said. false
"The digital infrastructure has been developed in the last decade, now it is time to ensure the digital security, said the state minister for Information and Communication Technology.

"We have a target to have at least one thousand cyber security experts by 2021."

The state minister was speaking to after visiting the Bangabandhu High Tech City in Gazipur. He went there on recently-launched commuter train.

A 2017 study on cyber risks facing financial institutions conducted by the Bangladesh Institute of Bank Management shows that 28 percent of bankers are 'totally unaware', 22 percent are 'unaware,' and 20 percent has 'little idea' on cyber security.

It was the year before hackers stole $101 million from Bangladesh Bank's account with the Federal Reserve Bank in New York, stirring global attention.

Websites of various government offices have suffered multiple cyber-attacks, including that of the National Parliament and BASIS.

More than 200,000 computer networks in 150 countries were affected in a cyberattack in 2017 which the Europol called 'unprecedented.'

Such cyber security risks both in home and abroad will be considered while overhauling the cyber security system, said Palak.

The ICT department has identified 22 'critical information infrastructures' after forming a Computer Incident Response Team (CIRT).

"We have put sensor in the national CIRT and monitoring 24 hours. We have made a team including police, CID, detective branch and ICT division and providing training to it."

“Bangladesh’s cyber security used to depend on foreign consultants and experts. But they are no longer needed because we’ve built capacity at home,” he said. His office is also initiating a digital security agency.

Also, the ICT Division will put together Computer Incident Team, Cyber Security Agency and Digital Forensic Lab under the Digital Security Act.

"Human resource and capacity building is a continuous process and we'll keep continuing it," said Palak.

After visiting the National Data Centre in Bangabandhu High Tech City, he said the centre can begin commercial activities soon “as 99 percent work has been done”.

"Bangladesh can save 5 petabyte data in this centre; we can provide service worth Tk 50 billion," he told bdnews24.

Bangladesh wants to be connected in the 'information super highway,' said Palak. Bangladesh is now exporting 10Gbps bandwidth to Assam in India and has a plan to export bandwidth to Thailand too, he said.

"Internal Carrier Nationwide Telecommunication Transmission Network (NTTN), Internet Gateway (IIG), International Gateway (IGW) -- if the VAT for these sectors is reduced from fifteen to five, then the retail price will be lowered," he said.

BTRC is working to reduce the price of internet, he said adding it us also working to increase the quality of the internet.  

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25 1 Technology technology Technology news 236 1585493 >>Janet Morrissey, The New York Times empty >>Janet Morrissey, The New York Times empty 2019-01-24 05:36:47 +0600 2019-01-24 05:36:47 +0600 The coolest smart home devices The race to create the coolest smart home devices is hotter than ever The race to create the devices is hotter than ever When 47-year-old Chris Petrock purchased a three-bedroom, three-story home in Norwalk, Connecticut, last March, he decided to make it a smart one — where he could control the lights, refrigerator, thermostat, televisions, security cameras and everything in between — with the sound of his voice or a click on his smartphone. false In an undated handout image, a MassageRobotics machine. 59 percent of American adults surveyed in 2018 said they were interested in using a smart home device, according to Forrester Research. (Handout via The New York Times)
Some friends and family members were sceptical. “I think a lot of my friends are kind of scared of it,” he said. But he pressed ahead, purchasing a package of Samsung smart appliances and other gadgets; only the installation of the security alarm system required a technician’s help.

He said he likes checking his home remotely from his phone during the day. “I watch my dog. I like to see what she’s doing.” And he uses the touch screen and Samsung’s Bixby voice assistant on his smart refrigerator to play music, order an Uber, ask for recipes, and even see who’s ringing his doorbell.

But it was not the coolness factor that motivated Petrock. It was all about boosting the value of his home.

“It is the wave of the future. I know a lot of families will want it,” he said. “For resale value, it’s great!”

Indeed, 59 percent of American adults surveyed in 2018 said they were interested in using a smart home device, according to Forrester Research.

For many, the entry into the internet of things (IoT) world has been through the surging popularity of smart speakers, like Amazon Echo and Google Home, whose voice assistants can answer questions, play music, order food, read news, arrange an Uber ride, and control other connected smart devices.

Forrester predicts that more than 66 million households in the United States will have smart speakers by 2022, up from 26 million in 2018. The number of homes with other smart devices, like refrigerators, vacuums, yard irrigation systems, and door locks, will more than double to 26.7 million in 2022 — or about 20 percent of households in the United States — from 12.2 million in 2018, Forrester projects.

For many people, it’s about convenience and speed. “Consumers don’t just want this convenience, they expect it — they demand it,” said Charles Henderson, global head of X-Force Red, a professional hacking team at IBM Security.

But the road to mass adoption of the smart home will likely be a long and bumpy one. Although the number and nature of smart devices is surging by the day, people have been relatively slow to actually buy and install them.

“It’s a really messy space and there’s a lot of noise in this,” said Frank Gillett, principal analyst at Forrester.

Buying, setting up and connecting smart devices can be costly, cumbersome, and time-consuming. Indeed, as many as one-third of smart speakers are still in their boxes, according to Forrester.

“You need people to be patient and comfortable with working through multiple steps of instruction,” he said.

It is no surprise that familiar names like Google, Amazon and Apple have taken a lead in the smart speaker space, and big brands like Samsung are creating buzz in smart appliances. But the rest of the smart device universe is fragmented.

“Much of the innovation is coming from focused startups and midsize companies,” said Gillett.

In the smart appliances realm, Samsung has emerged as a leader.

With its Family Hub smart refrigerator, for example, you can view the contents of your refrigerator from a smartphone at work, use a grocery app like InstaCart or Amazon Prime Now to order any needed groceries for dinner, and have the food delivered before arriving home. The smart fridge also sends alerts about expiring food and offers recipes through Meal Planner for meals that include those expiring items.

The fridge features a large touch screen, speakers, and the Bixby voice assistant that allows someone to build shopping lists, post photos, play music — and even control the home’s other smart devices, like lights and thermostats, right from the fridge.

But demand for consumer smart devices goes far beyond smart appliances, lights, speakers and thermostats. Tech giants and startups alike are rolling out innovative IoT and artificial intelligence-enabled devices at a breathtaking pace — the quirkier and more eye-catching the better — as they jockey to stand out in an increasingly crowded market.

Among the newcomers is MassageRobotics, a company that offers body massages at home — only it’s done by a pair of robotic arms. Founder Christian Mackin came up with the idea after suffering back and neck injuries during a sandrail car accident in California in 2013. He underwent surgery — and then months of physical and massage therapy.

“I thought, I’d like to design a robot to do this at home,” he said.

So, Mackin, who owns an engineering firm, acquired a couple of collaborative robots, known as cobots, from Universal Robots, and brought in a physical therapist to program the so-called cobots to give 25 different massages with a robotic arm on each side of the massage table. The robots are artificial intelligence-enabled, responding to voice commands to change the speed, pressure and location of the massage from a light touch to deep tissue massage — depending on the person’s needs and injuries.

In an undated handout image, a demonstration of the Eyedrive system by EyeLight, which allows drivers to see GPS directions, music playlists and incoming calls via a hologram that appears on their car’s window. 59 percent of American adults surveyed in 2018 said they were interested in using a smart home device, according to Forrester Research. (Handout via The New York Times)

But it does not come cheap: A single massage robot will sell for $150,000 when it hits the market later this year, although Mackin expects the price to come down to between $50,000 and $75,000 within three years.

Are you a fan of Jimmy Choo designer shoes? If so, there’s a smart designer shoe headed your way that’s not only stylish but can detect signs of chronic diseases, like Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s, just by measuring the way you walk. Jimmy Choo teamed up with ZhorTech to create the Voyager Boot, which features a Digitsole that measures cadence, speed, impact force, pronation, and other metrics as the person walks.

“There are more than 7,000 nerve endings in each foot directly connected to the brain,” said Karim Oumnia, chief executive and founder of ZhorTech and Digitsole. And medical studies show a direct relation between gait analysis and neurological diseases, he said. “We can even detect the severity level of the diseases” and track progression over time, he said. The Voyager Boot is available in three styles and is priced between $1,795 to $1,895.

Then there is the QUS washable smart sport shirt that collects body data like breathing rate, heart rate, and heart rate variability through sensor threads in the shirt and a device that is snapped onto the back of the shirt. It collects the data during workouts and compares it with previous exercise sessions.

There is also Hip’Safe which is a wearable air-bag belt for seniors priced at roughly $744, and B’Safe, an air-bag vest for cyclists, that automatically inflate when motion sensors detect the person is falling, which is priced at roughly $700.

Widex makes a smart hearing aid, which uses AI to learn and adjust the person’s hearing preferences in real time, and will soon be introducing a battery-free hearing aid.

For cat owners, there’s iKuddle, a smart cat litter box priced at $299, which detects when the feline enters the box, deodorises the air, and packages the waste into small bags for easy disposal. And it can all be tracked through an app.

Out on the road, there’s EyeLights’ Eyedrive smart device, that allows a driver to see GPS directions, music playlists and incoming calls through a hologram that appears on the car’s window. A tabletlike device sits on the car’s dashboard, and, once connected to the phone’s GPS and music apps, will project the directions or music track onto the windshield — large enough that everyone in the car can see it. Since it is activated by voice or gestures, the driver never has to look away from the road.

Romain Duflot, chief executive and co-founder of EyeLights, dismisses suggestions that the hologram could be a distraction for drivers, saying that taking your eye off the road to check a phone is far riskier. “Phone distraction occurs in 52 percent of all trips that ended in a crash,” he said. EyeLights expects Eyedrive to be available in February and retail for $299 (though it may currently be preordered via its Indiegogo campaign for $199).

The choices of fun, cool, quirky smart devices is seemingly limitless — and continues expanding by the day. In the end, no single smart home will likely look the same. It will all come down to personal preferences.

Added Gillett: “There’s no all-dancing home that you can set up and now your home is magic like the Jetsons.”

© 2019 New York Times News Service

1585492 In an undated handout image, a MassageRobotics machine. 59 percent of American adults surveyed in 2018 said they were interested in using a smart home device, according to Forrester Research. (Handout via The New York Times) 1585491 In an undated handout image, a demonstration of the Eyedrive system by EyeLight, which allows drivers to see GPS directions, music playlists and incoming calls via a hologram that appears on their car’s window. 59 percent of American adults surveyed in 2018 said they were interested in using a smart home device, according to Forrester Research. (Handout via The New York Times)