<![CDATA[NECN - Tech News]]>Copyright 2018 https://www.necn.com/news/tech http://media.necn.com/designimages/clear.gif NECN https://www.necn.com en-usFri, 21 Sep 2018 14:37:38 -0400Fri, 21 Sep 2018 14:37:38 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Facebook to Scale Back Political Campaign 'Embeds']]> Thu, 20 Sep 2018 22:20:58 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/facebook43.jpg

Facebook said on Thursday it would cut back the on-site support staff that it has provided in the past to political campaigns including President Donald Trump’s in 2016, NBC News reported.

Facebook said in a statement that it was pulling back that kind of help for political ads beginning with this year’s midterm elections, and would focus on providing free information to elected officials and campaigns through a website, politics.fb.com.

Brad Parscale, the campaign manager for Trump’s 2020 reelection effort, has said Facebook effectively embedded staff in the campaign’s offices in San Antonio two years ago, helping with technical advice on how best to reach voters with Facebook’s advertising platform.

Facebook has said it offered similar support to Trump’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, and it likewise had helped other advertising customers, such as Republican Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, as well as some commercial advertising clients.

Photo Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP (File)]]>
<![CDATA[Report Says Amazon Will Open More Cashierless Stores]]> Thu, 20 Sep 2018 07:55:58 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Report_Says_Amazon_Will_Open_More_Cashierless_Stores.jpg

Amazon has more plans to build 3,000 more cashierless stores in the next few years, according to a report. Although they didn’t confirm it, they didn’t deny it, either. Lyft’s latest feature gives riders the fastest route in its updated app, even if it means that route is without their rideshare. One of the oldest companies has announced it will sell only “interactive” life insurance.

<![CDATA[How Boston Companies Are Using Artificial Intelligence]]> Wed, 19 Sep 2018 11:26:48 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/How_Boston_Companies_Are_Using_Artificial_Intelligence.jpg

There are a number of local companies using Artificial intelligence to analyze what they gather to keep people safe. Boston Globe technology reporter Hiawatha Bray gives us a closer look and an explanation.

<![CDATA[Hackers Fight Wildlife Trafficking at San Diego Zoo Safari Park ]]> Sat, 15 Sep 2018 13:33:37 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/AP_176452823758.jpg

Some of the brightest minds in technology and research are gathering at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in Escondido, California, to try to solve the world-wide problem of wildlife trafficking. 

Programmers, designers and more are participating in the Zoohackathon, a three-day event through the zoo, in partnership with the State Department.

An opening reception kicked off the weekend on Friday. During the hackathon on Saturday and Sunday, the hackers work to "create applications, systems, and tools to help reduce demand for trafficked wildlife products," according to the Zoohackathon site.

The hackers work around the clock for the 48 hours to try to implement the thoughts and ideas laid out by designers and researchers.

"You have animal and plant parts being traded illegally throughout the world. They have to be shipped somehow," said Stacey Johnson, corporate director of conservation and research for the San Diego Zoo. "Most of the shipping companies are using tracking systems of their own. So figuring out how we can examine them." 

Johnson said the hackers will also look into illegally posted animal and plant products online. 

Rhinos are of particular interest at the event, Johnson said. The wild animals are often poached for their horns. In Africa, the black rhino is critically threatened and the northern white rhino went extinct in the wild, with the only remaining ones living at a conservancy in Kenya.

The State Department said it believes technology can help end the cycle of buying and selling illegal wildlife products

When the event is over, the hacking teams pitch their ideas to judges and winners receive prizes. Those winners then have the opportunity to compete for prizes around the world.

Hacking events are also taking place over the weekend in Madrid, Mumbai and Uganda. New Delhi will host an event next weekend.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File]]>
<![CDATA[SpaceX Books the First Tourist to the Moon]]> Fri, 14 Sep 2018 10:10:10 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/AP_18037863115871.jpg

The moon may soon get its first tourist — and first human visitor in more than four decades. SpaceX announced Thursday that it's booked the world's first private passenger to the moon.

Elon Musk's space technology company said on Twitter the unnamed traveler would board its BFR (or Big Falcon Rocket) to the moon, where only 24 people have ever traveled. Only 12 of those people actually walked on the moon, and they were all Americans.

The last manned flight to the moon was the Apollo 17 mission in December 1972.

SpaceX didn't reveal any details about the potentially historic voyage but said it plans to reveal the traveler's identity and more on Monday, Sept. 17. The company called the plan "an important step toward enabling access for everyday people who dream of traveling to space."

Musk shared the announcement on his personal page but remained tight-lipped as well. However, when asked if the passenger was him, Musk responded with an emoji of the Japanese flag.

This isn't the first time SpaceX dabbled in lunar tourism. Musk had said in February 2017 that two people paid the company a "significant" amount of money to go on a weeklong trip around the Moon this year. However, details about the supposed trip were never revealed.

SpaceX has held a bold vision for commercial space travel. Musk said in March that the first Mars spaceship could be ready for short trips by early 2019. But he lowered those expectations in the same address, joking that "sometimes, my timelines are a little, you know..." 

Photo Credit: AP Photo/John Raoux, File]]>
<![CDATA[Reddit Bans Qanon Subreddits After Series of Violent Threats]]> Thu, 13 Sep 2018 06:57:30 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Qalone.jpg

Reddit banned one of its largest communities dedicated to discussion of the Qanon fringe conspiracy theory on Wednesday, citing the subreddit's repeated violations of the network's content policy.

The community, called /r/GreatAwakening, had more than 71,000 subscribers making over 10,000 comments on average per day before it was banned, NBC News reported. A backup subreddit, /r/the_greatawakening, was also banned, along with 17 other Qanon focused communities, including r/BiblicalQ and r/Quincels.

The Qanon subreddits have been host to escalating threats of violence from proponents of the conspiracy theory — despite repeated calls from the community’s moderators urging them to stop.

Qanon devotees falsely believe that President Donald Trump is secretly waging a war with special counsel Robert Mueller to take down a global pedophile ring led by Hollywood celebrities and the Democratic Party, most notably Hillary Clinton.

Photo Credit: Rick Loomis/Getty Images (File)]]>
<![CDATA[Dulles Airport Debuts Facial Recognition Technology]]> Thu, 06 Sep 2018 17:51:58 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/DIT+NAT+DULLES+FACE+ID.00_00_06_08.Still009THUMB.jpg

Dulles International Airport has implemented facial recognition software for international travelers; the system will be used to identify visa holders as they leave the country. Passengers have their pictures taken before boarding, and those photos are compared to their visa photos.

<![CDATA[Twitter, Facebook Offer Apologies and Promises]]> Wed, 05 Sep 2018 17:46:23 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/NC_socialmedia0905_1920x1080.jpg

Executives from Twitter and Facebook face questions on foreign election influence and political bias during Capitol Hill hearings. NBC's Jennifer Johnson reports.

<![CDATA[Utah Driver Sues Tesla After Crashing in Autopilot Mode]]> Wed, 05 Sep 2018 16:48:32 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/tesla-generic.jpg

A Utah driver who slammed her Tesla into a stopped firetruck at a red light earlier this year while using the vehicle's semi-autonomous function has sued the company, saying salespeople told her the car would stop on its own in Autopilot mode if something was in its path, NBC News reported.

Heather Lommatzsch claimed in the lawsuit filed Tuesday that Tesla salespeople told her in 2016 when she purchased the Model S that she could just touch the steering wheel occasionally while using the Autopilot mode. Lommatzsch, 29, said she tried to brake when she saw the stopped cars, but that the car's brakes did not work before the May 11 crash.

But Tesla spokesman Dave Arnold said in a statement the company has been clear "Autopilot doesn't make the car impervious to all accidents" and that drivers are "continuously reminded of their responsibility to keep their hands on the wheel and maintain control of the vehicle at all times," Arnold said.

Arnold stressed that the final police report said Lommatzsch told police she was looking at her phone before the crash and that car data showed Lommatzsch did not touch the steering wheel for 80 seconds before the crash. Data taken from her car showed it picked up speed for 3.5 seconds before crashing into the firetruck and that the driver then manually hit the brakes a fraction of a second before the impact.

Photo Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Rep. Billy Long Uses Auctioneer Skills to Drown Out Protester]]> Thu, 06 Sep 2018 10:21:08 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/DIT+NAT+AUCTIONEER+PROTEST+090518.00_01_03_11.Still003THUMB.jpg

Former auctioneer Rep. Billy Long (R-Mo.) used his unique skills to override the voice of right-wing activist Laura Loomer, who had interrupted the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing with Twitter Wednesday.

<![CDATA[How Tech Workers Are Starting to Revolt]]> Wed, 05 Sep 2018 13:41:32 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/942400992-Facebook-Menlo-Park-Hacker-Way.jpg

While tech industry executives are testifying before Congress on Wednesday, their biggest worry may be the protests they face from within their own companies, NBC News reports.

Tech giants like Amazon and Google have seen unprecedented pushback from their employees regarding the direction their companies are taking and how they interact with the US government. 

In June, Google said it would not renew a contract with the U.S. Defense Department to analyze drone footage after thousands of employees signed a petition, with some employees even resigning.

Facebook has seen a number of leaks in recent months, which has led to debates about the appropriateness of leaking company information.

These incidents have prompted workers and executives to consider the ethical implications of working at companies that are trying to change the world through technology. 

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Facebook Talks 'Arms Race' to Protect Users Before Midterms]]> Tue, 04 Sep 2018 08:42:29 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/942400992-Facebook-Menlo-Park-Hacker-Way.jpg

Facebook plans to build a physical "war room" to coordinate response in real time to foreign interference in November's midterm elections, the company's head of civic engagement told NBC News.

Samidh Chakrabarti is leading Facebook's efforts to secure the platform for elections around the world, and he told NBC News in an exclusive interview that the company is "much more effective than we used to be" and the entire company is "laser focused on getting it right."

In 2016's presidential election, more than 126 million Americans saw incendiary Facebook posts from accounts, pages and ads linked to Russia. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has so far declined to say how much foreign interference remains.

Chakrabarti said Facebook's efforts around political ad transparency are making the platform more trustworthy, but he acknowledged that bad actors are getting more sophisticated: "It is an arms race. And we're always working to try to stay one step ahead."

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images, File
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<![CDATA[Map Hack Replaces NYC With 'Jewtropolis' in Popular Apps]]> Thu, 30 Aug 2018 12:55:02 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Mapbox+Hack.jpg

Users of popular apps including Snapchat and StreetEasy were stunned Thursday morning to see New York City replaced on some maps with a new label — "Jewtropolis."

Screenshots posted to social media showed a wide variety of apps appeared to be affected, depending on how closely people zoomed into maps of the city. 

Snapchat, in a response to a complaining user, blamed its mapping software vendor.

"Hey Dan! Thanks for bringing this to our attention. Snap Map relies on third party mapping data which has unfortunately been subject to vandalism. We are working with our partner Mapbox to get this fixed immediately," the tweet read.

Mapbox issued a statement saying it fixed the issue within an hour.

"The malicious edit was made by a source that attempted several other hateful edits. Our security team has confirmed no additional attempts were successful," the company said, adding that human error during its review process allowed the edit to make it into production. 

Other apps affected, based on screenshots posted online, included Zillow, CitiBike and Jump Bikes. 

"An issue with one of our third-party map vendors resulted in an offensive term appearing on some StreetEasy maps this morning. We are deeply sorry and addressed it as soon as we knew. The vendor is working on a fix, and in addition, we have replaced those maps on our site," a StreetEasy spokeswoman said. 

The Anti-Defamation League issued a statement saying this was "clearly an act of anti-Semitism."

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<![CDATA[Google Maps Mistakenly Shows 'McCain Senate Office Building']]> Wed, 29 Aug 2018 18:51:16 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Russell12.jpg

Google Maps wasn't waiting for the Senate.

While lawmakers debated a proposal to rename a building after the late Sen. John McCain, Google Maps displayed "McCain Senate Office Building" on its website for several hours Wednesday.

A search for "Russell Senate Office Building" directed users to the same building. The error was fixed later Wednesday.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., proposed renaming the Russell building in McCain's honor after the Arizona Republican died Saturday from brain cancer. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he'll form a bipartisan panel to solicit ideas on ways to honor McCain.

Google said in a statement Wednesday that it empowers people to contribute local knowledge to its maps, "but we recognize that there may be occasional inaccuracies or premature changes suggested by users.''

It was not clear how the error occurred.

The mix-up comes as President Donald Trump has accused Google and other U.S. tech companies of rigging search results about him "so that almost all stories & news is BAD." Trump offered no evidence of bias, but a top adviser said the White House is "taking a look'' at whether Google should face federal regulation.

On Wednesday, Trump reiterated his complaints, telling reporters he thinks Google, Facebook and Twitter "treat conservatives and Republicans very unfairly."

"I think it's a very serious problem because they're really trying to silence a very large part of this country and those people don't want to be silenced," Trump said.

But when asked whether he wants to see new federal regulations imposed on the companies, Trump, who often brags of his record slashing federal regulations, said that wasn't what he's after.

"You know what we want? Not regulation. We want fairness. When we have fairness we're all very happy," he said.

Google has pushed back sharply on Trump's claims.

"We never rank search results to manipulate political sentiment," the company said in a statement.

Photo Credit: Senate Photography Studio]]>
<![CDATA[T-Mobile Discovers Security Breach of Certain Customer Info]]> Fri, 24 Aug 2018 12:41:26 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/tmobilebreach11.jpg

T-Mobile US and its unit Metro PCS informed customers on Thursday about a potential security breach that was discovered and shut down by the company.

T-Mobile said that on Aug. 20 its cyber-security team discovered and shut down an unauthorized access to certain information, and the company reported the breach to authorities. T-Mobile said financial data and credit card information, social security numbers and passwords were not compromised. However, some personal information may have been accessed, including name, billing zip code, phone number, email address, account number and account type.

About 3 percent of T-mobile's 77 million customers could have been affected, a company spokesperson told technology news website Motherboard.

T-Mobile said it informed customers of the incident "out of an abundance of caution."

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[New Facial Recognition Tech Catches First Impostor in DC]]> Thu, 23 Aug 2018 19:45:57 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/210*120/FacialRecognitionAirport.jpg

Facial recognition technology caught an impostor trying to enter the U.S. on a fake passport that may have passed at face value with humans, federal officials said Thursday.

NBC News reports that the groundbreaking arrest came on just the third day of usage of the biometric tech at Washington Dulles International Airport.

The 26-year-old man arrived Wednesday on a flight from Sao Paulo, Brazil, and presented a French passport to the customers officer, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Using the new facial comparison biometric system, the officer determined the unidentified traveler did not match the passport he presented.

Photo Credit: AP/Carolyn Thompson, File]]>
<![CDATA[Verizon Throttled Internet Service of Firefighters Battling Massive Blaze]]> Thu, 23 Aug 2018 02:53:35 -0400 https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/VerizonFile.JPG

Verizon is responding to claims by the Santa Clara County Fire Department chief that it throttled the internet connection of an emergency vehicle as firefighters fought the Mendocino Complex Fire, the largest wildfire ever recorded in California history.

"This throttling has had a significant impact on our ability to provide emergency services," Santa Clara County Fire Department Chief Anthony Bowden wrote in his declaration. "Verizon imposed these limitations despite being informed that throttling was actively impeding County Fire’s ability to provide crisis-response and essential emergency services."

In a brief filed earlier this week in federal court, the chief alleges that Verizon slowed his department's data plan down to one-two hundredth of the normal speed, making it nearly impossible for firefighters battling the Mendocino Complex to communicate using platforms such as Google Docs, which they rely on to provide each other with live updates during the fight against the fire.

Even though the fire department has unlimited data, Verizon allegedly slowed the speeds once the firefighters went over a certain amount. Bowden provided emails that show Verizon offered to restore normal data service if the department would agree to a $99 per month plan, which is three times the amount of its current plan.

In a statement, Verizon admits it made a mistake in its communication with the fire department.

"Regardless of the plan emergency responders choose, we have a practice to remove data speed restrictions when contacted in emergency situations ... In this situation, we should have lifted the speed restriction when our customer reached out to us. This was a customer support mistake. We are reviewing the situation and will fix any issues going forward," the statement read.

The County of Santa Clara, along with 22 states and the California Public Utilities Commission, filed its brief Monday supporting net neutrality in the ongoing litigation to protect an open internet.

Verizon stated that "this situation has nothing to do with net neutrality or the current proceeding in court."

On the other hand, Santa Clara County Counsel James R. Williams stated, "Verizon’s throttling has everything to do with net neutrality — it shows that the ISPs will act in their economic interests, even at the expense of public safety. That is exactly what the Trump Administration’s repeal of Net Neutrality allows and encourages."

But California has plans for its own net neutrality laws.

Bill SB-822
, led by Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco, will require an equal playing field on the internet. The final hearing of the bill was heard Wednesday with the Assembly Communications and Conveyance Committee before it goes to the full Assembly for a vote.

A representative for Verizon was in attendance and voiced the company's opposition to the bill. Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile and Comcast were also among other giant companies who sent representatives to voice their opposition.

A Verizon representative at the SB-822 hearing reiterates the throttling had nothing to do with net neutrality because the content had nothing to do with slowing down of data, but that it was an error of a customer representative.

"I do think that it was evidence, once again, on how critically important internet access is to everything, including public safety. Whatever the reason was for the throttling, it creates problem in terms of slowing down," Wiener said at the hearing.

Disclaimer: Comcast owns NBCUniversal, the parent company of NBC News, MSNBC, and this station.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>