Archive for July, 2018

Harvard’s robotic cockroach could come to the rescue

Researchers at Harvard University have created a small robot that can walk on water, dive and climb.

Kevin Chen, of the Harvard Microrobotics Laboratory said it was hoped these HAMR robots could eventually be used in rescue and emergency situations.

BBC Click finds out more.

See more at Click’s website and @BBCClick.

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Phone and internet use: Number of mobile calls drops for first time

People in a line with mobile phones Phone and internet use: Number of mobile calls drops for first time Phone and internet use: Number of mobile calls drops for first time 88b5751d3fImage copyrightGetty Images
Image caption On average, people pick up their phone once every 12 minutes

The number of voice calls made on mobile phones in the UK fell for the first time ever in 2017 – despite the fact we seem hooked on our devices.

That is according to the latest report from telecoms regulator Ofcom, which charts what it describes as a decade of digital dependence.

A total of 78% of all adults now own a smartphone.

On average, people check them once every 12 minutes during their waking hours, the study claims.

Two in five adults look at their phone within five minutes of waking, while a third check their phones just before falling asleep, according to the report.

A high percentage (71%) say they never turn off their phones and 78% say they could not live without it.

While three-quarters of the British public still regard voice calling as an important function of their phones, more (92%) say web browsing is crucial.

The report finds that the total volume of calls made on mobiles fell by 1.7% in 2017, even though making them is the cheapest it has ever been.

That does not necessarily mean people are talking less, however, because Ofcom has not collated figures for chat apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, which could account for some of the decline.

“Over the last decade, people’s lives have been transformed by the rise of the smartphone, together with better access to the internet and new services,” said Ofcom’s director of market intelligence Ian Macrae.

“Whether it is working flexibly, keeping up with current affairs or shopping online, we can do more on the move than ever before.

“But while people appreciate their smartphone as their constant companion, some are finding themselves feeling overloaded when online, or frustrated when they’re not.”

Image caption The Louis family all use their phones daily, for different reasons

The Louis family all depend on their smartphones but for different reasons,

While mum Kirsten uses it from the moment she wakes up to check social media, the family calendar, the weather as well as for shopping, her husband Andre – who is visually impaired – relies on it for a whole range of things, including booking taxis and reading emails.

He describes himself as “hooked”, saying the phone has been life-changing because, before he had one, he had to rely on the kindness of strangers when out and about.

Son Jake currently has his usage restricted to when he is in the family home, where he uses it to play games, message family and friends and go on YouTube.

Five-year-old Alice has yet to catch the mobile bug – she does not have a phone and does not want one. For now.

Have you set any rules for when and where you use your phone? Let us know by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

Data usage

The average daily time spent on a smartphone is two hours 28 minutes, rising to three hours 14 minutes for 18 to 24-year-olds, the report indicates.

Most people expect a constant internet connection, with the majority of adults saying the internet is an essential part of their lives, and one in five spending more than 40 hours a week online.

The average is a more modest 24 hours a week online, with more than half of that time spent on mobile phones.

For the first time, women spent more time online than men, particularly in the age group 18 to 34 where females spent an average half an hour longer online than men.

Seven in 10 commuters use their smartphones on their journey to work, with nearly a half saying they use it to complete “essential tasks”.

Phone and internet use: Number of mobile calls drops for first time Phone and internet use: Number of mobile calls drops for first time 8dc1912d8a
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Media captionJames Reevell looks at the tricks technology companies use to keep you hooked on your phone

On average, users get through 1.9GB (gigabytes) of data each month, according to the report.

The amount of time people spend glued to screens has become a focus of the big tech firms in recent months, with both Apple and Google offering dashboards built into their operating systems which allow people to see how much time they spend on various apps and websites.

Facebook has also just announced tools to limit how much time people spend on the social network.

Meal time misery

The fact that mobile phones are now integral to people’s lives means they are having to develop a set of etiquette rules about their usage.

More than half agree that connected devices interrupt face-to-face conversations with family and friends, with 43% admitting to spending too much time online.

The vast majority object to people using their phones during meal times, with both young and old agreeing. But when it comes to whether it is acceptable to be on a phone while watching TV, 62% of the over-55s object compared with only 21% of those aged 18-34.

The key function of a mobile device also divides the generations. While older people think web browsing is the most crucial use of their devices, youngsters regard video streaming as more important.

Our obsession with our phones is good news for advertisers. Nearly a quarter of all advertising spend is now on mobiles, and if mobile advertising was stripped away, ad revenue would be in decline for the first time.

Phone replacing TV?

When asked in 2008 what was the most important device they owned, more than half the respondents to that year’s report said it was the TV with only 13% identifying their mobile phone as the crucial gadget.

Fast forward to 2018 and 48% regard their smartphone as the most important, followed by the TV (28%).

The TV remains important though and despite the rise of on-demand and subscription services, broadcast TV still accounts for the majority (71%) of viewing time.

Other findings from the report include:

  • 42% of houses now own a smart TV – with Ofcom predicting this will rise substantially in coming years
  • the average household spends £124 on communication services each month
  • 40% of households subscribe to Netflix
  • one in eight homes now has a smart speaker

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US names arrested Fin7 cyber-gang suspects

Credit cards US names arrested Fin7 cyber-gang suspects US names arrested Fin7 cyber-gang suspects 952932e5a7Image copyrightGetty Images
Image caption The gang is accused of stealing millions of debit and credit card details

Three Ukrainian citizens suspected of being part of a “prolific hacking group” have been arrested, the US Department of Justice has announced.

The three men are accused of using malware to attack more than 120 US companies, including the restaurant chains Chipotle and Arby’s.

Firms in the UK, France and Australia were also said to have been targeted.

The gang involved has been called several names including Fin7, Carbanak and JokerStash.

Its activities had been widely tracked in the cyber-security press. In some cases it was suspected of being a Russia-based operation.

The Department of Justice (DoJ) said that the group had hijacked more than 15 million payment card details from more than 6,500 payment check-out points in the US alone.

It said the information was then sold via the “dark net” – a part of the internet that is not indexed by regular search engines such as Google.

The resulting losses are believed to have run into the tens of millions of dollars.

The group is understood to still be active.

Each of the three accused faces allegations of conspiracy, wire fraud, computer hacking, access device fraud, and aggravated identity theft.

However, only one of the men is currently in US custody.

Fedir Hladyr is being held in Seattle pending trial after being handed over by the German authorities, who arrested the 33-year-old in January.

Dmytro Fedorov was arrested the same month in Poland. The Spanish authorities are holding the third suspect, Andrii Kopakov. The US is seeking to have both extradited.

It is not known whether the men deny the crimes they are accused of.

“The naming of these Fin7 leaders marks a major step towards dismantling this sophisticated criminal enterprise,” said the FBI agent in charge, Jay Tabb.

“The FBI will continue to work with its law enforcement partners worldwide to pursue the members of this devious group, and hold them accountable for stealing from American businesses and individuals.”

One cyber-security expert said that tackling such crimes required good international collaboration.

“The criminal organisation, to which the individuals arrested are alleged to belong, is one of the larger groups, which likely is the reason for it attracting sufficient attention from law-enforcement,” commented Dr Steven Murdoch from University College London.

“The clever techniques it used to infiltrate companies demonstrates that it is impossible to guarantee that systems processing card numbers will be protected from all attacks.

“For this reason, payment systems are gradually being changed to reduce the value of card numbers to criminals, such as by creating card numbers which can only be used once, or confirming transactions by sending a text message to the customer.”

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WhatsApp starts charging business users

WhatsApp Business API WhatsApp starts charging business users WhatsApp starts charging business users 5eed6c9344Image copyrightWhatsApp
Image caption WhatsApp has about 1.5 billion users

WhatsApp is launching new pay-to-use tools for businesses to communicate with their customers.

The move will allow its owner, Facebook, to make money from WhatsApp, which has lacked a revenue stream since dropping subscription fees.

Companies will be able to provide information and services, such as delivery dates or boarding passes, to customers via the platform.

In return, the businesses will pay a fee for a confirmed delivery.

The messages are set to cost between 0.5 cents to 9 cents (0.3p to 7p) a message depending on the country the user is based in. They can be automated or provided by human customer assistants.

The price means they will often be more expensive to use than more basic SMS-based texts.

In addition, firms can respond to questions and comments for free if they do so quickly, but if they take more than 24 hours to reply, they will face a charge.

Like other messages sent via the platform, correspondence sent via the WhatsApp Business API will be encrypted, meaning the tech firm will not be able to read the contents itself.

However, the Wall Street Journal reported that companies would be allowed to store copies of the messages elsewhere in a decrypted state.

Transport company Uber, the online store Wish and travel service Booking.com are among the first companies to adopt the new facilities.

Facebook paid $19bn to buy WhatsApp in 2014 and there has long been speculation about how Facebook intended to make money from it.

The move comes three months after WhatsApp’s former boss Jan Koum announced he was quitting the service he had co-founded.

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Apple value edges towards $1tn as shares hit new record

Apple value edges towards $1tn as shares hit new record Apple value edges towards $1tn as shares hit new record 691ae53a50
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Media captionWhy Apple’s share value is touching a trillion dollars

Apple sold fewer iPhones than expected in its most recent quarter but higher selling prices meant the tech giant still beat Wall Street forecasts.

The firm said it sold 41.3 million iPhones in the three months to the end of June, up just 1% from last year.

But the average iPhone selling price hit $724, well above the expected $694.

The firm said its $999 iPhone X – launched last year – remained its most popular iPhone model in the quarter and had driven the higher sales price.

Strong revenue growth of 31% from Apple’s services business, which includes the App store, Apple Music and Apple Pay, also boosted its performance.

The services business is on track for more than $14bn in revenue in 2020, chief executive Tim Cook said.

“We couldn’t be happier with how things are going,” he said.

Overall the tech giant’s revenue jumped 17% year-on-year to a quarterly record of $53.3bn (£40.6bn), with every region except Japan reporting double digit growth.

Profits rose to $11.5bn, up 32% compared to the same period in 2017.

Shares in the Californian tech giant jumped more than 3% in after hours trading in New York.

The gains brought Apple, already the world’s most valuable company, one step closer to a market value of $1 trillion.

“The lesson Apple’s management has learned from the iPhone X, is when you sell a smartphone for more than $1,000 you can sell fewer units and still reap the financial benefits,” said analyst Thomas Forte from DA Davidson & Co.



The strong demand for the firm’s most expensive phones marked a contrast with the world’s largest smartphone seller Samsung, which disappointed investors by warning of lower than expected sales of its high-end Galaxy S9 .

But Apple faces increasing competition in the global smart phone market, which saw growth slip 0.3% last year, according to research firm International Data Corp.

Chinese tech company Huawei, which reported 15% revenue growth in the first half of this year, overtook Apple to become the world’s second-biggest smartphone seller in the quarter, according to market research firms Canalys and IDC.

That left Apple in third place after Samsung and Huawei.

Tariff impact

Executives said they are confident about Apple’s position. The firm forecast revenue in the range of $60bn to $62bn in the July to September period, indicating a fifth consecutive quarter of double digit growth.

Chief executive Tim Cook also downplayed concerns about how trade tensions between the US and China might affect Apple’s business.

He said the firm had not been affected directly by the tariffs in place so far. It is still reviewing the implications of threatened tariffs on a proposed $200bn in Chinese goods, he added.

“Our view on tariffs is that they show up as a tax on the consumer and wind up resulting in lower economic growth and sometimes can bring about significant risk of unintended consequences,” he said.

However, he said he was optimistic that “this will get sorted out”.

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Facebook and Instagram introduce time limit tool

Close-up of someone on a mobile phone Facebook and Instagram introduce time limit tool Facebook and Instagram introduce time limit tool 8ce142dac7Image copyrightGetty Images
Image caption Facebook and Instagram say the new tools were developed based on collaboration with mental health experts and organisations

Facebook and Instagram are releasing a new tool to limit how much time people spend on their apps.

The announcement follows concerns that excessive social media use can have a negative impact on mental health.

Users will now be able to check how much time they’ve spent scrolling, set a reminder for when they’ve reach their allotted time, and mute notifications for a period of time.

But some people say it doesn’t go far enough.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a radical change or that it’s going to really change a lot about the way that most people use Facebook or Instagram,” Grant Blank, from the Oxford Internet Institute, tells Newsbeat.

“It strikes me as a way to balance their corporate interest of keeping people spending as much time as possible on Facebook, while still being responsive to people who find the continual notifications to be disturbing or distracting.”

Image copyrightFacebook
Image caption You can access the tools on the settings page on either app by tapping “Your Activity” on Instagram or “Your Time on Facebook” on Facebook

Facebook published a blog post in December 2017 that acknowledged the negative effects of spending too much time on the platform.

In one experiment, students at the University of Michigan who were randomly assigned to scroll through Facebook for 10 minutes were “in a worse mood” at the end of the day than those assigned to be more active on the site – posting or talking to friends.

Another study from UC San Diego and Yale showed people who clicked on four times as many links or liked twice as many posts “reported worse mental health than average”.

‘What a waste of my time’

Lifestyle vlogger and Instagrammer Em Sheldon, 24, tells Newsbeat that checking up on her friends is an “all-day thing”.

“While I think it’s part of the job, I do think it’s a problem because we become dependent on our phones and on checking social media.

“If I’ve got some free time, I’ll fill that void by scrolling.

“Social media is 24/7 for me, but I think it’s something that has crept up over time – the need for me to just constantly be on it.”

Asked if the new feature would reduce how much time she spends on Facebook and Instagram, Em said she “doesn’t know if it would help” because “I’m aware that I use social media too much”.

But she does agree that having reminder notifications could be useful.

“Maybe it would give me the kick I need to put my phone down.

“If something popped up saying: ‘You’ve been using this app for six hours’, I’d be like, ‘Wow, that is a lot. What a waste of my time’.”

Fifteen hours a day on Twitter

Harry Hugo, co-founder of digital marketing company The Goat Agency, says the changes have been a “long time coming”.

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Next stop Berlin 🇩🇪✈️

A post shared by Harry Hugo (@harryhugo) on Feb 26, 2018 at 10:06am PST

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“With the emergence of mental health issues – especially among young people, who are spending the most time on these platforms – it’s really important that we put things in place that can help limit that.

“If they understand that they’re spending hours a day on these platforms, maybe it will make them think twice.”

Harry understands the idea of spending a lot of time online, saying he used to use Twitter for 15 or 16 hours a day when he was a teenager – “which sounds unbelievably unhealthy now I look back at it”.

Ultimately, he thinks it’s up to people to take responsibility for their own social media use.

“We’re the ones that open the phone, we’re the ones that tap on Instagram. We can’t just put it in the hands of Apple or Facebook to fix these problems.

“Obviously these things are great preventative techniques, but they’re not going to change it for good.”

Follow Newsbeat on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 every weekday on BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra – if you miss us you can listen back here.

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Vega+ to be stripped of Sinclair and ZX Spectrum brands

Vega+ Vega+ to be stripped of Sinclair and ZX Spectrum brands Vega+ to be stripped of Sinclair and ZX Spectrum brands b4edee175fImage copyrightPaul Benge
Image caption A small number of backers have confirmed receipt of the Vega+ consoles

A retro games console crowdfunding campaign is to lose the right to feature the brands of the original computers it is based on.

The revelation coincides with the delivery of some units of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega+ to backers, albeit without most of the games originally promised to be pre-installed.

Rights-owner Sky told the BBC there had been repeated missed deadlines.

It is pulling use of the “ZX Spectrum” and “Sinclair” trademarks as a result.

The decision was taken in May.

Sky has told campaign manager Retro Computers Ltd (RCL) that a licence to use the names will therefore expire on 7 August.

“We would love to see the Vega+ consoles in the hands of fans.

“However, as RCL have repeatedly failed to deliver and breached the terms of their licence, we have made the decision to end our working relationship,” a spokesman for the broadcaster explained.

“To give as many gaming fans as possible the chance to get their Vega+ console, RCL [had] three additional months from termination to deliver the products.”

RCL declined to comment on the allegations but said deliveries had begun last week.

Image copyrightIndiegogo
Image caption Retro Computers has also sold copies of the Vega+ via its own website

“We have managed to start shipping at last,” RCL’s chairman David Levy told the BBC.

“But this time we did not say exactly when this would happen, so those who have thrown various spanners in the works in the past, in order to hamper our efforts, were not able this time to prevent us from shipping.”

Software and name

Sky owns the intellectual property involved as a consequence of its purchase of Amstrad, which had earlier acquired Sinclair’s marketing and merchandising rights. It had originally allowed RCL to use the trade marks without charging a royalties payment.

In addition to the brand names, Sky also owns the rights to a number of Spectrum games that it now intends to withhold.

Sky does not, however, have a connection to the emulation software, so RCL could theoretically continue to produce the handheld console under a different name.

The disclosure comes ahead of a crunch shareholders meeting scheduled for Thursday.

Two former directors of RCL – with a combined 50% stake – are seeking to displace the current management.

But to succeed they would need the support of Sinclair Research – the original ZX Spectrum inventor Sir Clive Sinclair’s company – which owns 25% of RCL.

Image caption The crowdfunding campaign quoted Sir Clive as saying he had planned the machine to be a “handy games console”

Running late

The campaign to make the handheld console was launched in February 2016 and went on to raise more than £512,000.

Backers were originally told deliveries would be made in September of the same year and 1,000 licensed games would be included.

After several missed delivery targets, the company sent out the first units at the end of last week.

It has said it is in the process of shipping consoles to 400 of the more than 4,000 backers, who had agreed to receive units with only a small number of games. Nineteen titles appear to have been included.

To date, a handful of people have confirmed receipt of the devices, via social media posts, several of whom have complained about the quality of the console.

“The buttons are absolutely awful,” wrote David Whitchurch-Bennett.

“You have to press so hard and they intermittently stop working unless you apply so much pressure.”

Craig Wootton complained his console had arrived with “no protection, no bubble wrap, polystyrene et cetera”.

“The screen cover itself is scratched,” he added in a video posted to YouTube. “That’s pretty poor, if I’m honest.”

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Warning: Third party content may contain adverts

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He also said that a lack of instructions had left him at a loss as to how to add other games.

RCL director Suzanne Martin has posted on Facebook that the machines had been deliberately “shipped in ethical packaging without any additional plastic” and that information about how to use the consoles would be made available online.

One recipient has been more positive.

Jan Saggiori has posted several messages on social media saying how much he has enjoyed playing the console.

He had earlier been blocked from making edits to a Wikipedia page dedicated to the Vega+ over claims he was affiliated with the project and therefore biased.

But he told the BBC that this was a false allegation and his involvement was limited to running an independent Facebook group dedicated to supporting the project.

“I am a backer who upset the trolls [and] have no affiliation to RCL,” he said.

“I have been personally targeted… and attacked, threatened, blackmailed for supporting the campaign.”

Indiegogo – the crowdfunding site that hosts the project – announced in June that it had appointed a debt collection agency in an attempt to recoup backers’ funds.

The BBC understands the US company is still pursuing collections despite the fact some deliveries have been made.

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Tesla boss Elon Musk facing two lawsuits

Tesla car at a charging station Tesla boss Elon Musk facing two lawsuits Tesla boss Elon Musk facing two lawsuits df8d22553cImage copyrightGetty Images

Tesla boss Elon Musk is facing legal action on two fronts amid allegations over his firm’s business practices.

In one case, a former employee that Tesla accused of sabotage has hit back with his own lawsuit accusing it of “dangerous and wasteful” behaviour.

In the other, ex-employees of its SolarCity subsidiary say they were wrongfully dismissed after uncovering evidence of fake sales records.

Tesla, best known for electric cars, denies all the claims in the lawsuits.

In June, the carmaker filed a lawsuit accusing Martin Tripp, a former technician at Tesla’s Nevada factory, of hacking into its systems and passing confidential information to third parties.

Now Mr Tripp is suing for defamation, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress. He is seeking at least $1m.

Mr Tripp maintains he was a whistleblower who leaked information to the Business Insider website because of environmental and safety issues.

The counter-claim, like the original lawsuit, was filed in the federal court in Nevada.

In it, Mr Tripp says he acted because of Tesla’s “high levels of waste and scrap”, as well as what he called “unnerving, dangerous and wasteful business practices”.

He also accuses Mr Musk of falsely implying in a tweet that he was bribed by Business Insider.

Inflated valuation

In a separate case, three former SolarCity workers say they were fired after their own attempt to blow the whistle on wrongdoing.

In a lawsuit filed in the San Diego Superior Court, they say they discovered fake sales accounts that were used to inflate the company’s valuation and justify bonuses for certain employees.

They say they told Mr Musk and other managers of their concerns, but were then dismissed in May 2017.

Tesla said it had fully investigated the issues and the facts did not support the allegations.

Meanwhile, more details have emerged of Tesla’s plan to build a factory in Shanghai, its first outside the US.

Last month, it signed an agreement with Chinese authorities to build the factory, which is expected to be producing 500,000 vehicles within five years of construction.

According to a report by Bloomberg, Tesla plans to invest $5bn (£3.8) in the project and is considering raising funds in China to finance at least part of that investment.

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Town dusts off typewriters after cyber-attack

A typewriter Town dusts off typewriters after cyber-attack Town dusts off typewriters after cyber-attack a53b6bfd36

Government workers in a borough of Alaska have turned to typewriters to do their jobs, after ransomware infected their computer systems.

A spokeswoman for Matanuska-Susitna said the malware had encrypted its email server, internal systems and disaster recovery servers.

She said staff had “resourcefully” dusted off typewriters and were writing receipts by hand.

The borough is in the process of rebuilding its systems.

Town dusts off typewriters after cyber-attack Town dusts off typewriters after cyber-attack 3f396cfb88
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionTechnology explained: What is ransomware?

Ransomware is malicious computer software that encrypts or scrambles data and demands a fee for it to be restored.

The borough said “nearly all” of its 500 desktop computers running Windows 7 and 10 had been infected and 120 computer servers were also affected.

According to technology news site Bleeping Computer, the ransomware attack spread on 24 July. However, the borough thinks it may have been dormant in its systems since May.

As well as infecting the borough’s desktop computers and email server, it had also attacked its telephone system and door entry card system, said IT director Eric Wyatt.

He said anti-virus software had detected one component of the attack on 17 July but had missed other elements of the malware, which allowed it to spread.

The ransomware also infected and encrypted some of the borough’s back-up data, although “some portion” had been saved.

“Though it initially appeared that our data was a complete loss, we have recently recovered data from the shared drives,” said Mr Wyatt.

“Email does appear to be completely unrecoverable.”

Some systems have been restored with “year-old data” and the borough is in the process of rebuilding each affected machine.

“There is optimism for the recovery of additional data,” said Mr Wyatt in a report.

“Encrypted data will be stored for months or years in hopes that the FBI will recover the decryption keys.”

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US release of 3D-printed gun software blocked

A 3D printed gun US release of 3D-printed gun software blocked US release of 3D-printed gun software blocked 01e32cb620Image copyrightAFP/Getty
Image caption One version of a 3D printed gun

A US federal judge in Seattle has blocked the release of software that allows consumers to 3D-print firearms.

Gun access advocacy group Defense Distributed published downloadable gun blueprints five days early on Friday.

The firm had reached a settlement with the Trump administration in June to allow it to legally publish the plans.

But eight states and the District of Columbia sued the government on Monday to block the settlement, arguing the untraceable guns were a safety risk.

US District Judge Robert Lasnik issued a temporary restraining order halting the release hours before the 1 August deadline, saying the blueprints could fall into the wrong hands.

“There are 3D printers in public colleges and public spaces and there is the likelihood of potential irreparable harm,” he said.

Judge Lasnik scheduled another hearing for 10 August.

Although Defense Distributed had been expected to publish the blueprints on Wednesday, it uploaded files for nine types of gun to its website last week. Between Friday and Sunday, more than 1,000 people downloaded the files for building an AR-15 rifle – the same gun used in many of America’s mass shootings.

Which states are fighting the release?

The lawsuit against the Trump administration was filed in Seattle, Washington, by the state’s Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Maryland in addition to the District of Columbia are involved.

The complaint calls the 1 Aug release of gun blueprints “a bell that cannot be un-rung”.

Image copyrightAFP/Getty
Image caption The Liberator became the first gun to be made wholly with 3D-printed parts in 2013

“The Government has made no determination regarding the national security implications of the agreement, or its effects on sovereign US states’ ability to protect the safety of those within their borders.”

In addition, 20 state attorneys general have written to the State Department and Department of Justice about blocking the gun blueprints online.

What’s been the reaction?

Speaking outside the court, Washington attorney general Bob Ferguson called the judge’s decision a “complete, total victory”.

“Everything we asked for we got from Judge Lasnik,” he said, and called on President Trump to make it “unlawful for anyone to make this information available for anyone”.

The president had tweeted on Tuesday before the ruling that selling 3D guns to the public “doesn’t seem to make much sense” after settling with Defense Distributed in June.

Image Copyright @realDonaldTrump@realDonaldTrump
Twitter post by @realDonaldTrump: I am looking into 3-D Plastic Guns being sold to the public. Already spoke to NRA, doesn’t seem to make much sense! US release of 3D-printed gun software blocked US release of 3D-printed gun software blocked 734c0a452cImage Copyright @realDonaldTrump@realDonaldTrump

But the group’s founder Cody Wilson told the BBC the 3D gun was not a threat to public safety.

“I haven’t watched any crimes be committed with it,” he said.

“As far as I know only one person’s ever been arrested because of this gun and it was a gentleman in Japan who was curious about making it.”

How was the printable gun developed?

The arguments began in 2013 when Mr Wilson, a self-styled crypto-anarchist, showed off the world’s first 3D-printed gun.

Files showing how to replicate the process were immediately made available on the Defense Distributed website and downloaded hundreds of thousands of times.

It led the US State Department to order them to be removed from the internet.

There followed a four-year legal battle, with Defense Distributed joining forces with the Second Amendment Foundation – which defends the right to own guns – to sue the State Department.

Last month, in a surprise move, it won its case, with the US Justice Department ruling that Americans may “access, discuss, use and reproduce” the technical data.

Mr Wilson hailed his victory as the beginning of “the age of the downloadable gun”.

But critics are concerned it will see a massive rise in so-called ghost guns, unregistered weapons the government is unaware of and is unable to trace.

Since the legal action began, Defense Distributed has been working on new gun designs and has also created a milling device – known as Ghost Gunner – that can turn parts purchased online into a fully working weapon.

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