Archive for November, 2018

Brexit: Sam Gyimah resigns over Theresa May’s ‘naive’ deal

Sam Gyimah Brexit: Sam Gyimah resigns over Theresa May's 'naive' deal Brexit: Sam Gyimah resigns over Theresa May's 'naive' deal 97eb2af2ceImage copyrightUK Parliament
Image caption Mr Gyimah said he would be voting against Mrs May’s Brexit deal

A minister has resigned saying a row over involvement in the EU’s Galileo satellite-navigation system shows the UK will be “hammered” in negotiations over a Brexit deal.

Science and universities minister Sam Gyimah quit after Mrs May said the UK was pulling out of Galileo.

The UK wanted to stay part of it but the EU said it would be banned from extra-secure elements of the project.

Mr Gyimah said it was a foretaste of the “brutal negotiations” to come.

He’s the 10th member of government to resign over the agreement, which he dismissed as a “deal in name only”.

He said he intended to vote against the deal negotiated with Brussels, and called for another referendum.

The UK’s interests “will be repeatedly and permanently hammered by the EU27 for many years to come”, Mr Gyimah said in a Facebook post setting out his reasons for resigning.

However, prominent Brexiteer and cabinet minister Michael Gove has defended Mrs May’s plan, writing in the Daily Mail that leaving the EU is under “great threat” if the deal is rejected by MPs.

Image copyrightReuters
Image caption Japan’s prime minister told Mrs May to avoid a no-deal Brexit

Meanwhile, Mrs May is in Argentina, where she met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for talks on the fringes of the G20 summit on Saturday.

He asked her to avoid a no-deal Brexit – major Japanese companies such as Nissan and Honda are concerned about the possible impact on their supply chains across Europe.

She told him she was confident Japanese businesses in the UK would continue to trade well with the EU.

Mrs May also held talks with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Security interests

Galileo is the EU’s upcoming version of the US’s GPS, which is used by millions of people around the world, and will be used by EU governments, citizens, military and industry.

Brussels has said that, as a result of Brexit, the UK will not be allowed immediate access to part of the system intended for use by government agencies, the armed forces and emergency responders once it comes online in 2020.

But the UK, which has invested €1.4bn (£1.24bn) in the project, says access is vital to its military and security interests.

Mr Gyimah told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “What has happened with Galileo is a foretaste of the brutal negotiations we will go through that will weaken our national interests, make us poorer and less secure.”

Mrs May has now said the British army will not use Galileo and the UK will instead explore options to build its own satellite-navigation system – having already set aside £92m to look at how it can be done.

“I cannot let our armed services depend on a system we cannot be sure of,” Mrs May said. “That would not be in our national interest.”

Will more Remainers voice their fears?

Image copyrightEPA

By Laura Kuenssberg, BBC political editor

As Theresa May was sitting down to at a glittering evening with her fellow world leaders at the G20, news broke that Sam Gyimah had just become the latest minister to quit over Brexit.

He had a specific reason to leave. But it is his overall verdict on Mrs May’s Brexit compromise that will really hurt.

There is some comfort overnight for Mrs May from Michael Gove, who as one of the leading voices in the Leave campaign is, belatedly perhaps, urging his Brexiteer colleagues to get onboard.

But this latest resignation is another sign of how hard it will be for the prime minister to pass the vote that could define her future.

Read more from Laura here

Mr Gyimah, who voted for Remain in the referendum, said it was the right decision for Mrs May to leave the Galileo project, saying the negotiations had been “stacked against us from the very beginning”.

The MP for East Surrey said that, as minister with the responsibility for space technology, he had seen “the EU stack the deck against us time and time again”.

Image copyrightEuropean Space Agency
Image caption The European Union has put together Galileo as its own network of satellites

He told Today: “Looking at the deal in detail, we don’t actually have a deal. We have a deal in name only.

“We have given up our voice, our veto and our vote. Our interests will be hammered because we will have no leverage.”

He urged Mrs May not to rule out another referendum if she loses the 11 December vote.

“If Parliament was in deadlock, Theresa May could get herself out of that deadlock by backing a second referendum,” he said.

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said it was “another very dangerous moment” for the prime minister – as she is not just losing another vote, but also because others may share his concerns and choose to quit too.

‘Matter of compromise’

Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright said he was “very sad” to see Mr Gyimah leave the government and that he had been “a very good minister”.

“All of my colleagues are going to have to make their own judgment about what they think about this deal,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

He said that Mrs May’s deal should not be compared with an idealised version of Brexit.

Former Tory cabinet minister and campaigner for a second referendum Justine Greening said Mr Gyimah was a “highly respected and capable minister” and praised him for not ruling out another vote.

And the Lib Dem’s education spokeswoman, Layla Moran, said Mr Gyimah had “seen at close quarters the devastating effect this botched Brexit will have on these important sectors” and that his exit showed the government was “falling apart”.

Matt Waddup, of the University and College Union, said his resignation showed there were clear concerns about the impact of Brexit on research and innovation and higher and further education.

“Those concerns are shared by our members in colleges and universities who have clearly signalled that they want a referendum on any final deal,” he added.

What is Galileo?

Image copyrightEuropean Space Agency
Image caption Galileo satellites are now launching on Europe’s premier rocket, the Ariane 5

Many people’s sat-navs and mobile location services currently run on a US military-based system called GPS – global positioning system – which uses satellites to pinpoint our locations. China and Russia also have satellite-navigation positioning systems.

In 1999, the European Union embarked on a plan to put together its own network of satellites, called Galileo, so it was not reliant on the US, Russian and Chinese systems.

The first satellites were put into orbit in 2013 and it is planned to be fully operational in 2020 with 30 satellites orbiting earth.

UK companies have built components for Galileo and one of the project’s two Galileo Security Monitoring Centres was based in the UK, in Swanwick. The site is now being relocated to Spain.

The government said there should be no noticeable impact for the public from withdrawing from the project, as devices that already use Galileo, such as smartphones, will carry on doing so.

It says UK industry has earned about €1.15bn (£1.02bn) from the project but, when the BBC asked if any more money would be given back, a spokesman said the project was “part of the withdrawal agreement” and the UK had reached “a fair financial settlement with the EU”.

Original Source

Read More

TEDWomen: Vibrations offer new way to track elephants

Elephant TEDWomen: Vibrations offer new way to track elephants TEDWomen: Vibrations offer new way to track elephants 270af7d3a3Image copyrightGetty Images

Researchers have come up with a new way of tracking elephants, via the vibrations that the animals make.

Scientists Dr Beth Mortimer and Prof Tarje Nissen-Meyer discovered that elephants generate vibrations through their normal movements and through vocalisations, known as “rumbles”.

These can be measured by techniques usually used for studying earthquakes.

The Oxford academics spoke about their research at the TEDWomen conference currently under way in California.

They explained how they measured the seismic waves that could travel nearly four miles through the ground.

They recorded the vibrations generated by wild elephants in Kenya while walking and calling, using instruments known as geophones.

Seismological modelling software that incorporates the local geological information was combined with computer algorithms to produce accurate estimates of the seismic waves produced by elephants.

They filmed the animals during recordings and later synchronised the two to allow them to visually confirm that the vibrations originated from elephants.

They found that other noise and soil type affected their ability to distinguish the patterns over long distances. Vibrations travel farther through sand than through hard rock and also when little other noise is present to interfere.

Finding out what elephants are doing, even when they are some distance away, could help fight poaching in real time as well as offering insights into their behaviour, they said.

Image copyrightGetty Images
Image caption Threats to elephants include poaching and habitat loss

Their findings were published in a paper for journal Current Biology earlier this year.

Save The Elephants’ chief executive, Frank Pope said of the research: “Legends and folklore have long spoken about the way elephants cannot only communicate across long distances, but also detect other events that shake the ground like far-off thunder.

“This study marks a new phase in trying to understand the nature of the vibrations elephants produce and how they might be used by elephants themselves.

“Along the way it is opening our eyes to the challenges posed by human-generated noise in an increasingly crowded landscape.”

Original Source

Read More

Space Odyssey helps launch first 8K TV channel

2001: A Space Odyssey Space Odyssey helps launch first 8K TV channel Space Odyssey helps launch first 8K TV channel dc5a64192bImage copyrightWarner Bros
Image caption 2001: A Space Odyssey was released in 1968

Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey will help launch the world’s first super-high definition 8K television channel on Saturday.

Japanese broadcaster NHK said it had asked Warner Bros to scan the original film negatives in 8K for its new channel.

Super-high definition 8K pictures offer 16 times the resolution of HD TV.

However, few people currently have the necessary television or equipment to receive the broadcasts.

Super hi-vision

NHK says it has been developing 8K, which it calls super-hi vision, since 1995.

As well as improved picture resolution, broadcasts can include 24 channels of audio for immersive surround sound experiences.

It is hoping to broadcast the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games using the new format.

Television manufacturers including Samsung and LG have announced 8K-capable television sets, but they are still prohibitively expensive for widespread adoption.

NHK’s new channel BS8K will broadcast programmes for about 12 hours a day.

The first programme at 10:00 local time (01:00 GMT) will be an information broadcast, highlighting future shows on the channel.

The channel will also broadcast live from Italy to showcase “popular tourist attractions from Rome, as well as food, culture and history”.

Space Odyssey

Image copyrightWarner Bros
Image caption 2001: A Space Odyssey has been remastered

NHK said it had chosen to broadcast 2001: A Space Odyssey on its launch night so that viewers could enjoy a “masterpiece of film history”.

Although many movies are shot on 35mm film, 2001: A Space Odyssey was shot on 70mm film, which was the highest quality available at the time.

Warner Bros was able to scan the original film negatives, repair scratches and provide an 8K version of the film that captures the “power and beauty of the original”.

“The many famous scenes become even more vivid, with the attention to detail of director Stanley Kubrick expressed in the exquisite images, creating the feeling of really being on a trip in space, allowing the film to be enjoyed for the first time at home,” NHK said in a statement.

In March, the channel will broadcast My Fair Lady starring Audrey Hepburn, which was also shot on 70mm film.

A new strategy

Japanese electronics-maker Sharp began selling its first 8K television in 2015. At launch it cost $133,000 (£104,000). Currently, a Samsung 8K television costs about $15,000 (£11,700) to buy.

Viewers will also need an 8K-capable satellite receiver. Sharp produces one that costs 250,000 yen (£1,750; $2,200). It requires four HDMI cables to get the pictures into a Sharp TV set, and another cable for sound.

Since 8K televisions and receivers are not yet owned by many people, NHK intends to showcase equipment in venues around Japan.

It hopes live events will tempt people to tune in, but will also repeat programmes regularly.

“8K is at the moment based around watching at the time of broadcast,” it said in a statement. “We plan to increase the number of chances to watch through rebroadcasts.”

“Content has always been crucial for a new TV technology to take off,” Joe Cox, editor-in-chief of technology news site What Hi-Fi, told the BBC.

“The launch of the world’s first 8K TV channel is great news, even if it is only in Japan. But realistically, mass market adoption is still a long, long way off.

“While the likes of Amazon and Netflix have charged head first into 4K this year, the BBC is only at the trial stage, and others are still struggling to stream HD, so 8K remains a pipedream in the UK.

“But with TV brands suggesting 8K resolution screens can improve 4K and even HD pictures, expect to see plenty more 8K TVs in 2019, even if the content doesn’t come so quickly.”

Original Source

Read More

Brexit: Minister resigns over Theresa May’s ‘naive’ deal

Sam Gyimah Brexit: Minister resigns over Theresa May's 'naive' deal Brexit: Minister resigns over Theresa May's 'naive' deal 97eb2af2ceImage copyrightUK Parliament
Image caption Mr Gyimah said he would be voting against Mrs May’s Brexit deal

A minister has resigned saying a row over involvement in the EU’s Galileo satellite-navigation system shows the UK will be “hammered” in negotiations over a Brexit deal.

Science and universities minister Sam Gyimah quit after Mrs May said the UK was pulling out of Galileo.

The UK wanted to stay part of it but the EU said it would be banned from extra-secure elements of the project.

Mr Gyimah said it was a foretaste of the “brutal negotiations” to come.

He’s the 10th member of government to resign over the agreement, which he dismissed as a “deal in name only”.

He said he intended to vote against the deal negotiated with Brussels, and called for another referendum.

The UK’s interests “will be repeatedly and permanently hammered by the EU27 for many years to come”, Mr Gyimah said in a Facebook post setting out his reasons for resigning.

However, prominent Brexiteer and cabinet minister Michael Gove has defended Mrs May’s plan, writing in the Daily Mail that leaving the EU is under “great threat” if the deal is rejected by MPs.

Image copyrightReuters
Image caption Japan’s prime minister told Mrs May to avoid a no-deal Brexit

Meanwhile, Mrs May is in Argentina, where she met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for talks on the fringes of the G20 summit on Saturday.

He asked her to avoid a no-deal Brexit – major Japanese companies such as Nissan and Honda are concerned about the possible impact on their supply chains across Europe.

She told him she was confident Japanese businesses in the UK would continue to trade well with the EU.

Mrs May also held talks with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Security interests

Galileo is the EU’s upcoming version of the US’s GPS, which is used by millions of people around the world, and will be used by EU governments, citizens, military and industry.

Brussels has said that, as a result of Brexit, the UK will not be allowed immediate access to part of the system intended for use by government agencies, the armed forces and emergency responders once it comes online in 2020.

But the UK, which has invested €1.4bn (£1.24bn) in the project, says access is vital to its military and security interests.

Mr Gyimah told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “What has happened with Galileo is a foretaste of the brutal negotiations we will go through that will weaken our national interests, make us poorer and less secure.”

Mrs May has now said the British army will not use Galileo and the UK will instead explore options to build its own satellite-navigation system – having already set aside £92m to look at how it can be done.

“I cannot let our armed services depend on a system we cannot be sure of,” Mrs May said. “That would not be in our national interest.”

Will more Remainers voice their fears?

Image copyrightEPA

By Laura Kuenssberg, BBC political editor

As Theresa May was sitting down to at a glittering evening with her fellow world leaders at the G20, news broke that Sam Gyimah had just become the latest minister to quit over Brexit.

He had a specific reason to leave. But it is his overall verdict on Mrs May’s Brexit compromise that will really hurt.

There is some comfort overnight for Mrs May from Michael Gove, who as one of the leading voices in the Leave campaign is, belatedly perhaps, urging his Brexiteer colleagues to get onboard.

But this latest resignation is another sign of how hard it will be for the prime minister to pass the vote that could define her future.

Read more from Laura here

Mr Gyimah, who voted for Remain in the referendum, said it was the right decision for Mrs May to leave the Galileo project, saying the negotiations had been “stacked against us from the very beginning”.

The MP for East Surrey said that, as minister with the responsibility for space technology, he had seen “the EU stack the deck against us time and time again”.

Image copyrightEuropean Space Agency
Image caption The European Union has put together Galileo as its own network of satellites

He told Today: “Looking at the deal in detail, we don’t actually have a deal. We have a deal in name only.

“We have given up our voice, our veto and our vote. Our interests will be hammered because we will have no leverage.”

He urged Mrs May not to rule out another referendum if she loses the 11 December vote.

“If Parliament was in deadlock, Theresa May could get herself out of that deadlock by backing a second referendum,” he said.

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said it was “another very dangerous moment” for the prime minister – as she is not just losing another vote, but also because others may share his concerns and choose to quit too.

‘Matter of compromise’

Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright said he was “very sad” to see Mr Gyimah leave the government and that he had been “a very good minister”.

“All of my colleagues are going to have to make their own judgment about what they think about this deal,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

He said that Mrs May’s deal should not be compared with an idealised version of Brexit.

Former Tory cabinet minister and campaigner for a second referendum Justine Greening said Mr Gyimah was a “highly respected and capable minister” and praised him for not ruling out another vote.

And the Lib Dem’s education spokeswoman, Layla Moran, said Mr Gyimah had “seen at close quarters the devastating effect this botched Brexit will have on these important sectors” and that his exit showed the government was “falling apart”.

Matt Waddup, of the University and College Union, said his resignation showed there were clear concerns about the impact of Brexit on research and innovation and higher and further education.

“Those concerns are shared by our members in colleges and universities who have clearly signalled that they want a referendum on any final deal,” he added.

What is Galileo?

Image copyrightEuropean Space Agency
Image caption Galileo satellites are now launching on Europe’s premier rocket, the Ariane 5

Many people’s sat-navs and mobile location services currently run on a US military-based system called GPS – global positioning system – which uses satellites to pinpoint our locations. China and Russia also have satellite-navigation positioning systems.

In 1999, the European Union embarked on a plan to put together its own network of satellites, called Galileo, so it was not reliant on the US, Russian and Chinese systems.

The first satellites were put into orbit in 2013 and it is planned to be fully operational in 2020 with 30 satellites orbiting earth.

UK companies have built components for Galileo and one of the project’s two Galileo Security Monitoring Centres was based in the UK, in Swanwick. The site is now being relocated to Spain.

The government said there should be no noticeable impact for the public from withdrawing from the project, as devices that already use Galileo, such as smartphones, will carry on doing so.

It says UK industry has earned about €1.15bn (£1.02bn) from the project but, when the BBC asked if any more money would be given back, a spokesman said the project was “part of the withdrawal agreement” and the UK had reached “a fair financial settlement with the EU”.

Original Source

Read More

Health secretary Matt Hancock accused of breaking ethics rules

Health Secretary Matt Hancock arrives for a cabinet meeting on Downing Street on November 20, 2018 in London, England Health secretary Matt Hancock accused of breaking ethics rules Health secretary Matt Hancock accused of breaking ethics rules 560a7d6c58Image copyrightGetty Images
Image caption Matt Hancock says he was unaware of the sponsorship

Matt Hancock has been accused of breaking the ministerial code after appearing to endorse a smartphone app.

Labour MP Justin Madders is demanding an investigation after the health secretary backed the use of “GP at Hand” in an Evening Standard interview.

Mr Hancock – who has his own smartphone app – has spoken positively about the “GP at Hand” app in the past.

But he was not aware his most recent comments would appear in a supplement sponsored by the app’s owner.

An Evening Standard spokesman said: “It is not normal practice for us to discuss branding or presentation of articles with interviewees so Mr Hancock would not have been made aware of these.”

The article, the spokesman added, was not an an advertorial, meaning the newspaper had full editorial control.

A Department of Health spokesman also defended the interview.

Mr Hancock’s praise for the app, which is made by private healthcare company Babylon, was simply him championing the “benefits of a range of technologies which can improve patient outcomes, free up clinicians’ time and make every pound go further”, a spokesman said.

But Mr Madders has argued the interview breaches rules on ministers becoming “associated with non-public organisations whose objectives may in any degree conflict with government policy”.

In a letter to Prime Minister Theresa May, Mr Madders says the app, which can cost £9.99 a month to use, “subverts the objective and principles” of the NHS being free at the point of service – a government policy.

He also says any endorsement of the product appears to breach rules preventing ministers “offering support” to companies which are in any way reliant on government funding.

And he asks for an investigation into whether Mr Hancock received “any form of gift, hospitality or payment for being interviewed”.

Image copyrightBabylon Healthcare Services
Image caption The smartphone service is owned by Babylon

This is not the first time Mr Hancock has spoken about the app, as he acknowledged in the article.

“I’ve become known for using this GP at Hand app,” he told the Standard, going on to defend his support for the app and others like it.

“Serving some people more efficiently allows more resources for the people who don’t want to use the technology,” he said. “We should embrace technology that helps patient outcomes.”

He also listed the Babylon app, which includes GP at Hand, as among his favourite in a different part of the article.

Image copyrightMatt Hancock
Image caption Mr Hancock has his own smartphone app

In February, Mr Hancock, the former digital minister, became the first MP to launch his own smartphone app, when he was serving as culture secretary.

The “Matt Hancock” app is aimed at keeping his West Suffolk constituents updated on his activities through videos and picture galleries.

First-time users are greeted with a cheery video of Mr Hancock saying: “Hi I’m Matt Hancock and welcome to my app.”

Original Source

Read More

Marriott hack hits 500 million Starwood guests

Sheraton hotel Marriott hack hits 500 million Starwood guests Marriott hack hits 500 million Starwood guests 781a183e70Image copyrightAlamy
Image caption Sheraton is one of Marriott’s brands

The records of 500 million customers of the hotel group Marriott International have been involved in a data breach.

The hotel chain said the guest reservation database of its Starwood division had been compromised by an unauthorised party.

It said an internal investigation found an attacker had been able to access the Starwood network since 2014.

The company said it would notify customers whose records were in the database.

Marriott International bought Starwood in 2016, creating the largest hotel chain in the world with more than 5,800 properties.

Starwood’s hotel brands include W Hotels, Sheraton, Le Méridien and Four Points by Sheraton. Marriott-branded hotels use a separate reservation system on a different network.

Marriott said it was alerted by an internal security tool that somebody was attempting to access the Starwood database. After investigating, it discovered that an “unauthorised party had copied and encrypted information”.

It said it believed its database contained records of up to 500 million customers.

For about 327 million guests, the information included “some combination” of:

  • name
  • address
  • phone number
  • email address
  • passport number
  • account information
  • date of birth
  • gender
  • arrival and departure information

It said some records also included encrypted payment card information, but it could not rule out the possibility that the encryption keys had also been stolen.

“We deeply regret this incident happened,” the company said in a statement.

“Marriott reported this incident to law enforcement and continues to support their investigation. The company has already begun notifying regulatory authorities.”

The company has set up a website to give affected customers more information. It will also offer customers in the US and some other countries a year-long subscription to a fraud-detecting service.

In a statement, the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office said: “We have received a data breach report from Marriott involving its Starwood Hotels and will be making enquiries. If anyone has concerns about how their data has been handled they can report these concerns to us.”


What should I do if I’m affected?

The Marriott group said it would contact affected customers whose email addresses were in the Starwood reservation database.

The database contained details of reservations made on or before 10 September 2018.

The company has set up a dedicated help website for those affected and is also operating a free helpline. For UK customers the number is 0808 189 1065.

Marriott is not certain whether the attackers were able to obtain payment information, so be aware of any suspicious transactions on your account.

Also be aware that scammers may be sending out mass emails pretending to represent the Marriott group.

The company says it will not include attachments in its notification emails and will not ask for personal information over email. If in doubt, call the helpline.

The company is offering affected customers a year-long subscription to a fraud-checking service.


Analysis

by Chris Fox, technology reporter

It’s not the biggest data breach we’ve ever seen (that dubious honour goes to Yahoo!) but it’s certainly up there with some of the worst.

Not only were up to 500 million customer records accessed and potentially copied, but the attackers had had unauthorised access since 2014.

And even though payment card information was encrypted, the company thinks the key may have been stolen too.

The UK’s data regulator has confirmed it is investigating, and so the threat of a whopping GDPR penalty looms.

Although the Marriott group’s headquarters are in the US, it has to comply with the EU’s GDPR rules when dealing with citizens in the EU.

The way it has disclosed this breach, notified customers and offered fraud-checking services will certainly help its cause.

But the ICO and other international regulators may rule the company has been too slow to act.

As always with a big data breach, be aware that scammers may send out emails claiming to be from the Marriott group.

The hotel chain says it will not send any notification emails with attachments, and will not request any information from its customers by email.


Has Marriott International contacted you to say your details have been compromised? Please email us at haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk

Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:

Original Source

Read More

Google staff pledge cash to striking workmates

Security guard at Google Shanghai Google staff pledge cash to striking workmates Google staff pledge cash to striking workmates 5239767bd0Image copyrightReuters
Image caption The new search app would reportedly “blacklist sensitive queries”

Google staff have pledged $200,000 (£157,000) to engineers if they go on strike over the firm’s work on a censored search engine for China.

A prominent Google engineer started the fund after reports suggested it would avoid standard internal checks.

The Intercept news site claimed that project Dragonfly was being developed without the oversight of privacy and security teams.

Google said the project had undergone checks and would face more later.

Final launch

According to The Intercept, senior staff at Google involved with Dragonfly are worried about its development. It claims that Google ignored human rights worries voiced during early meetings and that standard checks on the development were being avoided.

Google has not released many details about Dragonfly, but it is believed to be a censored or restricted search engine created with the co-operation of the Chinese government. China uses lots of technical measures to restrict and censor what its citizens can say and see online.

In response to the article, senior Google engineer Liz Fong-Jones called for the creation of a fund to support any staff who went on strike over Dragonfly.

Ms Fong-Jones said she would match funds up to a total of $100,000. Within hours, other Google staff had met her offer.

The funding drive comes soon after a large group of Google workers signed a letter calling on the search giant to drop Dragonfly.

In early November, thousands of staff walked out in protest at the way Google handled reports of sexual harassment and other inappropriate behaviour by senior managers.

Image copyrightReuters
Image caption Google staff have walked out in protest at the way it handled misconduct by senior staff

In response to The Intercept story, Google said: “This is an exploratory project and no decision has been made about whether we could or would launch.”

It added that privacy and security engineers had been consulted during Dragonfly’s development.

“For any product, final launch is contingent on a full, final privacy review but we’ve never gotten to that point in development,” it said. “Privacy reviews at Google are non-negotiable and we never short-circuit the process.”

Heather Adkins, director of security and privacy at Google, also said Dragonfly had been reviewed.

In a tweet, she said the story in The Intercept did not “represent my experience working on security and privacy for Dragonfly, which were positive and thoughtful. I saw no sidelining whatsoever.”

Original Source

Read More

Ex-Autonomy boss Mike Lynch charged with fraud in the US

Mike Lynch Ex-Autonomy boss Mike Lynch charged with fraud in the US Ex-Autonomy boss Mike Lynch charged with fraud in the US f6611d6b5d
Image caption Mike Lynch, founder of Autonomy

Mike Lynch, the former chief executive of software giant Autonomy, has been charged with fraud in the US.

The charge, which carries a maximum term of 20 years, relates to its 2011 sale to computer giant Hewlett-Packard.

Prosecutors targeted Mr Lynch after his former finance chief, Sushovan Hussain, was found guilty of accounting fraud.

Autonomy was seen as a runaway British success at the time of its $10.3bn sale to HP. Mr Lynch’s lawyers say he will “vigorously defend the charges”.

The court documents say Mr Lynch made $815m from the 14 charges levelled at him.

Before it was bought by Hewlett-Packard, Autonomy was a UK company with headquarters in San Francisco and Cambridge.

In 2010, about 68% of Autonomy’s reported revenues came from the US and elsewhere in the Americas.

In 2012, a year after the takeover, HP wrote off three-quarters of the value of Autonomy.

‘Travesty of justice’

According to the charges, between 2009 and 2011, Mr Lynch and Stephen Chamberlain, vice president of finance, along with other co-conspirators, artificially inflated Autonomy’s revenues by overstating them.

The two are also accused of making misleading statements to regulators and market analysts covering the company.

The charge sheet also says they “intimidated, pressured and paid off persons who raised complaints about or openly criticised Autonomy’s financial practices and performance”.

Mr Lynch’s lawyers, Chris Morvillo of Clifford Chance and Reid Weingarten of Steptoe & Johnson, said in a statement that the indictment was “a travesty of justice”.

The statement said Mr Lynch was a “world-leading entrepreneur who started from nothing” and was being made a scapegoat for HP’s failures.

It called the allegations “stale” and said they amounted to a business dispute over the application of UK accounting standards, something which is the subject of a civil case with HP in the English courts.

Original Source

Read More

The real-life Robocop and other tech news

Original Source

Read More

Tesco and VW plan free electric car charging points

VW charging point Tesco and VW plan free electric car charging points Tesco and VW plan free electric car charging points 5d7217d9d6Image copyrightVolkswagen

Free charging for electric cars will be available for customers at some Tesco stores from next year.

Tesco, in partnership with Volkswagen, plans to install almost 2,500 charging bays at up to 600 stores by 2020.

A standard 7kW charger will be available for free, but drivers will have to pay for a faster service.

Customers will be able to leave their cars to charge while doing their shopping, which should give time for a “substantial” free charge, VW said.

How long it will take to fully replenish the battery will depend on the type of car. A company called Podpoint will build the charging facilities for VW and Tesco.

Volkswagen has two electric vehicles on the market in the UK, the e-Golf and the e-Up. It has sold about 1,350 of the cars since they went on sale four years ago, but has plans for a massive expansion.

By 2020 it wants to offer an electric version of all its models.

Tesco and Volkswagen join a number of other big firms who have moved into the car charging business.

The other three big supermarket chains, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons, have some electric vehicle charging points at some of their stores, but these are still relatively small scale compared with the Tesco and VW plans.

In June, BP announced it was buying the UK’s largest electric charging network, Chargemaster, for £130m.

Chargemaster has 6,500 charging points and also sells electric vehicle charging points for home use.

Last year, BP’s rival Shell bought car charging company NewMotion, which runs about 30,000 private electric charge points in the Netherlands, Germany, France and the UK.

The company has about 1,000 customers in the UK.

Electric moves

So far this year 12,526 battery powered cars have been sold in the UK, which is up 0.6% on last year, according to data from the SMMT.

Sales of hybrid cars, which have a traditional engine and a battery which can be charged, have jumped almost 30% to 37,032.

Mike Orford, of Volkswagen UK, hoped the deal with Tesco might broaden the appeal of electric cars: “People may be put off if they live in a flat, but more publicly available points might make an electric car more viable, for those who can’t charge their cars at home.”

The Tesco/VW move has been welcomed by the RAC.

“For more than a year we have been calling for charging infrastructure in places where drivers are likely to spend extended periods of time, such as supermarkets and public car parks,” said RAC spokesman Rod Dennis.

It “may even be enough to tempt some of those thinking of switching” to an electric vehicle, he added.

“The sight of a line of cars charging in a supermarket is about to become much more common, and will be a clear signal that the dawn of electric vehicles, and with all the air quality benefits that they bring, really is arriving.”

Transport Minister Jesse Norman said the government welcomed Tesco’s pledge to put some 2,400 new charge bays across their stores.

Image copyrightGetty Images

Analysis

By Theo Leggett, BBC business correspondent

Expect to see more of this kind of thing.

There are plenty of electric cars due to come onto the market over the next few years, largely as a result of strict EU emissions rules due to come into force in 2021.

Those rules are effectively forcing car manufacturers to invest billions in battery power. And if they’re making electric cars, they’ll want us to buy them. VW in particular is trying to become a leader in a rapidly developing market.

But although the charging network is expanding quickly, it isn’t big enough yet to cope with a big surge in electric vehicle ownership.

Installing charging points in supermarket car parks is just one more step in solving that issue, making electric cars more viable – and encouraging people to integrate them into daily life.

Meanwhile, it’s a win-win for the supermarkets. They can attract customers with the offer of a battery top-up – and encourage them to stay longer, by making offering a slower charge for free.

Original Source

Read More