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  • Should Facial Recognition Cameras Belong In Schools?
    Facial recognition technology is making its way into schools, raising privacy concerns among parents and officials. The New York Civil Liberties Union issued a report on the matter that focuses on one public school district in particular: Western New York's Lockport School District. "News reports indicate the district plans to have the invasive and error-prone technology installed by next school year," reports NYCLU. The Union sent a letter (PDF) to the New York State Education Department urging it to consider students' and teachers' privacy in reviewing the use of surveillance technology by school districts. They also "sent a freedom of information request to the district seeking details of how and where the technology will be used as well as who will have access to the sensitive data that gets collected." The report highlights some of the concerns/negatives of such a system. For starters, it costs millions of dollars (Lockport spent almost $4 million), which could be used for things like Wi-Fi, new computers, or 3D printers. It has the "potential to turn every step a student takes into evidence of a crime." The databases could include those used for immigration enforcement, making parents of immigrant students afraid to send their children to school for fear that they or their children could end up on ICE's radar. Last but not least, since facial recognition is notoriously inaccurate, "innocent students are likely to be misidentified and punished for things they didn't do." Of course, it isn't all bad. Proponents of the system say it can be used to alert officials to whenever sex offenders, suspended students, fired employees, suspected gang members, or anyone else placed on a school's "blacklist" enters the premises. Do you think facial recognition cameras belong in schools?

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  • GNOME Web Browser is Adding a Reader Mode
    An anonymous reader writes: An experimental reader mode will ship in the next version of GNOME Web, aka Epiphany. The feature is already available to try in the latest development builds of the GTK Webkit-based web browser, released this week as part of the GNOME 3.29.3 milestone. Reader mode (also known as "reader view") is a toggle option that strips a web page down to its bare text. All bespoke styling, background images, buttons, branding and page ephemera is removed. You get a distraction-free, text version of a web page. Because reader mode use its own custom .css to present web content it is (sometimes) possible to adjust a page's text size, background color, and/or layout for improved readability. There's no indication (yet) of customisation options being available in GNOME Web's version.

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  • 'Digital Key' Standard Uses Your Phone To Unlock Your Car
    The Car Connectivity Consortium, a mix of major smartphone and automotive brands, has posted a Digital Key 1.0 standard that will let you download a virtual key that can unlock your vehicle, start the engine and even share access with other drivers. Engadget reports: Unsurprisingly, the technology focuses on security more than anything else. Your car manufacturer uses an existing trusted system to send the digital key to your phone, which uses close-range NFC to grant access to your ride. You can't just unlock your car from inside your home, then, but this would also force would-be thieves to be physically present with your phone when trying to unlock your car. Apple, LG and Samsung are among the phone brands in the group, while car brands including BMW, Hyundai and the Volkswagen group are also onboard. There's also talk of a version 2.0 spec that will promise more interoperability between cars and mobile devices in the first quarter of 2019.

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  • Alzheimer's Link To Herpes Virus In Brain, Say Scientists
    Tests of brain tissue from nearly 1,000 people found that two strains of herpes virus were far more abundant in the brains of those with early-stage Alzheimer's than in healthy controls. "[S]cientists are divided on whether viruses are likely to be an active trigger, or whether the brains of people already on the path towards Alzheimer's are simply more vulnerable to infection," reports The Guardian. From the report: "The viral genomes were detectable in about 30% of Alzheimer's brains and virtually undetectable in the control group," said Sam Gandy, professor of neurology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York and a co-author of the study. The study also suggested that the presence of the herpes viruses in the brain could influence or control the activity of various genes linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer's. The scientists did not set out to look for a link between viruses and dementia. Instead they were hoping to pinpoint genes that were unusually active in the brains of people with the earliest stage of Alzheimer's. But when they studied brain tissue, comparing people with early-stage Alzheimer's and healthy controls, the most striking differences in gene activity were not found in human genes, but in genes belonging to two herpes virus strains, HHV6A and HHV7. And the abundance of the viruses correlated with clinical dementia scores of the donors.

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  • How Twitter Made the Tech World's Most Unlikely Comeback
    An anonymous reader quotes a report from BuzzFeed: Two years ago, people were writing eulogies for Twitter. Rudderless and without product direction, the company was losing users and advertisers, and seemed unable to contain a metastasizing trolling crisis that was destroying its credibility. Employees left by the dozens and then got laid off by the hundreds. It tried to sell, and failed at that too. The press, Wall Street, and the public were merciless. The New Yorker declared it "The End of Twitter." Analyst Michael Nathanson said that at $14 per share there was "no compelling reason to own the stock," and his counterparts applied "sell" ratings in bunches. Over a single weekend in February 2016, more than one million people tweeted "#RIPTwitter." But then, even as those eulogies were being published, things started changing. Twitter began beating earnings expectations. Star ex-employees trickled back in, finding a new, more positive internal culture than the toxic one they'd left. Advertisers came back too, as did users. The company finally began addressing its trolling problem. And its stock, once unappealing to analysts like Nathanson at $14, is now trading above $46. It's still somewhat taboo to say it, but it's no longer possible to deny it: Twitter is making an unexpected, somewhat miraculous comeback. It is the first major consumer social company to lose users and start growing again in a meaningful way. The report mentions four major factors that led to Twitter's resurgence: "Its acceptance it would never be Facebook, leading to a decision to focus on news as Facebook pulled back. Its move to aggressively add premium live video to its service. Its CEO Jack Dorsey's directive to its product team to rethink everything. And a key component of many great comebacks: luck."

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  • SpaceX Wins $130 Million Air Force Launch Contract, Marking a First For Falcon Heavy
    The U.S. Air Force has awarded a $130 million firm-fixed-price contract to SpaceX for the launch of its classified AFSPC-52 satellite on a Falcon Heavy rocket. From a report: It's the first national security contract won for SpaceX's heavy-lift rocket, which had its first test flight in February. AFSPC-52 is tue to lift off in 2020 from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The launch will support the Air Force Space Command's "mission of delivering resilient and affordable space capabilities to our nation while maintaining assured access to space," Lt. Gen. John Thompson, Air Force program executive officer for space and commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center, said today in a news release. In an emailed statement, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said her company was "honored by the Air Force's selection of Falcon Heavy to launch the competitively awarded AFSPC-52 mission."

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  • Algeria Shuts Off Entire Country's Internet To Stop Students From Cheating
    Algeria has begun instituting nationwide internet blackouts to prevent students from leaking high school diploma exams online. Gizmodo reports: The country will turn off mobile and landline internet service across the country for an hour at a time during the exam period, which started on Wednesday and runs through June 25. The 11 blackouts are scheduled for an hour after each exam begins. In 2016, exam questions were reportedly leaked online and authorities were dissatisfied with a less stringent attempt to limit social media during the 2017 exams. The sweeping shutdown will also block Facebook for the entirety of the exam period, Education Minister Nouria Benghabrit told Algerian newspaper Annahar, according to the BBC. Benghabrit reportedly said they are "not comfortable" with their choice to shut down all internet service, but that they "should not passively stand in front of such a possible leak." Metal detectors are reportedly being used to make sure that no one brings any internet-enabled devices into the exam halls. Surveillance cameras and phone jammers are also being used at the locations where the exams are being printed.

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