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Facebook discloses operations by Russia and Iran to meddle in 2020 election | Technology | The Guardian
"Facebook on Monday disclosed it had taken down four new foreign interference operations originating from Iran and Russia, including one targeting the US 2020 presidential elections that appears to be linked to the Russian troll agency, the Internet Research Agency (IRA).
Plans for 2020 elections
Facebook discloses operations by Russia and Iran to meddle in 2020 election | Technology | The Guardian
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"Apple’s new iOS 13 update adds a new privacy measure that requires apps to get your consent in order to use your device’s Bluetooth. After installing the latest version of iOS, trust me when I say you’ll be surprised by the number of apps asking for Bluetooth permission the next time you open them. Some might seem very strange (like Dunkin’ Donuts in my case), but others probably won’t make you think twice about giving the thumbs-up.
Here’s why so many apps are asking to use Bluetooth on iOS 13 - The Verge
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"HARARE, Zimbabwe — For years, the eventual death of Robert Mugabe, the leader who held Zimbabwe in his grip for decades after its independence in 1980, had obsessed his countrymen.
As he pushed into his 90s — growing visibly frailer by the week, stumbling ever more frequently at public events, his once eloquent speech becoming sluggish — people wondered, with a mixture of dread and hope, when “the old man” would be gone.
But on a warm summer morning in Harare on Friday, as Zimbabweans woke up to the news that their former leader had died at a hospital in Singapore, the reaction was muted. Many in the center of the capital saw his death through the prism of their difficult daily lives — not through the lens of history that Mr. Mugabe’s fellow African leaders emphasized.
“I’m sad that Mugabe has died with the economy,” said Agnes Humure, 37, a shopkeeper rushing to work in Harare’s central business district. “I personally don’t know who is going to wake it up.”
[Our obituary of Robert Mugabe, who as leader of independent Zimbabwe traded the mantle of liberator for the armor of a tyrant.]
President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe was once Mr. Mugabe’s right-hand man.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe was once Mr. Mugabe’s right-hand man.Zinyange Auntony for The New York Times
The reaction was subdued in part because the once supremely powerful Mr. Mugabe had become increasingly irrelevant in the two years since he was expelled from power. Outmaneuvered by his successor and onetime right-hand man, Emmerson Mnangagwa, and growing rapidly weaker, Mr. Mugabe had been reduced to a ghostly presence in the country that his personality had dominated for nearly four decades.
“Mugabe’s death has come at a time we have moved on without him,” said Richmond Dhamara, a 42-year-old street fruit vendor. “I don’t think he will be missed that much, because he is the same guy with the people who succeeded him — cruel.”
Mr. Mugabe’s reputation was sturdier elsewhere in Africa. Even after the worst excesses of his long rule, Mr. Mugabe drew standing ovations at African gatherings, where fellow leaders praised him as the last of the great liberation leaders.
“Words cannot convey the magnitude of the loss as former President Mugabe was an elder statesman, a freedom fighter and a Pan-Africanist who played a major role in shaping the interests of the African continent,” President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya said on Friday.
In central Harare, where the presidency and other branches of government are located, Friday felt like a regular morning. People scrambled to work in dilapidated taxi minivans from the suburbs. Street hawkers were setting up their wares on sidewalks as part of the thriving informal economy that has replaced the collapsing formal sector.
No soldiers could be seen in the area, only the usual police officers — a clear sign that the Zimbabwean government did not regard Mr. Mugabe’s death as a political or security risk.
Zimbabweans celebrating outside Parliament in November 2017 after Mr. Mugabe’s resignation.
Zimbabweans celebrating outside Parliament in November 2017 after Mr. Mugabe’s resignation.Ben Curtis/Associated Press
For most Zimbabweans, their emotions had reached a peak with Mr. Mugabe’s political death nearly two years ago. Countless people celebrated in Harare and across the country at the time, in a short-lived euphoria that faded with the ever worsening economy and disappointment over Mr. Mnangagwa’s tightfisted rule.
In many ways, Mr. Mugabe’s actual death was anticlimactic.
“I wish Mugabe should just have died in power, because things as they are now are much worse than before he was removed,” Jeremiah Gumbi, a 26-year-old money changer, said at his usual workplace in central Harare.
Even a supporter of ZANU-PF, Mr. Mugabe’s political party, on his way to party headquarters — where the national flag was flying at half-staff — was far from effusive in his comments.
“Old Bob is our hero,” said the party supporter, Tinago Mhanga, 38. “Although he messed up the economy, he is the father of the nation, even in death.”
Mr. Mugabe had spent the last two years mostly in quiet isolation after being deposed in a coup in November 2017. For a time, he was effectively put under house arrest with his family in his mansion in a leafy Harare neighborhood. He was regularly allowed to fly to Singapore, where he had sought medical treatment for years.
But an uneasy and unspoken tension persisted between Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Mnangagwa, the eternal right-hand man who had ultimately turned on his patron. For Mr. Mnangagwa, dealing with his predecessor was a delicate issue because of their long ties and shared political party. Mr. Mnangagwa generally treated the elder politician generously, hoping that Mr. Mugabe would support him, or at least stay quiet.
A portrait of Mr. Mugabe at the ZANU-PF party headquarters in Harare.Zinyange Auntony/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Mr. Mugabe — as wily in retirement as he had been during his nearly four decades in power — remained strategically quiet. But whenever he felt that Mr. Mnangagwa was not treating him with the respect that he was due, Mr. Mugabe made it known.
At least once, his allies summoned foreign journalists based in nearby Johannesburg for a meeting inside his Harare home. His wife, Grace, helped the journalists slip into the house, past soldiers under orders to prevent Mr. Mugabe from talking to the news media.
Most significantly, during elections in July last year, Mr. Mugabe publicly expressed his admiration for the opposition candidate, Nelson Chamisa, the leader of ZANU-PF’s fiercest and historic rival, the Movement for Democratic Change.
But despite the hopes and prodding of his wife, Grace, and other allies now fallen out of favor, including the former information minister, Jonathan Moyo, Mr. Mugabe had become a political nonentity.
Little was heard from him in the past year as he grew frailer and frailer. Instead, his sons — famous partygoers whose public misbehavior forced their parents to move them from Dubai to Johannesburg in recent years — continued to make headlines.
What will become of his wife, Grace, is unclear. Mr. Mugabe’s second wife, she is reviled inside Zimbabwe and, more important, inside the ruling party. Many of Mr. Mugabe’s longtime allies blamed her for her husband’s political excesses in recent years and for associating a once famously parsimonious man with the kind of luxury shopping and traveling that she enjoys.
In the year or so before her husband fell from power, Ms. Mugabe had sought to position herself as his successor and sideline Mr. Mnangagwa. That ultimately triggered the coup. Now, with her husband gone, Ms. Mugabe has little or no protection left in Zimbabwe.
Jeffrey Moyo reported from Harare, and Norimitsu Onishi from Paris."
‘We Have Moved On Without Him’: Robert Mugabe’s Star Had Faded in Zimbabwe
The most disappointing leader to come out of the African Liberation Struggle became a cruel dictator, who was frozen in ancient tribal loyalties, He dashed the hope of so many people at home and abroad after his defeat of the cruel race-based government led by the brutal.Ian Smith.
Robert Mugabe, Strongman Who Cried, ‘Zimbabwe Is Mine,’ Dies at 95
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"These two entry-level Apple laptops get spec upgrades and, in one case, an important price cut.
Apple kicked off the back-to-school season with some pretty significant changes to the MacBook lineup on Tuesday. There were price cuts, trickle-down features and a few quiet cancellations, including the old, pre-redesign MacBook Air and the cult favorite 12-inch MacBook.
Getting an update are the MacBook Air and the lowest-end version of the 13-inch MacBook Pro. For the Air, that's a significant point, as the system received its largest overhaul in a decade just last year.
Both new MacBooks have arrived in the CNET Labs for review. Our testing is ongoing, but here's an early look at some of the initial results and our first hands-on impressions.
The new MacBook Air doesn't look any different, but it adds Apple's True Tone display, which can adjust the screen's color temperature based on the ambient lighting. It's already found on iPad Pro, recent iPhones and some MacBook Pros.
But more important than that, the starting price has been cut by $100, from $1,199 to $1,099 (£1,099, AU$1,699). That's still not the classic MacBook Air price of $999, but it's getting closer and students can get it for $999.
Watch this: Back-to-school MacBooks get faster, cheaper
More consequential are the changes to the 13-inch MacBook Pro. That $1,299 model was a favorite for some, as it excluded the Touch Bar found in more-expensive MacBook Pros. Now you can no longer avoid the Touch Bar, but it's included for the same $1,299 price, along with the TouchID fingerprint reader and T2 security chip.
It also jumps from an older dual-core Intel CPU to a newer quad-core version, so the least expensive Pro feels more like, well, a Pro. Case in point, we ran the new quad-core 13-inch MacBook Pro against an older dual-core version. Yes, the eighth-gen chips have an advantage over the seventh-gen ones, but the difference between the two base models is huge.
We're currently testing both the new MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, and will report full benchmark results, including battery life, in upcoming reviews. While the Pro is getting a big speed boost, I wouldn't expect any real change in the MacBook Air performance -- the biggest move there is the price. "
Confirmed: Apple's new MacBook Pro gets a big speed boost
Tuesday, July 09, 2019
FCC: Phone Companies Can Block Robocalls by Default
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"By The Editorial Board
In the past year, Congress has been happy to drag tech C.E.O.s into hearings and question them about how they vacuum up and exploit personal information about their users. But so far those hearings haven’t amounted to much more than talk. Lawmakers have yet to do their job and rewrite the law to ensure that such abuses don’t continue.
Americans have been far too vulnerable for far too long when they venture online. Companies are free today to monitor Americans’ behavior and collect information about them from across the web and the real world to do everything from sell them cars to influence their votes to set their life insurance rates — all usually without users’ knowledge of the collection and manipulation taking place behind the scenes. It’s taken more than a decade of shocking revelations — of data breaches and other privacy abuses — to get to this moment, when there finally seems to be enough momentum to pass a federal law. Congress is considering several pieces of legislation that would strengthen Americans’ privacy rights, and alongside them, a few bills that would make it easier for tech companies to strip away what few privacy rights we now enjoy.
[If you use technology, someone is using your information. We’ll tell you how — and what you can do about it. Sign up for our limited-run newsletter.]
American lawmakers are late to the party. Europe has already set what amounts to a global privacy standard with its General Data Protection Regulation, which went into effect in 2018. G.D.P.R. establishes several privacy rights that do not exist in the United States — including a requirement for companies to inform users about their data practices and receive explicit permission before collecting any personal information. Although Americans cannot legally avail themselves of specific rights under G.D.P.R., the fact that the biggest global tech companies are complying everywhere with the new European rules means that the technocrats in Brussels are doing more for Americans’ digital privacy rights than their own Congress.
The toughest privacy law in the United States today, is the California Consumer Privacy Act, which is set to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020. Just like G.D.P.R., it requires companies to take adequate security measures to protect data and also offers consumers the right to request access to the data that has been collected about them. Under the California law, consumers not only have a right to know whether their data is being sold or handed off to third parties, they also have a right to block that sale. And the opt-out can’t be a false choice — Facebook and Google would not be able to refuse service just because a user didn’t want their data sold.
While the California Legislature is still working out the precise details of the law and its implementation, other states — including New York — are hard at work on their own privacy legislation. The prospect of a patchwork of state-level rules explains why tech companies are suddenly eager for Washington to step in to set a national standard.
If a weak federal privacy law pre-empts state law, it would roll back the protections that Californians are supposed to get — and it would make it impossible for other states to set the bar even higher. That’s exactly what’s going on with privacy bills introduced by Senator Marco Rubio (the American Data Dissemination Act) and Senator Marsha Blackburn (the Balancing the Rights of Web Surfers Equally and Responsibly Act). Both offer weak privacy protections bundled with federal pre-emption. If passed, they would gut the California law. In the House, Representative Suzan DelBene’s Information Transparency and Personal Data Control Act also pre-empts state law, while offering a respectable amount of privacy protection, like a requirement for companies to secure opt-in consent before collecting user data. Still, even that bill lacks some rights that the California law provides.
The Senate bills that take privacy seriously do not contain pre-emption clauses. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto’s DATA Privacy Act, for instance, bears similarities to the California law and to the G.D.P.R., as does Senator Ed Markey’s significantly more ambitious Privacy Bill of Rights Act. Although Ms. Cortez Masto’s bill does not create a private right of action — that is, the ability for consumers to sue tech companies for privacy violations — Mr. Markey’s does, and invalidates arbitration clauses that could otherwise shield companies from individual lawsuits. Consumer lawsuits are a hot-button issue — in the California law, the private right of action exists only in a limited form thanks in part to corporate lobbying. Most interestingly, Mr. Markey’s bill requires the creation of a public list of data brokers in the United States — third party companies who buy and sell your data.
Not all bills on the table take an omnibus approach. Some appear to be highly specific swipes at Facebook. For example, a social media privacy bill introduced by Senators Amy Klobuchar and John Kennedy does not add very much to consumer privacy, but each of its provisions — like one that forbids a change to a product that “overrides the privacy preferences of a user” — seems to be a reference to something Facebook has done in the past. Senators Mark Warner and Deb Fischer have introduced a bill circumscribing experimentation on users without their consent. It might seem shocking that any company would do such a thing, but, in fact, Facebook tinkered with its News Feed in 2014 to test whether it could alter its users’ emotions. (The bill also bars designing sites targeted at children under the age of 13 “with the purpose or substantial effect of cultivating compulsive usage, including video auto-play functions initiated without the consent of a user” — a provision aimed at YouTube and its effect on children.)
Where the Warner/Fischer bill looks to alleviate the harmful effects of data collection on consumers, Senator Josh Hawley’s Do Not Track Act seeks to stop the problem much closer to the source, by creating a Do Not Track system administered by the Federal Trade Commission. Commercial websites would be required by law not to harvest unnecessary data from consumers who have Do Not Track turned on.
A similar idea appeared in a more comprehensive draft bill circulated last year by Senator Ron Wyden, but Mr. Wyden has yet to introduce that bill this session. Instead, like Mr. Warner, he seems to have turned his attention to downstream effects — for the time being, at least. This year, he is sponsoring a bill for algorithmic accountability, requiring the largest tech companies to test their artificial intelligence systems for biases, such as racial discrimination, and to fix those biases that are found.
A grand bargain privacy bill is said to be in the works, with a handful of lawmakers from both parties haggling privately over the details. Forward-thinking legislation — and the public hearings that would inform its passage — are urgently needed. Americans deserve a robust discussion of what privacy rights they are entitled to and strong privacy laws to protect them.
Congress’s earliest attempts to regulate computing in the 1980s and 1990s were embarrassing. The Congressional Record shows that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1984, for instance, was prompted by a fantastical Hollywood film about a boy hacker. The Communications Decency Act of 1996 — many sections of which were deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in the following year — had its origins in a moral panic about internet pornography touched off by questionable research. All this lent support to the received wisdom that the tech industry is best left to its own devices without the interference of a clueless legislature. More recent attempts, like the abortive Stop Online Piracy Act, an overbroad piece of copyright enforcement legislation that was killed in 2012 after furious backlash from internet users, have not instilled much confidence in Capitol Hill’s understanding of technology. But encouragingly, many of the privacy bills introduced this session show a sophisticated understanding of the market for personal information, the nation’s woefully inadequate cybersecurity and the many dangers posed by a sector of the economy that has proved itself incapable of self-regulation. Legislators have stepped up their game.
A single bill is of course not the end of government’s responsibilities to its citizens. Any regulation must evolve alongside technology to safeguard fundamental freedoms. But a strong law would be a welcome start. The California privacy law will go into effect in less than seven months. Congress should seize the moment and the public momentum to enshrine digital privacy rights into federal law."
Opinion | Why Is America So Far Behind Europe on Digital Privacy?