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What Happens When Landlords Can Get Cheap Surveillance Software?

Sat, 07/13/2019 - 7:34pm
"Cheap surveillance software is changing how landlords manage their tenants and what laws police can enforce," reports Slate. For example, there's a private company contracting with property managers that says they now have 475 security cameras in place and can sometimes scan more than 1.5 million license plates in a week. (According to Clayton Burnett, Watchstore Security's director of "innovation and new technology".) Burnett's company regularly hands over location data to police, he says, as evidence for cases large and small. But that investigative firepower also comes in handy for more routine landlord-tenant affairs. They've investigated tree trimmers charging for a day of work they didn't do and caught people dumping trash on private property. Sometimes, he says, a tenant will claim her car was hit in the building's parking lot and ask for free rent. His company can search for her plate and see that one day, she left the lot with her bumper intact and then came back later with a dent in it. Probably once a week, Burnett says, Watchtower uses it to prove that a tenant has "a buddy crashing on their couch," violating their lease. "Normally, there's some limit to how long they can stay, like five days," he says, "and we can prove they're going over that." One search, and they have proof that that buddy has been coming over every night for a month. I was wondering how tenants felt about this, and I asked Burnett whether anyone had ever complained about the license plate readers. "No," he said with a laugh. "I'd say they probably don't know about it...." [A]s the technology has matured, it's gotten in the hands of organizations that, five years ago, would never have been able to consider it. Small-town police departments can suddenly afford to conduct surveillance at a massive scale. Neighborhood homeowners associations and property managers are buying up cameras by the dozen. And in many jurisdictions, cheap automatic license plate reader (ALPR) cameras are creeping into neighborhoods -- with almost nothing restricting how they're used besides the surveiller's own discretion.... If you know that a bald guy in a gray Toyota illegally dumped trash in your lawn, the police won't try to track him down. But if they have the plate, enforcing lower-level crime becomes much easier. Several of the property managers and homeowners associations I spoke to emphasized that this is one of the main benefits of their ALPR systems. Along with burglaries, they're mostly concerned about people breaking into cars to steal personal belongings; police wouldn't investigate that before, but now homeowners associations can do the investigation for them and hand over the evidence. As Burnett put it, "[Police] are not going to be able to investigate [a small crime] unless we hand it to them on a silver platter. Which we've done plenty of times." The article points out that today's software can detect dents on cars and watch for specific bumper stickers (or Lyft tags) -- and often the software can be retrofitted to existing traffic cameras. A contractor working with police in one Pennsylvania county says they've now "virtually gated" an entire 20,000-person town south of Pittsburgh. "Any way you can come in and out, you're on camera." A senior investigative researcher at the EFF points out that "Now a cop can look up your license plate and see where you've been for the past two years."

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Amazon's Alexa Will Deliver NHS Medical Advice in the UK

Sat, 07/13/2019 - 6:34pm
"The UK's National Health Service (NHS) has announced what it claims is a world first: a partnership with Amazon's Alexa to offer health advice from the NHS website." An anonymous reader quotes the Verge: Britons who ask Alexa basic health questions like "Alexa, how do I treat a migraine?" and "Alexa, what are the symptoms of flu?" will be given answers vetted by NHS health professionals and currently available on its website. At the moment, Alexa sources answers to such questions from a variety of places, including the Mayo Clinic and WebMD. The partnership does not add significantly to Alexa's skill-set, but it is an interesting step for the NHS. The UK's Department of Health (DoH) says it hopes the move will reduce the pressure on health professionals in the country, giving people a new way to access reliable medical advice. It will also benefit individuals with disabilities, like sight impairments, who may find it difficult to use computers or smartphones to find the same information.

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Florida's DMV Made $77 Million -- By Selling Off Personal Information

Sat, 07/13/2019 - 5:34pm
Florida's Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles "made $77 million in 2017 by selling drivers' personal information to more than 30 private companies, including marketing firms, bill collectors, insurance companies and data brokers..." according to local news site. schwit1 shared this report from WPTV: A Florida woman is blaming the state government for an onslaught of robocalls and direct mail offers â"- accusations that come as the Scripps station WFTS in Tampa uncovered that the DMV makes millions by selling Florida drivers' personal information to outside companies, including marketing firms. WFTS I-Team Investigator Adam Walser obtained records showing the state sold information on Florida drivers and ID cardholders to more than 30 private companies, including marketing firms, bill collectors, insurance companies and data brokers in the business of reselling information. They also report that the woman was illiterate, and "had no digital footprint â" until she got an ID." But within days, her legal guardian reports she was "receiving direct mail offers for lawn service, credit cards, cell phones and insurance. She also now receives constant robocalls and salespeople have even started showing up at her door." And their investigation revealed more damning details. One data broker said their firm "has an agreement with the state to buy driver and ID cardholder data for a penny a record." A promotional video on their web site brags they have "access to 2.5 billion customers and two-thirds of the world's population." Though it may be possible to opt-out of data collection from individual marketing companies, a spokesperson for the state of Florida "said there's no way for drivers to opt out if they don't want their personal information sold."

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Intel Patches Two New Security Flaws

Sat, 07/13/2019 - 4:34pm
This week Intel announced two new patches, according to Tom's Hardware: The flaw in the processor diagnostic tool (CVE-2019-11133) is rated 8.2 out 10 on the CVSS 3.0 scale, making it a high-severity vulnerability. The flaw [found by security researcher Jesse Michael from Eclypsium] "may allow an authenticated user to potentially enable escalation of privilege, information disclosure or denial of service via local access," according to Intel's latest security advisory. Versions of the tool that are older than 4.1.2.24 are affected. The second vulnerability, found by Intel's internal team, is a medium-severity vulnerability in Intel's SSD DC S4500/S4600 series sold to data center customers. The flaw found in the SSD firmware versions older than SCV10150 obtained a 5.3 score on the CVSS 3.0 scale, so it was labeled medium-severity. The bug may allow an unprivileged user to enable privilege escalation via physical access. As one of the flaws was uncovered by Intel itself and for the other the Eclypsium research coordinated with Intel for its disclosure, Intel was able to have ready the patches in time for the public announcement.

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The 'Vast Majority' of America's Voting Machines Use Windows 7 or Older Systems

Sat, 07/13/2019 - 3:34pm
Many of America's voting machines are depending on an outdated Microsoft operating system, reports the Associated Press. "The vast majority of 10,000 election jurisdictions nationwide use Windows 7 or an older operating system to create ballots, program voting machines, tally votes and report counts." That's significant because Windows 7 reaches its "end of life" on Jan. 14, meaning Microsoft stops providing technical support and producing "patches" to fix software vulnerabilities, which hackers can exploit. In a statement to the AP, Microsoft said Friday it would offer continued Windows 7 security updates for a fee through 2023. Critics say the situation is an example of what happens when private companies ultimately determine the security level of election systems with a lack of federal requirements or oversight.... It's unclear whether the often hefty expense of security updates would be paid by vendors operating on razor-thin profit margins or cash-strapped jurisdictions. It's also uncertain if a version running on Windows 10, which has more security features, can be certified and rolled out in time for primaries. The Associated Press contacted the Coalition for Good Governance, an election integrity advocacy organization, and received this comment from the group's the executive director. "Is this a bad joke?"

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Inside 'Starshot', the Audacious Plan To Shoot Tiny Ships To Alpha Centauri

Sat, 07/13/2019 - 2:34pm
"Starshot wants to build the world's most powerful laser and aim it at the closest star. What could go wrong?" An anonymous reader quotes MIT's Technology Review: In 2015, Philip Lubin, a cosmologist from the University of California, Santa Barbara, took the stage at the 100-Year Starship Symposium in Santa Clara. He outlined his plan to build a laser so powerful that it could accelerate tiny spacecraft to 20% of the speed of light, getting them to Alpha Centauri in just 20 years. We could become interstellar explorers within a single generation. It was quite the hook. Because Lubin is an excellent public speaker, and because the underlying technologies already existed, and because the science was sound, he was mobbed after the talk. He also met Pete Worden, a former research director of NASA's Ames Research Center, for the first time. Worden had recently taken over as head of the Breakthrough Initiatives, a nonprofit program funded by Russian technology billionaire Yuri Milner. Six months later, Lubin's project had $100 million in funding from Breakthrough and the endorsement of Stephen Hawking, who called it the "next great leap into the cosmos." Starshot is straightforward, at least in theory. First, build an enormous array of moderately powerful lasers. Yoke them together—what's called "phase lock"—to create a single beam with up to 100 gigawatts of power. Direct the beam onto highly reflective light sails attached to spacecraft weighing less than a gram and already in orbit. Turn the beam on for a few minutes, and the photon pressure blasts the spacecraft to relativistic speeds. Not only could such a technology be used to send sensors to another star system; it could dispatch larger craft to Earth's neighboring planets and moons. Imagine a package to Mars in a few days, or a crewed mission to Mars in a month. Starshot effectively shrinks the solar system, and ultimately the galaxy. It's fantastic. And also a dream. Or a sales pitch. Or a long-term, far-out project that can't be sustained long enough for the nonexistent technologies it requires to be built.

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Firm Deleted Its Google Data, So It Escalated Its Support Ticket To a Lawsuit

Sat, 07/13/2019 - 1:34pm
Long-time Slashdot reader AmiMoJo quotes the Register: An interior design tools startup called Mosss on Wednesday sued Google to get it to restore its data after someone at the startup accidentally deleted the firm's G Suite account. In a pro se lawsuit [PDF] filed in US District Court in Oakland, California, Mosss, under its previous corporate name, Musey Inc., asked Google to help it restore its data... Initially, the filing says, the company believed Google would be able to help because a customer service representative said he'd deal with the issue. But the cavalry did not arrive... "All efforts failed and at the end we received a one-line email that stated our data was lost and couldn't be returned to us." Except perhaps not. According to the complaint, the company was informed – it's not clear whether Google or a third-party advised this – that it could seek a subpoena or file a civil lawsuit to access its data. So that's what it has done.

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What's New in Linux 5.2?

Sat, 07/13/2019 - 1:04pm
diegocg writes: Linux 5.2 has been released. This release includes Sound Open Firmware, a project that brings open source firmware to DSP audio devices; open firmware for many Intel products is also included. This release also improves the Pressure Stall Information resource monitoring to make it usable by Android; the mount API has been redesigned with new syscalls; the BFQ I/O scheduler has gained some performance improvements; a new CLONE_PIDFD flag lets clone(2) return pidfs usable by pidfd_send_signal(2); Ext4 has gained support for case-insensitive name lookups; there is also a new device mapper target that simulates a device that has failing sectors and/or read failures; open source drivers for the ARM Mali t4xx and newer 6xx/7xx have been added. Many other new drivers, features and changes can be found in the changelog. But there's more besides supporting "a handful of extra ARM-powered single-board computers," according to CRN: The biggest feature in 5.2 is probably support for Intel's forthcoming Comet Lake architecture, which will power the tenth generation of its Core desktop and mobile CPUs due. The new silicon is due to ship late in 2019 and appear in products early the next year. Linux 5.2 also includes many tweaks that improve its performance on laptops.

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What Does Ubuntu's Post-Unity Future Look Like?

Sat, 07/13/2019 - 12:34pm
intensivevocoder quotes TechRepublic: Following Canonical's pivot away from its internally-developed Unity user interface and Mir display server, Ubuntu has enjoyed two relatively low-drama years, as the Linux Desktop market homogenized during its transition back to a customized GNOME desktop. In a review of the most recent release, TechRepublic's Jack Wallen declared that "Ubuntu 19.04 should seriously impress anyone looking for a fast and reliable Linux desktop platform." Largely, it's been a slow-and-steady pace for Ubuntu since the pivot from Unity to GNOME, though the distribution made headlines for plans to end support for 32-bit support. This prompted Valve, operators of games marketplace Steam, to re-think its approach toward Ubuntu, which it previously characterized as "as the best-supported path for desktop users." TechRepublic's James Sanders interviewed Will Cooke, director of engineering for Ubuntu Desktop at Canonical, about the distribution's long-term plans for legacy 32-bit support, shipping a desktop in a post-Unity-era Ubuntu, and why Linux should be the first choice for users migrating from Windows 7 prior to the end of support. From the interview: When we did the switch to GNOME Shell from Unity, we did a survey [asking] people straightforward questions like, "What sort of features do you want to see continue in Ubuntu Desktop?" The answer came through very, very clearly that people liked having the launcher on the left, and they wanted to keep that feature there. They liked having desktop icons and they wanted to keep that feature there. We've made decisions based on data from our user base, from our community. They have provided that feedback and we've done what the majority of people want. Sometimes that doesn't go with the ideals of GNOME design, but we're comfortable with delivering what we see as value on top of GNOME. That's delivering a product which gives people consistency between the old days of Unity 7, and the new days of GNOME Shell. That transition was as easy as possible, everybody had a chance to have a say in it, and the answers were pretty clear.

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Microsoft Office 365: Now Illegal In Many Schools in Germany

Sat, 07/13/2019 - 11:34am
"Schools in the central German state of Hesse [population: 6 million] have been told it's now illegal to use Microsoft Office 365," reports ZDNet: The state's data-protection commissioner has ruled that using the popular cloud platform's standard configuration exposes personal information about students and teachers "to possible access by US officials". That might sound like just another instance of European concerns about data privacy or worries about the current US administration's foreign policy. But in fact the ruling by the Hesse Office for Data Protection and Information Freedom is the result of several years of domestic debate about whether German schools and other state institutions should be using Microsoft software at all. Besides the details that German users provide when they're working with the platform, Microsoft Office 365 also transmits telemetry data back to the US. Last year, investigators in the Netherlands discovered that that data could include anything from standard software diagnostics to user content from inside applications, such as sentences from documents and email subject lines. All of which contravenes the EU's General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, the Dutch said... To allay privacy fears in Germany, Microsoft invested millions in a German cloud service, and in 2017 Hesse authorities said local schools could use Office 365. If German data remained in the country, that was fine, Hesse's data privacy commissioner, Michael Ronellenfitsch, said. But in August 2018 Microsoft decided to shut down the German service. So once again, data from local Office 365 users would be data transmitted over the Atlantic. Several US laws, including 2018's CLOUD Act and 2015's USA Freedom Act, give the US government more rights to ask for data from tech companies. ZDNet also quotes Austrian digital-rights advocate Max Schrems, who summarizes the dilemma. "If data is sent to Microsoft in the US, it is subject to US mass-surveillance laws. This is illegal under EU law."

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Do Elephants Belong In Zoos? Extinction Policy Under Scrutiny

Sat, 07/13/2019 - 10:34am
Long-time Slashdot reader retroworks writes: In "Zoos Called It a 'Rescue.' But Are the Elephants Really Better Off?" New York Times reporter Charles Siebert does much to dispel the idea that zoos are a solution to extinction. In the first half of the article, the cruelty of zoos is in focus. "Neuroimaging has shown that elephants possess in their cerebral cortex the same elements of neural wiring we long thought exclusive to us, including spindle and pyramidal neurons, associated with higher cognitive functions like self-recognition, social awareness and language. " The second half of the article questions whether any current (expensive) efforts to "save" the elephants offers anything more than window dressing. Ted Reilly [founder and executive director of a game preserve] is quoted that, "The greatest threat to wildlife in Africa today is the uncontrolled spread of human sprawl. As far as it sprawls, nature dies. And that's the reality on the ground. It's not the nice idea that people cook up and suggest, but that's the reality. And in my view, an equally important threat, serious threat, is dependence on donor money. If you become dependent on donor money, you will inevitably become dictated to in terms of your policies. And your management integrity will be interfered with. And it's not possible to be totally free of corruptive influences if you're not financially independent." Does this type of reporting improve the situation, or cause despondence and abandonment of the extinction cause? The 7,000-word article points out that 22 American zoos had already closed their elephant exhibits (or were phasing them out) by 2012 (according to a depressing study by the Seattle Times). The New York Times adds that "an increasing awareness of nonhuman animal sentience is now compelling many to question the very existence of zoos."

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Judge Gives E-Cigarette Makers 10 Months To Seek FDA Review

Sat, 07/13/2019 - 9:00am
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: E-cigarette companies such as Juul must submit applications to U.S. regulators by May 2020 to keep their vaping products on the market, a federal judge ruled Friday. The ruling was the result of a court case brought by anti-tobacco and public-health groups after the FDA had delayed an earlier application deadline. The groups argued that the agency had abdicated its duty to regulate the products, which have been blamed for a rise of youth use of vaping products. A company's e-cigarettes will be able to stay on the market for up to one year while the FDA considers its application, according to the order. In anticipation of having to move more quickly, the FDA issued a guideline last month to help e-cigarette makers craft their applications. "Given the uncertainty in the efficacy of e-cigarettes as smoking cessation devices, the overstated effects that a shorter deadline may have on manufacturers, the industry's recalcitrance, the continued availability of e-cigarettes and their acknowledged appeal to youth, and the clear public health emergency, I find that a deadline is necessary," U.S. District Judge Paul Grimm wrote in his order. Juul said it was supportive of the application process and had been preparing research on its products and how they're used by smokers. "We're confident in the content and quality of the materials we will submit with our application," said spokeswoman Lindsay Andrews.

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Amazon Continues Work On Mobile Home Robot As It Preps New High-End Echo, Says Report

Sat, 07/13/2019 - 6:00am
Citing a report from Bloomberg, The Verge reports that Amazon is working on a mobile home robot and a high-end Echo to compete against the Apple HomePod and Google Home Max. From the report: We first heard about Amazon's plans to build a wheeled home robot in April last year. The project is reportedly codenamed "Vesta" (after the Roman goddess of the hearth), and rumors suggest it's a sort of "mobile Alexa" that's able to follow users around their homes. Today's report doesn't add significantly to this picture, but it seems Amazon is still keen to build the mobile device. It was apparently slated to launch this year but wasn't ready for mass-production. Engineers have reportedly been pulled from other projects to work on Vesta, and Gurman reports that prototypes are "waist-high and navigate with the help of an array of computer-vision cameras." They can also be summoned using voice commands. Along with its mystery robot, Amazon is also reportedly working on a high-end Echo device that's due to be released next year. Bloomberg says the cylindrical speaker is wider than existing Echo products in order to fit in extra speaker components, and it could launch alongside a high-fidelity version of Amazon's music streaming service.

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Thousands of People Have Taken a Facebook Pledge To Storm Area 51

Sat, 07/13/2019 - 3:00am
PolygamousRanchKid shares a report from CNN: Over 300,000 people have signed on to a Facebook event pledging to raid Area 51 in Nevada in a quest to "see them aliens." The event, titled "Storm Area 51, They Can't Stop All of Us," is inviting users from around the world to join a "Naruto run" -- a Japanese manga-inspired running style featuring arms outstretched backwards and heads forward -- into the area. "We can move faster than their bullets," the event page, which is clearly written with tongue in cheek, promises those who RSVP for September 20. The mysterious Area 51 has been the focus of conspiracy theories for decades, and many people think it's where the U.S. government stores its secrets about aliens and UFOs.

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Carbon Nanotube Device Channels Heat Into Light

Fri, 07/12/2019 - 11:30pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: Rice University scientists are designing arrays of aligned single-wall carbon nanotubes to channel mid-infrared radiation (aka heat) and greatly raise the efficiency of solar energy systems. Their invention is a hyperbolic thermal emitter that can absorb intense heat that would otherwise be spewed into the atmosphere, squeeze it into a narrow bandwidth and emit it as light that can be turned into electricity. The aligned nanotube films are conduits that absorb waste heat and turn it into narrow-bandwidth photons. Because electrons in nanotubes can only travel in one direction, the aligned films are metallic in that direction while insulating in the perpendicular direction, an effect called hyperbolic dispersion. Thermal photons can strike the film from any direction, but can only leave via one. Adding the emitters to standard solar cells could boost their efficiency from the current peak of about 22%. "By squeezing all the wasted thermal energy into a small spectral region, we can turn it into electricity very efficiently," he said. "The theoretical prediction is that we can get 80% efficiency." The study has been published in the journal ACS Photonics.

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Cloudflare Comes Clean On Crashing a Chunk of the Web Earlier This Month

Fri, 07/12/2019 - 10:50pm
Cloudflare has published a detailed and refreshingly honest report into precisely what went wrong earlier this month when its systems fell over and took a big chunk of the internet with it. The Register reports: We already knew from a quick summary published the next day, and our interview with its CTO John Graham-Cumming, that the 30-minute global outage had been caused by an error in a single line of code in a system the company uses to push rapid software changes. [...] First up the error itself -- it was in this bit of code: .*(?:.*=.*). We won't go into the full workings as to why because the post does so extensively (a Friday treat for coding nerds) but very broadly the code caused a lot of what's called "backtracking," basically repetitive looping. This backtracking got worse -- exponentially worse -- the more complex the request and very, very quickly maxed out the company's CPUs. The impact wasn't noticed for the simple reason that the test suite didn't measure CPU usage. It soon will -- Cloudflare has an internal deadline of a week from now. The second problem was that a software protection system that would have prevented excessive CPU consumption had been removed "by mistake" just a weeks earlier. That protection is now back in although it clearly needs to be locked down. The software used to run the code -- the expression engine -- also doesn't have the ability to check for the sort of backtracking that occurred. Cloudflare says it will shift to one that does. The post goes on to talk about the speed with which it impacted everyone, why it took them so long to fix it, and why it didn't just do a rollback within minutes and solve the issue while it figured out what was going on. You can read the full postmortem here.

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Giant Batteries and Cheap Solar Power Are Shoving Fossil Fuels Off the Grid

Fri, 07/12/2019 - 10:10pm
sciencehabit quotes a report from Science Magazine: This month, officials in Los Angeles, California, are expected to approve a deal that would make solar power cheaper than ever while also addressing its chief flaw: It works only when the sun shines. The deal calls for a huge solar farm backed up by one of the world's largest batteries. It would provide 7% of the city's electricity beginning in 2023 at a cost of 1.997 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) for the solar power and 1.3 cents per kWh for the battery. That's cheaper than any power generated with fossil fuel. The new solar plus storage effort will be built in Kern County in California by 8minute Solar Energy. The project is expected to create a 400-megawatt solar array, generating roughly 876,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity annually, enough to power more than 65,000 homes during daylight hours. Its 800-MWh battery will store electricity for after the sun sets, reducing the need for natural gas-fired generators.

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US Mayors Resolve Not To Pay Hackers Over Ransomware Attacks

Fri, 07/12/2019 - 9:30pm
More than 225 U.S. mayors have signed on to a resolution not to pay ransoms to hackers. It's a collective stand against the ransomware attacks that have crippled city government computer systems in recent years. CNET reports: The resolution was adopted at the U.S. Conference of Mayors annual meeting, which took place late June and early July in Honolulu. "The United States Conference of Mayors stands united against paying ransoms in the event of an IT security breach," the resolution reads. This could give city leaders across the US some leverage against hackers. The 227 mayors who attended the meeting agreed to adopt the resolution, but the US Conference of Mayors represents more than 1,400 cities with populations over 30,000.

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A New Study Uses Camera Footage To Track the Frequency of Bystander Intervention

Fri, 07/12/2019 - 8:50pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CityLab: It's one of the most enduring urban myths of all: If you get in trouble, don't count on anyone nearby to help. Research dating back to the late 1960s documents how the great majority of people who witness crimes or violent behavior refuse to intervene. Psychologists dubbed this non-response as the "bystander effect" -- a phenomenon which has been replicated in scores of subsequent psychological studies. The "bystander effect" holds that the reason people don't intervene is because we look to one another. The presence of many bystanders diffuses our own sense of personal responsibility, leading people to essentially do nothing and wait for someone else to jump in. Past studies have used police reports to estimate the effect, but results ranged from 11 percent to 74 percent of incidents being interventions. Now, widespread surveillance cameras allow for a new method to assess real-life human interactions. A new study published this year in the American Psychologist finds that this well-established bystander effect may largely be a myth. The study uses footage of more than 200 incidents from surveillance cameras in Amsterdam; Cape Town; and Lancaster, England. The study finds that in nine out of 10 incidents, at least one bystander intervened, with an average of 3.8 interveners. There was also no significant difference across the three countries and cities, even though they differ greatly in levels of crime and violence. The study actually found that the more bystanders there were, the more likely it was that at least someone would intervene to help. "This is a powerful corrective to the common perception of 'stranger danger' and the 'unknown other,'" reports CityLab. "It suggests that people are willing to self-police to protect their communities and others."

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Judge Dismisses Oracle Lawsuit Over $10 Billion Pentagon JEDI Cloud Contract

Fri, 07/12/2019 - 8:10pm
Last year, Oracle filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government complaining about the procurement process around the Pentagon's $10 billion, decade-long JEDI cloud contract. "They claimed a potential conflict of interest on the part of a procurement team member (who was a former AWS employee)," reports TechCrunch. "Today, that case was dismissed in federal court." From the report: In dismissing the case, Federal Claims Court Senior Judge Eric Bruggink ruled that the company had failed to prove a conflict in the procurement process, something the DOD's own internal audits found in two separate investigations. Judge Bruggink ultimately agreed with the DoD's findings: "We conclude as well that the contracting officer's findings that an organizational conflict of interest does not exist and that individual conflicts of interest did not impact the procurement, were not arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law. Plaintiff's motion for judgment on the administrative record is therefore denied." Today's ruling opens the door for the announcement of a winner of the $10 billion contract, as early as next month. The DoD previously announced that it had chosen Microsoft and Amazon as the two finalists for the winner-take-all bid.

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