California bill would force Twitter and Facebook to identify bots

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Facebook and Twitter are plenty aware that Russian-backed actors have been using troll accounts to manipulate online discourse. Despite introducing transparency tools and purging lists of bots, California lawmakers don't think the companies are doing…
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President signs overseas data access bill into law

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The House of Representatives has approved a piece of legislation (PDF) that makes it easier for law enforcement to get access to info even if it's stored in other countries. Officially known as Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act, the set of r…
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Gun deaths could become easier to study thanks to the new spending bill

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now have the government’s permission to resume gun violence research, in writing: the massive omnibus spending bill that President Donald Trump signed today clarifies that a 22-year-old ban on using federal funds to advocate or promote gun control doesn’t actually ban research.

While the bill is a step in the right direction, researchers will only believe that the landscape of gun violence research is actually changing when they see money for it in the CDC’s budget. “It’s not bad news — it’s good news,” says Jeffrey Swanson, a professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University. “But I’m skeptical that it’s going to really turn things around without some money being made…

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Project Fi v2.5 prepares to filter spammy callers, notifications for data usage spikes, enable easier override of Bill Protection, and more [APK Teardown]

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An interesting new version of the Project Fi app began rolling out yesterday. There’s a big change to the version number, but otherwise, nothing special to see in the app. However, a teardown of the resources reveals some important changes are scheduled to arrive. The biggest addition will be spam filtering, which should remove all of the disturbances caused by annoying telemarketers and scammers. Also in line are notifications when your data usage suddenly skyrockets, and an in-app feature to turn off Bill Protection once your data is throttled.

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Project Fi v2.5 prepares to filter spammy callers, notifications for data usage spikes, enable easier override of Bill Protection, and more [APK Teardown] was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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A new bill could finally ban predatory inmate phone costs

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For nearly two decades, criminal justice reform advocates have been fighting to fix a persistent and egregious flaw in the US prison system: the frequently exorbitant cost of inmate phone calls, which can run up to $ 17 for a 15-minute local phone call. A confluence of market failures, political intransigence, and public indifference has created a broken billing system that veteran Federal Communications Commission official Mignon Clyburn has called “the greatest, most distressing, type of injustice I have ever seen in the communications sector.”

Last Thursday, a bipartisan group of US senators introduced a bill that aims to restore federal authority to crack down on what prison reform advocates call the “usurious,” “abusive,” and “e…

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Senate set to approve bill that would make credit freezes free

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In the aftermath of last year's Equifax data breach, a handful of Senators led by Elizabeth Warren introduced a bill that would allow consumers to freeze their credit at any time for free. Now the Senate appears to be set to approve a broader banking…
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California Becomes Eighteenth State to Introduce Right to Repair Bill

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California became the eighteenth state in the United States to announce the Right to Repair bill. If the legislation is passed by the state, it would end up making it compulsory for manufacturers to share repair guides for their products and sell diagnostic tools and repair parts directly to consumers. Continue reading
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California latest to join Right to Repair bill, forcing manufacturers to publish repair details

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The Right to Repair bill is a tough pill to swallow. On one hand, it will allow customers easer access to parts and repair tools if a repair is warranted. However, on the other, it could force manufacturers to not alter designs and features  in the name of easier repairability. However, the bill continues to gain steam…

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California to Introduce ‘Right to Repair’ Bill Requiring Smartphone Manufacturers to Offer Repair Info and Parts

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California is preparing to join several other states with a new Right to Repair bill, which will require smartphone manufacturers to provide repair information, replacement parts, and diagnostic tools to product owners and independent repair shops.

California Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman this afternoon announced plans to introduce the new California Right to Repair Act. Eggman says the bill will provide consumers with the freedom to choose a repair shop of their choice.

iPhone X image via iFixit

“The Right to Repair Act will provide consumers with the freedom to have their electronic products and appliances fixed by a repair shop or service provider of their choice, a practice that was taken for granted a generation ago but is now becoming increasingly rare in a world of planned obsolescence,” Eggman said.

Mark Murray, Executive Director of Californians Against Waste said smartphone manufacturers and home appliance makers are “profiting at the expense of our environment and our pocketbooks” while Kit Walsh, Senior Staff Attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the new bill is “critical to protect independent repair shops and a competitive market for repair,” which will lead to “better service and lower prices.”

In addition to California, 17 other states have already introduced similar Right to Repair legislation, including Washington, Massachusetts, Vermont, New York, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Several states began introducing Right to Repair legislation early last year, and the Right to Repair movement has continued on since then, spurred by Apple’s iPhone throttling controversy.

Since last year, Apple has been lobbying against Right to Repair bills in various states, as have several other technology companies. In Nebraska, for example, Apple said approving Right to Repair would turn the state into a “mecca for bad actors” making it “easy for hackers to relocate to Nebraska.” Other arguments from tech companies and appliance manufacturers have suggested Right to Repair bills would compromise device security and safety.

Right to Repair bills are heavily endorsed by repair outlets like iFixit, independent repair shops, and consumer advocacy groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

In California specifically, the Right to Repair bill is particularly interesting because as Motherboard points out, there are strong repairability laws already in place. California Civil Code Section 1793.03 states that companies must offer parts for repair for at least seven years after a product is released, which is why on Apple’s vintage and obsolete products list, it lists California as the sole state where consumers can continue to get repairs on vintage products.

Apple currently requires customers who have Apple products in need of repair to visit an Apple retail store, mail a product to an Apple repair facility, or visit an Apple Authorized Service Provider to receive support for their devices. Repairs from third-party repair shops that are not Apple Authorized Service Providers can void a device’s warranty.

Apple’s current flagship iPhone, the iPhone X, earned a repairability score of 6 from repair site iFixit. Repairs on the device require a special Apple-specific screw driver, delicate cables are often in the way and are difficult to replace, and Apple’s waterproofing makes repairs complicated. Other Apple products, like MacBooks, have much lower repairability scores.

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The Senate has its own insincere net neutrality bill

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Now that the House of Representatives has floated a superficial net neutrality bill, it's the Senate's turn. Louisiana Senator John Kennedy has introduced a companion version of the Open Internet Preservation Act that effectively replicates the House…
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