Special Agent Reveals Apple and the FBI Are Closer Than You Think

From an outside perspective, Apple and the FBI are seemingly two entities at odds with each other. But a recent report suggests that it isn’t quite that simple.

Special Agent John Bennett, who is in charge of the FBI’s San Francisco office, recently revealed to Forbes how the relationship between the Bureau and the Cupertino tech giant is actually improving. As the publication puts it, Bennett is acting as a “peacemaker” in what it calls the Crypto Wars.

As tech companies continually improve their encryption and security systems in order to provide their consumers with better digital privacy, the FBI must also figure out how to bypass those systems to catch criminals. And it seems that a tech company’s first commitment is to its customers.

This battle famously culminated in the dustup between Apple and the FBI following the San Bernardino shooting, in which Cupertino famously refused to create a backdoor that would have allowed the Bureau to gather evidence from one of the shooter’s iPhones.

But Bennett, who was actually a pivotal figure in that incident, explained how Apple and the FBI are much closer than the public believes. “We have a great relationship with (Apple) from a local field perspective, but also from understanding products and what they do from an engineering standpoint,” Bennett said.

“A lot of people made a lot of hay that everyone was at war with each other…,” Bennett said. “Apple is a great company that we have tremendous respect for.”

Apple Trains Law Enforcement

In fact, the Forbes report also revealed that Apple actively trains the FBI and other law enforcement entities. While Apple doesn’t train the FBI in actively cracking its encryption, it does walk agents through other opportunities for data collection. “They’ve offered training for Mac forensics and they do that for a lot of law enforcement,” Bennett said.

Apple reportedly trains the FBI and other law enforcement organizations for free, and in many cases, it spends quite a bit of that time educating local and regional authorities about its technology and Apple-centric data collection.

It’s not just a one-way street, either. Bennett explained how the Cupertino company can be a victim of malicious attack, too. When that happens and “employees get in harm’s way,” Bennett said that Apple calls the local FBI office to get help.

But, other than what Forbes reveals, there’s little to no information on how Apple trains law enforcement — and it’s an issue that the company has never acknowledged publicly.

It’s Not All Peace, However

While Apple has been offering metaphorical olive branches to law enforcement entities in recent times, there’s still some love lost between the two groups.

Last week, an FBI forensic expert lashed out at Apple, calling them “jerks” and “evil geniuses” for creating encryption that’s increasingly hard to crack. And when Apple attempted to extend an olive branch in the wake of the Texas school shooting, it never heard back.

Bennett himself isn’t entirely onboard with how Apple continually improves its encryption system, but he says he understands why Cupertino does so. “They’ve in an interesting environment where they have to service a legal process from agencies, from FBI to GCHQ to Chinese to Russian services. They are trying to make sure everyone is playing from a level field,” Bennett said.

The FBI agent added that Apple, for its part, has tried to “engineer its way out” of having access to people’s data. That, as Bennett adds, adds to the balance between safety and privacy. “We’re not here to say one is better than the other,” he said.

iDrop News

Powermat gives in to Qi, moves wireless charging closer to uniformity

Enlarge / The Qi-compatible Nexus 5 on the Nexus Wireless Charger. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

Wireless charging company Powermat has joined the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) in a move that looks to further unify wireless charging tech behind the popular Qi standard.

Powermat—which has long pushed the PMA wireless charging standard as Qi’s primary competitor—quietly announced the move last week. The company is a leading player in the AirFuel Alliance, a wireless charging standards body that formed in 2015 with the merger of two other organizations, the Alliance for Wireless Power and the Power Matters Association. Powermat has largely stood opposite Qi and the WPC.

Qi has won the lion’s share of the wireless charging market in recent years, though. Its dominance came to a head last fall after Apple threw its weight behind the standard with its new iPhone X and iPhone 8 phones. This more-or-less sealed Powermat’s fate and led stores like Starbucks—which had previously supported Powermat over Qi through its in-store wireless charging pads—to update its chargers to support both formats.

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apple – Ars Technica

Facebook is changing the news feed to bring you closer to the people you actually know in real life

Particularly for those who were around from the start, usage of Facebook might have waned in recent years. Considering it was originally intended to bring you closer to your friends and family, things are a bit different nowadays. Scroll through your news feed today and you’ll likely find a mixture of memes, recipe videos, and adverts (in my case, anyway, but that will depend on what you like/follow), with just a smattering of posts from people you know IRL.

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Facebook is changing the news feed to bring you closer to the people you actually know in real life was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

Android Police – Android News, Apps, Games, Phones, Tablets

We Are One Step Closer to Designing Safer, Non-Addictive Opioids

Non-Addictive Opioids

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 90 Americans die every day as a result of an opioid overdose. There is a growing national crisis surrounding the use and abuse of opioids — which include not only heroin and synthetic opioids like fentanyl, but also prescription painkillers. The opioid epidemic is an economic burden on the country; the Center for Disease Control estimates it’s costing the U.S. around $ 78.5 billion a year. President Trump declared it a public health emergency in October 2017. In an effort to combat this crisis, researchers are working to develop safer, non-addictive opioids.

In a new study published in the journal Cell, scientists from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill examined a protein that interacts with opioids in the brain called the kappa opioid receptor. While we already knew the receptor’s structure, this is the first time scientists have shown what receptor looks like when it binds with a morphine-related molecule.

The kappa opioid receptor — one of four proteins that interact with opioids — prompts painkilling effects without causing side effects like risk of addiction or death. The team thinks an improved understanding of how it works could help researchers design an opioid that binds with only that specific receptor. This is a critical step on the path to design safer opioids that dull pain without other negative side effects.

But this isn’t a panacea for the opioid crisis. While the kappa opioid receptor does not cause the major, life-threatening side effects most commonly associated with opiates, it can cause hallucinations or feelings of unease. And it will likely be a long time before this research yields a new type of improved painkiller.

Combatting A Crisis

One of the study’s co-authors, Bryan Roth, told The Guardian, “Tens of thousands of people are dying every year in the US because of opioid overdoses; in the last year more than 50,000 people died. That is as many as died in the Vietnam war in the US. It is a terrible, terrible crisis.”

Many think that the opioid crisis starts and ends with illegal substances like heroin. But often illegal opiate use starts with legal prescription painkillers like morphine. Even when prescribed for a legitimate reason, users can get addicted.

This cycle of addiction doesn’t look the same in all cases, but every effort to combat this growing problem is a step in the right direction. Hopefully, as scientists continue to develop safer alternatives to addictive painkillers, legislators and communities will come together to create safer, more comprehensive systems that both prevent initial addiction and support addicts in their recovery.

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