Malaysia just made fake news illegal and punishable by up to six years in jail

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Malaysia passed a new law today that would punish citizens on social media or those working at a digital publication for spreading fake news with a 500,000 ringgit ($ 123,000) fine and a possible a prison sentence of up to six years. Led by Prime Minister Najib Razak, the Anti-Fake News bill passed in parliament today despite opponents who had criticized the bill for possibly impeding free speech and attempting to censor the prime minister’s involvement in a multibillion-dollar scandal.

A draft of the bill had specified a prison sentence of up to 10 years as punishment, but the government toned it down to six in the finalized version, as reported by Reuters. Fake news cases will be handled by an independent court process. Violators could…

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Sensors Equipped With AI Could Thwart Illegal Deforestation

How Complete Beginners are using an ‘Untapped’ Google Network to create Passive Income ON DEMAND

Abstractly, we know that the world’s forests are under threat. We lose somewhere between 80,000 and 150,000 square kilometers — about the size of Maine in the best case scenario, and Louisiana in the worst  of the world’s forests every year to human activities.

But it’s much harder to nail down exactly which parts of forest are most at risk, and when, especially because up to 90 percent of tropical deforestation is due to criminal activity, according to the UN. San Francisco-based nonprofit Rainforest Connection believes that machine learning can be the next ally in the good fight.

The team of engineers and developers built a complex system of sensors that can endure extreme weather and other stresses in the rainforest, using modified smartphones powered by solar panels. The key, they say in a blogpost, is to hide the devices — they call them “Guardians” — amidst the trees in vulnerable areas, so they remain hidden. The sensors record the sounds of the forests and upload them onto a cloud-based server in real time.

Google’s AI framework TensorFlow sifts through forest sounds to isolate suspicious noises such as chainsaws and logging trucks in real time.

The software, launched in 2015, is designed to help developers improve services such as speech recognition, or in this case sound detection. Google offers it for free, with a catch. The AI built with TensorFlow can run anywhere, MIT Tech Review reports, but it works particularly smoothly on Google’s cloud platform.

So can Rainforest Connection’s Guardians, powered by Google, really save the rainforest? Forests already have plenty of high-tech systems buzzing around, from drones spraying seeds to planes equipped with LIDAR beams that assess the density and health of the canopy.

Not even the most sophisticated system can make a difference in isolation — observations of surreptitious logging are meaningless if there aren’t laws to protect the forests, and forces to intervene promptly when someone violates those laws.

When the right regulations are in place, keeping an ear out for illegal logging can ensure that conservation laws are put into practice.

The post Sensors Equipped With AI Could Thwart Illegal Deforestation appeared first on Futurism.

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German court says Facebook’s real name policy is illegal

A German court ruled that Facebook’s real name policy is illegal and that users must be allowed to sign up for the service under pseudonyms to comply with a decade-old privacy law. The ruling, made last month but only now being announced, comes from the Berlin Regional Court and was detailed today by the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (abbreviated from German as VZBV), which filed the lawsuit against Facebook.

Facebook says it will appeal the ruling, but also that it will make changes to comply with European Union privacy laws coming into effect in June, according to Reuters. “We are working hard to ensure that our guidelines are clear and easy to understand, and that the services offered by Facebook are in full accordance…

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The UK is testing new ‘stop and scan’ powers to fingerprint criminals and illegal immigrants

Police in the UK are trialling a new “stop and scan” power, which lets them check the fingerprints of unknown individuals against national criminal and immigration databases.

Officers will be able to stop anyone when an offense is suspected and scan their fingerprints using a mobile device if the individual cannot otherwise identify themselves. The scanners will check fingerprints against 12 million biometric records held in two databases: IDENT1, which contains the fingerprints of people taken into custody, and IABS, which contains the fingerprints of foreign citizens, recorded when they enter the UK.

Speaking to Wired UK, project manager Clive Poulton, who is helping oversee the trials for the Home Office, said: “[Police] can now…

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Study: 44% of bitcoin transactions are for illegal activities


The odds are about one in four that the crypto fanatic in your office is involved in illegal activities. After conducting a study of historical bitcoin transaction data an Australian research group concluded: We find approximately one-quarter of bitcoin users and one-half of bitcoin transactions are associated with illegal activity. Around $ 72 billion of illegal activity per year involves bitcoin, which is close to the scale of the US and European markets for illegal drugs. And that $ 72 billion? Here’s a bone for you conspiracy theory types: Business Insider reports Bitcoin has lost $ 72 billion in value since the beginning…

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Washington state bill would make hard-to-repair electronics illegal

A number of states are considering right to repair bills, legislation which if passed would make it easier for individuals and repair shops to replace or repair electronics parts. Repair.org reports that 17 states have already introduced bills this y…
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Qualcomm Ordered to Pay $1.2 Billion for ‘Illegal’ Apple Deal

Chip maker Qualcomm has been ordered to pay the European Commission €997 million ($ 1.2 billion) after forging an “illegal” sweetheart deal with Apple, according to the Telegraph.

Over the past few years, the semiconductor company has rewarded Apple for using its mobile network chips in products. But European politicians said this was an unfair practice.

Essentially, Qualcomm has been paying Apple to be its preferred supplier. This, according to the EU Commission, has put rival firms at a disadvantage.

Margrethe Vestager, the EU Competition Commissioner, slammed the deal. She explained that companies like Intel haven’t been able to compete with Qualcomm.

The deal is thought to have run from 2011 to 2016, and meant that Qualcomm could operate as the world’s most powerful mobile processor manufacturer.

Over this five-year period, Apple had kitted out all its iPhones and mobile connectivity-enabled iPads with Qualcomm processors.

At the same time, Qualcomm had a market share of 90 percent. However, in 2016, Apple cancelled the deal and began working with Intel as well as Qualcomm.

Documents obtained by European officials provide more detail into the workings of the deal. They show that Qualcomm threatened to halt payments to Apple if it considered other companies.

Vestager said this deal broke European laws : “Qualcomm illegally shut out rivals from the market for LTE baseband chipsets for over five years, thereby cementing its market dominance,” Ms Vestager said.

“This meant that no rival could effectively challenge Qualcomm in this market, no matter how good their products were.

“Qualcomm’s behaviour denied consumers and other companies more choice and innovation – and this in a sector with a huge demand and potential for innovative technologies.”

Qualcomm is planning to fight the ruling. Don Rosenberg, general counsel of the firm, said: “We are confident this agreement did not violate EU competition rules or adversely affect market competition or European consumers.

“We have a strong case for judicial review and we will immediately commence that process.”

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