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A few weeks ago, we wrote about a troubling provision that the Senate Intelligence Committee had inserted into this year's intelligence authorization bill, which would require social networks to report to the government any "terrorist activity" they see on their systems. As we noted, this has all sorts of problems, and seems more designed to (1) generate headlines and (2) chill free speech than do anything useful. Thankfully, Senator Ron Wyden has put a hold on the bill specifically over this provision.
“There is no question that tracking terrorist activity and preventing online terrorist recruitment should be top priorities for law enforcement and intelligence agencies,” Wyden said, in a statement for the record today. “But I haven’t yet heard any law enforcement or intelligence agencies suggest that this provision will actually help catch terrorists, and I take the concerns that have been raised about its breadth and vagueness seriously.”

“Internet companies should not be subject to broad requirements to police the speech of their users,”Wyden continued.

But the issue goes even deeper than that. As Markham Erickson has written, there are significant free speech concerns raised by this provision, in large part because "terrorist activity" is not defined at all. Anywhere. It's just this vague term -- and given that companies may face liability for not reporting "terrorist activity" to the government, you can bet an awful lot of perfectly fine and protected speech is going to get reported. And that's worrisome.
A key problem with Section 603, however, is that the trigger for the reporting mandate is based on the vague and undefined term “terrorist activity.” This term is not a term of art in the US criminal code and arguably goes well beyond criminal activity to speech that is protected under the First Amendment.
Erickson also points out that the comparison that supporters have made of this bill to one that requires companies to report child porn, is that child porn is "per se unlawful and never protected speech" under the US Constitution. But "terrorist activity" is just vague.
The NCMEC reporting obligations, however, relate to images that are per se unlawful and are never protected speech under the US Constitution. A government mandate that an Internet company report facts and circumstances connected to the vague and overbroad term “terrorist activity” certainly would result in overbroad reporting to the government of speech that is protected under the First Amendment.
And, on top of that, this move would give other countries a blueprint for how to demand tech companies hand over information on users:
More troubling, if adopted, the provision would serve as a global template for other countries to impose reporting requirements for activities those jurisdictions deem unlawful. This would be particularly problematic with countries that regulate speech, including political speech, and with authoritarian regimes that would demand that Internet companies police their citizens’ activities.
And, finally, as noted, with such a vague term, and the threat of serious liability, companies are going to be pressured into serious over-reporting:
Section 603 also creates a practical compliance problem. Because no one knows the definition of “terrorist activity,” how does one counsel a client to establish a compliance protocol under the proposal?

Any company would be at risk that if it did not report “terrorist activity,” it could be liable if there were a subsequent event that resulted in loss of life, limb, or property. Likely, this would result in designing a protocol to over-report anything that could be considered “terrorist activity.” Given the massive scale of content shared and created on the Internet daily, this would result in reporting of items that are not likely to be of material concern to public safety and would create a “needle in the haystack” problem for law enforcement. This serves no one’s purposes and adds privacy concerns to the First Amendment concerns noted above.

This creates a perverse incentive for a company to avoid obtaining knowledge of any activity that would trigger the reporting requirement—the exact opposite of what the proponents of the legislation want. Yet, designing such an avoidance protocol is nearly impossible. If even one low-level employee received an over-the-transom email about a “terrorist activity,” knowledge of the activity can be imputed to the entire company – exacerbating the potential liability faced by an Internet company.

Of course, these days, it seems like most in the Senate go by headlines rather than actual understanding of the issues. Hopefully, at least this one time, they'll actually listen to Senator Wyden.
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Stephen Powelson recently flew his Phantom 3 drone over Tesla's battery factory in Fremont, California and recorded the flight. Almost as soon as he posted the video to a Tesla Motors Club forum, other commenters began warning Powelson of the legal trouble he might be in.

Powelson quickly assured concerned posters that Tesla employees had no problem with the video. In fact, he'd worked at the company for almost five years, until March of this year.

The video gives the viewer a sense of how big the factory is. At 5.3 million sq. feet, the Fremont facility is dwarfed by the proposed gigafactory that Tesla is building in Nevada, which is estimated to be about 10 million sq. feet when completed — one of the biggest in the world.

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On the heels of Homejoy’s failure, the fundamental “on-demand marketplace” model has come into question by investors, the media and even consumers. That questioning is very relevant, as there has been an overload of VC money that has been injected in the on-demand service platform space over the past few years ($4 billion-plus in 2014).

From an investor’s perspective, the fundamentals make sense — scalable products, revenue-generating from Day 1, intrinsic viral effects. Homejoy wasn’t any different.

Even Homejoy’s mission statement was clear and admirable — to give homeowners convenient and quality access to home cleaning (later expanding to other home-service verticals), all the while giving service professionals (“pros”) real work to help them become entrepreneurs.

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An anonymous reader writes: GasBuddy has been a popular iOS and Android app for the last 5 years used to find the cheapest place to get gas. According to the Google Play store, there are over 10 million installs (in additions to the installs from Apple and Amazon's appstores). Now that they have a large enough number of users, GasBuddy has updated their privacy policy to allow them to collect more information. Some highlights of the privacy policy changes include: only 10 days for new terms to take effect (previously users were given 30 days to review the changes); collection of "signal strength related to Wifi or Bluetooth functionality, temperature, battery level, and similar technical data"; and [a warning that the company] will not honor a web browser's "do not track" setting.
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Posted by on in Wired
Sonos_Photo_HeroProducts_47_LRG_White_CMYK SonosSonos makes objectively lovely speakers. But even the most compact, affordable, and unobtrusive model, the $199 Play:1, looks like what it is—a piece of consumer electronics. It comes in black or white with a metallic-gray grill, like just about every other tech gadget. But soon and for a limited time it will come in pristine white and murdered-out black. It’s a subtle—and subtly ingenious—move by the wireless-speaker maker. Because by coating the speakers entirely in a white or black matte finish (grill included), Sonos has vastly changed the look and feel of its Play:1 into a neutral, sculptural object that can fit into almost any interior space—a smart marketing strategy for Sonos, whose mission is to install a speaker in every room, whether it be furnished in midcentury modern or American colonial. But it’s also a lesson in the power of design to change the attitude of an product, even if, as in this case, it’s an exercise in re-skinning. Dipped in all-white or -black, the Play:1’s grill look more like a textile than metal, and the soft-touch coating feels like a matte glaze on porcelain. “It’s a little less consumer electronic,” says Tad Toulis, Sonos’ VP of product development. “It begins to feel a little more like a vase or a piece of ceramica.” In keeping with the design’s lower profile, even the logo has been toned down to be, according to Toulis, “subtle enough that it can be seen but not so subtle that’s invisible.” As with any Play:1, the limited editions have two custom drivers with dedicated amplifiers, but you’ll pay a slight premium for the new design—$250. Only 5,000 will be available on Sonos.com, starting Tuesday, July 21, at 10 a.m. CET for European buyers and 10 a.m. PT for U.S. and Canadian customers. Go Back to Top. Skip To: Start of Article.
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TwitterMore iOS users could find themselves seeing fewer stars and more hearts on Twitter.

Image: Ole Spata/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images/Associated Press

Some Android users since June have seen a small, but significant tweak to Twitter: more hearts and fewer stars. Now it's iOS users' turn.

The social network has begun rolling out an experimental feature to some iOS users that largely swaps out stars for hearts when users "favorite" or save tweets. However different users are seeing different things. For example, some report seeing hearts only in the Notifications area, while others are seeing the symbols pop up in their feeds, too.

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Don't forget to look up, mister. CBS News

Pro tip: Don't read this on your smartphone while walking -- unless you want the people behind you to become annoyed and get an uncontrollable urge to rip your phone out of your hand.

If you've ever been stuck behind someone who was strolling while staring at a screen, you know walking texters get around about as fast as a snail with a Samsung Galaxy. Now a study has stepped in to confirm the obvious, concluding that people who walk while texting move more slowly -- and even swerve.

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Posted by on in PCWorld

A federal appeals court has handed Microsoft a win against Google in a long-running lawsuit over patent licensing that was originally filed against Motorola in 2010.

A panel of three judges from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld a lower court ruling that set a licensing rate for some patents owned by Motorola that was significantly lower than the company had originally asked for.

The dispute began after Motorola sent a letter to Microsoft asking it to pay as much as $4 billion per year to license patents relating to the 802.11 standard that underpins Wi-Fi and the H.264 video encoding standard. Since then, Google purchased Motorola Mobility and its patent portfolio, including the patents at issue in this case. It then sold Motorola Mobility to Lenovo while retaining ownership of the patents.

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De-Mystifying the Dark Corners of Windows: The Registry, DLLs, and More Explained

If your Windows chops extend in any capacity beyond novice, you’ve no doubt encountered the ever-cryptic Windows Registry, DLL files, User Account Control, and other tools with seemingly dark and mysterious powers. Here, we’ll explain some of Windows’ most confusing features, so you know exactly what’s happening when you go to edit them.

Blast from the past is a weekly feature at Lifehacker in which we revive old, but still relevant, posts for your reading and hacking pleasure. In honor of the Windows 10 launch, we’re revisiting one of our favorite Windows explainers.

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A report on Friday floated more doom and gloom sales estimates for Apple Watch, noting a key component supplier ASE failed to meet its "break-even volume" of two million units per month in the second quarter. It also doesn't plan to reach that level in the third or fourth quarters.

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According to Bernstein Research analyst Mark Li, cited by The Wall Street Journal, a subsidiary of Taiwanese firm Advanced Semiconductor Engineering revealed the "disappointing" numbers during a recent conference call for investors. ASE is responsible for assembling Apple Watch's S1 system-in-package design. "The shortfall of Apple Watch is a disappointment," Li wrote in a research note. "We came in with a low expectation but below break-even still surprised us."It is unclear what role the ASE subsidiary, or ASE itself for that matter, plays in Apple's supply chain. While many of Apple's supply chain partners are well known, the intricate web of alliances — from smelters to chipmakers to assemblers and beyond — and inventory operations pose major obstacles to predicting sales with any accuracy. Apple CEO Tim Cook addressed the issue during the company's most recent earnings call, warning analysts not to draw conclusions from supplier reports as such information is but a small part of a much larger picture.Apple refuses to break out Apple Watch sales numbers to prevent competitors from gaining unwanted operational insight, and instead lumps the wearable in with iPod, Apple TV, Beats hardware and accessories in an "Other" accounting category. Interestingly, the segment turned a profit for the first time last quarter, the first to include Apple Watch, jumping 56 percent sequentially.Cook during Apple's conference call for the third fiscal quarter of 2015 dispelled reports that Apple Watch sales collapsed after what appeared to be strong initial demand, saying shipments have held steady and actually peaked in June. Despite Apple's assurances that Apple Watch is meeting internal expectations Wall Street saw the non-announcement as a miss. The reaction was a swift one that briefly sent AAPL stock tumbling even after the company posted yet another record quarter. Adding to the confusion are analysts who continually adjust their own wildly differing forecasts. Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster, for example, estimates Apple moved 2.5 million Watches last quarter and will ship the same amount for the upcoming three-month period. On the high side, Canalys believes Apple shipped 4.2 million units in the prior quarter. Noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who forecast some of the lowest estimates for Apple Watch, predicts Apple will ship 4 million units during the upcoming quarter. At this point analysts, pundits and mainstream media reports are extrapolating from supposition, hearsay and cherry-picked data to the detriment of readers and themselves.
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Posted by on in RE/Code

Yahoo said on Friday it agreed to buy fashion startup Polyvore to help drive traffic and strengthen its mobile and social offerings.

Yahoo, which did not disclose terms of the deal, said Polyvore will accelerate its “Mavens” growth strategy.

The company has been focusing on four areas — mobile, video, native advertising and social — which it calls Mavens, to drive user engagement and ad sales as it battles intense competition from Google and Facebook.

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Here's a Time Lapse View of the Drought Collected From Satellites

It’s been a common refrain in the Midwest this year: If only we could pipe all this rain to the West. But a new NASA visualization shows just how drastic the difference has been.

Last year, NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency launched a project called Global Precipitation Management that uses 12 satellites to create a precipitation map that spans the entire globe—according to NASA, that’s a first, and it allows scientists the vital data they need in studying global weather patterns. The system uses both microwave measurement and radar to figure out exactly how storm systems move across the globe—and even how these systems look in three dimensions, like this incredible 3D view of a typhoon.

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Zoolander

Marissa Mayer opened up the Yahoo warchest once again, and this time it was to buy the "leading social shopping site," Polyvore. Yahoo's purchasing the whole kit and caboodle from the sounds of it too with Mayer writing on her Tumblr page that it's acquiring not just the service, but the team that built it as well. She says the purchase will work to bolster Yahoo's digital content growth and that current CEO Jess Lee (apparently a Polyvore community member prior to joining the company proper) will report directly to her. And if you're a current Polyvore enthusiast yourself, it doesn't sound like too much should change aside from where current employees report for work -- we'll let you know if those turn out to be offices for ants.

[Image credit: Pink Cow Photography/Flickr]

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After months of anticipation, Windows 10 finally arrived this week, and our Computing Editor Matt Smith (also a self-proclaimed abacus expert) has been hands on from the beginning. Matt fills listeners in on the ins and outs of the new OS, and whether or not it would be enough to convince an Apple user to make the switch.

Have you heard of Luminor? It’s a paint-like substance that responds to electrical current, and a team of car customizers recently envisioned a creative new use for it: Slap it on a Lexus, strap up a driver with a wireless heart monitor, and all of the sudden you’ve got paint that changes colors and patterns based on your heartbeat. Will we see more automotive uses for it, or is this a one-time gimmick?

Amazon has been advocating the use of drone deliveries for quite some time, and now the company is taking it to another level. In meetings with NASA, Amazon has concocted a proposal for regulating drone versus human airspace. Oh, and Samsung is developing a selfie drone. And you thought selfie sticks were intrusive!

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We know at least one story about walking on water, and we've even seen a Chinese robot with this superpower, but now a team of engineers from Harvard and Korea's Seoul National University (SNU) has made the next leap and figured out how to build tiny robots that can also jump where most others sink.

By mimicking the mechanics of a familiar insect -- the water strider -- the team was able to create a small robot that can not only stride across the surface of water, but actually leap upward from it in much the same way as the actual bug.

Will our robot overlords be smaller than we thought? Seoul National University

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Can you find yourself under a red dot on this map?

NSA, via NBC News

NBC has released a 2014 slide from a secret NSA Threat Operations Center (NTOC) briefing—a map that shows the locations of "every single successful computer intrusion" by Chinese state-sponsored hackers over a five-year period. More than 600 US businesses and institutions were breached during that period.

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Star Wars Trivia Yoda

It’s quite the year to be a Star Wars fan! In celebration of Star Wars: the Force Awakens owning this month at San Diego Comic-Con, Geek.com is going to bring you a Star Wars trivia question for the entire month of July. No, not your easily Google-able Star Wars trivia either. We’ve assembled 31 questions from the new Disney canon and the old Legends continuity. Check out today’s final question, and answer it in the comments section.

Monday, we’ll post all the answers along with shoutout to each question’s first correct commenter.

You can find the previous questions at the “Star Wars Trivia” tag.

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Apple and BMW have in fact held talks about a potential Apple Car, but the German automaker has been reluctant to reach an agreement, as it is afraid it could just become a supplier to the world's largest company.

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Further details on Apple's alleged talks with BMW were revealed on Friday by Reuters. The news organization reaffirmed that Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook visited BMW's headquarters last year, and toured its Leipzig factory to see how it manufactures the i3 series.Apple's apparent interest in building a passenger car has earned reluctance in return from BMW, as the company is said to be taking a cautious approach.Executives from Apple were said to be particularly impressed by the fact that BMW "abandoned traditional approaches to car making" in developing the i3. Apple's top brass apparently indicated they were interested in taking a similar fresh approach to the automobile.Though nothing concrete came out of the meeting, a source told Reuters that negotiations between the two iconic companies could resume at some point in the future.German publication Manager Magazin was first to report on Apple's talks with BMW last week. It claimed that BMW's i3 commuter car would have served as the basis of an Apple-built vehicle.AppleInsider uncovered evidence that Apple was indeed conducting car-related research
The Titan team is alleged to involve
several hundred workers, and Apple has been accused of illegally poaching high-ranking executives from A123, a battery maker whose technology has been applied in high-performance electric vehicles.
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This Week On The TC Gadgets Podcast: Tesla, Windows 10, Top Gear, And OUYA | TechCrunch image
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