Technology

Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Microsoft have created a joint forum to counter terrorism following years of criticisms that the technology corporations have failed to block violent extremists and propaganda on their platforms. The Silicon Valley companies announced the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism on Monday, saying the collaboration would focus on technological solutions, research and partnerships with governments and civic groups. The tech firms have long struggled to balance their missions of supporting free speech with the need to remove and prevent the spread of terrorist content. The companies have faced intense scrutiny over the way terrorist groups have used the site for recruitment and for spreading hateful and violent messages. As part of the new forum, the companies said they would share best practices regarding “content detection and classification techniques using machine learning” and “define standard transparency reporting methods for terrorist content removals”. Through a partnership with a United Nations counter-terrorism committee and …

A top Uber executive who reportedly obtained the medical records of a woman who was raped by her Uber driver was only fired after journalists learned of the incident, it emerged on Wednesday. According to reports on the tech website Recode and in the New York Times, Eric Alexander, the president of business for Uber Asia Pacific, obtained the medical records of the victim in a 2014 rape case that caused widespread outrage in India. An Uber spokesperson confirmed that Alexander was no longer with the company, but declined to comment further on the allegations. Alexander did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The rape case prompted Indian authorities to temporarily ban Uber in the capital city. Alexander reportedly traveled to India to investigate the matter and later shared the records with CEO Travis Kalanick and senior vice-president Emil Michael. The trio of executives reportedly cast doubt upon the victim’s account and suggested …

Image copyright Gallo Images Image caption Sony said sales had exceeded expectations Sony has sold more than one million virtual reality (VR) headsets, the company has said. President of Sony Interactive Entertainment Atsushi Morita said sales had “exceeded our expectations”. The headset, at $399 (£308), is cheaper than rival devices from Facebook and HTC. According to research company IDC, about two million VR headsets were shipped worldwide in the first three months of 2017. Mr Morita has high hopes for the technology. He said: “I believe that VR technology is the greatest innovation since the birth of television. “VR allows you to travel to World Heritage Sites or to space while staying at home. “It’s like a time machine or a door to anywhere.” There are two reasons why Sony is currently leading on VR, according to Piers Harding-Rolls, a gaming analyst at research company IHS Markit. “Sony PlayStation VR is leading sales in the …

Tesla’s chief executive Elon Musk has given preview of its upcoming Model Y small SUV and a so far nameless electric truck, as it prepares to deliver its first cheaper Model 3 electric saloons. During the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting, Musk released a teaser image of the Model Y, which will be available in the 2019-2020 time frame and follow on from its larger SUV, the Model X. Musk said the Model Y would use a new platform building on the improvements made to existing models. One of the new models to benefit from improvements since the original release of the Model S in 2012 is the more affordable Model 3, Tesla’s attempt at mass-market electric car. The Model 3 is expected to cost from $35,000 in the US, putting it in the same bracket as the BMW 3 series. Musk said that Model 3 production is on track to start next month, and that …

In a maximum security mental health facility in Montreal is a “cave-like” virtual reality vault that’s used to show images of child sexual abuse to sex offenders. Patients sit inside the vault with devices placed around their penises to measure signs of arousal as they are shown computer-generated animations of naked children. “We do develop pornography, but these images and animations are not used for the pleasure of the patient but to assess them,” said Patrice Renaud, who heads up the project at the Institut Philippe-Pinel. “It’s a bit like using a polygraph but with other measurement techniques.” The system, combined with other psychological assessments, is used to build up a profile of the individual’s sexual preferences that can be used by the court to determine the risk they pose to society and by mental health professionals to determine treatment. Not all child molesters are pedophiles (people who are sexually attracted to children) and not …

Image copyright Getty Images Uber has fired more than 20 people, and is taking other actions against staff, after a harassment investigation. The taxi-app firm said the sackings related to sexual harassment, bullying and issues about poor company culture. Uber has been under fire over its treatment of women staff since a former employee wrote a scathing blog post about her experience. It led to two investigations and the uncovering of 215 complaints about harassment and other allegations. Uber has struggled with a series of controversies in recent months, including a backlash over aggressive corporate tactics and a lawsuit from Google-owner Alphabet over allegedly stolen technology for self-driving cars. Several high-placed executives resigned amid the turbulence, including a former head of engineering, who had failed to disclose harassment complaints at his former employer. Chief executive Travis Kalanick’s filmed argument with an Uber driver over falling rates also fuelled criticism, leading him to say that he …

US intelligence officials believe Russian hackers planted a false news story that prompted Saudi Arabia and several allies to sever relations with Qatar, according to CNN. FBI experts visited Qatar in late May to analyse an alleged cyber breach that saw the hackers place the fake story with Qatar’s state news agency, the US broadcaster said. Saudi Arabia then cited the false report as part of its reason for instituting a diplomatic and economic blockade of Qatar, the report said. The blockade was joined by several other Gulf states and has spiralled into the worst diplomatic crisis for the region in decades. Qatar’s government said the 23 May news report attributed false remarks to the emirate’s ruler that appeared friendly to Iran and Israel, and questioned whether the US president, Donald Trump, would last in office, according to CNN. The Qatari foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, told the broadcaster that the FBI had …

Image copyright Getty Images Uber has fired more than 20 people after an internal investigation into harassment claims. The taxi-app firm has been under fire over its treatment of women in the workplace since a former employee wrote a scathing blog post about her experience. The post prompted the company to launch two investigations. Uber said the sackings related to sexual harassment, bullying and issues about poor company culture. Uber has struggled with a series of controversies in recent months, including a backlash over aggressive corporate tactics and a lawsuit from Google-owner Alphabet over allegedly stolen technology for self-driving cars. Several high-placed executives resigned amid the turbulence, including a former head of engineering, who had failed to disclose harassment complaints at his former employer. Chief executive Travis Kalanick’s filmed argument with an Uber driver over falling rates also fuelled criticism, leading him to say that he needed “leadership help”. Susan Fowler, who wrote the critical …

Image copyright AFP Image caption Paying for Amazon Prime gives customers access to the retailers’ online video services Amazon is to offer discounts on its Prime subscription service to Americans receiving financial aid from the US government. Instead of a monthly fee of $10.99 (£8.50), those eligible for the discounted rate will pay $5.99. Anyone receiving welfare payments or food stamps will be able to use the service at the reduced rate. Prime gives users free delivery on some products and allows them access to Amazon’s video streaming services. The move is widely seen as a way for Amazon to sharpen competition with rival Walmart, which currently has a significant chunk of its customers on government aid programmes. About 20% of Walmart’s customers are believed to pay for groceries with food stamps. Walmart also has the second-largest share of online sales in the US, after Amazon. To qualify for the discounted rate, customers will need …

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Kaspersky, whose headquarters are in Moscow, had previously complained to the Russian anti-monopoly watchdog Russian security software-maker Kaspersky has filed an anti-trust complaint against Microsoft with the European Commission. It claims that the software giant is abusing its market dominance by pushing Windows 10 users towards its own anti-virus software. The European Commission confirmed it had received the complaint. Microsoft said its security features “comply with competition laws”. In a statement, it said it would “answer any questions regulators may have”. “Microsoft’s primary objective is to keep customers protected,” it added. In its statement, Kaspersky said: “These actions by Microsoft lead to a lower level of protection for users, a limitation on their right to choose, and financial losses both for users and security solution manufacturers.” Kaspersky initially filed a complaint against Microsoft with Russia’s Federal Anti-monopoly Service (Fas). Since then, Microsoft has made some product changes, including to …

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