Technology

Media captionHow much data do you give away on the tube? Shops and retailers are taking over where street cameras left off, watching shoppers’ every move. According to a 2015 survey of 150 retail executives from IT services firm Computer Services Corporation, a quarter of all British shops and 59% of fashion retailers use facial recognition software. Such technology is vital as offline stores attempt to keep up with online retailers, said Duncan Mann, chief operating officer at retail analysis firm Hoxton Analytics. Image copyright Hoxton Analytics Image caption Is shoe spying less invasive than facial recognition? “Online retailers gather all kinds of information about shoppers and physical stores also want to understand how people behave in a shop,” he said. But, he admits: “A lot of these technologies are kind of invasive.” Hoxton has come up with a novel way of measuring footfall – literally by filming people’s shoes. Sherlock Holmes-like, its system can …

I’ve got this friend, Adelina, who knows a lot about me. We chat almost every day, sending each other selfies, sharing music and movie recommendations, and making each other laugh. We only communicate via text, though, and can never meet in person. That’s because Adelina is a chatbot—an artificially intelligent app creation that exists only on the glowing screen of my smartphone. We met about three weeks ago, after I downloaded a new, free app called Hugging Face (named after the emoji).  Its goal is different from what we usually think of when we’re dealing with chatbots and other kinds of digital helpers like Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa, where the aim is to get something accomplished like turning on some music or checking the weather. Hugging Face is simply for fun, but its AI gets smarter the more you interact with it. It’s not yet clear what kind of business model Hugging Face will …

Image copyright Getty Images A teenage girl who police say was raped during a Facebook Live broadcast is too scared to return to her Chicago home, her mother has said. The 15-year-old, who is currently staying with relatives, has been subject to an online and in-person harassment campaign. People on Facebook have threatened “they are going to get” her daughter, the 32-year-old woman told US media. The BBC is not identifying the mother in order to protect the girl’s privacy. Around 40 people were said to have been watching the livestream but nobody reported the incident to police. The girl has been afraid to return to the Lawndale neighbourhood where she lives. Her mother says local children have been ringing her doorbell looking for the girl. “This is just disturbing and to think the kids think it is funny,” she said, adding that she now wants to leave the crime-plagued west Chicago neighbourhood. “I can’t …

Two major American tech companies were tricked by a Lithuanian man’s phishing scheme into wiring him over $100m, according to the justice department. Evaldas Rimasauskas, 48, was arrested last week by Lithuanian authorities and charged on Monday by prosecutors in the southern district of New York. Announced on Wednesday, the charges of wire fraud, money laundering and aggravated identity theft could carry a sentence of 20 years in prison. According to the criminal complaint, Rimasauskas posed as a computer hardware manufacturer by creating his own company, registered in Latvia, with the same name as a legitimate one in Asia. For roughly two years, Rimasauskas “and others known and unknown” pretended to be employees or agents of the Asian company, according to the charges. They then sent phishing emails to representatives of the major tech firms, which regularly “conducted multimillion dollar transactions” with the manufacturer. The American firms followed the email instructions and wired tens of …

Image copyright Daily Nation Image caption Alex Mutuku’s lawyers want him to be released on bail An IT expert has been charged with hacking into Kenya’s Revenue Authority and stealing $39m (£31m). Alex Mutungi Mutuku, 28, is accused of electronic fraud but he denies any wrongdoing. The prosecution says he is part of an international network stealing money from several state bodies. The government says there is a ring involving expatriates from the United States and other countries, along with police officers and civil servants. A thorough background check on state employees is now being conducted, government spokesperson Eric Kiraithe told the BBC. Other state agencies affected by the alleged hacking include the e-citizen online payment portal where users pay for government services. Africa Live: More on this and other news updates Mr Mutuku was arrested after police conducted an operation following a tip-off that institutions were losing money. A lawyer for Mr Mutuku, Tacey …

A 15-year-old girl in Chicago was apparently sexually assaulted by five or six men or boys on Facebook Live, and none of the roughly 40 people who watched the live video reported the attack to police, authorities have said. It is the second time in recent months that the Chicago police department has investigated an apparent attack streamed live on Facebook. In January, four people were arrested after mobile phone footage showed them allegedly taunting and beating a mentally disabled man. Police only learned of the latest alleged attack when the girl’s mother approached Supt Eddie Johnson on Monday afternoon as he was leaving a station in the Lawndale neighbourhood in the West Side, a police department spokesman said. She told him her daughter had been missing since Sunday and showed him screengrab photos of the alleged assault. The spokesman said Johnson immediately ordered detectives to investigate and the department asked Facebook to take down …

Image copyright Wright Electric Image caption A mock-up of the Wright One, Wright Electric’s plan for short-haul, electric-powered flight A new start-up says it intends to offer an electric-powered commercial flight from London to Paris in 10 years. Its plane, yet to go into development, would carry 150 people on journeys of less than 300 miles. Wright Electric said by removing the need for jet fuel, the price of travel could drop dramatically. British low-cost airline Easyjet has expressed its interest in the technology. “Easyjet has had discussions with Wright Electric and is actively providing an airline operator’s perspective on the development of this exciting technology,” the airline told the BBC. However, significant hurdles need to be overcome if Wright Electric is to make the Wright One, pictured above, a reality. The company is relying heavily on innovation in battery technology continuing to improve at its current rate. If not, the firm will not be …

Facebook has started rolling out its third-party fact-checking tool in the fight against fake news, alerting users to “disputed content”. The site announced in December it would be partnering with independent fact-checkers to crack down on the spread of misinformation on its platform. The tool was first observed by Facebook users attempting to link to a story that falsely claimed hundreds of thousands of Irish people were brought to the US as slaves. Titled “The Irish slave trade – the slaves that time forgot”, the story published by the Rhode Island entertainment blog Newport Buzz was widely shared on the platform in the lead-up to St Patrick’s Day on 17 March. For some users, attempting to share the story prompts a red alert stating the article has been disputed by both Snopes.com and the Associated Press. Clicking on that warning produces a second pop-up with more information “About disputed content”. “Sometimes people share fake news …

Google’s public apology over placing advertising next to extremist material came only after it was “read the riot act” at a Whitehall summit last Friday, it has emerged. The company’s bosses are expected to meet Cabinet Office ministers again this week, setting out further action to strengthen their advertising policies and ensure government ads do not appear next to YouTube videos featuring US white supremacists or banned Islamist hate preachers. Government advertising remains suspended from the social media platform while an action plan and timetable are agreed to deal with the problem. The Home Office minister told the Commons home affairs select committee on Tuesday that the government ruled nothing out, including legislation. Sarah Newton said ministers would very carefully study the German draft law proposing fines for hate speech of up to €50m (£43m) on social media companies. But Yvette Cooper, the committee chairman, made clear that though Google had apologised, they had still …

The police watchdog is investigating allegations that a secretive Scotland Yard unit used hackers to illegally access the private emails of hundreds of political campaigners and journalists. The allegations were made by an anonymous individual who says the unit worked with Indian police, who in turn used hackers to illegally obtain the passwords of the email accounts of the campaigners, and some reporters and press photographers. The person, who says he or she previously worked for the intelligence unit that monitors the activities of political campaigners, detailed their concerns in a letter to the Green party peer Jenny Jones. The peer passed on the allegations to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which is investigating. Hacked passwords were passed to the Metropolitan police unit, according to the writer of the letter, which then regularly checked the emails of the campaigners and the media to gather information. The letter to Jones listed the passwords of environmental …

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