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Google in $5bn lawsuit for tracking in 'private' mode

BBC News

Google has been sued in the US over claims it illegally invades the privacy of users by tracking people even when they are browsing in "private mode". The class action wants at least $5bn (£4bn) from Google and owner Alphabet. Many internet users assume their search history isn't being tracked when they view in private mode, but Google says this isn't the case. The search engine denies this is illegal and says it is upfront about the data it collects in this mode. The proposed class action likely includes "millions" of Google users who since 1 June 2016 browsed the internet in private mode according to law firm Boies Schiller Flexner who filed the claim on Tuesday in federal court in San Jose, California.

Supreme Court to rule on 'paedophile hunters' case

BBC News

A convicted paedophile who was snared by a vigilante group is to have his case examined at the UK Supreme Court. Judges at the UK's highest court will consider whether prosecutions based on the covert operations of "paedophile hunters" breach the right to privacy. Mark Sutherland, 37, believed he was communicating with a 13-year-old boy on the dating app Grindr. But in reality it was a 48-year-old man who was part of a group called Groom Resisters Scotland. The Supreme Court will hold a virtual hearing to consider the case and will issue its judgement later.

Apple releases iPhone update to patch 'Unc0ver' zero-day hack

The Independent - Tech

Apple has released a new version of its operating system, iOS 13.5.1, in order to provide "important security updates [that are] recommended for all users." It means Apple has patched the infamous "Unc0ver" jailbreak which allowed even the most recent iPhones to be compromised. Apple's security page states that the update was pushed out in order to stop software from "execut[ing] arbitrary code with kernel privileges" – which is how jailbreaking works. To "jailbreak" an iPhone means to remove the usual restrictions imposed by Apple, allowing users more control such as loading apps that are not available in Apple's App Store at the risk of lower device security. It was discovered that the Unc0ver jailbreak has been circulating on the internet since at least February, with some speculating that hackers and researchers had the code since December 2019.

BBC releases first beta of its Beeb voice assistant to UK Windows Insider members – TechCrunch


Back in August 2019, the BBC made some waves with the news that it was developing a voice assistant called Beeb, an English language "Alexa" of its own that could interact with and control its array of radio and TV services, and its on-demand catalogue, and able to understand the array of accents you find in across the BBC's national footprint to boot. Ten months on, it's releasing its first live version of the service in the form of a beta to a select group of early adopters: UK-based members of the Windows Insider Program, a beta-testing, bug-seeking, early-adopter group popular in the Windows community, with over 10 million users globally. The idea with the limited release beta -- according to Grace Boswood, COO of BBC Design and Engineering -- will be to get Insiders to try out various features and stress test Beeb in the early beta, while at the same time giving the BBC a trove of usage data that can help it continue to train Beeb further, ahead of a wider release. The BBC is not naming a date yet for the general release. When you are a member in the UK, you have to be using the latest release of Windows 10, and then you download Beeb BETA form the Windows App Store.)

Research finds some AI advances are over-hyped


Is it possible some instances of artificial intelligence are not as intelligent as we thought? Call it artificial artificial intelligence. A team of computer graduate students reports that a closer examination of several dozen information retrieval algorithms hailed as milestones in artificial research were in fact nowhere near as revolutionary as claimed. In fact, AI used in those algorithms were often merely minor tweaks of previously established routines. According to graduate student researcher Davis Blalock at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, after his team examined 81 approaches to developing neural networks commonly believed to be superior to earlier efforts, the team could not confirm that any improvement, in fact, was ever achieved.

Pentagon Taps Rescue Funds to Use AI for Virus Care, Vaccine - Bloomberg Government


The Defense Department is seeking to adapt artificial intelligence technology it uses to track down terrorists with drones or predict when aircraft need maintenance for a new purpose: screening and testing novel coronavirus treatments and vaccines. The Pentagon plans to boost existing programs with money Congress provided under the virus-relief CARES Act for the "development of artificial intelligence-based models to rapidly screen, prioritize, and test Food and Drug Administration approved therapeutics for new COVID-19 drug candidates." The AI funds would also be tapped for human test trials for vaccines and antibody based treatments, according to the spending plan the department submitted to congressional panels. Dick Durbin (Ill.), the Senate's No. 2 Democrat and ranking member on the Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, pressed for the plan's release. While the amount of money the Pentagon wants to use on these programs is small---close to $1 million--it shows some of the department's urgency to apply new technology to choke off the pandemic.

Govt Launches AI Website: How Will It Help India's Artificial Intelligence Industry?


The Indian government yesterday stated the National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Portal, formed by National Association of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom) and backed from National e-Governance Division of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), is now live. The portal's objective is to function as a one-stop platform for all AI-related advancements in India, with sharing of useful resources like articles, investment funding news for AI startup, AI companies and educational firms on AI in India. The portal will also distribute documents, case studies, research reports etc, and provide learning and new job roles related to AI. The portal brings together ideas and thought leadership from Indian government stakeholders including Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), NITI Aayog, NASSCOM, along with state governments. The National AI Portal INDIAai is now live!

Some essential reading and research on race and technology


At this extraordinary moment in U.S. history, the evils of racism are on full display. It's no secret that technology has played a role in enabling racism to foment and spread. This is an ideal time to read, listen, and learn. Below are many resources -- research, articles, and books -- that speak to the intersection of race and bias in technology, particularly in the field of AI. These are a starting point for the education that all responsible citizens should acquire.

Google's New Feature Offers Mental Health Support During COVID-19 Pandemic

International Business Times

As the nation fights the coronavirus pandemic, Google is offering a clinically certified questionnaire for those who are searching for information pertaining to anxiety. The new feature launched by the internet giant can be a novel tool to help address mental health concerns inflicted by the pandemic. Beginning May 28, users in the U.S. now have access to clinically approved information about symptoms and treatment options alongside a clinically certified self-assessment, reported Becker's Hospital Review. Partnering with the National Alliance on Mental Illnesses, Google now displays the questionnaire with 7 questions. Though the tool won't be collecting or sharing the users' results or answers, it will let people know how their self-reported anxiety levels compare to other respondents.

Grindr has removed its controversial ethnicity filters


The killing of George Floyd by police officers has spurred not only protests across the United States, but also -- often embarrassing -- responses from brands. The queer dating app Grindr offered its own statement on Twitter and Instagram on Monday, coinciding with the first day of Pride Month. They will take action including not only donating to both BLM and the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, but also by removing their ethnicity filters for their next app release: We will not be silent. "We will continue to fight racism on Grindr," the statement said, "both through dialogue with our community and zero-tolerance policy for racism and hate speech on our platform." A Grindr spokesperson told Mashable that racism has no place in their community.