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How China Turned a Prize-Winning iPhone Hack Against the Uyghurs

Fri, 2021-05-07 00:02
An attack that targeted Apple devices was used to spy on China's Muslim minority -- and US officials claim it was developed at the country's top hacking competition. An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from an MIT Technology Review article: The Tianfu Cup offered prizes that added up to over a million dollars. [It was held in November 2018, shortly after the Chinese banned cybersecurity researchers from attending overseas hacking competitions.] The $200,000 top prize went to Qihoo 360 researcher Qixun Zhao, who showed off a remarkable chain of exploits that allowed him to easily and reliably take control of even the newest and most up-to-date iPhones. From a starting point within the Safari web browser, he found a weakness in the core of the iPhones operating system, its kernel. The result? A remote attacker could take over any iPhone that visited a web page containing Qixun's malicious code. It's the kind of hack that can potentially be sold for millions of dollars on the open market to give criminals or governments the ability to spy on large numbers of people. Qixun named it "Chaos." Two months later, in January 2019, Apple issued an update that fixed the flaw. There was little fanfare—just a quick note of thanks to those who discovered it. But in August of that year, Google published an extraordinary analysis into a hacking campaign it said was "exploiting iPhones en masse." Researchers dissected five distinct exploit chains they'd spotted "in the wild." These included the exploit that won Qixun the top prize at Tianfu, which they said had also been discovered by an unnamed "attacker." The Google researchers pointed out similarities between the attacks they caught being used in the real world and Chaos. What their deep dive omitted, however, were the identities of the victims and the attackers: Uyghur Muslims and the Chinese government. Shortly after Google's researchers noted the attacks, media reports connected the dots: the targets of the campaign that used the Chaos exploit were the Uyghur people, and the hackers were linked to the Chinese government. Apple published a rare blog post that confirmed the attack had taken place over two months: that is, the period beginning immediately after Qixun won the Tianfu Cup and stretching until Apple issued the fix. MIT Technology Review has learned that United States government surveillance independently spotted the Chaos exploit being used against Uyghurs, and informed Apple. (Both Apple and Google declined to comment on this story.) The Americans concluded that the Chinese essentially followed the "strategic value" plan laid out by Qihoo's Zhou Hongyi; that the Tianfu Cup had generated an important hack; and that the exploit had been quickly handed over to Chinese intelligence, which then used it to spy on Uyghurs. The US collected the full details of the exploit used to hack the Uyghurs, and it matched Tianfu's Chaos hack, MIT Technology Review has learned. (Google's in-depth examination later noted how structurally similar the exploits are.) The US quietly informed Apple, which had already been tracking the attack on its own and reached the same conclusion: the Tianfu hack and the Uyghur hack were one and the same. The company prioritized a difficult fix.

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Categories: Linux fréttir

Coinbase To Close San Francisco Offices For Good, Will Have No Headquarters

Thu, 2021-05-06 23:20
The biggest U.S. cryptocurrency exchange, Coinbase, has announced it will close its San Francisco offices for good. SFGate reports: The company -- founded in June 2012 by former Airbnb engineer Brian Armstrong -- has had a speedy rise to the top in the nascent crypto industry, though its practices have also sometimes stoked controversy. [...] Coinbase's 1,200 employees are now decentralizing, and the company will no longer have a physical headquarters at all. The announcement on Twitter on Wednesday that the company's Market Street offices would shutter next year wasn't a total shock. A year ago, Armstrong announced the company would be "remote first" and not have a specific headquarters. Coinbase say they will instead offer some smaller offices elsewhere, but didn't give details. "Closing our SF office is an important step in ensuring no office becomes an unofficial HQ and will mean career outcomes are based on capability and output rather than location," the company said in a statement. "Instead, we will offer a network of smaller offices for our employees to work from if they choose to."

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Microsoft Is Finally Ditching Its Windows 95-Era Icons

Thu, 2021-05-06 22:40
Microsoft is now planning to refresh the Windows 95-era icons you still sometimes come across in Windows 10. The Verge reports: Windows Latest has spotted new icons for the hibernation mode, networking, memory, floppy drives, and much more as part of the shell32.dll file in preview versions of Windows 10. This DLL is a key part of the Windows Shell, which surfaces icons in a variety of dialog boxes throughout the operating system. It's also a big reason why Windows icons have been so inconsistent throughout the years. Microsoft has often modernized other parts of the OS only for an older app to throw you into a dialog box with Windows 95-era icons from shell32.dll. Hopefully this also means Windows will never ask you for a floppy disk drive when you dig into Device Manager to update a driver. That era of Windows, along with these old icons, has been well and truly over for more than a decade now. These new changes are part of Microsoft's design overhaul to Windows 10, codenamed Sun Valley. "We're expecting to hear more about Sun Valley at Microsoft's Build conference later this month, or as part of a dedicated Windows news event," notes The Verge.

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Opposing PRO Act, Uber and Other Gig Companies Spend Over $1 Million Lobbying

Thu, 2021-05-06 22:02
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Intercept: Even as President Joe Biden called for Congress during his joint address last week to pass labor reform legislation, a slate of gig companies has spent over $1 million lobbying Congress to influence the PRO Act and other related issues in 2021 alone, according to newly released lobbying disclosures. Ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft and delivery apps DoorDash and Instacart spent at least $1,190,000 on 32 lobbyists to persuade members of Congress on the PRO Act, first quarter disclosure reports show. The bill, which the House of Representatives passed in early March, would allow many gig workers to unionize and make it harder for companies to union-bust, among other changes. Uber alone spent $540,000 in the first quarter of 2021 lobbying on "issues related to the future of work and the on-demand economy, possible anti-competitive activities that could limit consumers access to app-based technologies," the PRO Act, and other related labor issues. Lyft spent $430,000, DoorDash $120,000, and Instacart $100,000 on lobbying on the PRO Act and other issues, according to disclosures. The PRO Act would make the most pivotal changes to labor law since the 1970s. In addition to giving many gig workers the right to unionize, it would grant employees whistleblower protections and prohibit companies from retaliating against participants in strikes and other union-related activities. A 2019 report from Gallup commissioned by Intuit estimated that 17 percent of U.S. adults engaged in self-employment. These reforms threaten the profits of gig companies, which rely on a large and fluid group of independent contractors.

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Apple Offered Special App Store API Access To Hulu and Other Developers

Thu, 2021-05-06 21:25
App Store Vice President Matt Fischer is on the stand answering questions from Apple and Epic lawyers, and one of the emails shared as evidence confirms that Apple has established special deals with major app developers like Hulu. From a report: In 2018, a tweet from developer David Barnard commented about App Store subscriptions being automatically cancelled through the StoreKit API, questioning why there hadn't been more offers to swap billing away from the App Store. Matt Fischer asked Cindy Lin about it, and she explained that Hulu is a developer with special access to a subscription cancel/refund API. Hulu is part of the set of whitelisted developers with access to subscription cancel/refund API. Back in 2015 they were using this to support instant upgrade using a 2 family setup, before we had subscription upgrade/downgrade capabilities built in. Apple does not further detail who other developers with special access might have been in the correspondence, but these are not features that all developers have access to. Apple has long said that the App Store provides a "level playing field" that treats all apps in the App Store the same with one set of rules for everybody and no special deals or special terms, but it's clear that some apps are indeed provided with special privileges.

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Google Play's App Listings Will Require Privacy Info Next Year, Just Like the App Store

Thu, 2021-05-06 20:45
Starting next year, apps on Google Play will show details about what data they collect, as well as other information about their privacy and security practices, in a new safety section in their listing. From a report: The announcement comes just a few months after Apple started displaying similar privacy information in the App Store. In the same way Apple's policy covers both its own apps and those developed by third parties, Google says its first-party apps will also be required to provide this information. According to Google, the initiative is meant to "help people understand the data an app collects or shares, if that data is secured, and additional details that impact privacy and security." The section will detail what user data an app has access to (like location, contacts, or personal info like an email address), but Google says it also wants to let developers give context to explain how it's used and what it means for their apps' functionality. In particular, Google says apps will give information about whether data is encrypted, whether they comply with Google's policies around apps aimed at children, and whether users can opt out of data sharing. Google says the information will also highlight whether a third party has verified the app's safety section, and whether users can request that their data be deleted. The new policy won't come into effect for several months, and Google says this should give developers enough time to implement the changes.

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Biden Backs Waiving International Patent Protections For COVID-19 Vaccines

Thu, 2021-05-06 20:00
President Biden threw his support behind a World Trade Organization proposal earlier this week to waive intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines, clearing a hurdle for vaccine-strapped countries to manufacture their own vaccines even though the patents are privately held. From a report: "This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures," U.S. trade representative Katherine Tai said in a statement. "The Administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for COVID-19 vaccines." The pace of vaccinating against COVID-19 in the U.S. is slowing down. In some places, there are more vaccine doses than people who want them. Meanwhile, India is now the epicenter of the pandemic, and just 2% of its population is fully vaccinated. The WTO is considering a proposal to address that inequity, as India, South Africa and over 100 other nations advocate to waive IP rights for COVID-19 vaccines and medications, which could let manufacturers in other countries make their own.

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Broadband Companies Paid For 8.5 Million Fake Net Neutrality Comments, New York AG Reports

Thu, 2021-05-06 19:22
The Office of the New York Attorney General said in a new report that a campaign funded by the broadband industry submitted millions of fake comments supporting the 2017 repeal of net neutrality. wiggles shares a report: The Federal Communications Commission's contentious 2017 repeal undid Obama-era rules that barred internet service providers from slowing or blocking websites and apps or charging companies more for faster speeds to consumers. The industry had sued to stop these rules during the Obama administration but lost. The proceeding generated a record-breaking number of comments -- more than 22 million -- and nearly 18 million were fake, the attorney general's office found. It has long been known that the tally included fake comments. One 19-year-old in California submitted more than 7.7 million pro-net neutrality comments. The attorney general's office did not identify the origins of another "distinct group" of more than 1.6 million pro-net neutrality comments, many of which used mailing addresses outside the U.S. A broadband industry group, called Broadband for America, spent $4.2 million generating more than 8.5 million of the fake FCC comments. Half a million fake letters were also sent to Congress.

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Netflix is Exploring Developing 'N-Plus'

Thu, 2021-05-06 18:43
Custom TV show playlists? In memoriam pages? They're all things that Netflix is weighing for "N-Plus," a project it describes as a "future online space where you can learn more about the Netflix shows and things related to them." From a report: In a survey sent to users, including Protocol reporter Biz Carson, Netflix queried people about a wide range of features and content, including podcasts, user-generated playlists, how-tos and more. "N-Plus is a future online space where you can learn more about the Netflix shows you love and anything related to them," the survey said. Contacted by Protocol, a Netflix spokesperson said that the survey was part of regular efforts to poll its audience on things the company was exploring, but said that it didn't have anything further to share for now. Netflix has long produced behind-the-scenes interviews, podcasts and other supporting content to promote its originals, and shared it through YouTube, Instagram and other platforms; examples for this include its Netflix Family Instagram account or Strong Black Lead Twitter following. The survey now suggests that the company may double down on those promotional efforts, while also adding some additional social features.

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Amazon Drivers Are Instructed To Drive Recklessly To Meet Delivery Quotas

Thu, 2021-05-06 18:00
Amazon delivery companies around the United States are encouraging reckless and dangerous driving by ordering delivery drivers to shut off an app called Mentor that Amazon uses to monitor drivers' speed and give them a safety score to prevent accidents. Drivers say they are being ordered to turn the app off by their bosses so that they can speed through their delivery routes in order to hit Amazon's delivery targets. From a report: Sign out of Mentor if you haven't already," an dispatcher at an Amazon delivery company texted a delivery driver at DDT2, an Amazon warehouse in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan a little after noon on a day in March, according to a screenshot obtained by Motherboard. This was less than five hours into his 10-hour shift. "Starting tomorrow everyone needs to be logged into Mentor for at least 2 hours no more no less, so make sure that's one of the first things we're doing in the mornings," a dispatcher at DAT2, an Amazon delivery station in the suburbs of Atlanta told drivers who work 10-hour shifts in a group chat in May 2020. Mentor is a smartphone app made by a company called eDriving, which partners with Amazon to monitor the driving behaviors of delivery drivers at Amazon Delivery Service Partners, which are quasi-independent companies who are contracted by Amazon to deliver packages in Amazon-branded vans. Using sensors in a driver's smartphone, Mentor collects information about a driver's acceleration, braking, cornering, and speeding. It also detects "phone distraction" based on how much a driver is using their phone outside of the Mentor app. It then gives drivers a "FICO Safe Driving Score" in order to "objectively measure how safe a driver is." Amazon ties driver bonuses to several metrics, including a delivery worker's driving score.

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Google Will Automatically Enroll Users in Two-Factor Authentication Soon

Thu, 2021-05-06 17:21
Most security experts agree that two-factor authentication (2FA) is a critical part of securing your online accounts. Google agrees, but it's taking an extra step: It's going to automatically sign Google account holders up for two-factor accounts. From a report: In a way, Google sees two-factor authentication as a replacement for passwords, which Mark Risher, Google's director of product management for identity and user security, in a statement called "the single biggest threat to your online security." Because they're easy to steal and hard to remember, users will end up reusing passwords. If stolen, they can be used to unlock multiple user accounts, adding to the risk. Google already uses 2FA to secure accounts, but it's been optional until now. According to Risher, Google will start "automatically enrolling users in 2SV [what Google calls 2FA] if their accounts are appropriately configured." However, Google said that users would be given an opportunity to opt out, too.

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Study: Using Apple's Night Shift To Improve Your Sleep? Don't Bother

Thu, 2021-05-06 16:41
Researchers at Brigham Young University conducted a study to see how much blue-light-reducing features like Apple's Night Shift improve sleep quality. Their conclusion? Night Shift doesn't help at all. From a report: In the study, which was published in Sleep Health, the BYU researchers assessed the sleep quality of 167 young adults, asking each to wear a wrist accelerometer before sleep. Participants were randomly assigned three conditions regarding iPhone use before bed: one group didn't use their iPhones at all, one group used their iPhones without Night Shift enabled, and another group used their iPhones with Night Shift enabled. "There were no significant differences in sleep outcomes across the three experimental groups," the researchers concluded. For individuals who slept more than 6.8 hours per night, there was some improvement in sleep quality for those who did not use their smartphones at all. But Night Shift didn't have a significant impact, and there was no difference between those who used smartphones and those who didn't when the amount of sleep was less than 6.8 hours per night. "This suggests that when you are super tired, you fall asleep no matter what you did just before bed... the sleep pressure is so high, there is really no effect of what happens before bedtime," said Chad Jensen, one of the researchers.

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Global Heating Pace Risks 'Unstoppable' Sea Level Rise as Antarctic Ice Sheet Melts

Thu, 2021-05-06 16:01
The current pace of global heating risks unleashing "rapid and unstoppable" sea level rise from the melting of Antarctica's vast ice sheet, a new research paper has warned. From a report: Unless planet-heating emissions are swiftly reduced to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement, the world faces a situation where there is an "abrupt jump" in the pace of Antarctic ice loss around 2060, the study states, fueling sea level rise and placing coastal cities in greater peril. "If the world warms up at a rate dictated by current policies we will see the Antarctic system start to get away from us around 2060," said Robert DeConto, an expert in polar climate change at the University of Massachusetts and lead author of the study. "Once you put enough heat into the climate system, you are going to lose those ice shelves, and once that is set in motion you can't reverse it." DeConto added: "The oceans would have to cool back down before the ice sheet could heal, which would take a very long time. On a societal timescale it would essentially be a permanent change." This tipping point for Antarctica could be triggered by a global temperature rise of 3C (5.4F) above the preindustrial era, which many researchers say is feasible by 2100 under governments' current policies. The new research, published in Nature, finds that ice loss from Antarctica would be "irreversible on multi-century timescales" should this happen, helping raise the world's oceans by 17cm to 21cm (6.69in to 8.27in) by the end of the century.

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Twitter Begins To Show Prompts Before People Send 'Mean' Replies

Thu, 2021-05-06 15:21
Nasty replies on Twitter will require a little more thought to send. From a report: The tech company said it is releasing a feature that automatically detects "mean" replies on its service and prompts people to review the replies before sending them. "Want to review this before Tweeting?" the prompt asks in a sample provided by the San Francisco-based company. Twitter users will have three options in response: tweet as is, edit or delete. The prompts are part of wider efforts at Twitter and other social media companies to rethink how their products are designed and what incentives they may have built in to encourage anger, harassment, jealousy or other bad behavior. Facebook-owned Instagram is testing ways to hide like counts on its service.

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An Estimated 30% of All Smartphones Vulnerable To New Qualcomm Bug

Thu, 2021-05-06 14:41
Around a third of all smartphones in the world are believed to be affected by a new vulnerability in a Qualcomm modem component that can grant attackers access to the device's call and SMS history and even audio conversations. From a report: The vulnerability -- tracked as CVE-2020-11292 -- resides in the Qualcomm mobile station modem (MSM), a chip that allows devices to connect to mobile networks. First designed in the early 90s, the chip has been updated across the years to support 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G cellular communications and has slowly become one of the world's most ubiquitous technologies, especially with smartphone vendors. Devices that use Qualcomm MSM chips today include high-end smartphone models sold by Google, Samsung, LG, Xiaomi, and OnePlus, just to name a few. But in a report published today by Israeli security firm Check Point, the company said its researchers found a vulnerability in Qualcomm MSM Interface (QMI), the protocol that allows the chip to communicate with the smartphone's operating system. Researches said that malformed Type-Length-Value (TLV) packets received by the MSM component via the QMI interface could trigger a memory corruption (buffer overflow) that can allow attackers to run their own code.

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IBM Creates First 2nm Chip

Thu, 2021-05-06 14:00
An anonymous reader shares a report: Every decade is the decade that tests the limits of Moore's Law, and this decade is no different. With the arrival of Extreme Ultra Violet (EUV) technology, the intricacies of multipatterning techniques developed on previous technology nodes can now be applied with the finer resolution that EUV provides. That, along with other more technical improvements, can lead to a decrease in transistor size, enabling the future of semiconductors. To that end, today IBM is announcing it has created the world's first 2 nanometer node chip. Just to clarify here, while the process node is being called '2 nanometer,' nothing about transistor dimensions resembles a traditional expectation of what 2nm might be. In the past, the dimension used to be an equivalent metric for 2D feature size on the chip, such as 90nm, 65nm, and 40nm. However with the advent of 3D transistor design with FinFETs and others, the process node name is now an interpretation of an 'equivalent 2D transistor' design. Some of the features on this chip are likely to be low single digits in actual nanometers, such as transistor fin leakage protection layers, but it's important to note the disconnect in how process nodes are currently named. Often the argument pivots to transistor density as a more accurate metric, and this is something that IBM is sharing with us. Today's announcement states that IBM's 2nm development will improve performance by 45% at the same power, or 75% energy at the same performance, compared to modern 7nm processors. IBM is keen to point out that it was the first research institution to demonstrate 7nm in 2015 and 5nm in 2017, the latter of which upgraded from FinFETs to nanosheet technologies that allow for a greater customization of the voltage characteristics of individual transistors. IBM states that the technology can fit '50 billion transistors onto a chip the size of a fingernail.' We reached out to IBM to ask for clarification on what the size of a fingernail was, given that internally we were coming up with numbers from 50 square millimeters to 250 square millimeters. IBM's press relations stated that a fingernail in this context is 150 square millimeters. That puts IBM's transistor density at 333 million transistors per square millimeter (MTr/mm^2).

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Researchers Create Free-Floating Animated Holograms

Thu, 2021-05-06 13:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: Back in 2018, researchers from Brigham Young University demonstrated a device called an Optical Trap Display that used lasers to create free-floating holographic images that don't need a display. That same team is now demonstrating a new technique that allows those holographic images to be animated: goodbye TVs, hello holodecks. Most 3D holograms require a special screen to be displayed, and even then the 3D effect is limited to a small field of view. Images genuinely look like they exist in 3D space, but step to the side and suddenly you see nothing at all. The approach taken by the researchers at Brigham Young University is radically different. Screens are replaced by lasers: an invisible one that manipulates a tiny opaque particle floating in the air, and a visible one that illuminates the particle with different colors as it travels through a pre-defined path, creating what appears to be a floating image to a human observer. Unlike the restricted viewing angle of traditional holograms, an observer can see these free-floating Optical Trap Display images from any angle and can walk all the way around them without the 3D effect disappearing because the floating images are actually drawn in 3D space. Three years of improving the technology used in the Optical Trap Displays has now allowed the BYU researchers to take the effect to the next step with animations that play out in front of an observer's eyes in real-time. The team demonstrated the amazing effect with tiny recreations of Star Trek spaceships engaged in a mid-air photon torpedo battle (complete with simulated explosions that look like vector animations straight out of Tron) and even miniature versions of Obi-Wan and Darth Vader dueling with glowing lightsabers made from actual lasers. The researchers have even come up with ways to track the movements of a real-life object and make the free-floating holograms appear to interact with its movements, like an animated stick figure character walking across a human finger. Using optical tricks like playing with perspective and parallax motions, the holograms could even be made to appear much larger than they really are when projected in front of a pair of eyes, so there are some potentially interesting applications when it comes to making viable smart glasses.

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Sony Discontinues Its Last DSLRs

Thu, 2021-05-06 10:00
After helping make mirrorless dominant, Sony appears to have quietly stopped selling its A-mount DSLR cameras. Engadget reports: As first seen by SonyAlpha Rumors, the A68, A99 II and A77 II have been removed from Sony's website and are listed as "no longer available" from camera specialists B&H Photo Video. It's been pretty clear that Sony was no longer interested in making DSLRs (Sony's term is DSLT due to the fixed translucent mirrors), because the last model announced was the 42-megapixel A99 II way back in 2016. The only announcement of late was an adapter that would allow E-mount camera owners to use A-mount lenses. Meanwhile, Sony has drastically ramped up the features and number of mirrorless models, both in the full-frame and APS-C sensor categories. That has culminated in models like the 61-megapixel A7R IV high-res model, 12-megapixel A7S III for video and the hybrid, 50-megapixel A1 that does everything well. At the same time, rivals like Canon have made big steps with mirrorless models like the EOS R5, while also paring back on DSLR products.

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Starlink Satellite Internet Service Gets 500K Preorders

Thu, 2021-05-06 07:00
SpaceX has received more than 500,000 preorders for its Starlink satellite internet service and anticipates no technical problems meeting the demand, founder Elon Musk said on Tuesday. Reuters reports: "Only limitation is high density of users in urban areas," Musk tweeted, responding to a post from a CNBC reporter that said the $99 deposits SpaceX took for the service were fully refundable and did not guarantee service. SpaceX has not set a date for Starlink's service launch, but commercial service would not likely be offered in 2020 as it had previously planned. The company plans to eventually deploy 12,000 satellites in total and has said the Starlink constellation will cost it roughly $10 billion.

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Oxford Study Finds No Link Between Technology Use and Mental-Health Problems

Thu, 2021-05-06 03:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC: There remains "little association" between technology use and mental-health problems, a study of more than 430,000 10 to 15-year-olds suggests. The Oxford Internet Institute compared TV viewing, social-media and device use with feelings of depression, suicidal tendencies and behavioral problems. It found a small drop in association between depression and social-media use and TV viewing, from 1991 to 2019. There was a small rise in that between emotional issues and social-media use. "We couldn't tell the difference between social-media impact and mental health in 2010 and 2019," study co-author Prof Andrew Przybylski. said. "We're not saying that fewer happy people use more social media. We're saying that the connection is not getting stronger." The paper is published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science.

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