Core blimey, Intel's answer to AMD and Ampere's cloudy chips has 288 of them

The Register - Wed, 09/20/2023 - 11:45
And they're all tailored for efficiency

Intel now says its "Sierra Forest" Xeons will actually offer 288 cores, twice as many as previously disclosed, when it launches in the first half of 2024.…

Categories: Tech News

French drillers may have stumbled upon a mammoth hydrogen deposit

ARS Technica - Wed, 09/20/2023 - 11:30
Image of a vertical metal frame surrounded by equipment.

Enlarge / The site of the borehole where hydrogen deposits have been found. (credit: Joey Ingelhart)

On the outskirts of the small town of Folschviller in eastern France stand three nondescript sheds. One of these temporary structures has recently become a hive of activity due to a continuous stream of visitors, including scientists, journalists, and the public.

The shed sits above a borehole first drilled in 2006 and houses a gas measurement system called SysMoG, which was originally developed to determine the underground methane concentration. While the device did detect almost pure methane (99 percent) at a depth of 650 meters, probing further down, the borehole resulted in an unexpected and surprising discovery: hydrogen in high concentration. “At 1,100 meters, the concentration of dissolved hydrogen is 14 percent. At 3,000 meters, the estimated concentration could be as high as 90 percent,” Jacques Pironon, director of research at GeoRessources lab at the Université de Lorraine, said.

Based on the estimates of methane resources and the concentration of hydrogen detected so far, scientists have conjectured that the Lorraine region in eastern France, of which Folschviller is a part, could contain 46 million tons of white—or naturally produced—hydrogen. That would make it one of the world’s largest known hydrogen deposits.

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FCC plays whack-a-mole with telcos accused of profiting from robocalls

ARS Technica - Wed, 09/20/2023 - 11:25
Illustration of a robot wearing a headset for talking on the phone.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Thamrongpat Theerathammakorn)

A suspicious phone company is on the verge of having all its calls blocked by US-based telcos after being accused of ignoring orders to investigate and block robocalls.

One Owl Telecom is a US-based gateway provider that routes phone calls from outside the US to consumer phone companies such as Verizon. "Robocalls on One Owl's network apparently bombarded consumers without their consent with prerecorded messages about fictitious orders," the Federal Communications Commission said yesterday.

On August 1, the FCC sent One Owl a Notification of Suspected Illegal Robocall Traffic ordering it to investigate robocall traffic identified by USTelecom's Industry Traceback Group, block all of the identified traffic within 14 days, and "continue to block the identified gateway traffic as well as substantially similar traffic on an ongoing basis."

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Intel’s biggest laptop CPU update in years is a huge departure from past designs

ARS Technica - Wed, 09/20/2023 - 11:16
An Intel Meteor Lake processor, which will come to market under the "Core" and "Core Ultra" banners later this year.

Enlarge / An Intel Meteor Lake processor, which will come to market under the "Core" and "Core Ultra" banners later this year. (credit: Intel)

Intel’s next-generation Meteor Lake laptop processors are nearing release—the company announced this week that the first processors will launch on December 14. It’s unclear whether actual Core and Core Ultra systems will be available to buy on that date, but at a bare minimum, the official announcement will pave the way to many laptop announcements at CES in January.

We already know a lot of basic facts about Meteor Lake; it uses a combination of chiplets manufactured by both Intel and TSMC rather than a single monolithic die, and it will mark the retirement of Intel’s “nth-generation” and i3/i5/i7/i9 branding. We also know that it won’t be ready for desktops and that the next round of Core desktop CPUs will be very similar to the 12th- and 13th-generation chips.

But at Intel's Innovation event this week, the company dove a little deeper into some of Meteor Lake’s advancements, describing more about how the chips would balance E-cores and P-cores and announcing its most substantial integrated GPU upgrade in years. We’ll hit some highlights below, though it’s worth watching or reading the full presentation to find out more.

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Neuralink's looking for participants willing to be part of human trials

The Register - Wed, 09/20/2023 - 11:00
Musk company gets FDA's OK for six-year assessment of its brain implants

That was fast: Neuralink, Elon Musk's brain-computer interface implant company, only received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for human tests in late May, but it's already looking for participants in its first six-year trial program.…

Categories: Tech News

Musk’s Neuralink seeks volunteers for brain implants—who’s in?

ARS Technica - Wed, 09/20/2023 - 10:35
Image of a mannequin on a reclining table, with equipment surrounding its head.

Enlarge / An on-stage demo of the surgical robot. That could be you. (credit: Neuralink)

After years of delays, regulatory rejections, and allegations of animal abuse, Elon Musk's brain-computer interface company, Neuralink, is now recruiting its first human volunteers to have an experimental robot implant an experimental device directly into their brains.

In a blog post Tuesday, the company announced that an independent institutional review board and an unnamed hospital site granted approval for the trial to start recruiting volunteers.

Neuralink says it aims to enroll people with quadriplegia due to a spinal cord injury or ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). Volunteers will have a wireless brain-computer interface implant, dubbed N1, surgically embedded into their brains by the company's experimental surgical robot, R1. The implant device is said to have 1,024 electrodes distributed across 64 threads thinner than a human hair. After R1 inserts the threads into the appropriate brain region, the electrodes are designed to record neural activity related to movement intention, and an experimental app from the company will decode the signals. The goal of the N1 implantation is to allow trial participants to control a computer cursor or keyboard using only their thoughts. This trial will primarily evaluate safety, but also get a glimpse of efficacy, Neuralink says.

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Pot calls the kettle hack as China claims Uncle Sam did digital sneak peek first

The Register - Wed, 09/20/2023 - 10:06
Beijing accuses US of breaking into Huawei servers in 2009

The ongoing face-off between Washington and Beijing over technology and security issues has taken a new twist, with China accusing the US of hacking into the servers of Huawei in 2009 and conducting other cyber-attacks to steal critical data.…

Categories: Tech News

Dealmaster: Early Amazon Prime Big Deal Days sales continue, Garmin deals, and more

ARS Technica - Wed, 09/20/2023 - 10:01
amazon prime day is here


Garmin's new Vivoactive 5 smartwatch just dropped, promising better battery life than its predecessors. The watch is also launching at a lower $300 price, making it more affordable and a better deal compared to the Vivoactive 4 series at launch. But if you don't need all the features of the Vivoactive 5, we have some slightly older Garmin watches at a discount in this latest Dealmaster. In addition to wearables, we have more early deals from Amazon's Prime Big Deal Days event, savings on Lenovo laptops and Apple MacBooks, Tempur-Pedic ergonomic office chairs, DeWalt tools, and more tech gear!

Garmin watches The interchangeable bands extend the life of the device while also letting you customize its look and feel.

The interchangeable bands extend the life of the device while also letting you customize its look and feel. (credit: Valentina Palladino)

  • Garmin Vivoactive 4 45mm for $298 (was $350) at Best Buy
  • Garmin Instinct 2X Solar Smartwatch 50 mm for $425 (was $450) at Best Buy
  • Garmin Venu 2 45 mm for $298 (was $350) at Best Buy
  • Garmin Instinct Crossover Solar, Tactical Edition 45mm for $510 (was $900) at Best Buy
  • Garmin Venu Sq 33mm for $118 (was $150) at Best Buy
  • Garmin Forerunner 745 30mm for $425 (was $500) at Best Buy
  • Garmin Venu Sq Music Edition 33mm for $212 (was $250) at Best Buy
  • Garmin Forerunner 45 42mm for $145 (was $170) at Best Buy
  • Garmin Venu 2S 40 mm for $320 (was $350) at Best Buy
  • Garmin Venu Sq 2 Music Edition 40mm for $288 (was $300) at Best Buy
  • Garmin Forerunner 245 Music 42mm for $319 (was $320) at Best Buy
Early Amazon Prime Big Deal Days sales

  • Sony HTX8500 2.1ch Dolby Atmos/DTS:X Soundbar for $198 with Amazon Prime reservation (was $400) at Amazon
  • Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Pro tablet for $140 (was $200) at Amazon
  • Amazon Fire TV 32-inch 2-Series 720p HD smart TV for $130 (was $200) at Amazon
  • Amazon Fire TV 40-inch 2-Series 1080p HD smart TV for $190 (was $250) at Amazon
  • Dyson Outsize Cordless Vacuum Cleaner for $489 (was $530) at Amazon
  • Dyson V11 Cordless Stick Vaccum, Large for $465 (was $570) at Amazon
  • JBL Go 3: Portable Speaker with Bluetooth for $40 (was $50) at Amazon
  • Cocktail-Smoker-Kit for $30 (was $46) at Amazon
  • meidong KY3000B Sound Bar for $50 (was $89) at Amazon
  • Hamilton Beach 12 Cup Programmable Front-Fill Drip Coffee Maker with Thermal Carafe for $72 (was $90) at Amazon
  • Hamilton Beach Premium Juicer Machine for $64 (was $80) at Amazon
  • Hamilton Beach The Scoop Single Serve Coffee Maker for $56 (was $70) at Amazon
  • Hamilton Beach 40941R Electric Tea Kettle for $42 (was $50) at Amazon
  • Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 44mm Bluetooth Smartwatch for $210 (was $310) at Amazon
  • Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 44mm LTE Smartwatch for $260 (was $360) at Amazon
  • Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 40mm LTE Smartwatch for $230 (was $330) at Amazon
  • JBL Live 660NC - Wireless Over-Ear Noise Cancelling Headphones for $150 (was $200) at Amazon
  • JBL Live 460NC - Wireless On-Ear Noise Cancelling Headphones for $100 (was $130) at Amazon
  • Philips Sparkling Water Maker Soda Maker Soda Streaming Machine for $50 (was $80) at Amazon
  • SodaStream Art Sparkling Water Maker Bundle for $110 with Amazon Prime reservation (was $200) at Amazon
  • Citizen Men's Promaster Dive Automatic Watch for $200 with Amazon Prime reservation (was $475) at Amazon
  • Jabra Elite 7 Active True Wireless for $80 with Amazon Prime reservation (was $180) at Amazon
  • Philips 3000 Series Air Fryer Essential Compact with Rapid Air Technology for $80 with Amazon Prime reservation (was $180) at Amazon
Headphones Bose's Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 are a solid option among premium wireless headphones.

Bose's Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 are a solid option among premium wireless headphones. (credit: Bose)

  • Poly Voyager 4320 Wireless Noise Cancelling Stereo Headset with mic for $158 (was $170) at Best Buy
  • Bose Headphones 700 Wireless Noise Cancelling Over-the-Ear Headphones for $299 (was $379) at Best Buy
  • Sony WF-1000XM4 for $227 (was $280) at Amazon
Lenovo laptops

(credit: Valentina Palladino)

  • Lenovo Flex 3 Chromebook Laptop (15-inch, Intel Pentium Silver N6000) for $329 (was $479) at Best Buy
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 8 (14-inch, Intel Core i5-1345U) for $1,449 (was $2,959) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 Intel (14-inch, Intel Core i7-1270P) for $1,624 (was $3,609) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo ThinkPad E16 Gen 1 (16-inch, Intel Core i7-1355U) for $1,145 (was $1,909) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo ThinkPad T14 Gen 4 (14-inch, Intel Core i5-1335U) for $1,200 (was $2,399) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo ThinkPad T14 Gen 3 (14-inch, Intel Core i5-1250P) for $1,219 (was $3,049) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo ThinkPad T16 (16-inch, Intel Core i5-1240P) for $1,188 (was $2,829) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo ThinkPad E16 Gen 1 (16-inch, AMD Ryzen 7 7730U) for $1,031 (was $1,719) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo ThinkPad E14 Gen 5 (14-inch, Intel Core i5-1335U) for $845 (was $1,409) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo ThinkPad E16 Gen 1 (16-inch, Intel Core i5-1335U) for $869 (was $1,449) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo 300e Gen 2 (11-inch, Intel Celeron N4120) for $229 (was $599) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo IdeaPad Pro 5i (16-inch, Intel Core i5-13500H and RTX 3050) for $950 (was $1,500) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo Legion Pro 7i Gen 8  (16-inch, Intel Core i9-13900HX and RTX 4070) for $1,950 (was $2,300) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo Yoga 7i (15-inch, Intel Core i7-1165G7) for $700 (was $1,395) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo Legion Slim 7 Gen 8 (16-inch, AMD Ryzen 7 7840HS and RTX 4060) for $1,400 (was $1,680) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo Yoga 6 (13-inch, AMD Ryzen 5 7530U) for $645 (was $860) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo Legion Pro 5i Gen 8 (16-inch, Intel Core i5-13500HX and RTX 4050) for $1,100 (was $1,480) at Lenovo
  • Legion Slim 5i Gen 8 (16-inch, Intel Core i5-13500H and RTX 4050) for $1,050 (was $1,350) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i Chromebook (14-inch, Intel Core i3-N305) for $415 (was $550) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo Legion Slim 5 Gen 8 (16-inch, AMD Ryzen 5 7640HS and RTX 4050) for $1,020 (was $1,300) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo ThinkPad L13 Yoga Gen 3 (13-inch, Intel Core i5-1235U) for $1,005 (was $2,009) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo ThinkPad L13 Gen 3 (13-inch, Intel Core i5-1245U) for $1,035 (was $2,069) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo ThinkPad L13 Gen 3 (13-inch, AMD Ryzen 7 PRO 5875U) for $1,160 (was $2,319) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo ThinkPad L13 Yoga Gen 3 (13-inch, Intel Core i7-1255U) for $1,175 (was $2,349) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo ThinkPad L13 Yoga Gen 3 (13-inch, Intel Core i7-1265U) for $1,485 (was $2,969) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo ThinkPad L13 Gen 3 (13-inch, AMD Ryzen 7 PRO 5875U) for $1,130 (was $2,259) at Lenovo
  • Lenovo ThinkPad L13 Yoga Gen 3 (13-inch, Intel Core i5-1245U) for $1,100 (was $2,199) at Lenovo
Apple MacBook, iPad, and AirPods Apple's 15-inch MacBook Air.

Apple's 15-inch MacBook Air. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

  • Apple MacBook Air 13.3-inch Laptop M1 for $849 (was $999) at Amazon
  • Apple MacBook Air 15.3-inch Laptop with M2 for $1,099 (was $1,299) at Amazon
  • Apple MacBook Pro 16.2-inch Laptop M2 Pro for $2,299 (was $2,499) at Amazon
  • Apple iPad Air (5th Generation) for $559 (was $599) at Amazon
  • Apple iPad (9th Generation) for $270 (was $329) at Amazon
  • Apple iPad Mini (6th Generation) for $469 (was $499) at Amazon
  • Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch (6th Generation) for $999 (was $1,099) at Amazon
  • Apple AirTag 4 Pack for $89 (was $99) at Amazon
  • Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation, Lightning) Wireless Earbuds for $199 (was $249) at Amazon
  • Apple AirPods Max Wireless Over-Ear Headphones for $479 (was $549) at Amazon
Home, office, and personal care
  • Emergency Survival Kit and First Aid Kit for $25 after coupon (was $50) at Amazon
  • Tempur-Lumbar Support Office Chair for $299 with CHAIR15 code (was $352) at Tempurpedic
  • Beurer Bluetooth Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor for $39 (was $60) at Best Buy
  • Beurer Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor for $25 (was $35) at Best Buy
  • Beurer Abdominal Muscle EMS Belt for $46 (was $60) at Best Buy
  • Beurer Pulse Oximeter for $31 (was $40) at Best Buy
  • Beurer Bluetooth Body Fat Scale for Full Body Analysis for $44 (was $50) at Best Buy
  • TP-Link Deco Powerline Mesh WiFi 6 System (Deco PX50) 3 pack for $270 (was $300) at Amazon
  • TP-Link Deco AX3000 WiFi 6 Mesh System (Deco X55) 3 pack for $200 (was $230) at Amazon
  • Theragun PRO 4th Generation for $499 (was $599) at Therabody
  • Therabody mini (1st Gen) for $130 (was $200) at Best Buy
  • Therabody RecoveryAir JetBoots Medium for $799 (was $899) at Best Buy
DeWalt and Greenworks tools DeWalt drill kit with carrying bag.

DeWalt drill kit with carrying bag. (credit: DEWALT)

  • DeWalt 20V MAX XR Multi-Tool Kit for $178 (was $269) at Amazon
  • DeWalt 20V MAX Cordless Impact Wrench with Brushless Motor for $269 (was $349) at Amazon
  • DeWalt 20V MAX XR Drill/Driver for $123 (was $169) at Amazon
  • DeWalt 20V MAX XR Hammer Drill Kit for $249 (was $399) at Amazon
  • DeWalt 20V Max Cordless Drill / Driver Kit for $99 (was $179) at Amazon
  • DeWalt 20V MAX Cordless Drill and Impact Driver for $147 (was $239) at Amazon
  • DeWalt 20V MAX XR Impact Driver, Brushless for $95 (was $149) at Amazon
  • DeWalt 20V MAX Cordless Impact Wrench for $188 (was $279) at Amazon
  • DeWalt 20V MAX Cordless Drill Combo Kit for $175 (was $271) at Amazon
  • DeWalt Atomic 20V MAX* Cordless Drill, 1/2-Inch, Tool Only for $69 (was $110) at Amazon
  • DeWalt Xtreme 12V MAX* Impact Driver Kit, 1/4-Inch for $97 (was $159) at Amazon
  • Greenworks 10-inch 80 Volt Cultivator/Tiller for $340 (was $400) at Best Buy
  • Greenworks 80 Volt Pro Rapid Battery Charger for $61 (was $100) at Best Buy
  • Greenworks 48-Volt 14-Inch Cordless Brushless Chainsaw for $223 (was $260) at Best Buy
  • Greenworks 24-Volt 22-Inch Cordless Hedge Trimmer for $130 (was $150) at Best Buy
  • Greenworks 24-Volt 22-Inch Cordless Hedge Trimmer for $70 (was $80) at Best Buy
  • Greenworks Pro Electric Pressure Washer up to 3000 PSI at 2.0 GPM for $378 (was $430) at Best Buy
  • Greenworks 80 Volt 2Ah Battery for $132 (was $150) at Best Buy
  • Greenworks 24 Volt 2000 Lumen LED Work Light AC/DC for $62 (was $70) at Best Buy
  • Greenworks 24-Volt 110 MPH 450 CFM Cordless Handheld Blower for $80 (was $90) at Best Buy
  • Greenworks TORQDRIVE 24-Volt 12-Inch Cutting Diameter Straight Shaft Grass Trimmer and Edger for $120 (was $130) at Best Buy
  • Greenworks 24-Volt 110 MPH 450 CFM Cordless Handheld Blower for $140 (was $150) at Best Buy
AirTag, iPhone, and laptop chargers, cables, and accessories AirTags—visually customizable to boot!

AirTags—visually customizable to boot!

  • Apple MagSafe Charger for $33 (was $39) at Amazon
  • Belkin BoostCharge Pro 3-in-1 Wireless Charging Pad with Official MagSafe Charging 15 W for $127 (was $150) at Belkin
  • Belkin BoostCharge Pro 3-in-1 Wireless Charging Stand with Official MagSafe Charging 15 W for $128 after APPLE2023 code (was $150) at Belkin
  • Belkin BoostCharge Pro 2-in-1 Wireless Charger Stand with Official MagSafe Charging 15 W for $85 after APPLE2023 code (was $100) at Belkin
  • ESR for iPhone 15 Plus Case, Compatible with MagSafe for $18 after coupon (was $25) at Amazon
  • Spigen Ultra Hybrid MagFit Designed for iPhone 15 Pro Max Case for $20 after coupon (was $21) at Amazon
  • Spigen Ultra Hybrid MagFit Designed for iPhone 15 Pro Case for $19 after coupon (was $20) at Amazon
  • Spigen Ultra Hybrid Designed for iPhone 15 for $14 (was $15) at Amazon
  • Spigen Ultra Hybrid MagFit Designed for iPhone 15 Plus Case for $18 after coupon (was $19) at Amazon
  • Spigen Tempered Glass Screen Protector [GlasTR EZ FIT] designed for iPhone 15 Pro Max for $16 after coupon (was $18) at Amazon
  • Spigen Tempered Glass Screen Protector [GlasTR EZ FIT] designed for iPhone 15 Pro for $17 (was $18) at Amazon
  • Spigen Tempered Glass Screen Protector [GlasTR EZ FIT] Designed for iPhone 15 for $16 after coupon (was $18) at Amazon
  • Spigen Tempered Glass Screen Protector [GlasTR EZ FIT] designed for iPhone 15 Plus for $17 (was $18) at Amazon
  • ESR Armorite Screen Protector for Apple Watch Ultra 2/1 Tempered Glass Protector with Stainless-Steel Frame for $16 after coupon (was $18) at Amazon
  • Spigen Tempered Glass Screen Protector [GlasTR EZ FIT] designed for Apple Watch Ultra 2 (49 mm) for $16 (was $25) at Amazon
  • Pebblebee Clip 4-pack for $100 (was $120) at Pebblebee
  • Pebblebee Card & Clip Multi-pack for $100 (was $120) at Pebblebee
  • Apple AirTag 4 Pack for $89 (was $99) at Amazon
  • 2 Pack Waterproof Air Tag Keychain Case for $7 (was $11) at Amazon
  • Belkin Apple AirTag Secure Holder with Key Ring for $12 (was $13) at Amazon
  • Case-Mate AirTag Holder 4 Pack for $33 (was $40) at Amazon
  • Pelican Rugged AirTag Luggage Tag for $32 (was $40) at Amazon
  • GRIIID AirTag Wallet for $35 (was $40) at Amazon
  • Waterproof AirTag Holder 4 Pack for $14 after coupon (was $17) at Amazon
  • 5 Pack Airtag Holder AirTag Silicone Case with Keychain $5 after coupon (was $7) at Amazon
  • Card Case for AirTag Tag Card 2 Pack for $10 (was $20) at Amazon
  • TagVault AirTag Surface Adhesive Mount for $10 after coupon (was $13) at Amazon
  • AirTag Passport Holder Cover Wallet Travel Essentials for $16 (was $17) at Amazon
  • Anker 6-foot USB-C to Lightning Cable for $12 (was $22) at Amazon
  • Anker Nano II 30W Fast GaN II Compact Charger for $24 (was $34) at Amazon
  • Anker 3-in-1 Cube with MagSafe for $120 after coupon (was $150) at Amazon
  • Anker Power Strip with USB C, 30 W for $22 (was $40) at Amazon
  • 192 PCS Cable Management Kit for $15 (was $20) at Amazon
  • UGREEN 200 W USB C Charger, Nexode 6 Ports GaN Desktop Charging Station for $140 after coupon (was $200) at Amazon
  • UGREEN 145 W Power Bank 25000 mAh Portable Charger USB C 3-Port PD3.0 Battery Pack Digital Display for $93 (was $150) at Amazon
  • INIU braided USB-C to USB-C Cable, 100 W [2-Pack 6.6ft] PD 5A Fast Charging Cable for $13 (was $16) at Amazon
  • 100 PCS Reusable Cable Ties for $7 (was $14) at Amazon

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Categories: Tech News

Operation Underground Railroad Child-Rescue Missions Were Based on Psychic Intelligence

Motherboard (Vice) - Wed, 09/20/2023 - 09:32

It was a tense day in February 2016 for Tim Ballard and operatives working for Operation Underground Railroad, the anti-human trafficking group he founded. They were on what would prove to be a bumbling and ineffective mission to save a trafficked child Ballard believed was being held in a village on the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

This wasn’t just any mission, however. The child they were searching for was Gardy Mardy, a missing Haitian boy whose abduction Ballard has portrayed as “the case that led us to found OUR.” Joining him and his team of elite operatives was Janet Russon—a psychic medium from Utah whose supposed visions were guiding the mission.

According to documents from a now-closed criminal investigation into Ballard and OUR obtained by VICE News through a public-records request, video shot by a crew hired by OUR captured Russon talking with Gardy’s father, Guesno Mardy. In the conversation, Russon seemed to credit herself with locating Gardy. She assured him that his son was nearby, and that without her visions, he never would have been found.

“No way you would have found this place, no way,” she proclaimed, according to a transcript of the conversation written by a criminal investigator working on a joint investigation between the FBI and the Davis County Attorney’s Office.

“Guesno, buddy,” Ballard said during the conversation. “He’s here. We’re gonna get him.”

In fact, Gardy was not found that day, or any day since. There is no evidence to suggest that he was ever in the village where Russon’s visions led OUR and his hopeful father. Dave Lopez, a former head of OUR’s “ops team” who oversaw the organization’s work in Haiti, told an FBI special agent and a Davis County investigator in October 2020 that Russon’s visions were “the only form of intelligence they were using to locate Gardy.” As far as he knew, he said, OUR had no intelligence even suggesting Gardy was alive apart from what was provided by Russon. This was Ballard’s “most guarded secret,” Lopez told the FBI.

Ballard’s secret has been out for two years now: Ex-OUR “operators,” or people sent on paramilitary missions with the organization in foreign countries, told VICE News in 2021 that Russon’s supposed psychic abilities were heavily relied on by Ballard and OUR to plan and carry out missions. Now, though, the investigative files reveal for the first time the level of influence Russon had within the organization, how much she was paid for her services, and how little intelligence there was to back up some of the missions conducted beyond her word—that of a Utah psychic who claimed to be able to communicate with the prophet Nephi, a figure from the Book of Mormon who has been dead for thousands of years.

(OUR provided a statement about Russon’s work, which is reprinted in full below. Tim Ballard did not respond to a request for comment. In a brief phone call, Russon declined to comment when asked about each claim made in this story, telling a reporter, “We just won’t have a conversation. Thank you so much for the call.” She previously told VICE News that she had signed an NDA and was unable to answer questions about OUR.)

An investigator wrote in the documents that they had learned that Russon was “being paid a monthly consultant fee of approximately $5,000 with an hourly/operational readings contract of approximately $1,560” by OUR, and that the group relied on her visions to do operational planning for missions.

Nor were mission planning or psychic visions the end of Russon’s association with OUR or other entities in the child-rescue space. Subsequently, she was named as the executive director of Children Need Families, a for-profit company started by Ballard’s wife Katherine, which said it provided grants to families seeking to adopt children. At another point, while she served on the board of directors of another organization, she identified herself as OUR’s “director of strategic alliances,” a description which did not mention her purported psychic abilities. (The organization, Rod’s Heroes, which promotes adoption for children with special needs, did not respond to a request for comment from VICE News.)

OUR provided the following statement:

Janet Russon worked as a full-time executive director for the Children Need Families program for the last two years with a starting salary of $122,000 per year and a final salary of $125,000 per year. She left O.U.R. shortly after Mr. Ballard’s departure. None of her work with CNF had any association with her self-proclaimed psychic abilities. For any question about her alleged psychic abilities, services rendered to Mr. Ballard, or payments for those services, please ask Ms. Russon or Mr. Ballard.

Ballard left OUR this summer following an internal investigation into sexual misconduct allegations made against him. Three weeks later, he left the Nazarene Fund, a sister organization to OUR founded by conservative commentator Glenn Beck. The Nazarene Fund told Vice News in a statement, “There were no concerns or suspicion of wrongdoing by Tim Ballard regarding his work at The Nazarene Fund.”

OUR, under Ballard, stressed its sophisticated intelligence gathering and military-style raid-and-rescue tactics. As VICE News previously reported, Utah county attorney Troy Rawlings, who opened the investigation into OUR, wrote in an email, “Donors are not made aware that Nephi, via Mr. [sic] Russon, is the key piece of O.U.R. Operational Intelligence.” (Rawlings wrote that email to Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, an OUR ally who has previously gone on missions with the group.)

The centrality of Russon to OUR missions is clearly illustrated in the files. One is an investigator’s description of a video apparently taken, to go by the date of a file, ahead of the disastrous mission to find Gardy. Ballard is speaking to a group of men; he assures them that he’s speaking regularly with M. Russell Ballard, a powerful and revered figure in the LDS Church to whom he is not related, about “the whole process and all these miracles,” and that he’s been given a blessing by the apostle.

In response, one of OUR’s operators, whom VICE News is not naming because he could not be reached for comment, says, “This is the time that we're supposed to be here, specifically, this week. And the Lord doesn't just give one person that, that answer, it's usually through a few people and the Lord told me to call Janet as soon as I got out of the temple."

Two former OUR insiders told investigators that Russon and her psychic visions were a key part of OUR. They were Lopez, a former Navy SEAL who worked with the group on overseas missions and oversaw OUR operations in Haiti, and a former director of development whose name VICE News is withholding at her request. Lopez told investigators that Russon identified specific locations in Haiti where the missing boy was said to be; the former development director added that Russon was solely vouched for by Ballard, who in her telling intimated that M. Russell Ballard was aware that her visions guided OUR’s work.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a statement to Vice News last week, strongly rebuking Tim Ballard for using Elder Ballard’s name, saying Tim Ballard had “betrayed their friendship” through “the unauthorized use of President Ballard’s name for Tim Ballard’s personal advantage and activity regarded as morally unacceptable.” The church did not specify what “morally unacceptable” behavior it was referring to.)

In February 2016, a car carrying Russon, Ballard, and Guesno Mardy circulated through the village as OUR continued its quest for Gardy. As they drove, Russon began to cry, according to a summary of the audio written by an investigator. “Your mom is loud, your mom is clear,” Russon told Guesno Mardy, implying that the woman’s departed spirit was guiding her. Russon subsequently claimed that she was hearing a “reading” from Guesno Mardy’s mother and sister, both of whom are apparently deceased. (A person close to the Mardy family told VICE News that Gardy does not wish to speak to the press at this time.)

When the FBI and Davis County investigators began their criminal investigation into OUR—which was ultimately closed with no charges filed—Russon’s role in the organization was one of the many issues they looked into. At one point, Davis County, Utah attorney Troy Rawlings emailed other agencies participating in the investigation to say that, as he understood it, investigators had collected “10,000 pages” of Russon’s so-called readings. They indicated in more detail who exactly Russon was reaching out to in the Great Beyond: a deceased Mormon prophet.

“Janet Russon talks to dead Mormon leaders,” Rawlings wrote. “Particularly a Mormon prophet from 600 BC named Nephi, to get intel on where to find Gardy Mardy in particular, but also with respect to a slew of other things.”

Donors, Rawlings added, “are not made aware that Nephi, via Mr. Russon, is the key piece of O.U.R. Operational Intelligence.”

It’s unclear what has become of Children Need Families since Tim Ballard left OUR following an internal investigation. At present, blog posts discussing it are still on the organization’s website, but a separate website, which listed Russon as its executive director, appears to have been taken down.

Categories: Tech News

SpaceX breaks another booster reuse record, but did anyone see it?

ARS Technica - Wed, 09/20/2023 - 09:19
Starlink 6-17 launches from Florida on Tuesday night.

Enlarge / Starlink 6-17 launches from Florida on Tuesday night. (credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX launched its 67th rocket of the year on Tuesday night, a staggering total for the company and its workhorse booster, the Falcon 9. At this pace, a clip of one launch every four days, the company is likely to launch 90 or more rockets during this calendar year.

This Starlink satellite launch was notable for a couple of other reasons. It marked the first time SpaceX has reused a Falcon 9 first stage 17 times. This booster, serial number 1058, had previously flown 11 previous Starlink missions along with GPS III-3, Turksat 5A, Transporter-2, Intelsat G-33/G-34, and Transporter-6.

SpaceX performed a fairly significant assessment of booster wear and tear after its first Falcon 9 stages reached 15 flights, and the company's engineers now believe the rockets can achieve at least 20 flights. Remarkably, SpaceX has been able to push the limits of booster reuse while maintaining a 100 percent record of success across the Falcon 9 rocket's last 228 launches, dating to a pad explosion in September 2016.

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Neuralink Human Trials Set to Proceed, Despite Ethics Concerns

Motherboard (Vice) - Wed, 09/20/2023 - 09:08

Elon Musk’s Neuralink is set to begin human trials, and the company is announcing that it’s looking for human applicants to test its controversial brain-computer interface. “The PRIME Study (short for Precise Robotically Implanted Brain-Computer Interface)…aims to evaluate the safety of our implant (N1) and surgical robot (R1) and assess the initial functionality of our BCI for enabling people with paralysis to control external devices with their thoughts,” the company wrote in a blog post on Tuesday.

According to Neuralink, it secured an investigational device exemption from the FDA in May and is ready to test both its interface and the robot it will use to implant the device on humans. “If you have quadriplegia and are interested in exploring new ways of controlling your computer, you may qualify,” a brochure detailing the trial says.

The brochure includes a picture of the R1 Robot that does the surgery. “During the study, the R1 Robot will be used to surgically place the N1 Implant in a region of the brain that controls movement intention,” it says. “Participants will be asked to use the N1 Implant and N1 User App to control a computer and provide feedback about the system.”

According to the brochure, the study will take place over the course of six years. The initial period involves nine at home visits spaced out over 18 months. The pitch is that an app will translate the user’s thoughts into actions on a computer. “Once surgically placed, the N1 Implant is cosmetically invisible,” the brochure says. “It records and transmits brain activity with the goal of enabling you to control a computer. The N1 Implant records neural activity through 1024 electrodes distributed across 64 threads, each thinner than a human hair.”

Before these human trials, Nueralink conducted tests on monkeys. In 2021, the company shared a video of one of the monkeys allegedly controlling the video game pong with its mind. Even if Musk’s company truly succeeded, it may have come at a terrible cost. Reports from the trial have been grim, and U.S. federal investigators launched an investigation into animal cruelty in 2022. It’s still ongoing.

The animal rights group, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, claimed that only seven of the 23 monkeys used in the early Neuralink experiment survived. According to Musk, those monkeys were already close to death. “No monkey has died as a result of a Neuralink implant,” he said on Twitter on September 10. “First our early implants, to minimize risk to healthy monkeys, we chose terminal moneys (close to death already).”

Categories: Tech News

GNU turns 40: Stallman's baby still not ready for prime time, but hey, there's cake

The Register - Wed, 09/20/2023 - 09:04
It turned the software industry upside down regardless

Happy birthday to GNU. On September 27, there will be events in both the US and Switzerland to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the GNU Project.…

Categories: Tech News

Xbox exec says leaked “old emails and documents” have “outdated” info

ARS Technica - Wed, 09/20/2023 - 08:39
Microsoft's Phil Spencer speaks at the DICE conference in Las Vegas.

Enlarge / Microsoft's Phil Spencer speaks at the DICE conference in Las Vegas. (credit: Kyle Orland)

Yesterday's massive leaks from the Microsoft vs. FTC case have a large swath of the gaming world expecting that a more powerful, disc-free Xbox Series X refresh could be coming as soon as next year. But Xbox boss Phil Spencer is warning that players shouldn't put too much stock in what he called "old emails and documents."

"It is hard to see our team's work shared in this way because so much has changed and there's so much to be excited about right now, and in the future," Spencer wrote on social media late Tuesday. "We will share the real plans when we are ready."

Spencer followed up that post with a memo sent to the Xbox team, apologizing for the unintentional disclosure of internal plans. "I know this is disappointing, even if many of the documents are well over a year old and our plans have evolved," the memo reads, in part. "I also know we all take the confidentiality of our plans and our partners’ information very seriously. This leak obviously is not us living up to that expectation... That said, there’s so much more to be excited about, and when we’re ready, we’ll share the real plans with our players."

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Hyundai hurries to finish factory in Georgia to meet US EV demand

ARS Technica - Wed, 09/20/2023 - 08:24
A black Hyundai Ioniq 6 with wind turbines in the background.

Enlarge / Hyundai's well-rated Ioniq 6 could go into production in the US, which would make it eligible for a $7,500 tax credit. (credit: Hyundai)

Hyundai Motor Group is pushing the accelerator pedal when it comes to its newest North American factory. The company broke ground on the multibillion-dollar site in Bryan County, Georgia, last October with the aim of beginning production of electric vehicles in 2025. But on Tuesday, Hyundai president and CEO Jose Munoz revealed that timeline has been brought forward.

"We try to accelerate as much as possible, the project. And we are confident that the original date of January 2025 would be probably pulled ahead maybe three months or so. If we can, even more," Munoz said.

The main motivation for building EVs locally in the US is the new clean vehicle tax incentives. Created as part of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, these came into effect at the beginning of this year and address criticisms of the previous EV tax credit by adding income and price caps, allowing dealers to claim the credit if they immediately apply it to the price of the car and creating a tax credit for buying a used EV.

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Scientists Collect Entirely New Type of Virus From Marianas Trench Ocean Abyss

Motherboard (Vice) - Wed, 09/20/2023 - 08:09

Scientists have discovered a novel marine virus that lives at an astonishing depth of 8,900 meters (roughly 5.5 miles) under the ocean surface, making it the deepest known isolated phage ever found in the global seas, reports a new study. The rare find could shed light on the microbial ecosystems that lurk in the deepest reaches of the ocean, known as the “hadal” zone, which play critical roles in the global climate and carbon cycle.

The virus was identified in sediments hauled up from the Mariana Trench, a vast formation in the Pacific Ocean that hosts the deepest abysses on Earth. It belongs to an entirely new family of so-called “siphoviruses,” known as Suviridae, that only infect bacteria and cannot use humans as a host. 

Viruses that live and replicate in bacterial hosts are known as bacteriophages, and they are a ubiquitous presence in every ecosystem on Earth—including the Mariana Trench. Scientists have previously discovered bacteriophages at depths of up to 8,636 ​meters in the trench, though the nature of these viruses is still largely unknown.

Now, an international team of scientists report the discovery of a new bacteriophage in trench samples captured at a depth of 8,900 meters, which is about 260 meters (800 feet) deeper than the previous record-holder. Scientists report that the phage, which is known as vBHmeYH4907, is “the deepest known phage isolated to date” and that “it represents a novel abundant viral family in the ocean,” according to a study published on Wednesday in Microbiology Spectrum.

“The hadal trench is the planet's least explored and the most mysterious environment, and it is the deepest habitat for life on Earth's surface,” said the team in the study. “Our understanding of hadal viruses has been greatly limited by the scarcity of isolated viruses in the hadal trenches.”

“Our knowledge about isolated hadal phage strains in the hadal trench is still rare,” the researchers continued. “This study reported the discovery of a temperate phage…isolated from surface sediment from the Mariana Trench at the depth of 8,900 m. To our best knowledge, it is the deepest isolated siphovirus from the ocean.”

The newly discovered phage infects a bacterial species in the Halomonas family of bacteria, which has adapted to a variety of deep hadal environments that ranges from the Antarctic seafloor to deep-sea hydrothermal vents. 

These bacteria are “widely used in synthetic biology because members of Halomonas are well known for their capacity to break down petroleum hydrocarbons, flourish in environments with high salt concentrations and alkaline pH, and high tolerance to contamination,” the team said in the study. “It is also abundant in the Mariana Trench, suggesting that it may play an essential role in hadal environments. Despite its significance, very little is known about the viruses that infect Halomonas, with only two phages published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) dataset so far.”

Now, the team has upped the count to three with the identification of vBHmeYH4907. The researchers were able to conduct a genomic analysis of the phage, which revealed that it is genetically similar to its bacterial host and is likely abundant in these hadal trenches. With the help of a transmission electron microscope, the team was even able to make out the phage’s “icosahedron head” with an average diameter of 65 nanometers, and its “long, non-contractible tail” which measured about 183 nanometers, according to the study. For reference, a sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick.

The discovery opens a new and unprecedented window into the largely unexplored microbial universe that dominates the hadal seafloor. The bacteria and viruses that live in these otherworldly realms may be small in size, but their cumulative effect on our world packs a big punch. Indeed, deep sea viruses are described as “essential regulators of global ecology” in the study because they influence the flow of carbons through the oceans, and in turn, have an impact on climate change, making it crucial to understand their evolution and life cycles.

“This study deepens our understanding of hadal phages' genetic diversity and genomic features” and “provides a theoretical basis for an in-depth analysis of the life strategy of viruses in extremely harsh environments and their co-evolution with hosts,” the team concluded.

Categories: Tech News

Renewable energy is now cheap—what’s next?

ARS Technica - Wed, 09/20/2023 - 08:06
Image of two workers walking among wind turbines.

Enlarge (credit: wera Rodsawang)

A decade ago, our present renewable energy situation was unimaginable. Most projections had wind and solar as niche players on the electric grid due to their relatively high cost. In the US, the reality is anything but. Combined, wind and solar have now passed coal; throw in hydro, and they've passed nuclear, too. In most areas of the country, they're now far and away the cheapest means to generate electricity; the same holds true for most locations around the world.

Despite the changed economics, most countries have fallen behind on their climate pledges, and fossil fuels aren't being pushed off the grid fast enough to get us back on track. While the entire globe is suffering the consequences of climate change, the factors that are keeping renewables from reaching their full potential vary from country to country. What should we be doing to get past these roadblocks?

Today, I'll be at the United Nations with the chance to get some answers to that question. The UN, as part of its General Assembly meeting, is hosting a series of events called Climate Week, which includes a Sustainable Development Goals Summit. Associated with that will be a series of talks and panels on relevant topics. I'll be hosting one called "Clean Energy Trends to Power the World" that will happen at 2:25 pm Eastern Time.

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Categories: Tech News

Apple pairs well with profits, not repair shops

The Register - Wed, 09/20/2023 - 08:01
iFixit demotes iPhone 14 from 7/10 to 4 after reality of software locks hit home

As you were. It would appear that Apple's overtures to the tech repairability movement and associated legislation like California's SB 244 were just leading us all on, at least according to repair gurus at iFixit.…

Categories: Tech News

Google Flat-Out Refuses to Bargain With Workers, Prompting YouTube Music Strike

Motherboard (Vice) - Wed, 09/20/2023 - 08:00

YouTube Music contract workers went on strike on Wednesday morning because of Google's refusal to bargain with the union representing the workers. Google, YouTube’s parent company, claims that because the workers are employed through a third-party contractor it has no obligation to meet them at the table, according to an email from a law firm representing Google seen by Motherboard. 

These workers are contracted by Cognizant, one of the many subcontractors which works with Google and its parent company Alphabet. They’re responsible for “ensuring music content is available and approved for YouTube Music’s 80 million subscribers worldwide,” according to a press release from April, when they first voted to join the Alphabet Workers Union (AWU-CWA). The union is not yet federally recognized, as it has not achieved a majority status in the company, so it does not have the power to bargain collectively for all Google employees. 

Since the YouTube Music workers joined it, however, Google has refused to bargain with them, because it says it is not legally considered to be their employer. The workers, the union, and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) contest this point. 

“We have a one day strike that we’re undertaking due to Google’s continued refusal to even acknowledge us as their employees,” said Katie Marschner, a YouTube Music contract worker since 2021, in a phone call with Motherboard. “They said, ‘We will not participate in collective bargaining in connection with this unit,’ which is super illegal and disrespectful.”

A Google spokesperson told Motherboard in a statement at the time of the unionization that it had “no objection to these Cognizant workers electing to form a union,” but that it would not bargain with them. “We are not a joint employer as we simply do not control their employment terms or working conditions—this matter is between the workers and their employer, Cognizant,” the spokesperson said.

The NLRB, however, upheld on two occasions that Google and Cognizant were joint employers of the YouTube Music workers, and that therefore both companies were obligated to bargain a contract with them. Google said it would appeal the decision.

After the first Board decision, the union wrote a letter to Google demanding that it come to the table. Motherboard obtained a copy of the letter Google wrote in response. 

“I write on behalf of Google in response to your July 26, 2023 letter reiterating AWU Local 9009’s demand to bargain with both Cognizant and Google,” the letter, which was written by an attorney at the law firm Jones Day, begins. “As I indicated in my previous letter, Google does not employ any of the Cognizant employees in the bargaining unit you represent, does not control any of the essential terms and conditions of their employment, and therefore could not meaningfully contribute to collective bargaining.” 

“The NLRB’s decision is flawed in numerous respects and, in our view, should not survive appellate review. For these reasons, Google will not be participating in collective bargaining in connection with this unit,” it continues. “We continue to encourage the AWU to prioritize the interests of the individuals you represent by engaging their actual employer (Cognizant) in bargaining, rather than subjecting your members to additional delays in pursuit of a legal theory that is neither supported by the facts or a proper application of the governing legal standard.” 

Google email to YouTube Music workersGoogle email to YouTube Music workers

“As we’ve said before, we have no objection to these Cognizant employees electing to form a union,” Google spokesperson Courtenay Mencini told Motherboard in an emailed statement. “We simply believe it’s only appropriate for Cognizant, as their employer, to engage in collective bargaining. We still disagree with the NLRB’s decision, which deviated from the governing standard, ignored precedent, and applied a faulty analysis. Google does not control the employment terms or conditions of these Cognizant workers, and we'll continue to assert our position that we’re not a joint employer.” Mencini said the workers’ strike would not affect the company’s work with Cognizant.

According to the union, Cognizant has also refused to bargain, citing Google’s appeals as the reason for its delay.

“Google refuses to just admit that they are our employer, and then Cognizant is just using Google's legal appeals as a scapegoat,” Marschner said. “That, honestly, is exactly why we filed for joint employer status in the first place. We knew that if we just tried to engage in collective bargaining with Cognizant, that's exactly what they would do.” 

The letter from Google is dated August 3, 2023. On Tuesday, the union filed an unfair labor practice charge to the NLRB, stating that on that date, “Cognizant and Google, as joint employers, refused to bargain in good faith with the union certified to represent the YouTube Music employees.” 

“It’s kind of unfathomable, the challenge that we're up against,” Marschner said. “We're fighting against two Fortune 500 companies. I think it's quite clear that they are hoping that they can stall and delay until the next presidential election, and then hopefully Republicans will take over and the NLRB will change and be less favorable to unions and workers.” 

A Cognizant spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“There will be many opportunities to file unfair labor practice charges, but I think outside of that, we're going to have to have other means of putting pressure on them,” Marschner said. “It's going to take a lot of really smart organizing. I believe we’re up for the challenge, but I wish it wasn’t this way.”

Categories: Tech News

Fish’s big mistake preserved an unusual fossil for us

ARS Technica - Wed, 09/20/2023 - 07:57
Image of a fossilized fish in brownish rock.

Enlarge / The fish in question, with the ammonite located just below its spine. (credit: Cooper, et. al.)

Some extinct species left copious fossil remnants of their existence. Ammonites—an extinct type of cephalopod—are one such example. From the Devonian through the Paleocene, wherever ancient seas once covered Earth, one can usually find their coiled shells. So one more exquisitely preserved ammonite isn’t necessarily a big deal.

With the exception, perhaps, of one intact example found in the Posidonienschiefer Formation in Germany, where most ammonite shells are flattened and fragmentary. Now, decades after its original discovery, scientists have taken a more careful look at the well-preserved ammonite and the fossil fish it was seemingly nestled against. What they found surprised them: the fish had actually swallowed the large ammonite—something we’ve never seen before, even in fossils of much larger marine species that we know attempted to feed on ammonites.

It didn’t work out well for the fish. The size of the ammonite may have caused the fish to drown, or it may have blocked its digestive tract, causing internal bleeding. Drifting down to the seafloor, the fish was eventually buried and fossilized, preserving that ammonite—along with information about the ecosystem it and the fish inhabited—for over 170 million years.

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UK Online Safety Bill to become law – and encryption busting clause is still there

The Register - Wed, 09/20/2023 - 07:02
Admission it's 'not technically feasible'... but no promise not to invoke it

UK Parliament has passed an Online Safety Bill offering the government powers to introduce online child protection laws, one that includes clause 122, the infamous "spy clause," albeit with some caveats.…

Categories: Tech News