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Instagram to Prevent Underage Children From Creating Accounts, Block Adults From Contacting Young Users

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By Agence France-Presse | Updated: 17 March 2021

Facebook-owned Instagram unveiled technology Tuesday aimed at preventing underage children from creating accounts and blocking adults from contacting young users they don’t know.

It was the latest move responding to concerns about inappropriate contact between adults and children on the platform, which like most services sets an age minimum of 13.

Instagram will begin using artificial intelligence to determine a user’s age at signup in an effort to find underage users.

“While many people are honest about their age, we know that young people can lie about their date of birth. We want to do more to stop this from happening, but verifying people’s age online is complex and something many in our industry are grappling with,” a blog post said.

“To address this challenge, we’re developing new artificial intelligence and machine learning technology to help us keep teens safer and apply new age-appropriate features.”

Additionally, the California giant said it would introduce a new feature that prevents adults from sending messages to people under 18 who don’t follow them, to prevent unwanted contact.

“This feature relies on our work to predict peoples’ ages using machine learning technology, and the age people give us when they sign up,” Instagram said.

Instagram is also looking at ways to make it more difficult for adults who have been exhibiting “potentially suspicious behaviour” to interact with teens, including restricting these adults from seeing suggested teen accounts.

The image-focused network indicated it will alert teens to potentially suspect behavior by adults, including the sending of large numbers of private messages.

“We’ll use this tool to alert the recipients… and give them an option to end the conversation, or block, report, or restrict the adult,” Instagram said.

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Taiwan Plagued by Cyberattacks on Convenience Stores, Train Stations Over Nancy Pelosi Visit

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By Reuters | Updated: 5 August 2022

As US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi made a brief visit to Taiwan this week that enraged Beijing, the welcome she received from government officials and the public was in sharp contrast with a different sort of message that began popping up elsewhere on the island.

On Wednesday, in some branches of 7-11 convenience stores in Taiwan, the television screens behind cashiers suddenly switched to display the words: “Warmonger Pelosi, get out of Taiwan!”

The largest 24-hour convenience store chain on the island was the victim of what Taiwanese authorities are calling an unprecedented amount of cyberattacks on government websites belonging to the presidential office, foreign and defence ministries as well as infrastructure such as screens at railway stations, in protest against Pelosi’s visit.

Taipei has not directly blamed the attacks on the Chinese government but has said that the attacks on government websites — which paralysed the sites’ operations — originated from addresses in China and Russia. It also said the firms whose displays were changed had used Chinese software that could have contained backdoors or Trojan horse malware.

Taiwan’s digital minister Audrey Tang said the volume of cyberattacks on Taiwan government units on Tuesday, before and during Pelosi’s arrival, surpassed 15,000 gigabits, 23 times higher than the previous daily record.

Lo Ping-cheng, Taiwan Cabinet spokesman, said on Wednesday that the government had stepped up security at key infrastructure including power plants and airports and increased the cyber security alertness level across government offices. On Thursday, he said no related damage had been detected so far.

“Government departments have been very careful. In these past few days, in terms of public security, we have set up a three-tier government security and communication mechanism, it is already tough and defensive enough, so these adaptations have been beneficial,” he told a briefing.

Theatre, rather than threat

Pelosi’s visit triggered furious responses from the Chinese public and Beijing, who said the trip to the self-ruled island it regards as its territory infringed its sovereignty. On Thursday, China fired missiles around Taiwan as part of a series of unprecedented military drills.

A cybersecurity research organisation said the attacks against Taiwanese government websites before Pelosi’s visit were likely launched by Chinese activist hackers rather than the Chinese government.

Hacker group APT 27, which has been accused by Western authorities of being a Chinese state-sponsored group, claimed responsibility for the cyberattacks on Taiwan on Wednesday, saying on YouTube that they were done to protest how Pelosi had defied China’s warnings with her visit. It also claimed it had shut down 60,000 internet-connected devices in Taiwan.

Asked about the cyberattacks in Taiwan on Thursday at a regular Chinese foreign ministry briefing, a spokesperson declined to comment. The Cyberspace Administration of China, which regulates the country’s internet, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Experts said that the cyberattacks, combined with China’s live firing exercises, provide Taiwan’s leaders with a preview of what an invasion from China would look like.

In recent years, several reports from think tanks in Taiwan and the United States have emphasised the high likelihood that, in the event of a military assault of Taiwan, China would first launch a debilitating cybersecurity attack on Taiwan’s key infrastructure, such as its power grid.

Still, Eryk Waligora, a cyber threat intelligence specialist at Accenture, said the latest ones appeared to be “more theatre than threat” so far. He said past attacks, like a campaign between November last year to February that forced several financial institutions in Taiwan to suspend online transactions, were more sophisticated technically, and damaging.

“There have certainly been far worse cyber-attacks,” he said.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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Chinese Long March 5B Rocket Falls to Earth, NASA Says Beijing Failed to Share Trajectory Information

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By Reuters | Updated: 1 August 2022

A Chinese rocket fell back to Earth on Saturday over the Indian Ocean but NASA said Beijing had not shared the “specific trajectory information” needed to know where possible debris might fall.

US Space Command said the Long March 5B rocket re-entered over the Indian Ocean at approximately 12:45pm EDT Saturday (16:45 GMT), but referred questions about “reentry’s technical aspects such as potential debris dispersal impact location” to China.

“All spacefaring nations should follow established best practices and do their part to share this type of information in advance to allow reliable predictions of potential debris impact risk,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said. “Doing so is critical to the responsible use of space and to ensure the safety of people here on Earth.”

Social media users in Malaysia posted video of what appeared to be rocket debris.

Aerospace, a government funded nonprofit research centre near Los Angeles, said it was reckless to allow the rocket’s entire main-core stage – which weighs 22.5 tons (about 48,500 lb) – to return to Earth in an uncontrolled reentry.

Earlier this week, analysts said the rocket body would disintegrate as it plunged through the atmosphere but is large enough that numerous chunks will likely survive a fiery re-entry to rain debris over an area some 2,000 km (1,240 miles) long by about 70km (44 miles) wide.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately comment. China said earlier this week it would closely track the debris but said it posed little risk to anyone on the ground.

The Long March 5B blasted off July 24 to deliver a laboratory module to the new Chinese space station under construction in orbit, marking the third flight of China’s most powerful rocket since its maiden launch in 2020.

Fragments of another Chinese Long March 5B landed on the Ivory Coast in 2020, damaging several buildings in that West African nation, though no injuries were reported.

By contrast, he said, the United States and most other space-faring nations generally go to the added expense of designing their rockets to avoid large, uncontrolled re-entries – an imperative largely observed since large chunks of the NASA space station Skylab fell from orbit in 1979 and landed in Australia.

Last year, NASA and others accused China of being opaque after the Beijing government kept silent about the estimated debris trajectory or the reentry window of its last Long March rocket flight in May 2021.

Debris from that flight ended up landing harmlessly in the Indian Ocean.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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India’s 5G Spectrum Auction Begins; Reliance Jio, Airtel, Vodafone Idea in Race to Bid for 5G Airwaves

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By Press Trust of India | Updated: 26 July 2022

India’s first auction of 5G spectrum, that powers ultra-high data speeds, is currently underway with a total of 72 GHz (gigahertz) of radiowaves worth at least Rs. 4.3 lakh crore up for bidding.
Billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio, Sunil Mittal-led Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and a unit of billionaire Gautam Adani’s flagship Adani Enterprises are in the race to bid for 5G spectrum, that offers speeds about 10 times faster than 4G, lag-free connectivity, and can enable billions of connected devices to share data in real-time.

In addition to powering ultra-low latency connections, which allow downloading full-length high-quality video or movie to a mobile device in a matter of seconds (even in crowded areas), Fifth Generation or 5G would enable solutions such as e-health, connected vehicles, more-immersive augmented reality and metaverse experiences, life-saving use cases, and advanced mobile cloud gaming among others.

The auction is being held for spectrum in various low (600 MHz, 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz), mid (3300 MHz), and high (26 GHz) frequency bands.

The bidding which started at 10:00 hrs will continue till 18:00 hrs and will carry over into the next day, if there exists a demand for spectrum and bidders are putting in bids.

The number of days the auction ultimately stretches to will depend on the actual demand for radiowaves and the strategy of individual bidders, although the broad industry consensus is that it may last up to two days.

While a total 72 GHz (gigahertz) of spectrum worth at least Rs. 4.3 lakh crore has been put on the block for the auction, market watchers do not expect an intense bidding given that plenty of spectrum is on the block, and there are four participants in the race.

Department of Telecom’s own internal estimates put the 5G auction mop up at Rs. 70,000 crore to Rs.1,00,000 crore.

Jio, it is expected, will lead the spends, followed by Bharti Airtel, while analysts see limited participation from Vodafone Idea, and Adani Group.

Reliance Jio has submitted an earnest money deposit (EMD) of Rs. 14,000 crore, the highest amongst the four players in fray for spectrum bidding. The EMD amount of Adani Data Networks stood at Rs. 100 crore, indicating a muted and limited spectrum demand from its side. Bharti Airtel has put in Rs. 5,500 crore as EMD, while for Vodafone Idea the amount stands at Rs. 2,200 crore.

While the earnest money deposit suggests that Jio, the nation’s largest telecom company by subscribers, could be the most aggressive bidder in the pack, Adani Group may be looking to buy the bare minimum spectrum needed to set up a private network.

Typically, earnest deposits give an indication of players’ appetite, strategy and plan for picking up spectrum in an auction. It also determines the eligibility points, through which telcos target specific amounts of spectrum in various circles.

Market watchers say that a telco has the ability to go after radiowaves worth up to 7-8 times the EMD amounts submitted by them, although players do tend to keep headroom for maneuvering and flexibility, based on how auction proceeds and the strategy adopted by rivals.

Based on EMD, market watchers say, Jio can technically place bids worth Rs. 1.27 lakh crore, Bharti Airtel up to Rs. 48,000 crore, Vodafone Idea (VIL) about Rs. 20,000 crore and Adani Data about Rs. 700 crore.

“We expect Reliance Jio to enhance its spectrum in 800MHz and 1800MHz bands to 10-15 MHz in each market. We also expect Jio to buy a minimum 100 MHz in 3.3 GHz band and 800 MHz in 26 GHz band across all markets,” Jefferies had said in a note on July 20.

Further, it expects Bharti Airtel to bid for 100 MHz of spectrum in the 3.3 GHz band and 800 MHz of 26 GHz spectrum enabling it to lower its SUC (Spectrum Usage Charges) immediately.

“We also expect some purchases in 900/1800 MHz bands to cover for renewals and for completion of blocks of 5/10/15MHz in a few markets. Bharti may also enhance its spectrum in 2300 MHz in the six markets where the spectrum is available,” Jefferies opined.

It saw Adani Group’s purchases likely limited to 100MHz in the 26 GHz band.

In the previous auction held in early 2021, Reliance Jio Infocomm had deposited earnest money amount of Rs 10,000 crore, while Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea deposited Rs 3,000 crore and Rs 475 crore, respectively.

In the auction conducted last year – that had lasted two days – Reliance Jio picked up spectrum worth Rs 57,122.65 crore, Bharti Airtel bid about Rs 18,699 crore, and Vodafone Idea bought spectrum worth Rs 1,993.40 crore.

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Tesla Hikes Price for All EV Models in the US Market Amid Global Supply-Chain Issues

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By Reuters | Updated: 16 June 2022

Tesla raised prices for all its car models in the US, its latest price hike amid ongoing global supply-chain issues.

The electric carmaker increased its Model Y long-range price to $65,990 (roughly Rs. 51,53,000) from $62,990 (roughly Rs. 49,00,000), its website showed on Thursday, after delaying the deliveries of some long-range models in the United States by up to a month.

The price hike comes as costs of raw materials have surged, including aluminum that is used in cars.

Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk has warned about the risk of a recession in recent weeks.

Earlier this month, Musk said he had a “super bad feeling” about the economy after cutting about 10 percent of jobs at Tesla.

Tesla recently cancelled three online recruitment events for China scheduled this month, the latest development after chief executive Elon Musk threatened job cuts at the electric car maker, saying it was “overstaffed” in some areas.

However, Musk had not commented specifically on staffing in China, which made more than half of the vehicles for the automaker globally and contributed a quarter of its revenue in 2021.

The company cancelled the three events for positions in sales, R&D and its supply chain originally scheduled for June 16, 23 and 30, notifications on messaging app WeChat showed late on Thursday, without stating a reason.

Notification of a June 9 event to recruit staff for “smart manufacturing” roles was not visible and it was not immediately clear it had been held as planned.

The China operation is still allowing resume submission for more than 1,000 openings posted on the social media platform, such as aerodynamics engineers, supply chain managers, store managers, factory supervisors and workers.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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Entertainment

YouTube Back Online After Outage Disrupts Services Across the World

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By Reuters | Updated: 13 April 2022

Alphabet Inc’s YouTube said on Tuesday it has fixed issues that had disrupted certain features for several thousands of its users across the online video sharing and social media platform.

“All fixed – you should now be able to log in, switch between accounts, and use the account menu & navigation bar across all services (YouTube, YouTube TV, YouTube Music, YouTube Studio) and devices,” YouTube tweeted.

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OneWeb to Launch Satellites With Rival SpaceX After Suspending Ties With Russian Agency

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By Reuters | Updated: 22 March 2022

Weeks after Moscow forced the 11th-hour cancellation of a rocket launch for British satellite venture OneWeb from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the company said on Monday it has contracted with Elon Musk’s SpaceX to send its satellites into orbit. Terms of the deal with California-based SpaceX, a direct competitor of OneWeb in the burgeoning broadband satellite industry, were not disclosed.

Earlier this month, OneWeb called off the scheduled March 4 launch of 36 satellites from Baikonur and suspended ties with Russia’s space agency Roscosmos because of last-minute demands imposed on the company by Moscow, including a guarantee that OneWeb’s technology would not be used for military purposes.

The OneWeb launch scrub came amid heightened tensions between Russia and NATO governments, including Britain, over economic sanctions imposed against Moscow by the West in response to Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine.

The British government, which holds a stake in OneWeb, also said it was reviewing its participation in further projects with Russia in light of the Ukraine crisis.

The British satellite firm expects its first launch with SpaceX later this year to add to its constellation of 428 satellites already in low-Earth orbit.

“With these launch plans in place, we’re on track to finish building out our full fleet of satellites,” OneWeb Chief Executive Officer Neil Masterson said.

OneWeb, which plans to offer universal broadband through a network that will ultimately consist of 650 satellites, was rescued from bankruptcy by the British government and Indian telecoms giant Bharti Global in 2020. Eutelsat Communications and SoftBank Group are among other investors in the firm.

SpaceX’s Starlink, one of several ventures in the fast-growing satellite broadband business, including Amazon subsidiary Project Kuiper, has put some 1,500 satellites in operation, providing internet access to regions underserved or hard to reach for other services.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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