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Singapore Becomes First Country To Use Facial Verification For a National ID Service

Slashdot - Sun, 27/09/2020 - 19:34
"Singapore will be the first country in the world to use facial verification in its national identity scheme," reports the BBC: The biometric check will give Singaporeans secure access to both private and government services. The government's technology agency says it will be "fundamental" to the country's digital economy. It has been trialled with a bank and is now being rolled out nationwide. It not only identifies a person but ensures they are genuinely present. "You have to make sure that the person is genuinely present when they authenticate, that you're not looking at a photograph or a video or a replayed recording or a deepfake," said Andrew Bud, founder and chief executive of iProov, the UK company that is providing the technology... "Face recognition has all sorts of social implications. Face verification is extremely benign," said Mr Bud. Privacy advocates, however, contend that consent is a low threshold when dealing with sensitive biometric data. "Consent does not work when there is an imbalance of power between controllers and data subjects, such as the one observed in citizen-state relationships," said Ioannis Kouvakas, legal officer with London-based Privacy International.... GovTech Singapore thinks the technology will be good for businesses, because they can use it without having to build the infrastructure themselves. Additionally, Kwok Quek Sin, senior director of national digital identity at GovTech Singapore, said it is better for privacy because companies won't need to collect any biometric data. In fact, they would only see a score indicating how close the scan is to the image the government has on file. In 1993 William Gibson called Singapore "Disneyland with the death penalty... a relentlessly G-rated experience, micromanaged by a state that has the look and feel of a very large corporation. If IBM had ever bothered to actually possess a physical country, that country might have had a lot in common with Singapore."

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Categories: Technology

America's IRS Wants Cryptocurrency Exchanges Declared on Tax Forms

Slashdot - Sun, 27/09/2020 - 18:34
America's dreaded tax-collecting agency is sending "a strong warning to millions of crypto holders who aren't complying with the law that they must file required forms," reports the Wall Street Journal. The front page of this year's tax forms — just below "Name" and "Address" — will ask filers to declare whether they've received or exchanged any virtual currencies. The Journal calls it "setting a trap for cryptocurrency tax cheats." "This placement is unprecedented and will make it easier for the IRS to win cases against taxpayers who check 'No' when they should check 'Yes, '" says Ed Zollars, a CPA with Kaplan Financial Education who updates tax professionals on legal developments... The change to the crypto question and other recent actions show the IRS is taking cryptocurrencies seriously as a threat to the tax system, whether the noncompliance is by enthusiasts who owe little or by sophisticated international criminals. In two recent nontax criminal cases — one involving theft by North Korea and the other involving the sale of child pornography by a Dutch national — the IRS has provided key assistance because of its growing expertise in cryptocurrencies.... For their part, many crypto users are angry with the IRS's guidance, which treats bitcoin, ether and their kin as property rather than currency. So if a crypto holder uses it to buy something or exchanges one cryptocurrency for another, there's usually a capital gain or loss to report on the tax return. "Buying a sandwich with cryptocurrency shouldn't be a taxable event," says Sean Cover, a New York City cryptocurrency holder who works in finance for a nonprofit group. He says that in 2017 he had more than 500 transactions on several platforms, and it took him 10 hours to prepare his crypto tax forms even though he paid for special software. Like some members of Congress, Mr. Cover supports a $200 threshold before crypto transactions would need to be reported. The IRS says it's up to Congress to change the law.... Meanwhile, the IRS is forging ahead with other crypto compliance measures. Earlier this month, it offered rewards up to $625,000 to code-breakers who can crack so-called privacy coins like Monero that attract illicit activity because they claim to be untraceable... The IRS is also sending a new round of letters to crypto holders who may not have complied with the tax rules, expanding on last year's mailing of about 10,000 letters. Tax specialists say the recipients are often customers of Coinbase, which was ordered by a federal court to turn over information on some accounts to the IRS.

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Categories: Technology

The schools, colleges and universities that have had COVID-19 cases

This Is Total Essex - Sun, 27/09/2020 - 18:03
Some have been closed or partially closed
Categories: Local News

Elon Musk, Others, Criticize Microsoft's Exclusive License for OpenAI's GPT-3

Slashdot - Sun, 27/09/2020 - 17:34
"It looks like Elon Musk is increasingly unhappy with OpenAI, the AI research firm he helped found five years ago," reports Business Insider: Microsoft announced on Tuesday that it was exclusively licensing GPT-3, a natural language AI-powered tool made by OpenAI. The announcement was met with some dismay on Twitter from users who had thought OpenAI's mission statement was to make technologies like GPT-3 widely available. Elon Musk, who cofounded the company in 2015 as a non-profit AI research body, was among those who criticized the deal. "This does seem like the opposite of open. OpenAI is essentially captured by Microsoft," he said... Exactly how much exclusivity this license gives Microsoft is also unclear. In his blog post, Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott said OpenAI will continue to offer access to GPT-3 via its API. OpenAI reiterated this in its own blog post, saying "the deal has no impact on continued access to the GPT-3 model through OpenAI's API, and existing and future users of it will continue building applications with our API as usual." A Microsoft spokesperson told The Verge the deal gives Microsoft exclusive access to GPT-3's underlying code. GeekWire rounded up reactions from other AI pundits, noting that MIT's Technology Review complained OpenAI was "supposed to benefit humanity," and now "it's simply benefiting one of the richest companies in the world." And Oren Etzioni, CEO of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, said "OpenAI should be renamed ClosedAI — for all intents and purposes they are a for-profit company. But he added that GPT-3 "has remarkable capabilities and will lead to numerous applications and an even more vigorous mine-is-bigger-than-yours model arms race. I can't wait to see how Google and Amazon respond, and don't forget China."

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Categories: Technology

Woman stabbed after man entered home and started argument

This Is Total Essex - Sun, 27/09/2020 - 16:58
Essex Police are treating the attack as targeted.
Categories: Local News

Essex coronavirus figures: Cases rise by 50 in single day

Braintree and Witham Times - Sun, 27/09/2020 - 16:52
The number of recorded coronavirus cases in Essex have increased by 50 over the past 24 hours, official figures show.
Categories: Local News

The latest supermarket face mask rules in stores

This Is Total Essex - Sun, 27/09/2020 - 16:39
Retail staff now have to wear face coverings
Categories: Local News

Thailand Launches Its First Legal Action Against Facebook and Twitter

Slashdot - Sun, 27/09/2020 - 16:34
Reuters reports: Thailand launched legal action on Thursday against tech giants Facebook and Twitter for ignoring requests to take down content, in its first such move against major internet firms... "Unless the companies send their representatives to negotiate, police can bring criminal cases against them," the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, Puttipong Punnakanta, told reporters. "But if they do, and acknowledge the wrongdoing, we can settle on fines...." The complaints were against the U.S. parent companies and not their Thai subsidiaries, Puttipong said. Cybercrime police at a news conference said they would need to look at existing laws to determine whether they had jurisdiction to take up cases against firms based outside of Thailand. Emilie Pradichit, executive director of Manushya Foundation, a digital freedom advocate, said the complaints were "a tactic to scare these companies...." Thailand has a tough lese majeste law prohibiting insulting the monarchy and a Computer Crime Act that outlaws information that is false or affects national security has also been used to prosecute criticism of the royal family.

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Categories: Technology

'We saw our son on the floor as he took his own life'

This Is Total Essex - Sun, 27/09/2020 - 16:15
Richard Wade's death "could have been avoided" if failings hadn't occurred
Categories: Local News

Inside Essex's incredibly festive German Christmas market

This Is Total Essex - Sun, 27/09/2020 - 16:07
Organisers will be limiting visitor number to comply with social distancing measures
Categories: Local News

'Google App Engine' Abused to Create Unlimited Phishing Pages

Slashdot - Sun, 27/09/2020 - 15:34
Google's cloud-based service platform for developing and hosting web apps "can be abused to deliver phishing and malware while remaining undetected by leading enterprise security products," reports Bleeping Computer, citing a startling discovery by security researcher Marcel Afrahim: A Google App Engine subdomain does not only represent an app, it represents an app's version, the service name, project ID, and region ID fields. But the most important point to note here is, if any of those fields are incorrect, Google App Engine won't show a 404 Not Found page, but instead show the app's "default" page (a concept referred to as soft routing)... Essentially, this means there are a lot of permutations of subdomains to get to the attacker's malicious app. As long as every subdomain has a valid "project_ID" field, invalid variations of other fields can be used at the attacker's discretion to generate a long list of subdomains, which all lead to the same app... The fact that a single malicious app is now represented by multiple permutations of its subdomains makes it hard for sysadmins and security professionals to block malicious activity. But further, to a technologically unsavvy user, all of these subdomains would appear to be a "secure site." After all, the domain and all its subdomains come with the seal of "Google Trust Services" in their SSL certificates. Even further, most enterprise security solutions such as Symantec WebPulse web filter automatically allow traffic to trusted category sites. And Google's domain, due to its reputation and legitimate corporate use cases, earns an "Office/Business Applications" tag, skipping the scrutiny of web proxies.

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Categories: Technology

'Kind soul' sent 'I'm sorry' message before taking his own life

This Is Total Essex - Sun, 27/09/2020 - 15:28
Curtis Bawden has been described as a "kind soul" who "gave the world to everyone he cared for"
Categories: Local News

Man dies in hospital days after attack outside library

This Is Total Essex - Sun, 27/09/2020 - 15:04
A man has been re-arrested on suspicion of murder
Categories: Local News

'Why Modeling the Spread of COVID-19 Is So Damn Hard'

Slashdot - Sun, 27/09/2020 - 14:34
Slashdot reader the_newsbeagle writes: At the beginning of the pandemic, modelers pulled out everything they had to predict the spread of the virus. This article explains the three main types of models used: 1) compartmental models that sort people into categories of exposure and recovery, 2) data-driven models that often use neural networks to make predictions, and 3) agent-based models that are something like a Sim Pandemic. "Researchers say they've learned a lot of lessons modeling this pandemic, lessons that will carry over to the next..." the article points out: Finally, researchers emphasize the need for agility. Jarad Niemi, an associate professor of statistics at Iowa State University who helps run the forecast hub used by the CDC, says software packages have made it easier to build models quickly, and the code-sharing site GitHub lets people share and compare their models. COVID-19 is giving modelers a chance to try out all their newest tools, says biologist Lauren Ancel Meyers, the head of the COVID-19 Modeling Consortium at the University of Texas at Austin. "The pace of innovation, the pace of development, is unlike ever before," she says. "There are new statistical methods, new kinds of data, new model structures." "If we want to beat this virus," says Mikhail Prokopenko, a computer scientist at the University of Sydney, "we have to be as adaptive as it is."

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Categories: Technology

Person rushed to hospital after air ambulance lands near school

This Is Total Essex - Sun, 27/09/2020 - 14:24
The air ambulance landed on John Shennan Playing Field
Categories: Local News

Bad boys bad boys, what you gonna do? Los Angeles Police Department found fibbing about facial recognition use

The Register - Sun, 27/09/2020 - 14:03
Plus: CIA launches new research lab for AI experts, and more

In brief  The Los Angeles Police Department has run facial recognition algorithms a whopping 29,817 times over a decade in an attempt to identify suspected criminals captured in CCTV footage, despite promising it wouldn't.…

Categories: Technology

The latest change to coronavirus rules in England

This Is Total Essex - Sun, 27/09/2020 - 13:43
The new rules were announced by the PM last week
Categories: Local News

These are the 5 hardest secondary schools to get into in Essex

This Is Total Essex - Sun, 27/09/2020 - 13:14
At one school, only 37 per cent of first choice applicants were successful
Categories: Local News

The haunted ghost stories behind 13 of Essex's spookiest pubs

This Is Total Essex - Sun, 27/09/2020 - 13:08
From footsteps, to disappearing objects, to ghosts seen in corridors, there are some really scary reports
Categories: Local News

Schoolboy murdered on bus over Snapchat 'banter'

This Is Total Essex - Sun, 27/09/2020 - 12:46
“His dreams, together with mine, will never happen because he was taken from us in such a cruel way," says the victims mother.
Categories: Local News


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