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Russian Telescope Detects “Strong Alien Signal”

Strong-Alien-Signal

Signal detected a year ago from star HD164595, only 95 light years away and with at least one planet, but Seti scientists are scanning the area and have yet to find it.

A Russian radio telescope scanning the skies has observed “a strong signal” from a nearby star, HD164595, in the constellation Hercules. The star is a scant 95 light years away and 99% of the size of Earth’s own sun. It has at least one planet, HD164595b, which is about the size of Neptune and has a 40-day year.

Seth Shostak of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute (Seti) in Mountain View, California, told the Guardian he was shocked to have learned of the discovery only now – the readings from Russian radio telescope Ratan-600, Shostak said, were taken a year ago.

Seti, a private organization, searches the skies for alien life and has been underwritten by US government divisions as diverse as Nasa and the Department of Energy. Operated by the Russian Academy of Sciences, Ratan-600’s primary area of focus is monitoring the sun, though it has contributed to Seti’s work.

The news came to international attention on Saturday through Claudio Maccone of the University of Turin in Italy, who attended a talk by the scientists who recorded the signal on 15 May 2015. Maccone passed data from the presentation to the science and science-fiction writer Paul Gilster, who maintains a blog about interstellar exploration called Centauri Dreams.

Maccone sent the Guardian his proposed presentation for the International Academy of Astronautics 2016 meeting on the subject of the search for alien life, set for 27 September. He will call for the permanent monitoring of HD164595. “The power of the signal received is not unrealistic for type I civilizations,” he wrote.

The phrase “type I civilization” is a designation on the Kardashev scale, named for Russian astrophysicist Nikolai Kardashev developed in the 1960s and described in English in his 1985 paper On the Inevitability and the Possible Structures of Supercivilizations. A type I civilization would be similar to the current development of technology on earth.

“Could it be an ET?” asked Shostak rhetorically. “Of course, but [Ratan-600] didn’t have a receiver that has any spectral resolution.” The receiver on the Russian radio telescope is very wide, which aids it in its primary mission of monitoring solar activity but also means that, like a terrestrial radio receiving a news station, rock’n’roll station and country station at the same time, it is difficult to discern which band is broadcasting at which frequency. “They have a receiver that would swallow a big chunk of the radio dial at once,” Shostak said.

Because the receiver covers such a big sweep of the radio dial, it is hard to tell if the signal comes from intelligent life.

If it is being broadcast across a large chunk of the radio spectrum, the noise is probably coming from a quasar or another source of stellar “noise”; if it is over a narrower band but very strong, it is likelier to be the product of intelligence.

Gilster said he was curious about the possibility that the signal could be caused by “microlensing” – a quirk of gravity that occurs when massive objects like stars or quasars are aligned behind another heavenly body.

“My own thought is that this is very possibly a one-time signal, much like the famous WOW! signal some years back,” Gilster said. On 15 August 1977, astronomer Jerry Ehman received a powerful radio signal from a group of stars called Chi Sagittarii; he circled the surprising spot on the readout and wrote “WOW!” The signal never returned.

“If it too doesn’t repeat,” said Gilster, “then we won’t know what it was, including the possibility of some kind of local signal whose source just hasn’t been figured out.”

Shostak said he wished he had been made aware of the signal earlier. “Why is it that we’re hearing about this now because one of the guys gave a talk in Moscow a year ago?” he asked. “Maccone’s explanation is that the Russians are ‘shy’. [But] it’s generally accepted procedure in the Seti community if you find a signal that you think is interesting, you call up people in another observatory and say: ‘Hey, here’s the position in the sky,’ and you see what happens.”

Gilster said his understanding was that the Russian team had spent the past year analyzing and confirming its data.

Shostak told the Guardian that Seti’s own radio telescope was scanning the coordinates in question in search of the promising signal as of Sunday night. That evening, though, everything was quiet.

The Russian radio telescope team and Maccone have been contacted for comment.

Read Article (Sam Thielman | theguardian.com | 08/29/2016)

Inevitably, such contact will happen --It’s just a matter of time. All we can do it hope that governments of planet earth don’t screw-up a first contact. It’s quite obvious that governments have secret agendas’ and who knows what they might do?

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EU Files Third Antitrust Charge Against Google

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The European commission has filed a third antitrust charge against Google, this time against its AdSense advertising business.

The EU regulator accuses Alphabet’s Google of abusing its dominance in search to benefit its own advertising business, which has historically been the company’s main revenue stream. The EC also reinforced its existing charge against Google’s shopping service, which the regulator says receives preferential treatment in search results.

European competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, said: “Google has come up with many innovative products that have made a difference to our lives. But that doesn’t give Google the right to deny other companies the chance to compete and innovate.

“We have also raised concerns that Google has hindered competition by limiting the ability of its competitors to place search adverts on third-party websites, which stifles consumer choice and innovation,” Vestager said.

The commission said it had sent two “statements of objections” to Google and given its parent company, Alphabet, 10 weeks to respond. Google faces fines up to 10% of its global turnover for each case if found guilty of beaching the bloc’s antitrust rules.

Vestager also said the commission’s preliminary probe into Google Shopping has revealed that Google has “unduly favored its own comparison shopping service in its general search result pages”, meaning that “consumers may not see the most relevant results to their search queries.

“If our investigations conclude that Google has broken EU antitrust rules, the commission has a duty to act to protect European consumers and fair competition on European markets,” Vestager said.

A Google spokesperson said: “We believe that our innovations and product improvements have increased choice for European consumers and promote competition. We’ll examine the commission’s renewed cases and provide a detailed response in the coming weeks.”

The EU’s concerns around Google’s adverts relate to the company’s AdSense for Search platform, in which Google acts as an intermediary for websites such as those of online retailers, telecoms operators or newspapers, with searches producing results that include search ads.

Google’s AdWords and AdSense programs, which formed the bulk of Google’s $75bn (£56bn) in revenue last year, have been on the EC’s radar since 2010, after rivals complained about unfair advertising exclusivity clauses and undue restrictions on other advertisers.

The EU’s executive branch is already investigating whether Google gives preferential treatment to its own products, including Google Search and Chrome, in its Android operating system. Device manufacturers are obliged to place Google Search and Chrome on the primary home screen of Android devices, as well as other Google apps, if they want to provide access to the Google Play Store - the single largest source of third-party Android apps.

The company is also facing complaints against its image search from Getty Images.

Read Article (name | domain | 03/11/2016)

In the digital era, there is a significant difference between Europe and the US when it comes to individual privacy. Europe maintains individual privacy as primary whereas the US, unfortunately, views businesses as primary in this regard. The result is that US tech companies must conduct business in Europe much differently, or face penalties.

The European commission, though lobbied and charmed, has maintained their position on privacy. To continue business in Europe, US tech companies must comply with their rules and policies or be fined and removed, simple as that.

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Paris Victim’s Family Sues Facebook, Google & Twitter

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SAN FRANCISCO — The family of a California college student killed in November's terrorist attacks in Paris is suing Facebook, Google and Twitter, alleging the companies provided "material support" to the Islamic State and other extremist groups.

The Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, uses popular Internet services such as Facebook and Twitter to spread propaganda, to attract and train new recruits, to celebrate terrorist attacks and publicize executions.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday in San Francisco federal court is the latest to target social media services for making it too easy for the ISIL to spread its message. Cal State Long Beach student Nohemi Gonzalez was among 130 people killed in the Paris attacks.

Facebook said the lawsuit is without merit.

“There is no place for terrorists or content that promotes or supports terrorism on Facebook, and we work aggressively to remove such content as soon as we become aware of it," Facebook said in an emailed statement. "Anyone can report terrorist accounts or content to us, and our global team responds to these reports quickly around the clock. If we see evidence of a threat of imminent harm or a terror attack, we reach out to law enforcement."

Twitter said it "strongly condemns the ongoing acts of violence for which ISIS claims credit."

"Our sympathies go out to those impacted by these acts of terror," the company said in an emailed statement. "We have partnered with others in industry, NGOs and governments to find better ways to combat the online manifestations of the larger societal problem at the core of violent extremism. As we stated earlier this year, violent threats and the promotion of terrorism deserve no place on Twitter and, like other social networks, our rules make that clear."

Google could not be reached for comment.

  • In January, Twitter was sued by the widow of an American killed in an attack on a Jordanian police training center. Tamara Fields, a Florida woman whose husband Lloyd Carl Fields Jr., a government contractor, died in the Nov. 9 attack, accused Twitter of knowingly allowing the terror group to use its platform.
  • In February, Twitter said it had suspended 125,000 accounts connected to the Islamic State over the previous six months.
  • In what may be the first act of terrorism broadcast on Facebook Live, the suspected killer of a French police commander and his wife this week streamed a 13-minute video threatening attacks on European soccer competition Euro 2016 and contemplating the fate of the dead couple's child.

Read Article (Jessica Guynn | usatoday.com | 06/15/2016)

Bless all the victims.

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ACLU Joins Microsoft in Suit Against the DOJ

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SAN FRANCISCO — Microsoft got an ally in its lawsuit against the Justice Department Thursday. The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a motion to join Microsoft’s effort to challenge DOJ gag orders that prevent the tech company from telling customers when the government has ordered it to turn over data.

The ACLU is a Microsoft customer. Microsoft filed its lawsuit in April, one of a number of legal challenges the Redmond, Wash., company has mounted against growing law enforcement requests for its cloud-based consumer data.

“A basic promise of our Constitution is that the government must notify you at some point when it searches or seizes your private information,” said Alex Abdo, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project. “Notice serves as a crucial check on executive power, and it has been a regular and constitutionally required feature of searches and seizures since the nation’s founding.”

Microsoft spokesperson David Cuddy said the company "appreciates the support from the ACLU and many others in the business, legal and policy communities who are concerned about secrecy becoming the norm rather than the exception.”

Requests from law enforcement agencies for access to users' personal information routinely flood tech companies that store vast amounts of data in the cloud. Massive data centers run by Microsoft, Amazon and other big tech companies allow businesses and individuals to access email, photos and other content from multiple devices, wherever they are.

Law enforcement officials say that access to such data is critical to fighting crime and terrorism. Using the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the U.S. government is increasingly targeting such data, according to Microsoft, which says the government has mandated secrecy in 2,576 instances over the past 18 months. People would know if the government went through their filing cabinet or their hard drive, but are unaware when their privacy in the cloud is intruded upon, they argue.

The 1986 law was written before the Web was born and long before Americans started sending, receiving and storing so much of their personal communications and documents on the Internet.

Microsoft alleges the Electronic Communications Privacy Act violates users' Fourth Amendment right that a search be reasonable and Microsoft's First Amendment right to talk to its users.

"Notably and even surprisingly, 1,752 of these secrecy orders, or 68% of the total, contained no fixed end date at all. This means that we effectively are prohibited forever from telling our customers that the government has obtained their data," Microsoft chief legal officer Brad Smith wrote in an April blog post when the suit was announced.

Tech companies increasingly are being drawn into legal battles with federal agencies over access to consumer information. A broad swath of major technology names filed amicus briefs on behalf of Apple during the iPhone maker's protracted battle with the FBI earlier this year over access to the smartphone used by one of the San Bernardino killers.

Read Article (Marco della Cava | usatoday.com | 05/26/2016)

Today Microsoft is fighting a battle to protect your digital privacy, tomorrow you may need to fight your own battle to protect your digital privacy. But only if you realize it’s been hacked and only if you know what you are talking about.

By now you should have some idea of what we are about, if not read our about page. But our instructional webinars are the long-term solution for addressing digital literacy and how to fully use devices that connect to the Internet and the Internet itself.

The digital industry is not going to provide this type of effective solution. Join the cause and donate to our startup today, let’s make it real. By helping those around you, you are really helping yourself in the long run.

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Google Facing a $3.4B Antitrust Fine in Europe

Google-Antitrust-Fine

U.S. technology companies are not having a good time of it in Europe. An investigation into Apple’s tax affairs in Ireland continues; Amazon’s e-book distribution system is being looked into; Qualcomm is facing not one but two investigations in Europe; and of course Microsoft was fined more than $700 million by the European Commission in 2013 for failing to offer users a choice of web browser.

Now it’s Google’s turn to face the music. The search giant, which is no stranger to probes by European regulators, could face more charges this week as investigators conclude a yearlong investigation into its Android operating system. The investigation could result in a fine of as much as $7.5 billion for the Mountain View, California, company.

Last April the European Commission announced it was issuing formal charges against Google following a five-year investigation into its comparison shopping practices. In the same breath the commission announced it was opening an entirely new investigation into Android to assess if Google's practice of forcing operators and manufacturers to preload its own apps onto the devices prevents developers of other apps from succeeding.

According to sources close to the investigation speaking to the Financial Times, the competition authority could announce formal charges against Google as soon as Wednesday, with lawyers involved in the case sending out requests for information with 24-hour deadlines — seen as a strong indication that the investigation is concluding.

The commission has the power to fine Google up to 10 percent of its global revenue, which in 2015 rose to $74.5 billion. Google, for its part, strongly denies any wrongdoing in either the comparison shopping or Android cases.

“By requiring phone makers and operators to preload a set of Google apps, rather than letting them decide for themselves which apps to load, Google might have cut off one of the main ways that new apps can reach customers,” Margrethe Vestager, the EU competition commissioner, said during a speech in Amsterdam on Monday.

Vestager, who recently indicated the EC would be willing to investigate Google’s tax practices in the U.K., added that the investigation into Google had not formally closed, “so I can’t yet say if [it] has broken the rules.” What Vestager said this week is nothing new, and the commission said it would not be commenting on reports that a decision on its Android investigation was imminent.

Responding to the reports of possible charges, Google told International Business Times in an emailed statement that it continues to discuss the issues with the European Commission, pointing out why it believes Android helps rather than hinders developers and consumers. “Anyone can use Android, with or without Google applications,” the statement said. “Hardware manufacturers and carriers can decide how to use Android, and consumers have the last word about which apps they want to use on their devices.”

In a blog post published after the investigation was opened last year, Google claimed Android had led to more innovation and choice on mobile than ever before. Google, however, is clearly worried about the number of investigations it is facing in Europe.

According to a Guardian investigation last December, the company enlisted members of Congress to help lobby European politicians while it spent twice as much on lobbying in Europe as Apple, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter and Uber combined in 2015.

Android is the world's most popular mobile operating system, and across Europe’s top five markets (U.K., France, Germany, Italy and Spain) Android commands over 70 percent market share, according to the latest figures from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

It is an open-source piece of software, meaning anyone can download it and install it on their smartphones or tablets without having to pay Google to do so. However, to get access to apps like Gmail, Google Maps and Google Play Store — known collectively as Google Mobile Services — manufacturers need to sign a licensing agreement with Google. These agreements are confidential, but it is understood that Google imposes strict criteria on how its own apps will be displayed on the devices. It is on this aspect of Google's practice that the commission's investigation is focusing.

While Google doesn’t make any money directly from Android, it does derive huge profits from the fact that its services such as the Play Store, Maps, Gmail and search are all preloaded onto any Google-certified smartphone that runs Android. As the world moves more and more to mobile, Google wants to remain the dominant player in that market in order to be better able to sell ads to its customers.

While the European Union continues to investigate Android, it is not the only place in the world to do so. According to a report from Bloomberg, the Federal Trade Commission has also opened an investigation into whether Google stifled competitors’ access to the Android platform. In Russia, the courts have ruled against Google over an identical complaint by Yandex — known as the “Google of Russia” — which said Google was damaging competition by forcing manufacturers to pre-install certain apps. Having lost an appeal last month, Google will not be forced to change its contracts with manufacturers in Russia.

Read Article (David Gilbert | ibtimes.com | 04/18/2016)

There are normally two victims in the event of a data breach, the business and the consumer.  In the US, media and government agencies seem to treat business as the primary victim but in the EU, they definitely treat the consumer as the primary victim.

In addition, Europe now has new rules in place to protect European citizen’s personal data. “Whatever else may be said about it, the simple fact is that the global standard for data protection will now be dictated by European rules.”

The new laws have already proved controversial with companies wishing to operate with EU citizens’ data, placing an administrative burden on some, including those based outside of Europe. (Facebook)

It’s up to each individual to get a little Tech-savvy for their own wellbeing and that of their loved ones and with your support, we will be able assist all those who struggle in the learning process.

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