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Everything posted by kya100

  1. Police in the UK say they have arrested a man in the north of England for developing and maintaining a Kodi add-on offering illegal streams. On the same day that the arrest took place, the popular Supremacy add-on went down in mysterious circumstances. Official sources have not linked the two events but there are some coincidences. While overall interest in Kodi appears to be on a downward trend, millions of people still use the software to organize their media. Larger numbers still augment Kodi with software add-ons which allow them to stream movies, TV shows, and sports events, often in a way that infringes copyright. As a result, entertainment companies and their agents are keen to reduce the use of such tools. With little fanfare, the Covert Development and Disruption Team of the UK’s North West Regional Organised Crime Unit recently announced that there had been an arrest in connection with this kind of activity. According to police, a 40-year-old man was detained in Winsford, Cheshire, following a joint investigation with anti-piracy outfit Federation Against Copyright Theft. The unit said that man was arrested in connection with creating and maintaining a Kodi add-on configured to supply illegal online streams. “The scale of the offending was significant and affected broadcasters and rights owners in the UK and worldwide. Police searched an address, seized evidence, and interviewed the suspect has later been released on police bail pending investigation,” a statement reads. Typically for this kind of announcement, details are scarce. Other than location and age, no further details were made available on the alleged offender, or the add-on that had triggered the referral from FACT. As a result, it’s not currently possible to positively identify the person or the add-on in question. What we do know is that last Friday, on the very same day that the police say they carried out the arrest of the man in Cheshire, a very popular add-on and associated repository (repo) went down without warning or explanation. Supremacy is a popular Kodi add-on that provides access to a wide range of content, from movies and TV shows to live sports. The add-on works by ‘scraping’ or aggregating content from existing online sources, presenting them inside the add-on for users to select. While other repos have also offered the add-on, Supremacy was once available for download from the Supremacy repo, previously located at That domain was registered with Namecheap on March 25, 2019 and isn’t set to expire until March 25, 2021. However, there is an additional note in the domain’s WHOIS which suggests something is wrong. While no longer accessible, cached versions of the site show that the repo did indeed disappear on the same day, with the /addon and /repo directories both modified at 08:01 am. An associated Facebook page and Telegram group also disappeared in a similar fashion. Returning to the confirmed arrest last week, it’s unclear why FACT chose to refer the add-on developer, whoever he is, to the police. There is yet to be a successful criminal prosecution of an add-on developer in the UK or elsewhere. Several have been threatened privately, however.
  2. Following the news that an organized crime police unit in the UK has arrested the developer of a Kodi add-on, several popular add-ons and repos have shut down. Supremacy fell last week and has now been followed by 13 Clowns, Maverick TV, Overeasy, and possibly more. Developers of Kodi add-ons, including those who maintain places to download them (repositories), have long been at risk of legal action, should they provide access to infringing content. Many have been targeted directly, having received cease-and-desist letters from groups including the massive Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE). Until recently, action through the civil courts has been the assumed course of action for rightsholders but that changed with the news that police in the UK became involved. As per our report published yesterday, the Covert Development and Disruption Team of the UK’s North West Regional Organised Crime Unit recently arrested a 40-year-old man on suspicion of developing and maintaining an add-on designed to facilitate access to infringing content. Nobody has yet been able to publicly verify the precise target but on the same day the arrest took place, the popular Supremacy repository (repo) went down in mysterious yet coincidental circumstances. During the past few hours, news of the arrest appears to have prompted other developers to rethink their futures. Given its popularity, Kodi add-on enthusiasts will be disappointed to hear that the Exodus-forked 13 Clowns add-on is one of the casualties. The end of the add-on was announced via Twitter and also in a slightly unorthodox fashion, via the Kodi software itself. Rather than take the associated repo down, the developer pushed an update which reportedly disabled the add-on and delivered a shutdown message. The Maverick TV add-on also disappeared last evening. No disabling ‘update’ of the add-on appears to have been pushed but the associated repository was deleted. That was followed by an announcement on Twitter which indicated the show is over. Another casualty is the Exodus-forked Overeasy add-on. That tool was previously available from the Eggman repo but both have gone down, with the latter currently displaying an empty directory. Some of the now-discontinued repos also contained add-ons in addition to their own, so the full fallout may not be known for a while. Some add-ons will find new homes but others may yet decide to throw in the towel. It’s important to note that none of the above cited the arrest as a reason for closure but again, in common with the disappearance of the Supremacy repo, there are a number of coincidences that appear to fit recent developments. Whatever the reasons for the closures, having an organized crime unit become involved in taking down a Kodi add-on developer is a massive escalation in the UK and will certainly prompt pause for thought among those in a similar position.
  3. Several top Kodi Repositories and Add-ons have shut down and are no longer available. It started last week with Supremacy which has been a long time popular repository with many add-ons shutting down. Today Maverick TV, Egg-man, and 13 Clowns Repositories have also shut down. List of Kodi Repositories that Have Shut Down Supremacy Maverick TV 13 Clowns Egg-man List of Kodi Add-ons that Have Shut Down Supremacy Maverick TV Yoda 13 Clowns Exodus 13C Video Overeasy Destiny Joker Sports At the Flix Reality Gen-X Joy Ride Aspis Atriox It is currently unknown why they have shut down. There have been no ACE letters shown online that have taken down Kodi add-ons and repositories in the past. Other Repositories seem to have shut down in response. This is still a rumor with no official cause for the shut downs known yet. Maverick and Gen-X announced on Twitter a shut down.
  4. YouTube may have a particularly strong incentive to change how it handles kids' videos -- it appears to be under government scrutiny for its behavior. Sources for both the New York Times and Washington Post assert that the FTC is in the "late stages" of an investigation into possible violations of kids' privacy. Advocacy groups have reportedly maintained that YouTube is violating COPPA by collecting data for children under the age of 13, including through its dedicated Kids app. The complaints are said to reach as far back as 2015. While it's not certain just what would happen, a truly late-stage investigation suggests that a fine, a settlement or both could be right around the corner. YouTube has declined to comment on the FTC investigation claims, but repeated an earlier statement that many of its product ideas "remain just that -- ideas." The FTC has also turned down the chance to comment. The issue at hand might be a familiar one. As with TikTok and other big apps, it can be difficult to be sure you're really limiting the under-13 crowd. It's a poorly-kept secret that young kids watch YouTube all the time, and they're not always going to tell the truth about their age if they sign up for accounts. Not that officials might care. The FTC has frequently demanded that companies settling COPPA cases either pull apps or implement significant reforms, and YouTube isn't likely to be off the hook.
  5. Hackers are exploiting it to carry out attacks on vulnerable systems. If you have Firefox on your computer, you should update it right now. Mozilla has released security updates Firefox 67.0.3 and Firefox ESR 60.7.1 to fix a critical bug, which it says hackers are actively exploiting to take control of vulnerable systems. The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency also issued an alert urging users and system administrators to review Mozilla's security advisory and act accordingly -- in other words, update your browser. Coinbase Security and Samuel Groß of Google Project Zero reported the bug, which occurs "when manipulating JavaScript objects due to issues in Array.pop," Mozilla said. Essentially, attackers would be able to inject code into your system through malicious web pages if you visit them while running an unpatched version of Firefox. You can install the update via the following links: Firefox 67.0.3 for Windows 64-bit[/CODE] [CODE]Firefox 67.0.3 for Windows 32-bit[/CODE] [CODE]Firefox 67.0.3 for macOS[/CODE] [CODE]Firefox 67.0.3 for Linux 64-bit[/CODE] [CODE]Firefox 67.0.3 for Linux 32-bit[/CODE]
  6. You knew Facebook's Libra cryptocurrency would come under scrutiny as soon as it became official, and the US government isn't wasting any time. House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters has issued a statement calling on Facebook to pause development of Libra until Congress and regulatory bodies have had a chance to review it. The social network has "repeatedly shown a disregard" for safeguarding user data, Waters said, suggesting that privacy issues could come back to haunt this product. The congresswoman also said that Facebook executives should testify about Libra as part of that oversight. We've asked Facebook for comment. As part of the announcement, though, it launched a Libra Association whose aim is to oversee the currency outside of Facebook's control. Calibra, the digital wallet for the new monetary format, is supposed to share only limited data with Facebook and have "strong protections" such as automated fraud checks. Those measures might not satisfy politicians. Numerous federal and state regulators are investigating Facebook's behavior in recent years, and there's no question that the internet giant has been awash in privacy debacles even after the Cambridge Analytica scandal had seemingly wound down. Waters and others just don't have much of a historical basis to trust what Facebook says, even though it appears to be learning its lessons.
  7. Over the last couple of weeks, we've heard that getting DoJ approval for T-Mobile's proposed $26 billion purchase of Sprint will require making moves to create a new national wireless carrier as a competitor. That could be achieved by selling off Boost Mobile and enough spectrum to make a service viable, however they needed to find a buyer. Now Bloomberg reports that Dish Network is in talks and could announce this week that it will be the company to do it, rather than possibles like Altice and Charter (Amazon wasn't mentioned). The price? Apparently about $6 billion. The pair promised the FCC they would sell Boost Mobile, and if talks don't fall through, then their hope is that this would help get approval and overcome a lawsuit filed by several state AGs. For its part, Dish has long harbored wireless ambitions, and acted to make them come true. It was even proposed as a buyer for divested T-Mobile assets during merger talks with AT&T back in 2011. We'll see if it happens this time or if things fall apart on the 1-yard line all over again.
  8. The final version of a new Liberal telecommunications policy, in effect as of Tuesday, takes steps to address industry concerns while maintaining a more consumer-oriented direction than the 2006 policy it replaces. The new policy directive to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission still emphasizes the need for affordable access to wireless, internet and other telecom services throughout the country. However, the government has also amended its first policy priority, saying the CRTC should encourage "all forms of competition and investment." The draft version, announced in February by Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains, didn't mention investment until the seventh of seven priorities to be considered in all future telecommunications decisions. The original proposal was criticized by Canada's main national and regional network companies, which said they needed assurances that it would be worth the risk of investing further billions on their infrastructure. We need to also promote competition so we can have more affordable prices for cellphones and the internet. - Navdeep Bains, federal innovation minister Bains said in an interview Tuesday that he recognizes the telecom companies have made significant investments — about $12 billion in recent years — and Canada has some of the world's best-quality networks as a result. "But we need to also promote competition so we can (have) more affordable prices for cellphones and the internet. And that's what the directive speaks to," Bains said. "It's really about putting the consumer front-and-centre, so the investments being made will benefit consumers as well." Among other things, the final Liberal policy directive says the CRTC should "foster affordability and lower prices, particularly when telecommunications service providers exercise market power." The term "market power" generally refers to a dominant company's ability to set prices. The new wording could be more favourable to the large telecom providers than the more vague reference to a "potential" to exercise market power that was in the original draft. More room for new competitors But the final policy directive continues to put stronger emphasis on consumer rights, and conditions for allowing new competitors, than the 2006 policy put in place under the Harper Conservative government. Laura Tribe, executive director of the OpenMedia consumer advocacy group, welcomed the finalized policy direction. "This clearly tells the CRTC it's time to put people before Big Telecom," Tribe said in a statement. Liberals looking to balance tensions between telecom carriers, consumers Why some say latest spectrum auction won't do much to lower your cellphone bill "At this point, all eyes turn to the CRTC to see if and how it follows through to make the government's clear vision for affordable connectivity for all throughout Canada a reality." One of the contentious issues to be considered by the regulator is whether to change its stance on mobile virtual network operators, or MVNOs, which facilities-based networks generally oppose. Rogers, Bell and Telus own Canada's three main national facilities-based networks while Shaw's Freedom Mobile, Quebecor's Videotron and Bragg Communication's Eastlink have regional networks. The CRTC said in March, shortly after Bains announced the policy shift, that it was of the "preliminary view" that there should be more opportunity for MVNOs. Supporters of MVNOs — which pay for wholesale access to wireless networks where they haven't installed their own facilities — argue that consumer prices will fall if the large carriers face more competition. CRTC could allow access to Big 3 wireless networks for small competitors Critics of MVNOs — particularly carriers that would be required to sell wholesale access to their networks at a regulated price — argue that the practice would dry up future investments and hurt Canada's competitiveness in telecommunications. CRTC chairman Ian Scott said in a statement that the regulator had taken note of the final text of the government's policy direction. He added that "this policy direction will be applied to current and future telecommunications proceedings, including the review of mobile wireless services and other proceedings where final submissions have not yet been made."
  9. Cybercrime police from Bulgaria's Ministry of the Interior supported by officers from Europol have carried out an operation against five local cable operators accused of illegally intercepting broadcasts. The signals were being captured for distribution worldwide via IPTV applications. A large volume of equipment has been seized. With pirate IPTV services continuing to gain traction around the world, moves to undermine their businesses are on the increase. Many publicized enforcement actions feature IPTV providers and their resellers but news coming out of Bulgaria indicates that a player higher up the chain has been targeted by authorities. Cybercrime officers from an anti-organized crime unit of the Ministry of the Interior have targeted five cable operators accused of intercepting and rebroadcasting foreign and local channels without permission from the rightsholders. Supported by Europol’s Intellectual Property Crime Coordinated Coalition (IPC3) and the Audiovisual Anti-Piracy Alliance (AAPA), the operation is said to have taken down a pirate IPTV service with an estimated 700,000 worldwide subscribers. Authorities say that following the raids across eight cities in Bulgaria, all of the hardware used in the operation was seized, including the servers that were used to provide content to the IPTV provider’s mobile applications. According to the Ministry of the Interior, permission for the raids was obtained from several district courts. Eight teams were formed which carried out simultaneous actions on offices and other premises targeting technical equipment used by the cable operators. Several TV companies are reported to have suffered damage from the alleged intellectual property offenses, including private national broadcasting channel bTV, local TV network Nova, and US cable and satellite network HBO. The Ministry of the Interior reports that intellectual property crimes have caused damage to the country’s reputation overseas. Indeed, the USTR called out Bulgaria in its latest Special 301 Report, noting that “online and broadcast piracy remains a challenging copyright enforcement issue” in the country. A full investigation is underway in respect of intellectual property violations but the government says that alongside it will be looking for evidence of tax evasion. Moving forward, regular checks will be carried out at all cable operators, with those suspected of illegal activity treated as a priority.
  10. Video streaming service VidAngel, which allows users to filter objectionable content from movies and TV-shows, has to pay $62.4 million to Disney and Warner Bros. The company is liable for copyright infringement after it streamed movies without permission of the rightsholders. In addition, it violated the DMCA's anti-circumvention provision, by ripping DVDs. Founded in 2013, Utah-based startup VidAngel entered the video streaming market with a rather innovative business model. The company allowed its users to rent popular movies and TV-shows, with the option to filter out violence, sex, profanity, and other objectionable content. While there was plenty of demand for the service, it operated without permission from the major movie studios. Instead, the company acquired DVDs, which it would then rip using AnyDVD, so they could be streamed online. Users interested in a movie were able to rent it for $20, and then sell it back after a day for $19. This made rentals as cheap as $1 per streamed movie, effectively beating all legal competitors. VidAngel made sure that it would have physical DVDs in its archive for all movies and TV-shows that were rented out at any given time. This resulted in a rather extensive library of duplicate discs, as the massive collection of “The Revenant” DVDs. After operating its service for a few months, VidAngel drew the attention of several major movie studios including Disney and Warner Bros. In 2016, they teamed up to file a lawsuit against VidAngel, accusing it of copyright infringement and violating the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provision. “VidAngel does not have permission to copy Plaintiffs’ movies and television shows or to stream them to VidAngel’s users,” the studios’ complaint read. “Instead, VidAngel appears to circumvent the technological protection measures on DVDs and Blu-ray discs to create unauthorized copies and then uses those copies to stream Plaintiffs’ works to the public without authorization.” VidAngel was convinced, however, that its business was legal. It argued that it was protected by the Family Movie Act, which allows consumers to skip objectionable movie content without committing copyright infringement. The movie studios disagreed and earlier this year were backed by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The Court granted summary judgment, ruling that VidAngel is liable for violating the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provision and committing copyright infringement. The only question that remained was the scale of the damages. This was determined yesterday, following a multi-day trial where the jury concluded that a $62.4 million damages award was appropriate. The bulk of the damages, $61.4 million, is for copyright infringement. With 819 titles mentioned in the suit, this amounts to $75,000 per infringed work, half of the maximum statutory damages. The additional million in damages is for circumventing the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions by ripping the DVDs. This cost VidAngel $1,250 per title. The movie studios are happy with the outcome. In a joint statement, they state that it sends a clear message to others who might consider operating a similar service. “The jury today found that VidAngel acted willfully, and imposed a damages award that sends a clear message to others who would attempt to profit from unlawful infringing conduct at the expense of the creative community,” the studios note. VidAngel, however, vows to fight on and is likely to appeal the case. “We find today’s ruling unfortunate, but it has not lessened our resolve to save filtering for families. VidAngel plans to appeal the District Court ruling, and explore options in the bankruptcy court. “Our court system has checks and balances, and we are pursuing options on that front as well,” VidAngel CEO Neal Harmon adds. As KSL’s excellent timeline shows, VidAngel filed for bankruptcy in 2017 to protect itself from the lawsuit. However, the company isn’t going anywhere just yet. VidAngel’s original video streaming operation was shut down following a permanent injunction, but it later introduced a new service that allows users to “filter” Netflix, HBO and Amazon content for a fixed monthly subscription.
  11. Cybercrime police from Bulgaria's Ministry of the Interior supported by officers from Europol have carried out an operation against five local cable operators accused of illegally intercepting broadcasts. The signals were being captured for distribution worldwide via IPTV applications. A large volume of equipment has been seized. With pirate IPTV services continuing to gain traction around the world, moves to undermine their businesses are on the increase. Many publicized enforcement actions feature IPTV providers and their resellers but news coming out of Bulgaria indicates that a player higher up the chain has been targeted by authorities. Cybercrime officers from an anti-organized crime unit of the Ministry of the Interior have targeted five cable operators accused of intercepting and rebroadcasting foreign and local channels without permission from the rightsholders. Supported by Europol’s Intellectual Property Crime Coordinated Coalition (IPC3) and the Audiovisual Anti-Piracy Alliance (AAPA), the operation is said to have taken down a pirate IPTV service with an estimated 700,000 worldwide subscribers. Authorities say that following the raids across eight cities in Bulgaria, all of the hardware used in the operation was seized, including the servers that were used to provide content to the IPTV provider’s mobile applications. According to the Ministry of the Interior, permission for the raids was obtained from several district courts. Eight teams were formed which carried out simultaneous actions on offices and other premises targeting technical equipment used by the cable operators. Several TV companies are reported to have suffered damage from the alleged intellectual property offenses, including private national broadcasting channel bTV, local TV network Nova, and US cable and satellite network HBO. The Ministry of the Interior reports that intellectual property crimes have caused damage to the country’s reputation overseas. Indeed, the USTR called out Bulgaria in its latest Special 301 Report, noting that “online and broadcast piracy remains a challenging copyright enforcement issue” in the country. A full investigation is underway in respect of intellectual property violations but the government says that alongside it will be looking for evidence of tax evasion. Moving forward, regular checks will be carried out at all cable operators, with those suspected of illegal activity treated as a priority.
  12. You’ve probably already seen the video on social media. It’s an accomplished “parody” of clips published by engineering company Boston Dynamics, showing a CGI replica of the firm’s Atlas robot getting kicked, hit, and shot at, before turning the tables on its captors. Maybe you saw the video and initially thought it was real. Maybe you even felt bad for the robot and angry at its tormentors. “Why are they hurting that poor machine?” asked many. “Sure, it can’t feel anything, but that doesn’t mean they can treat it like that.” It’s a totally understandable reaction! But it’s also one that shows how much trouble we’re going to be in when robots like Atlas become a common sight on our streets. Are machines really deserving of empathy? Do we need to worry about people fighting for robot rights? These are big questions that are only going to become more relevant. First, though, a little side-bar on why so many people were taken in by this clip. Praise here goes to the creators, an LA production company named Corridor Digital, who did a slick job. The CGI is solid, the set dressing is on-point, and the target is well chosen. Boston Dynamics really does stress-test its robots by kicking and poking at them with sticks, and this has long made for slightly uncomfortable viewing. Helping the footage go viral is the fact that many accounts shared low-res versions of the video (which disguised the CGI) or trimmed the fantastical ending, where the robot is ordering humans about at gun-point. In short: if you thought the video was real, don’t kick yourself. Because that would be actual cruelty, as opposed to the fake, robot-kind. But that brings us to the important question here: is it okay to hurt robots? The obvious answer is: yes, of course. Robots aren’t conscious and can’t feel pain, so you’re never hurting them; you’re just breaking them. You may as well feel sorry for the next plate you drop on the floor, or advocate for the rights of cars being torn apart for scrap. But despite this obvious reading, humans do feel sorry for robots — all the time. Numerous studies show that it’s laughably easy to make humans treat robots like humans. We feel bad turning them off if they ask us not to; we obey their orders if they’re presented to us as authority figures; and we get uncomfortable touching their ‘private parts.’ This isn’t really a surprise. Humans will feel empathy for just about anything if you put a face on it. As MIT researcher and robot ethicist Kate Darling puts it: “We’re biologically hardwired to project intent and life onto any movement in our physical space that seems autonomous to us. So people will treat all sorts of robots like they’re alive.” The tricky thing is, how do we use this power? There are going be benefits for sure. Think of robots like Paro the baby harp seal that can help the elderly stop feeling lonely. But what about corporations that take advantage of our empathy; designing cheery AI assistants that win the hearts of children while teasing out some valuable marketing data, for example. And that’s before you start thinking about the mobile robots that are being deployed in supermarkets, on our streets, and that may soon be coming to our houses. In other words: the future of robot empathy is going to be a mess. Be glad we’re just dealing with the CGI parodies for now.
  13. The three-way struggle between criminal hackers, law enforcement and privacy-centric tech companies is constantly evolving. Today's smart devices have implemented increasingly tough security measures to protect users' personal data, while criminals seek to unlock them for various nefarious purposes, and authorities try to crack them for the sake of uncovering potential evidence. Israeli forensics firm Cellebrite is responsible for creating such a tool – the Universal Forensic Extraction Device (UFED), and the security company now claims it can unlock almost of all of the latest Apple and Android smart devices thanks to its latest update. Specifically, the latest version of the device (UFED Premium) is able to unlock and gain access to “Apple devices running iOS 7 to iOS 12.3” as well as “high-running Android devices including the Samsung Galaxy S6/S7/S8/S9 [and] models from Motorola, Huawei, LG and Xiaomi”. The device will be available to law enforcement agencies “on-premise”, meaning they will be able to operate the machine themselves and get the results independently of Cellebrite. The tool promises “access to 3rd party app data, chat conversations, downloaded emails and email attachments, deleted content and more”. Apple’s iOS 12 can reportedly defeat passcode-hacking GrayKey box Privacy for the people This time last year, we saw the security-conscious Apple release a more aggressive version of its USB Restricted Mode in the iOS 12 update – a solution that supposedly plugged a loophole whereby certain tools (akin to UFED and GreyKey) could access data via an iPhone’s Lightning Port. While it’s unclear which global law departments will make use of the Cellebrite technology, it was strongly suspected that the FBI used the company in 2016 to unlock the San Bernardino iPhone. Although the latest version of iOS is technically 12.3, Cellebrite’s site doesn’t make it clear whether the new 12.3.2 update is included in this. Similarly, Samsung's latest Android phone family – the Galaxy S10, S10 Plus and S10e – aren’t listed among the handsets the firm claims to be able to unlock, so it appears some forms of device encryption are still proving elusive.
  14. Hundreds of active and retired police officers and law enforcement personnel are congregating in private Facebook groups where they engage in open racism, Islamophobia, and even lend support to violent, anti-government groups, according to an investigation from nonprofit news organization Reveal, which is run by the US Center for Investigative Reporting. After Reveal notified law enforcement agencies, more than 50 departments have reportedly opened internal investigations. In some cases, departments say they’ll be evaluating officers’ online activity to see if it may have influenced past policing conduct. At least one officer has been fired for violating department policies as a result of participating in these groups, some of which bear names like “White Lives Matter” and “Death to Islam Undercover.” Reveal reports that the groups contain a full range of right-wing political ideologies, from standard conservativism to far-right initiatives that center around outright racism and Islamophobia. Some go even further: some Facebook groups surveyed by Reveal were associated with anti-government and militia movements, like the Oath Keepers. Reveal says that 150 of the 400 or so officers that it identified as belonging to these groups were part of that more extreme end. The unifying thread to all of these Facebook groups is that they are frequented and sometimes founded and operated by active and retired police officers, and that they actively recruit other police officers to join. Reveal reports that members of small rural departments and officers in the largest precincts in the nation, in Los Angeles and New York City, are participating in these groups. Reveal’s findings are troubling for Facebook’s ongoing moderation efforts. Like most of Silicon Valley’s large social platforms that host media and speech, Facebook is struggling to deal with its outsize impact on society; the company has neither the resources nor the wherewithal to combat the flood of hate groups, extremism, and misinformation on its platform. In some rare but tragic cases, activity on platforms like Facebook and Google’s YouTube has contributed to the radicalization of certain individuals who go on to commit offline violence. And in some disturbing cases, like the Christchurch shooting earlier this year, that offline violence is then rebroadcast on Facebook and YouTube for maximum effect. Facebook has leaned on artificial intelligence as a kind of panacea for its moderation woes. But at the F8 developer conference earlier this year, Facebook also announced a shift away from the News Feed and toward private groups as a way to lessen the influence of its algorithms. The shift also, in a way, absolves the company of responsibility for moderation. If public posts and pages wane in favor of private group activity, the logic is that those groups will self-moderate, and that by nature of being private they’ll reduce the reach of potentially harmful activity, too. But there’s no evidence to suggest Facebook is taking a more active role in moderating these groups’ activities — in fact, the opposite appears to be true. And the notion of active duty police officers with access to firearms participating openly in bigotry and potentially violent online behavior is worrisome for how it could translate into offline actions in the future. Facebook bans content that targets individuals based on their skin color or religion under its hate speech policies, and it also has rules around violent incitement and groups that have been known to organize and take action offline. It’s taken action against groups like far-right figure Gavin McInnes’ Proud Boys and individuals like conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for violations of those policies. But it’s often difficult for Facebook to take such action against individuals without large followings or specific groups if those groups are private and if those groups have taken measures to conceal the nature of their purpose. As such, some organizations on Facebook use coy in-jokes and other far-right dog whistling tactics to circumvent Facebook’s algorithmic filters. So a group with the phrase “Ku Klux Klan” in its title will easily get taken down, but one titled “Confederate Brothers & Sisters” will go unnoticed. Reveal says it identified these officers with a strategy that, ironically enough, involved using data Facebook has since stopped providing to third-parties due to developer misuse. Yet it’s this data that allows watchdogs like Reveal to do the investigations Facebook seemingly won’t. To find cops with connections to extremist groups, we built lists of two different types of Facebook users: members of extremist groups and members of police groups. We wrote software to download these lists directly from Facebook, something the platform allowed at the time. In mid-2018, in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and after we already had downloaded our data, Facebook shut down the ability to download membership lists from groups. Then we ran those two datasets against each other to find users who were members of at least one law enforcement group and one far-right group. Reveal says it could not initially assume that every member in a police Facebook group was an actual officer or even a retired one. They could have been individuals with general affinity and respect for law enforcement, relatives of officers, or those who aspire to join the police. So Reveal says it did research on hundreds of individuals, sometimes calling local departments to confirm active employment or retirement status. Reveal also joined dozens of these groups to verify its findings. “Ultimately, we confirmed that almost 400 users were indeed either currently employed as police officers, sheriffs or prison guards or had once worked in law enforcement,” the report reads. It is not clear at the moment how Facebook plans to review these groups or under what policies it might take action. Meanwhile, Reveal reports that the law enforcement agencies it contacted are continuing to conduct their own investigations into the officers’ online and offline conduct.
  15. With a new microbrewery popping up in the world every three minutes—don’t check our stats, we’re right—finding new ways to innovate among a crowded pack of craft producers is an increasingly tall task. But the brewers at Seven Bro7hers in Salford, England have arrived at a solution for separating their suds from the rest: using bad cereal. Last year, the brewery teamed up with BrewDog in Manchester to whip up a milkshake IPA called “Cornshake,” which naturally used leftover Kellogg’s Corn Flakes in the mash. Truth be told, Seven Bro7hers owner and founder Keith McAvoy didn’t think the brew was long for this world, due to litigation concerns. “A few days after we launched the beer,” McAvoy says, “Kellogg’s got in touch, and as we had used Kellogg’s branding on the label, we thought we were in trouble, and they were going to ask us to remove the reference. But it was quite the opposite: They loved what we had done.” Not only had McAvoy gotten the go-ahead from the cereal king to continue using the Kellogg’s name, but in fact, the company wanted to collaborate on a new beer. As you might expect, a mass producer like Kellogg’s lets a lot of food go to waste during the quality assurance process: Some flakes are too big. Some are overcooked. Some colors are wrong. Instead of going in the box, that leftover cereal goes in the trash. Kellogg’s wanted it to go somewhere else. So McAvoy and co. began creating Throw Away IPA—a hoppy IPA created with those rejected corn flakes—and as discussions continued, he says, “it became apparent that the wider issue of food waste could be addressed, and we decided to officially continue the partnership and make two more beers.” Those are Cast Off Pale Ale, a double dry-hopped pale ale made from recycled Rice Krispies, and Sling It Out Stout, a cocoa stout that uses surplus Coco Pops (a.k.a. Cocoa Krispies in the U.S.), both of which launched in the U.K. this week. Seven Bro7hers is selling all three beers in a limited-edition variety pack; they aren’t available in America yet, but we can only hope. In the meantime, it’s still useful to take a peek into Seven Bro7her’s brewing process. As with most brewers, Seven Bro7hers follows the typical formula, per McAvoy: Heat water to temperature in a tank called the hot liquor tank. Transfer the liquor (water) to a mash tun along with malted barley. Let it mash for about an hour (to enable all the sugars to be taken from the barley). Transfer the result (the wort) to a boiler tank. Add the hops, which begin to bitter and flavor the wort. Boil the wort, usually for about an hour. Add different hops at different stages of the boil, depending on the style of beer. When the boil and hop additions are complete, transfer to a fermenter. Add yeast, which turns the sugars into alcohol. Can, bottle, cask, or keg, and enjoy. The process for the cereal beers doesn’t vary much, with one big difference: The brewers replace a third of the grain bill with the cereal. “But because we’re using processed cereals,” McAvoy says, “the amount of sugar available in the cereal is considerably less than in the barley. And so more cereal is required to enable us to strike out at the correct ABV.” The New Science of Making Ridiculously Hoppy Beer Different beers take different amounts of time to ferment, usually between 5 to 10 days. Some beers, like pilsners, need even longer to condition and clear before packaging, says McAvoy. He says the cereal beers took about 3 weeks to complete from grain to keg. McAvoy won’t say what cereals he plans on using next—fingers crossed for Raisin Bran Crunch—but calls Seven Bro7hers’ involvement in Kellogg’s sustainability program “fantastic,” and says “we’ll continue working with Kellogg’s for the foreseeable future.”
  16. It's acting on vows to conduct more aggressive cyberwarfare. The US appears to be acting on its promise to aggressively respond to cyberwarfare threats. New York Times sources say Cyber Command has planted offensive malware in Russia's electrical grid, not just reconnaissance as has been the case since "at least" 2012. It's not certain just how deep the infiltration goes or what malware is capable of doing. The intention, however, is clear -- this is meant both to serve as a deterrent as well as a weapon in case the US and Russia trade blows. The military branch is reportedly taking advantage of measures in a 2018 defense authorization bill permitting secret online campaigns to "deter, safeguard or defend against" cyberattacks without requiring explicit presidential approval. President Trump, who claimed that Russia had stopped cyberattacks, isn't believed to have been briefed on the malware plants. Officials have declined to comment on the report, but national security advisor John Bolton said just this week that the US was expanding its potential online targets to warn Russia and others of the potential for retaliation. The approach could draw mixed reactions. While the US has been accused of going soft on Russia while it plants offensive malware in American infrastructure, there are concerns that this could lead to further digital aggression from Russia, such as using that malware for cyberattacks or making further attempts at election interference. The US is effectively betting that this creates a stalemate, rather than exacerbating an already tense situation.
  17. The US Air Force's new hypersonic missile took to the air for the first time as an AGM-183A Air Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) went aloft on June 12th from Edwards Air Force Base, California. Strapped under the wing of a B-52 Stratofortress bomber, the engine-less prototype was not dropped, but was equipped with sensors to record drag and vibrations on the vehicle and the aircraft. Hypersonic weapons have the potential to revolutionize 21st century warfare the way the jet engine did the 20th. However, operating at speeds in excess of Mach 5 (3,709 mi, 5,440 km/h) poses major engineering challenges. Because of this, development is not so much one of dramatic breakthroughs as a series of careful steps, though the Air Force is set on getting an operational hypersonic weapon as fast as possible. In the test, the ARRW was not fuelled or armed. It's having to remain docked to the bomber wing may seem anti-climatic, but the Air Force says that such an environmental data flight is required for all new weapon systems. The ARRW is one of two hypersonic weapons being developed under Air Force contracts and is expected to go operational sometime in 2022 thanks to a rapid prototyping program by Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, Orlando, Florida "We're using the rapid prototyping authorities provided by Congress to quickly bring hypersonic weapon capabilities to the warfighter," says Dr. Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. "We set out an aggressive schedule with ARRW. Getting to this flight test on time highlights the amazing work of our acquisition workforce and our partnership with Lockheed Martin and other industry partners." Source: US Air Force
  18. What would trucks look like if they didn't need to accommodate a human driver? Volvo Trucks' Vera vehicle is an exploration of this idea, doing away with the cabin entirely so it can more efficiently tow goods around ports and factories. The freewheeling four-wheeler has just been assigned its first task, and will soon go to work delivering containers to a port terminal in Sweden. Revealed in September last year, the autonomous Vera is powered by the same drivetrain and battery packs found in Volvo's electric trucks. It is, however, more electric sled than electric big rig, consisting of four-wheels and a low-profile body that can be latched onto by standard load carriers and trailers. The thinking is that one day fleets of connected Veras can scurry around ports, factories and other facilities with large loads on the back. Communicating with one another via a control center over the cloud, this could optimize traffic flow, keep operations running smoothly and minimize waiting times. And Volvo Trucks is now set to see how well this works in practice, with Vera receiving its first assignment towing containers from a logistics center in Gothenburg, Sweden, to a nearby port terminal for distribution around the world. The pilot is a collaboration with logistics company DFDS, and will involve short strips with speeds limited to 40 km/h (25 mph). "Autonomous transports with low noise levels and zero exhaust emissions have an important role to play in the future of logistics, and will benefit both business and society," says Mikael Karlsson, Vice President Autonomous Solutions at Volvo Trucks. "We see this collaboration as an important start and want to drive progress in this area. Vera may have a speed limit, but we don't. Testing has already started and we intend to implement the solution within the coming years." Source: Volvo Trucks
  19. Since the Streetfighter 1000 was dropped by Ducati in 2015, the only powerful naked bike in its lineup was the Monster 1200. The arrival of the new V4 engine offers a prime opportunity to reclaim top honors in the class, and now the Italians have revealed a prototype Streetfighter V4 to debut at the 2019 Pikes Peak Hill Climb. When Ducati rolled out the Panigale V4 superbike last year, several supposedly well-informed sources suggested that a naked version was in the pipeline too. The fire picked up a few months ago when the Italians entered an unspecified V4 for the 2019 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC), where sportbikes originally equipped with clip-on controls are banned for safety reasons. It couldn't be anything other than the rumored naked version of the superbike and it was confirmed soon after, when the bike was spotted testing for the race. Ducati is indeed reviving the Streetfighter, this time built around the Desmosedici Stradale V4 engine. The 1,103 cc road-legal version of Ducati's new motor powers the Panigale V4 and V4 S series with a stunning output of 214 hp (157.5 kW), and that's just the base regime. The 998 cc racing version of this engine in the V4 R produces 221 hp and goes up to 234 with an Akrapovic racing exhaust system. If any customer can do this with a simple add-on off the shelf, imagine what a proper racing team can get out of this powerhouse. In fact, World Superbike fans already know that Alvaro Bautista on the factory Panigale V4 R has been ruining the competition consistently since the championship took off last February, winning most of the six triple-race events until now by vast margins. Ducati hasn't released any technical information on the new bike, other than confirming which engine it bears and setting a formal unveiling date as a 2020 production model at the EICMA show in Milan, in November. As expected, the prototype Streetfighter V4 will make its first public outing at the PPIHC "Race to the Clouds" on June 30 in Colorado, at the hands of expert American racer Carlin Dunne. Supposedly the motorcycle is still in development, but if Ducati is confident enough to enter it in a race it probably is already very close to production standards. At least in terms of design it certainly is, as Ducati admits that the prototype "is meant to suggest how the bike will eventually look," presented under a livery that's apparently intended to obscure its silhouette. "The Streetfighter V4 will be one of the stars of the Ducati World Premiere 2020," said Claudio Domenicali, CEO of Ducati. "Streetfighter V4 is the Panigale for road riding; so there was no better stage than the Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb for what will be the highest performance Streetfighter ever put into production." Apparently for Ducati it is important to have the most powerful naked bike in the market, just as was the case with the Streetfighter 1000, whose 155-hp V2 engine of the previous Panigale generation was unrivalled at the time Should the Italians come up with the full 214 hp of the Desmosedici Stradale, they'd beat by a slim margin the very exclusive MV Agusta Brutale 1000 Serie Oro, which produces 212 hp from its 998 cc in-line four-cylinder motor. Apart from its compatriots' Brutale, the competition in the class doesn't come very close, with the Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 Factory and the KTM 1290 Super Duke R reaching 175 hp, and even less for the rest. The new Streetfighter V4 will logically come with all the electronic gadgetry of the Panigale, a survival necessity on public roads with such a fire-breathing power plant strapped to your right hand. As for pricing, expect something lower but probably not very far from the entry-level Panigale V4's price tag, for an extreme naked sportbike that should dazzle crowds at every rare sighting without cannibalizing the sales of the more down-to-earth Monster 1200 S v-twin. Source: Ducati
  20. Have you ever wondered why there aren't more drones out there with bionic hands? Us neither, but here we are, looking at the "Drone for Handy" by Youbionics, which places a pair of fully operational bionic hands in the air, ready to grab at things the might need grabbing. Youbionics is a strange little company, run by a fellow called Federico Ciccarese, that sells the STL files you need to 3D-print some of the custom parts you need to build bionic "Handy" hands – whether it be to replace a missing hand or give you an extra one. Bring your own set of 11 SG90 or Arduino Nano servo motors and you're off and running, ready to build and begin working with a flexible and fully operational bionic hand. The "Drone for Handy" is a free STL download that lets you print a lightweight plastic quadcopter frame ready to mount two Handys on, and once you've gone through the fiddly process of building two hands and a drone, you end up with a pair of floating hands whose capacity for grabbing, lifting and manipulating things is directly proportional to your capabilities as a programmer. As a home robotics project, it's no joke – getting the hands to do anything worthwhile in concert with the drone will be a serious challenge. And at the end of it all, we're not sure you're going to come out with anything remotely practical, but Ciccarese sees his drone potentially proving handy for carrying goods or sending back to grab your keys if you've left them in the office. Source: Youbionic
  21. More than seven years after the dramatic arrest of Kim Dotcom and several of his former Megaupload colleagues, the quartet are making a final plea to New Zealand's Supreme Court. The hearing, expected to last five days, will determine whether an earlier decision to extradite the men to the United States should be upheld. For them, the stakes could not be higher. When file-hosting site Megaupload was shut down in 2012, few could have predicted the events of the years to follow. The arrest of founder Kim Dotcom and colleagues Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk and Finn Batato in New Zealand, triggered dozens of legal processes, many designed to expedite, delay or indeed avoid the quartet’s extradition to the United States. Before it was closed, Megaupload claimed responsibility for around 4% of global Internet traffic. Much of this, the United States government claims, was pirated content, particularly movies, TV shows and music, costing US companies around US$500 million. Dotcom has persistently argued that as an online service provider, Megaupload should receive safe harbor protections in respect of the activities of its users. US authorities, on the other hand, see a massive criminal conspiracy for which the four should face justice on the other side of the world. At every step thus far, the New Zealand legal system has found in favor of sending the men to the United States. In December 2015, Judge Dawson in the District Court found that Dotcom and his associates were eligible for extradition. That decision was subsequently appealed to the High Court, with Dotcom and his now former colleagues launching an appeal alongside a demand for a judicial review. During February 2017, the appellants discovered that both of those efforts had proven unsuccessful. However, the men were granted leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal on two questions of law, including whether the High Court was correct to find that their alleged conduct amounted to an extradition offense. In July 2018, the Court of Appeal upheld the earlier decision that Dotcom and the others were indeed eligible to be extradited. Importantly, the Court considered whether copyright infringement can be a criminal offense in New Zealand and the United States. It was ultimately found that the alleged conduct of the men would breach various offenses under the Crimes Act 1961, meaning that extradition would be permissible. But this wouldn’t be a typical Dotcom matter if a final chance of appeal wasn’t grabbed with both hands. As a result, the case headed to the Supreme Court, where the final hearing is taking place over five days this week, beginning today. “In 2005 I created a website that allowed people to upload files to the cloud. At the time only small files could be attached to emails. Megaupload allowed users to email a link to a file. That’s it,” Dotcom wrote on Twitter this morning. “In 2019 the NZ Supreme Court decides if I should be extradited for this ‘crime’.” While lawyers for the accused are set to pick at every available thread in order to unravel the decision against their clients, early reports from the Supreme Court suggest already familiar themes. Grant Illingworth, representing Mathias Ortmann and Bram van der Kolk, told the Court that he would be arguing that the alleged offenses did not amount to a crime in New Zealand, meaning that they could not be extraditable offenses. But, even if they were, insufficient evidence had been produced to show that offenses had even occurred. “The district court judge misapplied the law at every stage of the judicial analysis,” Illingworth said, as quoted by RNZ. “That constituted a serious miscarriage of justice. No higher court could have justified a finding of that kind, no matter how much they agreed with the outcome.” Interestingly – or perhaps worryingly – it appears that discussions over how Megaupload operated were conducted via analogies this morning. At issue was Megaupload offering content for download and, in some cases, rewarding uploaders for putting that content there in the first place. Justice Susan Glazebrook asked Illingworth whether it would be a breach of copyright if she photocopied a novel hypothetically written by one of her fellow judges and then sold it on a street corner. Illingworth said Megaupload didn’t make the copies, its users did. “They’re providing the photocopier, someone else comes along and uses the photocopier. They’re [Megaupload] not putting up a sign saying, ‘Please come and use our photocopier for illegal purposes,'” he said. Justice Joe Williams then elaborated on the analogy, alluding to Megaupload’s reward program. “What if I get a wheelbarrow and I convey the copies [of the novel] to the street corner, knowing that she’ll be selling them, and she and I have some kind of agreement to share the profits?” he said. Illingworth responded by saying it was never Megaupload’s intention to reward people for illegal behavior, it was all about rewarding them for increasing the site’s traffic. While the hearing is set to run until Friday, any decision will take months to reach. Even if extradition is upheld, it will still need the approval of New Zealand’s Minister of Justice Andrew Little to take place. His signature would mean that the men would be shipped to the US to face charges of copyright infringement, racketeering, and money laundering plus the possibility of years – even decades – in prison.
  22. While regular multicopter drones are highly stable and maneuverable, their vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) counterparts are faster and more energy-efficient when in forward flight. Germany's Quantum Systems has set out to combine the best of both worlds, with its 2-in-1 Vector/Scorpion drone. The drone could be utilized for border patrol In its Vector configuration, the aircraft has two fixed wings and a tail attached to its glass fiber/Kevlar body. Two propellers on the wings – along with one on the tail – sit horizontally on take-off and landing, allowing the drone to rise and fall like a helicopter. Once it's time to cruise, however, those props rotate down to sit vertically, pulling the Vector forward and allowing the wings to provide lift. In its Scorpion configuration, the wings and tail are pulled off and replaced with three arms, each one with a hard-mounted horizontal propeller at the end. The drone is then flown like a traditional multicopter – not as fast or efficient in forward flight, but without the added weight of the wings or complexity of the tilting props as it's hovering and darting about. When flying forward as the Vector, the aircraft has a top speed of 25 meters per second (90 km/h or 56 mph) and a flight time of up to two hours per charge of its four lithium-ion batteries. As the Scorpion, those figures drop to a top speed of 15 m/s (54 km/h or 34 mph) and a maximum flight time of 45 minutes. Because the batteries are heated, they keep working at ambient temperatures down to -20 ºC (-4 ºF). In either configuration, the drone can fly autonomously or by remote control, with an AES-encrypted mesh IP link transmitting video from a detachable gimbal-mounted nose camera up to a range of over 15 km (9 miles). That link also allows for real-time remote control over the same distance. The Vector/Scorpion is intended primarily for military use, with some of its other possible applications including search and rescue, criminal pursuit, border patrol, and traffic investigation. Source: Quantum Systems
  23. Daniel Kelley will serve four years in a young offenders' institution A man who was involved in a major hack attack of telecoms firm TalkTalk has been sentenced to four years' detention. Daniel Kelley, 22, from Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, pleaded guilty in 2016 to 11 charges including involvement in the attack where the personal data of more than 150,000 customers was stolen. Kelley will serve his sentence in a young offenders institution.He was sentenced at the Old Bailey on Monday. Email addresses and bank details were taken after TalkTalk's website was breached in 2015, with the total cost to the company from multiple hackers estimated at £77m. Kelley's hacking offences also involved half a dozen other organisations, including a Welsh further education college, Coleg Sir Gar, where he was a student. The teen behind the cybercrime screen Kelley turned to hacking when he failed to get the GCSE grades to get on to a computer course, the court heard. He hacked the college "out of spite" before targeting companies in Canada, Australia and the UK - including TalkTalk which has four million customers. The 22-year-old has Asperger's syndrome and has suffered from depression and extreme weight loss since he pleaded guilty to the 11 hacking-related offences in 2016, the court heard. Judge Mark Dennis told the Old Bailey that Kelley hacked computers "for his own personal gratification" regardless of the damage caused. He went on to blackmail company bosses, revealing a "cruel and calculating side to his character", he said, though a blackmail charge was previously dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service. Prosecutor Peter Ratliff previously described Kelley as a "prolific, skilled and cynical cyber-criminal" who was willing to "bully, intimidate, and then ruin his chosen victims from a perceived position of anonymity and safety - behind the screen of a computer". Between September 2013 and November 2015, he engaged in a wide range of hacking activities, using stolen information to blackmail individuals and companies. Despite attempts at anonymity, his crimes were revealed in his online activities.Kelley's attacks on his college cost hundreds of hours of teaching time The court heard how Kelley was just 16 when he hacked into Coleg Sir Gar out of "spite or revenge", causing widespread disruption to students and teachers and affecting the Welsh Government Public Sector network - including schools, councils, hospitals and emergency services. Radiologists at Hywel Dda health board in west Wales lost access to diagnostic image services, with communication affected between hospital sites. A spokesman for the board said Kelley's actions posed a "serious clinical risk". After he was arrested and bailed, Kelley continued his cyber crime spree for a more "mercenary purpose".Mr Ratliff said Kelley had been "utterly ruthless" as he threatened to ruin companies by releasing clients' personal and credit card details.He hacked into TalkTalk and blackmailed Baroness Harding of Winscombe and five other executives for Bitcoin, the court heard.But he only received £4,400 worth of Bitcoins through all his blackmail attempts, having made demands for more than £115,000.Mr Ratliff said Kelley got "enjoyment and excitement from the power he wielded" over his victims. Kelley sometimes worked with a hacking collective named Team Hans, the court heard.If people refused to pay up, he would offer their details for sale on the dark web.He was also found to be in possession of computer files containing thousands of credit card details.Mitigating, Dean George QC appealed to the judge not impose a jail sentence on a young man who suffered with "severe depression".
  24. Leading Kodi add-on resource TVAddons has gone through some rough times in recent years. The site's founder was sued in the US and Canada, but despite the legal pressure, it remains online today. While some expected the 'cleaned up' addon repository to languish, it still 'serves' millions of people per month. Dedicated streaming set-top boxes, many of which are running on Kodi, have become increasingly popular over the past several years. The Kodi software itself is perfectly legal, but many third-party add-ons complement it to offer access to pirated movies, TV-shows, and live-streaming. These ‘pirate’ add-ons can be found on a variety of sites and resources. Some are blatantly offering infringing content, but it’s not always clear what’s permitted and what’s not. TVAddons, a popular repository of third-party Kodi add-ons, learned this the hard way. Previously the site used to offer many problematic add-ons. This lead to lawsuits in both the US and Canada, after which the company cleaned up its site and tightened its policies. When the site returned, during the summer of 2017, it had to start from scratch. Since some of the most popular add-ons were removed, many people thought, or even hoped, that the comeback would be destined to fail. However, this is not the case. New statistics released by TVAddons show that its repository is still widely used. “There are many groups that wish to see TV ADDONS die. They include Hollywood, copyright bullies, preloaded box sellers, paid IPTV sellers, Kodi ‘blogs,’ and probably cyber-lockers too. They’d be free to continue their profit-seeking, without us getting in the way,” TVAddons says. “Unfortunately for the haters, we aren’t going anywhere. We continue to grow, maintaining a healthy number of daily active users.” The site revealed its most recent ‘visitor’ statistics for May. These are not site visits, but the number of connections that ping TVAddons servers by using its add-ons. Last month, TVAddons received up to 1.76 million unique calls to its update server per day, and over 14 million for the entire month. This means that every 24 hours, roughly one-and-a-half million ‘Kodi boxes’ with their add-ons are online, checking for updates. These numbers are indeed quite significant. However, what TVAddons doesn’t mention is that they are down quite a bit compared to a few years ago, before the legal trouble started. During September 2016, TVAddons had roughly 24.7 million users a month and a rough average of 5.6 million per day. This shows that daily usage has dropped significantly. The number of website visits also shows a downward trend, although that’s never been very high. According to the TVAddons team, this is in part due to the removal of the old add-on library. “We lost website ranking when we upgraded our site, because our old add-on library is down which had over 800 pages in it. We have the new and hugely upgraded version almost ready to go public,” TVAddons says. It is clear, however, that TVAddons isn’t done yet. Since the legal trouble started it has settled its U.S. lawsuit with Dish. However, the Canadian lawsuit through which the repository lost its old domain, remains ongoing. That lawsuit is not a threat to the current site, according to TVAddons. The suit in question targets TVAddons’ founder Adam Lackman who has since distanced himself from the Kodi-addon repository. “There’s no update on the Canadian lawsuit yet, but it’s really Adam Lackman’s personal problem at this point. We continue to support him as much as we possibly can, but his lawsuit has no bearing on our community,” TVAddons says. While there are no official figures available, the interest in Kodi, in general, appears to be waning. Traffic to the official Kodi site is dropping and the number of Kodi searches on Google is on a downward spiral too.
  25. They're in a no-win situation. China is determined to fight the US ban on Huawei through any means possible, and that might include scaring the companies required to honor that ban. New York Times sources report that Chinese officials have warned that they could face retaliation if they cooperate with Trump administration trade restrictions. They could face "permanent consequences" if they honored the policy, the NYT said, and "punishment" if they pull manufacturing beyond the usual security-related diversification. It also encouraged lobbying to convince American politicians to change their minds. The meetings reportedly involved three government divisions, suggesting that approval likely came from the highest ranks of Chinese leadership. Officials didn't mention Huawei by name, but there wasn't much doubt that the company was involved. Whether or not the threats hold much weight is another story. If accurate, China effectively wants companies to risk violating US laws for the sake of preserving their Chinese factory and supplier relationships. They won't necessarily have to do so (American companies are still free to use many Chinese products), but tech firms could be in an untenable position if the US-China trade war escalates further. This may be more a bargaining chip meant to extract a compromise, not a dire warning. Not that the companies can afford to ignore the threats -- if China followed through, it could jeopardize the fate of the many tech businesses that depend on the country.