The Upload: Your tech news briefing for Tuesday, June 16
- 16 June, 2015 21:31
The NSA has been watching.
Civil liberties faction walks out on facial recognition talks
U.S. talks aimed at crafting rules on responsible use of facial recognition technology have fallen apart after a united front of civil rights and consumer groups walked out, saying the bare minimum of their demands on behalf of consumers aren't being met. That position, accord to a statement issued by the coalition, is that "people should be able to walk down a public street without fear that companies they've never heard of are tracking their every movement -- and identifying them by name -- using facial recognition technology."
Online password locker LastPass hacked
It's a nightmare predictable by anyone rigorous enough about passwords to use an online password locker service: LastPass users are being prompted to change their master passwords after the company reported that its network was breached. LastPass said Monday it was investigating "suspicious activity" discovered by its security team, although there's no evidence that the attackers stole encrypted data from users' password vaults or gained access to LastPass users' accounts. However, they did steal data that makes it theoretically possible to figure out any weak master passwords, albeit not very quickly.
Aura turns connected devices in Internet of Things into cloud power
Researchers at the University of Alabama have a novel idea about how to unlock the computing power that may be dormant in the growing Internet of Things. Aura pools the processing power available in devices like the Nest, connecting them into a localized cloud service.
EU Council pushes data-privacy reform forward
The EU Council has issued a long-awaited, hotly debated plan for online privacy, moving the EU's reform of data-protection laws closer to reality. The Council says that the plan will give people more control over their personal data, but privacy groups say the proposal actually weakens safeguards. The new plan requires that companies get unambiguous consent from individuals in order to process personal data, implement security measures to protect personal data and notify affected people when breaches occur.
FCC asked to establish mandatory do-not-track rule
A privacy advocacy group wants the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to put some teeth into consumers "do-not-track" requests. While people can state that preference in their browser settings, many Internet companies ignore the requests. But Consumer Watchdog believes the federal regulator should make it mandatory for companies like Google to honor users' wishes.
Google takes another swing at Excel with Sheets update
With a major update to Microsoft's Office 2016 in the wings, Google is raising its game with an updated version of its Sheets web app for spreadsheet editing that adds new capabilities that could help lure people away from Microsoft Excel. The updates include a feature that lets users preview the results of formulas as they type, so they can troubleshoot problems without leaving the cell they're editing, as well as new features targeted at improving collaboration.
Microsoft rolls out Xbox to PC streaming
Microsoft will let users stream games from their Xbox One to Windows 10 PCs and tablets like the Surface Pro 3, turning them into gaming machines by connecting to an Xbox One on their home network. Right now, only select users can take advantage of the facility under a preview program announced at E3 on Monday, but it will be rolled out to all users later this year.
Musk's SpaceX plans Hyperloop pod races
Elon Musk's vision of the Hyperloop transit system -- a long-distance network of tubes carrying passenger pods at speeds up to 1,220 km/hour -- may see its first realization as a one-of-a-kind competition. CNBC reports that Musk's SpaceX company will set up races this time next year at the Hyperloop test track planned for the company's California headquarters.
At E3 2015, Microsoft made news with Halo 5, Xbox Live and virtual reality headset HoloLens.
One last thing
Alibaba has already had the biggest tech IPO ever. Now it's revealing big ambitions that go way beyond its roots, says Wired.