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University Libraries Offer Online 'Lending' of Scanned In-Copyright Books

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The coronavirus crisis has forced the closure of libraries around the world, depriving the public of access to millions of printed books. Books old enough to be in the public domain may be available for free download online. Many recent books are available to borrow in e-book form. But there are many other books -- especially those published in the mid-to-late 20th century -- that are hard to access without going to a physical library. A consortium of university libraries called HathiTrust recently announced a solution to this problem, called the Emergency Temporary Access Service. It allows participating HathiTrust member libraries to offer their patrons digital scans of books that they can "check out" and read online. HathiTrust has a history of pushing the boundaries of copyright. It was the defendant in a landmark 2014 ruling that established the legality of library book scanning. At the time, HathiTrust was only allowing people with print disabilities to access the full text of scanned books. Now HathiTrust is expanding access to more people -- though still with significant limits. The program is only available to patrons of member libraries like the Cornell library. Libraries can only "lend" as many copies of the book as it has physical copies on its shelves. Loans last for an hour and are automatically renewed if a patron is still viewing a book at the hour's end. If you want to read a book that's currently in use by another patron, you have to wait until they're finished. The service differs from the Internet Archive's National Emergency Library in that it limits the "lending" of copies to how many physical copies there are available on its shelves. "During the pandemic, the Internet Archive isn't limiting the number of people who can 'borrow' a book simultaneously," reports Ars. "Cornell University legal scholar James Grimmelmann tells Ars that the limits on the HathiTrust program will put the group in a stronger position if it is ever challenged in court," the report adds. "The same fair use doctrine that allows HathiTrust to scan books in the first place might also justify what the organization is doing now -- though that's far from certain."

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Windows 10 Is Getting Linux Files Integration In File Explorer

Microsoft is planning to fully integrate Linux file access into the built-in File Explorer. The Verge reports: A new Linux icon will be available in the left-hand navigation pane in File Explorer, providing access to the root file system for any distros that are installed in Windows 10. The icon that will appear in File Explorer is the famous Tux, the penguin mascot for the Linux kernel. Microsoft is testing the Linux File Explorer integration in a new build of Windows 10 that's available for testers today. Previously, Windows 10 users would have to manually navigate to a UNC path to get access to Linux files from the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). If you have WSL enabled, then the Tux will appear in File Explorer, and Microsoft is now seeking feedback on the integration before it's finalized as part of a future Windows 10 update. The software maker will ship this update to all Windows 10 users later this year.

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Nintendo's Animal Crossing Becomes New Hong Kong Protest Ground

Nintendo's Animal Crossing has become a place for Hong Kong protesters to congregate without flouting social distancing rules. Bloomberg reports: Animal Crossing is a simulation game where players live on an idyllic tropical island and befriend anthropomorphic animals. Players can customize their islands with in-game illustrating tools and visit each other's islands online. Pro-democracy content created for the game has gone viral on social media, including Twitter. In a tweet last week, one of Hong Kong's most well-known democracy campaigners, Joshua Wong, said he was playing the game and that the movement had shifted online. In one video posted to Twitter, a group of players use bug-catching nets to hit pictures of the city's leader Carrie Lam on a beach in the game. A nearby poster states "Free Hong Kong. Revolution Now."

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Amazon's Shifting Definition of What Is 'Essential'

Maddy Varner, reporting for The Markup: On March 17, Amazon informed U.S. sellers that it would no longer accept nonessential products at its warehouses. To the casual shopper, it might have sounded similar to the pledges Amazon has made in Italy, France, and India to stop taking orders from customers entirely for nonessential goods. But examining the fine print reveals that it was nothing of the sort. The original pledge -- which was announced as policy for March 17 to April 5 -- allowed Amazon to ship nonessential items that were already stocked in its warehouse, and sellers could also stock nonessential items in their own warehouses and ship directly to customers. Amazon defined essential loosely, saying that "most of the products" it would accept were in the categories of "Baby Products," "Health & Household," "Beauty & Personal Care," "Grocery," "Industrial & Scientific," and "Pet Supplies." Since that mid-March announcement, Amazon has quietly relaxed even further its definition of what is essential, while also extending indefinitely the date by which "operations will be fully restored." On March 27, archived snapshots of the page indicated that Amazon would broaden the list of new shipments it would accept from sellers, on an unspecified "item-by-item" basis. As of April 6, in the United States, you could still order a bowling ball, a 10-pack of rubber chickens, and a prom dress and have them show up at your door within a week. All of the items are described on the website as either "Fulfilled by Amazon" or "Ships from and sold by," and none of the items are in the categories previously deemed essential.

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Italy Working On Coronavirus Tracing App To Help Lockdown Exit

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Italian authorities are working on introducing a smartphone app that would help health services trace the contacts of people who test positive for the coronavirus as the government looks at ways of gradually lifting a lockdown imposed a month ago. Innovation minister Paola Pisano acknowledged that launching the app would raise major issues of privacy and data control, something which would have to be resolved before it went into operation. But it could help reduce contagion and limit the impact of a disease that has killed more than 17,000 people in Italy in just over a month. "This is delicate terrain. I think we are all conscious of that and we must remain so," she told a parliamentary hearing on Wednesday. Italy launched a fast tender for a monitoring and remote medical support app on March 24 and received hundreds of proposals which are currently under evaluation by a specially created task force. The app would be only one part of a wider monitoring and support system, Pisano said. It would function on a voluntary basis and would have to be limited to clearly defined ends and guarantee anonymity as well as meet technical requirements. The app would record when it came into proximity with another smartphone user with the app, for how long and at what distance and if a person tested positive for the coronavirus, authorities would be able to trace the contacts and alert them. The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) is calling for a pan-European mobile app to track the spread of the coronavirus "instead of the current hodge-podge of apps used in various EU countries which could breach people's privacy rights," Reuters reported on Monday. "The EDPS said the use of temporary broadcast identifiers and bluetooth technology for contact tracing protected both privacy and personal data, but voiced concerns about the variety of apps sprouting up." "Given these divergences, the European Data Protection Supervisor calls for a pan-European model COVID-19 mobile application, coordinated at EU level," Wojciech Wiewiorowski, the head of the EU privacy watchdog, said in a statement. "Ideally, coordination with the World Health Organization should also take place, to ensure data protection by design globally from the start," he said.

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Zoom Accused of Misrepresenting Security Measures In New Lawsuit

Video conferencing company Zoom is being used by a shareholder over allegations of fraud and overstating the security protocols in place on its service. Gizmodo reports: In the lawsuit filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, plaintiff Michael Drieu -- on behalf of individuals who purchased Zoom securities after the company went public last year -- accuses the company of making "materially false and misleading statements" about its product and failing to disclose key information about the service. Namely, the suit cites Zoom as claiming that its product supported end-to-end encryption, when in fact it supports a different form of encryption called transport encryption -- as the Intercept reported last month -- that still allows Zoom to access data. Additionally, the suit alleges that Zoom's security failures put users "eat an increased risk of having their personal information accessed by unauthorized parties, including Facebook," that these facts would necessarily result in a decline in users, and that the company's responses to ongoing reporting on myriad problems on the service were "misleading at all relevant times." The suit states that the fallout from these incidents was exacerbated by the covid-19 crisis, during which time users of the service jumped from just 10 million to 200 million in a matter of months as schools and organizations turned to Zoom amid social distancing measures and shelter-in-place orders. The suit cites documentation related to Zoom's IPO as evidence that the company misrepresented the security protocols in place for protecting users. Specifically, the suit states, Zoom said it offered "robust security capabilities, including end-to-end encryption, secure login, administrative controls and role-based access controls," and -- in what was clearly an embarrassing claim by the company -- that it strives "to live up to the trust our customers place in us by delivering a communications solution that "just works.'"

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How the Rapid FDA-Approved Coronavirus Testing System Works

Tekla Perry writes: In 2001, a rapid, easy-to-use, PCR-based testing system for biological testing was still in prototype form when letters containing anthrax spores started arriving in the mailboxes of journalists and senators. Its creators at startup Cepheid quickly adapted it to test for anthrax, and now it is used to run that test as part of U.S. mail sorting systems. The tool, now called GeneXpert, is also installed in health care facilities around the world. And cartridges to allow these systems to test for COVID-19 -- the first rapid such test approved in the U.S. -- are rolling out. The technology relies on microfluidics, and takes about 45 minutes to run an extremely accurate and sensitive test. Cepheid co-founder Kurt Petersen, now an angel investor, explains how it works. "The test cartridge contains microfluidic channels; these are made out of plastic using high-precision injection molding," explains Petersen. "All the chemicals needed for the process are stored in chambers within the system. In the center of the cartridge, a rotary valve turns to open different pathways, while a tiny plunger -- like a syringe -- moves fluids in and out as needed. So, the plunger pulls the sample into the center, the valve rotates, and the plunger pushes it into another region of the cartridge to do an operation on it. The system can do that multiple times, moving the sample to different regions with different chemicals, extracting RNA, mixing it with the reverse transcriptase that synthesizes complementary DNA that matches the RNA, and eventually pushing it into PCR reaction tube, where rapid heating and cooling speeds up the process of copying the DNA. Each new copy of the DNA gets a fluorescent molecule attached, which allows an optical system to determine whether or not the targeted gene sequence is in the sample."

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Attackers Can Bypass Fingerprint Authentication With an 80 Percent Success Rate

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A study published on Wednesday by Cisco's Talos security group makes clear that the alternative isn't suitable for everyone -- namely those who may be targeted by nation-sponsored hackers or other skilled, well-financed, and determined attack groups. The researchers spent about $2,000 over several months testing fingerprint authentication offered by Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, Huawei, and three lock makers. The result: on average, fake fingerprints were able to bypass sensors at least once roughly 80 percent of the time. The percentages are based on 20 attempts for each device with the best fake fingerprint the researchers were able to create. While Apple Apple products limit users to five attempts before asking for the PIN or password, the researchers subjected the devices to 20 attempts (that is, multiple groups of from one or more attempts). Of the 20 attempts, 17 were successful. Other products tested permitted significantly more or even an unlimited number of unsuccessful tries. Tuesday's report was quick to point out that the results required several months of painstaking work, with more than 50 fingerprint molds created before getting one to work. The study also noted that the demands of the attack -- which involved obtaining a clean image of a target's fingerprint and then getting physical access to the target's device -- meant that only the most determined and capable adversaries would succeed. The most susceptible devices were the AICase padlock and Huawei's Honor 7x and Samsung's Note 9 Android phones, "all of which were bypassed 100 percent of the time," the report says. "Fingerprint authentication in the iPhone 8, MacBook Pro 2018, and the Samsung S10 came next, where the success rate was more than 90 percent. Five laptop models running Windows 10 and two USB drives -- the Verbatim Fingerprint Secure and the Lexar Jumpdrive F35 -- performed the best, with researchers achieving a 0-percent success rate."

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Google Told Its Workers That They Can't Use Zoom On Their Laptops Anymore

BuzzFeed News has learned that Google has banned the popular videoconferencing software Zoom from its employees' devices. From the report: Zoom, a competitor to Google's own Meet app, has seen an explosion of people using it to work and socialize from home and has become a cultural touchstone during the coronavirus pandemic. Last week, Google sent an email to employees whose work laptops had the Zoom app installed that cited its "security vulnerabilities" and warned that the videoconferencing software on employee laptops would stop working starting this week. "We have long had a policy of not allowing employees to use unapproved apps for work that are outside of our corporate network," Jose Castaneda, a Google spokesperson, told BuzzFeed News. "Recently, our security team informed employees using Zoom Desktop Client that it will no longer run on corporate computers as it does not meet our security standards for apps used by our employees. Employees who have been using Zoom to stay in touch with family and friends can continue to do so through a web browser or via mobile. Earlier this month, Elon Musk's SpaceX also banned employees from Zoom, citing "significant privacy and security concerns." And on Monday, New York City's Department of Education urged schools to abandon Zoom and switch to a service from Microsoft.

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Chipset Maker MediaTek Accused of Cheating in Benchmarks

An anonymous reader shares a report: We've seen several smartphone brands cheat benchmarks over the years, ostensibly in a bid to earn some ill-deserved praise among enthusiasts. But a new report suggests chipset manufacturer MediaTek could be gaming these scores. AnandTech uncovered evidence of benchmark cheating by MediaTek when it received a Helio P95-powered Oppo Reno 3 Pro (European version) and a standard Dimensity 1000L-powered Oppo Reno 3 (Chinese model). The outlet's suspicions were raised when the Reno 3 Pro beat the Reno 3 in the PCMark benchmark utility. This was strange, because the Helio P95's Cortex-A75 CPU cores are two generations older than the Dimensity 1000L's Cortex-A77 CPU cores. Furthermore, the P95 only had two of these cores versus the newer chip's four heavyweight cores. A stealth version of the PCMark benchmark utility -- which manufacturers can't identify -- was installed on the Reno 3 Pro. This revealed a 30% drop in benchmark score compared to the previous questionable score, with Anandtech saying some tests in the benchmark dropped by 75%. The outlet also tested the Chinese version of the Reno 3 Pro, which swaps the Helio P95 for a Snapdragon 765G, and noted the phone ran the benchmark without resorting to cheating. AnandTech then dug into the offending device's firmware files and found references tying benchmark apps to a so-called "sports mode." It's believed that this mode ramps up things like the memory controller and scheduler in order to facilitate faster performance.

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Tails, the Security-Focused OS, Adds Support For Secure Boot

Tail OS, an operating system optimized for privacy and anonymity, has released version 4.5 this week, the first version that supports a crucial security feature named UEFI Secure Boot. From a report: Secure Boot works by using cryptographic signatures to verify that firmware files loaded during a computer's boot-up process are authentic and have not been tampered. If any of the firmware checks fail, Secure Boot has the authority to stop the boot process, preventing the operating system from launching. The feature has been available as part of the UEFI specification for almost two decades but is rarely used. The reason is because not all firmware vendors cryptographically sign their files, leaving the door open to verification errors that -- when Secure Boot is enabled -- block many operation systems from launching.

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Longtime Mozilla Leader Mitchell Baker is Now CEO

On Wednesday, Mozilla chair and longtime leader Mitchell Baker was named permanent CEO of the company that makes the Firefox web browser. From a report: Mitchell became interim CEO of Mozilla in December 2019, after former CEO Chris Beard resigned. The company conducted an external candidate search over the last eight months, and concluded the Mitchell is the right leader for Mozilla at this time, according to a company blog post published Wednesday. "Increasingly, numbers of people recognize that the internet needs attention," Baker said in another Mozilla blog post Wednesday. "Mozilla has a special, if not unique role to play here. It's time to tune our existing assets to meet the challenge. It's time to make use of Mozilla's ingenuity and unbelievable technical depth and understanding of the "web" platform to make new products and experiences. It's time to gather with others who want these things and work together to make them real."

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Bernie Sanders Drops Out of the 2020 Race, Clearing Joe Biden's Path To the Democratic Nomination

Sen. Bernie Sanders ended his presidential campaign on Wednesday, clearing Joe Biden's path to the Democratic nomination and a showdown with President Donald Trump in November. From a report: Sanders first made the announcement in a call with his staff, his campaign said. "I wish I could give you better news, but I think you know the truth, and that is that we are now some 300 delegates behind Vice President Biden, and the path toward victory is virtually impossible," Sanders said in a livestream after the call. "So while we are winning the ideological battle and while we are winning the support of so many young people and working people throughout the country, I have concluded that this battle for the Democratic nomination will not be successful. And so today I am announcing the suspension of my campaign." Sanders' exit caps a stunning reversal of fortune following a strong performance in the first three states that voted in February. The nomination appeared his for the taking until, on the last day of February, Biden surged to a blowout victory in South Carolina that set off a consolidation of moderate voters around the former vice president. The contest ends now as the country continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, which halted in-person campaigning for both Sanders and Biden and has led many states to delay their primary elections."

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Chrome 81 Arrives With Web NFC Origin Trial, AR Features, and Mixed Images Autoupgraded To HTTPS

An anonymous reader writes: Google today launched Chrome 81 for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS. Chrome 81 includes an Origin Trial of Web NFC for mobile, early Augmented Reality support, mixed images autoupgraded to HTTPS, TLS 1.0 and TLS 1.1 deprecated, and more developer features. With over 1 billion users, Chrome is both a browser and a major platform that web developers must consider. In fact, with Chrome's regular additions and changes, developers have to stay on top of everything available -- as well as what has been deprecated or removed. Among other things, Chrome 81 removes the "discard" element and FTP support.

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Google Stadia Now Free To Anyone With a Gmail Address

Google's video game streaming platform, Stadia, is now free to anyone with a Gmail address, the company announced on Wednesday. To sweeten the deal, Google is also giving new users two months of Stadia Pro -- including access to nine games -- for free. From a report: Existing Stadia Pro subscribers won't be charged for the next two months of the service, Google said. Previously, access to Stadia required purchasing the $129 Google Stadia Premiere Edition, a bundle that includes a Chromecast Ultra, a wireless Stadia Controller, and three months of Stadia Pro, the service that offered free games and video streams up to 4K resolution and 60 frames per second with HDR lighting.

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