Lootboxes are making the news. Ars Tech reports on how Belgium is calling them into question and how Chris Lee (state representative from Hawaii) calls them predatory. If you’re like me and have ever played Overwatch or Heroes of the Storm, you’re quite familiar with them as items you can win as you achieve levels within the game. The problem is you can also pay money for tokens that allow you to buy them. And, because they are randomized, some are considering this ‘pay to play for random odds’ a form of gambling. It will be interesting to see where this goes with the ESRB in the US as that is what my dissertation is on.
Posts by Diana Harrelson:
One of the things that is near and dear to me that I do not talk about often and rarely see addressed in the news is the digital divide. The digital divide is the difference between those with ready access to the Internet and those without. Many of those affected by the digital divide are in rural parts of the United States. Microsoft is on a mission to help close that divide right here in the U.S. This is in contrast to many other companies who work on this in developing markets around the world. This is important for many reasons from work, to education, to even medical care and has become even more evident in the wake of the recent political turmoil in the U.S. As NPR reports, “In 2017, not being online hurts your education, your job prospects, your civic engagement.”
I’m excited to see where this goes. Growing up in rural East Texas in the 90s, not only did I not have Internet, I didn’t even have a computer. With the advent of computing being more readily available, access to the Internet is one of the remaining few gaps in the digital divide.
Boing-Boing on Theresa May and Internet privacy.
“Use deliberately compromised cryptography, that has a back door that only the “good guys” are supposed to have the keys to, and you have effectively no security. You might as well skywrite it as encrypt it with pre-broken, sabotaged encryption… Theresa May doesn’t understand technology very well, so she doesn’t actually know what she’s asking for. For Theresa May’s proposal to work, she will need to stop Britons from installing software that comes from software creators who are out of her jurisdiction… any politician caught spouting off about back doors is unfit for office anywhere but Hogwarts, which is also the only educational institution whose computer science department believes in ‘golden keys’ that only let the right sort of people break your encryption.”
Ars Technica reports on the latest Net Neutrality news:
“The US Federal Communications Commission voted 2-1 today to start the process of eliminating net neutrality rules and the classification of home and mobile Internet service providers as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act.
The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) proposes eliminating the Title II classification and seeks comment on what, if anything, should replace the current net neutrality rules. But Chairman Ajit Pai is making no promises about reinstating the two-year-old net neutrality rules that forbid ISPs from blocking or throttling lawful Internet content or prioritizing content in exchange for payment. Pai’s proposal argues that throttling websites and applications might somehow help Internet users.”
You can find the docket and add a filing against it here.
The New York Times reports that hackers using a “cyberweapon developed by the N.S.A” have conducted a large bold strike against targets all over the world.
“Governments, companies and security experts from China to Britain raced on Saturday to contain the fallout from an audacious global cyberattack amid fears that if they did not succeed, companies would lose their data unless they met ransom demands.
The global efforts came less than a day after malicious software, transmitted via email and stolen from the National Security Agency, targeted vulnerabilities in computer systems in almost 100 countries in one of the largest “ransomware” attacks on record.”
Really, this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.
A recently conducted survey found:
“…while politics may be as divided as ever in our country, consumers share a strong bipartisan consensus that the government should let the internet flourish without imposing burdensome regulations.”
You can read more about it here.
The New York Times reports that the newly elected French President’s staff created fake accounts to mislead Russian Hackers.
“The National Security Agency in Washington picked up the signs. So did Emmanuel Macron’s bare-bones technology team. And mindful of what happened in the American presidential campaign, the team created dozens of false email accounts, complete with phony documents, to confuse the attackers.”
Ars Technica reports on research that tested the use of playing a game of Tetris to reduce addiction.
“The researchers again hypothesized that the game’s ability to seize visual and spatial processing in the brain is key to the health benefits. In this case, addiction and cravings are often driven by visual fantasies of having that drink, drug, or what-have-you, the authors explained.”
Science reports on how bioengineers have turned cells into biocomputers.
“Computer hardware is getting a softer side. A research team has come up with a way of genetically engineering the DNA of mammalian cells to carry out complex computations, in effect turning the cells into biocomputers. The group hasn’t put those modified cells to work in useful ways yet, but down the road researchers hope the new programming techniques will help improve everything from cancer therapy to on-demand tissues that can replace worn-out body parts.”