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  1. Internet Society Partners with Facebook To Expand Internet Connectivity in Africa - The Internet Society, a global non-profit organization dedicated to the open development, evolution and use of the Internet, today announced that it is partnering with Facebook to develop Internet Exchange Points (IXP) throughout Africa. From a press release: An Internet Exchange Point is where multiple local and international networks, ISPs and content providers interconnect their networks together to efficiently exchange Internet traffic through an arrangement commonly referred to as Peering. Currently, 42% of countries in Africa lack IXPs, which means that most of their domestic Internet traffic is exchanged through points outside their respective country, usually through satellite or submarine fiber across multiple international hubs to reach their destination. This can result in poor end-user experiences and discourages hosting content locally, which are some of the key factors towards the development of the local Internet ecosystem. Peering at IXPs helps keep domestic Internet traffic local by offloading traffic from relatively expensive international links onto more affordable local links. As a result, ISPs are able to offer improved Internet experiences for end-users and spur interest in hosting content locally. The Internet Society and Facebook will collaborate in promoting IXP infrastructure development, training and community engagement with the objective of increasing the number of IXPs and supporting the expansion of existing IXPs to meet the growing demand in Africa. Studies have shown that Internet users throughout Africa benefit from Peering as it enables faster, more affordable and reliable access to content.

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  2. Trump Administration Asks For Public Input on Data Privacy - The federal government wants to know the best way to protect your privacy online. On Tuesday, the Department of Commerce released a request for public comments as it outlined the Trump administration's approach to consumer data privacy. A report adds: In the proposal, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, a branch under the Commerce Department, recommended privacy regulations focused on giving users control over how their data is used by tech companies. The proposal comes a day before the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation is set to hold a hearing on consumer privacy, with companies like Apple, Google and Amazon testifying. The Commerce Department found public concern with how personal information has been used by tech companies and is taking a "risk-based flexibility" approach for privacy regulations. "The administration takes these concerns seriously and believes that users should be able to benefit from dynamic uses of their information, while still expecting organizations will appropriately minimize risks to users' privacy," the department wrote in the document.

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  3. A Nuclear Startup Will Fold After Failing To Deliver Reactors That Run on Spent Fuel - Transatomic Power, an MIT spinout that drew wide attention and millions in funding, is shutting down almost two years after the firm backtracked on bold claims for its design of a molten-salt reactor. From a report: The company, founded in 2011, plans to announce later today that it's winding down. Transatomic had claimed its technology could generate electricity 75 times more efficiently than conventional light-water reactors, and run on their spent nuclear fuel. But in a white paper published in late 2016, it backed off the latter claim entirely and revised the 75 times figure to "more than twice," a development first reported by MIT Technology Review. Those downgrades forced the company to redesign its system. That delayed plans to develop a demonstration reactor, pushing the company behind rival upstarts like TerraPower and Terrestrial Energy, says Leslie Dewan, the company's cofounder and chief executive. The longer timeline and reduced performance advantage made it harder to raise the necessary additional funding, which was around $15 million. "We weren't able to scale up the company rapidly enough to build a reactor in a reasonable time frame," Dewan says.

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  4. Qualcomm Accuses Apple of Stealing Trade Secrets and Giving Them To Intel - Mark Wilson writes: Chip-maker Qualcomm has today accused Apple of stealing trade secrets and sharing them with Intel. The company alleges that Apple wanted Intel to be able to improve its own chips so it could move away from using Qualcomm's. Qualcomm and Apple are already engaged in a legal battle, and with its latest accusations, the chip-maker wants the court to amend its existing lawsuit against the company. Apple stands accused of engaging in a 'multi-year campaign of sloppy, inappropriate and deceitful conduct'. In the new filings, Qualcomm says that upon Apple's request it allowed the iPhone maker deep access to its software and tools, but with strict limits on how those products could be used. It said, "Indeed, it is now apparent Apple engaged in a years-long campaign of false promises, stealth and subterfuge designed to steal Qualcomm's confidential information and trade secrets for the purpose of improving the performance of lower-quality modem chipsets, with the ultimate goal of eliminating Qualcomm's Apple-based business."

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  5. Facebook's Plan To Let Companies It Buys Live Independently is Over - Jon Russell, writing for TechCrunch: Mark Zuckerberg was quick to realize that Facebook, the largest social network in the world, doesn't have a monopoly on all users nor can it bank on holding its position as top dog forever. Thus he instituted a policy of buying up promising rivals and integrating them into the Facebook 'group' in a strategy designed to be a win-win for all. But by leaving Facebook in abrupt fashion this week, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger -- the founders of Instagram -- have shown that the social network's vision of letting acquired businesses operate independently simply isn't feasible. [...] The original idea is a best-of-both-worlds approach: a company's finances are infinitely secured and it can grow as needed inside the Facebook 'family,' with access to resources like engineering, marketing, admin, etc. That was also the plan for WhatsApp, but founding pair Jan Koum and Brian Acton managed four and three and a half years, respectively, at Facebook following their $19 billion acquisition in 2014. VR firm Oculus, another billion-dollar purchase, lost co-founders Palmer Lucky (political scandal) and Brendan Iribe (reshuffled) three years after its deal.

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  6. Tencent Security Researcher Fined For Hacking Hotel WiFi and Publishing Internal Network Credentials Online - Catalin Cimpanu, writing for ZDNet: Singapore authorities have fined a Chinese security researcher with SGD$5,000 (USD$3,600) for hacking into a local hotel's WiFi system without authorization and then publishing a blog post about it, revealing passwords for the hotel's internal network. The incident took place at the end of August, this year, when Zheng Dutao, 23, of China, visited Singapore to attend the Hack In The Box conference that took place in the city. Zheng took it upon himself, without asking for permission first, to hack into the WiFi network of a Fragrance Hotel branch, where he checked in for the conference's duration. The researcher, who works for Chinese internet giant Tencent, hacked into the hotel's internet gateway system, an AntLabs IG3100 device that controls access to the WiFi network for staff and guests alike. He discovered that the device was using a factory default Telnet password, which he used to gain access to a limited shell on the device. [...] The researcher didn't report the security issues to the hotel but instead wrote a blog post about his findings, which he later shared online.

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  7. Swiss Soccer Fans Protest Esports by Throwing Tennis Balls and Game Controllers On the Field - Soccer fans in Switzerland protested against increased investment in esports by throwing tennis balls and game consoles on the field during a Swiss Super League match. From a report: The fans reportedly threw tennis balls and game controllers onto the field, forcing the referee to stop the game between Young Boys and FC Basel for two minutes while everything was cleared away. The Young Boys protesters then held up a giant banner with a pause button symbol, while Basel fans also raised their own sign supporting the protest. One of the banners read "Scheiss esports," which roughly translates to "esports are s---." European soccer clubs are increasingly getting involved in esports leagues. While Young Boys doesn't have any skin in professional gaming yet, Basel has its own "FIFA" team.

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  8. Google CEO Sundar Pichai Is Headed To Washington This Week To Discuss Censorship, China - An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Google CEO Sundar Pichai will be present at a private meeting with top Republican lawmakers this Friday to discuss the company's controversial plans to relaunch a search product in China and perceived liberal bias of search results, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal. According to the WSJ, Attorney General Jeff Sessions plans to meet with state attorneys general on Tuesday to discuss Google's alleged censorship of conservatives. Tech firms have denied the existence of liberal bias in products, and Google has pushed back against key Trump inaccuracies, but it sounds as if Pichai will be forced to answer questions nonetheless. The meeting is being organized by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). Late last week, Pichai sent an email to employees, which was obtained by The New York Times, in which he stated outright that Google has never influenced search results for political purposes and has no plans to do so in the future. Pichai also plans to attend a public hearing later this year held by the House Judiciary Committee following the November midterm elections, after Google co-founder and Alphabet CEO Larry Page notably declined to show up to a Senate Intel Committee hearing on election interference earlier this month. In addition to mending relationships over Page's absence, Pichai will also be addressing Google's plans to relaunch a search product for the Chinese market, a move that has resulted in widespread criticism given the likelihood such a product would be heavily censored and would aid in China's use of information control to maintain social and political order.

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  9. Gut-Brain Connection Could Lead To a 'New Sense' - A new study has revealed a "fast-acting neural circuit allowing gut cells to communicate with the brain in just seconds," reports New Atlas. Diego Bohorquez, senior author of the study, says "these findings are going to be the biological basis of a new sense. One that serves as the entry point for how the brain knows when the stomach is full of food and calories." He says it "brings legitimacy to [the] idea of the 'gut feeling' as a sixth sense." The study has been published in the journal Science. From the report: Remarkable new work from a team of researchers at Duke University has now revealed a previously unknown direct circuit between the gut and the brain that could allow for fast sensory communication that doesn't relay on laborious hormonal signaling. The research began with a big discovery in 2015 revealing that enteroendocrine cells, the cells in our gut thought to be the primary sensory receptor that communicate with the brain, actually contained nerve endings that seemed like they could directly synaptically communicate with vagal neurons and subsequently, the brain. The new study first revealed that direct, and near instant, communication occurred between the gut and brain. A mouse was administered with a rabies virus that had been engineered with a green fluorescent tag. Tracing the signal of communication as the gut informed the brain of this virus revealed an immediate response in the vagus nerve. In under 100 milliseconds a single signal was seen to travel from the gut to the brainstem. In order to understand this new neural circuit, the team grew enteroendocrine cells in a lab dish alongside vagal nerve neurons. Not only did these two elements rapidly demonstrate communication, but it was discovered that glutamate, a foundational neurotransmitter, modulated the rate of transmission. What this experiment impressively revealed was that enteroendocrine cells don't solely signal to the brain via hormonal triggers, but also can directly communicate via neural synapses.

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  10. Facebook Is Not Protecting Content Moderators From Mental Trauma, Lawsuit Claims - A former Facebook contract employee has filed a lawsuit, alleging that content moderators who face mental trauma after reviewing distressing images on the platform are not being properly protected by the social networking company. Reuters reports: Facebook moderators under contract are "bombarded" with "thousands of videos, images and livestreamed broadcasts of child sexual abuse, rape, torture, bestiality, beheadings, suicide and murder," the lawsuit said. "Facebook is ignoring its duty to provide a safe workplace and instead creating a revolving door of contractors who are irreparably traumatized by what they witnessed on the job," Korey Nelson, a lawyer for former Facebook contract employee Selena Scola, said in a statement on Monday. Facebook in the past has said all of its content reviewers have access to mental health resources, including trained professionals onsite for both individual and group counseling, and they receive full health care benefits. More than 7,500 content reviewers work for Facebook, including full-time employees and contractors. Facebook's director of corporate communications, Bertie Thomson, said in response to the allegations: "We take the support of our content moderators incredibly seriously, [...] ensuring that every person reviewing Facebook content is offered psychological support and wellness resources."

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