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  1. Just over one million computers in the NHS are still using Windows 7. With less than half a year to go before support ends for Windows 7, about three-quarters of computers in the UK's National Health Service (NHS) are still running the OS. Just over one million computers in the NHS are still using Windows 7, according to a written answer from the Department of Health and Social Care. Having so many machines still running Windows 7 is a problem, according to Jo Platt MP, shadow cabinet office minister, as the end of extended support in January 2020 will mean no more fixes and patches without a costly custom-support deal. "With less than six months before Windows 7 support expires, it is deeply concerning that over a million NHS computers, over three quarters of the total NHS IT estate, are still using this operating system," she says. Platt drew attention to the WannaCry attacks on unpatched computers in 2017, which disrupted NHS systems and led to almost 20,000 appointments being cancelled, with the total cost to the NHS estimated to be around £92m. "The WannaCry cyber attack two years ago starkly proved the dangers of operating outdated software. Unless the government swiftly acts and learns from their past mistakes they are risking a repeat of WannaCry," she says. Answering Platt's parliamentary question, Jackie Doyle-Price, then parliamentary under secretary of state for mental health, inequalities and suicide prevention, said that while 1.05 million NHS computers were still running Windows 7, the migration process to Windows 10 was underway. "All NHS organisations, with the exception of one which had already upgraded to Windows 10, have signed up to receive Windows 10 licences and Advanced Threat Protection," she wrote. "Deployment of Windows 10 is going well and in line with target to make sure the NHS is operating on supported software when Windows 7 goes out of support in 2020." However, while Doyle-Price suggests the NHS will stop using Windows 7 before the 2020 deadline, the government chose not to answer a separate question from Platt about whether it was in talks with Microsoft about a custom support deal for Windows 7 post-2020. The government also faced further criticism for a minority of NHS machines still running Windows XP, Microsoft's 2001 operating system that went out of support five years ago. Despite the risk of running these Windows XP machines, Doyle-Price said it was not "not possible to set a timeframe for complete removal of Windows XP from all NHS machines". "This is because removal is not always possible, particularly where Windows XP is embedded in medical devices," she wrote. "All NHS organisations have been given guidance on how to mitigate the risks if they cannot completely remove Windows XP from their estate, for example, they can segregate the affected machines from the network. They can also contact NHS Digital for further bespoke advice and support to mitigate risks." She says additional management, monitoring, and risk mitigation was provided via the NHS's Data Security and Protection Toolkit (DSPT). Last year the Cabinet Office confirmed that government does not centrally track the number of Windows XP computers operating across the public sector. While Microsoft ended extended support for Windows XP in 2014, the UK government paid £5.5m for a year's extension to April 2015. The problem of public bodies using operating systems long after support ends is not limited to the UK, in 2015 the US Navy agreed to pay Microsoft millions to keep supporting Windows XP post-2014. Source
  2. Human rights group Liberty has lost its latest High Court challenge against the Government’s mass surveillance powers. Liberty brought the challenge against parts of the Investigatory Powers Act (IPA) – dubbed the “Snoopers’ Charter” by critics – which allow intelligence agencies to obtain and store communications data, and take remote control of electronic devices through “bulk hacking”. The group claimed the Government’s powers under IPA, which include the power to intercept the private information of the entire UK population, are too wide and therefore breach citizens’ human rights to privacy and freedom of expression. At the High Court in London on Monday, Lord Justice Singh and Mr Justice Holgate dismissed Liberty’s claim that IPA was incompatible with human rights law. Announcing the decision, Lord Justice Singh said the court rejected Liberty’s contention that IPA “does not contain sufficient safeguards against the risk of abuse of power”. The judge added that IPA included several “safeguards against the possible abuse of power” in response to concerns about the existence of the “bulk powers” provided for by the Act. Source
  3. John McAfee of antivirus software fame has arrived in London from the Dominican Republic, where he had been detained for several days with his wife and several others for entering the Caribbean nation with a cache of weapons on his yacht, his lawyer said Friday. Authorities “asked him where he wanted to go, and he decided on London,” his attorney Candido Simon told Reuters. News of his arrival in the UK came two days after McAfee, 73, the eponymous founder of the PC software security giant, said on Twitter that he was released “after four days of confinement” along with five other people, including his wife, Janice. “I was well treated. My superiors were friendly and helpful. In spite of the helpful circumstances, we’ve decided to move on,” the British-born tech guru said in a tweet Wednesday. After Dominican authorities ensured that the US had no active legal cases or extradition requests for McAfee, they allowed him to choose where he wanted to go, Simon said. McAfee has been sought by US tax authorities since January 2012, when he announced that he had fled the country and “living in exile” on a boat because of felony charges handed down by the Internal Revenue Service. A spokesman for the IRS told The Post on Friday that he could not release any information about the case, as per policy. McAfee — who is seeking the Libertarian Party’s nomination for US president in 2020 — asked his Twitter followers on Friday whether he should also campaign to be British prime minister. “Can a person run for, and be, President of the United States and Prime Minister of Great Britain simultaneously? Yes. Absolutely. Without question. But I believe I am one of the few people still alive who could qualify for the combined position,” he tweeted. Earlier this week, McAfee docked his yacht, Great Mystery, in Puerto Plata, a province on the DR’s Atlantic north coast, where the weapons and ammo stash was seized, Reuters reported. Customs officials said they found pistols, a shotgun and bars of suspected silver on the yacht. While in custody, McAfee retweeted a photo posted by his wife of himself sitting shirtless in a cell. “@theemrsmcafee insisted I looked better in this jailhouse photo since I was smiling. Janice was incarcerated in the cellblock next door at the same time. She just forgot how to properly smuggle phones,” he wrote. “My crime is not filing tax returns – not a crime. The rest is propaganda by the U.S. government to silence me. My voice is the voice of dissent. If I am silenced, dissent itself will be next,” he wrote in a July 19 tweet. “The CIA has attempted to collect us. We are at sea now and will report more soon. I will continue to be dark for the next few days,” he said in another tweet, which included a photograph of himself and a woman brandishing rifles. On July 22, he wrote that they had been “at sea 4 and a half in rough weather. Nearing port. All is well. Will be back in the saddle shortly.” McAfee said he couldn’t wait to “get off of this God forsaken boat that lost air conditioning and water 18 hours into the trip. None of us have bathed for 5 days.” His Twitter account was later taken over by his campaign manager Rob Benedicto Pacifico Juan Maria Loggia-Ramirez, who wrote: “If John misses his next check-in, events will be set into motion that I cannot prevent once they have begun. At the peak of his wealth, McAfee’s net worth topped $100 million – but he reportedly lost the bulk of his fortune during the global financial crisis in 2009. He then liquidated his assets and moved to Belize, where he surrounded himself with a harem of young women – many of whom moved in with him at his heavily fortified beachfront compound on Ambergris Caye. In 2012, Belize police said McAfee was a “person of interest” in the murder of a neighbor. He told the news outlet Wired in November of that year that he was forced into hiding because local authorities were trying to kill him. Prime Minister Dean Barrow dismissed the allegations, describing McAfee as “extremely paranoid — even bonkers.” McAfee was later arrested in Guatemala, where he sought political asylum but was charged with entering the country illegally. He was hospitalized for suspected heart attacks, which he later claimed he faked to avoid being handed over to police in Belize. On Dec. 21, 2012, Guatemalan authorities deported him to the US, where he reportedly met Janice, who solicited him as a prostitute in South Beach, Florida. The couple have lived in constant fear of his assassination by agents of the Belize government, according to a Newsweek report. McAfee sold his famous anti-virus software company, which he founded in 1987, in 1994 for about $75 million. “John has secreted data with individuals across the world. I know neither their identities or locations. They will release their payloads if John goes missing.” McAfee said in a video earlier this year that he was charged for “using cryptocurrencies in criminal acts” by Tennessee authorities, according to bitcoin.com. “I am running my campaign in exile on this boat for the duration — I will not allow them to imprison me and shut my voice down, which they will do immediately — Why? I am a flight risk. Obviously, I am in flight,” McAfee said in the video. The cybersecurity pioneer also boasted in a Jan. 3 tweet that he had not “filed a tax return for 8 years,” saying “taxation is illegal” and that his “net income is negative.” Source
  4. UK made illegal copies and mismanaged Schengen travelers database EU officials indirectly confirm UK's gross mismanagement detailed in an unconfirmed report last week. Authorities in the United Kingdom have made unauthorized copies of data stored inside a EU database for tracking undocumented migrants, missing people, stolen cars, or suspected criminals. Named the Schengen Information System (SIS), this is a EU-run database that stores information such as names, personal details, photographs, fingerprints, and arrest warrants for 500,000 non-EU citizens denied entry into Europe, over 100,000 missing people, and over 36,000 criminal suspects. The database was created for the sole purpose of helping EU countries manage access to the passport-free Schengen travel zone. The UK was granted access to this database in 2015, even if it's not an official member of the Schengen zone. 2018 report revealed violations on the UK's side In May 2018, reporters from EU Observer obtained a secret EU report that highlighted years of violations in managing the SIS database by UK authorities. According to the report, UK officials made copies of this database and stored it at airports and ports in unsafe conditions. Furthermore, by making copies, the UK was always working with outdated versions of the database. This meant UK officials wouldn't know in time if a person was removed from SIS, resulting in unnecessary detainments, or if a person was added to the database, allowing criminals to move through the UK and into the Schengen travel zone. Furthermore, they also mismanaged and misused this data by providing unsanctioned access to this highly-sensitive and secret information to third-party contractors, including US companies (IBM, ATOS, CGI, and others). The report expressed concerns that by doing so, the UK indirectly allowed contractors to copy this data as well, or allow US officials to request the database from a contractor under the US Patriot Act. Report confirmed this week At the time, EU authorities never confirmed the report's validity. However, in comments made earlier this week, EU officials inadvertantly admitted to the report's existence, and its accuracy. "Those are meant to be confidential discussions that we have with the individual member states," said European Commissioner for Security Julian King, as quoted by Schengen Visa Info and EU Observer, earlier this week. "It is not just one member state that has some challenges in this area, there are a number of member states that have challenges in this area," he added. As a result of these comments, Sophie in 't Veld, a Dutch politician and a Member of the European Parliament, has requested that the European Commission make the report public and reveal the real depth of the UK's abuse and mismanagement of this highly sensitive database -- which will also be at the core of a EU-wide biometrics system in the upcoming future. The UK authorities made illegal copies of the #Schengen Information System, incl photos & fingerprints of EU citizens and gave access to US companies ❌ Will the @EU_Commission present findings of a detailed & swift inquiry to @Europarl_EN? Questions from @RenewEurope LIBE⤵️ pic.twitter.com/HDtZkq8Z4o — Sophie in 't Veld (@SophieintVeld) July 26, 2019 Source: UK made illegal copies and mismanaged Schengen travelers database
  5. Brexit, Huawei and a potential digital tax are all challenges that Boris Johnson must tackle as he takes power. As of Wednesday afternoon, the UK will have a new prime minister in Conservative politician Boris Johnson. It's a time in history when governments around the world are coming to terms with the increasing crossover between technology and politics. With the society moving full pelt into the era of 5G, deepfakes and new surveillance technologies, Johnson will have decisions to make in order to secure the country's position as a tech leader in the world. The new PM isn't known for being particularly tech-savvy, but regardless, as leader of the country it will be his responsibility to tackle and solve a number of tech-related challenges, starting with those he has created for himself. Full fiber nation In his acceptance speech on Tuesday, Johnson promised "fantastic full fiber broadband sprouting in every home" in the country. This builds on a promise made last year by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport that promised full fiber access for the entire country (up from 7 percent of households this May, according to regulator Ofcom) by 2033. But the pledge Johnson has made to the people of the UK sees that deadline brought forward significantly. Instead, he said during his leadership election campaign, British citizens could expect access to fiber by 2025. Industry bodies have already criticized the lack of detail in Johnson's plan. "Boris Johnson's ambitious commitment to achieve full fiber coverage by 2025 is welcome, but needs to be matched with ambitious regulatory change, including reform of the fibre tax," responded the Internet Service Providers Association (Ispa). The National Infrastructure Commission meanwhile estimates the cost of upgrading the entire country to full fiber will be £33.4 billion over the course of 30 years. We're still waiting for Johnson's own estimate plus the full breakdown of his plan, but given that he listed the rollout high in his agenda, it would be fair to assume this is a priority for him. Brexit/Techxit A week before he became prime minister of the UK, Johnson wrote at length in the Telegraph that if technology can put men on the moon, it could also help solve the "technical and logistical" problem of resolving the Irish border problems to help the UK leave the European Union. "If they could use hand-knitted computer code to make a frictionless re-entry to Earth's atmosphere in 1969, we can solve the problem of frictionless trade at the Northern Irish border," he said. Johnson has long been known for his penchant for an elaborate metaphor and tendency towards hyperbole, but this was one example that had experts in politics, technology and science scratching their heads. Just as with fiber, the plan was short on specifics. Johnson, an ardent Brexit campaigner, is likely to want the UK's exit from the EU to go ahead at all costs -- even if that means crashing out without a deal. Tech industry body techUK is campaigning hard against a "No-deal Brexit". "TechUK's members have repeatedly warned of the damaging impact that a No Deal Brexit would have on their business and we would urge Mr Johnson to put all the talent and resources at his disposal to the task of avoiding this outcome," said TechUK CEO Julian Alexander. "This will be vital if we are to succeed in securing many of the opportunities that lie ahead for the UK beyond Brexit." With the major exception of James Dyson, tech leaders in the UK remain underwhelmed and unconvinced that Brexit will be a positive thing for the country's tech industry. It'll be up to Johnson to try and prove them wrong. How do you solve a problem like Huawei? While the US has vocally and proactively discussed how it will deal with potential security threats posed by Chinese tech giant Huawei to the country's telecoms infrastructure, the UK has done exactly the opposite. Over the past few months, it has continued to stall on deciding whether Huawei equipment should be used in the country's 5G network, until it kicked the decision into the long grass on Monday for the next prime minister to deal with. 5G and Huawei are Johnson's problem now. Being a leader in 5G is a key part of the government's economic strategy for the UK, and ensuring next-generation networks can rollout without delay is an essential part of making this happen. Two carriers, EE and Vodafone, have both already launched their 5G networks, both using Huawei equipment. You might think that makes it too late for the government to decide to place a ban on the company, and yet it's not. Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee released a statement last week, urging the next leader of the country to tackle the decision as soon as possible for fear of causing serious damage to the UK's relationships with its allies. "The new Prime Minister will no doubt have many issues to deal with in his first days in office," said the statement. "Nevertheless, this Committee urges him to take a decision on which companies will be involved in our 5G network, so that all concerned can move forward." Logging on and stepping up It's also not as if Johnson comes to the job with a fresh slate, as he would if the Conservative party had won a General Election and found itself thrust into power. He is preceded by the legacies of two former Conservative prime ministers. As we can see in the case of Huawei, he'll have some tidying up to do. He'll also be expected to enter into the debate on police use of facial recognition technology. His government will need to decide if and when the UK's controversial online porn block and the associated age-verification technology will come into play, after it was once again delayed in June. Then there's his own digital legacy to consider. On one lonesome occasion, Johnson also indicated that he might like to introduce a digital tax for tech giants operating in and out of the UK. "I think it's deeply unfair that high street businesses are paying tax through the nose... whereas the internet giants, the FAANGs -- Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google -- are paying virtually nothing." Meanwhile he faces competition on the tech leadership front from France just across the water, which already introduced its own digital tax in January, and has shown itself to be adept at wooing Silicon Valley CEOs in a way that the UK government hasn't even attempted to replicate. In the era of deepfakes, fake news and increased regulation of tech across the board and across the world, this is only the beginning for Johnson. Will the man of the meandering moon-landing metaphors be able to understand and explain the fine intricacies of his Brexit tech solution? Will he follow through on his vague digital tax hint? Will he ensure that even as it leaves the EU, the UK remains a leader in the tech and digital industries in the region for years to come? Over to you, prime minister. Source
  6. The company that owns Pornhub and YouPorn has developed a verification system called AgeID X-rated websites were set to be blocked on 15 July this year, but now the new laws have been delayed again. It is still unknown how far the porn block implementation will be pushed back, with an administrative error causing an indefinite wait. All internet providers will block x-rated websites when the new system comes into place, with users having to verify their age before they can proceed. Users will be automatically blocked from using free sites such as PornHub and YouPorn, unless they can prove their age. Age-appropriate content This automatic block, introduced under the Digital Economy Act 2017, is being put in place in an attempt to prevent children from seeing inappropriate content. The Act states that commercial providers of pornographic content should have age verification checks on their websites, in order to prevent children from viewing explicit images and videos. Proof of age The terms of the Digital Economy Act 2017 state that online commercial pornography services which can be accessed from the UK must use an age verification system. Mindgeek, the company that owns Pornhub and YouPorn, has developed a system called AgeID. James Clark, Director of Communications at AgeID, said: “First, a user can register an AgeID account using an email address and password, both of which are protected by a salted, one-way hash. The user verifies their email address and then chooses an age verification option from our list of 3rd party providers, using options such as Mobile SMS, Credit Card, Passport, or Driving Licence. The user then leaves AgeID and enters the details required to prove their age into the site of the third-party age verification provider. The third party will then pass back either a pass or fail to AgeID. Due to the intentional separation of AgeID and its providers, AgeID can neither see, nor store any of this age verification data.” “Once verified, users will be able to seamlessly browse between all AgeID protected sites and use multiple devices without the need for repeated verification. It is a one-time verification, with a simple single sign-on for future access. To clarify, if a user verifies on one AgeID protected site, they will not need to perform this verification again on any other site carrying AgeID.” Users will have to verify their age using a driver’s license, passport or credit card This AgeID system will then allow users to be able to log into any porn sites that uses this AgeID system with their username and password. Non-compliance The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), the UK’s pornography regulator, states that pornographic websites which do the following will not be considered compliant with the new law: relying solely on the user to confirm their age with no cross-checking of information – for example by using a ‘tick box’ system or requiring the user to only input their date of birth using a general disclaimer, such as ‘anyone using this website will be deemed to be over 18′ accepting age-verification through the use of online payment methods which may not require a user to be over 18 – for example by asking for ownership confirmation of a debit card checking against publicly available or otherwise easily known information, such as name, address and date of birth Any porn site that fails to comply with the news rules will face a fine of up to £250,000, or a blanket block by UK internet service providers. The BBFC will also be able to block porn websites if they fail to show that they are denying under-18s access to their sites. A spokesperson from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport said: “This is a world-leading step forward to protect our children from adult content which is currently far too easy to access online. “The Government, and the BBFC as the regulator, have taken the time to get this right and we will announce a commencement date shortly.” Source
  7. BT has confirmed it will offer 5G mobile plans to its residential and business customers from this autumn, starting with those on a BT Plus package. The company’s EE brand was the first to launch 5G mobile services in the UK this May and BT says its own brand divisions will be the first to offer the service as part of a converged mobile and broadband package. 5G for BT mobile customers will initially be available in the busiest parts of London, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast, Glasgow, Newcastle, Liverpool, Leeds, Hull, Sheffield, Nottingham, Leicester, Coventry and Bristol, with further rollouts around the country promised. Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s Consumer division, said: “We’re bringing together the best fibre and mobile connections to help keep our customers connected, both on the go and at home. “Launching 5G for BT customers will give them the opportunity to experience the fastest mobile speeds in the busiest areas of the UK, and our BT Plus customers will have the first opportunity to sign up for 5G.” Further details on the launch of 5G for BT Plus customers including 5G device availability will be announced in due course. Source
  8. Sajid Javid inks court papers for hearing tomorrow UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid revealed this morning that he has signed papers to have Julian Assange extradited to the US. Speaking on BBC radio earlier today, Javid said: "There's an extradition request from the US that is before the courts tomorrow but yesterday I signed the extradition order and certified it and that will be going in front of the courts tomorrow." Javid's certifying of the US extradition request lodged this week is the first formal step in having Assange sent across the pond. The next phase is tomorrow, when Belmarsh Magistrates' Court will set a date for a full extradition hearing. After that, assuming a district judge (full-time professional magistrate) OKs the extradition, Javid himself will make the final decision on whether or not to send the one-time chief WikiLeaker to America, as UK.gov's website explains. It is almost certain Assange will file an appeal to the High Court after the district judge's ruling, and again (as the law allows) after the Home Secretary's final decision. Avenging US government agents have long wanted Assange in their clutches because of his website WikiLeaks. As world+dog knows, WikiLeaks published classified material that mostly came from the US government, including the infamous "Collateral Murder" footage from gun cameras aboard American attack helicopters in the Middle East, depicting US pilots killing unarmed civilians. It also published thousands of entirely unredacted US diplomatic cables, exposing the nation's foreign policy workings and causing it severe embarrassment in the process. Sweden, which previously wanted Assange over allegations of sexual assault, abandoned its attempt to get its hands on the Australian national a week ago after a local court decided not to grant prosecutors an EU Arrest Warrant. That would have bypassed normal extradition protections in UK law. Assange's fans have always maintained that the Swedish proceedings were a front to have him extradited on to America. Assange is charged in the US with 18 counts including publishing classified material, collaborating with ex-US Army leaker Chelsea Manning, and various other crimes. In UK law, the Americans must promise only to try Assange on the charges they have published so far before he can be handed over – and the possibility of the death sentence would automatically bar his extradition. So far the WikiLeaker has not been charged with capital crimes. In his defence, Assange is understood to be claiming that he is a journalist and that the activities of WikiLeaks were journalism, rather than espionage as American prosecutors claim. In May, Assange was sentenced for jumping bail in the UK when he fled to London's Ecuadorian embassy, back in June 2012. He is currently serving 22 weeks in HM Prison Belmarsh in Woolwich, southeast London, with a theoretical release date of 2 October, well after the normal legal timescales for extradition hearings would be over. Source
  9. MI5 headquarters in London The security service MI5 has handled large amounts of personal data in an "undoubtedly unlawful" way, a watchdog has said. The Investigatory Powers Commissioner said information gathered under warrants was kept too long and not stored safely. Civil rights group Liberty said the breaches involved the "mass collection of data of innocent citizens". The high court heard MI5 knew about the issues in 2016 but kept them secret. "MI5 have been holding on to people's data - ordinary people's data, your data, my data - illegally for many years," said Megan Goulding, a lawyer for Liberty, which brought the case. "Not only that, they've been trying to keep their really serious errors secret - secret from the security services watchdog, who's supposed to know about them, secret from the Home Office, secret from the prime minister and secret from the public." Targeted interceptions The criticism of MI5 emerged in the High Court on Tuesday as Liberty challenged parts of the Investigatory Powers Act. Under the act, MI5 can apply to judges for warrants to obtain information such as people's location data, calls, messages and web browsing history. As well as "bulk data" collection, which can include information about ordinary members of the public, MI5 can use targeted interceptions of communications and computer hacking for investigations such as counter-terrorism. But the act includes safeguards about how all this information is stored and handled. It is against the law to keep data when it is no longer needed, or to store it in an unsafe way. MI5 had a "historical lack of compliance" with the law, said Lord Justice Sir Adrian Fulford, who oversees the security service's use of data as Investigatory Powers Commissioner. In a ruling revealed during the court case, he said the security service would be placed under greater scrutiny by judges when seeking warrants in future - which the commissioner compared to a failing school being placed in "special measures". Liberty said the revelations meant that some of the warrants issued to MI5 may not have been lawful, because the security service knew over several years that it was not handling data correctly but did not tell the judges. 'Serious risks' The court heard that senior members of MI5 were aware three years ago that there were serious issues with the management of data. MI5 informed the Home Office and Number 10 of the concerns in April this year, but the commissioner said they should have revealed them earlier. Discussions between lawyers and clients were among the information wrongly held by the security service, Liberty said. The pressure group said such material should be protected by legal privileges, but instead it was being seen by people at MI5. Lawyers for MI5 said they could not explain the exact nature of the breaches in open court, not because they were "embarrassing" but because there were "serious national security concerns". The security service has now taken "immediate and substantial steps" to comply with the law, Home Secretary Sajid Javid has said. Julian Milford, representing Mr Javid and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, acknowledged in court "the existence of serious compliance risks". But he said these specific issues were a "complete irrelevance" to Liberty's court case, which was challenging the legality of the whole system of information gathering created by the Investigatory Powers Act. Source
  10. The first is opening Manchester today Beginning today, Amazon will open 10 brick and mortar stores in locations throughout the UK as part of a scheme which it claims will help small businesses combine online and in-person sales. The new "Clicks and Mortar" stores will sell goods like homeware, health and beauty products, food and drink, and electronics. They will also act as a location for customers to see and try out products from online-only brands like Swifty Scooters. The first store will open in Manchester today, with openings across the rest of the UK to follow. Amazon says the pilot scheme will run for one year to test the viability of the concept. Amazon has had a mixed history with brick and mortar stores. Its automated supermarket chain, Amazon Go, has 12 branches in US cities and has been winning fans despite criticism that the cashless system is discriminatory and that it is harmful to local employment prospects. Then there are Amazon Books stores, 17 of which have opened near universities. The company has previously announced plans to expand the bookstores to more locations. Not all its physical retail schemes have been so successful, however. The pop-up kiosks it trialed at 87 locations in the U.S. were shut down earlier this year, signaling the trial wasn't as lucrative as it hoped for. Now, Amazon is trying the pop-up approach again, but this time it will try a new approach of highlighting previously online-only products and companies which stand to benefit from in-person sales. Amazon claims the new scheme will help small businesses by training apprentice workers and offering digital training events. For this purpose, it has set aside one million pounds for training schemes for 150 full-time apprentices to specialize in productivity and online sales. For small businesses which currently sell well online but would benefit from customers interacting with their products in person, this could indeed be a help. But ultimately the beneficiary of the plans will be Amazon itself, which will have a small but significant physical presence in the UK. For the long-term growth of the company, having brick and mortar stores will allow customers to browse for products they wouldn't necessarily search online, not to mention the benefits of impulse buys. And perhaps most valuable of all, it could raise Amazon's reputation as it seeks to to give back to the high street rather than destroy it. Source
  11. Cybersecurity: UK could build an automatic national defence system, says GCHQ chief Government, security firms and technology companies should be doing the heavy lifting when it comes to protecting against hacking and cyberattacks, says the UK's intelligence service. The UK could one day create a national cyber-defence system built on sharing real-time cybersecurity information between intelligence agencies and business, the head of GCHQ has said. Individual internet users shouldn't be forced to hold responsibility for staying safe online in the face of cyber-criminal gangs and advanced hacking groups, but rather it's cooperation between government, internet service providers and technology firms that should be doing the heavy lifting when it comes to cybersecurity, says the director of the UK's intelligence services. With a recent UK cybersecurity surveysuggesting that only 15 percent of people say they know how to protect themselves online, it's time "to do more to take the burden of cybersecurity away from the individual," Jeremy Fleming, director of GCHQ will tell a security conference today. Fleming's address is the keynote address at CYBERUK 19, a conference set up and run by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) – the cybersecurity arm of GCHQ. "This technological revolution is providing extraordinary opportunity, innovation and progress – but it's also exposing us to increasing complexity, uncertainty and risk," he will tell the audience at the Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow, adding how it also "brings new and unprecedented challenges for policymakers as we seek to protect our citizens, judicial systems, businesses - and even societal norms." Malicious cyber operations pose a threat to everyone from individuals and SMBs, to large organisations, critical national infrastructure and even governments, but the NCSC's mission is to use "unique insights into the structural vulnerabilities of the internet in partnership with business to detect, disrupt and fix malicious online behaviour," said Fleming. One way the UK's 'Active Cyber Defence' programme has already achieved success is by reducing the number of phishing websites from cyber attackers that are hosted in the UK: as of last month, under two percent of global phishing websites are hosted in the UK, down from over five percent when the programme began in 2016. GCHQ has achieved this by working in partnership with ISPs and cybersecurity firms, and Fleming pointed to a particular success around phishing emails claiming to come from the tax office in an effort to steal banking credentials and other personal data. "HMRC is an excellent case study of a department leading the way in protecting its customers. In 2016, HMRC was the 16th most phished brand globally, accounting for 1.25% of all phishing emails sent. Today it is ranked 146th and accounts for less than 0.1% of all phishing emails," he said. A protective DNS system for the public sector has also blocked malware attacks – such as the Conficker worm, which has been active since 2008 – on public sector networks. Fleming argued that private sector organisations should work with GCHQ in the same way as the public sector does in order to protect against attacks using automated services. Fleming will describe how the agency is now sharing time-critical information in a matter of seconds to allow business to take action. "With just one click, this information can be shared and action taken. In the coming year, we will continue to scale this capability – so whether it's indicators of a nation-state cyber actor, details of malware used by cyber criminals, or credit cards being sold on the Dark Web, we will declassify this information and get it back to those who can act on it," he will say. "If enough do, the results could be truly transformational – a whole-of-nation, automated cyber-defence system," Fleming will say. However, he also warned that improving cybersecurity in this way is only achievable if all parties work to "build a genuinely national effort – with more connections and deeper cooperation with the private sector, and even closer working with our partners and allies." For this to happen, government, private sector and academia all need to work together by applying expertise to bolster cybersecurity for individual consumers – and to help protect them against both current and future cyber threats. "To make this a success, our strongest defence and most powerful weapon will be our ingenuity – our ability to imagine what has yet to be imagined. To see further into the future than anyone else. Our vision for the next stage of the UK's cybersecurity strategy aims to do just that. The prize is great – a safer, more successful UK," Fleming is due to say. Source
  12. 5G-connected cows test milking parlor of the future SHEPTON MALLET, England (Reuters) - They may look like regular cows, but a herd of Friesian dairy cattle at a British farm are internet pioneers and they are enjoying the benefits of 5G connectivity before you. Cisco Systems Inc, which is developing network infrastructure for the emerging technology, has set up 5G testbeds to trial wireless and mobile connectivity in three rural locations. 5G promises super-fast connections, which evangelists say will transform the way we live our lives, enabling everything from self-driving cars to augmented-reality glasses and downloading a feature-length film to your phone in seconds. While it is being used in pockets of pilot studies around the world, the first near-nationwide coverage is not expected in countries such as China, Japan or the United States until 2023, according to industry analysts. For the cows, among the 5G-connected gadgets they are wearing is a collar that controls a robotic milking system. When the cow feels ready to be milked it will approach machine gates that will automatically open. The device recognizes the individual to precisely latch on to its teats for milking, while the cow munches on a food reward. At the government-funded Agricultural Engineering Precision Innovation Centre (Agri-EPI Centre) in Shepton Mallet, in southwest England, around 50 of the 180-strong herd is fitted with the 5G smart collars and health-monitoring ear tags. The gadgets do not harm the cows and the monitoring allows handlers to see any signs of distress. “We are testing the ability of 5G to transmit the data from our sensors much quicker, and not via the farm’s PC and a slow broadband internet connection,” said Duncan Forbes, Project Manager at the Agri-Epi Centre “And the significance of that is it means that this sort of technology could be taken up ... not just on farms but on rural communities right across the country.” The working dairy, set up by Agri-EPI with the support of Britain’s innovation agency, uses a range of technology; including automated brushes that rotate when the cow rubs up against them, sensor-operated curtains that open depending on the weather, and a smart feeding system that automatically delivers food in the barn via ceiling-mounted rails. “We can connect every cow, we can connect every animal on this farm,” Cisco’s Nick Chrissos said. “That’s what 5G can do for farming — really unleash the power that we have within this farm, everywhere around the UK and everywhere around the world.” Source
  13. Companies could face fines if they fail to take down content quickly. Enlarge / British Prime Minister Theresa May. Jack Taylor/Getty Images The British government is considering sweeping new laws to regulate problematic content online, ranging from terrorist propaganda to fake news. A new proposal unveiled on Monday would impose a new "duty of care" on websites hosting user-submitted content. Under the plan, a new UK agency would develop codes of practice outlining how sites should deal with various types of harmful content. The new proposal follows last month's mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, which left 50 people dead. In the wake of that attack, Australia passed a new law that requires major platforms to quickly remove violent online material—or face harsh fines and possibly even jail time. On Monday, a committee of the EU parliament backed a law that would fine online platforms up to 4 percent of their revenue if they failed to take down terrorist content within four hours. Britain's proposal is much broader, requiring technology companies to police their platforms for a wide range of objectionable material. Companies could face fines if they don't remove harmful material quickly. A 100-page white paper from Theresa May's government details the many categories of content that would be governed by the new rules, including child pornography, revenge pornography, cyberstalking, hate crimes, encouragement of suicide, sale of illegal goods, sexting by minors, and "disinformation." The proposal would also try to stop inmates from posting online content in violation of prison rules. Such a sweeping proposal would be unlikely to pass muster in the United States, where the First Amendment sharply limits government regulation of online content. But America is unusual; most countries have a much narrower concept of free speech that leaves governments substantial latitude to regulate content they regard as harmful. Still, a big question is how to crack down on harmful speech without unduly burdening the speech of legitimate users—or of unduly burdening the operators of smaller websites. Fundamentally, regulators have two options here. They can require online operators to take down content only after they've been notified of its existence, or they can require platforms to proactively monitor uploaded content. Current law Under the EU's E-Commerce Directive, current UK law shields online service providers from liability for content unless they have actual knowledge of its existence. But the UK government is now re-thinking that approach. "The existing liability regime only forces companies to take action against illegal content once they have been notified of its existence," the white paper says. "We concluded that standalone changes to the liability regime would be insufficient." Instead, the UK government says it's opting for a "more thorough approach," requiring technology companies to "ensure that they have effective and proportionate processes and governance in place to reduce the risk of illegal and harmful activity on their platforms." Of course, forcing technology companies to proactively monitor its platforms for objectionable content could create problems of their own, leading to unnecessary removal of legitimate content or eroding user privacy. UK regulators say there's no need to worry about this. "The regulator will not compel companies to undertake general monitoring of all communications on their online services, as this would be a disproportionate burden on companies and would raise concerns about user privacy," the document states. However, it says, there is "a strong case for mandating specific monitoring that targets where there is a threat to national security or the physical safety of children." Vague by design If that seems vague, that's by design. Rather than spelling out the precise obligations of online service providers in its initial proposal, the government plans to create a new regulatory agency and have it write up specific guidelines for the various types of unsavory content that could show up on technology platforms. Monday's publication of the online-harms white paper is just the first step to developing these new regulations. The public now has 12 weeks to comment on the proposal. The government will then take those comments into account as it drafts a final legislative proposal. If something like this proposal does become law, it could have significant impacts beyond the borders of the United Kingdom. The Internet is global, and we can expect the United Kingdom to demand that objectionable content be made inaccessible in the UK regardless of who originally uploaded it. In principle, major platforms could use geoblocking technology to prevent Britons from accessing objectionable content hosted in the United States or elsewhere. But technology companies may decide it's easier to just take down objectionable content for everyone—especially if other jurisdictions pass similar laws. As a result, America's strong free-speech tradition might become less and less relevant online, as online content policies are increasingly driven by countries with more activist approaches. Source: UK government proposes sweeping new regulations of online content (Ars Technica)
  14. ATLANTA - Rapper 21 Savage, who claims to be from Atlanta’s Zone 6, has been arrested by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Rapper 21 Savage was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Atlanta Sunday morning, on the grounds that he is actually from the United Kingdom and overstayed his visa, according to reports in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and TMZ “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested unlawfully present United Kingdom national Sha Yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph AKA ’21 Savage’ during a targeted operation with federal and local law enforcement partners early Sunday in metro Atlanta,” ICE spokesman Brian Cox told the AJC. “Mr. Abraham-Joseph was taken into ICE custody as he is unlawfully present in the U.S. and also a convicted felon.” Savage was convicted of felony drug charges in 2014 in Fulton County, Georgia. The arrest was met with baffled reactions online, as the rapper has long been associated with Atlanta and performed with local rappers T.I., Migos, Lil Yachty and Ludacris at an A-town-heavy concert in the city on Thursday during the run-up to today’s Super Bowl. However, Cox told the AJC that Savage, 26, is an “unlawfully present United Kingdom national” who legally entered the U.S. in July 2005 on a visa that expired a year later, Cox said. 21 Savage is nominated for two 2019 Grammy Awards for his work as a featured artist on Post Malone’s song “Rockstar”; the awards ceremony takes place next Sunday. He released his debut, “The Slaughter Tape” mixtape, in 2015 and signed with Epic Records. His most recent album, “I Am > I Was,” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart. The rapper’s attorney, Dina LaPolt, told Variety: “We are working diligently to get Mr. Abraham-Joseph out of detention while we work with authorities to clear up any misunderstanding. Mr. Abraham-Joseph is a role model to the young people in the country — especially in Atlanta, Georgia and is actively working in the community leading programs to help underprivileged youths in financial literacy.” Reps for Savage did not immediately respond to Variety’s requests for comment. Source
  15. Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the UK’s counterpart to the National Security Agency (NSA), has fired the latest shot in the crypto wars. In a post to Lawfare titled Principles for a More Informed Exceptional Access Debate, two of Britain’s top spooks introduced what they’re framing as a kinder, gentler approach to compromising the encryption that keeps us safe online. This new proposal from GCHQ—which we’ve heard rumors of for nearly a year—eschews one discredited method for breaking encryption (key escrow) and instead adopts a novel approach referred to as the “ghost.” But let’s be clear: regardless of what they’re calling it, GCHQ’s “ghost” is still a mandated encryption backdoor with all the security and privacy risks that come with it. Backdoors have a (well-deserved) horrible reputation in the security community. But that hasn’t dissuaded law enforcement officials around the world from demanding them for more than two decades. And while the Internet has become a more dangerous place for average users, making encryption more important than ever, this rhetoric has hardly changed. What has changed is the legal landscape governing encryption and law enforcement, at least in the UK. 2016 saw the passage of the Investigatory Powers Act, which gives the UK the legal ability to order a company like Apple or Facebook to tamper with security features in their products—while simultaneously being prohibited from telling the public about it. As far as is publicly known, the UK has not attempted to employ the provisions of the Investigatory Powers Act to compromise the security of the products we use. Yet. But GCHQ’s Lawfare piece previews the course that the agency is likely to take. The authors lay out six “principles” for an informed debate, and they sound pretty noncontroversial. Privacy and security protections are critical to public confidence. Therefore, we will only seek exceptional access to data where there’s a legitimate need, that access is the least intrusive way of proceeding and there is appropriate legal authorisation. Investigative tradecraft has to evolve with technology. Even when we have a legitimate need, we can’t expect 100 percent access 100 percent of the time. Targeted exceptional access capabilities should not give governments unfettered access to user data. Any exceptional access solution should not fundamentally change the trust relationship between a service provider and its users. Transparency is essential. So far so good. I absolutely agree that law enforcement should only act where there’s a legitimate need and only when authorized by a court, in a way that evolves with the tech, that doesn’t have unrealistic expectations, that doesn’t enable mass surveillance, that doesn’t undermine the public trust, and that is transparent. But unfortunately, the authors fail to apply the principles so carefully laid out to the problem at hand. Instead, they’re proposing a way of undermining end-to-end encryption using a technique that the community has started calling the “ghost.” Here’s how the post describes it: Applying this idea to WhatsApp, it would mean that—upon receiving a court order—the company would be required to convert a 1-on-1 conversation into a group chat, with the government as the third member of the chat. But that’s not all. In WhatsApp’s UX, users can verify the security of a conversation by comparing “security codes” within the app. So for the ghost to work, there would have to be a way of forcing both users’ clients to lie to them by showing a falsified security code, as well as suppress any notification that the conversation’s keys had changed. Put differently, if GCHQ’s proposal went into effect, consumers could never again trust the claims that our software makes about what it’s doing to protect us. The authors of the Lawfare piece go out of their way to claim that they are “not talking about weakening encryption or defeating the end-to-end nature of the service.” Hogwash. They’re talking about adding a “feature” that would require the user’s device to selectively lie about whether it’s even employing end-to-end encryption, or whether it’s leaking the conversation content to a third (secret) party. Is the security code displayed by your device a mathematical representation of the two keys involved, or is it a straight-up lie? Furthermore, what’s to guarantee that the method used by governments to insert the “ghost” key into a conversation without alerting the users won’t be exploited by bad actors? Despite the GCHQ authors’ claim, the ghost will require vendors to disable the very features that give our communications systems their security guarantees in a way that fundamentally changes the trust relationship between a service provider and its users. Software and hardware companies will never be able to convincingly claim that they are being honest about what their applications and tools are doing, and users will have no good reason to believe them if they try. And, as we’ve seen already seen, GCHQ will not be the only agency in the world demanding such extraordinary access to billions of users’ software. Australia was quick to follow the UK’s lead, and we can expect to see similar demands, from Brazil and the European Union to Russia and China. (Note that this proposal would be unconstitutional were it proposed in the United States, which has strong protections against governments forcing actors to speak or lie on its behalf.) The “ghost” proposal violates the six “principles” in other ways, too. Instead of asking investigative tradecraft to evolve with technology, it’s asking technology to build investigative tradecraft in from the ground floor. Instead of targeted exceptional access, it’s asking companies to put a dormant wiretap in every single user’s pocket, just waiting to be activated. We must reject GCHQ’s newest “ghost” proposal for what it is: a mandated encryption backdoor that weakens the security properties of encrypted messaging systems and fundamentally compromises user trust. GCHQ needs to give up the ghost. It’s just another word for an encryption backdoor. Source : The EFF
  16. A family were forced to sit on the floor of an airplane during their flight home from Menorca after being told that their allocated seats did not exist. Paula Taylor and her daughter, Brooke, were forced to sit on the floor during the flight Paula Taylor, 44, her husband Ian, 55, and their daughter Brooke, 10, from Alcester, Warwickshire, arrived early at Mahon airport in June last year for their flight with TUI airlines. They were given the seat numbers 41 D, E and F, but when they boarded the plane they could not find their seats and cabin crew instead offered them flip-up 'jump' seats tucked into the crew station. They were later forced to the floor because flight attendants needed access to food and duty free items. Paula Taylor with her husband Ian and daughter Brooke "We made sure we were three hours early at the airport to check in early just to make sure we got seats together," Mrs Taylor explained to BBC One's Rip-Off Britain: Holidays. "We went straight to the front and we were very excited the fact we had managed to sit together." Yet, on the plane, they could not locate the seats stated on their boarding passes. "We all just looked at each other as if to say 'where's our seats gone?'. There are no seats where our seats should be," Mrs Taylor said. Members of the cabin crew proposed that ten-year-old Brooke could take the last spare seat on the flight, and Paula and her husband Ian could sit in two spare flip-up chairs meant for the crew. However, after the plane had taken off, the couple were told that they had to vacate their seats as the attendants needed access to the food and duty free items, which were stored behind them. Paula Taylor's daughter, Brooke,sat on the floor on the flight On the floor they were joined by their daughter and later the co-pilot of the aircraft, who thanked the family for their "co-operation and understanding". "He said that how calm we were and he was so grateful because he would have had to, he would have missed the time slot take off," Mrs Taylor said. She said of the floor: "It's hard and it's uncomfortable and it's just filthy. It's just not an experience I ever want to repeat." The Civil Aviation Authority, the body that regulates airlines in the UK, is now investigating the incident. It has asked TUI airlines to explain why the family was allowed to sit on the floor and is looking into a possible breach of regulations. Passengers are allowed to sit in crew seats under certain conditions, but must not be left unseated during any stage of the flight. After being contacted by the programme, TUI offered the family a full £1300 refund, blaming the incident on a "last minute aircraft change". However, Mrs Taylor said that she "got short shrift" from the airline when she personally complained immediately after the incident, despite having photographs of what had happened. She alleges that, after explaining to the company that the seats were "physically missing", she was told that there was no record of the incident and offered a "good will gesture" of £30. Frustrated, she contacted Rip-Off Britain. A spokesman for TUI said: "We are sorry to hear about Mr Taylor and his family’s experience with us. "Unfortunately a last minute aircraft change meant that the seats the family was originally assigned were unavailable as the alternative aircraft had a different seating configuration. "We're also sorry for the way the situation was initially handled and we’ll be investigating this. We will also be contacting the customers directly to apologise and will be offering a full refund." The episode of Rip-Off Britain: Holidays will be broadcast on BBC One on Tuesday at 9.15am. Source
  17. Online filth flicks fans will just have to swallow the verification process THE INEVITABLE HAS HAPPENED: porn fans will soon have to prove they're old enough to bash one out to online grot flicks and pics, as the UK has passed the porn age verification law. The whole quest to choke easy access to porn websites without viewers needing to prove they're 18-years-old has been undergoing since 2015 as part of the government's mission to rear-end porn access. A whole host of technical problems for posing such a law on the orgy of porn websites across the Web meant getting the law shipshape and passed took some four years or so. But now it's been fully passed, meaning porn sites will have to swallow the need to impose proper age checks for people looking to pleasure themselves with some material for arousal within the UK from April onwards. That'll be an unwelcome pain in the backside for porn sites, but it could also give some porn fans blue balls (so to speak) as they grapple to verify their age. And to be honest we feel a bit sorry for hormonal teenagers who want to knock on out to some high fidelity pornography rather than go on the hunt for discarded porn mags and certain pangs of certain tabloids chucked in the hedges of country roads or left on building sites, like what we had to do. Mind you the number of suggestive snaps on the likes of Instagram probably renders porn sites and physical media filth a tad redundant for younger folks. All that being said the age verification law has been designed to protect children from being exposed to porn at a far too young age, which is no bad thing. It's not really clear how age verification will be implemented; people might need to submit say credit card details or passport photos for example, which raises questions around data protection and privacy. However it's implemented will have to be seen, and despite these hurdles, the law is coming into effect, like it or lump it. So if you like watching porn with relative ease, we suggest you get cracking on as much as possible before April comes along. Source
  18. A man and woman arrested over the Gatwick Airport drone chaos have been released without charge. Sussex Police say the 47-year-old man and 54-year-old woman, both from Crawley, are "no longer suspects" in the incident. Some 1,000 aircraft were cancelled or disrupted during the chaos, which began on Wednesday evening, affecting around 140,000 passengers. Detective Chief Superintendent Jason Tingley said: “Both people have fully co-operated with our enquiries and I am satisfied that they are no longer suspects in the drone incidents at Gatwick. “It is important to remember that when people are arrested in an effort to make further enquiries it does not mean that they are guilty of an offence and Sussex Police would not seek to make their identity public. “Our inquiry continues at a pace to locate those responsible for the drone incursions, and we continue to actively follow lines of investigation. “We ask for the public’s continued support by reporting anything suspicious, contacting us with any information in relation to the drone incidents at Gatwick." Mr Tingley also told Sky News that officers had found a damaged drone near the airport, adding that police would be working with the "forensic opportunities that the drone presents". Gatwick Airport Limited has offered a £50,000 reward through Crimestoppers, for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the criminal act that disrupted flights. The pair were arrested on Friday night but released on Sunday morning. The first sighting of drones within the airport's perimeter came on Wednesday night, with flights grounded again around 5pm on Friday after fresh sightings. Officers were prepared to blast the drones out of the sky with a shotgun, but authorities finally regained control over the airfield after the Army deployed military technology to guard the area. The Israeli-developed Drone Dome system, which can detect drones using radar, is believed to have been used to jam communications between the drone and its operator. Police believe more than one unmanned aircraft is responsible for the disruption and are investigating the possibility of multiple culprits. Speaking on Friday, chief executive of the airport Stewart Wingate said the drone flights were "highly targeted" and have "been designed to close the airport and bring maximum disruption in the run up to Christmas". He added: "These events obviously highlight a wider strategic challenge for aviation in this country which we need to address together with speed - the aviation industry, government and all the other relevant authorities. "It cannot be right that drones can close a vital part of our national infrastructure in this way. "This is obviously a relatively new technology and we need to think through together the right solutions to make sure it cannot happen again." Source
  19. LONDON (Reuters) - Uber [UBER.UL] has lost its latest court bid to stop its British drivers being classified as workers, entitling them to rights such as the minimum wage, in a decision which jeopardizes the taxi app’s business model. Two drivers successfully argued at a tribunal in 2016 that the Silicon Valley firm exerted significant control over them to provide an on-demand service, and that they should cease to be considered as self-employed, which gives few protections in law. An employment appeal tribunal upheld that decision last year, prompting Uber to go to the Court of Appeal. On Wednesday, a majority of judges there said they agreed with the previous verdicts and rejected Uber’s arguments. “They approve the reasoning of the Employment Tribunal, which relied on a number of features of Uber’s working arrangements as being inconsistent with the driver having a direct contractual relationship with the passenger,” the Court of Appeal said in a summary. Uber said it would appeal the verdict, meaning the legal process will continue. “This decision was not unanimous and does not reflect the reasons why the vast majority of drivers choose to use the Uber app,” said a spokeswoman. “We have been granted permission to appeal to the Supreme Court and will do so.” Uber, which could be valued at $120 billion in a flotation, has faced protests, regulatory crackdowns and license losses around the world as it challenges existing competitors and rapidly expands. In Britain, the self-employed are entitled to only basic protections such as health and safety, but workers receive the minimum wage, paid holidays and rest breaks. Uber has introduced a number of benefits for drivers this year. Unions argue that the gig economy - where people often work for various firms at the same time without fixed contracts - is exploitative, whilst Uber says its drivers enjoy the flexibility and on average earn much more than the minimum wage. Uber says its practices have been widely used for decades in Britain by minicabs, private hire vehicles which cannot be hailed in the street like traditional black taxis. The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain, which backed the two drivers in the case, attacked Uber for appealing court decisions which have gone against the firm. “It is becoming increasingly ridiculous for so-called ‘gig economy’ companies to argue that the law is unclear when they lose virtually every tribunal and court case,” said General Secretary Jason Moyer-Lee. Source
  20. The UK Government has committed £2 million to fund the ongoing "Get it Right" anti-piracy campaign until 2021. Under this program, UK Internet providers and rightsholders have teamed up to warn alleged pirates and educate the public at large on how to access content through 'genuine' channels. Four years ago, copyright indistry groups and Internet providers teamed up to fight online piracy in the UK. Backed by the Government, they launched several educational campaigns under the “Get it Right” banner. Under the program, ISPs send out piracy warnings to subscribers whose accounts are used to share copyright-infringing material. This started early last year and has been ongoing since. There haven’t been any official updates in a while, nor is it known how many alerts are going out on a monthly basis. However, it appears that copyright holders and the UK Government are happy with the progress thus far. Late last week the Government announced that it will continue its support for the ‘Get it Right’ campaign. It will allocate £2 million in funding as part of a £20 million boost to the UK’s creative industries. “This package will take the sector from strength to strength by arming the next generation of creatives with the necessary skills and giving businesses in the sector the support they need to succeed,” says Margot James, Minister for the Creative Industries. It’s unclear what the future plans are. The official ‘Get It Right’ page hasn’t changed much in recent years. However, it’s expected that the email warning program, targeted at alleged pirates, will continue. We are not aware of any public reports on the effectiveness of the campaign. However, Ian Moss, Public Affairs director at the music industry group BPI, suggests that there is data suggesting that it works. “The research into the campaign has shown it really makes a difference and that a positive campaign that is relevant to fans can help change the way people think about accessing content online,” Moss says. “The Government’s continuing commitment to the successful campaign is warmly welcomed.” This isn’t the first time that the UK Government has financially supported the ‘Get it Right’ campaign. It also contributed £3.5 million to the program at the start. While it’s hard to measure a direct return on investment, the Government previously justified the spending with an expected increase in sales tax. This would be achieved by converting pirates into legitimate customers. The Governments official announcement is available here. Via gamesindustry. Original Article.
  21. The British prime minister acknowledged she would have lost the vote, scheduled for tomorrow, by a “significant” margin. Prime Minister Theresa May has pulled a vote on her Brexit deal, throwing the UK’s plan to leave the European Union into chaos after she admitted she did not have the votes to get it through parliament. MPs could now have to wait until January 21, 2019 to vote on the government’s beleaguered deal, May announced in the House of Commons on Monday afternoon. “If we went ahead and held the vote tomorrow the deal would be rejected by a significant margin,” May told parliament, adding that she was confident it was still the right deal for the UK. “We will therefore defer the vote scheduled for tomorrow and not proceed to divide the House at this time,” she said, adding that the government would step up planning for a no-deal Brexit. The prime minister also announced plans to meet European leaders, as well as the leaders of the European Council and Commission ahead of Thursday’s summit in Brussels. As May made her statement, the British pound dropped to its weakest level since June 2017, falling to $1.2622. May accepted there was intense concern among MPs about the Northern Irish “backstop”, a policy aimed at avoiding a return to border checks between the British province and Ireland. Her critics, both supporters of Brexit and its opponents, have rejected the open-ended backstop, which could require Britain to accept European Union rules indefinitely, long after it gives up any say in drafting them. The prime minister said she would seek changes to the proposal to win over unhappy Conservative MPs. The dramatic canning of the vote comes after Downing Street and Cabinet ministers had insisted as recently as Monday morning that tomorrow’s vote was going ahead. May was all but certain to lose the vote given it is opposed by at least 100 MPs from her own Conservative Party as well as Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party. The prime minister was greeted with laughter from opposition MPs when she told them: “I have listened very carefully to what has been said in this chamber and out of it by Members from all sides. “From listening to those views it is clear that while there is broad support for key aspects of the deal, on one issue, the Northern Ireland backstop, there remains widespread and deep concern. “As a result, if we went ahead tomorrow it would be rejected by a significant margin.” Pressed on when the vote would be held, May simply said under existing legislation it had to be held by January 21, 2019. The UK is on course to leave the EU on March 29, 2019 – with or without a deal. Responding to May, Corbyn said the country was now in “an extremely serious and unprecedented situation”. “The government has lost control of events and is in complete disarray,” he said. Adding to the confusion, parliamentary authorities later said in practise the latest possible date a vote could be held was 28 March. Source
  22. The UK’s National Health Service has been ordered to stop buying more fax machines. It also must stop using the machines entirely by April 2020, as part of an effort to modernize the healthcare organization. More than 9,000 fax machines are in use by the NHS, a July survey found. All will be replaced by email, according to a report from the BBC. The shift, ordered by UK health secretary Matt Hancock, is intended to improve patient safety and make communications more secure. Rebecca McIntyre, a cognitive behavioral therapist, told the BBC that using fax machines made it difficult to ensure patient’s information was actually sent to the right place, and that it wasn’t being seen by non-authorized people. ”You would not believe the palaver we have in the work place trying to communicate important documents to services (referrals etc),” she said. “We constantly receive faxes meant for other places in error but this is never reported.” Fax machines have stuck around in a digital age due to legal requirements in the healthcare and legal systems. While only certain kinds of signatures can be accepted over email, fax is a legally-valid method of sending a signed document. “Most other organisations scrapped fax machines in the early 2000s and it is high time the NHS caught up,” Richard Kerr, chair of the Royal College of Surgeons’ commission on the future of surgery, told the Guardian. Source
  23. The pound has fallen to an 18-month low against the dollar amid mounting uncertainty about the terms of the UK's exit from the EU. After reports that Theresa May is delaying Tuesday's vote on her Brexit deal, the pound fell to $1.2656, its lowest level since June 2017. The pound slipped to three-month lows against the euro, trading at €1.1085 The currency is seen as a barometer of the Brexit negotiations, analysts said. "Until the market knows what will happen with respect to Brexit one way or the other then they [traders] will remain extremely anxious," said Jane Foley, head of foreign exchange strategy at Rabobank. Ms Foley said the threat of a hard Brexit, under which the UK leaves the EU without a deal, as well as the ongoing political uncertainty was "an extraordinary and toxic mix" for the pound. "Once we know what is happening, things will be more settled," she added. This week had always been expected to be a volatile one for the pound because of the vote on Tuesday, which has also heightened political uncertainty. Dozens of Conservative MPs had been planning to join forces with Labour, the SNP, the Lib Dems and the DUP to vote down Mrs May's deal. David Cheetham, chief market analyst at XTB, said that while any delay to the vote will spare the Prime Minister from a defeat, the market was reacting to the uncertainty. "The negative reaction in the markets is more likely due to what it means for her position rather than the failure to win the vote - with even her staunchest supporters already highly sceptical as to whether the bill would pass - as it now seems increasingly likely that a long-touted leadership challenge will ensue," he said. Mrs May will now make a statement to MPs at 15:30 GMT, which has helped sparked expectations the vote will be delayed. Mr Wilson said there were a number of theories about what delaying the might vote might mean, ranging from new talks over the backstop or a second referendum. "The only known is that the uncertainty has increased and we are faced with more volatility for sterling and UK assets," Mr Wilson said. Nadhim Zahawi, a junior minister in the Department for Education, said the Prime Minister intended to renegotiate. Source
  24. Drug-related hospital admissions down 95% after onsite testing at festival in Cambridgeshire An alarming rise in drug-related deaths at music festivals can be countered by testing illicit substances onsite, according to the first academic study of its kind, which has triggered calls for similar services to be rolled out at all major events. Testers found that one in five substances sold at the Secret Garden Party, a four-day festival in Cambridgeshire in July 2016, were not as described by dealers. Samples contained ketamine instead of cocaine, while a drug sold as MDMA turned out to be n-ethylpentylone, a long-lasting cathinone that can cause anxiety, paranoia, insomnia and psychosis. Others contained pharmaceuticals and cutting agents such as anti-malaria medication, as well as less harmful ingredients such as brown sugar and plaster of paris. Chemists from the non-profit social enterprise The Loop analysed 247 drug samples brought in anonymously by festivalgoers. Two-thirds of people who discovered they had had substances missold to them subsequently handed over further substances to the police, according to the study. The Durham University findings, published online on Sunday in the International Journal of Drug Policy, show dealers selling drugs at the festival were twice as likely to deceive customers as those selling offsite, which is something that experts said highlighted the added risks for festivalgoers. In 2016, when the Multi Agency Safety Testing (MAST) pilot took place at the Secret Garden Party, UK drug-related deaths and festival drug-related deaths reached their highest on record. However, there was just one drug-related hospital admission at the Secret Garden Party, against 19 in the previous year, a 95% reduction. “The service not only identifies and informs service users about the contents of their submitted sample and provides them with direct harm reduction advice but this pilot tells us they spread the information to their friends,” said Fiona Measham from Durham University’s Department of Sociology, and director of The Loop. Voluntary drug-safety testing at festivals has been resisted by some major event organisers. But Measham said she hoped the study would go some way to proving its usefulness. “As a cutting-edge, and some might consider controversial, service it is imperative that we evaluate the impact of the introduction of drug safety testing in the UK,” she said. “This paper is a first small step towards this.” The research shows that warnings about specific dangerous substances identified by onsite chemists were quickly shared on social media, alerting festivalgoers across the country. “Alerts are also shared on social media and via medical and other staff at the festival so the message can spread far and wide. We now have evidence that people who sell drugs at festivals are twice as likely to rip off the public and we can provide evidence-based alerts that not only warn people about specific drugs but also about specific drug markets.” Critics argue that public drug-safety testing could normalise illegal drugs and encourage more people to take them. But Measham insisted that Loop staff told all who used its services that the safest way to take drugs was not to take them at all. Laura Hunt, head of partnerships and operational support at Cambridgeshire constabulary, who acted as “silver command” at the Secret Garden Party, said harm reduction strategies were not a green light to substance abuse. “There is a zero tolerance to drug dealing within the event’s policing operation and more specifically within the harm reduction space. This meant that all partners had a clear understanding that no agency or organisation should encourage or condone the use of substances in any way.” Hunt’s comments were echoed by Justin Bibby, a superintendent in Cumbria Constabulary, and “gold command” at the Kendal Calling festival, where MAST was also introduced in 2016. “When it comes to drugs, I do everything I can to prevent them getting into a festival, and our operations to target suppliers are focused, persistent and omnipresent,” Bibby said. “That said, there will always be some that get through the net. Likewise, there will always be individuals who despite our best efforts will continue to misuse substances.” Freddie Fellowes, owner of the Secret Garden Party, said the results bolstered calls for drug testing to be made available at all major events. “The Secret Garden Party was incredibly proud to be a part of the first meaningful advance in over 20 years in harm reduction strategy, the results of which surpassed even our hope and expectations. In the future this facility should be required at all large events, not fought for.” Source
  25. Mohammad Maroof suspended after image appears on Mums United WhatsApp group A councillor who accidentally sent a picture of a topless woman to a group of campaigners during a meeting has been suspended. Mohammad Maroof, a Sheffield city councillor, posted the explicit image on a Mums United WhatsApp group while its founder, Sahira Irshad, presented a petition on knife crime. Maroof said he was “very embarrassed” and apologised for what he described as an “honest mistake”. He said he had been trying to attach a video of Irshad’s speech. The Labour party councillor has been suspended by the council pending an investigation. Maroof, who represents the city suburbs Nether Edge and Sharrow, said he had asked for the picture to be deleted “within seconds” of sending it. “This is my private phone and I receive so many things that my WhatsApp has been set up to automatically save everything in my phone’s photo file,” he said in quotes reported by the BBC. “Somebody sent me this photo, it may have come in the morning, and it went into my phone’s file. “I tried to send the group a video and by mistake I pressed the wrong photo. As soon as I realised, I asked for it to be deleted as I couldn’t delete it myself. It was only there for a second.” A screenshot of the WhatsApp group showed that Maroof quickly realised his mistake. He wrote: “The world is full of stupid who send stuff on Whatsapp which goes directly into photos sections saved. Didn’t realise and press [sic] the wrong button before clearing it. I am sorry to all who saw it for a second with blinked eyes.” Maroof later added: “I sincerely apologise. I had no intention to do such a thing and to cause such disruption. I have a lot of respect for the group.” Source
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