Monthly Archives: April 2018

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Phone maker settles charges it let partner collect customers’ text messages

Enlarge (credit: BLU)

Phone maker BLU is settling charges that it allowed a China-based partner to collect a mountain of customers’ personal data—including full content of text messages, real-time locations, telephone numbers, contacts, and installed apps—despite promises it would keep such details private.

Under a settlement with the US Federal Trade Commission announced Monday, BLU agreed to implement a “comprehensive data-security program” to prevent similar privacy leaks in the future. Both the company as a whole and co-owner and president Samuel Ohev-Zion are barred from misrepresenting the extent to which they protect the privacy and security of personal information. The company further will be subject to third-party assessments of its security program every two years for 20 years and must comply with record-keeping and compliance-monitoring requirements.

The settlement stems from research published in November 2016 by security firm Kryptowire. It found that BLU phones were transmitting a massive amount of private customer data to AdUps Technologies, a Shanghai-based provider of firmware that ran on the affected devices. Kryptowire said AdUps appeared to gather the data to help phone manufacturers and carriers track the behavior of their customers for advertising purposes.

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After data “clash” report, WhatsApp founder says he’s leaving Facebook

Enlarge (credit: WhatsApp)

In the wake of a Washington Post report that alleged a “clash” over Facebook data practices, WhatsApp co-founder and Facebook board member Jan Koum confirmed that he is leaving the company, effective immediately.

“It’s been almost a decade since Brian and I started WhatsApp, and it’s been an amazing journey with some of the best people,” Koum posted on his personal Facebook page on Monday. “But it is time for me to move on.” His status included a Facebook “emotional” tag indicating that he is “sad.”

Koum’s post doesn’t include an explanation of exactly why he’s leaving other than “doing things I enjoy outside of technology.” That leaves WaPo‘s Monday report as the loudest possible explanation available at the moment.

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The New Toyota Supra Has Been Spotted With Horrible Dual-Tone Wheels 

Another camouflaged test car for the new Toyota Supra has been spotted, this time wearing what are likely production-ready wheels that are a ten-spoke, dual-tone black and silver look. How disappointing.

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Blu settles with FTC over allegations of lax user data security

Unlocked mobile phone retailer Blu has settled with the FTC over allegations that it didn't protect consumers from a Chinese company that farmed their data and misled users about the extent of it. The device maker won't get slapped with a fine, but a…

‘Stardew Valley’ finally lets you farm with your friends

Stardew Valley fans, take note: You can finally put your friends to work in the farming sim, whether you have them hack away at your errant rocks, plant seeds or partner with you at the Flower Dance. The long-awaited multiplayer beta has finally arri…

The Defense Department’s New Microwave Ray Gun Can Reportedly Stop Any Modern Vehicle

The Defense Department is developing a new non-lethal direct energy weapon that it claims can stop any vehicle without harming its passengers or causing damage.

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Boeing slams the Falcon Heavy rocket as “too small”

Enlarge / Image from Boeing’s Watch US Fly website. (credit: Boeing)

Recently, Boeing created a website called “Watch US Fly” to promote its aerospace industry—a grab bag of everything from Chinese tariffs to President Trump’s visit to the company’s facilities in St. Louis. Among the most intriguing sections is one that promotes the company’s Space Launch System rocket and argues that SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy booster is “too small” for NASA’s deep exploration program.

“The Falcon Heavy launch turned heads in February, but SpaceX’s rocket is a smaller type of rocket that can’t meet NASA’s deep-space needs,” the website states. “Once the Boeing-built SLS is operational, it will be the most powerful rocket ever built.”

The Boeing site backs up this claim by quoting NASA’s Bill Gerstenmaier, who talked about the differences between the SLS rocket and Falcon Heavy at a meeting of the NASA Advisory Council meeting in March. Gerstenmaier, the chief of NASA’s human spaceflight program, said the SLS had “unique capabilities” that the Falcon Heavy rocket does not have. However, as Ars reported at the time, Gerstenmaier actually struggled to explain why NASA needed the SLS rocket because the space agency has not yet built anything that will take advantage of those capabilities.

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Chinese authorities claim they can read deleted WeChat messages

China is clearly fond of its far-reaching surveillance, but it's making some particularly boastful claims. An anti-corruption watchdog in Hefei claimed that a division in a nearby city managed to obtain a "series of deleted WeChat conversations" fro…

Thanks For Having A Blast With Us On Amazon’s Dime! 

I have to admit something to you guys: The Jalopnik staffers were nervous before our Amazon/The Grand Tour bash last Friday night. We badly wanted everyone to enjoy themselves and have a good evening. We didn’t want to disappoint you. But after chatting with you guys and seeing the photos, I think everyone’s evening…

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TCL’s follow-up to last year’s popular Roku 4K TVs starts at $649, ships tomorrow


Chinese brand TCL has announced pricing for its new 6-Series Roku TVs, the follow-ups to last year’s extremely popular P-Series. The 6-Series improves on last year’s in terms of picture quality and comes in both 55-inch and 65-inch sizes—last year’s models only came in a 55-inch configuration.

The 55-inch model is currently priced at $649.99, and the 65-inch model comes in at $999.99. That’s in line with what last year’s TVs cost. As we’ve previously reported, the main improvement (apart from the larger size) in play here is an expanded number of full-array local dimming zones. Last year’s P-Series had 72 zones, whereas this year’s 55-inch 6-Series TV has 96 zones, and the 65-inch has 120 zones.

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