Welcome to the July 10, 2019 edition of ACM TechNews, providing timely information for IT professionals three times a week.

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Four little planes next to a big airplane U.K.'s ICO Fines British Airways Record £183M Over GDPR Breach That Leaked Data From 500,000 Users
Ingrid Lunden
July 8, 2019

The U.K.'s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has leveled a £183.39-million ($230-million) fine against British Airways (BA) and parent International Airlines Group for a violation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) due to a 2018 data breach. The breach compromised the data of 500,000 customers browsing and booking tickets online. The ICO blamed the breach on "poor security arrangements” at the airline, which compromised information "including login, payment card, and travel booking details, as well as name and address information." The ICO said the penalty stems from GDPR infringements related to malware found on BA.com that rerouted user traffic to a bogus site where hackers harvested customer details. Said ICO’s Elizabeth Denham, "The law is clear—when you are entrusted with personal data, you must look after it. Those that don't will face scrutiny from my office to check they have taken appropriate steps to protect fundamental privacy rights."

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Lennon and McCartney Lennon or McCartney? Machine Learning Tries to Crack Disputed Beatles Authorship
Financial Times
Martin Coulter
July 4, 2019

Researchers at Harvard University and Canada's Dalhousie University used machine learning to ascertain the authorship of disputed Beatles songs. Over a three-year period, the team created an algorithm and applied it to an array of musical motifs taken from 70 songs co-authored by Paul McCartney and John Lennon. The algorithm was able to distinguish tracks known to be written by one of the two musicians with 76% accuracy. When applied to eight disputed songs or song segments, the algorithm found a number of the songs yielded a more than 90% match against Lennon's other works; one song was an 81% match for Lennon, with its bridge returning a 57% match for McCartney. Harvard's Mark Glickman hopes the algorithm's statistical model finds use as "a blueprint for those wanting to follow changes in music over time."

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Qualcomm Triumphs in EU Fight Over Connected Car Technology Rules
Los Angeles Times
Natalia Drozdiak
July 4, 2019

The European Union (EU) has abandoned draft rules mandating Wi-Fi technology as the basis for how future connected cars communicate with one another, handing a victory to Qualcomm Inc., BMW AG, and Deutsche Telekom AG. The ruling is a boon for 5G technology as countries around the world prepare for the rollout of 5G wireless networks, which are likely to connect everything from self-driving cars to smart factories. The legislation aimed to govern how future connected and automated vehicles in Europe send information between each other and the surrounding infrastructure in order to communicate about dangerous situations, road work, and traffic lights. The companies wanted the EU lawmakers to veto the legislation out of concern it would force them to make additional investments to adhere to a soon-to-be-outdated technology, arguing that Wi-Fi offers poorer performance than cellular-based technology compatible with future 5G networks.

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A bio-inspired drone that can split off into smaller drones Drone Explodes into Maple Seed Microdrones in Midair
IEEE Spectrum
Evan Ackerman
July 8, 2019

Researchers at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) have developed samara-inspired drones to help deliver airborne payloads in a simple, reliable, inexpensive manner. The samara, the distinctive seed pod of the maple tree, is essentially an unbalanced wing that spins. While natural samaras do not steer, the researchers added an actuated flap to the drone version, whose movement at just the right time results in enough controllability to aim the drone for a specific point on the ground. The researchers developed a system in which five samara drones are attached to one another in a configuration that looks similar to a helicopter rotor. Once the multi-drone device is in the correct position, the five individual samara drones can split off on their own missions.

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FBI, ICE Find State Driver's License Photos a Gold Mine for Facial-Recognition Searches
The Washington Post
Drew Harwell
July 7, 2019

U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents are using facial-recognition technology to search millions of Americans' state driver's license photos, without their knowledge or permission. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimated that the FBI has logged more than 390,000 facial-recognition searches of federal and local databases, including state Department of Motor Vehicles databases, since 2011. Records indicate facial recognition is deeply embedded within modern law enforcement, and routinely used to track down suspects in low-level felonies, like cashing stolen checks and petty theft. “It’s really a surveillance-first, ask-permission-later system,” said Jake Laperruque of the watchdog group Project on Government Oversight.

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Playing Hooky in Illinois Gets Harder with Technology
Government Technology
Taylor Hartz
July 3, 2019

Ridgewood High School administrators in Illinois are testing a system that monitors students' school-issued iPads to better track attendance, lateness, and the cutting of classes. Ridgewood principal Chris Uhle said the school had new "Spotter" beacons installed during the summer break, which link to software loaded on each iPad; the beacons record when a student enters or leaves a classroom. The Spotter app will identify where a student is supposed to be at any given time, based on their schedule, and look for a beacon signal to register classroom entries and exits. Ridgewood superintendent Jennifer Kelsall said the new technology was being implemented to help staff and administration track attendance under a new program that allows freshman students to create their own schedules to meet their individual educational needs.

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BMW, Daimler Team Up on Automated Driving
Tassilo Hummel
July 4, 2019

Automakers BMW and Daimler have announced a strategic partnership under which their developers will collaborate on the development of automated driving technologies, including assisted driving systems, automated driving on highways, and automated parking. The companies said they anticipate independently deploying these solutions in their own vehicles by 2024. BMW and Daimler said their collaboration was non-exclusive, and they plan to make the technologies resulting from this partnership available to other licensed original equipment manufacturers.

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An apple laptop Hackers Are Poking at a macOS Flaw Apple Left Unfixed
Brian Barrett
July 1, 2019

Hackers clearly have taken notice of the bug in macOS identified by cybersecurity researcher Filippo Cavallarin earlier this year. Cavallarin went public with the bug after Apple missed the mid-May deadline by which it said it would fix the problem. Within days, cybersecurity firm Intego detected malware authors testing out OSX/Linker, which uses a variation on Cavallarin’s proof of concept to sneak malicious code past Gatekeeper's defenses. Said Thomas Reed of cybersecurity software firm Malwarebytes, “If one bad actor has been caught red-handed experimenting with this, you can bet there are others who haven't been caught.” It is unclear whether Apple intends to issue a fix any time soon.

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A jellyfish robot Tiny Jellyfish Robot Could Swim Inside the Bladder to Deliver Drugs
New Scientist
Donna Lu
July 2, 2019

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Germany have developed a robotic jellyfish that can swim, burrow, and transport objects. The robot, about three millimeters in diameter, is made up of a central body and eight bendable flaps that can beat upwards and downwards in unison about 150 times per minute and are extended by flippers that help propel the robot through the water. Each of the flaps is made of silicone rubber embedded with magnetic microparticles of neodymium-iron-boron, so the researchers can steer the robot and change its behavior through the application of magnetic fields.

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Recycling Centers Roll Out AI-Trained Robots
The Wall Street Journal
John Murawski
July 5, 2019

Recycling facilities across the U.S. are starting to use robots guided by artificial intelligence (AI) to sort waste streams more quickly and accurately than human workers. For example, Sarasota, FL-based Single Stream Recyclers is planning to add eight robots from AMP Robotics to the six it already operates to help it process up to 350 tons of recycling waste a day. The robots can sort 80 items per minute, about twice as much as the average human worker. AMP uses robots from third-party vendors, to which it adds machine learning software trained on databases of images of water bottles, beer cans, milk jugs, food cartons, and other items. Meanwhile, a Berkeley County, SC, recycling facility is using nine robots from AI developer Bulk Handling Systems, which also uses off-the-shelf robots to execute its proprietary AI algorithms.

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