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ACLU Sues Federal Government Over Social Media Surveillance

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The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the federal government to gain information on its social media surveillance—specifically the Trump administration’s controversial “extreme vetting” immigration policy.

Filed under the Freedom of Information Act, the lawsuit accuses seven federal agencies—including the DoJ, FBI, Homeland Security, and several immigration services—of failing to produce records in response to a 2018 FOIA request.

The document, filed in May, seeks information on how the government collects and analyzes posts from Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks.

“Government surveillance of social media raises serious constitutional and privacy concerns,” according to the ACLU appeal. “Most online speech reflects no wrongdoing whatsoever and is fully protected by the First Amendment.

“When government agencies collect or share individuals’ online speech without any connection to investigation of actual criminal conduct,” it continued, “they foster suspicion about individuals and make it more likely that innocent people will be investigated, surveilled, or watchlisted.”

In response, the FBI claimed it “can neither confirm nor deny the existence of records responsive to [the ACLU’s] request.”

Simply acknowledging its use of social media surveillance would “risk circumvention of the law,” the Bureau said.

Except, the domestic intelligence and security service has repeatedly acknowledged—on official government websites—that it contracts with data analytics firms to obtain “the mission critical social media monitoring” and “software that parses and analyzes social media data.”

The six other agencies “haven’t produced a single document,” ACLU attorneys Hugh Handeyside and Matt Cagle wrote in a blog post.

“Based on what little information is publicly available, it’s clear that the federal government routinely tracks domestic social media users, with a particular focus on immigrants,” the blog said.

In May 2017, President Trump announced an “extreme vetting” initiative that includes seeking social media handles for those visa applicants deemed suspect by immigration agents.

The State Department followed up with plans to require most of the 14.7 million people who annually apply for work or tourist visas to submit social media identifiers used in the past five years in order to travel or immigrate to the US.

“It’s clear from already public information that all of the agencies we’re targeting in our FOIA lawsuit engage in manual and automated surveillance of social media users and their speech, and it’s unacceptable for the government to withhold details about this domestic spying,” Cagle and Handeyside said.

“The public needs to know how the government is watching us,” they added. “And we shouldn’t have to think about self-censoring what we say online.”

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Apple

Don’t Let Your Apple Card Touch Basically Anything

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Like most Apple products, the company’s new titanium credit card looks (and sounds) sleek and elegant.

And, like most Apple products, it requires a pretty strict care routine.

Alongside Tuesday’s wide release of Apple Card, Cupertino shared instructions on how to protect and maintain the alabaster charge plate.

First things first: Store the credit card in a wallet, pocket, or bag made of soft fabrics—but preferably not leather or denim (the two most popular wallet/pocket materials), which can cause permanent discoloration.

Also avoid placing it in the same slot or billfold as another (i.e. lesser) piece of plastic that could scratch the Apple Card.

The firm urges users to stay vigilant, never touching their titanium card to any hard surfaces or materials—tabletops, card readers, loose change, etc.—to prevent damage.

If your precious does mistakenly come in contact with a contaminant, gently wipe it with a soft, slightly damp (preferably with isopropyl alcohol), lint-free microfiber cloth (one of which anyone who is anyone carries at all times).

Whatever you do, never use household cleaners, compressed air, aerosol sprays, solvents, ammonia, or abrasives.

Finally—and this just feels like common sense—don’t store your Apple Card near magnets that will probably desensitize the magnetic strip.

All of this is a moot point, of course, for the majority of users who will simply manage their Goldman Sachs-backed MasterCard entirely through Apple Wallet.

“We’re thrilled with the overwhelming interest in Apple Card and its positive reception,” Jennifer Bailey, vice president of Apple Pay, said this week. “Customers have told us they love Apple Card’s simplicity and how it gives them a better view of their spending.”

Among its perks are 24/7 support, weekly and monthly spending summaries, and a transaction history featuring full names of vendors and splash images matching the spending category.

Plus, you don’t have to worry about annual, late, international, or over-the-limit fees. And the firm promised it won’t track where customers shop, what they buy, or how much they spend.

Credit limits vary depending on the applicant’s income, among other factors.

Keep up with the Apple Card via its dedicated Twitter account, which launched in April but has tweeted only once since this week’s nationwide expansion.

Watch This Next: Apple to Sue Corellium over ‘Illegal Replication’ of iOS

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Starship Robots Will Deliver Food, Groceries to More University Campuses

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Starship Technologies announced plans to expand its autonomous delivery service to 100 university campuses in the next 24 months.

The company, which recently completed 100,000 commercial deliveries, has scheduled autumn launches at Purdue University and the University of Pittsburgh.

More schools will follow “shortly.”

Starship, which makes restaurant and grocery deliveries around the world has transported more than 6,000 pizzas, 7,000 gallons of milk, 8,000 coffees, 9,000 sushi rolls, 15,000 bananas, and 3,700 diapers.

Kevin House, a second-year student at George Mason University, has used the service “over 100 times in just a few months.”

“It’s really saved me so much time and reduced my stress, especially around finals,” he said in a statement. “I love getting food delivered by a robot, it just makes life so much easier.”

Available on iOS and Android, the Starship Delivery app lets users choose from a range of food or drink items, then drop a pin where they want the shipment sent.

Watch the robot’s journey via an interactive map, or wait for a notification alerting you to its arrival; then meet and unlock the rover through the app.

Introduced four years ago by two former Skype creators, Starship’s on-demand dispatchers aim to eliminate the cost, waiting time, and environmental impact of local drop-offs.

Built for short-range deliveries, the six-wheeled robots are equipped with a suite of sensors—including cameras, GPS, and an internal measurement unit—as well as microphones and speakers to communicate with people.

They cruise along sidewalks at a pace equivalent to a brisk walk (less than 4 mph), and can comfortably fit up to two grocery bags’ worth of cargo.

Starship’s robot delivery service began rolling out to university campuses this year, starting with George Mason University in Virginia and Northern Arizona University.

Since launch, both schools have increased the number of robots, dining options, and hours of operation to meet high demand.

“An entire generation of university students are growing up in a world where they expect to receive a delivery from a robot after a few taps on their smartphone,” company CEO Lex Bayer said.

“The reception to our service both on campuses and in neighborhoods has been phenomenal,” he continued. “Our customers appreciate how we make their lives easier and give them back the gift of time.”

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Spotify’s Rise to Power Dramatized in TV Mini-Series

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Ever wonder how Spotify went from Swedish startup to global sensation?

A new book chronicling the company’s meteoric rise is set to be adapted into a TV drama.

Tell-all novel “Spotify Untold” (“Spotify Inifrån”) has been optioned by Yellow Bird UK for a limited scripted series examining “how a secretive start-up wooed record companies, shook the music industry to its core, and conquered Wall Street.”

The book, dubbed a “modern-day David-versus-Goliath,” is a behind-the-scenes exposé of how founder Daniel Ek and financial partner Martin Lorentzon bet everything on an idea.

“A tale of tech entrepreneurship, this is a journey beset with egos, obstacles, and betrayal,” according to a Yellow Bird press release.

Think The Social Network, but with more music and on the small screen.

“The Spotify story is a drama at the highest levels of tech, music, and finance. It’s perfect for the screen” book co-author Sven Carlsson said, praising Yellow Bird’s “strong track record in making Nordic stories come alive on the international scene.”

Founded in 2003, the firm’s resume includes The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Millennium Trilogy, and Wallander.

And, soon, “Spotify Untold.”

Investigative journalists Sven Carlsson and Jonas Leijonhufvud deliver a behind-the-scenes exposé of Spotify’s rise (via “Spotify Untold”)

Central to the upcoming series is Spotify’s turbulent journey into the U.S. market, described as a “chess match between the new kids and the old guard”: Steve Jobs, Jimmy Iovine, and Beats Music against Ek and Sean Parker.

“Set in the dynamic arena of the music industry, this is the true story of youth challenging the establishment,” film producer Berna Levin explained. “With reality trumping fiction at every turn, we will explore one of the greatest and most surprising technological advancements of our time.”

The series, expected to feature major players in the music and tech industries, will likely need to cast yet another version of real-life characters Steve Jobs (previously portrayed by Ashton Kutcher and Michael Fassbender), Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), and Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake).

And, if the book’s website is anything to go by, you can also expect fictionalized forms of Ek, Jay-Z, Pony Ma Huateng, and Jimmy Iovine.

“The rise of Spotify is one of the greatest stories to come out of Sweden in the past 10 years,” co-author Jonas Leijonhufvud said in a statement. “It’s a saga of a young founder who came out of nowhere and beat Apple at their own game.”

The show will be developed and produced by Yellow Bird UK, Levin, and Luke Franklin. Carlsson and Leijonhufvud will consult on the project.

It’s unclear whether the series will keep its source material’s title.

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