Big Tech &
Supreme Court to rule if customers can sue Apple claiming App Store is illegal monopoly (2 minute read)
The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing arguments on Monday as to whether or not app buyers are allowed to sue Apple for the App Store being an illegal monopoly. The court is deciding whether or not the case can go forward, the case itself will be decided in lower courts if the Supreme Court decides that the case is allowed to go forward. The class action lawsuit alleges that "Apple's intentionally closed system prevents competition, which enables the App Store to collect a higher price than if Apple were forced to entice app seekers in a competitive market." Apple originally got the case thrown out by arguing that its customers were actually app developers, as they were the ones buying Apple's distribution, so the app buyers could not sue. This ruling was reversed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which said that Apple acts like a retailer that buys products from developers and resells them to customers.
Parliament seizes cache of Facebook internal papers (2 minute read)
Six4Three is a software company currently in a lawsuit with Facebook. They got some internal Facebook documents regarding the Cambridge Analytica scandal in the suit's discovery process, including confidential emails between Zuckerberg and senior executives. After Mark Zuckerberg repeatedly refused to testify before UK Parliament, Parliament used its legal powers to detain the CEO of Six4Three, who was in London for a business trip, sending a sergeant at arms to his hotel to force him to give up the documents. Parliament member Damian Collins who is leading the inquiry into fake news says "We are in uncharted territory. This is an unprecedented move but it's an unprecedented situation. We've failed to get answers from Facebook and we believe the documents contain information of very high public interest." Richard Allan, Facebook's VP of policy will testify before Parliament in a special session that Zuckerberg declined to attend.
Practical Cryptography for Developers (Open Source Book)
This is a free introductory book on cryptography for developers, it explains a lot of fundamental concepts like hash functions, symmetric and asymmetric key ciphers, digital signatures, quantum-safe cryptography and more. All code examples are in Python and there are exercises at the end of each chapter. Really cool stuff, it's written by Svetlin Nakov.
NASA InSight Mission (Livestream)
NASA is trying to land the InSight spacecraft on Mars at 3pm Eastern Time, the livestream starts at 2pm Eastern Time (8 hours after you receive this email). The landing sequence will take 7 minutes, with the landing probe hurtling through the Martian atmosphere at 12,300 mph. The probe will be used to deploy a seismometer to listen for earthquakes, dig below the planet's surface to inspect the interior, and emit radio waves that we can monitor from Earth. This link is to NASA's official website, they have links for the stream on Youtube, Facebook, Twitch, etc.
Arbitrary image stylization using TensorFlow.js (Open Source)
Okay, this is an incredibly cool open source tool that lets you select or upload a picture, then turn it into a certain style of image in the click of a button using deep learning (for example you can turn a picture of yourself into an oil painting). The full TensorFlow code is included in the linked Github Repo.
Chinese scientists are creating CRISPR babies (5 minute read)
Chinese researchers recruited couples earlier this year for a gene-editing experiment. They used CRISPR to remove a gene called CCR5 in order to make children resistant to HIV, smallpox, and cholera. The embryos were edited with CRISPR in a lab before being transferred into the women's uteruses. Now, one couple in the trial has reportedly given birth to twin girls. If the reports are true, they would be the world's first gene edited babies. Some people have raised ethical concerns about genetically altering embryos, while others are concerned about unforeseen side effects and mutations. Currently, using a genetically engineered embryo to establish a pregnancy would be illegal in the United States and most of Europe.
Google, Mozilla working on letting web apps edit files despite warning it could be 'abused in terrible ways' (1 minute read)
When you want to edit something using an online tool today, you usually have to upload the file to the tool by selecting the file or dragging it into your browser window, then when you're finished you have to download the result to get the finished copy. Google and Mozilla want to create a standard that will allow you to select files directly from your browser, edit them, then save them without any of the uploading and downloading that happens now. This sounds really nifty, but could potentially be abused by nefarious sites. This "Writable Files API" is still in the early design stages at the W3C Web Incubator Community Group (WICG), which is chaired by representatives from Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.