Tag Archives: U.S.

Princeton graduates' crypto-currency wins backing of big U.S. investors

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. investors including Digital Currency Group have taken part in a pre-sale of basecoin, a crypto-currency to be created by three Princeton University computer science graduates, Intangible Labs CEO and co-founder Nader Al-Naji said.

The other investors in Intangible Labs’ basecoin include Bain Capital Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, and AngelList CEO Naval Ravikant, Al-Naji told Reuters.

Digital Currency Group confirmed its investment in basecoin. Bain Capital, Pantera, and Andreessen Horowitz were not immediately available to comment.

The investors had bought a unit of Intangible Labs, which entitled them to basecoin – a token with a rules-based monetary policy built into its blockchain system – in the future, Al-Naji said in an interview with Reuters on Friday.

He did not disclose an investment figure.

Blockchain, a digital ledger of transactions, underpins crypto-currency bitcoin and can be used to track, record, and transfer assets across all industries.

Intangible Labs is one of many blockchain start-ups creating and distributing tokens to investors to raise funds for their projects. Start-ups typically hold a token pre-sale to institutional investors before opening the token offering to the public.

Al-Naji, who founded the company with Lawrence Diao and Josh Shen, said basecoin essentially worked the same way as the Federal Reserve.

“We found a way to keep the price stable while keeping all the other great features of crypto-currencies such as decentralized, private, and international,” he added.

It originated from Al-Naji’s blog, called Nader Theory, in June in which he broached the idea of a stable coin that can shrink and grow its supply on the blockchain.

The blog went viral and Ravikant of AngelList – a website that connects startups and investors – and Bain came to see him to discuss his idea. That set the wheels in motion, he added.

Intangible Labs will release its whitepaper on Tuesday and the network will be launched anywhere between six months and two years’ time, Al-Naji said.

“The problem we’re solving is simple: because bitcoin is so volatile, your mom is never going to buy her morning coffee with it,” Al-Naji said.

“And you’d never even think about keeping all your savings in it. The fact is that bitcoin and other crypto-currencies are just playgrounds for speculation right now.”

Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss

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U.S. surveillance law may see no new protections for foreign targets

Any reform of a controversial U.S. law allowing the National Security Agency to spy on people overseas will likely focus on its impact on U.S. residents, without curbing its use elsewhere.

Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) expires on Dec. 31, and some digital rights groups are calling on Congress to overhaul the law to protect the privacy of residents of both the U.S. and other countries. Congress will almost certainly extend the provision in some form. 

But a congressional hearing on Wednesday focused largely on the NSA’s “inadvertent” collection of U.S. residents’ data, with little time given to the privacy concerns of people overseas.

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How The U.S. Military’s Tech Is Going Green To Save Lives

Refueling a destroyer or any other large piece of military hardware is incredibly dangerous because it leaves troops very vulnerable to attack, especially if it requires a huge convoy. U.S. troops have lost their lives trying refuel vessels that are ultra-dependent on oil. The Department of Defense knows this, and as…

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U.S. Chief Data Scientist DJ Patil Started Out ‘As Underachieving As You Can Get’

How can someone who has underachieved for years change their course and exceed their potential? This question was originally answered on Quora by DJ Patil.


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Reddit change raises alarm about possible U.S. government spying

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(Reuters) – Digital privacy advocates and users of Reddit expressed their alarm on Friday over a change in the forum’s transparency report that suggested it may have been asked to give customer data to FBI investigators under a secretive government authority.

The annual report lists a variety of requests the site has received for information on users and for removal of content. On Thursday, Reddit deleted a paragraph known as a “warrant canary.”

The paragraph had said that Reddit had not been subject to national security letters, which are used by the FBI to conduct electronic surveillance without the need for court approval, or “any other classified request for user information.”

Privacy advocates have long contested the letters, saying they are not subject to sufficient judicial oversight or transparency safeguards.

Brett Max Kaufman, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, said on Friday that authorities were possibly seeking the IP address, or an identifying number that corresponds to a specific computer, of an anonymous user on Reddit. Private messages between users could also be subject to search.

Reddit collects relatively little customer data that could be subject to a national security letter and useful for investigators, Kaufman said. Reddit does not require users to reveal their identities and stores less customer data overall compared to email or other social media such as Facebook, he said.

Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who gave classified documents about U.S. spying to journalists in 2013, expressed concern on Twitter.

“Is dissent a threat to national security?” tweeted Snowden (@Snowden), whose leaks prompted a vigorous international debate about digital privacy and surveillance.

The leaks helped popularize the use of “warrant canaries” by tech firms eager to display resistance to government attempts to obtain access to user data.

“When you ask someone ‘Are you helping authorities in investigations?’ and they say ‘I’m not allowed to discuss that with you,’ I think the question has been answered,” wrote Reddit user khegiobridge.

National security letters are almost always accompanied by an open-ended gag order barring companies from disclosing the contents of the demand for customer data, making it difficult for firms to openly discuss how they handle the subpoenas.

That has led many companies to rely on somewhat vague warnings. Apple previously had a “warrant canary” but removed it in 2014.

“I’ve been advised not to say anything one way or the other,” Reddit Chief Executive Officer Steve Huffman, who goes by “spez” on the site, said in a thread discussing the change. “Even with the canaries, we’re treading a fine line.”

The FBI can use national security letters to compel Internet and telecommunications firms to hand over a wide range of customer data, including web browsing history and records of online purchases.

San Francisco-based Reddit did not respond to a request for comment. The Federal Bureau of Investigation did not respond to a request for comment.

National security letters have been available as a law enforcement tool since the 1970s, but their frequency and breadth expanded dramatically under the USA Patriot Act, which was passed shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States by Islamist militants.

Several thousand of the letters are now issued by the FBI every year. At one point more than 50,000 such letters were issued annually.

In 2014, Twitter sued the U.S. Department of Justice on grounds that the restrictions placed on its ability to reveal information about government surveillance orders violates free speech rights. Reddit and others have filed friend of the court briefs in Twitter’s lawsuit.

(Reporting by Dustin Volz; Additional reporting by Amy Tennery, Anjali Athavaley and Melissa Fares in New York; editing by Frances Kerry and Grant McCool)

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Vivek Kundra, Salesforce Executive and Former U.S. CIO, to Speak at GTEC

This session will explore key considerations for the implementation of cloud computing in the public sector, and why a ‘cloud-first strategy’ is …


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Samsung says new U.S. offices are its ‘biggest investment in Silicon Valley’ to date

samsung-new-office-silicon-valley

Samsung officially opened the doors to its new 1.1-million-square-foot Silicon Valley offices Thursday, more than 30 years after its arrival in the San Jose tech corridor in 1983.

The building will house various research labs dedicated to semiconductors, LEDs and displays, staff in sales and marketing, and other support areas, the company said.

“[We are] laying the groundwork for a more aggressive pace of growth over the next several decades,” said Samsung’s chief executive, Dr. Oh-Hyun Kwon, at the grand opening ceremony.

Meanwhile, the company’s president of its U.S.-based device solutions operations, Jaesoo Han, said that the move “represents a major milestone as we open our most strategically important Samsung facility in the U.S., and also our biggest investment in Silicon Valley.”

samsung-office

Samsung also announced that it has established a $ 1 million STEM College Education Scholarship Fund. In its own words:

Deserving university students who are currently enrolled in STEM-focused programs at a California State or University of California school will benefit from this program, beginning with a $ 50,000 gift to San Jose State University this year. Each scholarship will cover tuition and living expenses for one year.

But the announcement of the new office has been largely overshadowed by news in virtual reality today: We reported that the Samsung Gear VR will launch as a consumer product this November for $ 99. (You can read our full roundup from today’s Oculus event here.)

Earlier this week, Samsung unveiled its new fonts-inspired Serif TVs, and shared more about how it relies on startups to stay ahead on technological innovation.

If you happen to be passing through the area, Samsung’s new building certainly looks worth checking out.

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Samsung says new U.S. offices are its ‘biggest investment in Silicon Valley’ to date

samsung-new-office-silicon-valley

Samsung officially opened the doors to its new 1.1-million-square-foot Silicon Valley offices Thursday, more than 30 years after its arrival in the San Jose tech corridor in 1983.

The building will house various research labs dedicated to semiconductors, LEDs and displays, staff in sales and marketing, and other support areas, the company said.

“[We are] laying the groundwork for a more aggressive pace of growth over the next several decades,” said Samsung’s chief executive, Dr. Oh-Hyun Kwon, at the grand opening ceremony.

Meanwhile, the company’s president of its U.S.-based device solutions operations, Jaesoo Han, said that the move “represents a major milestone as we open our most strategically important Samsung facility in the U.S., and also our biggest investment in Silicon Valley.”

samsung-office

Samsung also said that it has established a $ 1 million STEM College Education Scholarship Fund. In its own words:

Deserving university students who are currently enrolled in STEM-focused programs at a California State or University of California school will benefit from this program, beginning with a $ 50,000 gift to San Jose State University this year. Each scholarship will cover tuition and living expenses for one year.

But the announcement of the new office has been largely overshadowed by news in virtual reality today: we reported that the Samsung Gear VR will launch as a consumer product this November for $ 99. (You can also read our roundup from that event here.)

Earlier this week, Samsung unveiled its new fonts-inspired Serif TVs, and shared more about how it relies on startups to stay ahead on technological innovation.

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Want the new iPhone? Sprint is the cheapest way to get one in the U.S.

iPhone 6s pink

(By Devika Krishna Kumar, Reuters) – Want to own the new iPhone without burning a hole in your pocket every month? Sprint seems to be the cheapest option in the United States.

Sprint Corp’s offer for the 16 GB iPhone 6S with a basic data, calling and text plan costs between $ 3 and $ 10.50 less per month than a competing offer from the other three top U.S. carriers.

The competition in the U.S. wireless industry is fierce and the launch of the newest iPhone iteration on Wednesday is a chance for carriers to lure customers away from their rivals.

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Get faster turnaround on creative, more testing, smarter improvements and better results. Learn how to apply agile marketing at our roadshow in SF.

But, Apple Inc served up a curve ball by offering its own financing scheme for an unlocked iPhone, which gives a customer the liberty to switch between carriers, rather than be tied down by a contract with one carrier.

However, Sprint’s plan works out to be cheaper, on a per month basis, than even buying the iPhone from Apple and going for the cheapest wireless plan on offer.

Sprint is charging $ 22 per month for the 16 GB iPhone 6S, under a 21-month lease. That along with a basic talk, text and data plan, worth $ 45, will cost a customer $ 67 per month.

A T-Mobile US Inc plan similar to Sprint’s will cost about $ 70 per month – $ 20 for the phone with an 18-month agreement and $ 50 for a basic wireless plan.

Sprint and T-Mobile usually offer cheaper plans to lure customers from Verizon Communications Inc and AT&T Inc, the top two U.S. wireless companies, which analysts say have better networks.

Verizon’s plan costs about $ 77.08 per month, $ 27.08 for the iPhone over two years and $ 50 for a wireless plan.

AT&T’s plan, Next12, costs about $ 77.50 per month, $ 32.50 for a 20-month phone contract and $ 45 for a wireless plan.

Under Apple’s offer, the iPhone 6S will cost $ 32.41 per month. Paired with a basic $ 45 wireless plan, among the cheapest available, the phone would cost $ 77.41 per month.

And what when a new iPhone is launched?

Sprint allows users to upgrade every time a new iPhone is launched, which typically happens once every year, and charges an activation fee.

T-Mobile allows a free upgrade at any time, while AT&T offers the option of a free upgrade after 12 months.

Verizon’s plan also permits an upgrade at any time, but requires customers to pay off the remaining cost of the iPhone.

Still, there are advantages in opting for Apple’s financing plan.

Apple’s scheme includes AppleCare+, a warranty program that provides two years of hardware protection, instead of the standard one year, as well as coverage for two incidents in cases of accidental damage.

(Reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sayantani Ghosh and Savio D’Souza)

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Microsoft, U.S. face off again over emails stored in Ireland

A dispute between Microsoft and the U.S. government over turning over emails stored in a data center in Ireland comes up for oral arguments in an appeals court in New York on Wednesday.

Microsoft holds that an outcome against it could affect the trust of its cloud customers abroad as well as affect relationships between the U.S. and other governments which have their own data protection and privacy laws.

Customers outside the U.S. would be concerned about extra-territorial access to their user information, the company has said. A decision against Microsoft could also establish a norm that could allow foreign governments to reach into computers in the U.S. of companies over which they assert jurisdiction, to seize the private correspondence of U.S. citizens.

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