Sep 12

UK MPs have called for the government to regulate the games industry’s use of loot boxes under current gambling legislation — urging a blanket ban on the sale of loot boxes to players who are children. From a report: Kids should instead be able to earn in-game credits to unlock look boxes, MPs have suggested in a recommendation that won’t be music to the games industry’s ears. Loot boxes refer to virtual items in games that can be bought with real-world money and do not reveal their contents in advance. The MPs argue the mechanic should be considered games of chance played for money’s worth and regulated by the UK Gambling Act. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) parliamentary committee makes the recommendations in a report published today following an enquiry into immersive and addictive technologies that saw it take evidence from a number of tech companies including Fortnite maker Epic Games; Facebook-owned Instagram; and Snapchap. The committee said it found representatives from the games industry to be “wilfully obtuse” in answering questions about typical patterns of play — data the report emphasizes is necessary for proper understanding of how players are engaging with games — as well as calling out some games and social media company representatives for demonstrating “a lack of honesty and transparency,” leading it to question what the companies have to hide.

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Sep 10

Mozilla is resurrecting its recently expunged Test Pilot program with a renewed focus on privacy-focused tools and products. The Firefox developer today lifted the lid on the first product to emerge from the new Test Pilot, and it appears to be something akin to a virtual private network (VPN) in all but name. From a report: Firefox Private Network, as the new tool is called, is available in beta today for logged-in Firefox desktop users in the U.S. only, and is accessible through a browser extension. By way of a quick recap, Mozilla debuted Firefox Test Pilot a decade ago but then relaunched it back in 2016. Test Pilot went on to attain an average of 100,000 daily users, each looking to test Mozilla’s latest developments — including a price-tracking feature for online shoppers, content recommendations based on browsing activity, and more.

Some of these became full-fledged features within Firefox and others did not, but back in January Mozilla announced it was killing its Test Pilot program altogether. This came as something of a surprise given Mozilla’s own statements about the success of the program. At the time, Mozilla said it was “evolving” its approach to experimentation and suggested it was looking to ideate more widely across the company. Fast-forward nine months, and Firefox Test Pilot is back for a third time.

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Sep 09

“Australian internet service providers have been ordered to block eight websites hosting video of the Christchurch terrorist attacks,” according to the Guardian.

Slashdot reader aberglas shares their report:

In March, shortly after the Christchurch massacre, Australian telecommunications companies and internet providers began proactively blocking websites hosting the video of the Christchurch shooter murdering more than 50 people or the shooter’s manifesto. A total of 43 websites based on a list provided by Vodafone New Zealand were blocked. The government praised the internet providers despite the action being in a legally grey area by blocking the sites from access in Australia for people not using virtual private networks (VPNs) or other workarounds.

To avoid legal complications the prime minister, Scott Morrison, asked the e-safety commissioner and the internet providers to develop a protocol for the e-safety commissioner to order the websites to block access to the offending sites. The order issued on Sunday covers just eight websites, after several stopped hosting the material, or ceased operating, such as 8chan. The order means the e-safety commissioner will be responsible for monitoring the sites. If they remove the material they can be unblocked. The blocks will be reviewed every six months.

“The remaining rogue websites need only to remove the illegal content to have the block against them lifted,” the e-safety commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, said.

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Sep 02

Top Linux kernel developer Greg Kroah-Hartman gave a new 30-minute interview with TFIR during the Open Source Summit, 2019. He discusses security in the post-Spectre world, remembers when Microsoft joined the Linux distros mailing list, and acknowledges good-naturedly that he and Richard Stallman “approach things from a different standpoint”.

An anonymous reader writes:

In the interview Kroah-Hartman talks about downsides of living in the Hague. “My son’s school actually mandates that they all have MacBooks. So he has a MacBook, my wife has a MacBook, and that’s about it.” But of course, Kroah-Hartman himself is always using Linux.

So what distro does he use? “I don’t use openSUSE any more, I use Arch. And my build system I think is actually running Fedora. I have a number of virtual machines still running Gentoo, Dubya, and Fedora to do some testing on some userspace tools. But yeah, all my laptops and everything is switched over to Arch these days… I have a Chromebook that I play around with, and you can run Linux applications, and you can of course SSH into anything…”
Why Arch? “At the moment it had something that I needed. I don’t remember what it was, the latest development version, what not — and I’ve known a number of the Arch developers over the years. Their idea of a constantly rolling, forward-moving system is the way to go… It’s neutral, it’s community-based, it has everything I need. It works really really well. I’ve actually converted my cloud instances that I have all to Arch… It’s nice.” And in addition, “Their Wiki is amazing. The documentation — it’s like one of the best resources out there these days… If you look up any userspace program and how to configure it and use it. Actually, the systemd Arch Wiki pages are one of the most amazing resources out there…

“One of the main policies of Arch, or philosophies, is you stay as close to the upstream as possible. And as a developer, I want that… They’re really good in feedback to the community. Because I want that testing — I want to make sure that things are fixed. And if it is broken, I learn about it quickly and I fix it and push the stuff out. So that’s actually a really good feedback loop. And that’s some of the reasons I need it.”

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