China Tech Firms Pledge to End Sexist Job Ads

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Chinese tech firms pledged on Monday to tackle gender bias in recruitment after a rights group said they routinely favored male candidates, luring applicants with the promise of working with "beautiful girls" in job advertisements. A Human Rights Watch (HRW) report found that major technology companies including Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent had widely used "gender discriminatory job advertisements," which said men were preferred or specifically barred women applicants. Some ads promised candidates they would work with "beautiful girls" and "goddesses," HRW said in a report based on an analysis of 36,000 job posts between 2013 and 2018. Tencent, which runs China's most popular messenger app WeChat, apologized for the ads after the HRW report was published on Monday. "We are sorry they occurred and we will take swift action to…


Facebook Says It is Taking Down More Material About ISIS, al-Qaida

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Facebook said on Monday that it removed or put a warning label on 1.9 million pieces of extremist content related to ISIS or al-Qaida in the first three months of the year, or about double the amount from the previous quarter. Facebook, the world's largest social media network, also published its internal definition of "terrorism" for the first time, as part of an effort to be more open about internal company operations. The European Union has been putting pressure on Facebook and its tech industry competitors to remove extremist content more rapidly or face legislation forcing them to do so, and the sector has increased efforts to demonstrate progress. Of the 1.9 million pieces of extremist content, the "vast majority" was removed and a small portion received a warning label…


Technology is Latest Trend Reshaping Fashion

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Imagine wearing a computer in the form of a jacket. Now, it is possible. "When somebody calls you, your jacket vibrates and gives you lights and [you] know somebody is calling you," said Ivan Poupyrev, who manages the Google's Project Jacquard, a digital platform for smart clothing. Project Jacquard formed a partnership with Levi's to create the first Jacquard enabled garment in the form of Levi's Commuter Trucker Jacket. What makes the jacket "smart" includes washable technology, created by Google, woven into the cuff of the jacket. "These are highly conductive fibers, which are very strong and can be used in standard denim-weaving process," said Poupyrev. A tap on the cuff can also provide navigation and play music when paired with a mobile phone, headphones and a small piece of…


Russia Considers Banning Facebook After Blocking Telegram

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Russia says it may block Facebook if the social media company does not put its Russian user database on servers in Russian territory. The warning Wednesday by the head of the country’s state media regulator Roskomnadzor comes just days after a Russian move to block Telegram, the encrypted messaging app. VOA's Iuliia Alieva has more in this report narrated by Anna Rice ...


Plastic: If It’s Not Keeping Food Fresh, Why Use It?

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The food industry uses plastic to wrap its products in many places around the world. Plastic manufacturers say that keeps produce and meat fresh longer, so less goes bad and is thrown away. But, according to a new European study, while the annual use of plastic packaging has grown since the 1950s, so has food waste. Faiza Elmasry has the story. Faith Lapidus narrates. ...


Scientists Coax Plastic-Munching Enzyme to Eat Faster

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Recently, the world was stunned to learn that an island of mostly plastic trash, floating in the Pacific Ocean, grew to the size of France, Germany and Spain combined. Because plastics take centuries to decompose, could civilization someday choke in it? Scientists at Britain's University of Portsmouth say they may have found a way to speed up the decomposition of plastics. VOA's George Putic reports. ...


Zuckerberg Under Pressure to Face EU Lawmakers Over Data Scandal

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Facebook Inc’s Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg came under pressure from EU lawmakers on Wednesday to come to Europe and shed light on the data breach involving Cambridge Analytica that affected nearly three million Europeans. The world’s largest social network is under fire worldwide after information about nearly 87 million users wrongly ended up in the hands of the British political consultancy, a firm hired by Donald Trump for his 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign. European Parliament President Antonio Tajani last week repeated his request to Zuckerberg to appear before the assembly, saying that sending a junior executive would not suffice. EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova, who recently spoke to Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, said Zuckerberg should heed the lawmakers’ call. “This case is too important to treat as…


Iran Bans Government Bodies from Using Foreign Message Apps

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Iran's presidency has banned all government bodies from using foreign-based messaging apps to communicate with citizens, state media reported Wednesday, after economic protests organized through such apps shook the country earlier this year. Chief among those apps is Telegram, used by over 40 million Iranians for everything from benign conversations to commerce and political campaigning. Iranians using Telegram, which describes itself as an encrypted message service, helped spread the word about the protests in December and January. Telegram channels run on behalf of Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri were already shut down Wednesday. A report on the website of Iran's state television broadcaster said the ban affected all public institutions. It was not clear if the ban applied to civil servants outside of work…


Russia Admits to Blocking Millions of IP Addresses

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The chief of the Russian communications watchdog acknowledged Wednesday that millions of unrelated IP addresses have been frozen in a so-far futile attempt to block a popular messaging app. Telegram, the messaging app that was ordered to be blocked last week, was still available to users in Russia despite authorities' frantic attempts to hit it by blocking other services. The row erupted after Telegram, which was developed by Russian entrepreneur Pavel Durov, refused to hand its encryption keys to the intelligence agencies. The Russian government insists it needs them to pre-empt extremist attacks but Telegram dismissed the request as a breach of privacy. Alexander Zharov, chief of the Federal Communications Agency, said in an interview with the Izvestia daily published Wednesday that Russia is blocking 18 networks that are used…


Training Surgeons to Perform Robotic Surgery

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Since 2000, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave approval to the world's first robotic surgical system, almost 4,000 of these sophisticated machines have been deployed in operating suites around the world. Recognizing that the proficiency of the surgeons who use them can be subjective, a group of surgeons at the University of Southern California, in cooperation with the manufacturer Intuitive Research, is developing a system for more objective evaluation. VOA's George Putic reports. ...


Cambridge Analytica ex-CEO Refuses to Testify in UK

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Cambridge Analytica's ex-CEO, Alexander Nix, has refused to testify before the U.K. Parliament's media committee, citing British authorities' investigation into his former company's alleged misuse of data from millions of Facebook accounts in political campaigns. Committee Chairman Damian Collins announced Nix's decision a day before his scheduled appearance but flatly rejected the notion that he should be let off the hook, saying Nix hasn't been charged with a crime and there are no active legal proceedings against him. "There is therefore no legal reason why Mr. Nix cannot appear," Collins said in a statement. "The committee is minded to issue a formal summons for him to appear on a named day in the very near future." Nix gave evidence to the committee in February, but was recalled after former Cambridge…


More Than 100 Parts for NASA’s Orion Capsule to Be 3-D Printed

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More than 100 parts for U.S. space agency NASA's deep-space capsule Orion will be made by 3-D printers, using technology that experts say will eventually become key to efforts to send humans to Mars. U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin, 3-D printing specialist Stratasys, and engineering firm PADT have developed the parts using new materials that can withstand the extreme temperatures and chemical exposure of deep-space missions, Stratasys said Tuesday. "In space, for instance, materials will build up a charge. If that was to shock the electronics on a space craft, there could be significant damage," Scott Sevcik, Vice President Manufacturing Solutions at Stratasys told Reuters. 3-D printing, or additive manufacturing, has been used for making prototypes across a range of industries for many years, but is being increasingly eyed for…


What Does It Take to Make Computer Science Attractive to Girls?

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In the United States less than 18 percent of the women who graduate from college major in computer science. The shortage of females with computer skills comes at a time when there are a lot of jobs available in computer science, a field that pays better than most. VOA's Elizabeth Lee looks at the cultural and other reasons for the shortage of women in this important area -- and what one university in Los Angeles is doing to inspire girls. ...


Toyota to Launch ‘Talking’ Vehicles in US in 2021

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Toyota Motor Corp. plans to start selling U.S. vehicles that can talk to each other using short-range wireless technology in 2021, the Japanese automaker said on Monday, potentially preventing thousands of accidents annually. The U.S. Transportation Department must decide whether to adopt a pending proposal that would require all future vehicles to have the advanced technology. Toyota hopes to adopt the dedicated short-range communications systems in the United States across most of its lineup by the mid-2020s. Toyota said it hopes that by announcing its plans, other automakers will follow suit. The Obama administration in December 2016 proposed requiring the technology and giving automakers at least four years to comply. The proposal requires automakers to ensure all vehicles "speak the same language through a standard technology." Automakers were granted a…


British Facial Recognition Tech Firm Secures US Border Contract

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A British technology firm has been awarded a contract by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to use biometric facial verification technology to improve border control, the first foreign firm to win such a contract in the United States. London-based iProov will develop technology to improve border controls at unmanned ports of entry with a verification system that uses the traveler’s cell phone. British trade minister Liam Fox said in a statement on Monday that the contract was “one example of our shared economic and security ties” with the United States. IProov said it was the first non-U.S. firm to be awarded a contract under the Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP), which is run by the DHS Science and Technology Directorate. ...


Russia Blocks Popular Telegram Messaging App

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 Russia began implementing a ban on popular instant messaging service Telegram after the app refused to provide encrypted messages to Russia’s security services.  Russia’s state telecommunications regulator Roskomnadzor said Monday that it had sent a notice to telecommunications operators in the country instructing them to block the service following last week’s court ruling that sided with the government to ban the app. “Roskomnadzor has received the ruling by the Tagansky District Court on restricting access in Russia to the web resources of the online information dissemination organizer, Telegram Messenger Limited Liability Partnership. This information was sent to providers on Monday 16th of April,” the watchdog said in a statement. In a statement posted on social media, Telegram’s founder and CEO Pavel Durov said, “We consider the decision to block the…


Power Generator with Only One Moving Part

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Rural communities in United States and elsewhere often use portable backup electricity generators in case of power outages. But these machines can be costly to run for longer times and require periodic attendance. A team from West Virginia University is developing a small, natural gas-powered generator that will be able to run for years. VOA's George Putic reports. ...


Philippines Investigating Facebook Over Data-Mining

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More trouble may be ahead for Facebook as the Philippine government said it is investigating the social media giant over reports information from more than a million users in the Philippines was breached by British data firm Cambridge Analytica. The Phliippines' National Privacy Commission, or NPC, said it sent a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to let him know the NPC is requiring that the company "submit a number of documents relevant to the case, to establish the scope and impact of the incident to Filipino data subjects." The privacy watchdog also said through its website it wants to determine whether there is unauthorized processing of personal data of Filipinos. The letter was dated April 11. A Facebook spokesperson tells the Reuters news agency the company is committed to…


Zuckerberg’s Compensation Jumps to $8.9M as Security Costs Soar

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Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg's compensation rose 53.5 percent to $8.9 million in 2017, a regulatory filing showed Friday, largely because of higher costs related to the 33-year old billionaire's personal security. About 83 percent of the compensation represented security-related expenses, while much of the rest was tied to Zuckerberg's personal usage of private aircraft. Zuckerberg's security expenses climbed to $7.3 million in 2017, compared with $4.9 million a year earlier. His base salary was unchanged at $1, while his total voting power at Facebook rose marginally to 59.9 percent. Menlo Park, California-based Facebook, which has consistently reported stronger-than-expected earnings over the past two years, has faced public outcry over its role in Russia's alleged influence over the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Earlier this week, Zuckerberg emerged largely unscathed after facing hours of questioning from U.S. lawmakers on how the personal…


New Invention Detects Cancer in Seconds

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If cancer is suspected in a patient, surgeons, in most cases, would have to cut some of the suspected tissue out and test it. Getting the results could be a long process. A new invention called a MasSpec Pen could cut the wait time to just seconds. VOA's Elizabeth Lee reports from Austin, Texas, where the pen was created. ...


CO2-reducing XPRIZE Competition Enters Final Phase

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Nonprofit international organization for public competitions XPRIZE has announced 10 finalists in its race to develop new technologies to lower carbon-dioxide emissions. Each team will get an additional incentive of $5 million to scale up their ideas and present them for the top prize of $20 million. VOA's George Putic reports. ...


Facebook to Stop Spending Against California Privacy Effort

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Facebook says it will stop spending money to fight a proposed California ballot initiative aimed at giving consumers more control over their data. The measure, known as the "California Consumer Privacy Act," would require companies to disclose upon request what types of personal information they collect about someone and whether they've sold it. It also would allow customers to opt out of having their data sold. The company made the announcement Wednesday as chief executive Mark Zuckerberg underwent questioning from Congress about the handling of user data. Pressure has mounted on Facebook to explain its privacy controls following revelations that a Republican-linked firm conducted widespread data harvesting. Facebook had donated $200,000 to a committee opposing the initiative in California — part of a $1 million effort by tech giants to…


Experts Explore the Way Forward after Facebook Data Leak

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A data leak that enabled political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica to access personal information from about 87 million Facebook users has generated an uproar and concerns over online privacy and the power of the major internet platforms. On VOA's Plugged In with Greta Van Susteren experts explore the issue and next steps to better protect user privacy while also preserving internet openness. VOA's Jesusemen Oni has more. ...


Facebook CEO Says Regulation of Internet Sector ‘Inevitable’

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told lawmakers Wednesday the internet sector will need some form of regulation. After weathering heated questions from two Senate panels, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg returned to Capitol Hill Wednesday to face more questions from the House Energy and Commerce Committee about the social media platform's transparency and user privacy. Zuckerberg said it "is inevitable that there will need to be some regulation" of internet companies, an idea that has been floated by Republican and Democratic lawmakers. While it is not clear what that regulation would look like, lawmakers have said they want better protections after data breaches affected tens of millions of users. Zuckerberg cautioned lawmakers to be careful about what they propose, as larger companies like Facebook have more resources to comply with regulations than…