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Finding skin cancer: AI more useful than doctors

Monitoring Desk

LONDON: A computer was better than human dermatologists at detecting skin cancer in a study that pitted human against a machine in the quest for better, faster diagnostics, researchers said Tuesday.

A team from Germany, the United States and France taught an artificial intelligence system to distinguish dangerous skin lesions from benign ones, showing it more than 100,000 images.

The machine — a deep learning convolutional neural network or CNN — was then tested against 58 dermatologists from 17 countries, shown photos of malignant melanomas and benign moles.

Just over half the dermatologists were at “expert” level with more than five years of experience, 19 per cent had between two and five years’ experience, and 29 per cent were beginners with less than two years under their belt.

“Most dermatologists were outperformed by the CNN,” the research team wrote in a paper published in the journal Annals of Oncology.

On average, flesh and blood dermatologists accurately detected 86.6 per cent of skin cancers from the images, compared to 95 per cent for the CNN.

“The CNN missed fewer melanomas, meaning it had a higher sensitivity than the dermatologists,” the study’s first author Holger Haenssle of the University of Heidelberg said in a statement.

It also “misdiagnosed fewer benign moles as malignant melanoma… this would result in less unnecessary surgery.”

The dermatologists’ performance improved when they were given more information of the patients and their skin lesions.

The team said AI may be a useful tool for faster, easier diagnosis of skin cancer, allowing surgical removal before it spreads.

There are about 232,000 new cases of melanoma, and 55,500 deaths, in the world each year, they added.

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Apple observes sharp increase in US national security requests

WASHINGTON: Apple Inc on Friday issued its twice-yearly transparency report on government data requests, showing another sharp increase in US national security-related requests.

Apple said it received as many as 16,249 national security requests affecting up to 8,249 accounts during the second half of 2017. The number of requests rose 20 percent compared with the first half of 2017, when Apple received 13,499 such requests.

But the most recent figures are more than two-and-a-half times higher than the comparable period a year earlier, when Apple received only 5,999 such requests.

Other tech firms also experienced a jump in national security request between the second half of 2016 and the first half of 2017. National security requests to Alphabet Inc’s Google rose 36 percent, to almost 51,000. Similar requests to Facebook Inc nearly doubled, to almost 27,000.

Facebook and Google have not yet reported full numbers of national security requests for the second half of 2017 because both companies break out individual figures for both National Security Letters and requests under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA. The FISA numbers are subject to a six-month reporting delay by law. Apple publishes an aggregate number of both types of requests and so is able to report the figures sooner.

Apple also said on Friday that it would start reporting requests from governments to take down apps from its App Store.

Last year, Apple took down virtual private networking apps, or VPNs, from its App Store in China in order to comply with a new Chinese cybersecurity law. Such apps help users browse the internet more privately and were used to evade Chinese internet censorship rules. Chinese regulators also forced Apple to remove Microsoft Corp’s Skype internet phone and messaging app from the App Store in China.

Apple’s new tracking of app takedown requests starts on July 1, so the data will begin to appear starting one year from now. (Reuters)

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MoIT to improve capacity of IT industry

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: To compete in international arena Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication has aimed to improve capacity of IT industry by providing infrastructure and increasing the quality of organization to deliver high standard service and products.

The government would focus on competing in international arena, and accelerating pace of e-government to facilitate citizens to avail public services.

Talking to media outlet, ministry official said Rs6,535 million have been earmarked for ICT sector under PSDP 2018-19 which is aimed at improving capacity of IT industry by further providing infrastructure and facilities for startups and small IT businesses.

The other objective of allocation in ICT sector is to increase quality of skills and capacity of organizations to consistently deliver high quality services and products and raising their standard.

The other thrust include Cross-Border OFC system between China and Pakistan for international connectivity of voice and data traffic under aegis of CPEC which will enable alternative route for international internet connectivity.

Development of Technology Parks to facilitate rapidly growing entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country, participation in 15 major international exhibitions to generate export business, and training of 3,500 professional and 500 executives from IT and ITeS industry in latest technologies in demand and business development/international marketing respectively would also be focused.

Some other domains include 70 more companies will be provided consultancy to attain certification of CMMI level-2,CMMI level-3, CMMI level-5 and ISO 27,001/ 20,000 international standards through Ministry of Information Technology’s project entitled “Enhancing IT Exports through Industry Support Programmes,” and placement of 3,000 ICT graduates in public and private sector organizations under Prime Minister’s ICT Internship Programme.

Technical Training Institute will be established in Gilgit-Baltistan, expanding internet and broadband services in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan, and establishment of Quality Assurance Lab for software products in Pakistan Software Export board (PSEB) are the other areas which would be focused during next fiscal year.

He further said the government has planned to establish an indigenous facility for development of satellites in accordance with international space standards under its annual development plan for 2018-19.

The facility – Pakistan Space Centre will have capability to carry out manufacturing, testing, system level assembly, integration, launch and operations of various types of satellites.

As per Information and Communication Technology Annual Plan 2018-19, major thrust includes that Pakistan Multi-Mission Satellite (PakSat-MM1) will cater to demand of Direct-To-Home (DTH), High-Throughput Services (HTS)/Broadband Internet and Strategic SatCom.

The PC-II has already been approved and during next year, PC-I will be submitted for approval and subsequent execution of the project.

Moreover, feasibility study of Pakistan’s 2nd Optical Remote Sensing Satellite (PRSS-O2) will be completed. PRSS-O2 aims to launch a sub-meter resolution remote sensing satellite.

Feasibility and System Definition Study (FSDS) of Pakistan Navigation Satellite System (PakNav) will also be carried out. PakNav will enable Pakistan to have independent satellite navigation for both civilian and strategic purposes.


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Google and Facebook accused of breaking GDPR laws

LONDON (BBC): Complaints have been filed against Facebook, Google, Instagram and WhatsApp within hours of the new GDPR data protection law taking effect.

The companies are accused of forcing users to consent to targeted advertising to use the services.

Privacy group led by activist Max Schrems said people were not being given a “free choice”.

If the complaints are upheld, the websites may be forced to change how they operate, and they could be fined.

What’s the issue?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new EU law that changes how personal data can be collected and used. Even companies based outside the EU must follow the new rules if offering their services in the EU.

In its four complaints, argues that the named companies are in breach of GDPR because they have adopted a “take it or leave it approach”.

The activist group says customers must agree to having their data collected, shared and used for targeted advertising, or delete their accounts.

This, the organisation suggests, falls foul of the new rules because forcing people to accept wide-ranging data collection in exchange for using a service is prohibited under GDPR.

“The GDPR explicitly allows any data processing that is strictly necessary for the service – but using the data additionally for advertisement or to sell it on needs the users’ free opt-in consent,” said in a statement.

“GDPR is very pragmatic on this point: whatever is really necessary for an app is legal without consent, the rest needs a free ‘yes’ or ‘no’ option.”

Privacy advocate Max Schrems said: “Many users do not know yet that this annoying way of pushing people to consent is actually forbidden under GDPR in most cases.”

The complaints were filed by four EU citizens with local regulators in Austria, Belgium, France and Germany.

Analysts and regulators had expected complaints to be filed shortly after the introduction of the law, as organisations and privacy advocates argue over how the law should be interpreted.

Some companies based outside the EU have temporarily blocked their services across Europe to avoid falling foul of the new legislation.

However, others such as Twitter have introduced granular controls that let people opt out of targeted advertising.

Companies that fall foul of GDPR can be – in extreme cases – fined more than £17m.

Facebook said in a statement that it had spent 18 months preparing to make sure it met the requirements of GDPR.

Google told the BBC: “We build privacy and security into our products from the very earliest stages and are committed to complying with the EU General Data Protection Regulation.”

WhatsApp has not yet responded to the BBC’s request for comment.

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US-China agrees to keep ZTE in business

Monitoring Desk

WASHINGTON (Agencies): The Trump administration told lawmakers the U.S. government has reached a deal to put Chinese telecommunications company, ZTE Corp, back in business after it pays a significant fine and makes management changes, a senior congressional aide said on Friday.

U.S. President Donald Trump appeared to confirm the deal in a tweet late on Friday. “I closed it down then let it reopen with high-level security guarantees, change of management and board, must purchase U.S. parts and pay a $1.3 Billion fine.”

The reported deal involving China’s second-largest telecommunications equipment maker ran into immediate resistance in Congress, where Democrats and Trump’s fellow Republicans accused him of bending to pressure from Beijing to ease up on a company that U.S. intelligence officials have suggested poses a significant risk to U.S. national security.

ZTE was banned in April from buying U.S. technology components for seven years for breaking an agreement reached after it violated U.S. sanctions against Iran and North Korea. After ZTE makes a series of changes it would now be allowed to resume business with U.S. companies, including chipmaker Qualcomm Inc.

The deal, earlier communicated to officials on Capitol Hill by the Commerce Department, requires ZTE to pay a substantial fine, place U.S. compliance officers at the company and change its management team, the aide said.

The Commerce Department would then lift an order issued in April preventing ZTE from buying U.S. products. ZTE shut down most of its production after the ruling was announced.

Fox News said Trump told them on Thursday that he had negotiated the $1.3 billion fine with Chinese President Xi Jinping in a phone call.

ZTE, which is publicly traded but whose largest shareholder is a Chinese state-owned enterprise, agreed last year to pay a nearly $900 million penalty and open its books to a U.S. monitor. The penalty stemmed from for breaking an agreement after it was caught illegally shipping U.S. goods to Iran and North Korea, in an investigation dating to the Obama administration.

The company has lost over $3 billion since the April 15th ban on doing business with U.S. suppliers, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Trump on Tuesday floated a plan to fine ZTE up to $1.3 billion and shake up its management as his administration considered rolling back more severe penalties that have crippled the company.

Responding to news of the administration’s deal with ZTE, Republican Senator Marco Rubio tweeted: “Yes they have a deal in mind. It is a great deal … for #ZTE & China. #China crushes U.S. companies with no mercy & they use these telecom companies to spy & steal from us.”

Rubio, as well as Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer and Chris Van Hollen, said Congress should act to stop Trump from letting ZTE get back into business. “If the administration goes through with this reported deal, President Trump would be helping make China great again,” Schumer said Friday on Twitter. “Would be a huge victory for President Xi, and a dramatic retreat by Pres Trump. Both parties in Congress should come together to stop this deal in its tracks.”

U.S. intelligence and U.S. law enforcement agencies have serious concerns that ZTE and other Chinese telecommunications firms use their equipment to gather intelligence on U.S. citizens.

The U.S. Department of Defense has also stopped selling ZTE’s mobile phones and modems in stores on its military bases, citing potential security risks.

William Evanina, the acting director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, said at his May 15 confirmation hearing that he would not use a ZTE phone nor recommend that anyone in a sensitive position in government use one.

Chinese officials sought a pullback on ZTE as part of any broader deal to prevent a trade war between the world’s two biggest economies. U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is scheduled to visit China next week for another round of talks. White House legislative director Marc Short told PBS Friday that Ross “would be making that announcement in the coming day” of a resolution of the ZTE issue.

ZTE needs U.S. components for its mobile phones and network equipment. U.S. companies provide an estimated 25 percent to 30 percent of components in ZTE’s equipment.

As part of the agreements, ZTE made last year it dismissed four senior employees.

Shares of ZTE’s U.S. suppliers traded higher on Friday. Optical networking equipment maker Acacia Communications Inc, which got 30 percent of 2017 revenue from ZTE, rose 4.4 percent. Optical component company Oclaro Inc, which received 18 percent of its fiscal 2017 revenue from ZTE, rose 2.7 percent.

It was reported earlier this week citing sources that a proposed trade deal with China would lift the ZTE ban. In return, China would eliminate tariffs on U.S. agriculture or agree to buy more farm products from the United States.

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Apple awarded $539m in US patent case against Samsung

NEW YORK (BBC News): A US court has ordered South Korea’s Samsung Electronics pay $539m (£403m) in damages for copying features of Apple’s original iPhone.

The jury’s decision is the latest step in a long-running legal battle between the world’s top smartphone makers. It began in 2011 when Apple argued Samsung had infringed on some patents.

Apple was awarded $1.05bn in damages a year later but the rivals have fought over the final amount ever since.

In the latest court ruling, most of the damages payment – $533.3m – was awarded for infringing three Apple design patents. The remainder was for violating two patented functions.

In a statement, Apple said it was pleased that the members of the jury “agree that Samsung should pay for copying our products.”

“This case has always been about more than money,” the tech giant said, adding that it was important that it continued to protect the “hard work and innovation of so many people at Apple”. But Samsung said the decision “flies in the face” of the unanimous Supreme Court ruling in its favour on the way the design patent damages are calculated.

Samsung had argued that it should only have to pay $28m in damages – limiting the sum to profits directly related to the components or features covered by the patents.

Apple argued for a much bigger figure, calculated on the profits made from an entire iPhone.

“It is not a clear win for either firm because Apple had asked for $2.5bn in damages in its original claim”, according to Kiranjeet Kaur, tech analyst at research firm IDC in Singapore.

And Ms Kaur added that the possibility of another appeal by Samsung “cannot be eliminated”.

“It is clearly not the verdict Samsung wanted or expected, and apart from the damages it has to pay, it points out that indeed designs were copied,” she said.

She added the ruling should serve as a warning to smaller players to be “more wary of overstepping [patents], especially in markets like the US”.


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Facebook, Twitter announces strict rules for political ads

Monitoring Desk

WASHINGTON: Twitter on Thursday announced new guidelines to clearly mark political ads on its platform as Facebook said it began implementing a policy requiring labeling and verification of identities of those paying for political messages.

The moves by the two social media firms come in response to criticism over their role in allowing disinformation to spread during the 2016 US election, in many cases with the help of automated “bots” or disguised Russian-based accounts.

Facebook said its new policy would be in effect as of Thursday for ads in the United States on Facebook and Instagram. It intends to implement the same policy worldwide in the coming months.

Twitter meanwhile said it would begin enforcing a new policy in the coming months that would require “election labels” for US candidate ads, and require notarized forms that verify the advertisers are in the United States.

“We will not allow foreign nationals to target political ads to people who are identified as being in the US,” a Twitter statement said.

Additionally, the Twitter names of “handles” used for political campaigning advertising will have stricter requirements.

“The handle’s profile photo, header photo, and website must be consistent with its online presence and the Twitter bio must include a website that provides valid contact information,” Twitter’s Vijaya Gadde and Bruce Falck wrote in the statement.

Twitter, which indicated last month it was working on a new policy for political ads, said it is partnering with the nonprofit group Ballotpedia to help identify the campaign Twitter accounts of candidates once they qualify for the general election ballot in November.

Facebook’s announcement said it would verify the identity of those paying for ads — not just for candidates but for hot-button political issues — which some analysts have said may be difficult to enforce.

“Starting today, all election-related and issue ads on Facebook and Instagram in the US must be clearly labeled — including a ‘Paid for by’ disclosure from the advertiser at the top of the ad,” said a blog post by Facebook product management director Rob Leathern.

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg said the goal of the new policy is “making sure we help prevent interference and misinformation in elections.”

“These changes won’t fix everything, but they will make it a lot harder for anyone to do what the Russians did during the 2016 election and use fake accounts and pages to run ads,” Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page.

Facebook politics and government outreach director Katie Harbath and public policy director Steve Satterfield said the definition of “issue” ads was examined carefully with input from outside parties.

“In the US, there aren’t laws or federal agencies that list specific issues that are subject to regulation,” they wrote in a separate blog post.

“But to have a policy that our reviewers can enforce, they need a list explaining what’s OK and what’s not.”

Facebook said it developed a list of 20 key issues identified by the Comparative Agendas Project, a non-partisan research center.

These topics include abortion, civil rights, the environment, foreign policy, guns and immigration, according to Facebook.

“We know we’ll miss some ads and in other cases we’ll identify some we shouldn’t,” Harbath and Satterfield wrote. “We’ll keep working on the process and improve as we go.”

The executives said that Facebook debated whether to ban all political ads but decided in the end to keep them with stricter label and verification.

“Political advertising serves an important purpose. It helps candidates share their views with the public more broadly, and it can help encourage people to get involved in the political process,” they wrote.

Banning all ads, they maintained “would make it harder for people running for local office — who can’t afford larger media buys — to get their message out.”

Facebook also will be developing a searchable archive of political ads under the new policy.

Outside the United States, Harbath told journalists on a conference call that “we will be working with election regulators and organizers in various countries” as it implements the policy globally.

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Samsung to launch budget friendly smartphones in Pakistan

Monitoring Desk 

ISLAMABAD: The tech giant, Samsung is about to launch two budget-friendly phones Galaxy J4 and Galaxy J6 in Pakistan. We already know the specification of both devices as they are listed on the official website of Samsung Pakistan.

Let’s see when Samsung will make these devices for sale in Pakistan. People are anxiously waiting to get the hands-on experience of the two devices.

We have seen that these both upcoming smartphones are intelligent in its own way. The major difference between these both handsets majorly varies in RAM section and in display size. All other features are almost similar to each other but still, these differences are the major one. Most expectedly, these both smartphones will have fingerprint sensors as Samsung is trying to manage fingerprint sensor in mid-range devices also.











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WhatsApp allows iPhone users to download Data

Monitoring Desk

WASHINGTON: WhatsApp for iPhone has introduced an important new feature called ‘Request Account Info’. It will allow users to request their Account information from the WhatsApp and see the data that has been shared by users and saved by the company. That includes their account information and settings, but not personal messages.

WhatsApp has announced this feature earlier in light of European Union’s General Data Protection Regime (GDPR), which will be enforced from Friday, May 25. GDPR gives now more control to the user and calls for greater data privacy of consumers.

Now WhatsApp version 2.18.60 is available for iPhone, that will bring the ‘Request Account Info’ feature and will let the users to download their data. The update is available on the App store. This update is first spotted by WABeta Info.  It said that the users can  go to settings and see the option for ‘Request Account Info’ in the Account option.

For ‘Request Account Info’, user need to download the WhatsApp for iPhone version 2.18.60 from the App Store. When the download completed, now users can go to Settings > Account > Request Account Info. After this they will be taken to the Request Account Info screen from where users can tap the Request Report option.

WhatsApp team will generate the report in almost three days and it will be available for download for a few weeks. Users will get notification when the report is available for their account.




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Government approves “Digital Pakistan” policy

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The government gave go-ahead to the country’s first-ever “Digital Pakistan” policy including incentives for the information and technology and services sector.

The prime minister had announced a cash reward and extension of a tax holiday on IT exports till 2025, reduction in sales tax to 5% in Islamabad Capital Territory and ensured long-term financing at 5% interest rate and formation of legislation for new IT parks.

Already existing benefits announced in the last couple of years include 100% repatriation of capital and dividends, 3-year tax exemption for IT startups, and a tax holiday for venture capital funds till June 2024 among others.

Last week, Federal Minister for Information Technology Anusha Rahman Khan said, “A lot more work needs to be done to keep up with technology, including amendments in rules of business, framework and laws to take full benefits of technology for development and growth,” said Rahman.

She said that ‘digital Pakistan’ policy gives a framework and would be presented to the cabinet on Thursday (today) for approval. Due to strenuous efforts of the incumbent government, Pakistan’s IT and Information Technology Enabled Services (ITeS) sectors have developed exponentially through incentives and facilitation.

Ms Rahman said that the growth rate of exports has jumped to 125% over the last five years, adding that the IT industry is not only growing in terms of the number of companies and revenue but also in exports and workforce on a yearly basis.

“These are, however, major achievements, and there is much more work to be done to reach the present government’s target of $10 billion in IT and ITeS exports by 2020,” she added.

The basic objective of the policy will take into account the increasingly transformed role of Information Technology (IT) across all sectors of socio-economic development, accelerated digitization and a holistic knowledge-based economy.

This policy would serve as a foundation of a holistic digital eco-system with advanced concepts and components for rapid delivery of next-generation digital services, applications and content. It will also provide opportunities for local entrepreneurs and firms to acquire core competencies, experience and credibility and better position them to compete at international level.