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Fraudster refuses to give up Bitcoin password worth $60M

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Fraudster refuses to give up Bitcoin password worth $60M

German prosecutors have confiscated more than 50 million euros ($60 million) worth of bitcoin from a fraudster. There’s only one problem: They can’t unlock the money because he won’t give them the password.

The man was sentenced to jail and has since served his term, maintaining his silence throughout while police made repeated failed efforts to crack the code to access more than 1,700 bitcoin, said a prosecutor in the Bavarian town of Kempten.

“We asked him but he didn’t say,” prosecutor Sebastian Murer told Reuters on Friday. “Perhaps he doesn’t know.”

Bitcoin is stored on software known as a digital wallet that is secured through encryption. A password is used as a decryption key to open the wallet and access the bitcoin. When a password is lost, the user cannot open the wallet.

The fraudster had been sentenced to more than two years in jail for covertly installing software on other computers to harness their power to “mine,” or produce, bitcoin.

When he went behind bars, his bitcoin stash would have been worth a fraction of the current value. The price of bitcoin has surged over the past year, hitting a record high of $42,000 in January. It was trading at $37,577 on Friday, according to cryptocurrency and blockchain website Coindesk.

Prosecutors have ensured the man cannot access the largesse, however.

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Judge approves $650M Facebook privacy lawsuit settlement

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Judge approves $650M Facebook privacy lawsuit settlement

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge on Friday approved a $650 million settlement of a privacy lawsuit against Facebook for allegedly using photo face-tagging and other biometric data without the permission of its users.

U.S. District Judge James Donato approved the deal in a class-action lawsuit that was filed in Illlinois in 2015. Nearly 1.6 million Facebook users in Illinois who submitted claims will be affected.

Donato called it one of the largest settlements ever for a privacy violation.

“It will put at least $345 into the hands of every class member interested in being compensated,” he wrote, calling it “a major win for consumers in the hotly contested area of digital privacy.”

Jay Edelson, a Chicago attorney who filed the lawsuit, told the Chicago Tribune that the checks could be in the mail within two months unless the ruling is appealed.

“We are pleased to have reached a settlement so we can move past this matter, which is in the best interest of our community and our shareholders,” Facebook, which is headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area, said in a statement.

The lawsuit accused the social media giant of violating an Illinois privacy law by failing to get consent before using facial-recognition technology to scan photos uploaded by users to create and store faces digitally.

The state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act allowed consumers to sue companies that didn’t get permission before harvesting data such as faces and fingerprints.

The case eventually wound up as a class-action lawsuit in California.

Facebook has since changed its photo-tagging system.

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Facebook weighs adding facial recognition to smart glasses

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Facebook weighs adding facial recognition to smart glasses

Facebook is weighing whether to add facial recognition technology to the smart glasses it’s developing, one top executive says.

The tech titan plans to have a public discussion about the feature’s “pros and cons” in light of the ethical concerns it raises, according to Andrew Bosworth, the head of the company’s virtual and augmented reality division.

“It’s really a debate we need to have with the public,” Bosworth said during a Thursday Q&A on his Instagram page. “If people don’t want this technology, we don’t have to supply it. The product’s going to be fine either way.”

Bosworth spoke up publicly after BuzzFeed News reported that Facebook was examining whether it could legally build facial recognition features into the high-tech glasses it’s planning to roll out later this year.

During a company meeting on Thursday, one Facebook employee asked whether people could “mark their faces as unsearchable” when smart glasses become widely used given fears about the technology leading to “real-world harm,” according to the outlet.

In addition to those concerns, current state laws may prevent Facebook from allowing people who use its glasses to look up others based on images of their faces, Bosworth reportedly said in the meeting.

He noted on Twitter that facial recognition is a “hugely controversial topic and for good reason,” but said the technology has some good practical uses “if it could be done in a way the public and regulators were comfortable with.”

For instance, he said, it could help people who have prosopagnosia, a neurological condition that prevents them from recognizing others’ faces.

“More general is the party use case where you see someone you recognize but can’t place their name,” Bosworth tweeted. “Is it a huge deal? Of course not. But might be nice if you could have your memory jogged.”

Facebook is reportedly developing its smart glasses to rival similar wearable gadgets made by Snapchat and Amazon. They’re being built in partnership with the Ray-Ban specs brand and its parent company, Luxottica.

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Bots hyped GameStop on major social media platforms: analysis

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Bots hyped GameStop on major social media platforms: analysis

Bots on major social media platforms have been hyping up GameStop and other “meme” stocks, according to an analysis by Massachusetts-based cybersecurity company PiiQ Media, suggesting organized economic or foreign actors may have played a role in the Reddit-driven trading frenzy.

Shares in GameStop soared last month after Reddit users banded together to squeeze hedge funds that had bet against the video game retailer and other companies. Reddit Chief Executive Steve Huffman told Congress this month that bots, artificial or fake accounts with automated content, had not played a “significant role” in GameStop Reddit message traffic.

PiiQ Media’s analysis of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube posts, however, found that bots used the platforms to push GameStop and other “meme” stocks, although it is unclear how influential they were in the overall saga.

A startup that focuses on social media risks, PiiQ said it examined patterns of keywords such as “Hold the Line” and GameStop’s stock symbol, “GME” across conversations and profiles prior to the Jan. 28 frenzy, through Feb. 18. For comparison, it also assessed posts on an unrelated set of stocks.

PiiQ said that it identified very similar daily “start and stop patterns” in the GameStop-related posts, with activity starting at the beginning of the trading day, followed by a large spike at the end of the trading day. Such patterns are indicative of bots, said Aaron Barr, co-founder and chief technology officer of PiiQ.

“We saw clear patterns of artificial behavior across the other four social media platforms. When you think of organic content, it’s variable in the day, variable day-to-day. It doesn’t have the exact same pattern every day for a month,” he said.

Based on its authenticity scoring system, PiiQ estimates there are tens of thousands of bot accounts hyping GameStop, the meme stocks, and Dogecoin, a cryptocurrency swept up in the frenzy. Thousands of fake accounts can be purchased for as little as $200, it said.

The company did not analyze Reddit data, but Barr said he would expect to see a similar pattern of activity on Reddit, indicating bot-like or coordinated management of conversations.

A representative for Reddit did not comment beyond Huffman’s testimony. Representatives for YouTube, Facebook and its Instagram subsidiary did not respond to requests for comment. The social media platforms generally try to weed out harmful bots, said Barr.

A spokesperson for Twitter said that “bots” had become a catch-all term that can often mischaracterize the nature of the account. The company notes bots can be used on its platform for creative or innovative purposes.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is probing the GameStop saga, and this month suspended trading in a handful of companies because some “social media accounts may be engaged in a coordinated attempt to artificially influence” their stocks.

In addition to traders, organized criminals may use social media to stoke asset prices, and undermining the integrity of U.S. markets is a known goal of hostile state actors, said Barr. But it is unclear how successful, if at all, these types of influence efforts are, he said.

“Measuring the effect of those campaigns is often illusive.”

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