Home » Posts tagged 'ars technica'

Tag Archives: ars technica

Juul Will Pay $438.5M for Its Position in Underage Vaping

Disgraced ecigarette maker Juul has agreed to pay $438.5 million to 33 states and Puerto Rico to settle an investigation into whether or not the vaping large deceptively marketed its merchandise and deliberately focused kids and teenagers, who’re most weak to nicotine habit.

The mammoth settlement comes as the corporate continues its struggle for survival with the US Meals and Drug Administration. In June, the FDA made the dramatic transfer of denying advertising and marketing authorization for all Juul merchandise, successfully forcing the ecigarette maker off the US market. Juul shortly received administrative stays, although, and the FDA introduced in July that it will rereview Juul’s merchandise. Within the meantime, the corporate is allowed to proceed promoting its merchandise, however its final destiny stays precarious.

The authorized settlement and regulatory uncertainty are the newest fallout from Juul’s alleged function in fueling a nationwide “epidemic” of youth vaping, which peaked in 2019. Juul grew to become infamous for interesting to kids and teenagers as vaping amongst center and highschool college students skyrocketed.

In response to a lawsuit filed by Massachusetts’ lawyer basic in 2020, Juul started advertising and marketing campaigns in 2015 and 2016 that relied on teenage influencers on social media and “cool” fashions. The corporate even purchased banner and video ads on websites similar to Cartoon Community and Nickelodeon’s Nick.com and Nickjr.com, the lawsuit mentioned.

In Might 2019, a research revealed in JAMA Pediatrics estimated that in 2018, 45 p.c of Juul’s Twitter followers have been individuals between the ages of 13 and 17. In a congressional listening to in July 2019, a New York Metropolis highschool scholar and his mom testified that in 2017, a Juul worker gave a stay presentation on the teen’s college with out trainer presence, college administrator data, or parental consent. In the course of the presentation, the Juul consultant allegedly mentioned Juul’s ecigarettes have been “completely protected” and known as Juul’s gadget the “iPhone of vapes.”

As Ars has reported beforehand, Juul’s greenback gross sales rose 783 p.c between 2017 and 2018, reaching $942.6 million, based on a Wells Fargo evaluation of Nielsen information on the time. In the meantime, the proportion of center schoolers reporting latest ecigarette use elevated from 0.6 p.c in 2011 to 10.5 p.c in 2019, based on the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention. And in that timeframe, ecigarette use amongst highschool college students elevated from 1.5 p.c to 27.5 p.c. These figures have since declined.

Backlash

Amid rising alarm over teen vaping, the backlash in opposition to Juul was swift. By late 2019, Juul had ousted its CEO, halted US adverts, and stopped promoting a few of its youth-friendly flavors, together with Mango, Fruit, Creme (or crème brûlée), and Cucumber. However lawsuits mounted, regulatory bother brewed, and its market share started slipping. Final yr, Juul agreed to pay the state of North Carolina $40 million over claims that it focused youth. In June of this yr, tobacco large Altria—previously often known as Philip Morris Firms—mentioned that its 35 p.c stake in Juul, which it purchased in 2018 for $12.8 billion, was now valued at simply $450 million. Even with this week’s giant settlement, Juul nonetheless faces a substantial quantity of authorized challenges.

In an announcement on September 6, Juul wrote:

This settlement with 34 states and territories is a major a part of our ongoing dedication to resolve points from the previous. The phrases of the settlement are aligned with our present enterprise practices which we began to implement after our company-wide reset within the Fall of 2019. With at present’s announcement, we now have settled with 37 states and Puerto Rico, and recognize efforts by Attorneys Common to deploy assets to fight underage use.

Along with the fee, which will probably be divided up among the many states and utilized in varied methods to handle youth habit, the settlement additionally bars Juul from a number of actions, similar to advertising and marketing merchandise to youth, depicting individuals youthful than 35 in any advertising and marketing, utilizing cartoons, utilizing paid social media influencers, or promoting in retailers which have an viewers that’s lower than 85 p.c adults.

In an announcement saying the settlement, Connecticut Legal professional Common William Tong celebrated the settlement whereas blasting Juul.

“Juul’s cynically calculated promoting campaigns created a brand new technology of nicotine addicts. They relentlessly marketed vaping merchandise to underage youth, manipulated their chemical composition to be palatable to inexperienced customers, employed an insufficient age verification course of, and misled shoppers in regards to the nicotine content material and addictiveness of its merchandise. The complete public well being ramifications of this misconduct are but unknown,” Tong mentioned. “By means of this settlement, we now have secured a whole bunch of tens of millions of {dollars} to assist cut back nicotine use and compelled JUUL to simply accept a collection of strict injunctive phrases to finish youth advertising and marketing and crack down on underage gross sales.”

This story initially appeared on Ars Technica.

Apple’s Self-Restore Program Has a Lengthy Solution to Go

That is on high of Apple making many merchandise which might be inherently not user-upgradeable, generally within the identify of potential efficiency beneficial properties or improved experiences. Issues like soldered-down NAND chips, proprietary screws, and elements which might be solely bought to Apple-authorized restore shops proceed to restrict how a lot clients and third-party restore outlets can do on their very own.

As tech weblog KnowTechie wrote this week, it may be exhausting for such restore outlets to seek out sure MacBook elements, ensuing, at instances, in full logic board replacements when an inexpensive chip fails and better restore prices for customers.

Give Apple a Little Credit score

We have detailed a few of the flaws in Apple’s self-repair program, but it surely’s nonetheless in its infancy. To date, it solely pertains to M1 MacBooks, the newest iPhone SE, the iPhone 12 lineup, and iPhone 13 collection. Apple plans to convey this system to different unspecified Macs later this 12 months.

Because it stands, although, this system represents an enchancment for Apple, which only a 12 months in the past shared solely a scant variety of restore manuals on-line. Now, it isn’t solely offering manuals for contemporary iPhones and a few MacBooks, albeit with a few of the misplaced iMac manuals, but it surely additionally has a system for getting elements at, typically talking, cheap costs and shopping for or renting instruments.

Apple has additionally enabled impartial repairs of elements that, earlier than, you both could not repair by yourself or required a licensed Apple associate to restore, such because the Contact ID Board.

Additional, the MacBook Air manuals have been acquired with hotter regard, and Apple ought to, in the event you take its phrase for it, promote M1 MacBook Professional batteries with out high circumstances … finally.

Sure, the software rental course of requires a hefty safety deposit and a few literal heavy lifting. And there are nonetheless many merchandise not but accounted for within the retailer. Nonetheless, contemplating it wasn’t too way back that Apple was actively lobbying towards right-to-repair laws, it appears like the corporate has made incremental enhancements.

That is to not say Apple is now your pleasant neighborhood right-to-repair tech large. But it surely’s at the very least exhibiting a willingness to play ball … even when it then slathers that ball in cumbersome restore directions, an imperfect software rental course of, and IMEI necessities.

Regardless of its criticisms, iFixit agreed that Apple’s efforts deserve some applause.

“We’re actually glad to see Apple lastly making strikes towards a more-open restore ecosystem,” Chamberlain mentioned. “We’re undoubtedly studying it as an indication that Apple is aware of they should make some concessions to the Proper to Restore motion.”

What can be much more promising is seeing Apple’s method to repairability evolve. It has but to handle present issues, comparable to IMEI necessities. And, for higher or worse, there is no discuss of Apple dramatically altering design methods to make its upscale gadgets simpler to dismantle and restore or improve at house.

Nonetheless, we stay up for Apple’s subsequent addition to the Self Service Restore Retailer to see if it takes any notes on issues like higher product illustration (bringing again these iMac manuals can be a very good begin) and providing easier processes for frequent duties, like battery alternative.

This story initially appeared on Ars Technica.

Right here’s What Occurs When Nations Use Bikes to Struggle Emissions

Transportation produces about 1 / 4 of the world’s greenhouse fuel emissions, and passenger automobiles account for over half that determine. As such, practically each plan for future emissions cuts consists of some variant of getting folks out of internal-combustion automobiles—sometimes into electrical variations of the identical automobile. However a few nations have managed an alternate path to decrease emissions: Denmark and the Netherlands each have bicycle-focused transportation that will get many individuals out of vehicles fully.

A world crew of researchers determined to look into what elements have enabled these nations to make that shift and what would possibly occur if extra nations adopted an identical transportation focus. Two conclusions are clear: It is exhausting to get dependable information on bicycles, and bicycle-focused transportation may get rid of emissions equal to that of a decent-sized industrialized nation.

How Many Bikes Are There?

Now we have superb figures on using motor automobiles by means of government-required licensing and registration information. For bicycles, that is nearly by no means the case, so the researchers needed to estimate the variety of bicycles current in most nations. To take action, they took figures on manufacturing, imports, and exports and mixed them in a mannequin with info on how lengthy bicycles sometimes final earlier than being junked. The information runs as much as 2015, so it is already a bit outdated, because the pandemic has boosted biking in lots of nations. However the nations they had been in a position to make estimates for comprise 95 p.c of world GDP.

Information on automobile use is not obtainable in each nation. In some instances, it was estimated based mostly on native information from inside the nation; in others, the estimate was derived from nations with comparable demographics.

At the least on sheer numbers, bicycles are way more prevalent than vehicles, with over 4.5 billion bikes produced for the reason that Sixties, about 2.4 instances the variety of vehicles. Over half of those have ended up in simply 5 nations: China, the US, India, Japan, and Germany, with China having practically 1 / 4 of the worldwide bike complete. Per capita, nevertheless, the numbers had been fairly totally different, with smaller, wealthier nations having the best bike-to-body ratios. Locations like Denmark, the Netherlands, and Norway all have multiple bike per particular person.

General, the researchers broke nations down into 5 classes. One in all these classes included low-GDP nations with few vehicles or bicycles. One other class, which incorporates China, Chile, and Brazil, had automotive possession that grew quickly however from a low degree and bicycle possession that grew slowly or under no circumstances. An analogous class included the identical sample however began from a better degree of possession of each sorts of automobiles. This included locations like Italy, Poland, and Portugal.

The class that included nations like Australia, Canada, and the US had excessive ranges of possession for each bikes and vehicles however tended to make use of the vehicles way more typically. The researchers ascribed this partly to their “huge land areas.” Lastly, the class comprising industrialized European nations was characterised as having very excessive bicycle possession and steady ranges of automotive possession, however with residents who really use their bicycles. Right here, the authors counsel, “the essential transport wants are met already, and the pursuit for a extra environmentally pleasant and more healthy life has pushed the rise of bicycle possession.”

There are some oddballs instances. Some rich societies, like Japan and Switzerland, have a lot of vehicles however a spectacular public transit system that lowers their use. Some rich European nations, like Norway, have climate and terrain that discourage biking. And a variety of nations with excessive charges of visitors deaths, comparable to Brazil, Russia, and Thailand, even have low ranges of biking.

This De-Extinction Firm Needs to Resurrect the Thylacine

Of all of the species that humanity has wiped off the face of the earth, the thylacine is presumably probably the most tragic loss. A wolf-sized marsupial typically known as the Tasmanian tiger, the thylacine met its finish partially as a result of the federal government paid its residents a bounty for each animal killed. That finish got here just lately sufficient that we now have pictures and movie clips of the final thylacines ending their days in zoos. Late sufficient that in just some a long time, nations would begin writing legal guidelines to forestall different species from seeing the identical destiny.

Yesterday, an organization known as Colossal, which has already stated it desires to convey again the mammoth, introduced a partnership with an Australian lab that it says will de-extinct the thylacine with the aim of reintroducing it into the wild. Various options of marsupial biology make this a extra practical aim than bringing again the mammoth, though there’s a number of work to do earlier than we even begin the controversy about whether or not reintroducing the species is a good suggestion.

To search out out extra in regards to the firm’s plans for the thylacine, we had a dialog with Colossal’s founder, Ben Lamm, and Andrew Pask, the pinnacle of the lab he is partnering with.

Branching Out

To an extent, Colossal is a method of organizing and funding the concepts of Lamm’s associate, George Church. Church has been speaking about de-extincting the mammoth for quite a lot of years, spurred partially by developments in gene modifying. The corporate is structured as a startup, and Lamm stated it’s extremely open to commercializing expertise it develops whereas pursuing its targets. “On our path to de-extinction, Colossal is creating new software program, wetware, and {hardware} revolutionary applied sciences that may have profound impacts on each conservation and human well being care,” he advised Ars. However basically, it is about creating merchandise for which there’s clearly no market: species that not exist.

The final strategy it lays out for the mammoth is simple, even when the small print are extraordinarily advanced. There are many samples of mammoth tissue from which we will get hold of no less than partial genomes, which may then be in comparison with its closest relations, the elephants, to search out key variations distinct to the mammoth lineage. Due to gene modifying expertise, key variations may be edited into the genome of an elephant stem cell, primarily “mammothifying” the elephant cells. A little bit of in in vitro fertilization later, and we’ll have a shaggy beast prepared for the sub-Arctic steppes.

Once more, the small print matter. On the plan’s inception, we had not created elephant stem cells nor accomplished gene modifying at even a fraction of the dimensions required. There are credible arguments that the peculiarities of the elephant reproductive system make the “little bit of IVF” that is wanted a sensible impossibility; if it does occur, it should contain a virtually two-year gestation earlier than the outcomes may be evaluated. Elephants are additionally clever, social creatures, and there is a affordable debate available about whether or not utilizing them to this finish is acceptable.

Given these challenges it might not be a coincidence that Lamm stated Colossal had been searching for a second species to de-extinct. And the search turned up a undertaking that was taking a virtually similar strategy: the Thylacine Built-in Genomic Restoration Analysis Lab, based mostly on the College of Melbourne and headed by Andrew Pask.

Within the Pouch

As with Colossal’s mammoth plans, TIGRR intends to acquire thylacine genomes, determine key variations between that genome and associated lineages (largely quolls), after which edit these variations into marsupial stem cells, which might then be used for IVF. It, too, faces some important hurdles, in that no one has made marsupial stem cells, nor has anybody cloned a marsupial—two issues which have no less than been accomplished in placental mammals (although not pachyderms).

However Pask and Lamm identified quite a lot of ways in which the thylacine is a much more tractable system than a mammoth. For one, the animal’s survival till latest years means there are a number of museum samples, and thus, Pask says, we’re more likely to get hold of sufficient genomes to get a way of the inhabitants’s genetic range—probably essential if we wish to reestablish a steady breeding inhabitants.

An ISP Settled Piracy Lawsuits. May Customers Take the Hit?

Constitution Communications has agreed to settle piracy lawsuits filed by the main report labels, which accused the cable web supplier of failing to terminate the accounts of subscribers who illegally obtain copyrighted songs.

Sony, Common, Warner, and their varied subsidiaries sued Constitution in US District Court docket in Colorado in March 2019 in a go well with that claimed the ISP helps subscribers pirate music by promoting packages with larger web speeds. They filed one other lawsuit in opposition to Constitution in the identical court docket in August 2021.

Each circumstances had been settled. The report labels and Constitution informed the court docket of their settlements on August 2 in filings that stated, “The Events hereby notify the Court docket that they’ve resolved the above-captioned motion.” Upon the settlements, the court docket vacated the pending trials and requested the events to submit dismissal papers inside 28 days.

Constitution subsidiary Vibrant Home Networks additionally settled an analogous lawsuit in US District Court docket for the Center District of Florida this week. The report labels’ case in Florida was settled someday earlier than a scheduled trial, as TorrentFreak reported on August 2. The case was dismissed with prejudice after the settlement.

No particulars on any of the settlements got within the paperwork notifying the courts. A 3-week jury trial in one of many Colorado circumstances was scheduled to start in June 2023 however is now not wanted.

The query for web customers is whether or not the settlements imply that Constitution might be extra aggressive in terminating subscribers who illegally obtain copyrighted materials. Constitution declined to remark when Ars Technica requested whether or not it agreed to extend account terminations of subscribers accused of piracy. Ars Technica additionally contacted the large three report labels and can replace this text if they supply any info on the settlements.

$1B Cox Verdict Could Drive ISPs to Lower Off Subscribers

Even when the settlements haven’t any particular provision on terminating subscribers, Constitution presumably has to pay the report labels to settle the claims. That would make the nation’s second-biggest ISP extra more likely to terminate subscribers accused of piracy with a view to stop future lawsuits.

A jury dominated in December 2019 that Cox should pay $1 billion in damages to the main report labels in a case filed in US District Court docket for the Japanese District of Virginia. That call raised alarm bells for the Digital Frontier Basis (EFF), the Middle For Democracy and Expertise, the American Library Affiliation, the Affiliation of Faculty and Analysis Libraries, the Affiliation of Analysis Libraries, and consumer-advocacy group Public Data.

These teams warned in a June 2021 court docket submitting that the decision, if not overturned, “will drive ISPs to terminate extra subscribers with much less justification or danger staggering legal responsibility.” The US Court docket of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit heard oral arguments in March 2022 and has not but issued a ruling.

Constitution Movement to Dismiss Denied

Within the Colorado court docket, the report labels’ grievance stated Constitution “has knowingly contributed to, and reaped substantial income from, large copyright infringement dedicated by 1000’s of its subscribers. Constitution has insisted on doing nothing—regardless of receiving 1000’s of notices that detailed the criminal activity of its subscribers, regardless of its clear authorized obligation to deal with the widespread, unlawful downloading of copyrighted works on its web providers, and regardless of being sued beforehand by Plaintiffs for related conduct.”

Constitution argued in a movement to dismiss the case that “a failure to terminate a buyer’s entry to the web primarily based solely upon unverified (and unverifiable) notices alleging previous infringement doesn’t reveal the requisite intent by an ISP to encourage infringement.” Constitution stated it has a “coverage to not terminate buyer accounts primarily based solely upon the receipt of notices containing unverifiable accusations of infringement.”

Constitution additionally wrote that “plaintiffs don’t (and can’t) allege that termination restricts entry to the infringing content material. It’s common sense that terminating a buyer’s web connection doesn’t stop a buyer from discovering one other supply of Web entry, nor does it affect the supply of the allegedly infringing content material hosted by way of peer-to-peer networks or packages. Constitution has no extra capability to dam entry to peer-to-peer networks than a subscriber’s electrical firm.” Constitution’s movement to dismiss the case was denied, and the corporate in the end selected to not go to trial.

In Florida, the choose dismissed the report labels’ declare for vicarious legal responsibility, however the business’s grievance additionally sought damages for vicarious copyright infringement.

Disclosure: The Advance/Newhouse Partnership, which owns 12.4 % of Constitution, is a part of Advance Publications. Advance Publications owns Condé Nast, which owns Ars Technica and WIRED.

This story initially appeared on Ars Technica.

The DHS Purchased a ‘Stunning Quantity’ of Telephone-Monitoring Knowledge

For years, individuals have puzzled not if, however how a lot, the Division of Homeland Safety accesses cell location knowledge to watch US residents. This week, the American Civil Liberties Union launched hundreds of closely redacted pages of paperwork that present a “glimpse” of how DHS companies got here to leverage “a surprising quantity” of location knowledge, apparently buying knowledge with out following correct protocols to make sure that they had the authority to take action.

Paperwork had been shared with the ACLU “over the course of the final 12 months by way of a Freedom of Data Act (FOIA) lawsuit.” Then Politico bought entry and launched a report confirming that DHS contracted with two surveillance corporations, Babel Avenue and Venntel, to scour a whole lot of tens of millions of cell telephones from 2017 to 2019 and entry “greater than 336,000 location knowledge factors throughout North America.” The gathering of emails, contracts, spreadsheets, and presentation slides present proof that “the Trump administration’s immigration enforcers used cell location knowledge to trace individuals’s actions on a bigger scale than beforehand recognized,” and the follow has continued beneath Biden as a consequence of a contract that did not expire till 2021.

The vast majority of the brand new info particulars an intensive contract DHS made with Venntel, an information dealer that claims it sells cell location knowledge to unravel “the world’s most difficult issues.” In paperwork, US Customs and Border Patrol mentioned Venntel’s location knowledge helped them enhance immigration enforcement and investigations into human trafficking and narcotics.

It is nonetheless unclear whether or not the follow was authorized, however a DHS privateness officer was fearful sufficient about privateness and authorized considerations that DHS was ordered to “cease all initiatives involving Venntel knowledge” in June 2019. Evidently the privateness and authorized groups, nonetheless, got here to an settlement on use phrases, as a result of the acquisition of location knowledge has since resumed, with Immigration and Customs Enforcement signing a brand new Venntel contract final winter that runs by way of June 2023.

The ACLU nonetheless describes the follow as “shadowy,” saying that DHS companies nonetheless owed them extra paperwork that may additional present how they’re “sidestepping” the “Fourth Modification proper in opposition to unreasonable authorities searches and seizures by shopping for entry to, and utilizing, large volumes of individuals’s mobile phone location info quietly extracted from smartphone apps.” Of explicit concern, the ACLU additionally famous that an e-mail from DHS’s senior director of privateness compliance confirmed that DHS “appeared to have bought entry to Venntel though a required Privateness Threshold Evaluation was by no means authorized.”

DHS didn’t touch upon the Politico story, and neither the DHS companies talked about nor the ACLU instantly responded to Ars’ request for remark.

The ACLU says that no legal guidelines at the moment stop knowledge gross sales to the federal government, however that might change quickly. The ACLU endorses a invoice referred to as the Fourth Modification Is Not for Sale Act, which is designed to do exactly that. Even when that invoice is handed, although, the brand new legislation would nonetheless present some exceptions that may permit authorities companies to proceed monitoring cell location knowledge. The ACLU didn’t instantly reply to touch upon any considerations about these exceptions.

Find out how to Cease Location Knowledge Monitoring

The primary query being debated is whether or not a Supreme Courtroom choice in 2017 that mentioned police should have a warrant to go looking mobile phone knowledge applies to authorities companies like DHS. It is a grey space, the Congressional Analysis Service says, as a result of “the Supreme Courtroom has lengthy acknowledged that the federal government could conduct routine inspections and searches of people coming into on the US border with out a warrant” and that “some federal courts have utilized the ‘border search exception’ to permit comparatively restricted, handbook searches on the border of digital units comparable to computer systems and cell telephones.”

DHS is not the one authorities company that considers itself an exception, although. In 2021, the Protection Intelligence Company additionally bought location knowledge with out a warrant, bypassing the 2017 Supreme Courtroom choice as a result of the Division of Protection has its personal “Legal professional Basic-approved knowledge dealing with necessities.”