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    • By Usama Jawad96
      Most devices, including iPhones, could soon be forced to use USB-C charging
      by Usama Jawad

      Image via Google The European Commission (EC) has put forward a new proposal according to which all hardware manufacturers will be forced to use USB-C as the charging port for most devices. The motivation behind the proposed standard is that it will aid in reducing e-waste since consumers will be able to utilize charging cables from their old devices instead of purchasing new ones. The EC has also suggested that manufacturers drop chargers from their packaging altogether, something that several OEMs are already doing.

      The proposal covers the use of USB-C charging in smartphones, tablets, cameras, headphones, portable speakers, and handheld consoles. Meanwhile, smartwatches, earbuds, and fitness trackers are exempt. EC executive vice-president Margarethe Vestager had the following to say about the proposal:

      In totality, the EC has stated that USB-C with a unified fast charging technology implementation should become the standard. While the charger should be unbundled by OEMs, they are required to be more transparent towards consumers in terms of informing them about charging performance and support for fast charging, so that users can judge if their existing chargers fulfill respective criteria.

      In terms of next steps, the legislation will need to go through a vote in the European Parliament today, and if successful, it will become law. Should that happen, hardware manufacturers will have up to two years to adopt USB-C as the standard. The legislation is most likely to affect Apple devices such as iPhones the most, as they still come with proprietary Lightning ports and cables. Should the proposal become law, Apple will be forced to substitute Lightning connectivity with USB-C ports across its device portfolio - where applicable - within the next two years.

    • By zikalify
      YouTube expands voting information to help inform users
      by Paul Hill

      As we head towards the 2020 U.S. presidential election, YouTube has made improvements to give users authoritative voting information when they browse content relating to the 2020 presidential or federal Congressional candidates on YouTube. The panel will provide users with information on candidates in the search results.

      In addition, if someone looks on YouTube to find out how to register to vote or how to vote, YouTube will provide additional information panels on these topics. The information will be available in both English and Spanish to reach the highest number of people.

      In the run-up to voting day, YouTube and its other social media accounts will provide information on how to register, how to vote, and where to vote. Additionally, it’ll display information from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission about volunteering at the polls so you can get more involved.

      As YouTube is a video platform with live streaming capabilities, you’ll be able to tune into live coverage from various sources during election events including the debates, election night coverage, and the inauguration. Going forward, YouTube is striving to be a reliable source of news and information and a place where healthy political discourse can take place.

    • By zikalify
      Twitter begins U.S. voter registration campaign
      by Paul Hill

      Twitter has announced that it has formed a partnership with National Voter Registration Day to encourage more Americans to register for the upcoming presidential election. Users will be encouraged by various means on Twitter to register to vote or confirm their registration.

      Users that are located in the United States will see a new prompt on their home timeline encouraging them to register to vote or confirm their registration using a service called TurboVote run by Democracy Works, a non-partisan and non-profit organization. This will help to ensure nobody who wants to vote gets turned away at the polling station.

      Other measures being taken to encourage voting include:

      A push alert being displayed that directs users to a page full of voter registration information. It will be available in more than 40 languages depending on each person’s app settings. A promoted campaign run by @TwitterGov will take over today’s U.S. Promoted Trend Spotlight with registration resources from TurboVote. A new Twitter hashtag emoji is being introduced with #NationalVoterRegistrationDay and #VoteReady is being introduced to “empower civic conversation” across the country. Going forward, Twitter says it will publish additional voting-related notices as the election gets closer. By ensuring people are registered to vote, the firm is helping to make sure that everyone in the country entitled to a vote gets their say.

    • By zikalify
      Facebook to help scholars assess social media's impact on elections
      by Paul Hill

      As a result of the growing cognisance that Facebook holds sway over the way people vote on political matters, the firm has announced that it will be granting select scholars access to data in order to see exactly what effects social media has on voters.

      Alongside Facebook, a commission of experts will be chosen with different political outlooks, expertise, life experiences, gender, ethnicity, and from a broad range of countries. Firstly, they’ll prioritise what they want the research to identify; secondly, they’ll work with Facebook to develop requests for research proposals in order to meet the research agenda; and thirdly, the body will manage a peer review process to select which scholars receive funding and get access to privacy-protected datasets in order to answer the agenda questions.

      In the announcement, Facebook discussed how it would keep user data secure:

      The research that the commission decides it wants to publish will be published without any interference, according to Facebook. The social media giant said it is committed to transparency around “the rationale for the structure and membership of the commission."

      Facebook said the project will get financial backing from the likes of the John and Laura Arnold Foundation, Democracy Fund, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Charles Koch Foundation, the Omidyar Network, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

      Source: Facebook

    • By Joshua Usen
      Virginia plans to replace voting machines by November
      by Usen Joshua O.

      The State Elections Board of Virginia, on Friday the 8th of September, approved a plan to replace the direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machines used currently in the state due to concerns about hacking in future elections. This was as a result of a memo issued by the Virginia State Department of Elections which recommended that the current DRE voting machines be decertified due to a lack of verifiable paper trails by which voting figures can be tallied against for confirmation.

      The DRE voting machines use a touchscreen for selecting candidates which are consequently recorded electronically. Moreover, the memo included the mention of a review by the Virginia Information Technology Agency (VITA) which raised concerns because "in each of the systems, the potential for loss of vote is significant as none of the machines appear to produce paper audit trails during the voting process.” Nevertheless, authors of the memo noted that "concerns with DRE [voting machines] are not new", and pointed out previous DEFCON hacking conferences which involved the hacking of voting machines.

      The memo which was sent to the State Election Board members by Edgardo Cortes, the Commissioner for the Department of Elections, officially recommends that:

      The State of Virginia had previously passed a law which mandated that the touchscreen voting machines be decertified by 2020, but the memo which has been approved by the state board has moved forward the timetable to not more than 60 days from the memo release date. The new deadline being November 7th effectively puts Virginia on a fast track to decertify and replace the machines in the affected counties. Furthermore, the deadline is of political significance because, on that date, the State of Virginia will be holding the governorship election and various other elections around the state.

      Edgardo Cortés confirmed to Politico that election boards of other states had been notified of its recommendations.

      Source: Virginia Department of Elections via Engadget, Politico | Image via Reuters