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Waymo vs Uber Revolves Around Allegations of Deceit, Betrayal, espionage & A High-Tech Heist


Waymo sued Uber, accusing it of ripping off key pieces of its self-driving car  technology in 2016. Uber paid $680 million for a startup run by Anthony Levandowski, one of the top engineers in a robotic vehicle project that Google began in 2009 and later became in Waymo.

Google was also an early investor in Uber, the relationship eventually soured. Its parent company Alphabet also owns Waymo.

Waymo has drawn a sordid picture, contending that Levandowski stole thousands of documents containing Google trade secrets before defecting to Uber. Waymo says Levandowski conspired with former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick to use the pilfered technology in Uber’s own fleet of self-driving cars.

Uber has boldly denied the allegations in the civil case, which has also triggered a criminal investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. It’s not clear whether that probe is focused on Uber or Levandowski, who has consistently exercised his right against self-incrimination and is expected to do so again if called to testify during the trial.

Levandowski’s refusal to relinquish his Fifth Amendment rights eventually led Uber to fire him last May, even though he had developed a close relationship with Kalanick.

The stakes in the trial are humongous. Waymo is demanding damages estimated at nearly $2 billion. It also wants a court order that would prevent Uber from using any of the technology that it says was stolen, a move that could hobble the ride-hailing service’s push to design self-driving cars.

The courtroom drama will feature an intriguing cast of characters. The list of expected witnesses includes both the combative Kalanick and Silicon Valley venture capitalist Bill Gurley, an early Uber backer who later helped engineer Kalanick’s departure as Uber’s CEO. (Kalanick resigned under pressure last June.)

Two of the world’s richest people, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, may also be called to testify about the importance of Waymo’s self-driving project and Levandowski’s role in it.

Both Waymo and Uber each will have only have a total of 16 hours to make their case. That time restraint could prove more daunting for Waymo. It will have to educate a 10-person jury about the intricacies of the eight trade secrets that Uber is accused of stealing, then prove the ride-hailing service used the technology in its vehicles or improperly shared it with others.

The lawsuit has already established internal documents and sworn testimony that exposed spying programs and other shady tactics deployed by Uber to expand its business.

Furthermore, Uber has acknowledged allowing rampant sexual harassment to occur within its ranks, a yearlong cover-up of a major computer break-in and a $100,000 ransom paid to the hackers, and the use of duplicitous software to thwart government regulators.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup has emphasized that Waymo faces the difficult challenge of proving that the ride-hailing service used stolen technology in its self-driving cars.



UnWanted Robo Calls

Robocalls beat out live spam calls by a significant margin.

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) data released a report last week revealing 4.5 million consumers complaints about robocalls in 2017, way up from 2016’s 3.4 million. For every single month of the year, robocalls topped the list of “Do Not Call” violations, and they came in six common forms:

  • Reducing your debt (credit cards, mortgage, student loans)
  • Dropped call or no message
  • Vacation & timeshares
  • Warranties & protection plans
  • Calls pretending to be government, businesses, or family and friends
  • Medical & prescriptions
  • Religious Organizations

In addition to all the complaints, use of the “Do Not Call” registry has exploded since it was started in 2003. 10 million numbers were registered in the first four days after launch, and the registry now hosts 226 million active registrations.

25,000 Children In Britain Are Problem Gamblers

About 25,000 children aged between 11 and 16 are problem gamblers, with many learning to bet via computer games and social media.  The commission has learned that approximately 370,000 (12%) children in England, Scotland and Wales have gambled in the past week, . More than quarter of a million children gambled with a licensed operator, such as a bookmaker or online casino. About 25,000, are defined as problem gamblers, with a further 36,000 at risk of developing a problem. Fruit machines remain the most common introduction to gambling for young people at 24%, followed by the National Lottery at 21%.

The commission also learned that children were increasingly being exposed to gambling in less traditional ways, such as through eSports (computer games competitions) and via social media.

The report found that 11% of children took part in skins betting, allowing online gamers to bet using in-game items, such as weapons or outfits, which can have real monetary value if traded.

Skins betting, an industry worth up to $5.1bn (£3.8bn) last year according to one US report, is a common feature of games such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

Earlier this year, two men were convicted for running a website that allowed children to bet on the Fifa series of online football games.

More than one in 10 children reported having played casino-style games, which simulate roulette or fruit machines, on Facebook or smartphone apps.

Uber Accused Of Espionage, By Former Employee

The judge in the $1.86 billion legal battle between ride-hailing giant Uber and Alphabet’s self-driving unit Waymo case, released a damning letter based on the account of a former Uber employee. The letter alleges that a special division within Uber was responsible for acts of corporate espionage, the theft of trade secrets, the bribery of foreign officials and various means of unlawful surveillance.

The company solicited undercover agents to collect intelligence against the taxi groups and local political figures. The agents took rides in local taxis, loitered around locations where taxi drivers congregated, and leveraged a local network of contacts with connections to police and regulatory authorities..

The “Jacobs letter” was written by the attorney for Richard Jacobs, who previously worked as Uber’s manager of global intelligence before being fired in April. The highly detailed account brings about accusations of systematic illegal activity inside Uber’s Strategic Services Group (SSG) which allegedly sought to surface other companies’ trade secrets through eavesdropping and data collection. The letter alleges that some of the information gathered was relayed to then-CEO Travis Kalanick.

The trial has been delayed until February 2018 to give the Waymo legal team more time to investigate claims Jacob’s claims.

New York City Council Passed Legislation To Address Algorithm Discrimination


The New York City Council yesterday passed legislation seeking to address problems with Algorithms which can determine which school a child can attend, whether a person will be offered credit from a bank, what products are advertised to consumer, and whether someone will receive an interview for a job. Government officials also use them to predict where crimes will take place, who is likely to commit a crime and whether someone should be allowed out of jail on bail. The algorithms used in facial recognition technology, for example, have been shown to be less accurate on Black people, women, and juveniles.

The new bill seeking the signature of Mayor Bill de Blasio. States:

This bill would require the creation of a task force that provides recommendations on how information on agency automated decision systems may be shared with the public and how agencies may address instances where people are harmed by agency automated decision systems.

The task force would need to be formed within three months of the bill’s signing, and importantly it must include “persons with expertise in the areas of fairness, accountability and transparency relating to automated decision systems and persons affiliated with charitable corporations that represent persons in the city affected by agency automated decision systems.”

The New York division of the ACLU has argued in favor of it.

See The bill Here,

Curbing Fake Academic Credentials


It  appears that it is very easy to get a fake academic certificate from any major urban centers. The buyer of the fake certificate dont have to worry about the authenticity of the signatures or paper quality – all that is sorted out by the fraudsters.

The discussion is often about whether you want a PhD, master’s or bachelor’s degree. Additionally, the more prestigious the university you want to claim to have graduated from , the more  money you will be required to pay for the fake certificate.

Once you have the fake paper in your hands, you can apply for prominent jobs, particularly in the public sector, where job security is so high that getting fired at a later stage is more complicated and costly.

Employers find it time-consuming to authenticate or verify that glimmering certificate from the purported universities for various reasons.

In developed economies, the data protection laws do not allow universities to disclose the private credentials of students to third parties – unless the students expressly and explicitly ask them to make the disclosure.

MIT and the University of Melbourne are pioneering this approach and solution to this problem. Blockchain technology-providing a decentralised ledger that is globally accessible, immutable, secure and with the support of anonymity. Universities can record student academic certificates into the global blockchain, allowing graduates to access their credentials from anywhere across the globe and share them with potential employers.

Click Here For More


Department of Justice sues To Block At&T /Time Warner Merger

All that Power

The Justice Department sued to block the company’s AT&T’s $85.4 billion bid to buy Time Warner Inc.

 A judge will determine whether the combination of AT&T and Time Warner would give the new entity too much power in the fast-changing media landscape.

 It is assume that AT&T will surely press for a decision before April 22, the date before which the two companies can walk away without penalty.

The first major antitrust enforcement action to be brought by the Trump administration — dealt a blow to a tie-up that appeared to be sailing toward approval as recently as a month ago. That was before Makan Delrahim, was appointed to head the Justice Department’s antitrust division.

Delrahim contents that the merger would  harm American consumers enormously. Resulting in higher monthly television bills and fewer of the new, emerging innovative options that consumers are beginning to enjoy. 

The White House has traditionally stayed at arm’s length from merger reviews. Trump told reporters during his recent trip to Asia that the deal might be challenged in court.

 Time Warner and AT&T combined, could use its control over programming like CNN and HBO to harm rivals by forcing them to pay hundreds of millions of dollars more per year for the right to distribute the content, according to the 23-page complaint. The deal also would enable AT&T to impede competition from online video distributors, which would reduce choices for consumers, according to the complaint.

The government is open to dropping the lawsuit if the companies offer a proposal to fix the competitive harm from the deal, a Justice Department official said.

Currently there have been accusations that the Justice Department, driven by political meddling from the Trump White House, is pursuing a risky case that it’s bound to lose.

The Complaint

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