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Tech wrap: Tesla Autopilot crash?; WhatsApp concern; FedEx cyber hit; Facebook expansion; Galaxy Note recycling

Bulldog

Jul, 18 2017, 10:07 AM

In today's Bulldog wrapup of the latest technology news:

The details:

A Minnesota man is blaming Tesla's partially self-driving Autopilot system for a crash over the weekend.

The Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office says David Clark was driving his Tesla Model S sedan with four passengers Saturday evening in Hawick, Minnesota.

Clark told deputies that when he engaged the Autopilot feature, the car suddenly accelerated, left the roadway and overturned in a marsh. Clark and his passengers sustained minor injuries.

Palo Alto, California-based Tesla said it's investigating and will cooperate with local authorities. Tesla said it hasn't yet established whether the vehicle's Autopilot feature was engaged, but it has no reason to believe it worked other than as designed.

Autopilot automatically drives, brakes and keeps the car within a lane. The system requires drivers to continually touch the wheel.

Users of WhatsApp in China and security researchers have reported widespread service disruptions amid fears that the popular messaging service may be at least partially blocked by authorities in the world's most populous country.

WhatsApp users in China reported Tuesday on other social media platforms that the app was partly inaccessible unless virtual private network software was used to circumvent China's censorship apparatus, known colloquially as The Great Firewall.

WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook and offers end-to-end encryption, has a relatively small but loyal following among users seeking a greater degree of privacy from government snooping than afforded by popular domestic app WeChat, which is ubiquitous but closely monitored and filtered.

Questions over WhatsApp's status come at a politically fraught time in China. The government is in the midst of preparing for a sensitive party congress while Chinese censors this week revved up a sprawling effort to scrub all mention of Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate who died Thursday in government custody.

A report this week by the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab detailed how Chinese censors were able to intercept, in real time, images commemorating Liu in private one-on-one chats on WeChat, a feat that hinted at the government's image recognition capabilities.

It appeared that pictures were also the focus of the move to censor WhatsApp. Late Tuesday, users in China could send texts over WhatsApp without the use of VPNs, but not images.

FedEx Corp. says it is still working to recover from a cyberattack that hit its European TNT Express unit, and the incident could have a material impact on its financial results.

Shares of FedEx fell 3.4 percent Monday morning but recovered about half by the close of trading.

FedEx said in a regulatory filing that the June 27 attack was causing lost revenue and higher costs for Netherlands-based TNT, which FedEx bought for $4.8 billion last year.

The so-called Petya attack spread a virus through a Ukrainian tax-software product that was used by TNT. FedEx said that all TNT facilities were running but many tasks were being performed manually and customers were experiencing delays.

Memphis-based FedEx, which first reported the attack on June 28, said systems in the rest of its businesses were not affected. The company said it did not have insurance to cover the attack.

Facebook's plans for New Mexico now call for a half-billion-dollar investment and a data center that will span an area equal to 17 football fields.

Gov. Susana Martinez's office announced early Tuesday that the social media giant will be doubling its investment in the state with the planned expansion of its data center currently under construction near Los Lunas, a rural area just outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico's largest metropolitan area.

The governor praised the announcement, saying Facebook is among the state's key partners as it works to diversify its economy.

"New Mexico's powerful incentives are bringing more opportunities to our state — once again ahead of schedule with more jobs and investment than initially anticipated," the governor said in a statement.

The news comes as New Mexico looks to turn the corner after a crippling budget crisis that stemmed from a downturn in the oil and natural gas sectors and an overall weak economy. The state also has struggled with high unemployment numbers, only recently ending its stretch at the top of the nation's jobless rankings.

Had it not been for the oil and gas downturn, Martinez has said New Mexico's over-the-year job growth in 2016 would have been the strongest it's been in a decade.

Samsung Electronics plans to recover gold and other metals and components from recalled Galaxy Note 7 smartphones to reduce waste.

The South Korean company said Tuesday that it expects to retrieve 157 tons of gold, silver, cobalt, copper and other metals from millions of smartphones that were recalled and discontinued last year after their batteries were found to be prone to catching fire.

It didn't say how it would use the retrieved metals

The phones' display modules, memory chips, camera models and other components will be separated from the Note 7 for sale or recycling, Samsung said in a statement.

In another effort to reduce waste, Samsung has begun selling 400,000 units of Galaxy Note FE phones in South Korea made from unused parts of recalled Note 7 smartphones.

The Note 7 crisis was one of the biggest black eyes in Samsung's recent history, costing the company more than $5 billion. Airlines banned passengers from carrying Note 7s on flights due to safety concerns and millions of smartphones were shipped back to Samsung.





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