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Technology

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Updated at 5:57 p.m. ET

Ransomware hit at least six countries Tuesday, including Ukraine, where it was blamed for a large and coordinated attack on key parts of the nation's infrastructure, from government agencies and electric grids to stores and banks.

The malware has been called "Petya" — but there is debate in the security community over whether the ransomware is new or a variant that has been enhanced to make it harder to stop.

The European Union says Google unfairly abused its power over search results to promote its results over competitors. It's the biggest fine the EU has ever given a single company in an anti-trust case. The company has 90 days to fix the problem or it gets fined more.

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The European Commission has fined Google 2.42 billion euros ($2.72 billion) after finding that the company used its dominant search engine to drive people toward another Google product, its shopping service.

"What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules," said European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager. "It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate. And most importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services and the full benefits of innovation."

Google will no longer scan emails in Gmail accounts in order sell targeted advertising, the company said Friday.

Passengers at Boston's Logan International Airport were surfing their phones and drinking coffee, waiting to board a flight to Aruba recently when a JetBlue agent came on the loudspeaker, announcing: "Today, we do have a unique way of boarding."

On flights to the Caribbean island, JetBlue is experimenting with facial recognition software that acts as a boarding pass. The airline says it's about convenience. For the federal government, it's also about national security. But for privacy activists, it's an intrusive form of surveillance.

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It's summer vacation season and many families will be lucky enough to be heading off for at least a few days. At least half of parents say quality time together is the most important reason to take a family vacation, according to a national survey by the rental car company Alamo.

When principal Kelli Hoffman ran into her students at a McDonald's during summer break, she knew they weren't there for the McNuggets.

The two rising eighth-graders at French Middle School had invested in a Coke to unlock a bigger prize: free Wi-Fi. They sat logged into their school-provided Chromebooks studying exercise ideas from their sports coaches.

Hoffman's district, Topeka Public Schools in Kansas, is one of a rising number of systems that are letting students take their school-issued devices home over the summer months.

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Arkansas's pesticide regulators have stepped into the middle of an epic battle between weeds and chemicals, which has now morphed into a battle between farmers. Hundreds of farmers say their crops have been damaged by a weedkiller that was sprayed on neighboring fields. Today, the Arkansas Plant Board voted to impose an unprecedented ban on that chemical.

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Federal regulators on Thursday said they've identified "the perpetrator of one of the largest ... illegal robocalling campaigns" they have ever investigated.

The Federal Communications Commission has proposed a $120 million fine for a Miami resident said to be single-handedly responsible for almost 97 million robocalls over just the last three months of 2016.

Officials say Adrian Abramovich auto-dialed hundreds of millions of phone calls to landlines and cellphones in the U.S. and Canada and at one point even overwhelmed an emergency medical paging service.

What Hath Jobs Wrought?

Jun 22, 2017

Think back ten years. If someone told you then that within the next decade, you would have a device that fits in your pocket, lets you play any song, watch any movie or take a really good photo, you might’ve believed them. But what if they told you that the same device would lead to thousands of car accidents every year? That the President of the United States would use the device to post messages accusing his predecessor of wiretapping him?

Is Big Tech Getting Too Big?

Jun 22, 2017

Uber founder Travis Kalanick just resigned as CEO after a controversial run, but he leaves behind a very powerful company — one worth an estimated $70 billion.

In May 2015, then-President Barack Obama signed into law legislation that created a new kind of public emergency notification — the Blue Alert.

It's similar to the well-known Amber Alert for abducted children, but is meant to help catch people who credibly threaten or actually harm law enforcement officials.

If you're standing in the blazing sun struggling to read this on your cellphone, there may be some relief in sight.

And you'll have a moth to thank.

The reason you have to find shade to read your phone is the way the light reflects off the screen. The reflection reduces contrast, washing out images.

Social media companies are under pressure to block terrorist activity on their sites, and Facebook recently detailed new measures, including using artificial intelligence, to tackle the problem.

The measures are designed to identify terrorist content like recruitment and propaganda as early as possible in an effort to keep people safe, says Monika Bickert, the company's director of global policy management.

If you think of a company as a sports team — let's say, basketball — then Uber is at a point where the players are still on the court, but the coaches and general manager are gone, the arena is filled with jeers and the owner's hair is on fire.

What's Washington Got To Hide?

Jun 21, 2017

For all the talk of a new era of transparency, it seems like more and more of the U.S. government’s business is taking place behind closed doors.

That’s cause for concern on both sides of the aisle.

Intel says it will bring virtual reality, drones and 360-degree to future Olympics, after signing a deal to become a worldwide Olympic partner through 2024. The company says it will bring its technical prowess to the upcoming Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Intel "will accelerate the adoption of technology for the future of sports on the world's largest athletic stage," CEO Brian Krzanich said in a statement about the company's plan.

The video is mesmerizing, if a bit noisy: Moving in a figure-eight pattern, elementary school students hop over a jump rope with perfect timing, setting a new Guinness World Record with an incredible 225 skips in one minute.

Updated at 1:56 p.m. ET

If two nearly simultaneous hearings Wednesday by the House and Senate Intelligence Committees into Russia's meddling in last year's presidential election revealed anything, it's that U.S. officials saw what was going on but were all but powerless to stop it.

In his prepared remarks, former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said the Russian government, "at the direction of Vladimir Putin himself, orchestrated cyberattacks on our Nation for the purpose of influencing our election — plain and simple."

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Resigns

Jun 21, 2017

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Uber Co-Founder Travis Kalanick Resigns Under Pressure As CEO

Jun 21, 2017

Updated at 9:50 a.m. ET

The chief of Uber has resigned. Travis Kalanick, under pressure from his top investors, announced his departure Tuesday night. The move, which comes as a surprise to employees, plunges one of the largest private companies on Earth into an even bigger leadership vacuum.

A week ago, Kalanick said he was stepping away from his position as CEO temporarily, taking a leave of absence to mourn his mother, who recently died in a boating accident, and to work on his leadership, to grow into "Travis 2.0."

Jorge Santiago Aguirre is a lawyer at the Centro de Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez, a major human rights group in Mexico City, so he was curious when he got this text message in April 2016:

"Mr. Jorge this is Juan Magarino," it read in Spanish. "Please help with my brother Heriberto a teacher who has been kidnapped by police it's a crime."

Then, there was a hyperlink.

He says the text didn't feel like random spamming.

"It was related to information that was personal to us," he says.

This amazing kid got to enjoy 19 awesome years on this Planet. What he left behind is wondtacular.

See why we have an absolutely ridiculous standard of beauty in just 37 seconds.

A boy makes anti-Muslim comments in front of an American soldier. The soldier's reply: priceless.

You know it well. The Upworthy headline. That model of building curiosity by keeping the true topic of a story hidden until you click.

The Florida elections vendor that was targeted in Russian cyberattacks last year has denied a recent report based on a leaked National Security Agency document that the company's computer system was compromised.

There is a certain kind of look I get when I tell people how much I love video games.

It lies somewhere between "You're not serious" and "Oh my God, you are serious." And by "people" giving me these looks, I mean adults of a certain age and outlook. Of course, given that I'm a 54-year-old tenured professor, these "people" are pretty much everyone I know (including my now adult children).

So today, I want to speak to all of you "look-givers" and attempt to explain why you, too, should become a gamer.

Basically, it comes down to robot dinosaurs.

There's a good chance something you've bought online has been in the hands of a "picker" first. These are the workers in warehouses who pick, pack and ship all those things we're ordering.

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