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Google, Facebook, Twitter resist China’s attempt to censor Hong Kong

China is trying to curb free speech

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Google, Facebook, and Twitter have temporarily stopped processing government requests for user data in Hong Kong. A new security law went into effect on July 1 and Google immediately paused processing requests.

Even WhatsApp has stopped processing further requests. The controversial law is seen as an attempt by China to curb free speech in the former British colony.

Pro-democracy protestors are worried the new law will be used to censor the internet. Twitter cited “grave concerns” about the law”s implications.

This is seen as China’s broader plan to establish its supremacy and expand its ideology. The new law includes the ability to ask publishers to remove information deemed as a threat to national security. Refusal to enact the request could result in a fine or jail time.

Tech companies work in tandem with local law enforcement agencies to moderate content on their platforms. With the new law, processing Hong Kong government’s request would indirectly mean handing over user data and endangering pro-democracy protestors.

In simpler terms, you could be jailed for a social media post that says anything against the administration.

Citizens are actively switching to messaging apps like Signal that provide end-to-end encryption. This helps in masking your identity to a great extent.

Previously, when the internet was shut down to curb protests, citizens used offline messaging apps like Bridgefy and FireChat to spread the world and coordinate protest efforts.

Mainland China has a firewalled internet that is highly censored and constantly surveilled. The irony is, ByteDance’s TikTok isn’t available in China while the rest of the world can freely use it.

TikTok has also officially announced it will be exiting Hong Kong within a few days. But this move is seen as a smokescreen to avoid its Chinese origin.

SEE ALSO: 6 tips to make your phone more private and secure

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Yahoo Groups is shutting down this December

Another Yahoo service bites the dust

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For a long time, Yahoo was the behemoth in email and online communication. However, the company is gradually fading to irrelevance with most of its services being shut down in recent years. The latest service to be shattered is Yahoo Groups, which will cease operation come December 15, 2020.

Verizon — Yahoo’s current owner — recently announced the shutdown of the service through a message posted on its website and emails sent to users. The company cited the decline in usage of Yahoo Groups over the recent years as the primary factor in shutting it down.

Actually, the company started phasing out the service last year. The phase-out began last October 2019. On October 21, Verizon effectively removed the user’s ability to create new content on groups. As such, users lost the ability to create new discussions. However, users were still able to create new groups and mass-email conversations with all members despite the initial phase-out.

Fast forward to October 2020, and Yahoo Groups is all but gone. Starting today, users won’t have the ability to create new discussion groups anymore. Mass-email capabilities will remain until December. After that, all of Yahoo Groups will be shut down for good.

Verizon also encourages all users to switch to alternative services to continue any group discussions.

Perhaps, it’s goodbye now for Yahoo Groups, which was once the most popular discussion board site on the Internet. The service first began operating in 2001, lasting for mere 19 years before its shutdown this year. Today, sites like Reddit have provided most of the functionality originally provided by the service.

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Imaging Edge Webcam lets you use Sony cameras for video calls, live streams

Adapting to the new normal

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If you’ve been working from home, chances are you’ve attended more than your fair share of video calls. If you have a Sony camera, you can elevate the quality of your video with the new Imaging Edge Webcam app.

Considering we’re months into being quarantined already, Sony sure took their time in launching this product. That said, it should still be a welcome addition for anyone who might possibly need it.

It currently only supports Windows 10 64bit so you might have to wait a while if you’re using a Mac.

When the feature first launched in August 20, 2020, it only supported Windows 10 64bit. Now, it also supports macOS 10.13-10.15. You may download the desktop app here.

The Sony cameras supported are: Alpha 9 II, Alpha 9, Alpha 7R IV, Alpha 7R III, Alpha 7R II, Alpha 7S II, Alpha 7S, Alpha 7 III,
Alpha 7 II, Alpha 6600, Alpha 6400, Alpha 6100, RX100 VII, RX100 VI, RX0 II, RX0, ZV-1.

There are more cameras supported and we’ll update this article once we have the full list.

Quick note for anyone who will use it: The aspect ratio is automatically set to 16:9. It will remain set to 16:9 after using Imaging Edge Webcam, so set it to the previous value if necessary.

SEE ALSO: The Sony A7S III is a low light video beast

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Google Duplex is now letting users book a haircut appointment

Your full-time assistant

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At Google I/O 2018, Google announced a new feature called Duplex. The feature looks straight out of a sci-fi film because Google Assistant can make calls on your behalf and talk to actual humans. So, if you want to book a barber’s appointment, just summon the assistant, tell them your preferences, and it’ll get the job done!

Google Duplex is trying to be your full-time personal assistant and even though it may seem excessive, the assistant can be extremely handy for people who’re low on time and need a helping hand. According to Venture Beat, some users are now actively able to book a salon appointment thanks to Duplex.

The feature was rolled out in 48 US states, UK, Canada, and Australia. You could previously reserve a restaurant table thanks to Duplex. But the hair salon ability wasn’t actively available yet. When Google first announced Duplex, it had shown calling a barber as one of the case studies. However, it never made it to the public all this time.

It’s possible that programming the assistant to take your preferences and talk accordingly was a complicated task and needed time to develop. If you want to try out the feature, just find a place near you and tap the “Request an Appointment” button. It’ll then ask you haircut preferences, date, time, and other formalities.

When Duplex makes the call, it’ll warn that the call is automated and being recorded. If the other person isn’t fine getting recorded, the system will handover the call to an operator and stop recording.

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