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02.08.17 | 9:36 am

Welcome to America. What’s your Facebook password?

As crazy as it sounds, the Department of Homeland Security is actually considering asking visitors to the United States to hand over their social media passwords as part of ramped-up security measures aimed at refugees and visa applicants from seven predominantly Muslim countries. That's according to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, who reportedly told members of Congress yesterday that the invasive tactic was one of a number of plans being considered: 

"We want to get on their social media, with passwords: What do you do, what do you say?" Kelly said. "If they don't want to cooperate then you don't come in."

Read more from NBC News.

[Photo: Flickr user John Newton]

05.24.17 | 2 hours ago

Viome is a new service that analyzes your spit and poop to help you not get sick

Naveen Jain, founder of space startup Moon Express, has big ideas about how to change the future of health care. Rather than improve medicine and hospitals that treat people when they get sick, he wants to better understand why we get sick in the first place. And the answer, it seems, can be found in our gut, which plays host to 100 trillion microbes.

His newest company, Viome, is a service that allows people to do at-home tests that collect data about their gut, then receive personalized recommendations about diet and exercise through an app that will help optimize energy and well-being, while maintaining a healthy weight. The company is led by a team of AI experts, doctors, research scientists.

05.24.17 | 2 hours ago

Wikimedia has been cleared to sue the NSA …if they dare

A federal appeals court has ruled that the Wikimedia Foundation has grounds to sue the National Security Agency over its warrantless surveillance tools. Now Wikimedia has to decide whether or not to sue the NSA, which based on extensive viewing of Scandal and House of Cards could be a risky proposition.

They were suing the NSA over their use of the "Upstream" surveillance program, which monitored international internet communications by tapping the internet with the help of companies like AT&T and Verizon. Back in 2015, A district judge shot down Wikimedia's case in 2015, on the grounds that they hadn't proved the NSA was actually illegally spying on them, which was a challenge because much of the Upstream program is considered classified. The appeals court has now ruled that Wikimedia was able to show that the NSA was in fact monitoring its communications, even if inadvertently, according to Slashdot. After that ruling, Wikimedia's case can move forward, if they're up for the challenge. At least the ACLU has their back. 

[Photo: Dmgultekin via Wikimedia Commons

05.24.17 | 2 hours ago

Sphero’s Cars 3 Lightning McQueen just made every other toy racing car obsolete

For generations, toy racing cars have stayed essentially the same—they may have added more flashing lights, cooler designs, and faster speeds but were essentially different versions of a hunk of plastic and metal. But the geniuses at Sphero, the company behind the BB-8 Star Wars ball bot and a series of educational tools, just destroyed that paradigm with the Cars 3 Lightning McQueen. "It's the most advanced robotic toy ever," says CEO Paul Berberian—and it's hard to argue with that after seeing the car in action.

Tied to the upcoming Disney movie, the toy brings to life the character with an animatronic mouth (that tells jokes and carries on conversations in the voice of Owen Wilson) and "emotive" suspension that responds to motion and touch. The remote-controlled toy was designed by a team of 40 engineers and designers and sells for $299 in the United States. Believe me, your kid is going to be requesting this for Christmas or their birthday or just about any other day of the year.

05.24.17 | 3 hours ago

John Oliver wants you to contact the FCC to support net neutrality again 

John Oliver has made net neutrality his pet project. After dedicating a segment of Last Week Tonight to the FCC's proposed rollbacks of Obama-era safeguards of net neutrality, he directed viewers to the FCC's website to comment in support of an open internet. He then alerted viewers to the fact that he FCC had stopped taking comments and now he wants people to know that it's once again time to head to GoFCCYourself.com and tell the FCC you support net neutrality. The FCC is accepting comments until August 16 and will make a final decision some time after that.

Hopefully the FCC's website will be able to withstand the flow of comments this time. Previously it claimed its website was shut down from a DDoS attack or perhaps spambots, which some people doubt. Ars Technica has a good breakdown of the arguments.

05.24.17 | 3 hours ago

The Fashion Tech Forum goes to L.A., America’s new fashion capital

The Fashion Tech Forum is an annual gathering of business leaders to discuss the future of the fashion industry. In the past, it's been held in New York, but in a telling move, the event is being held in L.A. this year on October 6th.

Fashion startups like Buck Mason and Reformation have been increasingly making L.A. their home, and the garment district in L.A. is a thriving hub of American clothing manufacturing. Future-thinking designers like Rebecca Minkoff and Tommy Hilfiger have also eschewed New York Fashion Week in favor of alternative events in L.A. 

05.24.17 | 3 hours ago

Floyd wants to give Ikea a run for its money with American-made, non-disposable furniture

Let's face it: we have a love-hate relationship with Ikea. Young urbanites, who are constantly moving, need cheap furniture whenever they move to a new pad; but the quality is not always great, which is okay since the furniture is meant to be temporary and disposable.

Enter Floyd, a Detroit-based furniture company founded in 2013 that has been growing more than two and half times a year since it launch. It creates similarly designed modular pieces, but unlike Ikea, they are designed to be collapsed and rebuilt many times (no tools required!), so you can take your stuff from apartment to apartment. Floyd launched with a few key pieces: a bed, a desk, a shelf. Today, they're expanding their selection with an attachable birch headboard. And there are more pieces in the pipeline coming out in 2017.

05.24.17 | 4 hours ago

Jeff Bezos just gave $1 million to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

The Amazon founder's $1 million gift was the largest in the organization's 46-year history, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press said in a statement. The organization provides pro bono legal representation and other legal resources to protect the rights of journalists in the United States. "This generous gift will help us continue to grow, to offer our legal and educational support to many more news organizations, and to expand our services to independent journalists, nonprofit newsrooms, and documentary filmmakers," Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press chairman David Boardman said.

05.24.17 | 5:32 am

Uber’s general counsel for EMEA just bailed

Jim Callaghan, who was Uber's general counsel for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, has departed the company, Recode reports. His departure is just the latest in an exodus of execs from the company in recent months, including its president, senior vice president of engineering, vice president of global vehicle programs, head of communications, vice president of growth, and head of AI Labs. Callaghan's departure comes after the company was deemed a transportation service—and not just a digital service—by a European court, and thus will have to comply with safety laws that apply to the taxi industry. 

05.24.17 | 5:18 am

Apple is working on a 5G iPhone

But don't expect the advanced cellular technology in the iPhone 8, due this year, or even the iPhone due in 2018. That's because, at the earliest, 5G networks won't begin to roll out in most of the world until 2019. Still, that's only two years away, so the fact that Apple has filed for an experimental license from the FCC to use 5G tech (via Business Insider) shouldn't come as too much of a shock. 

05.24.17 | 5:11 am

A SpaceX technician says the company falsified rocket-building tests

Ex-SpaceX employee Jason Blasdell said he observed that managers were pressuring technicians to sign off on tests of Falcon 9 and Dragon rocket parts that hadn't actually been tested according to protocol, reports Bloomberg. He even went so far as to have a discussion with Elon Musk about the falsified tests and, as a result, he alleges, his concerns were never addressed, and instead he was fired by the company. Blasdell is currently suing the company for wrongful termination in a California court. 

05.23.17 | 9:19 pm

Now you can control your Tesla via a chatbot named Elon 

Sahas Katta, the CEO of a startup called Smartcar, has been thinking about inventive ways to control Tesla's cars for a while. A few years ago, he created a Tesla app for Google's ill-fated Google Glass. And now he's back with Teslabot, which lets people lucky enough to own a Tesla S or X talk to their car via Facebook Messenger.

Teslabot lets you do anything from unlock the doors to vent the sunroof to monitor charging. And Katta gave his bot a human name that—though uncommon among actual humans—is ideal for this particular product: "Elon."  

 

05.23.17 | 7:38 pm

Embrace.io’s new platform helps mobile devs spot issues before losing customers

Currently developers get crash reports when an app fails while you're using it, but they don't always know when something else happens—say the app freezes, there's a tiny glitch, or just a bad design that's making you ditch the app for something else. A new platform launching today, Embrace.io, helps diagnose those issues before they result in lost customers.

Now, most developers use a combination of crash reports, analytics, and logging to figure out where things have gone wrong. A complicated process with mixed results. Embrace.io is instead a unified platform that turns data into solutions that developers can use to create better-performing apps, freeing up time typically spent troubleshooting for writing actual code.

The first platform to provide performance feedback for mobile, along with its launch it also announced $2.5 million in seed funding led by Eniac Ventures, with investments from the Chernin Group, Techstars Ventures, and BoxGroup. Developers can sign up for the limited release on the company's website.