Archives
  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Federal authorities have seized the website backpage.com and affiliated websites, according to a notice posted by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies on the site on Friday.The notice did not detail the reason for the seizure but noted that Justice Department's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, as well as the offices of the Texas attorney general and California attorney general, were involved.Backpage.com, an online classifieds site, advertises everything from cars to furniture.However, critics have said that the bulk of its revenue comes from its adult-oriented section, which advertises for “escorts” and "sensual massages."
    Read more...
  • Mary Sharp(LOS ANGELES) -- Passengers returning home from a two-week cruise on the Norwegian Sun are irate, saying what should have been the vacation of a lifetime felt more like living on a floating construction site.The cruise on the Norwegian Sun departed from Miami on March 16 and arrived in Los Angeles on March 31.According to passengers, after the ship departed, work began on several areas of the ship. Passengers took pictures of thick dust and parts of the ship roped off with yellow caution tape, as well as recorded video of loud noise."It was a full-blown construction going on. There was multiple decks, multiple areas," passenger Wayne Jenkins told CTV News recently.After the ship traveled through the Panama Canal, passengers said, they started smelling chemicals used to resurface multiple ship decks. They even posted images on social media with their faces covered to protect them from what they said was thick dust."I want to know what the heck we were exposed to," said Jenkins, who said the cruise had been a "bucket list" adventure for his 82-year-old father.Some of the more than 2,000 passengers on board the ship even created a Facebook group titled Panama Canal Sun, detailing their ordeals.One passenger told CTV News that she'd even taken her concerns to the ship's captain."[They] were as helpful as they could be," Jill Davies said, "but it was quite clear that it was way beyond their control. This was a decision made by their head office."Norwegian Cruise Lines told ABC News in an email that it had apologized to its passengers and offered them a free cruise.Norwegian Cruise Line told ABC News: "At Norwegian Cruise Line, the travel experience, safety and satisfaction of our guests is of the utmost importance to us. Recently Norwegian Sun underwent enhancements as part of our continuous efforts to ensure that every ship across the fleet delivers a consistently high-quality passenger experience."While we do our utmost to minimize any impact to our guests when these enhancements are being implemented, we do recognize that during a recent sailing, we did not meet the expectations of our guests, nor our own standards, for which we truly apologize. Norwegian Cruise Line is inviting the guests on the March 16th Norwegian Sun voyage to cruise again and fully experience all that Norwegian has to offer with a 100 percent future cruise credit of their fare paid, which can be applied toward another cruise of their choice from now through March 31, 2023. We realize that this gesture cannot replace their recent experience but do hope to have the opportunity to welcome them on board again soon."Jenkins said he just wants a refund.
    Read more...
  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Stocks plunged on Friday with the Dow dropping more than 570 points over fears of a trade war between the U.S. and China.The Dow Jones Industrial Average sunk 572.46 (-2.34 percent) to finish the session at 23,932.76.The Nasdaq fell 161.44 (-2.28 percent) to close at 6,915.11, while the S&P 500 finished trading at 2,604.47, down 58.37 (-2.19 percent) for the day.Crude oil prices slumped 2.5 percent to about $62 per barrel.Trade:  China on Friday threatened to fight back "at any cost" after President Donald Trump proposed $100 billion in new tariffs. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said on CNBC that there's the "potential of a trade war" with China, but "our objective is still not to be in a trade war." Facebook:  Shares of Facebook slipped 1.34 percent as it continues to battle its data privacy scandal. On Friday, the social media site announced new disclosure measures for political ads.
    Read more...
  • WABC-TV(NEW YORK) -- Two suspects who in broad daylight stole nearly $350,000 from a Target in New York City are being sought by both the FBI and New York police.Two masked men entered the vault room of a Target department store in the Bronx in New York City at around 8:15 a.m. on March 26, authorities said.They stuffed what turned out to be almost $350,000 into a duffel bag and ran out of the store, hopping onto a blue-and-white motorcycle to get away, authorities said. No Target customer or employees were hurt in the robbery.The FBI and the NYPD's violent crime task force are investigating and consider the pair armed and dangerous.
    Read more...
  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Amazon's Echo smart speaker starts up after a user calls for Alexa, the artificial intelligence that powers the device, but a recent patent suggests that the next step for the device may be listening in on any conversation -- not just after the "Alexa" command is said by its user.An algorithm proposed in a pending patent filed by the e-commerce giant in 2017 shows advanced artificial intelligence that would allow an Amazon device to listen to a conversation and analyze it for certain words that are said.A "voice sniffer algorithm" is what the patent calls the technology."The more words they collect, the more the company gets to know you," Daniel Burrus, a tech analyst with Burrus Research Associates, Inc., told ABC News. "They are building a personality profile on the user."The algorithm uses positive trigger words like, "prefer" and "bought" or negative trigger words such as, "hate" or "disliked," and then the device can "capture adjacent audio that can be analyzed" for keywords, gauging interest levels in various products."The identified keywords can be stored and/or transmitted to an appropriate location accessible to entities such as advertisers or content providers who can use the keywords to attempt to select or customize content that is likely relevant to the user," according to the patent.Amazon could offer "personalized offers on products, encourage [a user] to take action, or better persuade someone to buy a product," Burrus said of the pending patent.The data could also be made available to friends of the user for gift buying, according to the patent.The patent has not yet been approved by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and tech companies often file hundreds, if not thousands of patents a year. However, not every patent is approved by the USPTO.Amazon was granted 1,963 patent applications in 2017, which was an 18 percent increase from the year before when they were awarded 1,672 patents, according to data from the USPTO analyzed by IFI Claims Patent Services, a company that provides patent data services.Though it seems like a lot, Amazon was not even in the top ten companies that were granted patents in 2017 -- International Business Machines Corp., IBM, was granted over 9,000 patents and Samsung Electronics was granted almost 6,000 patents, according to IFI Claims analysis.The move to analyze conversations as a means to discern users' interests may amplify Alexa's intelligence, according to Daniel Ives, a tech analyst with GBH Insights."This further builds on Alexa and more data intelligence and analysis through voice that is a major initiative for Amazon," he said. "This algorithm would possibly feed from Alexa into the rest of the Amazon consumer flywheel, ultimately helping drive purchasing and buying behavior of Prime members."The patent gives examples, including, "... in sentences such as 'I love skiing' or 'I like to swim' the words 'like' and 'love' could be examples [of] trigger words indicating a level of interest."The patent describes what may be interpreted as a device listening in on conversations, Peter Kent, an e-commerce consultant and expert witness on internet technology patents, told ABC News.However, the patent does say that "a user can have the option of activating or deactivating the sniffing or voice capture processes, for purposes such as privacy and data security," and users must indicate a "willingness to have voice content analyzed" for the trigger-word algorithms to work. The patent may also allow video cameras on devices to "capture image information to attempt to determine which user is speaking."An Amazon spokesman told ABC News in a statement that the company takes "seriously" the privacy of its customers."We take privacy seriously and have built multiple layers of privacy into our devices. We do not use customers' voice recordings for targeted advertising," the Amazon spokesman said in the statement. "Like many companies, we file
    Read more...