Snapchat registered with Russian regulator 'unknowingly'

The logo of messaging app Snapchat is seen at a booth at TechFair LA, a technology job fair, in Los Angeles, California,Image copyright Reuters Image caption Snapchat has been registered with a Russian regulator

Snapchat's parent company says the US messaging app has been registered with Russia's technology regulator without its knowledge.

Snap told the BBC that the Roskomnadzor agency had unilaterally put it on its register of information distributors.

The move means Snapchat will be required to keep all messages for six months and make them accessible to the Russian security services.

Snap said it had no intention of complying with the rule.

A spokesman for the company said it had provided "very basic contact information" to Roskomnadzor, but "not for the purpose of registering us".

Snap is the first Western social media company to find itself on the list.Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger have not been added.

Russia's new data laws require "information distribution organisers" to register with the regulator and store users' data for six months.The requirements come into force next year.

Companies must also hand over their encryption keys when asked, in line with Russian anti-terror legislation.

Russian sites VKontakte and RuTube have all signed up, according to technology website Gizmodo[2], while Telegram added its name to the list after pressure from local authorities[3].

Non-compliance comes with a risk.Chinese messaging service WeChat was blocked earlier this year, Russian website VC.Ru reported [in Russian][4].

Snap does not have a specific figure for Russian users, but says there are 57 million daily users in Europe as a whole....

References

  1. ^ Is Russia losing the war against piracy? (www.bbc.co.uk)
  2. ^ Gizmodo (gizmodo.com)
  3. ^ pressure from local authorities (www.bbc.co.uk)
  4. ^ [in Russian] (vc.ru)

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US warns of fidget spinner fire and choking hazards

A purple fidget spinnerImage copyright Getty Images Image caption Parents are advised to be careful when charging fidget spinners, and to warn children not to put them in their mouths

A US government body has released safety guidance for battery-operated fidget spinners, following incidents of the toys catching fire.

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is advising people[1] to avoid charging the toys, some of which are Bluetooth-enabled, overnight.

Children of all ages are also warned not to put fidget spinners of any kind in their mouths.

A recent BBC investigation discovered unsafe toys on sale in the UK[2].

Although intended for stress relief and popular with both children and adults, fidget spinners have also reportedly been the cause of accidents.

"Fidget spinner users or potential buyers should take some precautions," CPSC's acting chairwoman Ann Marie Buerkle said in a statement.

"Keep them from small children.The plastic and metal spinners can break and release small pieces that can be a choking hazard, and older children should not put fidget spinners in their mouths."

The commission wants all retailers to ensure that fidget spinners marketed at children aged 12 and under meet the US Toy Standard ASTM F963-16.

Fire hazards

In June, a Bluetooth-enabled fidget spinner that played music reportedly burst into flames[3] after being left to charge for 45 minutes in a family home in Alabama.The gadget left a burn on the carpet but was discovered by the family before it caused more damage.

And in May, another battery-operated fidget spinner caught fire after being charged for less than half an hour, according to Michigan local TV station NBC 25 News[4].

The toy had been sold without its own charger, so the family had used one from another device.

"Like any battery-operated product, consumers should be present and pay attention to their devices while charging them," said Ms Buerkle.

"It is important to use the charging cable that either comes with the fidget spinner, or one that has the correct connections for the device, as charging cables are not interchangeable."...

References

  1. ^ advising people (cpsc.gov)
  2. ^ discovered unsafe toys on sale in the UK (www.bbc.co.uk)
  3. ^ burst into flames (www.ibtimes.co.uk)
  4. ^ NBC 25 News (nbc25news.com)

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Google cancels all-staff diversity meeting

Google logo with silhouette of womanImage copyright Google

Google has cancelled an all-staff meeting to discuss a controversial memo about diversity written by former engineer James Damore.

It is reported that some staff members were concerned about being singled out online if they were identified while they spoke out during the meeting.

The firm said it would "find a better way" to help employees discuss the issues raised by the memo.

Mr Damore was fired for breaking Google's code of conduct.

He had suggested in his internal note that there were fewer women in tech and leadership positions because of biological differences.

According to Google's most recent diversity figures[1], 80% of its tech workforce and 75% of its leaders are men.

"We need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism," Mr Damore wrote in his note, which was widely criticised.

Mr Damore said he had been sent messages of support from some staff at the tech giant and he also received a job offer from Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who tweeted "censorship is for losers".

Google's new vice-president Danielle Brown said that Mr Damore's view "advanced incorrect assumptions about gender".

"We are unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success as a company, and we'll continue to stand for that and be committed to it for the long haul," she wrote in a statement published by Motherboard.[4]


Analysis:Zoe Kleinman, technology reporter

The ongoing lack of diversity in the entire tech sector is an issue that has grown an even bigger head of steam in recent months, with a steady stream of stories about big firms and big names being held to account.

Women who work in the industry are increasingly choosing to speak out about their experiences in this male-dominated domain, and to challenge the statistics that demonstrate that they remain a minority, despite high-profile campaigns and initiatives aimed at redressing the balance.

James Damore's suggestion that it is because they are biologically less suited to it has caused considerable anger, particularly among those who have forged successful Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) careers.

Google has been very clear that Mr Damore did not speak on its behalf but it has also faced criticism for firing him, with critics suggesting that the action went against the firm's principle of free speech....

References

  1. ^ most recent diversity figures (www.google.com)
  2. ^ Was Google wrong to fire memo author? (www.bbc.co.uk)
  3. ^ Does Silicon Valley have a sexism problem? (www.bbc.co.uk)
  4. ^ published by Motherboard. (motherboard.vice.com)

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