Google Chrome Has a Piracy Problem, Microsoft Updates Old Programs… [Tech News Digest]
A Chrome bug lets you record streaming movies, your favorite Windows program is back as an app, YouTube is now live on mobile, Facebook tackles its political bias, and the man who married his smartphone.
Google Chrome Enables Movie Piracy
Two security researchers have discovered a way of recording video streams playing through Google Chrome, which has the potential to turn Google’s web browser into a pirate’s wet dream. Google has been made aware of the issue, but hasn’t yet issued a patch fixing the flaw.
According to Wired, David Livshits of the Ben-Gurion University in Israel and Alexandra Mikityuk of Telekom Innovatio Laboratories in Berlin, discovered the flaw, and posted the above video demonstrating it in action. It shows an encrypted HTML5 video stream (What is HTML5? ) being captured as it plays.
The problem stems from Google’s use of Widevine, the digital rights management (DRM) system which has been implemented into Chrome. Widevine decrypts encrypted video for playback within Chrome, but this vulnerability lets users hijack the stream and save it for posterity.
Livshits and Mikityuk informed Google of the issue on May 24, giving the company 90 days to fix it before they release more details to the wider world. 90 days is how long Google’s Project Zero team gives other developers to patch flaws they discover.
However, Google seems to be suggesting that as any web browser based on Chromium will suffer the same flaw, it may not be worth fixing this one. Which could spell disaster for the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime, both of which could have their catalogs ripped off overnight.
Classic Windows Programs Become Apps
— WalkingCat (@h0x0d) May 2, 2016
Microsoft has converted several of its own classic Win32 programs into apps and made them available through the Windows Store. The programs in question are WordPad, Windows Fax and Scan, XPS Viewer, and the Microsoft Character Map. These have been converted as part of Project Centennial.
For the uninitiated, WordPad is a simple word processor, Windows Fax and Scan lets you scan a document and fax it from your PC, XPS Viewer adds advanced options for viewing XPS documents, and the Microsoft Character Map displays all available characters in your favorite fonts.
These programs were rumored to be coming to the Windows Store last month, and were actually spotted in the wild (see tweet above). However, they’re now available for the first time, at least to Windows Insiders running the latest versions of both Windows 10 and the Windows Store.
It’s safe to assume this is only the beginning, and Microsoft must be planning to convert a host of other classic Win32 programs into apps. The company will also be hoping other developers do the same, bridging the gap between the old and the new iterations of Windows.
YouTube Goes Live on Mobile
YouTube is finally catching up with the likes of Periscope and Facebook Live by bringing live streaming to mobile devices. YouTube has been offering live streaming video since 2011, but it has taken a piecemeal approach, focusing on large events and browser-based streaming. But no longer.
Live streaming is coming to YouTube’s mobile app, as announced by YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki at VidCon 2016. Kurt Wilms, Product Lead, Immersive Experiences at YouTube, then added more details in a YouTube Creator Blog post, explaining:
“YouTube mobile live streaming will be baked right into the core YouTube mobile app. You won’t need to open anything else, just hit the big red capture button right there in the corner, take or select a photo to use as a thumbnail, and you can broadcast live to your fans and chat in near real time.”
This represents YouTube finally catching up with the rest of the Internet, treating live videos with as much respect as regular short-form content. Periscope and Facebook Live are huge right now, and YouTube cannot afford to slip behind in this increasingly popular and crowded market.
Facebook Tackles Political Bias
Facebook is taking steps to ensure its employees keep their own political biases from invading the social networking platform. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg stated that politics is now included — alongside race, age, gender, and other topics many of us have unconscious biases about — in her “managing bias” classes.
According to The Daily Signal, Sandberg announced this move during an event at the American Enterprise Institute, saying:
“We have a managing bias class that all of our leaders and a lot of our employees have taken that I was part of helping to create. And we focused on racial bias, age bias, gender bias, national bias, and we’re going to add in a scenario now on political bias.”
“So as we think about helping people understand different points of view and being open to different points of view, we’re dealing with political bias as well going forward.”
Political bias is a hot topic at Facebook after a former contractor suggested the social network was heavily biased towards liberals and against conservatives . The contractor accused Facebook of suppressing conservative viewpoints from showing up in its Trending Topics section. Facebook denied any wrongdoing, and met with a host of prominent conservatives to allay their fears.
When a Man Loves a Smartphone
And finally, you probably spend more time with your smartphone than any friend or family member, so why not just go ahead and marry the damn thing. It might sound like a ridiculous proposition, but it has actually already happened, with Aaron Chervenak recently marrying his smartphone.
The “wedding” took place in The Little Vegas Chapel in Las Vegas, but isn’t legally recognized in Nevada. So, while Chervenak has made a commitment to his smartphone, he cannot refer to it as his wife. Still, at least that makes divorce easier when the new model launches next year. [H/T Kaspersky]
Your Views on Today’s Tech News
Should the security researchers reveal Chrome’s streaming video flaw? What classic Windows program do you want to see return as an app? Will you watch YouTube Live on your mobile? Do you think Facebook has a political bias? If so, for which side? Is the man who married his smartphone silly, stupid, or dumb?
Let us know your thoughts on the Tech News of the day by posting to the comments section below. Because a healthy discussion is always welcome.
Tech News Digest is a daily column paring the technology news of the day down into bite-sized chunks that are easy to read and perfect for sharing.
Image Credit: Cory Doctorow via Flickr