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Tech Week: Autonomous Vehicle Development, Antitrust Review of $68.7B Microsoft Acquisition & More

February 04, 2022

Autonomous Vehicle Companies Not Waiting Around for Federal Lawmakers:

Legislation that would establish a federal framework for autonomous vehicles has stalled in Congress. But autonomous vehicle companies like Tesla, Alphabet’s Waymo and General Motors’ Cruise, eager to start making money from the billions of dollars they’ve invested in developing their technologies, are deploying vehicles, including robotaxis and self-driving trucks, wherever they can, such as Arizona, Texas and San Francisco.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has established voluntary guidelines for autonomous vehicles. But in the absence of federal laws specifically tailored to them, autonomous vehicle companies are largely free to decide for themselves whether particular features are safe. The NHTSA only intervenes if a new feature appears to be a safety hazard.

The agency did exactly that last year, opening a formal investigation into Tesla’s Autopilot driver assistance systems following a series of crashes involving Teslas and emergency vehicles. And just last month the agency posted notification of a recall of about 54,000 Teslas with the potential to roll through stop signs after receiving the latest update to their Full Self Driving software.

One possible way forward for the industry is to adopt its own voluntary standards, according to David Harkey, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an insurance industry-backed vehicle safety research organization.

“We have to get to the point where it’s not the Wild West,” he said. (INSURANCE JOURNAL, CNET, NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION)

FTC to Review Microsoft’s $68.7B Activision Blizzard Acquisition:

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission will conduct an antitrust review of Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of video game company Activision Blizzard. The $68.7 billion all-cash deal would make Microsoft the third-largest video game maker. But the FTC has vowed to police such deals more aggressively. (BLOOMBERG, CNET)

Disgruntled American Hacker Takes Out North Korea’s Internet:

Over the course of several days in recent weeks virtually all of the few dozen websites allowed to operate in North Korea – from the booking site for its national airline to the web portal for Kim Jong-un’s government – have gone offline intermittently, and a central router connecting the nation’s networks to the outside world has also gone down.

Initially it was thought that a foreign government might have launched a cyberattack against the nation in response to a recent series of missile tests it had conducted. But the internet takedown was actually the work of a lone American hacker known as P4x, who was one of the victims of a North Korean hacking campaign targeting Western security researchers a year ago and was disappointed by the lack of response from the U.S. government. So he decided to take matters into his own hands.

“It felt like the right thing to do here,” he said. “If they don’t see we have teeth, it’s just going to keep coming.”

And P4x said he’s not done. He plans on stealing information from North Korea’s systems and sharing it with experts. He’s also trying to recruit other hackers to the cause with a dark website he’s launched called the FUNK Project, for “FU North Korea.”

“This is a project to keep North Korea honest,” the website says. “The goal is to perform proportional attacks and information-gathering in order to keep NK from hacking the western world completely unchecked.” (WIRED

-- Compiled by KOREY CLARK

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