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AWS adds browser access to its cloudy WorkSpaces desktops – but not for Linux • The Register

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Amazon Web Services has stolen a march on Microsoft’s cloud desktop plans by adding browser access to its WorkSpaces desktop-as-a-service offering.

Browser access will only work for WorkSpaces running Windows. Linux users are out in the cold and AWS hasn’t said when or if penguin-powered desktops will get to play. The service uses Amazon’s WorkSpaces Streaming Protocol (WSP), which doesn’t allow use of graphics-intensive instance types. AWS customers that run WorkSpaces from the Asia Pacific (Mumbai) and GovCloud (US-West) Regions also need not apply.

For the rest of us, the service means browsers are now approved clients for an AWS WorkSpace – but not without complications. WorkSpaces set up to stream over the PCoIP protocol will work in Chrome or Firefox. WSP WorkSpaces can use any Chromium-based browser.

AWS’s rationale for the new access offering is that it “allows users to remain productive when connecting from computers where a web browser experience may be optimal, for example on personally-owned or locked-down devices where installing and maintaining a client application can be challenging.”

Which sounds reasonable given there’s been quite an increase in working remotely lately for … certain reasons about which The Register assumes readers don’t need to be reminded.

AWS’s documentation for the option doesn’t suggest it costs any more than the current option to access WorkSpaces with a client app.

The service is not a flick-a-switch affair. Would-be users will need to enable web access for their workspaces, tickle some network settings, and then reboot the virtual PC.

AWS’s addition of web access for WorkSpaces comes hot on the heels of Microsoft’s announcement of cloudy PCs under the Windows 365 moniker. Microsoft’s forthcoming services will also include web access.

Microsoft styles Windows 365 as SaaS – a contrast with the PaaS approach of its Azure Virtual desktop. AWS WorkSpaces are in the latter camp, so adding web access is nice but won’t really make the service a direct challenge to Windows 365. ®

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British home computer trailblazer dies aged 81 • The Register

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Sir Clive Sinclair died on Thursday at home in London after a long illness, his family said today. He was 81.

The British entrepreneur is perhaps best known for launching the ZX range of 8-bit microcomputers, which helped bring computing, games, and programming into UK homes in the 1980s, at least. This included the ZX80, said to be the UK’s first mass-market home computer for under £100, the ZX81, and the trusty ZX Spectrum. A whole generation grew up in Britain mastering coding on these kinds of systems in their bedrooms.

And before all that, Sir Clive founded Sinclair Radionics, which produced amplifiers, calculators, and watches, and was a forerunner to his Spectrum-making Sinclair Research. The tech pioneer, who eventually sold his computing biz to Amstrad, was knighted during his computing heyday, in 1983.

“He was a rather amazing person,” his daughter, Belinda Sinclair, 57, told The Guardian this evening. “Of course, he was so clever and he was always interested in everything. My daughter and her husband are engineers so he’d be chatting engineering with them.”

Sir Clive is survived by Belinda, his sons, Crispin and Bartholomew, aged 55 and 52 respectively, five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. ®

A full obit will follow on The Register.

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UN human rights chief raises concerns over AI privacy violations in report

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‘AI tech can have negative, even catastrophic, effects if they are used without sufficient regard to how they affect people’s human rights.’

The UN’s human rights chief Michelle Bachelet called for a moratorium on the sale and use of artificial intelligence technology until safeguards are put in place to prevent potential human rights violations.

Bachelet made the appeal on Wednesday (15 September) to accompany a report released by the UN’s Human Rights Office, which analysed how AI systems affect people’s right to privacy. The violation of their privacy rights had knock-on impacts on other rights such as rights to health, education and freedom of movement, the report found.

“Artificial intelligence can be a force for good, helping societies overcome some of the great challenges of our times. But AI technologies can have negative, even catastrophic, effects if they are used without sufficient regard to how they affect people’s human rights,” Bachelet said.

“Artificial intelligence now reaches into almost every corner of our physical and mental lives and even emotional states,” Bachelet added.

Japanese multinational Fujitsu caused a stir when it announced plans to implement AI facial recognition technology to monitor employees’ concentration levels during meetings.

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The report was critical of justice systems which had made wrongful arrests because of flawed facial recognition tools. It appealed to countries to ban any AI tools which did not meet international human rights standards. A 2019 study from the UK found that 81pc of suspects flagged by the facial recognition technology used by London’s Metropolitan Police force were innocent.

Earlier this year, Canada banned Clearview’s AI facial recognition technology after the company violated Canadian privacy laws by collecting facial images of Canadians without their consent.

Bachelet also highlighted the report’s concerns on the future use of data once it has been collected and stored, calling it “one of the most urgent human rights questions we face.”

The UN’s report echoes previous appeals made by European data protection regulators.

The European Data Protection Board (EDPB) and the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) called for a ban on facial recognition in public places in June. They urged EU lawmakers to consider banning the use of such technology in public spaces, after the European Commission released its proposed regulations on the matter.

The EU’s proposed regulations did not recommend an outright ban. The commission instead emphasised the importance of creating “trustworthy AI.”

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The problem with OnlyFans’ mainstream dream | News

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This episode includes discussion of sex and pornography.

OnlyFans bills itself as a wide-ranging ‘subscription social network’ where content creators of any kind can charge their followers to view their output – but in reality its hugely successful business is largely based around sex. That emphasis only grew during the pandemic, with more and more users spending their free time online – and more people wondering about a new source of income. With the company valued at about $1bn (£720m), and celebrities like Cardi B and Bella Thorne signing up, it was hard to see it doing anything other than more of the same.

Then OnlyFans dropped a bombshell: it announced it would be barring sexually explicit content. Some observers accepted its claim that the move was forced by banks that were refusing to work with the platform in its current form, while others wondered if it was driven by a longer-term gamble that there was more money and security to be found in the mainstream. Either way, the sex workers who have built a following on the site and rely on it for income were up in arms.

Then the second bombshell came. OnlyFans announced that after securing assurances from its banking partners that it would be able to continue to operate, it had suspended its decision and would “continue to provide a home for all creators”. But many of those who use the site are suspicious that it still intends to pivot away from sexual content in the future. Meanwhile, there are many who have a more fundamental objection – claiming the website has inadequate safeguards for its users or to stop the publication of illegal content, and is part of a system that commodifies women’s bodies and plays a part in misogyny in online and offline spaces alike.

To unpick all of this, Nosheen Iqbal speaks to the Guardian’s UK technology editor, Alex Hern, who sets out the possible reasons for OnlyFans’ initial decision and subsequent reversal, as well as reflecting on what its success tells us about the future of internet business. We also hear from Bea Dux, a content creator on OnlyFans who is leaving the platform as a result of the saga. “We are constantly exploited for what we are able to bring to companies,” she says. “Time and time again sex workers will build a platform, and as soon as it’s big enough to bring in other people and celebrities, sex workers get kicked off.”

OnlyFans did not respond to a request for comment.

Read more from Alex Hern on OnlyFans here and here.



The OnlyFans website on a mobile phone.

Photograph: True Images/Alamy

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