The Upload: Your tech news briefing for Wednesday, June 3

Senate passes bill reining in NSA...Cook attacks other tech vendors for trading on privacy...Intel marries Thunderbolt to USB-C

The National Security Agency headquarters at night

The National Security Agency headquarters at night

Senate finally reforms NSA surveillance

Nearly two years after former NSA contracter Edward Snowden went public with revelations that the agency was collecting Americans' phone records in bulk so that it could trawl through them at leisure, the U.S. Senate has finally acted to rein in what at least one court ruled was illegal surveillance. The Senate's 67-32 vote Tuesday on the USA Freedom Act will allow a limited telephone records program at the NSA, and give it six months to transition its phone records database to U.S. telecom carriers.

Tim Cook attacks tech companies that trade on users' privacy

Apple CEO Tim Cook once again set his company apart from the likes of Facebook and Google: in a speech this week, he attacked tech firms whose revenue relies on selling advertising against personal information gleaned from customers. TechCrunch reports that in his remarks to an EPIC event, he said, "some of the most prominent and successful companies have built their businesses by lulling their customers into complacency about their personal information. They're gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it. We think that's wrong." As TechCrunch pointed out, Cook was the only top tech CEO to join President Obama at a Silicon Valley cybersecurity summit earlier this year.

Intel marries Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C, doubles the speed

The Thunderbolt connector isn't dead -- even though Apple, once its biggest proponent, left it out of the new 12-inch MacBook. Intel unveiled Thunderbolt 3 at the Computex tradeshow in Taiwan on Tuesday. It has double the previous bandwidth, offers 100 watts of charging, and will run over a USB-C connector.

Apple HomeKit products on the launchpad

A year after Apple launched its smart home platform that lets in-home electronics be controlled by iOS devices, some products are finally set to ship. First out will be a thermostat, sensors, an electrical outlet, a lighting system and a smart home hub. They can all be controlled with apps built for iPhones, iPads, and the Apple Watch.

Microsoft brings new low-end Nokia phones off the back burner

Betting that there's always demand for a $20 phone, Microsoft has upgraded its basic Nokia 105 phone. It's aimed at first-time mobile phone buyers and people looking for a long-lasting backup device for their smartphone, Microsoft says -- perhaps intentionally overlooking the market for "burner" phones in its public statement. The new model has a bigger phonebook, better voice quality and longer talk time, and either one or two SIM slots.

Faster Wi-Fi on the way with new Qualcomm chips

Your Wi-Fi network could get a big speed boost by the end of this year with Qualcomm's newest chips, which will reach 1.7G bps. That tops Qualcomm's previous high of around 1Gbps. An average home has 20 Wi-Fi devices, which can be served simultaneously with a two to three times lift in performance, an executive in the company's wireless unit said.

Security researchers: say adios to Hola browser extension

The maker of a popular browser extension that lets users circumvent geo-blocks on content by routing traffic through other users' computers has failed to fix security vulnerabilities in the product, a group of researchers says, and they are advising users to get rid of it. Hola has flaws that would let an attacker execute code and potentially escalate privileges on a user's system, the security researchers said. They also warned that people using Hola could be subjected to a man-in-the-middle attack, where their browsing traffic could be observed or a remote file could be downloaded to their system.

Watch now

The Noodoe smartwatch doesn't have all the bells and whistles of others, but that's intentional. It's intended as a digital canvas to let your creativity show.

One last thing

Internet trolling isn't necessarily limited to individuals with an axe to grind: Adrian Chen looks into reports of a fully staffed company in Russia whose employees spread misinformation and astro-turfing on the Internet.

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IDG News Service staff

IDG News Service
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