News in brief: Turing’s documents found; Uber steps back on tracking; feathered threat to police

Your daily round-up of some of the other stories in the news

Alan Turing’s documents uncovered

A collection of letters from Alan Turing, one of the founding fathers of modern computing and a brilliant cryptanalyst, has been uncovered in an old filing cabinet at the University of Manchester – and reveal that the mathematician, who moved to the university after the second world war – was not a fan of the United States.

Turing, who had led the codebreaking efforts at Bletchley Park that was credited with helping shorten the war, became deputy head of the university’s computing lab in 1948, and it was one of his modern-day successors at the university, Professor Jim Miles, who found the letters. He explains: “I was astonished such a thing had remained hidden out of sight for so long. No one who now works in the school or at the university knew they even existed.”

The cache of correspondence includes Turing’s notes on artificial intelligence for a BBC programme, and correspondence about invitations to lecture in the US, which Turing turned down flat, saying: “I would not like the journey, and I detest America.”

The collection is available to researchers at the university’s library. Said Miles: “It really was an exciting find and it is a mystery as to why they had been filed away.”

Uber pulls controversial tracking feature

Uber is to pull a feature in its app that continued to track users for five minutes after they get out of their driver’s car, the beleagured ride-sharing company said.

The company, which has faced a series of crises that culminated in its founder, Travis Kalanick, leaving, will roll out the update to the app this week.

The update will restore users’ ability to limit its ability to gather data only when it’s actively being used. Since November, users have either had to consent to the app collecting their location data all the time, or not at all. The latter option meant users had to manually enter their location into the app when booking a cab.

Joe Sullivan, chief security officer, told Reuters that reinstating that option wasn’t connected to the C-suite upheavals at the company: “We’ve been building through the turmoil and challenges because we already had our mandate.”

Feathers ruffled as emergency number falters

Just when you thought you’re on top of your cybersecurity with your gateway protection, phishing mitigation, firewalls, endpoint protection etc comes a whole new threat, as Avon and Somerset Police in southern England found out on Monday: a stray owl.

The police force had to urge locals only to call the 999 emergency number if it really was urgent after the bird flew into power cables, taking out the power supply at the force’s HQ near Bristol. The force’s staff had to come in to help provide a back-up service on Monday, which was a holiday in the UK.

This isn’t the first time wildlife has proved a threat to critical infrastructure: the Cyber Squirrel 1 project tracks animal damage around the world, with birds the second most common agents of disruption.

The force said that full service was finally restored on Monday afternoon, and added: “We certainly hope our feathered friend escaped without injury and was unaware of the feathers he ruffled.”

Catch up with all of today’s stories on Naked Security