Editor’s Blog at WRAL TechWire

Posted Apr. 5, 2017 at 6:35 a.m.

Tech wrap: SpaceX booster back; Mallinckrodt $35M settlement; Facebook warrant loss; NC DMV data exposed; saving Trump tweets

Published: 2017-04-05 06:35:02
Updated: 2017-04-05 06:35:02

Bulldog Bulletin

In today’s Bulldog tech and science wrapup:

  • SpaceX’s first reused rocket is back in port
  • Mallinckrodt to pay $35M in deal to end feds’ opioid probe
  • Facebook loses search warrant challenge in New York court
  • NC DMV data exposed
  • Saving President Trump’s tweets

The details:

  • SpaceX’s first reused rocket is back in port

SpaceX’s first reused rocket is back in port, five days after launching a satellite.

The singed 15-story booster returned atop a barge to Florida’s Port Canaveral on Tuesday.

It was the second flight for the Falcon 9’s first-stage core — and a first for SpaceX. Both times, the leftover booster landed upright on an ocean platform following liftoff.

SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk has championed recycling rockets since his company’s founding 15 years ago, to save time and money. Usually, they’re discarded into the ocean after launch.

Musk plans to retire the recycled booster and display it in Cape Canaveral.

SpaceX, meanwhile, plans to launch another satellite this month, but with a fresh booster.

  • Mallinckrodt to pay $35M in deal to end feds’ opioid probe

A top maker of brand-name and generic narcotic painkillers has agreed to pay the U.S. government $35 million to resolve a probe of its distribution of those drugs.

Mallinckrodt PLC said Monday it has reached an agreement with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. attorneys for the Eastern District of Michigan and Northern District of New York. The deal is subject to further review and approval by the DEA and Justice Department.

Mallinckrodt didn’t admit any wrongdoing, as is common with deals ending federal probes of companies.

Prosecutors and lawmakers have been investigating possible connections between marketing of addictive painkillers and the epidemic of opioid and heroin deaths.

Dublin, Ireland-based Mallinckrodt sells a number of powerful opioid painkillers including generic pills containing fentanyl, morphine and oxycodone. Its brand-name narcotic painkillers include extended-release Exalgo, Xartemis and Roxicodone pills. Mallinckrodt also makes medicines for treating narcotic addiction.

In a statement, Mallinckrodt said that its “innovative suspicious order monitoring program” exceeds DEA requirements.

  • Facebook loses search warrant challenge in New York court

Facebook has lost a legal fight against a New York City prosecutor who sought search warrants for hundreds of user accounts.

The New York state Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled that while the case raised important questions about privacy it was “constrained” by the law relating to who can challenge search warrants.

Prosecutors in Manhattan sought search warrants in 2013 for the accounts of 381 people in connection with a disability benefits fraud case against New York City police and fire retirees.

Menlo Park, California-based Facebook challenged the warrants, which it said were overbroad. In a statement, a spokesperson said the company was disappointed by the ruling and is continuing to evaluate its legal options.

The case has been closely watched by social media companies, civil libertarians and prosecutors.

The North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles is in the process of notifying up to 24,000 customers after discovering their personal information may have been disclosed.

Local media outlets report Wednesday that records intended to be shredded were accidentally thrown out instead while a shredder was broken. The agency says this happened at an office in Raleigh to records that had been collected between September 2016 and last month.

DMV says it is sending letters to the affected people this week, urging them to check credit reports. Officials say the faulty equipment has been replaced, and the manager of that office is being disciplined. Staff are also being retrained about proper document disposal and storage.

  • Saving President Trump’s tweets

The National Archives and Records Administration has told the White House to keep each of President Donald Trump’s tweets, even those he deletes or corrects, and the White House has agreed.

The head of the archives, David S. Ferriero, told two Democratic senators in a letter last week that the White House has assured him it’s saving all Trump’s Twitter blasts.

The archives contacted the White House about the matter because the Presidential Records Act requires such correspondence to be preserved for history. Ferriero did not say when the agency contacted White House officials to remind them about the records requirement, but officials briefed the White House counsel’s office about the law on Feb. 2, according to the archivist’s letter to Sens. Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Tom Carper of Delaware.

The archivist’s letter, dated March 30, doesn’t describe precisely how the White House is saving Trump’s tweets. The Obama administration used an automated system to isolate and preserve copies of President Barack Obama’s tweets.

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