Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.
Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!
An anonymous reader writes: After a recent article about breaking the CAPTCHA on the latest incarnation of Silk Road (the darknet-enabled drug market place), Darryl Lau decided to investigate exactly what narcotics people were buying and selling online. He found roughly 13,000 separate listings. Some sellers identify the country they're in, and the top six are the U.S., Australia, England, Germany, and the Netherlands, and Canada. The site also has a bunch of product reviews. If you assume that each review comes from a sale, and multiply that by the listed prices, reviewed items alone represent $20 million worth of business. Lau also has some interesting charts, graphs, and assorted stats. MDMA is the most listed and reviewed drug, and sellers are offering it in quantities of up to a kilogram at a time. The average price for the top 1000 items is $236. Prescription drugs represent a huge portion of the total listings, though no individual prescription drugs have high volume on their own.
An anonymous reader writes: Incremental improvements have been slowly but surely pushing solar power toward mainstream viability for a few decades now. It's getting to the point where the established utilities are worried about the financial hit they're likely to take — and they're working to prevent it. "These solar households are now buying less and less electricity, but the utilities still have to manage the costs of connecting them to the grid. Indeed, a new study from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory argues that this trend could put utilities in dire financial straits. If rooftop solar were to grab 10 percent of the market over the next decade, utility earnings could decline as much as 41 percent." The utilities are throwing their weight behind political groups seeking to end subsidies for solar and make "net metering" policies go away. Studies suggest that if solar adoption continues growing at its current rate, incumbents will be forced to raise their prices, which will only persuade more people to switch to solar (PDF).
An anonymous reader writes: U.S. authorities have arrested and indicted the CEO of a mobile software company for selling spyware that enables "stalkers and domestic abusers." The U.S. Department of Justice accuses the man of promoting and selling software that can "monitor calls, texts, videos and other communications on mobile phones without detection." The agency pointed out this is the first criminal case based on mobile spyware, and promised to aggressively pursue makers of similar software in the future. Here's the legal filing (PDF). The FBI, with approval from a District Court, has disabled the website hosting the software.
"The indictment alleges that StealthGenie's capabilities included the following: it recorded all incoming/outgoing voice calls; it intercepted calls on the phone to be monitored while they take place; it allowed the purchaser to call the phone and activate it at any time to monitor all surrounding conversations within a 15-foot radius; and it allowed the purchaser to monitor the user's incoming and outgoing e-mail messages and SMS messages, incoming voicemail messages, address book, calendar, photographs, and videos. All of these functions were enabled without the knowledge of the user of the phone."
An anonymous reader writes Nokia must pay damages to consumers in Mexico who reported malfunctioning handsets, following a court ruling for a trial that has lasted four years. The case was brought to court by Mexican watchdog Profeco in 2010, before the Finnish manufacturer was acquired by Microsoft – that deal was only completed earlier this year. Profeco added that the court has ordered Nokia to either replace the faulty handsets and/or reimburse their cost. On top of that, Nokia must also pay compensation totaling at least 20 percent of the damages resulting from malfunctioning. Customers that had been affected by faulty Nokia equipment would be able to seek damages even if they had not yet presented complaints.
HughPickens.com writes Reuters reports that your medical information, including names, birth dates, policy numbers, diagnosis codes and billing information, is worth 10 times more than your credit card number on the black market. Fraudsters use this data to create fake IDs to buy medical equipment or drugs that can be resold, or they combine a patient number with a false provider number and file made-up claims with insurers, according to experts who have investigated cyber attacks on healthcare organizations. Medical identity theft is often not immediately identified by a patient or their provider, giving criminals years to milk such credentials. That makes medical data more valuable than credit cards, which tend to be quickly canceled by banks once fraud is detected. Stolen health credentials can go for $10 each, about 10 or 20 times the value of a U.S. credit card number, says Don Jackson, director of threat intelligence at PhishLabs, a cyber crime protection company. He obtained the data by monitoring underground exchanges where hackers sell the information. Plus "healthcare providers and hospitals are just some of the easiest networks to break into," says Jeff Horne. "When I've looked at hospitals, and when I've talked to other people inside of a breach, they are using very old legacy systems — Windows systems that are 10 plus years old that have not seen a patch."
An anonymous reader writes In its most direct challenge to Google yet, Facebook plans to sell ads targeted to its 1.3 billion users when they are elsewhere on the Web. The company is rolling out an updated version of Atlas that will direct ads to people on websites and mobile apps. From the article: "The company said Atlas has been rebuilt 'from the ground up' to cater for today's marketing needs, such as 'reaching people across devices and bridging the gap between online impressions and offline purchases.'"
First time accepted submitter chasm22 writes EU Regulators are apparently set to accuse Apple and the Irish government of entering into several sweetheart deals that left Apple with lower taxes than what it legally owed. If the ruling is upheld, Apple could owe billions in back taxes. Interestingly, it seems that the Irish government would actually get the extra money and suffer little for its part in the scheme.
An anonymous reader writes The City of London Police's Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) is determined to continue its anti-piracy efforts in the years to come. However, the unit's head, Andy Fyfe, also believes that the government may have to tighten the rules on the Internet to stop people from breaking the law. PIPCU's chief believes the public has to be protected from criminals, including pirate site operators who take advantage of their trust. If that doesn't happen, then the Internet may descend into anarchy, he says, suggesting that the government may have to intervene to prevent this. The Police chief believes tighter rules may be needed to prevent people from breaking the law in the future. This could mean not everyone is allowed to launch a website, but that a license would be required, for example.
An anonymous reader writes "After a record 3.7 million public comments on net neutrality, the FCC is deciding if the company that supplies your internet access should be allowed to make deals with online services to move their content faster. The FCC's chairman Tom Wheeler says financial arrangements between providers and content sites might be OK if the agreement is "commercially reasonable" and companies say publicly how they prioritize traffic. Many disagree, saying this sets up an internet for the highest bidder. "If Comcast and Time Warner – who already have a virtual monopoly on Internet service – have the ability to manage and manipulate Internet speeds and access to benefit their own bottom line, they will be able to filter content and alter the user experience," said Barbara Ann Luttrell, 26, of Atlanta, in a recent submission to the FCC."
New submitter Raymondware sends an update to last week's news that NASA had awarded contracts to Boeing and SpaceX to provide rockets for future manned spaceflight. Now, one of their competitors, Sierra Nevada Corp, has announced it will launch a legal challenge to the contracts. The company claims the government is spending $900 million more than it needs to for equivalent fulfillment, and they're demanding a review. They add, Importantly, the official NASA solicitation for the CCtCap contract prioritized price as the primary evaluation criteria for the proposals, setting it equal to the combined value of the other two primary evaluation criteria: mission suitability and past performance. SNC’s Dream Chaser proposal was the second lowest priced proposal in the CCtCap competition. SNC’s proposal also achieved mission suitability scores comparable to the other two proposals. In fact, out of a possible 1,000 total points, the highest ranked and lowest ranked offerors were separated by a minor amount of total points and other factors were equally comparable.
puddingebola writes: Conflict continues between state governments and Tesla. From the article: "Iowa joined a growing list of states tussling with Tesla Motors' business model when it told the company to cut short three days of test drives earlier this month in West Des Moines. The Iowa Department of Transportation said the test drives were illegal for two reasons: Tesla isn't licensed as an auto dealer in Iowa and state law prohibits carmakers from selling directly to the public." While the article touches on the legal restrictions on selling cars in Iowa, it seems that Tesla was only providing test drives.
An anonymous reader writes: The radio program "This American Life" has published an extraordinary investigative report on how the U.S. government regulators in charge of keeping an eye on the banks actually interact with powerful financial institutions (podcast here). Financial journalist Michael Lewis describes the report thus: "The Fed failed to regulate the banks because it did not encourage its employees to ask questions, to speak their minds or to point out problems. Just the opposite: The Fed encourages its employees to keep their heads down, to obey their managers and to appease the banks. That is, bank regulators failed to do their jobs properly not because they lacked the tools but because they were discouraged from using them. The report quotes Fed employees saying things like, 'until I know what my boss thinks I don't want to tell you,' and 'no one feels individually accountable for financial crisis mistakes because management is through consensus.'"
An anonymous reader writes: Just 10 days after NASA awarded multi-billion-dollar contracts to SpaceX and Boeing for future manned rocket launches, the agency announced today it is expanding its commercial space program to include contracts for delivery missions to the International Space Station. "Under the Commercial Resupply Services 2 RFP, NASA intends to award contracts with one or more companies for six or more flights per contract. As with current resupply flights, these missions would launch from U.S. spaceports, and the contracted services would include logistical and research cargo delivery and return to and from the space station through fiscal year 2020, with the option to purchase additional launches through 2024."
blottsie writes: The National Security Agency has been making money on the side by licensing its technology to private businesses for more than two decades. It's called the Technology Transfer Program, under which the NSA declassifies some of its technologies that it developed for previous operations, patents them, and, if they're swayed by an American company's business plan and nondisclosure agreements, rents them out. The products include tools to transcribe voice recordings in any language, a foolproof method to tell if someone's touched your phone's SIM card, or a version of email encryption that isn't available on the open market.
innocent_white_lamb writes: The 2015 Corvette has a Valet Mode that records audio and video when someone other than the owner is driving the car. Activating the Valet Mode allows you to record front-facing video as well as capture audio from within the car so you can help keep your Corvette safe when it's in the hands of others. Well, it turns out that recording audio from within the car may be considered a felony in some states that require notice and consent to individuals that they are being recorded. Now GM is sending notices out to dealerships and customers alerting them to this fact as well as promising a future update to the PDR system.
An anonymous reader points out this story about new regulations for media who wish to take pictures or video in federally designated wilderness areas. "The U.S. Forest Service has tightened restrictions on media coverage in vast swaths of the country's wild lands, requiring reporters to pay for a permit and get permission before shooting a photo or video in federally designated wilderness areas. Under rules being finalized in November, a reporter who met a biologist, wildlife advocate or whistleblower alleging neglect in 36 million acres of wilderness would first need special approval to shoot photos or videos even on an iPhone. Permits cost up to $1,500, says Forest Service spokesman Larry Chambers, and reporters who don't get a permit could face fines up to $1,000. First Amendment advocates say the rules ignore press freedoms and are so vague they'd allow the Forest Service to grant permits only to favored reporters shooting videos for positive stories.
An anonymous reader writes The FBI is concerned about moves by Apple and Google to include encryption on smartphones. "I like and believe very much that we should have to obtain a warrant from an independent judge to be able to take the contents," FBI Director James Comey told reporters. "What concerns me about this is companies marketing something expressly to allow people to place themselves beyond the law." From the article: "Comey cited child-kidnapping and terrorism cases as two examples of situations where quick access by authorities to information on cellphones can save lives. Comey did not cite specific past cases that would have been more difficult for the FBI to investigate under the new policies, which only involve physical access to a suspect's or victim's phone when the owner is unable or unwilling to unlock it for authorities."
alphadogg (971356) writes "The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is taking its first major step toward opening up the skies for commercial drone use, allowing six TV and movie production companies to use drones to shoot video. Commercial flight of drones has been effectively banned by the FAA as it grapples with how to integrate drone traffic into controlled airspace while not compromising the safety of existing air traffic. But as the months have passed, it has come under increasing pressure from U.S. companies to make a ruling."
Tailhook (98486) writes "The Argentine government has used drones to reveal 200 homes and 100 pools in an upper class area about ten miles south of Buenos Aires that had not been detailed on tax returns. Tax officials said the drones took pictures of luxury houses standing on lots registered as empty. The evasions found by the drones amounted to missing tax payments of more than $2 million and owners of the properties have been warned they now face large fines."