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mdsolar (1045926) writes "James Schlesinger, who served as Secretary of Defense under Presidents Nixon and Ford and as the first Secretary of Energy under President Carter, passed away on Thursday in Baltimore at the age of 85. Schlesinger is perhaps the most technocratic person to reach such high office. He had a keen awareness of the connection between energy supply and national defense and as Administrator of the Economic Regulatory Administration, brought our Standby Gasoline Rationing Plan into existence. The existence of such a plan along with our Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which Schlesinger also brought into being, have been a bulwark against further oil embargoes and essentially broke OPEC for a period of more than a decade. The NYT has an obituary that covers more of his career."
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft took some much-deserved flack last week for admitting they examined the emails of a Hotmail user who received some leaked Windows 8 code. The company defended their actions at the time. Now, after hearing the backlash, Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith says they will not do so in the future. Instead, they'll refer it to law enforcement. He wrote, 'It's always uncomfortable to listen to criticism. But if one can step back a bit, it's often thought-provoking and even helpful. That was definitely the case for us over the past week. Although our terms of service, like those of others in our industry, allowed us to access lawfully the account in this case, the circumstances raised legitimate questions about the privacy interests of our customers. ...As a company we've participated actively in the public discussions about the proper balance between the privacy rights of citizens and the powers of government. We've advocated that governments should rely on formal legal processes and the rule of law for surveillance activities. While our own search was clearly within our legal rights, it seems apparent that we should apply a similar principle and rely on formal legal processes for our own investigations involving people who we suspect are stealing from us.'"
Daniel_Stuckey writes: "You might remember House Intelligence Chair Mike Rogers, a Republican from Michigan, from his lovely, universally-hated CISPA cybersecurity bill that would have allowed nearly seamless information sharing between companies and the federal government. You might also remember him from his c'est la vie attitude towards civil liberties in general. Well, we've got some good news and some bad news: Rogers announced today that he won't seek re-election and is instead retiring from politics to start a conservative talk radio show on Cumulus. The bad news? He's got at least one terrible, civil liberties-killing bill to try to push through Congress before he goes. Like CISPA, the newly introduced 'FISA Transparency and Modernization Act,' seeks to make it easier for the federal government to get your information from companies."
coondoggie writes "By all accounts, many of the massive data breaches in the news these days are first revealed to the victims by law enforcement: the Secret Service and Federal Bureau of Investigation. But how do the agencies figure it out before the companies know they have been breached, especially given the millions companies spend on security and their intense focus on compliance? The agencies do the one thing companies don't do. They attack the problem from the other end by looking for evidence that a crime has been committed. Agents go undercover in criminal forums where stolen payment cards, customer data and propriety information are sold. They monitor suspects and sometimes get court permission to break into password-protected enclaves where cyber-criminals lurk."
An anonymous reader writes "In February, Judge William Alsup ruled in favor of Rahinah Ibrahim, who sued the U.S. government in 2006 after she was mistakenly added to the no-fly list and subsequently denied entry to the country. Now, the Department of Justice has finally decided it won't appeal the ruling, making Ibrahim the first person to challenge the list at trial and get herself removed. 'But Ibrahim's case, as just one of hundreds of thousands of individuals who have been placed on such lists, shows the system's opacity. First, the only surefire way to even determine if one is on such a list in the U.S. is to attempt to board a flight and be denied. Even after that happens, when a denied person inquires about his or her status, the likely response will be that the government "can neither confirm nor deny" the placement on such lists. The government's surrender in Ibrahim comes on the heels of a new report by the American Civil Liberties Union that shows just how insanely difficult it is to contest one's status on the government blacklists (PDF).'"
jfruh writes: "You will probably not be surprised to learn that Chinese search giant Baidu censors a wide range of content, particularly political material deemed to be pro-democracy — and does so for users everywhere, not just in China. A group of activists filed suit against Baidu in New York for violating free speech laws, but the judge in the case declared (PDF) that, as a private entity in the United States, Baidu has the right to provide whatever kind of search results it wants, even for political reasons."
Advocatus Diaboli writes with news about the DOJ's push to make it easier to get warrants to hack suspected cyber-criminals. "The U.S. Department of Justice is pushing to make it easier for law enforcement to get warrants to hack into the computers of criminal suspects across the country. The move, which would alter federal court rules governing search warrants, comes amid increases in cases related to computer crimes. Investigators say they need more flexibility to get warrants to allow hacking in such cases, especially when multiple computers are involved or the government doesn't know where the suspect's computer is physically located."
concertina226 (2447056) writes "Chinese authorities have detained a total of 1,530 suspects in a crackdown on spam SMS text messages being sent out by illegal telecoms equipment, according to Chinese news agency ECNS. Over 2,600 fake mobile base stations were seized and 24 sites manufacturing illegal telecoms equipment shut down as part of a massive nationwide operation involving nine central government and Communist Party of China departments. A report released by Trend Micro this month looked into the telecoms equipment black market in China (PDF) and found that cybercriminals routinely use either a GSM modem, an internet short message gateway and an SMS server to send out spam messages. On the underground market, SMS servers come in 'all-in-one' packages that include a laptop, a GSM mobile phone, an SMS server, an antenna to send out the fake signal and a USB cable, all for RMB 45,000 (£4,355)."
_xeno_ (155264) writes "Mozilla recently named a new CEO, Brendan Eich, and as commentators in that article noted, there could be some backlash over his private contributions to political campaigns. Well, it turns out that they were correct, and despite a statement from Brendan Eich pledging to continue Mozilla's inclusiveness, some Mozilla employees are calling for him to step down. Should private beliefs be enough to prevent someone from heading a project they helped found?"
wiredmikey writes: "Russian government officials have swapped their iPads for Samsung tablets to ensure tighter security, the telecoms minister told news agencies on Wednesday. Journalists spotted that ministers at a cabinet meeting were no longer using Apple tablets, and minister Nikolai Nikiforov confirmed the changeover "took place not so long ago." He said the ministers' new Samsungs were "specially protected devices that can be used to work with confidential information." This isn't the first time Russian powers have had concerns over mobile. In August 2012, Russia unveiled a prototype tablet with its own "almost Android" mobile OS that has the remarkably familiar feel of an Android but with bolstered encryption. In an even more paranoid move, this past July a Russian state service in charge of safeguarding Kremlin communications was looking to purchase an array of old-fashioned typewriters to prevent leaks from computer hardware."
jonklinger (1166633) writes "A class action lawsuit was brought against Waze (a community-based traffic and navigation app), claiming that their source code and map data were licensed to Waze by the community under the GPL. The plaintiff, Roey Gorodish, requests a copy of the recent source code and map data. This is (as far as I know) the first ever GPL class action suit, too bad it will be quashed by bad facts later as I see it." Google seems to do a credible translation of this source article.
schwit1 (797399) writes "A Minnesota school district has agreed to pay $70,000 to settle a lawsuit that claimed school officials violated a student's constitutional rights by viewing her Facebook and email accounts without permission. The lawsuit, filed in 2012 by the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, alleged that Riley Stratton, now 15, was given detention after posting disparaging comments about a teacher's aide on her Facebook page, even though she was at home and not using school computers. After a parent complained about the Facebook chat, the school called her in and demanded her password. With a sheriff deputy looking on, she complied, and they browsed her Facebook page in front of her, according to the report. 'It was believed the parent had given permission to look at her cellphone,' Minnewaska Superintendent Greg Schmidt said Tuesday. But Schmidt said the district did not have a signed consent from the parent. That is now a policy requirement, he said.'" Asks schwit1, "How is this not a violation of the CFAA?" It sounds like the school was violating Facebook's Terms of Service, too.
jfruh (300774) writes "The latest developments in the sad saga of Mt. Gox's missing bitcoins: the exchange has announced that it's working with Japanese police to try to determine who (if anyone) stole the bitcoins entrusted to Mt. Gox, resulting in the company's collapse. There are serious doubts as to Japanese law enforcement's abilities to deal with the technical issues involved. Meanwhile, Mt. Gox creditors [have rejected] Mt. Gox CEO Mark Karpeles offer to testify in their lawsuit against him from Taiwan, and have demanded that he come to the United States."
Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes "The FBI is intercepting the prison correspondence of infamous Internet troll Andrew "weev" Auernheimer, including letters from his defense team, according to his attorney. 'He's sent me between 10 and 20 letters in the last month or two. I've received one,' Tor Ekeland, who had just returned from visiting Auernheimer at the federal corrections institute in Allenwood, PA., told the Daily Dot in a video interview.
Last March, Auernheimer was convicted of accessing a computer without authorization and sentenced to 41 months in prison. As a member of the computer security team Goatse Security, Auernheimer discovered a major security flaw in AT&T's network, which allowed him to download the email addresses of some 114,000 iPad users. Goatse Security reported the flaw to Gawker and provided journalists with the information, who then published it in redacted form."
Several readers sent word that California State Senator Leland Yee was arrested today. He's accused of conspiring to traffic guns and commit wire fraud, to defraud citizens of honest services, and bribery. The complant (PDF) also names 25 other defendants. Yee is known for pushing legislation that would ban the sale of violent video games to minors. "Federal prosecutors also allege Yee agreed to perform official acts in exchange for the money, including one instance in which he introduced a businessman to state legislators who had significant influence over pending medical marijuana legislation. In exchange, the businessman -- who was actually an undercover FBI agent -- agreed to donate thousands to Yee's campaign fund, according to the indictment. The indictment also describes an August 2013 exchange in which [former school board president Keith Jackson] told an undercover officer that Yee had an arms trafficking contact. Jackson allegedly said Yee could facilitate a meeting for a donation."
schwit1 sends this news from The Verge:
"Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the primary conspirator in the Boston Marathon bombing that killed three people, slipped through airport security because his name was misspelled in a database, according to a new Congressional report. The Russian intelligence agency warned U.S. authorities twice that Tsarnaev was a radical Islamist and potentially dangerous. As a result, Tsarnaev was entered into two U.S. government databases: the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment and the Treasury Enforcement Communications System (TECS), an interagency border inspection database.
A special note was added to TECS in October of 2011 requiring a mandatory search and detention of Tsarnaev if he left the country. 'Detain isolated and immediately call the lookout duty officer,' the note reportedly said. 'Call is mandatory whether or not the officer believes there is an exact match.' 'Detain isolated and immediately call the lookout duty officer.' Unfortunately, Tsarnaev's name was not an exact match: it was misspelled by one letter. Whoever entered it in the database spelled it as 'Tsarnayev.' When Tsarnaev flew to Russia in January of 2012 on his way to terrorist training, the system was alerted but the mandatory detention was not triggered. Because officers did not realize Tsarnaev was a high-priority target, he was allowed to travel without questioning."
jfruh (300774) writes "The venerable Nortel Networks may have vanished into bankruptcy five years ago, but thanks to U.S. patent law, it can strike back at its old rival Cisco from beyond the grave. Spherix, a Virginia-based 'research company' that bought Nortel's patents in 2009, has filed a federal lawsuit claiming that Cisco has been knowingly violating 11 Nortel patents. 'The vast majority of Cisco's switching and routing revenue from March 2008 until the present is and has been generated by products and services implementing technology that infringes the Asserted Patents,' the lawsuit claims."
redletterdave (2493036) writes "Less than a week after the Turkish government banned Twitter over failing to remove allegations of government corruption from the social network, a Turkish court on Wednesday suspended the ban, calling it 'illegal.'" Unfortunately, according to the BBC Twitter may remain blocked until after the elections: "The administrative court in Ankara issued a temporary injunction on Wednesday ordering the TIB to restore access to Twitter until it could deliver its full verdict on the ban. Turkish media reports suggested the ban would be suspended soon afterwards but a source in Mr Erdogan's office told Reuters news agency the TIB had 30 days to implement or appeal against the court ruling." In the meantime, Twitter is attempting to fight the ban directly.
jfruh (300774) writes "Security vendors like Trustwave can make big bucks when major companies decide they don't have the internal resources to handle their cybersecurity needs. Unfortunately, when taking on security chores, you also take on security liabilities. In the wake of Target's massive credit card security breach, both Target and Trustwave are now on the receiving end of a class action lawsuit, in part backed by banks that had to issue thousands of new credit cards." The filing, and a bit more from El Reg: "It's against Target, however, that the most serious allegations are levelled. The class action led by Trustmark National Bank and Green Bank, say the retailer should not have allowed an outside contractor the access to its network that brought about the breach, and that it violated federal and state laws in storing the credit card data on its network."
rjmarvin writes: "Researchers in the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory have developed a platform for building secure web applications and services that never decrypt or leak data. MIT researcher Raluca Ada Popa, who previously worked on the Google and SAP-adopted CryptoDB, and her team, have put a longstanding philosophy into practice: to never store unencrypted data on servers. They've redesigned the entire approach to securing online data by creating Mylar, which builds and updates applications to keep data secure from server breaches with constant encryption during storage, only decrypting the data in the user's browser. Integrated with the open-source Meteor framework, a Mylar prototype has already secured six applications by changing only 35 lines of code."
Trailrunner7 writes: "The long shadow cast by the use of surveillance technology and so-called lawful intercept tools has spread across much of the globe and has sparked a renewed push in some quarters for restrictions on the export of these systems. Politicians and policy analysts, discussing the issue in a panel Monday, said that there is room for sensible regulation without repeating the mistakes of the Crypto Wars of the 1990s. 'There's virtually no accountability or transparency, while he technologies are getting faster, smaller and cheaper,' Marietje Schaake, a Dutch member of the European Parliament, said during a panel discussion put on by the New America Foundation. 'We're often accused of over-regulating everything, so it's ironic that there's no regulation here. And the reason is that the member states [of the EU] are major players in this. The incentives to regulate are hampered by the incentives to purchase. There has been a lot of skepticism about how to regulate and it's very difficult to get it right. There are traumas from the Crypto Wars. Many of these companies are modern-day arms dealers. The status quo is unacceptable and criticizing every proposed regulation isn't moving us forward.'"
An anonymous reader sends this news from Bloomberg: "The U.S. government will treat Bitcoin as property for tax purposes, applying rules it uses to govern stocks and barter transactions, the Internal Revenue Service said in its first substantive ruling on the issue. Today's IRS guidance will provide certainty for investors, along with potential income-tax liability. Under the ruling, purchasing a $2 cup of coffee with Bitcoins bought for $1 would trigger $1 in capital gains for the coffee drinker and $2 of income for the coffee shop. ... Under the IRS ruling, Bitcoin investors would be treated like stock investors. Bitcoins held for more than a year and then sold would pay the lower tax rates applicable to capital gains — a maximum of 23.8 percent compared with the 43.4 percent top rate on property sold within a year of purchase. For investors with losses, U.S. tax law allows taxpayers to subtract capital losses from any capital gains. They can also subtract up to $3,000 of capital losses a year from ordinary income.'"
McGruber writes: "Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter defended the disclosures by fugitive NSA contractor Edward Snowden on Monday, saying revelations that U.S. intelligence agencies were collecting meta-data of Americans' phone calls and e-mails have been 'probably constructive in the long run.' 'I think it's wrong,' President Carter said of the NSA program. 'I think it's an intrusion on one of the basic human rights of Americans, is to have some degree of privacy if we don't want other people to read what we communicate.'" It's important to note that Carter doesn't believe Snowden should necessarily get a pass for his actions. Carter said, "I think it's inevitable that he should be prosecuted and I think he would be prosecuted, [if he comes back to the U.S.] But I don't think he ought to be executed as a traitor or any kind of extreme punishment like that." Nevertheless, Carter thinks NSA surveillance has gotten out of control. "We've gone a long way down the road of violating Americans' basic civil rights, as far as privacy is concerned." He added, "For the last two or three years, when I want to write a highly personal letter to a foreign leader, or even some American leaders, I hand-write it and mail it, because I feel that my telephone calls and my email are being monitored, and there are some things I just don’t want anybody to know except me and my wife."
judgecorp (778838) writes "A newly discovered malware attack uses a smartphone connected to the computer that manages an ATM, and then sends an SMS message to instruct it to dispense cash. The attack was reported by Symantec, and builds on a previous piece of malware called Backdoor.Ploutus. It is being used in actual attacks, and Symantec has demonstrated it with an ATM in its labs, though it is not revealing the brand of the vulnerable machines."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "As attacks like the one on Target have exposed up to 40 million customer payment card accounts and the names, addresses and email addresses of as many as 70 million shoppers, Tiffany Hsu and E. Scott Reckard report in the LA Times that increased activity by data hackers has produced millions of victims but there has been one big winner: credit monitoring businesses. "It's almost a terrible thing to say, but these kinds of situations raise awareness of the need to protect yourself and to be more vigilant in checking your transactions," says Yaron Samid. Meanwhile services with names such as BillGuard and Identity Guard report a surge in sign-ups from people anxious to be protected. For example, the number of AAA Southern California members opting in for the club's identity theft monitoring service — whether for free or for an extra charge — boomed in January, up 58% from December." (More below.)
First time accepted submitter tor528 (896250) writes "Patent troll Personal Audio has sued top podcasters including Adam Carolla and HowStuffWorks, claiming that they own the patent for delivery of episodic content over the Internet. Adam Carolla is fighting back and has started a Fund Anything campaign to cover legal fees. From the Fund Anything campaign page: 'If Adam Carolla loses this battle, then every other Podcast will be quickly shut down. Why? Because Patent Trolls like Personal Audio would use a victory over Carolla as leverage to extort money from every other Podcast.. As you probably know, Podcasts are inherently small, owner-operated businesses that do not have the financial resources to fight off this type of an assault. Therefore, Podcasts as we know them today would cease to exist.' James Logan of Personal Audio answered Slashdotters' questions in June 2013. Links to the patent in question can be found on Personal Audio's website. The EFF filed a challenge against Personal Audio's podcasting patent in October 2013."
The New York Times reported last night that the White House is planning to introduce a legislative package that would mostly end the NSA's bulk collection of phone records. Instead, phone companies would be required to hand over records up to "two hops" from a target number. Phone companies would be required to retain records for 18 months (already legally mandated) instead of the NSA storing records for five years. It does not appear that secret courts and secret orders from the court would be abolished, however. From the article: "The new type of surveillance court orders envisioned by the administration would require phone companies to swiftly provide records in a technologically compatible data format, including making available, on a continuing basis, data about any new calls placed or received after the order is received, the officials said ... The administration’s proposal would also include a provision clarifying whether Section 215 of the Patriot Act, due to expire next year unless Congress reauthorizes it, may in the future be legitimately interpreted as allowing bulk data collection of telephone data. ... The proposal would not, however, affect other forms of bulk collection under the same provision."
An anonymous reader writes "Florida District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro has dismissed a lawsuit brought by Malibu Media against an alleged BitTorrent pirate. Though Malibu Media explained how they geolocated the download site and verified that the IP address was residential rather than a public wifi hotspot, the judge reasoned that the 'Plaintiff has not shown how this geolocation software can establish the identity of the Defendant....Even if this IP address is located within a residence, the geolocation software cannot identify who has access to that residence's computer and who would actually be using it to infringe Plaintiff's copyright.' Judge Ungaro's ruling is not the first of its kind, but it could signal a growing legal trend whereby copyright lawsuits can no longer just hinge on the acquisition of an IP address."
jayp00001 (267507) writes "'As we all know, there is no free lunch, and there’s also no cost-free delivery of streaming movies. Someone has to pay that cost. Mr. Hastings' arrogant proposition is that everyone else should pay but Netflix. That may be a nice deal if he can get it. But it's not how the Internet, or telecommunication for that matter, has ever worked,' writes AT&T Senior Executive Vice President of Legislative Affairs, James Cicconi. Mr. Cicconi took issue with a blog post from Netflix CEO Reed Hastings on the importance of net neutrality.
An anonymous reader writes "Turkish Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek has defended his governments ban on Twitter and accused the social networking site of not complying with court orders. Simsek said: 'The Turkish telecommunications watchdog has made a number of statements saying that they have asked Twitter on a number of occasions to remove some content on the back of court orders and Twitter has been refusing to comply. I don’t think any global company, whether it’s a media company, whether it’s an industrial company, it shouldn’t see itself [as being] above the law.'" As a result of the ban, Tor gained over 10,000 new users in Turkey.
garymortimer (1882326) writes in with news about rules for hunting with drones in Alaska. "At its March 14-18 meeting in Anchorage, the seven-member Alaska Board of Game approved a measure to prohibit hunters from spotting game with such aircraft, often called drones. While the practice does not appear to be widespread, Alaska Wildlife Troopers said the technology is becoming cheaper, easier to use and incorporates better video relay to the user on the ground. A drone system allowing a hunter or helper to locate game now costs only about $1,000, said Capt. Bernard Chastain, operations commander for the Wildlife Troopers. Because of advances in the technology and cheaper prices, it is inevitable hunters seeking an advantage would, for example, try to use a drone to fly above trees or other obstacles and look for a moose or bear to shoot, he said."
Powercntrl (458442) writes "Vircurex, an online exchange for Bitcoin as well as other cryptocurrencies is freezing customer accounts as it battles insolvency. While opinions differ on whether cryptocurrency is the future of cash, a Dutch tulip bubble, a Ponzi scheme, or some varying mixture of all three, the news of yet another exchange in turmoil does not bode well for those banking on the success of Bitcoin or its altcoin brethren, such as Litecoin and Dogecoin."
Increasing automation worries some people as a danger to the livelihood of those who currently earn their livings at jobs that AI and robots (or just smarter software and more sophisticated technology generally) might be well-suited to, as the costs of the technology options drop. The Washington Post, though, features an eye-opening look at one workplace where automation certainly does not rule. It's "one of the weirdest workplaces in the U.S. government" — a subterranean office space in what was once a limestone mine, where 600 Office of Personnel Management employees process the retirement papers of other government employees. The Post article describes how this mostly-manual process works (and why it hasn't been changed much to take advantage of advancing technology), including with a video that might remind you of Terry Gilliam's Brazil. As the writer puts it, "[T]hat system has a spectacular flaw. It still must be done entirely by hand, and almost entirely on paper. The employees here pass thousands of case files from cavern to cavern and then key in retirees’ personal data, one line at a time. They work underground not for secrecy but for space. The old mine’s tunnels have room for more than 28,000 file cabinets of paper records."
An anonymous reader writes with a link to an article by the EFF's Jennifer Lynch, carried by Gizmodo, which reports that the L.A. Police Department and L.A. Sheriff's Department "took a novel approach in the briefs they filed in EFF and the ACLU of Southern California's California Public Records Act lawsuit seeking a week's worth of Automatic License Plate Reader (ALPR) data. They have argued that 'All [license plate] data is investigatory.' The fact that it may never be associated with a specific crime doesn't matter. This argument is completely counter to our criminal justice system, in which we assume law enforcement will not conduct an investigation unless there are some indicia of criminal activity. In fact, the Fourth Amendment was added to the U.S. Constitution exactly to prevent law enforcement from conducting mass, suspicionless investigations under "general warrants" that targeted no specific person or place and never expired.
ALPR systems operate in just this way. The cameras are not triggered by any suspicion of criminal wrongdoing; instead, they automatically and indiscriminately photograph all license plates (and cars) that come into view. ... Taken to an extreme, the agencies' arguments would allow law enforcement to conduct around-the-clock surveillance on every aspect of our lives and store those records indefinitely on the off-chance they may aid in solving a crime at some previously undetermined date in the future. If the court accepts their arguments, the agencies would then be able to hide all this data from the public."
The Net may have briefly routed around Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoan's DNS-based anti-Twitter censorship, but the minister's next move has been to mandate that Turkish ISPs block Twitter's assigned IP addresses. Reports Ars Technica: " This move essentially erases Twitter from the Internet within Turkey—at least to those people who don’t have access to SMS messaging, a foreign virtual private network or Web proxy service, or the Tor anonymizing network. 'We can confirm that Turkey is now blocking the IP addresses of Twitter after the previous DNS blocking technique proved ineffective,' said Doug Madory, of the Internet monitoring company Renesys, in an e-mail to Ars. A Turkish government webpage shows that there is an IP address block order in effect for 220.127.116.11, the primary IP address for twitter.com."
The gentleman's agreement that several Silicon Valley firms are now widely known to have taken part in to minimize employee poaching within their own circles went much further than has been generally reported, according to a report at PandoDaily. The article lists many other companies besides the handful that have been previously named as taking part in the scheme to prevent recruiting, and gives some insight into what kind of (even non-tech) organizations and practices are involved.
An anonymous reader writes with this news from MIT's Technology Review: "Like other federal agencies, the NSA is compelled by law to try to commercialize its R&D. It employs patent attorneys and has a marketing department that is now trying to license inventions ... The agency claims more than 170 patents ... But the NSA has faced severe challenges trying to keep up with rapidly changing technology. ... Most recently, the NSA's revamp included a sweeping effort to dismantle ... 'stovepipes,' and switch to flexible cloud computing ... in 2008, NSA brass ordered the agency's computer and information sciences research organization to create a version of the system Google uses to store its index of the Web and the raw images of Google Earth. That team was led by Adam Fuchs, now Sqrrl's chief technology officer. Its twist on big data was to add 'cell-level security,' a way of requiring a passcode for each data point ... that's how software (like the infamous PRISM application) knows what can be shown only to people with top-secret clearance. Similar features could control access to data about U.S. citizens. 'A lot of the technology we put [in] is to protect rights," says Fuchs. Like other big-data projects, the NSA team's system, called Accumulo, was built on top of open-source code because "you don't want to have to replicate everything yourself," ... In 2011, the NSA released 200,000 lines of code to the Apache Foundation. When Atlas Venture's Lynch read about that, he jumped—here was a technology already developed, proven to work on tens of terabytes of data, and with security features sorely needed by heavily regulated health-care and banking customers.'"
Charliemopps (1157495) writes "New documents from Snowden indicate that the NSA hacked into and stole documents, including source code, from the Chinese networking firm Huawei. Ironically, this is the same firm that the U.S. government has argued in the past was a threat due to China's possible use of the same sort of attacks."
After the recent Windows 8 leak by recently arrrested then-Microsoft employee Alex Kibkalo, Microsoft has tweaked its privacy policies, but also defended reading the email of the French blogger to whom Kibkalo sent the software. "The blogger in question, who remains unidentified, happened to use Hotmail—the investigation began in 2012 before Hotmail's Outlook.com transition—as his primary email account. So as part of its investigation, Microsoft peeked into the blogger's email account to read that person's correspondence with Kibkalo. ... Microsoft says it was justified in searching the blogger's email account, because it had probable cause to believe Kibkalo was funneling trade secrets to the blogger.The company also pointed out that even with its justification for searching the account, it would have been impossible to gain a court order." "The legal system wouldn't have let us" seems a strange argument to defend any act of snooping.
schwit1 (797399) writes with this excerpt from the Washington Examiner: "A parking ticket, traffic citation or involvement in a minor fender-bender are enough to get a person's name and other personal information logged into a massive, obscure federal database run by the U.S. military. The Law Enforcement Information Exchange, or LinX, has already amassed 506.3 million law enforcement records ranging from criminal histories and arrest reports to field information cards filled out by cops on the beat even when no crime has occurred."
lpress writes: "Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been embarrassed by social media over corruption, vowed yesterday to 'eradicate Twitter.' He followed through by cutting off access, but users soon found work-arounds like posting by email and using VPNs. The hashtag #TwitterOlmadanYaayamam (I can't live without Twitter) quickly rose to the top of Twitter's worldwide trending topics."
Bennett Haselton writes this week with a dissection of the effects of one well-known, long-known problem with so-called Internet filters. "The New Braunfels Republican Women, the Weston Community Children's Association, and the Rotary Club of Midland, Ontario are among the sites categorized as 'pornography' by Blue Coat, a California-based Internet blocking software company. While the product may not be much worse than other Internet filtering programs in that regard, it reinforces the point that miscategorization of sites as 'pornographic' is a routine occurrence in the industry, and not just limited to a handful of broken products." Read on below for the rest.
v3rgEz (125380) writes "With a Freedom of Information Act request, MuckRock has received copies of two of the guides Homeland Security uses to monitor social media, one on standard procedures and a desktop binder for analysts.
Now asking for help to go through it: See something worth digging into? Say something, and share it with others so we know what to FOIA next."
Related to yesterday's story about the NSA, Advocatus Diaboli (1627651) writes with this excerpt from The Guardian: "Rajesh De, the NSA general counsel, said all communications content and associated metadata harvested by the NSA under a 2008 surveillance law occurred with the knowledge of the companies – both for the internet collection program known as Prism and for the so-called 'upstream' collection of communications moving across the Internet. ... nearly all the companies listed as participating in the program – Yahoo, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and AOL – claimed they did not know about a surveillance practice described as giving NSA vast access to their customers’ data. Some, like Apple, said they had 'never heard' the term Prism. De explained: 'Prism was an internal government term that as the result of leaks became the public term,' De said. 'Collection under this program was a compulsory legal process, that any recipient company would receive.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Changes to the Russian Civil Code, which include the recognition of open licenses, the right for libraries to generate digital copies of certain works, were now signed by the Russian President and come into force on October 1st. According to Wikimedia-RU member Linar Khalitov, 'these changes are a result of a lot of hard work on behalf of Wikimedia-RU ... proposing, discussing and defending amendments to the Code.'" The changes are pretty major: licenses no longer require a written contract to be enforced, and published works can no longer be retracted. The two combine to give Wikipedia RU authors stronger author rights. Pictures of architectural objects can be used freely without the permission of the architect, which will allow many images that were pulled from the Wikimedia Commons to return, and new projects to add pictures of monuments to go forward.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Like something out of the movie Inception, Rhiannon Williams reports in the Telegraph that Dr. Rebecca Roache, in charge of a team of scholars focused upon the ways futuristic technologies might transform punishment, claims the prison sentences of serious criminals could be made worse by distorting prisoners' minds into thinking time was passing more slowly. 'There are a number of psychoactive drugs that distort people's sense of time, so you could imagine developing a pill or a liquid that made someone feel like they were serving a 1,000-year sentence,' says Roache. Roache says when she began researching this topic, she was thinking a lot about Daniel Pelka, a four-year-old boy who was starved and beaten to death by his mother and stepfather.
'I had wondered whether the best way to achieve justice in cases like that was to prolong death as long as possible. Some crimes are so bad they require a really long period of punishment, and a lot of people seem to get out of that punishment by dying. And so I thought, why not make prison sentences for particularly odious criminals worse by extending their lives?' Thirty years in prison is currently the most severe punishment available in the UK legal system. 'To me, these questions about technology are interesting because they force us to rethink the truisms we currently hold about punishment. When we ask ourselves whether it's inhumane to inflict a certain technology on someone, we have to make sure it's not just the unfamiliarity that spooks us,' says Roache. 'Is it really OK to lock someone up for the best part of the only life they will ever have, or might it be more humane to tinker with their brains and set them free? When we ask that question, the goal isn't simply to imagine a bunch of futuristic punishments — the goal is to look at today's punishments through the lens of the future.'"
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Last March, weev, the notorious internet troll who seems to be equally celebrated and reviled, was convicted of accessing a computer without authorization and identity fraud, and sentenced to serve 41 months in prison.'He had to decrypt and decode, and do all of these things I don't even understand,' Assistant US Attorney Glenn Moramarco argued. Here, on a Wednesday morning in Philadelphia, before a packed courtroom, the federal prosecution argued that a hacker should spend three and a half years in prison for committing a crime it couldn't fully comprehend. Previously, Orin Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University and weev's defense attorney, had argued first and foremost that there was no criminal hacking to speak of. According to Kerr, what weev and Daniel Spitler (who pleaded guilty to avoid jail time) had done while working as an outfit called Goatse Security was entirely legal, even though it embarrassed public officials and some of the country's biggest corporations."
coondoggie (973519) writes "Gotta love this letter published in the guardian.com this week. It comes from a number of scientists throughout the world who are obviously frustrated with the barriers being thrown up around them — financial, antiquated procedures and techniques to name a few — and would like to see changes. When you speak of scientific mavericks, you might look directly at Improbable Research's annual Ig Nobel awards which recognize the arguably leading edge of maverick scientific work."
wiredmikey writes "The US government's PRISM Internet spying program exposed by Edward Snowden targets suspect email addresses and phone numbers but does not search for keywords like terrorism, officials said Wednesday. Top lawyers of the country's intelligence apparatus including the NSA and FBI participated Wednesday in a public hearing on the controversial US data-mining operations that intercept emails and other Internet communications including on social media networks like Facebook, Google or Skype. 'We figure out what we want and we get that specifically, that's why it's targeted collection rather than bulk collection,' Robert Litt, general counsel at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, told the hearing. Under authority of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the NSA asks Internet service providers to hand over messages sent from or received by certain accounts such as firstname.lastname@example.org, the Justice Department's Brad Wiegmann said, using a hypothetical example."
itwbennett writes "Carolyn Lawson, the former CIO for Oregon's troubled health care insurance website, is alleging that state officials engaged in a 'substantial cover-up' meant to deflect blame away from themselves and onto herself and the project's contractor, Oracle. Lawson, who was forced to resign in December, this week filed a tort claim notice, which is a required precursor to filing a lawsuit against the state." Claims are made that the state was the typical bad client, refusing to articulate "business requirements" effectively and repeatedly increasing the scope of the project. But then again Oracle was involved.