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Daniel Ellsberg, no slouch himself in bringing to public awareness documents that reveal uncomfortable facts about government operations, says that "Edward Snowden is the greatest patriot whistleblower of our time." Ellsberg says, in an editorial at The Guardian pointed out by reader ABEND (15913), that Snowden cannot receive a fair trial without reform of the Espionage Act. According to Ellsberg, "Snowden would come back home to a jail cell – and not just an ordinary cell-block but isolation in solitary confinement, not just for months like Chelsea Manning but for the rest of his sentence, and probably the rest of his life. His legal adviser, Ben Wizner, told me that he estimates Snowden's chance of being allowed out on bail as zero. (I was out on bond, speaking against the Vietnam war, the whole 23 months I was under indictment). More importantly, the current state of whistleblowing prosecutions under the Espionage Act makes a truly fair trial wholly unavailable to an American who has exposed classified wrongdoing. Legal scholars have strongly argued that the US supreme court – which has never yet addressed the constitutionality of applying the Espionage Act to leaks to the American public – should find the use of it overbroad and unconstitutional in the absence of a public interest defense. The Espionage Act, as applied to whistleblowers, violates the First Amendment, is what they're saying. As I know from my own case, even Snowden's own testimony on the stand would be gagged by government objections and the (arguably unconstitutional) nature of his charges. That was my own experience in court, as the first American to be prosecuted under the Espionage Act – or any other statute – for giving information to the American people." Ellsberg rejects the distinction made by John Kerry in praising Ellsberg's own whistleblowing as patriotic, but Snowden's as cowardly and traitorous.
X10 (186866) writes "I use Truecrypt, but recently someone pointed me to the SourceForge page of Truecrypt that says it's out of business. I found the message weird, but now there's an explanation: Truecrypt has received a letter from the NSA." Anyone with a firmer source (or who can debunk the claim), please chime in below; considering the fate of LavaBit, it sure sounds plausible. PCWorld lists some alternative software, for Windows users in particular, but do you believe that Microsoft's BitLocker is more secure?
Advocatus Diaboli (1627651) writes "The National Security Agency is harvesting huge numbers of images of people from communications that it intercepts through its global surveillance operations for use in sophisticated facial recognition programs, according to top-secret documents. The spy agency's reliance on facial recognition technology has grown significantly over the last four years as the agency has turned to new software to exploit the flood of images included in emails, text messages, social media, videoconferences and other communications, the N.S.A. documents reveal. Agency officials believe that technological advances could revolutionize the way that the N.S.A. finds intelligence targets around the world, the documents show. The agency's ambitions for this highly sensitive ability and the scale of its effort have not previously been disclosed."
After Seattleites objected to the local police department's plan to deploy unmanned aircraft, that plan was withdrawn. Now, it seems, Seattle has found a willing recipient for some of the drones that it no longer has use for: the Los Angeles Police Department. From the linked article: "The Draganflyer X6 aircraft, which resemble small helicopters, are each about 3 feet wide and equipped with a camera, video camera and infrared night-vision capabilities. In making the announcement, however, department officials were at pains to make it clear the LAPD doesn't intend to use the new hardware to keep watch from above over an unsuspecting public. If they're used at all, the remotely controlled aircraft will be called on only for "narrow and prescribed uses" that will be made clear to the public, the statement said."
An anonymous reader writes "Peter Sunde was arrested today in a police raid in southern Sweden. The Pirate Bay co-founder was wanted by Interpol as he had yet to serve prison time for his involvement with the site. Sunde's arrest comes exactly eight years after the police raided the Pirate Bay servers, which marked the start of the criminal prosecution against the site's founders." From the article: "While details are scarce at the moment, the Swedish newspaper Expressen reports that the arrest has been confirmed by the Swedish authorities. According to Peter Althin, Sunde’s lawyer, the news means that his client will most likely be sent to prison to serve his 8-month sentence. Sunde’s prison sentence was made final in 2012 after Sweden’s Supreme Court announced its decision not to grant leave to appeal in the long-running criminal case against the founders of The Pirate Bay."
schwit1 (797399) writes "As many as 227 million Americans may be compelled to disclose intimate details of their families and financial lives — including their Social Security numbers — in a new national database being assembled by two federal agencies. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau posted an April 16 Federal Register notice of an expansion of their joint National Mortgage Database Program to include personally identifiable information that reveals actual users, a reversal of previously stated policy. The FHFA will manage the database and share it with CFPB. A CFPB internal planning document for 2013-17 describes the bureau as monitoring 95 percent of all mortgage transactions. FHFA officials claim the database is essential to conducting a monthly mortgage survey required by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 and to help it prepare an annual report for Congress."
Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "The ongoing efforts to assign responsibility for the disastrous attempts to create the Cover Oregon health exchange, the primary contractor for which was Oracle Corporation, have entered a new round, with Governor John Kitzhaber calling on State Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum to initiate legal action against the firm. Kitzhaber has also sought the help of Washington D.C. in sanctioning Oracle, though Oregon's own management of the project and the terms of their contract with Oracle muddy the waters, considerably. Although the AG's office hasn't committed to filing suit, yet, AG Rosenblum has said, 'I share your determination to recover every dollar to which Oregon is entitled.' Although the outcome of this is uncertain, it is likely heads, both corporate and political, will roll."
The EU's new rule (the result of a court case published May 13) requiring that online businesses remove on request information that is "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant" has struck a chord with more than 12,000 individuals, a number that's rising fast. Other search engines, ISPs, and firms are sure to follow, but the most prominent reaction to the decision thus far, and one that will probably influence all the ones to come, is Google's implementation of an online form that users can submit to request that information related to them be deleted. The Daily Mail reports that the EU ruling "has already been criticised after early indications that around 12 per cent of applications were related to paedophilia. A further 30 per cent concern fraud and 20 per cent were about people's arrests or convictions"; we mentioned earlier this month one pedophile's request for anonymity. As the First Post story linked above puts it, the requirement that sites scrub their data on request puts nternet companies in the position of having to interpret the court’s broad criteria for information meeting the mandate's definition of "forgettable," "as well as developing criteria for distinguishing public figures from private individuals." Do you favor opt-out permissions for reporting facts linked to individuals? What data or opinions about themselves should people not be able to suppress? (Note: Google's form has this disclaimer: "We're working to finalize our implementation of removal requests under European data protection law as soon as possible. In the meantime, please fill out the form below and we will notify you when we start processing your request." That finalization may take some time, since there are 28 data-protection agencies across the EU to harmonize.)
An anonymous reader writes "Representative Bob Latta (R-OH) introduced a bill on Wednesday that would limit the FCC's power to regulate ISPs in a supposed effort to keep the internet free. The bill's text is currently not available on the Library of Congress webpage or on congress.gov, but a purported copy has been spotted on scribd. Representative Latta's press release nevertheless indicates that the bill is intended to prevent the FCC from re-classifying ISPs as common carriers under Title II. Latta is one of the 28 representatives who lobbied the FCC earlier this month and were shown to have received double the average monetary donations given to all House of Representative members from the cable industry over a two year period ending this past December."
An anonymous reader, tongue in cheek, writes"Facebook, Twitter, et al are tools for terrorists planning to do whatever terrorists do, Germany's BND has discovered. Inevitably, real-time monitoring of these sites is necessary and urgently required [original, in German], not least because that Snowden chap has shown we're running behind the U.S. and UK. And Spain. And Italy. In short, it's a national emergency — 300 million euros, presto please — and if we do this smartly, we could even get a sense of what the population outside Germany thinks. And while we're at it, why not throw in automated enemy face recognition too — and biometry and-and a program to deform the faces of our own spies' selfies, so the enemy cannot google them. Time to invest in national security startups."
First time accepted submitter AudioEfex (637163) writes "Demonoid has emailed all registered users that it is back online — at its original site — in a new "cloud based" back-end. There have been various attempts in the past (including one accused of simply being malware), but so far this appears to be the original site admins and a legitimate resurrection. User registrations are also open at this time, but as a semi-private tracker, it's unknown how long that will continue."
An anonymous reader writes "The Guardian reports that many of the security industry's top researchers are being threatened by lawyers and law enforcement over their efforts to track down vulnerabilities in internet infrastructure. 'HD Moore, creator of the ethical hacking tool Metasploit and chief research officer of security consultancy Rapid7, told the Guardian he had been warned by U.S. law enforcement last year over a scanning project called Critical.IO, which he started in 2012. The initiative sought to find widespread vulnerabilities using automated computer programs to uncover the weaknesses across the entire internet. ... Zach Lanier, senior security researcher at Duo Security, said many of his team had "run into possible CFAA issues before in the course of research over the last decade." Lanier said that after finding severe vulnerabilities in an unnamed "embedded device marketed towards children" and reporting them to the manufacturer, he received calls from lawyers threatening him with action."
Byteme writes: "A number of Zazzle.com users have had their art and products removed from the site after a man named Paul Ingrisano was granted a trademark for 'Pi Productions' using a logo that consists of this freely available version of the pi symbol from the Wikimedia website combined with a period. He made infringement claims against several websites, and Zazzle took down many clothing products that featured designs using the pi symbol. When users called them on it, they locked a public forum thread and said they're evaluating Ingrisano's complaint."
An anonymous reader writes "When Glenn Greenwald's book came out recently, one of the most startling revelations was that the NSA has been intercepting shipments of networking gear to add spyware. Cisco was one of the vendors whose gear was altered, and now their shipping provider has spoken up about it: 'UPS, which Cisco has used since 1997 to ship hardware to customers around the world, said on Thursday that it did not voluntarily allow government officials to inspect its packages unless it is required to do so by law. "UPS' long-standing policy is to require a legal court-ordered process, such as a subpoena, before responding to any third-party requests," UPS spokeswoman Kara Ross wrote in an e-mail to TheBlot Magazine. "UPS is not aware of any court orders from the NSA seeking to inspect technology-related shipments." In a follow-up e-mail, Ross said UPS had no knowledge of similar orders from the FBI, CIA or any other federal agency.' That sounds like carefully parsed language to me. 'Did not voluntarily,' 'unless it is required to do so by law.' Perhaps they're bound by a National Security Letter?"
An anonymous reader writes "The proposed SpaceX spaceport in Brownsville, Texas, has passed its final federal environmental review. 'The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which had raised concerns about possible impact on habitat for some endangered species, ultimately concluded that "the project is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any listed or proposed to be listed species nor adversely modify piping plover critical habitat". But wildlife officials don't expect the project to be harmless: Two individual cats, either from the endangered ocelot or jaguarondi species, could be lost as a result of the project in spite of efforts to avoid just that with measures such as posting warning signs along the road leading to the launch site. And federal wildlife officials also anticipate that more than 7 miles of beachfront used by nesting sea turtles could be disturbed by security patrols, though driving is already permitted on the beach.'"
Bismillah (993337) writes "An interesting study by WilmerHale lawyers and Intel's assistant general counsel Ann Armstrong looked into how much royalty payments and demands actually amount to per device, and found the cost so high it threatens industry profitability and competitiveness. 'As the bank robber Willie Sutton is reported to have said, he robbed banks 'because that's where the money is' - so too of smartphones for patent holders,' the authors wrote."
mspohr (589790) points out NBC News's interview with Edward Snowden, the first time Snowden has talked with an American television reporter. It's a wide-ranging conversation, in which Snowden emphasizes his ongoing belief that he did the right thing to release the many documents that he did, even at the cost of his ability to travel. Snowden told NBC's Brian Williams "he had tried to go through channels before leaking documents to journalists, repeatedly raising objections inside the NSA, in writing, to its widespread use of surveillance. But he said he was told, "more or less, in bureaucratic language, 'You should stop asking questions.'" Two U.S. officials confirmed Wednesday that Snowden sent at least one email to the NSA's office of general counsel raising policy and legal questions." Perhaps paving the way to eventual repatriation, Snowden also indicated that he would be willing to accept a "short period" behind bars. But, he said, the U.S. should "reform the Espionage Act to distinguish between people who sell secrets to foreign governments for their own gain and people who return information to public hands for the purpose of serving the public interest," and to include contractors as well as government employees.
NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) writes "New York City Council Member Ben Kallos (KallosEsq), who also happens to be a Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) developer, just introduced legislation to mandate a government preference for FOSS and creating a Civic Commons website to facilitate collaborative purchasing of software. He argues that NYC could save millions of dollars with the Free and Open Source Software Preferences Act 2014, pointing out that the city currently has a $67 million Microsoft ELA. Kallos said: 'It is time for government to modernize and start appreciating the same cost savings as everyone else.'"
itwbennett (1594911) writes "A suspected Iranian hacker group seeded Facebook and LinkedIn with bogus profiles of attractive women and even created a fake online news organization to get digitally closer to more than 2,000 U.S. military members, defense contractors and lobbyists it wanted to spy on, according to a report by security consultancy iSight Partners. The group is suspected to be in Iran, based on their working patterns and the location of their command-and-control infrastructure, said Patrick McBride, vice president of iSight's marketing and communications. Their activity is consistent with government-sponsored espionage campaigns, but 'we don't have anything specific tying them back to the government,' he added." Adds reader wiredmikey (1824622): "The recently uncovered activity, which iSIGHT Partners calls NEWSCASTER, was a 'brazen, complex multi-year cyber-espionage that used a low-tech approach to avoid traditional security defenses–exploiting social media and people who are often the 'weakest link' in the security chain.' ... Working undetected since 2011, targets included senior U.S. military and diplomatic personnel, congressional personnel, Washington D.C. area journalists, U.S. think tanks, and defense contractors in the U.S. and Israel."
Responding to an editorial endorsing a national vaccine registry in Canada (though the same kind of registry could be and has been proposed in the U.S. with the same logic), an anonymous reader writes "Vaccine Registration makes me think of Mutant and Superhero registration. The reasons are similar. It's based on fear and misinformation. People fear that unvaccinated people will doom us all. Sound familiar? The difference is this is real. (Oh, and they probably won't use sentinels to track down the dangerous unvaccinated folks.) Thoughts?" From the linked editorial: "A national vaccination registry would identify which Canadians have been fully vaccinated, those who have received less than a full dose of shots, and those who have not been vaccinated at all. Having a vaccine registry in place in the event of an outbreak of measles, whooping cough, and diseases like these would enable public health officials to identify the children and adults who need vaccinations. Getting them the shots they need would reduce the risk of anyone on the list getting sick, and would also reduce the threat of an outbreak in the community in which they live or travel to [and] from." In the U.S., immunization records — at least, ones which have been put in electronic form at all — are maintained in a mix of databases, including at the state level, or maintained by cities, or by insurance companies and medical providers. Here, some people (like the reader who submitted this story) also see a potential for unwarranted privacy invasion in a national vaccination registry; however, their case isn't helped by often being tied to opposition to vaccination more generally.
TuringTest (533084) writes "Popular culture website Wikia originally hosted its user-contributed content under a free, sharealike Commercial Commons license (CC-BY-SA). At least as soon as 2003, some specific wikis decided to use the non-commercial CC-BY-NC license instead: hey, this license supposedly protects the authors, and anyone is free to choose how they want to license their work anyway, right? However, in late 2012 Wikia added to its License terms of service a retroactive clause for all its non-commercial content, granting Wikia an exclusive right to use this content in commercial contexts, effectively making all CC-BY-NC content dual-licensed. And today, Wikia is publicizing a partnership with Sony to display Wikia content on Smart TVs, a clear commercial use. A similar event happened at TV Tropes when the site owners single-handedly changed the site's copyright notice from ShareAlike to the incompatible NonCommercial, without notifying nor requesting consent from its contributors. Is this the ultimate fate of all wikis? Do Creative Commons licenses hold any weight for community websites?"
techpolicy (3586897) writes "Comcast Corp.'s proposed $45 billion purchase of Time Warner Cable Inc. has brought the issue of the digital divide and the federal government's failing policies to decrease it back onto center stage, according to an article by the Center for Public Integrity. Comcast has told the Federal Communications Commission that it will offer its discounted Internet program for low-income customers to residents living in Time Warner Cable's service areas — if the FCC approves the purchase. Comcast offered FCC the same deal in 2011 when it bought NBCUniversal. But the low-cost program, called Internet Essentials, has signed up only 12 percent of the 2.6 million families eligible for the service since it was launched nearly three years ago. While the FCC and other federal agencies have spent billions of dollars trying to provide broadband access and training programs to the poor to close the divide, so far the policies haven't worked much. The percentage difference between Americans earning below $30,000 who have an Internet connection in their home and those earning $75,000 or more who have an in-home connection has narrowed only 4 percentage points from 2009 to 2013. As the Comcast purchase moves through its regulatory approval process, the center reports that it may be time to revisit the policies that will get more poor Americans connected, especially because to function in society today you have to be online."
tlhIngan (30335) writes "Last week we heard that Amazon was withdrawing Hachette books from its virtual shelves including allowing preorders of the new JK Rowling book. Amazon has responded to these allegations, and confirms that yes, they are purposefully preventing pre-orders and lowering stock in order to get a better deal from Hachette. Amazon recommends that in the meantime, customers either buy a used or new copy from their zShops or buy from a competitor. Amazon admits there is nothing wrong with Hachette's business dealings and that they are a generally good supplier." Here's Hachette's response to the Amazon statement.
itwbennett writes: "Half a billion lines of code for a transactional website — more than five times as much code as that behind OS X — just didn't pass the sniff test. But just how many lines of code does it take to generate HealthCare.gov? This question came up on Reddit again last week and it appears that we may now have an answer. One commenter who claimed to have worked on HealthCare.gov as part of the post launch clean-up crew at the end of 2013, provided counts of the lines of code behind HealthCare.gov, broken down by programming/markup language."
jfruh (300774) writes "The revelations about the NSA's surveillance program caused particular outrage in Germany, a country that is closely allied with the United States but nevertheless found that its leader's cell phone was being snooped on. Nevertheless, the German federal prosecutor's office will not be bringing any charges against anyone, mostly because they lack enough evidence (Google translation). The decision is sparking anger among German privacy advocates."
tcd004 (134130) writes "You've always suspected those trailer-type portable classrooms are no good, right? It turns out you're right. Analysis of prefabricated classrooms in Washington shows the structures often don't allow for proper ventilation, leading to terrible air quality for kids. Students in temporary classrooms have higher rates of absenteeism than those in standard classrooms. And the energy-inefficient structures often become permanent, sucking on school energy bills for decades, and requiring more upkeep than permanent classrooms. What's needed are new designs for healthy, sustainable temporary classrooms."
netbuzz writes: "The Electronic Frontier Foundation is calling it a 'crushing blow for copyright trolls.' A federal appeals court today has for the first time ruled against what critics call a shakedown scheme aimed at pornography downloaders and practiced by the likes of AF Holdings, an arm of notorious copyright troll Prenda Law. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit called the lawsuit 'a quintessential example of Prenda Law's modus operandi' in reversing a lower court ruling that would have forced a half-dozen ISPs to identify account holders associated with 1,058 IP addresses."
Bruce66423 writes: "Ebon Moglen Gives a comprehensive explanation of how the NSA's surveillance operations are a threat to a functioning democracy, and why there is a need for real change. There are interesting parallels to the Roman Empires: 'The power of that Roman empire rested in its leaders' control of communications. ... The emperors invented the posts to move couriers and messages at the fastest possible speed. Using that infrastructure, with respect to everything that involved the administration of power, the emperor made himself the best-informed person in the history of the world. That power eradicated human freedom. "Remember," said Cicero to Marcellus in exile, "wherever you are, you are equally within the power of the conqueror.'
Nowadays, 'Our military listeners have invaded the centre of an evolving net, where conscriptable digital superbrains gather intelligence on the human race for purposes of bagatelle and capitalism. In the US, the telecommunications companies have legal immunity for their complicity, thus easing the way further. The invasion of our net was secret, and we did not know that we should resist. But resistance developed as a fifth column among the listeners themselves. Because of Snowden, we now know that the listeners undertook to do what they repeatedly promised respectable expert opinion they would never do. They always said they would not attempt to break the crypto that secures the global financial system. That was false.'"
wiredmikey (1824622) writes "An Iranian judge has summoned Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to answer allegations that his company's apps have breached people's privacy, it was reported Tuesday. The court in Fars province ordered that Zuckerberg address unspecified 'violation of privacy' claims made by Iranians over the reach of Facebook-owned apps, ISNA news agency reported. 'Based on the judge's verdict, the Zionist manager of Facebook... should report to the prosecutor's office to defend himself and make compensation for damages,' Rouhollah Momen-Nasab, a senior Iranian Internet security official, told ISNA. Access to social networks, including Twitter and Facebook, are routinely blocked by Iranian authorities, as are other websites considered un-Islamic or detrimental to the regime."
DavidGilbert99 (2607235) writes "Multiple iPhone/iPad/Mac users in Australia are reporting their devices being remotely locked and a ransom demand being made to get them unlocked again. However, unlike PC ransomware, the vector of attack here seems to be Apple's iCloud service with the attacker getting to a database of username/password credentials associated with the accounts. It is unclear if the database was one of Apple's or the hacker is simply using the fact that people reuse the same password for multiple accounts and is using data stolen from another source. Apple is yet to respond, but there has already been one report of the issue affecting a user in the UK."
First time accepted submitter S37Rigor Mortis (1601271) writes "Torrentz.eu, the largest torrent search engine on the Internet, has had its domain name suspended following a request from the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit in the UK. The site continues to operate under two alternative domains, and is hoping to move the .eu domain to a new registrar." Update: 05/27 12:53 GMT by T : That was quick; the site is back, "after the owners pointed out that its suspension was illegal."
theodp (442580) writes "Over at Forbes, Kashmir Hill examines the disturbing Internet footprint of Santa Barbara shooter Elliot Rodger. 'A decade ago,' observes TechCrunch's John Biggs in The Internet Is Now Part Of The Crime Scene, 'a crime scene was a photo and a report. Now it is a sea of interconnected tracings, the murderer bobbing loosely in social media and the forums. We can watch him make his way through these straits, we can watch the madness growing, and we can watch his terrible end, all through murk of media. We are quick to judge and we are quick to look at his wake and say, definitively, that he was this or he was that. He was frustrated. The frustration grew. He went to a place he thought would help. It didn't.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Twitter made a public stance in 2011 to remain a platform for free speech, having helped fuel movements such as the Arab Spring. This past week, however, Twitter is shown to have complied with Russian government demands to block a pro-Ukrainian Twitter feed from reaching Russian citizens, with Turkish government demands that it remove content that the Turkish government wants removed, and with a Pakistani bureaucrat's request that content he considers blasphemous and unethical be censored in Pakistan. Given Twitter's role in the democratic uprisings of the past few years, what do these capitulations bode for future movements? Will other platforms take Twitter's place? Or is the importance to democracy of platforms such as Twitter overblown?"
This analysis of trading logs from the Mt. Gox Bitcoin exchange analyzes a subset of the transactions that took place there prior to the exchange's collapse, and makes the case that two bots (the writer calls them "Willy," and "Markus") were making suspicious transactions which may have been used to intentionally manipulate the trading price, and which can explain the loss of Bitcoin inventory on which the exchange's failure was blamed. The author of the analysis says "[T]here is more than plenty of evidence to suspect that what happened at Mt. Gox may have been an inside job. What I hope to achieve by releasing this analysis into the wild is for the public to learn the truth behind what happened at Mt. Gox, how it affected the Bitcoin price, and hopefully for the individuals responsible for the massive fraud that occurred at Mt. Gox to be put to justice. Although the evidence shown in this report is far from conclusive, it can hopefully spur a more rigorous investigation into Mt. Gox’s accounting data, both by the public (using the leaked data) and the authorities (forensic investigation on the actual data)."
Bloomberg reports that after Apple's patent victory in court last week over smart-phone rival Samsung, Apple is seeking a sales ban on several specific phones from Samsung; none of them are currently flagship devices. "The nine devices targeted by Cupertino, California-based Apple for a U.S. sales ban include the Admire, Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy Note, Galaxy Note 2, Galaxy S2, Galaxy S2 Epic 4G Touch, Galaxy S2 Skyrocket, Galaxy S3 and Stratosphere." Getting the competition blocked from the marketplace over patent claims is something that Apple's tried before in connection with its beef with Samsung, and the company has had mixed results, depending on jurisdiction. Last week's decision in favor of Apple hints that the jury didn't think the company deserved the entire $2.2 billion it was seeking, awarding (a mere) $120 million, instead.
An anonymous reader writes with this news from Wired: "As a reward for his extensive cooperation helping prosecutors hunt down his fellow hackers, the government is seeking time served for the long-awaited sentencing of top LulzSec leader Hector Xavier Monsegur, also known as 'Sabu.' After delaying his sentencing for nearly three years, the government has asked a federal court to sentence Monsegur to time served — just seven months — calling him an 'extremely valuable and productive cooperator' in a document that details for the first time his extensive cooperation providing 'unprecedented access to LulzSec.'" That's much less than the 317 months in prison he might otherwise face.
Scientific American reports that an ongoing budget crunch at NASA may spell doom for the Spitzer Space Telescope, the agency having "taken stock of its fleet of orbiting astrophysics telescopes and decided which to save and which to shutter. Among the winners were the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-Ray Observatory and the Kepler planet-hunting telescope, which will begin a modified mission designed to compensate for the recent failure of two of its four stabilizing reaction wheels." Also from the SciAm article: "Until JWST comes online, no other telescope can approach Spitzer’s sensitivity in the range of infrared light it sees. The Senior Review report noted that Spitzer had the largest oversubscription of any NASA mission from 2013 to 2014, meaning that it gets about seven times more applications for observing time from scientists than it can accommodate. ...'The guest observing programs were very powerful because you get people from all over the world proposing ideas that maybe the people on the team wouldn’t have come up with,' [senior review panel chair Ben R.] Oppenheimer says. 'But it’s got to be paid for.'"
Taco Cowboy (5327) links to a report from Reuters that says "Washington is considering using visa restrictions to prevent Chinese nationals from attending popular summer hacking conferences in Las Vegas as part of a broader effort to curb Chinese cyber espionage, a senior administration official said Saturday. The official said that Washington could use such visa restrictions and other measures to keep Chinese from attending the August Def Con and Black Hat events to maintain pressure on China after the United States this week charged five Chinese military officers with hacking into U.S. companies to steal trade secrets."
The FCC's plan to use fees collected from big telecom companies to expand Internet infrastructure in rural parts of the U.S. was given a green light yesterday in Denver, by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Those telecoms maintained that the FCC's mandate did not extend to using the money to pay for Internet service, but a three-judge panel dismissed their challenge. From The Verge: "The FCC originally pitched the program as part of the Universal Service Fund in 2011, noting in a report a year earlier that approximately 14 million people did not have access to broadband. The Connect America Fund aimed to use a portion of customer bills in other areas of the country to build out broadband infrastructure, including cellular data networks in those areas. That would begin with $300 million at the start, and up to $500 million as part of an annual budget."
mrspoonsi (2955715) writes "A German amateur photographer has found out after his ex-girlfriend took him to court, which ruled that the subjects of smutty pictures can withdraw their consent if they're naked. [News release in German.] The shutterbug was able to keep the clothed pictures, however, as they weren't considered to compromise the reputation of the woman in question."
An anonymous reader writes "OpenBeam USA is a Kickstarted company that builds open source aluminum construction systems (think high-quality erector sets). One of the main uses for the systems is building 3D printers, and creator Terence Tam is heavily involved in the 3D-printing community. He's now put up a blog post about some disturbing patents filed by MakerBot. In particular, he notes a patent for auto-leveling on a 3D printer. Not only is this an important upcoming technology for 3D printers, the restriction of which would be a huge blow to progress, it seems the patent was filed just a few short weeks after Steve Graber posted a video demonstrating such auto-leveling. There had also been a Kickstarter campaign for similar tech a few months earlier. Tam gives this warning: 'Considering the Stratasys — Afinia lawsuit, and the fact that Makerbot is now a subsidiary of Stratasys, it's not a stretch to imagine Makerbot coming after other open source 3D manufacturers that threaten their sales. After all, nobody acquires a patent warchest just to invite their competitors to sit around the campfire to sing Kumbaya. It is therefore vitally important that community developed improvements do not fall under Makerbot's (or any other company's) patent portfolio to be used at a later date to clobber the little guys.'"
An anonymous reader writes "In a time when the government avows that it cannot carry out justice without issuing secret warrants and National Security Letters to anyone other than the suspect, it is truly noteworthy when news breaks that the FBI, facing push-back from the likes of a company such as Microsoft, finds that it can indeed gather the information it needs for its investigation through a regular search warrant applied directly to its suspect. Such was the case on Thursday. Court documents (PDF) reveal that Microsoft filed a petition against the National Security Letter (NSL) it received involving one of its customers, citing violations to the First Amendment. The FBI later withdrew the NSL and went after their suspect in the old, Constitutionally-sound way. A federal judge ruled last year that the NSLs impinge on free speech' That judgement has been stayed, of course, pending appeal."
On Monday, The Intercept reported that the NSA is recording the content of every cell phone call in the Bahamas. At the time of publication, The Intercept said there was another country in which the NSA was doing this, but declined to name it because of "specific, credible concerns that doing so could lead to increased violence." Now, reader Advocatus Diaboli points out that WikiLeaks has spilled the beans: the country being fully monitored by the NSA is Afghanistan. Julian Assange wrote, "Such censorship strips a nation of its right to self-determination on a matter which affects its whole population. An ongoing crime of mass espionage is being committed against the victim state and its population. By denying an entire population the knowledge of its own victimization, this act of censorship denies each individual in that country the opportunity to seek an effective remedy, whether in international courts, or elsewhere. Pre-notification to the perpetrating authorities also permits the erasure of evidence which could be used in a successful criminal prosecution, civil claim, or other investigations. ... We do not believe it is the place of media to 'aid and abet' a state in escaping detection and prosecution for a serious crime against a population. Consequently WikiLeaks cannot be complicit in the censorship of victim state X. The country in question is Afghanistan."
An anonymous reader writes with news about a study that investigated the effectiveness of Yelp reviews in pinpointing the source of foodborne illnesses. "In 2012, New York City's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) found that residents weren't turning to the city's free 311 service to make such complaints, but rather they were reporting their experiences in Yelp reviews. So the CDC, in collaboration with the New York City DOHMH, Yelp, and Columbia University, conducted a nine-month long research into the effectiveness of using online reviews to identify sources of foodborne illnesses. The study discovered 468 actionable complaints, 97% of which hadn't been officially reported to the city, and analyzed roughly 294,000 Yelp restaurant reviews. Subsequent investigations on suspected restaurants turned up evidence of bare-handed food handling, cross-contamination, or even the presence of mice and cockroaches. The study concluded that providing the public with more options for reporting complaints about restaurants, particularly in the social media sphere, would help in the identification and possible closure of sources of foodborne illnesses."
First time accepted submitter VT-802-Software (3663479) writes "A bipartisan proposal to curb patent trolls was shelved by the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Wednesday. 'Supporters of the compromise accuse trial lawyers, universities, pharmaceutical companies and biotech companies for foiling the plan at the eleventh hour. As late as Tuesday, the University of Vermont and a biotech coalition each sent letters to Leahy opposing the legislation. "We believe the measures in the legislation go far beyond what is necessary or desirable to combat abusive patent litigation, and would do serious damage to the patent system," reads one of the letters. "Many of the provisions would have the effect of treating every patent holder as a patent troll."'"
First time accepted submitter strangeintp (892348) writes "The first legislation aimed specifically at curbing US surveillance abuses revealed by Edward Snowden passed the House of Representatives on Thursday, with a majority of both Republicans and Democrats. But last-minute efforts by intelligence community loyalists to weaken key language in the USA Freedom Act led to a larger-than-expected rebellion by members of Congress, with the measure passing by 303 votes to 121. The bill's authors concede it was watered down significantly in recent days but insist it will still outlaw the practice of bulk collection of US telephone metadata by the NSA first revealed by Snowden."
smaxp (2951795) writes "California just released rules for testing autonomous vehicles on California's roads and highways. Californians will soon be seeing more autonomous vehicles than just those built by the Google X labs. These vehicles offer great promise, such as freeing the driver's attention for productivity or leisure, better safety and less congestion. It will be a while, though, before we see these vehicles on the road. From the article: 'Getting started requires the RMV’s approval of testing under controlled circumstances prior to testing on public roads. The manufactures must insure the vehicles with a $5 million surety bond. Autonomous vehicle manufacturers need a permit and test drivers need a special license. The RMV will receive applications beginning on July 1, 2014, and the permits that are granted will be announced beginning on September 1, 2014.'"
AmiMoJo writes: "A Japanese court has ordered the operator of the Ohi nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture, central Japan, not to restart two of its reactors, citing inadequate safety measures. The plant's No. 3 and 4 reactors were halted for regular inspections last September. Local residents filed a lawsuit asking that the reactors be kept offline. They said an estimate of possible tremors is too small, and that the reactors lack backup cooling systems. The operator, Kansai Electric Power Company, has insisted that no safety problems exist."
samzenpus (5) writes "Jennifer Granick was one of the primary crafters of a 2006 exception to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and served as the EFF's Civil Liberties Director. She has represented many high profile hackers during her career and was sought out by Aaron Swartz after his arrest. She currently serves as the Director of Civil Liberties for the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School. Jennifer has agreed to answer your questions about security, electronic surveillance, data protection, copyright, and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Please limit yourself to one question per post."
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from ComputerWorld: "In 2009, a few Internet privacy advocates developed an idea that was supposed to give people a way to tell websites they don't want to be monitored as they move from website to website. The mechanism, which would eventually be built into all the major browsers, was called Do Not Track. ... But today, DNT hangs by a thread, neutered by a failure among stakeholders to reach agreement. Yes, if you turn it on in your browser, it sends a signal in the form of an HTTP header to Web companies' servers. But it probably won't change what data they collect. That's because most websites either don't honor DNT — it's currently a voluntary system — or they interpret it in different ways. Another problem — perhaps the biggest — is that Web companies, ad agencies and the other stakeholders have never reached agreement on what "do not track" really means."