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itwbennett (1594911) writes "In a victory for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which is suing to make the DOJ release information about surveillance on U.S. citizens, a California judge on Friday ordered the Department of Justice to produce 66 pages of documents for her review. The judge said the agency failed to justify keeping the documents secret and she will decide whether the documents, including one opinion and four orders by the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), were improperly withheld from the public."
think_nix (1467471) writes The EU Parliament is paving the way for EU Nation States to decide on banning or allowing GMO foods within their respective territories. An further article at Der Spiegel (German) (Google translation) quotes the German Health Minister's claim that if countries cannot specifically, scientifically argue for a ban, this would allow GMO companies to initiate legal actions against the banning ruling states. Furthermore it was noted, given EU Parliaments current stance on not reintroducing border and customs controls between member states, this will make checks and controls of GMO foods between member states even more difficult.
An anonymous reader writes MIT researchers believe the solution to misuse and leakage of private data is more transparency and auditability, not adding new layers of security. Traditional approaches make it hard, if not impossible, to share data for useful purposes, such as in healthcare. Enter HTTPA, HTTP with accountability.
From the article: "With HTTPA, each item of private data would be assigned its own uniform resource identifier (URI), a component of the Semantic Web that, researchers say, would convert the Web from a collection of searchable text files into a giant database. Every time the server transmitted a piece of sensitive data, it would also send a description of the restrictions on the data’s use. And it would also log the transaction, using the URI, in a network of encrypted servers."
Charliemopps (1157495) writes "A lawsuit filed in September 2013 in the Northern District of California alleged that LinkedIn misled its users about the number of times it would attempt to invite their contacts using their name. LinkedIn tried to get the suit dismissed but Thursday Judge Lucy Koh ruled the suit can continue."
ktetch-pirate (1850548) writes Earlier this week, Nominet launched the .uk domain to great fanfare, but hidden in that activity has been Nominet's new policy of exposing personal domain owners' home addresses. Justification is based on a site being judged "commercial," which can mean anything from a few Google ads or an Amazon widget, to an email subscription box or linking to too many commercial sites, according to Nominet reps. In the meantime though, they want your driving license or passport to ensure "accuracy" because they "want to make things safe."
mrspoonsi (2955715) writes with word of a new extension to European consumer protection laws: Previously, anyone who bought a product online was allowed seven business days during which they were able to change their mind and return the product for a full refund. This 'cooling-off period,' during which a refund can be requested without being required to give a reason for the cancellation, has now been extended to fourteen calendar days from the date on which the goods are received. Online retailers and providers are now also banned from 'pre-ticking' optional extras on order forms, such as those adding insurance to the cost of a purchase. For the first time, laws have also been introduced to offer a cooling-off period for digital content, including music, films and books, as BBC News reports. Consumers may now cancel an order for digital content within fourteen days, but only if they have not downloaded it.
An anonymous reader writes The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced on Friday that it has successfully obtained the details regarding paid peering deals between Netflix and Comcast as well as Verizon and is working to obtain similar information for other video streamers and their respective ISP peers. The FCC's goal is, as they pointed out themselves, not to regulate as yet but to examine these deals with the goal of providing some transparency to the American public regarding the internet services they pay for. Verizon and Comcast issued statements expressing their willingness to be open about their peering activities and stressed that no regulation is required. The peering market 'has functioned effectively and efficiently for over two decades without government intervention,' Comcast claimed at a congressional hearing. The Free Press policy director nevertheless points out that 'when the FCC required reporting from AT&T after the company blocked Skype in 2009 and Google Voice in 2012, the disclosures revealed that AT&T was indeed misleading its customers.'
mpicpp (3454017) writes with an update from Ars Technica to this story: "The Illinois man who made headlines when he was detained for parodying the town's mayor on Twitter sued the Peoria politician and local police, claiming on Thursday that his civil rights were violated. As part of the April raid, the authorities seized the mobile phone and laptop of the 29-year-old prankster, Jonathan Daniel, and reviewed their contents, which he says was in violation of his First Amendment rights. Daniel, the operator of the @peoriamayor handle shut down by Twitter after the city threatened a lawsuit, was initially accused of impersonating a public official in violation of Illinois law. The authorities never lodged charges, however."
NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) writes In Authors Guild v Hathitrust, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has found that scanning whole books and making them searchable for research use is a fair use. In reaching its conclusion, the 3-judge panel reasoned, in its 34-page opinion (PDF), that the creation of a searchable, full text database is a "quintessentially transformative use", that it was "reasonably necessary" to make use of the entire works, that maintaining four copies of the database was reasonably necessary as well, and that the research library did not impair the market for the originals. Needless to say, this ruling augurs well for Google in Authors Guild v. Google, which likewise involves full text scanning of whole books for research.
As reported by the Associated Press, via US News & World Report, the IRS says that it cannot locate much of the email sent by a former IRS official over a two-year period. "The IRS told Congress Friday it cannot locate many of Lois Lerner's emails prior to 2011 because her computer crashed during the summer of that year. Lerner headed the IRS division that processed applications for tax-exempt status. The IRS acknowledged last year that agents had improperly scrutinized applications for tax-exempt status by tea party and other conservative groups." Three congressional committees are investigating the agency because of the allegations of politically motivated mishandling of those applications, as is the Justice Department and the IRS's own inspector general. As the story says, "Congressional investigators have shown that IRS officials in Washington were closely involved in the handling of tea party applications, many of which languished for more than a year without action. But so far, they have not publicly produced evidence that anyone outside the agency directed the targeting or even knew about it." CBS News has a slightly different version, also based on the AP's reporting.
Jason Koebler writes: At least 20 states have laws that make it illegal for communities to offer local government-owned high speed internet access. Wednesday, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler threw consumers a bone by suggesting that the agency could make it easier for cities to skirt those laws. That's a great first step — but many cities have locked themselves into telecom company-caused messes the FCC probably can't fix. The FCC's power becomes much less certain once you drill into the other major reason—besides state laws—why cities can't offer broadband to their constituents: local, long-term agreements with internet service providers.
An anonymous reader writes For the past several months, many Canadians have been debating privacy reform, with the government moving forward on two bills involving Internet surveillance and expanded voluntary, warrantless disclosure of personal information. Today, the Supreme Court of Canada entered the debate and completely changed the discussion, issuing its long-awaited R. v. Spencer decision, which examined the legality of voluntary warrantless disclosure of basic subscriber information to law enforcement. Michael Geist summarizes the findings, noting that the unanimous decision included a strong endorsement of Internet privacy, emphasizing the privacy importance of subscriber information, the right to anonymity, and the need for police to obtain a warrant for subscriber information except in exigent circumstances or under a reasonable law.
New submitter criticalmass24 writes: 42-year-old Marcel Lehel Lazar, better known as Guccifer, the hacker that gained unauthorized access to email and social network accounts of high-profile public figures, has been charged in the United States. According to the Department of Justice, "[F]rom December 2012 to January 2014, Lazar hacked into the e-mail and social media accounts of high-profile victims, including a family member of two former U.S. presidents, a former U.S. Cabinet member, a former member of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, and a former presidential adviser. After gaining unauthorized access to their e-mail and social media accounts, Lazar publicly released his victims’ private e-mail correspondence, medical and financial information, and personal photographs. The indictment also alleges that in July and August 2013, Lazar impersonated a victim after compromising the victim’s account." The full indictment can be read online.
ClownP writes with news that the U.S. Marshals Service is selling off 29,656.51306529 Bitcoins that were seized when the Silk Road website was shut down. At current exchange rates, they're worth around $17-18 million. The coins will be auctioned off in nine blocks of 3,000 coins, plus one block with the remainder. The USMS said that the first deadline for bidders will be 9am Eastern Time on June 16, 2014. All bidders must complete the government's Bidder Registration Form, which requires that you provide a copy of a government-issued ID as well as a $200,000 deposit sent by wire transfer from an American bank. The government added that the highest bidder will win, and he or she cannot finance its payment in installments — the winner must pay the full amount in cash. The USMS added one final stipulation. "The USMS will not sell to any person who is acting on behalf of or in concert with the Silk Road and/or Ross William Ulbricht, and bidders will be required to so certify," the USMS stated.
mrspoonsi (2955715) writes The EU's top court is considering a test case which could oblige employers to treat obesity as a disability. Denmark has asked the European Court of Justice to rule on the case of a male childminder who says he was sacked for being too fat. The court's final ruling will be binding across the EU. It is seen as especially significant because of rising obesity levels in Europe and elsewhere, including the US. If the judges decide it is a disability then employers could face new obligations. Employers might in future have a duty to create reserved car parking spaces for obese staff, or adjust the office furniture for them, she said.
An anonymous reader writes in with news about ride-share crackdowns in California. California regulators are threatening to revoke permits for on-demand ride companies UberX, Lyft, Sidecar, Summon and Wingz unless they stop giving rides to and from airports within two weeks. The move could lead to the state shutting down the companies' operations. Flouting the airport rules also flouts regulations that the CPUC set up for the new generation of ride companies to operate in California. In a clear rebuttal to an argument often made by the ride companies, Peevey wrote: "These safety requirements should not hinder your creativity nor should they impede your innovation."
schwit1 (797399) writes with this story from the Associated Press, as carried by Yahoo News: The Obama administration has been quietly advising local police not to disclose details about surveillance technology they are using to sweep up basic cellphone data from entire neighborhoods, The Associated Press has learned. Citing security reasons, the U.S. has intervened in routine state public records cases and criminal trials regarding use of the technology. This has resulted in police departments withholding materials or heavily censoring documents in rare instances when they disclose any about the purchase and use of such powerful surveillance equipment. Federal involvement in local open records proceedings is unusual. It comes at a time when President Barack Obama has said he welcomes a debate on government surveillance and called for more transparency about spying in the wake of disclosures about classified federal surveillance programs.
mpicpp (3454017) writes Facebook users who are annoyed by the targeted ads that pop up in their News Feed will soon have more control over what they see. Like Google, Facebook collects all kinds of information on its users and uses that information to serve up targeted ads. For some people, especially privacy advocates, it seemed a little creepy to have a social network tracking a user's activity and then using that data to sell them stuff. On Thursday, Facebook announced that users will soon be able to opt out of that targeted ad system through controls in their Web browser and iOS and Android phones. Facebook will also show users what information they have collected about them and let them edit the kinds of ads they want to see. If someone is confused about why they are seeing an ad for P.F. Chang's, for example, they can simply click on "Why am I seeing this ad?"
mknewman (557587) writes with a welcome followup to the broad hints that Tesla might release some of its patents for others to use patents that it has amassed. Now, Elon Musk writes on the company's blog: Yesterday, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of our Palo Alto headquarters. That is no longer the case. They have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology. Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport. If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal. Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.
The Guardian reports that Alaa Abd El Fattah, "one of the activists most associated with the 2011 uprising that briefly ended 60 years of autocratic rule, was sentenced to 15 years in jail for allegedly organising a protest – an act banned under a law implemented last November, and used to jail several revolutionary leaders. ... Abd El Fattah was also jailed under Mubarak, the military junta that succeeded him, and Adly Mansour, the interim president installed after the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi last summer. Under Morsi, Abd El Fattah escaped prison, but was placed under investigation." The EFF points ou that Abd El Fattah "is one of many caught up in the Egyptian government’s attempt to assert powers. Alaa set an example for how the Internet could be used to organize and exercise free speech: Egypt's leaders should not be permitted to make an example of him to silence others." Update: 06/12 20:02 GMT by T : Reader Mostafa Hussein points out that Abd El Fattah took part in a Slashdot interview more than 10 years ago, too; it gives some insight into the tech scene (and a bit of the politics) of Egypt at that time.
ectoman (594315) writes Proponents of patent reform in the United States glimpsed a potential victory late last year, when the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3309, the Innovation Act, designed to significantly mitigate patent abuse. Just months ago, however, the Senate pulled consideration of the bill. And since then, patent reform has been at a standstill. In a new analysis for Opensource.com, Mark Bohannon, Vice President of Corporate affairs and Global Public Policy at Red Hat, explains three reasons why. "For this year, at least," he writes, "the prospect of addressing abusive patent litigation through Congressional action is on ice"—despite the unavoidable case for reform.
Jason Koebler (3528235) writes The government cannot use cell phone location data as evidence in a criminal proceeding without first obtaining a warrant, an appeals court ruled today, in one of the most important privacy decisions in recent memory. "In short, we hold that cell site location information is within the subscriber's reasonable expectation of privacy," the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled. "The obtaining of that data without a warrant is a Fourth Amendment violation."
walterbyrd (182728) writes Last week, it transpired that the big cable companies were bankrolling fake consumer groups like Broadband for America and The American Consumer Institute. These 'independent consumer advocacy groups' are, in truth, nothing of the sort, and instead represent the interests of its benefactors, in the fight against net neutrality. If that wasn't bad enough, VICE is now reporting that several of the real community groups (and an Ohio bed-and-breakfast) that were signed up as supporters of Broadband for America were either duped into joining, or were signed up to the cause without their consent or knowledge.
wiredmikey (1824622) writes With the FIFA World Cup 2014 kicking off this week in Brazil, cybercriminals and scammers are working hard to take advantage of visitors to the World Cup in Brazil and those following the world soccer tournament online. In recent months, several security vendors have published advisories about the various scams, phishing and malware operations that target Internet users interested in the World Cup. While individuals from all over the world have been targeted, many of the malicious campaigns focus on Brazil and neighboring South American countries. While news that cybercriminals are zoning in on a large global event is no surprise, the scale and tactics being used is quite wide in scope, ranging from malware distribution and phishing scams, to fraudulent ticket sales, spam and other promising yet fraudulent schemes.For those visiting Brazil to watch the games in person, the cyber threats also include rogue wireless access points, ATMs rigged with card skimmers and Point-of-Sale malware.
alphadogg (971356) writes China makes headlines every other week for its censorship of the Internet, but few people outside the country know what it's like to live with those access controls, or how to get around them. This IDG News Service writer has lived in China for close to six years and censorship has been a near constant, lurking in the background ready to "harmonize" the Web and throw a wrench in his online viewing. It's been especially evident this month. Google's services, which don't follow the strict censorship rules, are currently blocked. How long that will last is unknown, but it coincides with the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests earlier this month — an event the Chinese government wants no one to remember.
trazom28 writes: Hachette books aren't the only products that are now harder to order on Amazon — the online retailer is going after movies, too. Amazon has turned off the preorder function for DVDs of prominent Warner Bros. films as it seeks to raise pressure on the company during negotiations. The Lego Movie, for example, is listed as "currently unavailable" on Amazon. Set for release in the home video marketplace on June 17, there is no option to place a preorder."
An anonymous reader writes "For the first time in United States political history, the House Majority Leader has been defeated in his primary election. Long time Republican congressman and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was defeated by 10 percentage points in the Virginia primary by Republican Tea Party challenger Dave Brat. This shocking defeat is likely to upset the political balance of power in the United States for years to come."
angry tapir writes: All bits running over the Internet are not equal and should not be treated that way by broadband providers, despite net neutrality advocates' calls for traffic neutral regulations, Cisco Systems has said. Some Web-based applications, including rapidly growing video services, home health monitoring and public safety apps, will demand priority access to the network, while others, like most Web browsing and email, may live with slight delays, said Jeff Campbell, Cisco's vice president for government and community relations. "Different bits do matter differently. We need to ensure that we have a system that allows this to occur."
An anonymous reader writes "Tenure laws one of the most controversial aspects of education reform, and now the tide seems to be turning against them. A California judge has handed down a ruling that such laws are unconstitutional, depriving students of an education by sometimes securing positions held by bad teachers. The judge said, "Substantial evidence presented makes it clear to this court that the challenged statutes disproportionately affect poor and/or minority students. The evidence is compelling. Indeed, it shocks the conscience." The plaintiff's case was that "California's current laws make it impossible to get rid of the system's numerous low-performing and incompetent teachers; that seniority rules requiring the newest teachers to be laid off first were harmful; and that granting tenure to teachers after only two years on the job was farcical, offering far too little time for a fair assessment of their skills." This is a precedent-setting case, and there will likely be many similar cases around the country as tenure is challenged with this new ammunition."
mpicpp sends this report from Ars: A cinema chain announced Tuesday that it is now barring patrons from wearing Google Glass at its movie houses across the U.S. in a bid to clamp down on piracy. Alamo Drafthouse, which runs theaters in Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, Texas, Virginia, and soon in California, is among the first U.S. chains to ban Google's computerized eyewear. 'Google Glass is officially banned from @drafthouse auditoriums once lights dim for trailers,' the chain's chief executive, Tim League, tweeted. The decision comes as Google has made the eyewear readily available to the general public, and it follows a slew of incidents in which wearers of Google Glass have had brushes with the law.
Reader Bruce66423 (1678196) points out skeptical-sounding coverage at the Washington Post of the NSA's claim that it can't hold onto information it collects about users' online activity long enough for it to be useful as evidence in lawsuits about the very practice of that collection. From the article: 'The agency is facing a slew of lawsuits over its surveillance programs, many launched after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked information on the agency's efforts last year. One suit that pre-dates the Snowden leaks, Jewel v. NSA, challenges the constitutionality of programs that the suit allege collect information about Americans' telephone and Internet activities. In a hearing Friday, U.S. District for the Northern District of California Judge Jeffrey S. White reversed an emergency order he had issued earlier the same week barring the government from destroying data that the Electronic Frontier Foundation had asked be preserved for that case. The data is collected under Section 702 of the Amendments Act to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. But the NSA argued that holding onto the data would be too burdensome. "A requirement to preserve all data acquired under section 702 presents significant operational problems, only one of which is that the NSA may have to shut down all systems and databases that contain Section 702 information," wrote NSA Deputy Director Richard Ledgett in a court filing submitted to the court. The complexity of the NSA systems meant preservation efforts might not work, he argued, but would have "an immediate, specific, and harmful impact on the national security of the United States.' Adds Bruce66423: "This of course implies that they have no backup system — or at least that the backup are not held for long."
wonkavader (605434) writes 'Lawrence Lessig's MAYDAY.US Super PAC to end all Super PACs (and more) is now on its second round of funding. The PAC has been reported on here before, but now the numbers are bigger. They hit their $1 million first goal easily, but now they aim to get another $5 million in the same time period. Lessig says that he's arranged for matching, again. It seems like the goals will be even higher in 2016: "For 2014, our goal is to raise $12 million and use it to make fundamental reform the key issue in five congressional races. And we'll apply what we learn then to 2016."'
schwit1 (797399) writes 'It wasn't touted onstage, but a new iOS 8 feature is set to cause havoc for location trackers, and score a major win for privacy.As spotted by Frederic Jacobs, the changes have to do with the MAC address used to identify devices within networks. When iOS 8 devices look for a connection, they randomize the MAC address, effectively disguising any trace of the real device until it decides to connect to a network.'
PvtVoid (1252388) writes "In the semiannual report to Congress by the NSF Office of Inspector General, the organization said it received reports of a researcher who was using NSF-funded supercomputers at two universities to mine Bitcoin. The computationally intensive mining took up about $150,000 worth of NSF-supported computer use at the two universities to generate bitcoins worth about $8,000 to $10,000, according to the report. It did not name the researcher or the universities."
mpicpp (3454017) writes with this excerpt from Ars: "The first man to be arrested in Chicago based on facial recognition analysis was sentenced last week to 22 years in prison for armed robbery. ... In February 2013, Pierre Martin robbed a man at gunpoint while on a Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) train. After taking the man's phone, Martin jumped off the train. However, his image was captured by CTA surveillance cameras and was then compared to the Chicago Police Department's database of 4.5 million criminal booking images. Martin, who already had priors, had a mugshot in the database. He was later positively identified by witnesses. At trial, Martin also admitted to committing a similar robbery also on the Pink Line in January 2013—his face was captured during both robberies."
redletterdave (2493036) writes "Elon Musk has said repeatedly he wants to 'do something controversial' with Tesla's collection of electric car patents, but he finally offered specifics at the UK launch of his Tesla Model S on Sunday. The Tesla Motors CEO said he would like to open up the designs for his Supercharger systems — the free fast-charging stations designed to quickly refuel Tesla's electric cars — to create a standard for other car makers to use. Musk previously said he didn't want Superchargers to become a 'walled garden.'"
jfruh (300774) writes "If you're a Verizon broadband customer and you've tried streaming Netflix over the past few days, you might've seen a message telling you that the "Verizon network is crowded" and that your stream is being modified as a result. Verizon isn't taking this lying down, saying that there's no proof Verizon is responsible for Netflix's issues, and is threatening to sue over the warnings."
An anonymous reader writes "Wireless security researcher Michael Ossmann asked himself: 'Could I make the gadgets that the agency uses to monitor and locate mobile phones, tap USB and Ethernet connections, maintain persistent malware on PCs, communicate with malware across air gaps, and more, by just using open source software and hardware?' In this podcast he shares his insights on what to use — and how — to duplicate hardware devices found in the ANT catalog."
An anonymous reader writes "Ex-KGB Major Boris Karpichko says that spies from Russia's SVR intelligence service, posing as diplomats in Hong Kong, convinced Snowden to fly to Moscow last June. 'It was a trick and he fell for it,' Karpichko, who reached the rank of Major as a member of the KGB's prestigious Second Directorate while specializing in counter-intelligence, told Nelson. 'Now the Russians are extracting all the intelligence he possesses.'"
heretic108 (454817) writes "Internet mega-entrepreneur, uber-gamer and now NZ political corruption-buster Kim DotCom has posted a bounty of $5 million to anyone who can dig up any dirt which saves him from extradition to the U.S.. This bounty would be payable not only to government employees, but also to anyone who can retrieve documents clearly proving corruption in the whole prosecution process. 'We are asking for information that proves unlawful or corrupt conduct by the US government, the New Zealand government, spy agencies, law enforcement and Hollywood', Dotcom told website Torrentfreak.com."
An anonymous reader writes in with the story of how MIT's fusion energy experiment is alive and well even though its federal funding was axed. "'In the end, it is about picking a winner and a parochial effort to direct money to MIT,' said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a Washington-based watchdog group. 'It's certainly a case of lawmakers bucking the president and putting their thumb on the scale for a particular project.' MIT enlisted the support of a wealthy Democratic donor from Concord and the help of an influential Washington think-tank co-founded by John Kerry. These efforts were backed by lobbyists, including a former congressman from Massachusetts, with connections to the right lawmakers on the right committees. The cast also included an alliance of universities, industry and national labs, all invested in the fusion dream. 'It's ground-breaking research that could lead an energy revolution,' [Senator Elizabeth] Warren said. 'This was not about politics. This was about good science.' The revival of MIT's project, whatever its merits, clearly demonstrated what the combination of old-fashioned Washington horse-trading and new-fangled power — both nuclear and political — can do."
JonZittrain (628028) writes "I'm curious whether there are good prospects for 'time capsule encryption,' one of several ways of storing information that renders it inaccessible to anyone until certain conditions — such as the passage of time — are met? Libraries and archives could offer such technology as part of accepting papers and manuscripts, especially in the wake of the 'Belfast Project' situation, where a library promised confidentiality for accounts of the Troubles in North Ireland, and then found itself amidst subpoenas from law enforcement looking to solve long-cold cases. But the principle could apply to any person or company thinking that there's a choice between leaving information exposed to leakage, or destroying it entirely. Some suggested solutions are very much out of the box."
An anonymous reader writes "The Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI) on Thursday announced it has absolved Apple of wrongdoing in a trademark lawsuit surrounding the iPhone's infringement of a local telecommunications company marketing the phonetically identical 'iFone' brand. The logic behind the ruling was based on the difference in the two companies' markets. While iFone sells telecommunications services, Apple sells smartphones (but not actual telecommunications service). Because cellular carriers offer telecommunications services, the IMPI ruled that carriers have to remove the word 'iPhone' from all marketing materials within the next 15 days."
MarkWhittington (1084047) writes "It turns out that the recent FAA environmental impact statement that seemed to give a stamp of approval for the proposed SpaceX space port in south Texas is not the end of the regulatory process, but the end of the beginning. A story in the Brownsville Herald reminds us that the report has kicked off a 30 day review period after which the FAA can allow SpaceX to apply for a launch license to start work on the Brownsville area launch facility. And that in turn kicks off a 180 day process during which the FAA makes the decision whether or not to grant the required licensing and permits.
But even that is not the end of the regulatory hurdles that SpaceX must face before the first Falcon rocket roars into the skies over the Gulf of Mexico. The Longview News-Journal reports that a number of state and federal agencies must give their approval for various aspects of the space port before it becomes operational. For instance, the Texas Department of Transportation must give approval for the movement of utility lines. Environment Texas still opposes the space port since it is close to a wild life reserve and a state park. SpaceX has already agreed to enact measures to minimize the impact the space port would have on the environment, 'such as containing waste materials from the construction and enforcing a speed limit in the control center area.' Environment Texas is not impressed, however. Whether it is disposed to make trouble in the courts is an open question."
mpicpp sends this news from Ars: 'A local New Hampshire police department agreed Thursday to pay a woman who was arrested and charged with wiretapping $57,000 to settle her civil rights lawsuit. The deal comes a week after a federal appeals court ruled that the public has a "First Amendment" right to film cops. The plaintiff in the case, Carla Gericke, was arrested on wiretapping allegations in 2010 for filming her friend being pulled over by the Weare Police Department during a late-night traffic stop. Although Gericke was never brought to trial, she sued, alleging that her arrest constituted retaliatory prosecution in breach of her constitutional rights. The department, without admitting wrongdoing, settled Thursday in a move that the woman's attorney speculated would deter future police "retaliation." ... The First US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled (PDF) in Gericke's case last week that she was "exercising a clearly established First Amendment right when she attempted to film the traffic stop in the absence of a police order to stop filming or leave the area."
wired_parrot (768394) writes 'After a leading protester of the recent military coup in Thailand made several critical posts in Facebook criticizing the military takeover, Thailand's Technology Crime Suppression Division tracked his location through his IP address and promptly arrested him.. The arrested was meant to send a message to Thailand's online community. Said the police: "I want to tell any offenders on social media that police will come get you."'
An anonymous reader writes 'Talk about regulatory capture! As radio station WTOP reports, "The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles says that ride services Lyft and Uber are violating state law and must stop operating immediately. The DMV sent cease and desist orders to both companies Thursday." Who benefits most? It's not the people who are voting with their dollars and feet — seems more like the current stable of taxi drivers and others blessed by the state of Virginia. Good thing there's no call for or benefit from greater per-car occupancy, or experimentation more generally with disruptive disintermediation. Given enough bribe money down the road, I'm sure a deal can be struck, though.'
theodp writes 'Politico reports that parents have mobilized into an unexpected political force to fight the data mining of their children, catapulting student privacy to prominence in statehouses. Having already torpedoed the $100 million, Bill Gates-funded inBloom database project, which could have made it easier for schools to share confidential student records with private companies, the amateur activists are now rallying against another perceived threat: huge state databases being built to track children for more than two decades, from as early as infancy through the start of their careers. "The Education Department," writes Stephanie Simon, "lists hundreds of questions that it urges states to answer about each child in the public school system: Did she make friends easily as a toddler? Was he disciplined for fighting as a teen? Did he take geometry? Does she suffer from mental illness? Did he go to college? Did he graduate? How much does he earn?" Leonie Haimson, a NY mother who is organizing a national Parent Coalition for Student Privacy says, "Every parent I've talked to has been horrified. We just don't want our kids tracked from cradle to grave." For their part, ed tech entrepreneurs and school reformers are both bewildered by and anxious about the backlash — and struggling to craft a response, having assumed parents would support their vision: to mine vast quantities of data for insights into what's working, and what's not, for individual students and for the education system as a whole. "People took for granted that parents would understand [the benefits], that it was self-evident," said Michael Horn, a co-founder an education think tank."
CowboyRobot writes: 'In ACM's Queue, Thomas Wadlow argues that "Whom you trust, what you trust them with, and how much you trust them are at the center of the Internet today." He gives a checklist of what to look for when evaluating any system for trustworthiness, chock full of fascinating historical examples. These include NASA opting for a simpler, but more reliable chip; the Terry Childs case; and even an 18th century "semaphore telegraph" that was a very early example of steganographic cryptography. From the article: "Detecting an anomaly is one thing, but following up on what you've detected is at least as important. In the early days of the Internet, Cliff Stoll, then a graduate student at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories in California, noticed a 75-cent accounting error on some computer systems he was managing. Many would have ignored it, but it bothered him enough to track it down. That investigation led, step by step, to the discovery of an attacker named Markus Hess, who was arrested, tried, and convicted of espionage and selling information to the Soviet KGB."'
An anonymous reader writes 'Thirteen people have died because of faulty ignition switches in General Motors vehicles. The company has recalled 2.6 million cars, paid a $35 million fine, and set up a fund to compensate the victims. Now, an internal investigation into the incident has shown that the company was aware of the problem since 2002. 15 employees have been fired over what CEO Mary Barra calls "misconduct and incompetence." The report singles out Ray DeGiorgio, an engineer who allegedly approved a part that did not meet specifications and misled coworkers who were investigating complaints. "He actually changed the ignition switch to solve the problem in later model years of the Cobalt, but failed to document it, told no one, and claimed to remember nothing about the change."
"There's no evidence anyone else knew the switch was out-of-spec at the time, the report says; neither did DeGiorgio tell anyone when issues with the part were brought to his attention multiple times. When one engineer specifically asked DeGiorgio in 2004 whether the switch met torque specifications, DeGiorgio didn't respond. Evidence the investigators gathered showed that he started two e-mails but never sent them. ... Instead, DeGiorgio was consumed by a problem in which cars with the switch were failing to start in cold weather, something the report says was "a personal embarrassment to DeGiorgio.'"'