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An anonymous reader writes Have you heard of personalized postage stamps? You pay the value of the stamps plus a fee and the post office prints official stamps usable for postage which show (almost) anything you can put into a jpeg file. An Austrian Tibet supporter found out what 'almost' means. He submitted a picture of the Dalai Lama with the text 'His Holiness the Dalai Lama,' but the Austrian post office refused to produce these stamps. Stampnews and the Neue Zuercher Zeitung (autotranslation) reported that this had been due to pressure from the Chinese embassy in Vienna. Now there is a video showing how visual cryptography has been used to get around this attempt at censorship [caution: organ music] .
Def Con shows no mercy. As gleefully reported by sites several Blackberry-centric sites, researcher Justin Case yesterday demonstrated that he could root the much-heralded Blackphone in less than five minutes. From n4bb.com's linked report: "However, one of the vulnerabilities has already been patched and the other only exploitable with direct user consent. Nevertheless, this only further proves you cannot add layers of security on top of an underlying platform with security vulnerabilities." Case reacts via Twitter to the crowing: "Hey BlackBerry idiots, stop miss quoting me on your blogs. Your phone is only "secure" because it has few users and little value as a target."
An anonymous reader writes with a link to a story in the LA Times: "Few places in the country are so warm and bright as Mary Wilkerson's property on the beach near St. Petersburg, Fla., a city once noted in the Guinness Book of World Records for a 768-day stretch of sunny days. But while Florida advertises itself as the Sunshine State, power company executives and regulators have worked successfully to keep most Floridians from using that sunshine to generate their own power. Wilkerson discovered the paradox when she set out to harness sunlight into electricity for the vintage cottages she rents out at Indian Rocks Beach. She would have had an easier time installing solar panels, she found, if she had put the homes on a flatbed and transported them to chilly Massachusetts. While the precise rules vary from state to state, one explanation is the same: opposition from utilities grown nervous by the rapid encroachment of solar firms on their business."
They may be well reviewed and China's new top selling phone, but reader DavidGilbert99 writes with reason to be cautious about Xiaomi's phones: Finnish security firm F-Secure has seemingly proven that Xiaomi smartphones do in fact upload user data without their permission/knowledge despite the company strongly denying these allegations as late as 30 July. Between commercial malware and government agencies, how do you keep your phone's data relatively private?
John McAfee made a surprise appearance at Def Con to talk about privacy: he's for it. Trouble is, he says, lots of companies feel otherwise, and he took the stage to single out "don't be evil" Google: “Google, or at least certain people within Google, I will not mention names because I am not a rude gentleman, would like us to believe that if we have nothing to hide, we should not mind if everybody knows everything that we do,” he said from the podium. “I have to take serious issue with that.” The BBC has video. McAfee also announced his new complaints website, The Brown List. (Good usernames are still available, and your complaint can be about anything, not just privacy violations by humongous corporations.)
Around the world, American schools' long summer break is viewed as an anomaly, and the long summer seems to be getting shorter. While most American primary and secondary schools used to start after Labor Day, more and more of them now open sometime in August (and that's not counting the ones that have gone to a year-round schedule). Some of my younger relatives started a new school year last week (in Indiana), while Baltimore schools start later this month. Both Seattle and Portland's kids have until after Labor Day (with start dates of the 3rd and 4th of September, respectively). The 4th is also the start date for students in New York City's public schools, the country's largest district. Colleges more often start in September, but some get a jump start in August, especially with required seminars or orientation programs for new students. Whether you're in school, out of school, or back in school by proxy (packing lunches or paying tuition), what time does (or did) your school-year start? Would you prefer that your local public schools run all year round, if they're of the long-summer variety? (And conversely, if your local schools give short shrift to summer, whether that's in the U.S. or anywhere else, do you think that's a good idea?)
An anonymous reader writes "On Friday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to require all U.S. wireless carriers and popular messaging applications to support texting to emergency response units via 911. AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile implemented this capability back in 2012; the FCC's vote will make it mandatory for all carriers that operate in the country as well as all messaging applications that interconnect with the SMS structure in the U.S. to follow suit. One technological hurdle this mandate faces is the difficulty of tracing "the exact physical origin of a text message, particularly in residences with multiple floors."" Somehow I doubt that cellphone calls are consistently traceable to that degree, either, and I've lived in houses with extensions spread over several floors, too.
An anonymous reader writes with this news from Reuters: A U.S. district judge on Friday ruled that the $324.5 million settlement negotiated by Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe with the tech workers who brought an antitrust lawsuit against them was too low. The judge cited the settlement amount of a similar lawsuit brought against Disney and Intuit last year which resulted in plaintiffs obtaining proportionally more for lost wages. And yet, according to the judge, the current plaintiffs have "much more leverage". She cited evidence clearly showing Apple's Steve Jobs strong-arming the other companies in the suit into agreeing to a no-employee-poaching agreement, and in one instance, of Google failing to rope in Facebook into a similar agreement which resulted in a 10% increase of all Google employee salaries. In other words, clear evidence that the no-poaching agreement effectively suppressed the salaries of these companies' tech workers. Another hearing is scheduled for September 10.
Advocatus Diaboli writes Software created by the controversial UK-based Gamma Group International was used to spy on computers that appear to be located in the United States, the UK, Germany, Russia, Iran, and Bahrain, according to a leaked trove of documents analyzed by ProPublica. It's not clear whether the surveillance was conducted by governments or private entities. Customer e-mail addresses in the collection appeared to belong to a German surveillance company, an independent consultant in Dubai, the Bosnian and Hungarian Intelligence services, a Dutch law enforcement officer, and the Qatari government.
Linking to a story at Reuters, reader WilliamGeorge writes "Russia is further constraining access to the internet and freedom of speech, with new laws regarding public use of WiFi. Nikolai Nikiforov, the Russian Communications Minister, tweeted that "Identification of users (via bank cards, cell phone numbers, etc.) with access to public Wifi is a worldwide practice." This comes on top of their actions recently to block websites of political opponents to Russian president Vladimir Putin, require registration of prominent bloggers, and more. The law was put into effect with little notice and without the input of Russian internet providers. Sergei Plugotarenko, head of the Russian Electronic Communications Association, said "It was unexpected, signed in such a short time and without consulting us." He added, "We will hope that this restrictive tendency stops at some point because soon won't there be anything left to ban." In addition to the ID requirement to use WiFi, the new law also requires companies to declare who is using their web networks and calls for Russian websites to store their data on servers located in Russia starting in 2016." That's not the only crackdown in progress, though: former Slashdot code-wrestler Vlad Kulchitski notes that Russian users are being blocked from downloading Java with an error message that reads, in essence, "You are in a country on which there is embargo; you cannot download JAVA." Readers at Hacker News note the same, though comments there indicate that the block may rely on a " specific and narrow IP-block," rather than being widespread. If you're reading this from Russia, what do you find?
Daniel_Stuckey writes You've maybe heard a bit about Stingray. Over the past couple of years, it has emerged that police forces in the US have been using the powerful surveillance tool, which tricks phones into connecting to a dragnet, to track mobile devices, and intercept calls and text messages. Meanwhile, the London Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) continue to remain tight lipped about their use of the technology, leaving citizens in the dark on what privacy protections, if any, are in place for those who may get swept up by the broad surveillance techniques.
itwbennett writes China is tightening control over mobile messaging services with new rules that limit their role in spreading news. Under the new regulations, only news agencies and other groups with official approval can publish whatever the government considers political news via public accounts. "All other public accounts that have not been approved cannot release or reprint political news," the regulations said. Users of the instant messaging services will also have to register with their official IDs, and agree to follow relevant laws.
First time accepted submitter PotatoHead (12771) writes "This is a big win for Open Hardware Proponents! The Parallax Propeller Microcontroller VERILOG code was released today, and it's complete! Everything you need to run Open Code on an Open CPU design. This matters because you can now build a device that is open hardware, open code all the way down to the CPU level! Either use a product CPU, and have access to its source code to understand what and how it does things, or load that CPU onto a suitable FPGA and modify it or combine it with your design."
Sonny Yatsen (603655) writes A California man with nothing better to do has launched a class-action lawsuit against Sony because he claims he was harmed because Killzone: Shadowfall's multiplayer mode doesn't have native 1080p resolution as Sony originally claimed. He now demands 'all economic, monetary, actual, consequential, statutory and compensatory damages' as well as punitive damages from Sony.
SiggyRadiation writes Edward Snowden is allowed to stay in Russia for three more years. According to the NYPost:"His lawyer, Analtoly Kucherena, was quoted by Russian news agencies on Thursday as saying Snowden now has been granted residency for three more years, but that he had not been granted political asylum. That status, which would allow him to stay in Russia permanently, must be decided by a separate procedure, Kucherena said, but didn't say whether Snowden is seeking it." The question that remains, of course, is did the Russians use this as leverage over him to get to more information or influence him? Or is the positive PR in itself enough for the Russians in the current climate of tensions and economic sanctions relating to the Ukraine crisis?"
mrspoonsi writes Apple and Samsung have agreed to withdraw all legal cases against each other outside the United States. The two rivals have sued each other over a range of patent disputes in nine countries outside the US, including the UK, South Korea, Japan and Germany. A joint statement said the agreement "does not involve any licensing arrangements", and they would continue to pursue existing cases in US courts. The two firms are the biggest players in the smartphone and tablet PC market. But they have been involved in a bitter legal battle, spread across various countries, which has escalated in recent years.
stephendavion writes A legal scholar says he and colleagues have developed an algorithm that can predict, with 70 percent accuracy, whether the US Supreme Court will uphold or reverse the lower-court decision before it. "Using only data available prior to the date of decision, our model correctly identifies 69.7 percent of the Court's overall affirm and reverse decisions and correctly forecasts 70.9% of the votes of individual justices across 7,700 cases and more than 68,000 justice votes," Josh Blackman, a South Texas College of Law scholar, wrote on his blog Tuesday.
Mr_Silver writes TorrentFreak is reporting that the City of London Police (a private police force in government-backed livery with an authority that does not go beyond the corporate-controlled City of London area — so not to be confused with the Metropolitan Police) has seized control of a number of domains including Immunicity, a general proxy server that was set up as a censorship circumvention tool. This appears to be their next step after placing banner adverts on websites.
coondoggie writes Can a tool or technology be applied to the brain and accurately predict out of a given group of people who will be the smartest? The research arm of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) is looking for exactly those kinds of tools."IARPA is looking to get a handle on the state of the art in brain-based predictors of future cognitive performance. In particular, IARPA is interested in non-invasive analyses of brain structure and/or function that can be used to predict who will best learn complex skills and accomplish tasks within real-world environments, and with outcome measures, that are relevant to national security.
First time accepted submitter jaeztheangel writes Ecuador's government has approved plans to start a new Digital Currency backed by the state. With defaults in recent history, and dwindling oil reserves it will be interesting to see how this decision turns out. From the article: "Congress last month approved legislation to start a digital currency for use alongside the U.S. dollar, the official tender in Ecuador. Once signed into law, the country will begin using the as-yet-unnamed currency as soon as October. A monetary authority will be established to regulate the money, which will be backed by 'liquid assets.'”
v3rgEz (125380) writes As part of MuckRock's Drone Census, the San Jose Police twice denied having a drone in public records requests — until the same investigation turned up not only a signed bid for a drone but also a federal grant giving them money for it. Now, almost a full year after first denying they had a drone, the department has come clean and apologized for hiding the program, promising more transparency and to pursue federal approval for the program, which the police department had, internally, claimed immunity from previously.
MojoKid (1002251) writes "China seems to be on a mission to isolate itself from the world, at least in terms of technology. After banning Windows 8 on government PCs and raiding several of Microsoft's offices in China as part of an anti-trust investigation, Chinese officials have now prohibited purchase of several Apple products for government use. The list of banned Apple products include the iPad, iPad Mini, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and half a dozen other items, all of which were left off of a final government procurement list distributed in July. This is a potentially big hit to Apple, which generated around 16 percent of its $37.4 billion in revenue last quarter from China. Apple saw its iPad sales jump 51 percent and Mac sales boosted 39 percent in China."
New submitter socheres (1771002) writes I keep a Slackware server hosted at various datacenters on leased hardware for personal / freelance business use. I have been doing this for the last 10 years and during this time I moved my stuff to several datacenters, some small and some big name companies. No matter the hosting company, since I choose to install my own OS and not take a pre-installed machine, I always got the hardware delivered with the previous guys' data stored on the hard drives. It was also the case with spare drives, which were not installed new if I did not ask specifically for new ones. Has this happened to you? How often?
netbuzz (955038) writes The Wikimedia Foundation this morning reports that 50 links to Wikipedia from Google have been removed under Europe's "right to be forgotten" regulations, including a page about a notorious Irish bank robber and another about an Italian criminal gang. "We only know about these removals because the involved search engine company chose to send notices to the Wikimedia Foundation. Search engines have no legal obligation to send such notices. Indeed, their ability to continue to do so may be in jeopardy. Since search engines are not required to provide affected sites with notice, other search engines may have removed additional links from their results without our knowledge. This lack of transparent policies and procedures is only one of the many flaws in the European decision." Wikimedia now has a page listing all notifications that search listing were removed. itwbennett also wrote in with Wikimedia news this morning: the Wikimedia foundation published its first ever transparency report, detailing requests to remove or alter content (zero granted, ever) and content removed for copyright violations.
I Ate A Candle (3762149) writes Aaron's Law, named after the late internet activist Aaron Swartz, was supposed to fix U.S. hacking laws, which many deem dated and overly harsh. But the bill looks certain to wither in Congress, thanks to corporate lobbying, disagreements in Washington between key lawmakers and a simple lack of interest amongst the general population for changes to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Representative Zoe Lofgren blamed inactivity from the House Judiciary Committee headed up by Representative Bob Goodlatte, which has chosen not to discuss or vote on Aaron's Law. There is still an appetite for CFAA reform, thanks to complaints from the security community that their research efforts have been deemed illegal acts, perversely making the internet a less secure place. But with the likes of Oracle trying to stop it and with Congress unwilling to act, change looks some way away.
New submitter Rigodi (1000552) writes "The New York Times reported on August 5th that a massive collection of stolen email passwords and website accounts have been accumulated by an alleged Russian "crime ring". Over 1.2 billion accounts were compromised ... the attack scheme is essentially the old and well known SQL injection tactic using a botnet. The Information has been made public to coincide with the Blackhat conference to cause a debate about the classic security account and password system weaknesses, urging the industry to find new ways to perform authentication. What do Black Hat security conference participants have to say about that in Vegas?
Advocatus Diaboli (1627651) writes with the chilling, but not really surprising, news that the U.S. government is aware that many names in its terrorist suspect database are not linked to terrorism in any way. From the article: Nearly half of the people on the U.S. government's widely shared database of terrorist suspects are not connected to any known terrorist group, according to classified government documents obtained by The Intercept. Of the 680,000 people caught up in the government's Terrorist Screening Database — a watchlist of "known or suspected terrorists" that is shared with local law enforcement agencies, private contractors, and foreign governments — more than 40 percent are described by the government as having "no recognized terrorist group affiliation." That category — 280,000 people — dwarfs the number of watchlisted people suspected of ties to al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah combined.
An anonymous reader writes with the news that Hackaday published an article on the poor security of the add-on modules that Tektronix sells as expensive add-ons to unlock features in certain of its oscilloscopes. The reader writes: "It has come to attention of Tek's legal eagles and they now want the article to be taken down. Perhaps they can ask Google to forget that page?"
An anonymous reader writes About a week ago, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) asked for Verizon's justification on its policy of throttling users who pay for unlimited data usage. "I know of no past Commission statement that would treat 'as reasonable network management' a decision to slow traffic to a user who has paid, after all, for 'unlimited' service," the FCC wrote. In its response, Verizon has indicated that its throttling policy is meant to provide users with an incentive to limit their data usage. The company explained that "a small percentage of the customers on these [unlimited] plans use disproportionately large amounts of data, and, unlike subscribers on usage-based plans, they have no incentive not to do so during times of unusually high demand....our practice is a measured and fair step to ensure that this small group of customers do not disadvantage all others."
bobbied (2522392) writes Apparently Edward Snowden is not alone. CNN is reporting that recent leaked documents published by The Intercept (a website that has been publishing Snowden's leaked documents) could not have been leaked by Snowden because they didn't exist prior to his fleeing the USA and he couldn't possibly have accessed them. Authorities are said to be looking for a new leaker.
The EFF is only today able to release details of an attempt by the government to alter the historical record in the case brought by the EFF against the NSA in Jewel v. NSA. "On June 6, the court held a long hearing in Jewel in a crowded, open courtroom, widely covered by the press. We were even on the local TV news on two stations. At the end, the Judge ordered both sides to request a transcript since he ordered us to do additional briefing. But when it was over, the government secretly, and surprisingly sought permission to "remove" classified information from the transcript, and even indicated that it wanted to do so secretly, so the public could never even know that they had done so." As you'd expect of the EFF, they fought back with vigorous objections, and in the end the government did not get its way, instead deciding that it hadn't given away any classified information after all. "The transcript of a court proceeding is the historical record of that event, what will exist and inform the public long after the persons involved are gone. The government's attempt to change this history was unprecedented. We could find no example of where a court had granted such a remedy or even where such a request had been made. This was another example of the government's attempt to shroud in secrecy both its own actions, as well as the challenges to those actions. We are pleased that the record of this attempt is now public. But should the situation recur, we will fight it as hard as we did this time."
Advocatus Diaboli (1627651) writes For the last two years, the FBI has been quietly experimenting with drive-by hacks as a solution to one of law enforcement's knottiest Internet problems: how to identify and prosecute users of criminal websites hiding behind the powerful Tor anonymity system. The approach has borne fruit—over a dozen alleged users of Tor-based child porn sites are now headed for trial as a result. But it's also engendering controversy, with charges that the Justice Department has glossed over the bulk-hacking technique when describing it to judges, while concealing its use from defendants.
jfruh (300774) writes The fallout from HP's Autonomy acquisition keeps getting more dramatic. Autonomy's ex-CFO is trying to block the settlement of lawsuits that arsoe the botched deal, claiming that HP is trying to hide its "own destruction of Autonomy's success after the acquisition." HP hit back, saying the ex-CFO "was one of the chief architects of the massive fraud on HP that precipitated this litigation."
mask.of.sanity (1228908) writes "A string of documents detailing the operations and effectiveness of the FinFisher suite of surveillance platforms appears to have been leaked. The documents, some dated 4 April this year, detail the anti-virus detection rates of the FinFisher spyware which German based Gamma Group sold to governments and law enforcement agencies. The dump also reveals Windows 8 users should opt for the Metro version of Skype rather than the desktop client because it cannot be tapped by FinFisher."
Despite a failed attempt to have charges dismissed, the alleged Silk Road operator Ross Ulbricht's lawyer has filed a new motion to have evidence dismissed, citing recent court rulings in an argument that the Silk Road related searches were overly broad. From the article:
Dratel [Ulbricht's lawyer] argues in his 102-page motion filed last Friday that "the government conducted a series of 14 searches and seizures of various physical devices containing electronically stored information ('ESI'), and of ESI itself from Internet providers and other sources. Some of the ESI was obtained via search warrant, but other ESI was obtained via court order, and still other ESI was obtained without benefit of any warrant at all." ...
The defense lawyer argues that even the searches for which the government had a warrant were overbroad and based on evidence that may have been obtained illegally. The attorney writes: " As set forth ante, all of the searches and seizures conducted pursuant to warrants and/or orders were based on the initial ability of the government to locate the Silk Road Servers, obtain the ESI on them, and perform extensive forensic analysis of that ESI. Thus, all subsequent searches and seizures are invalid if that initial locating the Silk Road Servers, obtaining their ESI, and gaining real-time continued access to those servers, was accomplished unlawfully."
Nerval's Lobster writes The "Compubody Sock," which anyone with knitting skills can make at home, is a giant sock-hoodie-bag in which you place your laptop or tablet, along with your head and hands, giving you total privacy while freaking out anyone who happens to be sitting next to you. Designer Becky Stern told Forbes' Kashmir Hill that the Sock was meant more as commentary on privacy and device addiction; even so, considering how NSA employees reportedly drape themselves in hoods in order to thwart hidden cameras while typing in passwords, it's not outside the realm of possibility that an ultra-paranoid someone could find a practical use for a body sock. But that paranoid android better have expert knitting skills: putting together the Sock necessitates a whole lot of steps ("Purl 5, purl 2 together, purl 1, turn the work," etc.). Your other option, of course, is to simply avoid working on sensitive stuff in public.
rsmiller510 writes Spain's new tax on linking to Spanish newspaper articles is ill defined and short sighted and ends up protecting a dying industry, while undermining a vibrant one. In another case of disrupted industries turning to lawmakers to solve their problems, this one makes no sense at all, especially given the state of the Spanish economy and the fact that it comes 15 years too late to even matter. From the article: "While newspapers are at least partly correct to blame the Internet for their troubles, they should recognize that their own mismanagement also played a key role. Newspapers everywhere waited much too long to take the Internet seriously, and while virtually every surviving newspaper has a website now, they almost invariably treat those sites as a necessary evil, as something separate from the news collection and delivery that they do with print."
schwit1 writes Vitaly Lopota, the president of Russia's largest space company Energia, was suspended Friday by the company's board of directors. From the article: "The move appears to be part of an effort by Russia's government to obtain majority control over Energia, of which it owns a 38-percent share. The directors elected Igor Komarov as its new chairman of the board. Komarov is chief of the Russian United Rocket and Space Corporation (URSC), the government-owned company tasked with consolidating Russia's sprawling space sector." The government is also conducting a criminal investigation of Lopota, which might be justified but appears to be a power play designed to both eliminate him from the game as well as make sure everyone else tows the line so that URSC can take complete control.
mrspoonsi writes with this story about a tip sent to police by Google after scanning a users email. A Houston man has been arrested after Google sent a tip to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children saying the man had explicit images of a child in his email, according to Houston police. The man was a registered sex offender, convicted of sexually assaulting a child in 1994, reports Tim Wetzel at KHOU Channel 11 News in Houston. "He was keeping it inside of his email. I can't see that information, I can't see that photo, but Google can," Detective David Nettles of the Houston Metro Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce told Channel 11. After Google reportedly tipped off the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Center alerted police, which used the information to get a warrant.
An anonymous reader writes A week after Judge Denise Cote put forward concerns over a proposed settlement with consumers over e-book price-fixing in the iBookstore, she has given Apple preliminary approval for its $450 million settlement. "The proposed settlement agreement is within the range of those that may be approved as fair and reasonable, such that notice to the class is appropriate," Cote said. "Preliminary approval is granted." Cote set a final fairness hearing for Nov. 21.
wiredmikey writes Mozilla warned on Friday that it had mistakenly exposed information on almost 80,000 members of its Mozilla Developer Network (MDN) as a result of a botched data sanitization process. The discovery was made around June 22 by one of Mozilla's Web developers, Stormy Peters, Director of Developer Relations at Mozilla, said in a security advisory posted to the Mozilla Security Blog on Friday. "Starting on about June 23, for a period of 30 days, a data sanitization process of the Mozilla Developer Network (MDN) site database had been failing, resulting in the accidental disclosure of MDN email addresses of about 76,000 users and encrypted passwords of about 4,000 users on a publicly accessible server," Peters wrote. According to Peters, the encrypted passwords were salted hashes and they by themselves cannot currently be used to authenticate with the MDN. However, Peters warned that MDN users may be at risk if they reused their original MDN passwords on other non-Mozilla websites or authentication systems.
An anonymous reader writes with a FCC proposal that is bad news for Sprint and T-Mobile. A proposal from FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler would block an attempt by Sprint and T-Mobile US to buy spectrum together in the incentive auction that will transfer airwaves from broadcast TV stations to cellular carriers next year. Announced on Friday, Wheeler's proposal seeks to help the smallest wireless companies develop business partnerships with larger ones. But it would not allow partnerships between the biggest carriers, since more than 95 percent of US customers are served by either AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, or Verizon Wireless. "Our goal is to promote the participation of as many parties as possible in the auction," FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Chief Roger Sherman wrote Friday. "If two of the largest companies are able to bid as one combined entity in the auction, their combined resources may have the effect of suppressing meaningful competition. Therefore, the item tentatively concludes that joint bidding arrangements between nationwide providers should not be allowed."
mdsolar writes with news about the closing of the San Onofre nuclear plant. Dismantling the San Onofre nuclear power plant in Southern California will take two decades and cost $4.4 billion. Southern California Edison on Friday released a road map that calls for decommissioning the twin-reactor plant and restoring the property over two decades, beginning in 2016. U-T San Diego says it could be the most expensive decommissioning in the 70-year history of the nuclear power industry. But Edison CEO Ted Craver says there's already enough money to pay for it. Edison shut down the plant in 2012 after extensive damage was found to tubes carrying radioactive water. It was closed for good last year.
An anonymous reader writes: We often worry about technology and unscrupulous intelligence agencies driving us toward a surveillance state. But apparently Singapore already beat us to the punch. "Not only does the government keep a close eye on what its citizens write and say publicly, but it also has the legal authority to monitor all manner of electronic communications, including phone calls, under several domestic security laws aimed at preventing terrorism, prosecuting drug dealing, and blocking the printing of 'undesirable' material." They've used it to do good, like swiftly moving to contain the spread of infectious diseases and to figure out how the public wants policy problems solved. But they've also obliterated privacy and restricted what people can say and do. "Singaporeans speak, often reverently, of the "social contract" between the people and their government. They have consciously chosen to surrender certain civil liberties and individual freedoms in exchange for fundamental guarantees: security, education, affordable housing, health care." The article notes, "It's hard to know whether the low crime rates and adherence to the rule of law are more a result of pervasive surveillance or Singaporeans' unspoken agreement that they mustn't turn on one another, lest the tiny island come apart at the seams."
hypnosec writes Lionsgate, the film company in charge of distribution for Expendables 3, has filed a lawsuit against unknown individuals who shared a DVD-level copy of the movie and six file-sharing sites known to have the links through which copies of the movies are being downloaded illegally. An advance copy of Expendables 3 was leaked online in July, and it was downloaded as many as 180,000 times in just 24 hours. The movie, which is releasing on August 15, is said to have crossed two million downloads already. In addition to the lawsuit, the Dept. of Homeland Security is on the case.
An anonymous reader writes: In response to an inquiry from European data protection regulators, Google has detailed how they evaluate and act on requests to de-index search results. Google's procedures for responding to "right-to-be-forgotten" requests are explained in a lengthy document that was made publicly available. "Google of course claims its own economic interest does not come into play when making these rtbf judgements — beyond an 'abstract consideration' of a search engine needing to help people find the most relevant information for their query. ... Google also goes into lengthy detail to justify its decision to inform publishers when it has removed links to content on their sites — a decision which has resulted in media outlets writing new articles about delisted content, thereby resulting in the rtbf ruling causing the opposite effect to that intended (i.e. fresh publicity, not fair obscurity)."
theodp writes: Over at Code.org, they're celebrating because more than 100 members of Congress are now co-sponsoring the Computer Science Education Act (HR 2536), making the bill designed to"strengthen elementary and secondary computer science education" the most broadly cosponsored education bill in the House. By adding fewer than 50 words to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, HR 2536 would elevate Computer Science to a "core academic subject" (current core academic subjects are English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, and geography), a status that opens the doors not only to a number of funding opportunities, but also to a number of government regulations. So, now that we know it takes 112 U.S. Representatives to make a CS education bill, the next question is, "How many taxpayer dollars will it take to pay for the consequences?" While Code.org says "the bill is cost-neutral and doesn't introduce new programs or mandates," the organization in April pegged the cost of putting CS in every school at $300-$400 million. In Congressional testimony last January, Code.org proposed that "comprehensive immigration reform efforts that tie H-1B visa fees to a new STEM education fund" could be used "to support the teaching and learning of more computer science in K-12 schools," echoing Microsoft's National Talent Strategy.
On Friday President Obama signed into a law a bill allowing mobile devices to be legally unlocked, so that consumers can switch between carriers. The legislation was kicked off by a successful petition on Whitehouse.gov after the Librarian of Congress decided that cell phones no longer needed an exemption from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's anti-hacking provision. The legislation (PDF) passed both houses of Congress and is now law. Unfortunately, the new bill doesn't guarantee permanent legality. It simply reinstates the exemption, and leaves the DMCA alone. For the next year, cell phone unlocking will certainly be legal, but after that, the Librarian of Congress once again has the ability to void the exemption once every three years.
jfruh writes The FTC has moved aggressively recently against companies that make it too easy for people — especially kids — to rack up huge charges on purchases within apps. But at a dicussion panel sponsored by free-market think tank TechFreedom, critics pushed back. Joshua Wright, an FTC commissioner who dissented in a recent settlement with Apple, says a 15-minute open purchase window produced "obvious and intuitive consumer benefits" and that the FTC "simply substituted its own judgment for a private firm's decision as to how to design a product to satisfy as many users as possible."
An anonymous reader writes On Friday, Russia implemented a new law that significantly limits its citizens' online free speech. Under this new law, social media sites must "retain user data for at least six months...within the country's boundaries so it can be available for government inspection." Also, "bloggers with at least 3,000 daily readers must register with Roskomnadzor, the regulator that also oversees Russia's main media outlets." This, of course, means that popular bloggers will no longer be able to remain anonymous.