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Are Altcoins Undermining Bitcoin's Credibility?

samzenpus posted about a month and a half ago | from the least-of-your-worries dept.

Bitcoin 267

An anonymous reader writes The editor of a Bitcoin advocacy site believes the proliferation of altcoins (cryptocurrencies other than Bitcoin) is harming Bitcoin's long-term potential as an alternative to traditional currencies. Posting at BadBitcoin.org, a site that seeks to expose online scams that target Bitcoin users, the pseudonymous ViK compares altcoins, including the Internet meme inspired Dogecoin, to a pump-and-dump scheme where developers create their own version of the Bitcoin wallet and blockchain and then "pre-mine" or generate a significant number of cryptocurrency units before the altcoin's official release. Later, when their value has risen, the pre-mined altcoins are exchanged for Bitcoin or in some cases converted directly to cash. While critics of cryptocurrencies in general might find ViK's comments about the altcoin "tulip" mania ironic, the self-confessed Bitcoin fan is nevertheless calling for an altcoin boycott: "The easiest way to stop them is to not participate. We all know that they only have one purpose, and that is to make Bitcoin for the so called developers."

Financial Services Group WCS Sues Online Forum Over Negative Post

samzenpus posted about a month and a half ago | from the I-wish-you-wouldn't-say-that dept.

Censorship 112

First time accepted submitter kavzee writes The popular Australian online discussion forum, Whirlpool, is being sued by a financial services group for refusing to remove a negative review about its services. A similar story occurred a number of years ago when another company by the name of 2Clix attempted to sue Whirlpool for the same reasons but later withdrew their case. "A financial services business licenced through National Australia Bank is suing an online forum for refusing to remove an allegedly fake and negative post about its services, claiming it has damaged its reputation with would-be clients. It is the latest legal action launched against an online forum or review website for publishing negative comments, following several high profile cases in Australia and overseas. Financial advice group WCS Group has initiated action against Whirlpool in the Supreme Court of Victoria, seeking unspecified damages and costs, despite the fact the forum generates no revenue."

EFF's Cell Phone Guide For US Protesters

Soulskill posted about a month and a half ago | from the do-not-use-your-cell-phone-as-a-projectile-weapon dept.

Electronic Frontier Foundation 82

An anonymous reader writes: The Electronic Frontier Foundation has updated its guide for protecting yourself and your cell phone at a protest. In addition to being extremely powerful tools (real-time communication to many watchers via social media, and video recording functionality), cell phones can also give authorities a lot of information about you if they confiscate it. The EFF is trying to encourage cell phone use and prepare people to use them. (The guide is based on U.S. laws, but much of the advice makes sense for other places as well.) Here are a few small snippets: "Start using encrypted communications channels. Text messages, as a rule, can be read and stored by your phone company or by surveillance equipment in the area. ... If the police ask to see your phone, tell them you do not consent to the search of your device. Again, since the Supreme Court's decision in Riley, there is little question that officers need a warrant to access the contents of your phone incident to arrest, though they may be able to seize the phone and get a warrant later. ... If your phone or electronic device was seized, and is not promptly returned when you are released, you can file a motion with the court to have your property returned."

Two Years of Data On What Military Equipment the Pentagon Gave To Local Police

Soulskill posted about a month and a half ago | from the bazookas-for-all dept.

The Military 264

v3rgEz writes: Wondering how the St. Louis County Police ended up armed with surplus military gear, and what equipment other departments have? A FOIA request at MuckRock has turned up every item given to local law enforcement under the Pentagon's 1022 program, the mechanism by which local law enforcement can apply for surplus or used military gear.

Knocking Down the Great Firewall of China

Soulskill posted about a month and a half ago | from the crumbling-from-a-million-tiny-cracks dept.

Censorship 167

New submitter Nocturrne writes: The FOSS project Lantern is having great success in unblocking the internet for many users in oppressive regimes, like China and Iran. Much like Tor and BitTorrent, Lantern is using peer-to-peer networking to overcome firewalls, but with the additional security of a trusted network of friends. "If you download Lantern in an uncensored region, you can connect with someone in a censored region, who can then access whatever content they want through you. What makes the system so unique is that it operates on the basis of trust. ... Through a process called consistent routing, the amount of information any single Lantern user can learn about other users is limited to a small subset, making infiltration significantly more difficult." The network of peers is growing, but we need more friends in uncensored countries to join us.

Leaked Documents: GCHQ Made Port-Scanning Entire Countries a Standard Spy Tool

timothy posted about a month and a half ago | from the small-island-nation-with-a-lot-of-curiosity dept.

Government 58

Advocatus Diaboli writes with this excerpt from Heise: Since the early days of TCP, port scanning has been used by computer saboteurs to locate vulnerable systems. In a new set of top secret documents seen by Heise, it is revealed that in 2009, the British spy agency GCHQ made port scans a "standard tool" to be applied against entire nations. Twenty-seven countries are listed as targets of the HACIENDA program in the presentation, which comes with a promotional offer: readers desiring to do reconnaissance against another country need simply send an e-mail. Also from the article: The list of targeted services includes ubiquitous public services such as HTTP and FTP, as well as common administrative protocols such as SSH (Secure SHell protocol – used for remote access to systems) and SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol – used for network administration) (Figure 4). Given that in the meantime, port scanning tools like Zmap have been developed which allow anyone to do comprehensive scans, it is not the technology used that is shocking, but rather the gargantuan scale and pervasiveness of the operation.

Apple Begins Storing Chinese User Data On Servers In China

timothy posted about a month and a half ago | from the eat-local-and-store-data-there-too dept.

China 92

An anonymous reader writes Reuters reported on Friday that Apple "has begun keeping the personal data of some Chinese users on servers in mainland China." Apple has claimed that the move is meant "to improve the speed and reliability of its iCloud service", but given China's track record with censorship and privacy, the explanation rings hollow for some skeptics. Nevertheless, Apple assures its Chinese users that their personal data on China Telecom is encrypted and that the encryption keys will be stored offshore. Only time will tell if Apple will be able to resist Chinese government requests to access its China-based servers.

The Billion-Dollar Website

Soulskill posted about a month and a half ago | from the get-what-you-paid-for-minus-a-billion-dollars dept.

Government 194

stoborrobots writes: The Government Accountability Office has investigated the cost blowouts associated with how the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) handled the Healthcare.gov project. It has released a 60-page report entitled Healthcare.gov: Ineffective Planning and Oversight Practices Underscore the Need for Improved Contract Management, with a 5 page summary. The key takeaway messages are:

  • CMS undertook the development of Healthcare.gov and its related systems without effective planning or oversight practices...
  • [The task] was a complex effort with compressed time frames. To be expedient, CMS issued task orders ... when key technical requirements were unknown...
  • CMS identified major performance issues ... but took only limited steps to hold the contractor accountable.
  • CMS awarded a new contract to another firm [and the new contract's cost has doubled] due to changes such as new requirements and other enhancements...

US Defense Contractors Still Waiting For Breach Notification Rules

samzenpus posted about a month and a half ago | from the a-little-while-longer dept.

United States 19

An anonymous reader writes US Department of Defense contractors will have to wait until September 24 to see what specific rules they will be required to follow when it comes to the reporting of computer breaches to the DoD. This particular requirement has been mandated by the US Congress last year, in an attempt to get clear view of the type and frequency of attacks contractors face. The US Congress will require "cleared defense contractors" — i.e. those who have been granted clearance by the DoD to access, receive, or store classified information — to effect a rapid report in the wake of a successful breach, and to include in it a description of the technique or method used in the penetration, a sample of the malicious software used (if discovered), and a summary of information created for the Department in connection with any Department program that has been potentially compromised due to such penetration.

How Drones Entered the FBI's Spying Toolkit

samzenpus posted about a month and a half ago | from the eye-in-the-sky dept.

United States 39

Jason Koebler writes The FBI has had an eager eye on surveillance drones since first experimenting with remote control airplanes in 1995. But budget cuts nearly ended the Bureau's unmanned machinations in 2010, and it took a dedicated push aimed at making drones "a tool the FBI cannot do without" to cement their place in the FBI's surveillance toolkit. The near termination—and subsequent expansion—of the FBI's drone program over the past four years is chronicled in hundreds of heavily-redacted pages released under a lawsuit filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington over the past several months.

Berlin Bans Car Service Uber

samzenpus posted about a month and a half ago | from the not-here dept.

Transportation 341

An anonymous reader is just one of many who have pointed out that things don't look good for Uber in Berlin. Berlin has banned car service Uber, which allows users to summon a ride on their smartphone, for not offering drivers and vehicles licensed to carry passengers, or full insurance cover, the German capital said. The ban takes immediate effect and Uber risks fines of up to 25,000 euros each time it violates the city's Public Transport Act, Berlin authorities said in a statement. Uber said on Thursday it would appeal against the decision, accusing Berlin of denying its people choice and mobility. "As a new entrant we are bringing much-needed competition to a market that hasn't changed in years. Competition is good for everyone and it raises the bar and ultimately it's the consumer who wins," said Fabien Nestmann, German General Manager at Uber. Undaunted by the setback in Berlin, Uber has launched uberTAXI in Hong Kong.

Google Expands Safe Browsing To Block Unwanted Downloads

timothy posted about a month and a half ago | from the now-you-can-turn-off-adblock dept.

Google 106

An anonymous reader writes "Google today announced it is expanding its Safe Browsing service to protect users against malware that makes unexpected changes to your computer. Google says it will show a warning in Chrome whenever an attempt is made to trick you into downloading and installing such software. In the case of malware, PUA stands for Potentially Unwanted Application, which is also sometimes called Potentially Unwanted Program or PUP. In short, the broad terms encompass any downloads that the user does not want, typically because they display popups, show ads, install toolbars in the default browser, change the homepage or the search engine, run several processes in the background that slow down the PC, and so on."

DARPA Uses Preteen Gamers To Beta Test Tomorrow's Military Software

timothy posted about a month and a half ago | from the panzer-naturally-speaking dept.

The Military 84

Daniel_Stuckey writes with a story about an interesting (or, you might think, creepy) institution at the University of Washington's Seattle campus. It's the Center for Game Science, a research lab that makes educational video games for children, and that received the bulk of its funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the wing of the U.S. Department of Defense that supports research into experimental military technology. Why is DARPA the original primary funder of the CGS? According to written and recorded statements from current and former DARPA program managers, as well as other government documents, the DARPA-funded educational video games developed at the CGS have a purpose beyond the pretense of teaching elementary school children STEM skills.

Ryan Lackey, Marc Rogers Reveal Inexpensive Tor Router Project At Def Con

timothy posted about a month and a half ago | from the widespread-and-easy-are-tightly-linked dept.

Communications 38

An anonymous reader writes Ryan Lackey of CloudFlare and Marc Rogers of Lookout revealed a new OPSEC device at Def Con called PORTAL (Personal Onion Router to Assure Liberty). It "provides always-on Tor routing, as well as 'pluggable' transport for Tor that can hide the service's traffic signature from some deep packet inspection systems." In essence, PORTAL is a travel router that the user simply plugs into their existing device for more than basic Tor protection (counterpoint to PogoPlug Safeplug and Onion Pi). On the down side, you have to download PORTAL from Github and flash it "onto a TP-Link compatible packet router." The guys behind the device acknowledge that not many people may want to (or even know how to) do that, so they're asking everyone to standby because a solution is pending. The project's GitHub page has a README file that lists compatible models, with some caveats: "It is highly recommended to use a modified router. The modified MR11U and WR703N provide a better experience than the stock routers due to the additional RAM. The severe space constraints of the stock router make them very challenging to work with. Due to the lack of usable space, it is necessary to use an external disk to store the Tor packages. The stock router has only a single USB port, and the best option is to use a microSD in a 3G modem." (Note: Lackey is no stranger to helping people secure internet privacy.)

Fugitive Child Sex Abuser Caught By Face-Recognition Technology

Soulskill posted about a month and a half ago | from the casting-wider-nets-through-technology dept.

Crime 232

mrspoonsi sends this BBC report: "A U.S. juggler facing child sex abuse charges, who jumped bail 14 years ago, has been arrested in Nepal after the use of facial-recognition technology. Street performer Neil Stammer traveled to Nepal eight years ago using a fake passport under the name Kevin Hodges. New facial-recognition software matched his passport picture with a wanted poster the FBI released in January. Mr Stammer, who had owned a magic shop in New Mexico, has now been returned to the U.S. state to face trial. The Diplomatic Security Service, which protects U.S. embassies and checks the validity of U.S. visas and passports, had been using FBI wanted posters to test the facial-recognition software, designed to uncover passport fraud. The FBI has been developing its own facial-recognition database as part of the bureau's Next Generation Identification program."

Snowden: NSA Working On Autonomous Cyberwarfare Bot

Unknown Lamer posted about a month and a half ago | from the bad-movie-plot dept.

The Military 194

WIRED published a long piece on Edward Snowden today (worth a read on its own), and simultaneously broke news of "MonsterMind," an NSA program to monitor all network traffic and detect attacks, responding with a counterattack automatically. From the article: Although details of the program are scant, Snowden tells WIRED in an extensive interview with James Bamford that algorithms would scour massive repositories of metadata and analyze it to differentiate normal network traffic from anomalous or malicious traffic. Armed with this knowledge, the NSA could instantly and autonomously identify, and block, a foreign threat. More than this, though, Snowden suggests MonsterMind could one day be designed to return fire — automatically, without human intervention... Snowden raised two issues with the program: the source of an attack could be spoofed to trick the U.S. into attacking an innocent third party, and the violation of the fourth amendment since the NSA would effectively need to monitor all domestic network traffic for the program to work. Also in Bamford's interview are allegations that the NSA knocked Syria offline in 2012 after an attempt to install intercept software on an edge router ended with the router being bricked.

Scientists Who Smuggle Radioactive Materials

Soulskill posted about a month and a half ago | from the probably-more-ethical-than-most-ways-they-can-get-funding dept.

Government 66

Lasrick writes: Although the complicity of scientists in the smuggling of radioactive materials has been a long-standing concern, smuggling-prevention efforts have so far failed to recognize a key aspect to the problem: scientists are often sought out to test the quality and level of the material well before it is taken to the black market. Egle Murauskaite of the U.S. National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) describes why concentrating on this aspect of the smuggling process, long considered less egregious than the actual selling of the material, could really make a difference in keeping radioactive materials off the black market in the first place.

Getting IT Talent In Government Will Take Culture Change, Says Google Engineer

Soulskill posted about a month and a half ago | from the optimizing-for-the-wrong-thing dept.

Government 166

dcblogs writes: Mikey Dickerson, a site reliability engineer at Google, who was appointed Monday by the White House as the deputy federal CIO, will lead efforts to improve U.S. Websites. Dickerson, who worked on the Healthcare.gov rescue last year, said that one issue the government needs to fix is its culture. In describing his experience on the Healthcare.gov effort, he said the workplace was "not one that is optimized to get good work out of engineers." It was a shirt-and-tie environment, and while Dickerson said cultural issues may sound superficial, they are still real. "You don't have to think that the engineers are the creative snowflakes and rock stars that they think they are, you don't have to agree with any of that," Dickerson said in a recent conference presentation posted online. "I'm just telling you that's how they think of themselves, and if you want access to more of them, finding a way to deal with that helps a lot." Engineers want to make a difference, Dickerson said, and he has collected the names of more than 140 engineers who would be willing to take unpaid leave from their jobs to work on a meaningful project.

3 Congressmen Trying To Tie Up SpaceX

Soulskill posted about a month and a half ago | from the can't-you-go-back-to-not-passing-legislation dept.

Space 393

An anonymous reader writes: Phil Plait reports that a trio of U.S. Congressmen are asking NASA to investigate what they call "an epidemic of anomalies" at SpaceX. They sent a memo (PDF) demanding that SpaceX be held accountable to taxpayers for mission delays stemming from the development of new rockets. Plait notes, "[A]s a contractor, the rules are different for them than they would be if NASA themselves built the rockets, just as the rules are for Boeing or any other contractor. In fact, as reported by Space News, NASA didn't actually pay for the development of the Falcon 9; Elon Musk did." He adds, "Another reason this is silly is that every rocket ever made has undergone problems; they are fiendishly complex machines and no design has ever gotten from the drafting board to the launch pad without issues. Sure, SpaceX has experienced launch delays and other problems, but the critical thing to remember is that those problems are noted, assessed, and fixed sometimes within hours or minutes." Plait accuses the congressmen of trying to bury private spaceflight under red tape in order to protect established industries in their own states.

Larry Rosen: A Case Study In Understanding (and Enforcing) the GPL

timothy posted about a month and a half ago | from the he-actually-wrote-the-book dept.

Businesses 191

lrosen (attorney Lawrence Rosen) writes with a response to an article that appeared on Opensource.com late last month, detailing a court case that arose between Versata Software and Ameriprise Financial Services; part of the resulting dispute hinges on Versata's use of GPL'd software (parsing utility VTD-X, from Ximpleware), though without acknowledging the license. According to the article's author, attorney Aaron Williamson (former staff attorney for the Software Freedom Law Center), "Lawyers for commercial software vendors have feared a claim like this for essentially the entire 20-odd-year lifetime of the GPL: a vendor incorporates some GPL-licensed code into a product—maybe naively, maybe willfully—and could be compelled to freely license the entire product as a result. The documents filed by Amerprise in the case reflect this fearful atmosphere, adopting the classically fear-mongering characterization of the GPL as a 'viral' license that 'infects' its host and 'requires it to become open source, too.'" Rosen writes: I want to acknowledge Aaron's main points: This lawsuit challenges certain assumptions about GPLv2 licensing, and it also emphasizes the effects of patents on the FOSS (and commercial) software ecosystem. I also want to acknowledge that I have been consulted as an expert by the plaintiff in this litigation (Ximpleware vs. Versata, et al.) and so some of what I say below they may also say in court. Read on for the rest (and Williamson's article, too, for a better understanding of this reaction to it). An important take-away: it's not just the license that matters.

Sniffing Out Billions In US Currency Smuggled Across the Border To Mexico

timothy posted about a month and a half ago | from the don't-steal-the-government-hates-competition dept.

The Almighty Buck 158

An anonymous reader writes "Criminals smuggle an estimated $30 billion in U.S. currency into Mexico each year from the United States, most of it laundered drug money. But researchers say help is on the way for border guards in the form of a portable device that identifies specific vapors given off by U.S. paper money. "We're developing a device that mimics the function of trained dogs 'sniffing' out concealed money, but without the drawbacks, such as expensive training, sophisticated operators, down time and communication limitations," says Suiqiong Li, Ph.D., a member of the research team behind the technology. When developing the device, the researchers first had to figure out which gases money emits and how fast that happens. It turned out that the gases are a set of trace chemicals, including aldehydes, furans and organic acids." What do bitcoins smell like?

Wikipedia Gets Critical Reception from UK Press at Wikimania 2014

timothy posted about a month and a half ago | from the wikipedia-has-the-right-to-forget-you dept.

Wikipedia 113

metasonix (650947) writes On Sunday the 2014 Wikimania conference in London closed. Wikimania is the major annual event for Wikipedia editors, insiders and WMF employees to meet face-to-face, give presentations and submit papers. Usually they are full of "Wiki-Love" and good feelings; but this year, as the Wikipediocracy blog summarized, Wikipedia and its "god-king" Jimmy Wales came under considerable fire from the UK media — a very unusual occurrence. And much of it was direct criticism of Wales himself, including a very hostile interview by BBC journalist James O'Brien, who had been repeatedly defamed in his Wikipedia biography by persons unknown.

Chinese Researchers' 'Terror Cam' Could Scan Crowds, Looking for Stress

timothy posted about a month and a half ago | from the what-if-you're-stressed-about-government-surveillance? dept.

China 146

concertina226 (2447056) writes Scientists at China's Southwest University in Chongqing are working on a new type of camera that takes Big Brother to a whole new level – the camera is meant to detect highly stressed individuals so that police can catch them before they commit a crime. The camera makes use of hyperspectral imaging, i.e. a 'stress sensor' that measures the amount of oxygen in blood across visible areas of the body, such as the face. Chinese authorities are deeply concerned about the recent spate of deadly attacks occurring in public places, such as the mass stabbing attack by eight knife-wielding extremists in the city of Kunming, Yunnan in March, which left 29 civilians dead and over 140 others injured.

Comcast Drops Spurious Fees When Customer Reveals Recording

timothy posted about a month and a half ago | from the keep-the-recording-handy dept.

Businesses 368

An anonymous reader writes In yet another example of the quality of Comcast's customer service, a story surfaced today of a Comcast customer who was over-charged for a service that was never provided. At first, the consumer seemed to be on the losing end of a customer service conversation, with Comcast insisting that the charges were fair. But then, the consumer whipped out a recording of a previous conversation that he had with another Comcast representative in which not only was the consumer promised that he wouldn't be charged for services not rendered, but the reason why was explained. Suddenly Comcast conceded, and the fees were dropped. But most telling of all, the Comcast rep implied that she only dropped them because he had taped his previous interaction with Comcast customer service. I wish I had recordings of every conversation that I've ever had with AT&T, the USPS, and the landlord I once had in Philadelphia. Lifehacker posted last year a few tips on the practicality of recording phone calls, using Google Voice, a VoIP service, or a dedicated app. Can anyone update their advice by recommending a good Android app (or iOS, for that matter) designed specifically to record sales and service calls, complete with automated notice?

DEA Paid Amtrak Employee To Pilfer Passenger Lists

Unknown Lamer posted about 1 month ago | from the have-to-break-the-law-to-protect-the-law dept.

United States 127

Via Ars Technica comes news that an Amtrak employee was paid nearly $900,000 over the last ten years to give the DEA passenger lists outside of normal channels. Strangely enough, the DEA already had access to such information through official channels. From the article: The employee, described as a "secretary to a train and engine crew" in a summary obtained by the AP, was selling the customer data without Amtrak's approval. Amtrak and other transportation companies collect information from their customers including credit card numbers, travel itineraries, emergency contact info, passport numbers, and dates of birth. When booking tickets online in recent years, Amtrak has also collected phone numbers and e-mail addresses. ... Amtrak has long worked closely with the DEA to track drug trafficking activity on its train lines. The Albuquerque Journal reported in 2001 that "a computer with access to Amtrak's ticketing information sits on a desk in the [DEA]'s local office," wrote the ACLU.

Patents That Kill

Unknown Lamer posted about 1 month ago | from the no-medicine-for-you dept.

Patents 240

wabrandsma (2551008) writes From The Economist: "The patent system, which was developed independently in 15th century Venice and then in 17th century England, gave entrepreneurs a monopoly to sell their inventions for a number of years. Yet by the 1860s the patent system came under attack, including from The Economist. Patents, critics argued, stifled future creativity by allowing inventors to rest on their laurels. Recent economic research backs this up."

China Smartphone Maker Xiaomi Apologizes For Unauthorized Data Access

samzenpus posted about 1 month ago | from the our-bad dept.

Cellphones 64

SpzToid writes Following up an earlier story here on Slashdot, now Xiaomi has apologized for collecting private data from its customers. From the article: "Xiaomi Inc said it had upgraded its operating system to ensure users knew it was collecting data from their address books after a report by a computer security firm said the Chinese budget smartphone maker was taking personal data without permission. The privately held company said it had fixed a loophole in its cloud messaging system that had triggered the unauthorized data transfer and that the operating system upgrade had been rolled out on Sunday. The issue was highlighted last week in a blog post by security firm F-Secure Oyg. In a lengthy blogpost on Google Plus, Xiaomi Vice President Hugo Barra apologized for the unauthorized data collection and said the company only collects phone numbers in users' address books to see if the users are online."

Every Day Is Goof-Off-At-Work Day At the US Patent and Trademark Office

samzenpus posted about 1 month ago | from the I'll-do-it-later dept.

United States 327

McGruber writes An internal investigation by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office found that some of its 8,300 patent examiners repeatedly lied about the hours they were putting in and many were receiving bonuses for work they did not do. While half of the USPTO's Patent Examiners work from home full time, oversight of the telework program — and of examiners based at the Alexandria headquarters — was "completely ineffective," investigators concluded. The internal investigation also unearthed another widespread problem. More than 70 percent of the 80 managers interviewed told investigators that a "significant" number of examiners did not work for long periods, then rushed to get their reviews done at the end of each quarter. Supervisors told the review team that the practice "negatively affects" the quality of the work. "Our quality standards are low," one supervisor told the investigators. "We are looking for work that meets minimal requirements." Patent examiners review applications and grant patents on inventions that are new and unique. They are experts in their fields, often with master's and doctoral degrees. They earn at the top of federal pay scale, with the highest taking home $148,000 a year.

Clever Workaround: Visual Cryptography On Austrian Postage Stamps

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the stamp-everything-with-tlldr dept.

Censorship 74

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] .

Silent Circle's Blackphone Exploited at Def Con

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the outharshing-one-another dept.

Security 46

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."

Floridian (and Southern) Governmental Regulations Are Unfriendly To Solar Power

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the texas-seems-ok-about-this dept.

Government 306

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."

F-Secure: Xiaomi Smartphones Do Secretly Steal Your Data

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the they're-just-making-a-copy dept.

Cellphones 164

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 Airs His Beefs About Privacy In Def Con Surprise Talk

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the now-take-larry-ellison dept.

Privacy 124

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.)

Slashdot Asks: Should Schooling Be Year-Round?

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the home-schooling-never-stops dept.

Education 421

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?)

FCC Mandates Text-to-911 From All US Wireless Carriers

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the coming-from-inside-the-house dept.

Communications 80

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.

Judge Rejects $324.5 Million Settlement For Tech Workers, Argues For More

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the sticking-it-to-the-men dept.

The Courts 268

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.

Leaked Docs Show Spyware Used To Snoop On US Computers

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the who's-zoomin'-who dept.

United States 135

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.

Russia Cracks Down On Public Wi-Fi; Oracle Blocks Java Downloads In Russia

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the interesting-times dept.

Censorship 254

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?

UK Police Won't Comment On The Tracking of People's Phone Calls

samzenpus posted about 2 months ago | from the ask-me-that-later dept.

United Kingdom 52

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.

China Cracks Down On Mobile Messaging

samzenpus posted about 2 months ago | from the watch-what-you-say dept.

Censorship 58

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.

Parallax Completes Open Hardware Vision With Open Source CPU

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the this-case-is-totally-proprietary dept.

Open Source 136

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."

California Man Sues Sony Because Killzone: Shadowfall Isn't Really 1080

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the gaming-culture dept.

Sony 286

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.

Snowden Granted 3 More Years of Russian Residency

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the backwards-world dept.

Government 266

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?"

Apple and Samsung Agree To Drop Cases Outside the US

samzenpus posted about 2 months ago | from the why-can't-we-be-friends? dept.

The Courts 46

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.

Algorithm Predicts US Supreme Court Decisions 70% of Time

samzenpus posted about 2 months ago | from the telling-the-future dept.

The Courts 177

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.

City of London Police Take Down Proxy Service Over Piracy Concerns

samzenpus posted about 2 months ago | from the shutting-it-down dept.

United Kingdom 133

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.

US Intelligence Wants Tools To Tell: Who's the Smartest of Them All?

samzenpus posted about 2 months ago | from the finding-big-brains dept.

Government 162

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.

Ecuador To Forge Ahead With State-Backed Digital Currency

samzenpus posted about 2 months ago | from the lets-make-money dept.

The Almighty Buck 85

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.'”

San Jose Police Apologize For Hiding Drone Program, Halts Until Further Review

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the no-department dept.

Government 59

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.

China Bans iPad, MacBook Pro, Other Apple Products For Government Use

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the regulatory dept.

China 115

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."

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