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An anonymous reader writes: Rumors of back door access to Skype have plagued the communication software for the better part of a decade. Even if it's not true, Skype is owned by Microsoft, which is beholden to data requests from law enforcement. Because of these issues, a group of developers started work on Tox, which aims to rebuild the functionality of Skype with an emphasis on privacy. "The main thing the Tox team is trying to do, besides provide encryption, is create a tool that requires no central servers whatsoever—not even ones that you would host yourself. It relies on the same technology that BitTorrent uses to provide direct connections between users, so there's no central hub to snoop on or take down."
blottsie writes In a move out of the anti-SOPA campaign playbook, Fight for the Future and other net neutrality activist groups have set up the Battle for the Net coalition, which plans to launch an "Internet slowdown day" later this month. No actual traffic will be slowed down. Instead, participating sites will display embeddable modules that include a spinning "loading" symbol and information about contacting the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the White House, and members of Congress.
ashshy writes Unlike the obvious battery needs for smartphones or electric cars, many consumers are unaware of the exploding need for enormous battery banks as modern power grids are bringing a whole new set of requirements. From the article: "'Our electricity grid was built a certain way, and that way is to have on-demand production,' Argonne National Laboratory battery researcher Jeff Chamberlain explained. 'So as I flip my light switch on at home, there's some little knob somewhere that turns the power up. There is no buffer. It's a very interesting production cycle compared to other consumer goods. It was built a certain way, and the grid is currently changing in two different ways. One is, first our demand is increasing. But another is, around the world human beings are trying to get off fossil fuels and that means using solar and wind. Well, we cannot turn up the sun or wind, or turn down the sun or wind according to our energy needs. So the more those technologies penetrate the grid, the more you need energy storage. You need a buffer. And that is a very difficult challenge that's similar to transportation because it's cost-driven,' Chamberlain said. 'But it's also different from transportation because we're not limited by volume or mass like we are in vehicles. We're working on energy storage systems that are stationary.'"
First time accepted submitter Adam Oxford writes Nigeria's National Identity Management System — which aims to bring together citizen information databases as diverse as driving licenses and tax returns — was introduced last week and includes a prepay MasterCard wallet. Civil liberties groups are naturally wary about the project, but proponents see it as a way to get financial services to the masses. From the article: "The director general of the commission which will implement NIMS, Chris 'E Onyemenam, said at the launch that the card will eventually be used for border control as well. 'There are many use cases for the card, including the potential to use it as an international travel document,' Onyemenam said. 'NIMC is focused on inclusive citizenship, more effective governance, and the creation of a cashless economy, all of which will stimulate economic growth, investment and trade.'"
swinferno writes with news about the leak of hundreds of private celebrity photos over the weekend. Hundreds of revealing pictures of female celebrities were leaked overnight after being stolen from their private collections. Hunger Games actress Jennifer Lawrence, Kirsten Dunst, and pop star Ariana Grande were among the celebrities apparently shown in the pictures, which were posted on infamous web forum 4chan. It's unclear how the images were obtained, but anonymous 4chan users said that they were taken from celebrities' iCloud accounts. The accounts are designed to allow iPhone, iPad, and Mac users to synchronize images, settings, calendar information, and other data between devices, but the service has been criticized for being unreliable and confusing. Earlier this year, Jennifer Lawrence herself complained about the service in an interview with MTV.
Frosty P writes The LA County District Attorney's Office declined to press charges against a sheriff's deputy who was apparently distracted by his mobile digital computer when he fatally struck cyclist and former Napster COO Milton Olin Jr. in Calabasas last December. The deputy was responding to routine work email when he drifted into the bike lane and struck and killed Mr. Olin. An official with the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department said it is launching its own probe into the deputy’s behavior.
An anonymous reader writes New Zealand is facing its weirdest election ever with a hacker calling himself "Rawshark" progressively dumping emails hacked from a controversial blogger. This weekend, revelations forced the resignation of one Government minister and nobody knows what will drop next. Emails revealed that the blogger, called "Whale Oil", was in contact with both a government minister in charge of New Zealand's white collar crime investigations unit and with a PR man acting for a founder of a failed finance company then under investigation.
An anonymous reader writes A Grand Ayatollah in Iran has determined that access to high-speed and 3G Internet is "against Sharia" and "against moral standards." However, Iran's President, Hassan Rouhani, plans to renew licenses and expand the country’s 3G cellular phone network. A radical MP associated with the conservative Resistance Front, warned: “If the minister continues to go ahead with increasing bandwidth and Internet speed, then we will push for his impeachment and removal from the cabinet.” “We will vigorously prevent all attempts by the [communication] minister to expand 3G technology, and if our warnings are not heeded, then the necessary course of action will be taken,” he added.
mdsolar writes with news of a plan to move radioactive waste from nuclear plants. The U.S. government is looking for trains to haul radioactive waste from nuclear power plants to disposal sites. Too bad those trains have nowhere to go. Putting the cart before the horse, the U.S. Department of Energy recently asked companies for ideas on how the government should get the rail cars needed to haul 150-ton casks filled with used, radioactive nuclear fuel. They won't be moving anytime soon. The latest government plans call for having an interim test storage site in 2021 and a long-term geologic depository in 2048. No one knows where those sites will be, but the Obama administration is already thinking about contracts to develop, test and certify the necessary rail equipment.
mi writes "Ukrainian media is reporting (link in Ukrainian), that Facebook is getting increasingly heavy-handed blocking Ukrainian bloggers. The likely explanation for the observed phenomenon is that Facebook's Ukrainian office is located in Russia and is headed by a Russian citizen (Catherine Skorobogatov). For example, a post calling on Russian mothers to not let their sons go to war was blocked "Due to multiple complaints". Fed up, Ukrainian users are writing directly to Zukerberg to ask him to replace Catherine with someone, who would not be quite as swayed by the "complaints" generated by Russian bots.
schwit1 sends this excerpt from a report about Microsoft:
Despite a federal court order directing Microsoft to turn overseas-held email data to federal authorities, the software giant said Friday it will continue to withhold that information as it waits for the case to wind through the appeals process. The judge has now ordered both Microsoft and federal prosecutors to advise her how to proceed by next Friday, September 5.
Let there be no doubt that Microsoft's actions in this controversial case are customer-centric. The firm isn't just standing up to the US government on moral principles. It's now defying a federal court order. "Microsoft will not be turning over the email and plans to appeal," a Microsoft statement notes. "Everyone agrees this case can and will proceed to the appeals court. This is simply about finding the appropriate procedure for that to happen."
theodp writes: Bloomberg is reporting that Google X's Megan Smith is the top candidate for U.S. Chief Technology Officer. With a BS/MS in Mechanical Engineering from MIT, and experience ranging from General Magic to Google, Smith would arguably be the first U.S. CTO worthy of the title (the outgoing U.S. CTO has a bachelor's in Econ; his predecessor has a master's in Public Policy). "Smith joined Google in 2003. As vice president of business development, she oversaw many of its most important acquisitions, like Keyhole, the service that underlies Google Earth. She has led the company’s philanthropic division, Google.org, and served as a co-host for Google’s Solve for X forum, where distinguished thinkers and scientists brainstorm radical technology ideas with Google executives."
An anonymous reader writes: We often decry the state of funding to NASA. Its limited scope has kept us from returning to the moon for over four decades, maintained only a minimal presence in low-Earth orbit, and failed to develop a capable asteroid defense system. But why is funding such a problem? Jason Callahan, who has worked on several of NASA's annual budgets, says it's not just NASA's small percentage of the federal budget that keeps those projects on the back burner, but also competition for funding between different parts of NASA as well. "[NASA's activities include] space science, including aeronautics research (the first A in NASA), technology development, education, center and agency management, construction, maintenance, and the entire human spaceflight program. The total space science budget has rarely exceeded $5 billion, and has averaged just over half that amount. Remember that space science is more than just planetary: astrophysics, heliophysics, and Earth science are all funded in this number. Despite this, space science accounts for an average of 17 percent of NASA's total budget, though it has significant fluctuations. In the 1980s, space science was a mere 11½ percent of NASA's budget, but in the 2000s, it made up 27 percent."
An anonymous reader writes: A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has ruled that the Los Angeles Police Department is not required to hand over a week's worth of license plate reader data to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). He cited the potential of compromising criminal investigations and giving (un-charged) criminals the ability to determine whether or not they were being targeted by law enforcement (PDF). The ACLU and the EFF sought the data under the California Public Records Act, but the judge invoked Section 6254(f), "which protects investigatory files." ACLU attorney Peter Bibring notes, "New surveillance techniques may function better if people don't know about them, but that kind of secrecy is inconsistent with democratic policing."
Rick Zeman writes: The Center for Public Integrity has a comprehensive article showing how Big Telecom (aka, AT&T, Comcast, Charter, Time Warner) use lobbyists, paid-for politicians, and lawsuits (both actual and the threat thereof) in their efforts to kill municipal broadband. From the article: "The companies have also used traditional campaign tactics such as newspaper ads, push polls, direct mail and door-to-door canvassing to block municipal networks. And they've tried to undermine the appetite for municipal broadband by paying for research from think tanks and front groups to portray the networks as unreliable and costly."
An anonymous reader writes: On August 6, U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga ordered the federal government to "explain why the government places U.S. citizens who haven't been convicted of any violent crimes on its no-fly database." Unsurprisingly, the federal government objected to the order, once more claiming that to divulge their no-fly list criteria would expose state secrets and thus pose a national security threat. When the judge said he would read the material privately, the government insisted that reading the material "would not assist the Court in deciding the pending Motion to Dismiss (PDF) because it is not an appropriate means to test the scope of the assertion of the State Secrets privilege." The federal government has until September 7 to comply with the judge's order unless the judge is swayed by the government's objection.
angry tapir writes The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, a government funded watchdog organization, is taking Valve to court. The court action relates to Valve's Steam distribution service. According to ACCC allegations, Valve misled Australian consumers about their rights under Australian law by saying that customers were not entitled to refunds for games under any circumstances.
An anonymous reader writes with this Ars piece about the executive order that is the legal basis for the U.S. government's mass spying on citizens. One thing sits at the heart of what many consider a surveillance state within the US today. The problem does not begin with political systems that discourage transparency or technologies that can intercept everyday communications without notice. Like everything else in Washington, there's a legal basis for what many believe is extreme government overreach—in this case, it's Executive Order 12333, issued in 1981. “12333 is used to target foreigners abroad, and collection happens outside the US," whistleblower John Tye, a former State Department official, told Ars recently. "My complaint is not that they’re using it to target Americans, my complaint is that the volume of incidental collection on US persons is unconstitutional.” The document, known in government circles as "twelve triple three," gives incredible leeway to intelligence agencies sweeping up vast quantities of Americans' data. That data ranges from e-mail content to Facebook messages, from Skype chats to practically anything that passes over the Internet on an incidental basis. In other words, EO 12333 protects the tangential collection of Americans' data even when Americans aren't specifically targeted—otherwise it would be forbidden under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978.
The Associated Press, in a story carried by The Financial Express, reports that Federal Judge Lucy Koh has has rejected Apple's attempt to block the sale of several older Samsung smartphones that copied features in the iPhone. Wednesday's rebuff comes nearly four months after a jury awarded Apple Inc. $119 million in damages for Samsung's infringements on technology used in the trend-setting iPhone. The amount was well below the $2.2 billion in damages that Apple had been seeking in the latest round of legal wrangling between the world's two leading smartphone makers since the tussle began four years ago. The Register also carries the story, and notes Perhaps because the ongoing battle was turning the two companies into law firms rather than tech titans, the two agreed to abandon all patent lawsuits outside the USA earlier this month. However, Apple still wanted the infringing features extirpated from American stores, and was seeking to have phones nobody bought banned as ammo for future battles.
Sonny Yatsen writes: Anita Sarkeesian, the creator of Tropes vs. Women — a video series exploring negative tropes and misogynistic depictions of women in video games — reports that she has been driven from her home after a series of extremely violent sexual threats made against her. Her videos have previously drawn criticism from many male gamers, often coupled with violent imagery or threats of violence. The Verge story linked has this to say: The threats against Sarkeesian have become a nasty backdrop to her entire project — and her life. If the trolls making them hoped for attention, they've gotten it. They've also inexorably linked criticism of her work, valid or not, with semi-delusional vigilantism, and arguably propelled Tropes vs. Women to its current level of visibility. If a major plank of your platform is that misogyny is a lie propagated by Sarkeesian and other "social justice warriors," it might help to not constantly prove it wrong.
An anonymous reader writes Earlier this year, Google sued Beneficial Innovations for breach of contract, ostensibly in defense of its Doubleclick ad technology clients against whom Beneficial Innovations had filed suits despite Google having already paid licensing fees for the technology. Following Google's jury trial win, the company was originally awarded only 'nominal damages of $1 and a judicial order stopping Beneficial from going after more Doubleclick customers.' Now, however, the presiding judge has ruled that Google is entitled to some attorneys' fees in the amount of $1.3 million (PDF).
Bruce66423 writes with news of an electronic attack believed to affect at least five U.S. banking institutions this month, including JP Morgan, now being investigated by the FBI. According to the Independent, The attack on JP Morgan reportedly resulted in the loss of “gigabytes of sensitive data” that could have involved customer and employee information. It is said to have been of a level of sophistication beyond ordinary criminals, leading to speculation of a state link. The FBI is thought to be investigating whether there is a connection to Russia. American-Russian relations continue to be fraught amid the crisis in Ukraine, with sanctions ramped up. Bruce66423 asks "The quality of the attack, which appears to have led to 'gigabytes' of data being lost, is raising the prospect of a state being the source. The present culprit suggested is Russia... why the assumption it's not China — just because China isn't invading the Ukraine at the moment?" News of the attack is also at the New York Times, which notes Earlier this year, iSight Partners, a security firm in Dallas that provides intelligence on online threats, warned companies that they should be prepared for cyberattacks from Russia in retaliation for Western economic sanctions. But Adam Meyers, the head of threat intelligence at CrowdStrike, a security firm that works with banks, said that it would be “premature” to suggest the attacks were motivated by sanctions.
jfruh writes A rapidly growing percentage of Africans have access to the Internet — and yet most of the content they access, even things aimed specifically at an African audience, is hosted on servers elsewhere. The reason is a bewildering array of laws in different nations that make cross-border cooperation a headache, a marked contrast to places like Europe with uniform Internet regulations. At the Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum in Senegal, a wide variety of Internet actors from the continent are aiming to solve the problem.
An anonymous reader writes "Several fake NVIDIA cards — probably GeForce GT 440 — have had their BIOS reflashed to report themselves as GeForce GTX 660. They were sold under the brand "GTX660 4096MB Nvidia Bulk" but only deliver 1/4 of the speed of a real GTX 660. Investigations are ongoing into who did the reflashing, but several hundred of them have already been sold and are now being recalled."
mdsolar writes in with news about a NRC rule on how long nuclear waste can be stored on-site after a reactor has shut down. The five-member board that oversees the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Tuesday voted to end a two-year moratorium on issuing new power plant licenses. The moratorium was in response to a June 2012 decision issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia that ordered the NRC to consider the possibility that the federal government may never take possession of the nearly 70,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel stored at power plant sites scattered around the country. In addition to lifting the moratorium, the five-member board also approved guidance replacing the Waste Confidence Rule. "The previous Waste Confidence Rule determined that spent fuel could be safely stored on site for at least 60 years after a plant permanently ceased operations," said Neil Sheehan, spokesman for the NRC. In the new standard, Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel Rule, NRC staff members reassessed three timeframes for the storage of spent fuel — 60 years, 100 years and indefinitely.
schwit1 sends word that the Dept. of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has given notice of a proposal (PDF) for a new car safety standard that would require vehicle-to-vehicle communication equipment in all new passenger cars and light trucks. The NHTSA thinks this will facilitate the development of new safety software for vehicles. They estimate it could prevent over 500,000 crashes (PDF) each year. "Some crash warning V2V applications, like Intersection Movement Assist and Left Turn Assist, rely on V2V-based messages to obtain information to detect and then warn drivers of possible safety risks in situations where other technologies have less capability. ... NHTSA believes that V2V capability will not develop absent regulation, because there would not be any immediate safety benefits for consumers who are early adopters of V2V." The submitter notes that this V2V communication would include transmission of a vehicle's location, which comes with privacy concerns.
Several readers sent word that U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) has begun speaking in favor of mandatory cameras for police across the country. "Everywhere I go people now have cameras. And police officers are now at a disadvantage, because someone can tape the last part of an encounter and not tape the first part of the encounter. And it gives the impression that the police officer has overreacted when they haven't." This follows the recent controversy ove the shooting death of Michael Brown in a police incident, as well as a White House petition on the subject that rocketed to 100,000 signatures.
McCaskill continued, "I would like to see us say, 'If you want federal funding in your community, you've got to have body cams on your officers. And I think that would go a long way towards solving some of these problems, and it would be a great legacy over this tragedy that's occurred in Ferguson, regardless of what the facts say at the end as to whether or not anyone is criminally culpable."
An anonymous reader writes Duke Law School's James Boyle and Jennifer Jenkins just published a CC licensed, freely downloadable textbook called "Intellectual Property Law and the Information Society." (Which includes a discussion of whether and when the term "intellectual property" is a dangerous misnomer). The book is apparently part of an attempt to lower what the authors describe as the "obscene cost" of legal textbooks. "This is the first in a series of free digital/low cost print legal educational materials to be published by Duke's Center for the Study of the Public Domain—starting with statutory supplements aimed at the basic classes. The goal of this project... is to improve the pricing and access norms of the world of legal textbook publishing, while offering the flexibility and possibility for customization that unfettered digital access provides. We hope it will provide a pleasant, restorative, competitive pressure on the commercial publishers to lower their prices and improve their digital access norms." The book's "problems range from a video of the Napster oral argument to counseling clients about search engines and trademarks, applying the First Amendment to digital rights management and copyright or commenting on the Supreme Court's new rulings on gene patents.. [The book] includes discussions of such issues as the Redskins trademark cancelations, the Google Books case and the America Invents Act."
An anonymous reader writes "Imagine a world where the book burners had won. A world where information is filtered and must be approved by governments before it can be accessed by their citizens. A world where people are held down and kept in line by oppressive regimes that restrict the free flow of information and bombard citizens with government-approved messages. Now stop imagining, because this horrifying world already exists..."
alphadogg (971356) writes "Smartphones sold in California will soon be required to have a kill switch that lets users remotely lock them and wipe them of data in the event they are lost or stolen. The demand is the result of a new law, put into effect on Monday, that applies to phones manufactured after July 1, 2015, and sold in the state. While its legal reach does not extend beyond the state's borders, the inefficiency of producing phones solely for California means the kill switch is expected to be adopted by phone makers on handsets sold across the U.S. and around the world."
kdataman writes U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ben Eberle, who lost an arm and both legs in Afghanistan, had his Ipod Touch stolen on Friday. This particular Ipod Touch has an app on it that controls his $75,000 prosthetic arm. The robbery bricked his prosthesis: "That is because Eberle's prosthetic hand is programmed to only work with the stolen iPod, and vice versa. Now that the iPod is gone, he said he has to get a new hand and get it reprogrammed with his prosthesis." I see three possibilities: 1) The article is wrong, possibly to guilt the thief into returning the Ipod. 2) This is an incredibly bad design by Touch Bionics. Why would you make a $70,000 piece of equipment permanently dependent on a specific Ipod Touch? Ipods do fail or go missing. 3) This is an intentionally bad design to generate revenue. Maybe GM should do this with car keys? "Oops, lost the keys to the corvette. Better buy a new one."
Jason Koebler (3528235) writes American Commitment, a conservative group with strong ties to the Koch brothers has been bombarding inboxes with emails filled with disinformation and fearmongering in an attempt to start a "grassroots" campaign to kill net neutrality — at one point suggesting that "Marxists" think that preserving net neutrality is a good idea. American Commitment president Phil Kerpen suggests that reclassifying the internet as a public utility is the "first step in the fight to destroy American capitalism altogether" and says that the FCC is plotting a "federal Internet takeover," a move that "sounds more like a story coming out of China or Russia."
MrBingoBoingo (3481277) writes Recently a Bitcoin user reports being interviewed over their past use of a now defunct exchange service by agents from the FBI and Treasury Department. This encounter raises concerns that earlier Bitcoin users who entered the space inocuously and without ties to Dark Markets or The Silk Road might need to prepare for Law Enforcement questioning about their early Bitcoin related activities.
onproton (3434437) writes The Intercept reported today on classified documents revealing that the NSA has built its own "Google-like" search engine to provide over 850 billion collected records directly to law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and the DEA. Reporter Ryan Gallagher explains, "The documents provide the first definitive evidence that the NSA has for years made massive amounts of surveillance data directly accessible to domestic law enforcement agencies." The search engine, called ICREACH, allows analysts to search an array of databases, some of which contain metadata collected on innocent American citizens, for the purposes of "foreign intelligence." However, questions have been raised over its potential for abuse in what is known as "parallel construction," a process in which agencies use surveillance resources in domestic investigations, and then later cover it up by creating a different evidence trail to use in court.
An anonymous reader writes Michael Peck, who for five years was Diablo Canyon's lead on-site inspector, says in a 42-page, confidential report that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is not applying the safety rules it set out for the plant's operation. The document, which was obtained and verified by The Associated Press, does not say the plant itself is unsafe. Instead, according to Peck's analysis, no one knows whether the facility's key equipment can withstand strong shaking from those faults — the potential for which was realized decades after the facility was built. Continuing to run the reactors, Peck writes, "challenges the presumption of nuclear safety."
cold fjord writes with this story about the proliferation of companies willing to sell tracking information and systems. Makers of surveillance systems are offering governments across the world the ability to track the movements of almost anybody who carries a cellphone, whether they are blocks away or on another continent. The technology works by exploiting an essential fact of all cellular networks: They must keep detailed, up-to-the-minute records on the locations of their customers to deliver calls and other services to them. Surveillance systems are secretly collecting these records to map people's travels over days, weeks or longer ... It is unclear which governments have acquired these tracking systems, but one industry official ... said that dozens of countries have bought or leased such technology in recent years. This rapid spread underscores how the burgeoning, multibillion-dollar surveillance industry makes advanced spying technology available worldwide. "Any tin-pot dictator with enough money to buy the system could spy on people anywhere in the world," said Eric King, deputy director of Privacy International.
Bennett Haselton writes After footage of James Foley's beheading by ISIS terrorists was posted online on Tuesday, Twitter and Youtube elected to remove any footage or links to the footage posted by users. Obviously this reduces the incentive for terrorist groups to post such content, by shrinking their audience, but it also reduces the public's access to information. Would it be ethical to make the content available, if it was preceded by an advertisement for a cause that runs counter to everything ISIS stands for? Read below to see what Bennett has to say.
As if cutting off from their games millions of users wasn't enough for the day, Forbes reports that [the] hacker collective (or individual) known as the “Lizard Squad” succeeded in taking offline many gaming services including Blizzard’s Battle.net and Sony PSN. But things took a turn from irritating DDoS attacks to another level of harassment earlier this afternoon when the group took to Twitter to announce publicly that it a believed the flight carrying Sony Online Entertainment President John Smedley had explosives on board. The flight had been bound from Dallas to San Diego, but in response to the bomb threat, the plane was diverted to Phoenix.
ndogg (158021) writes "The rumors of Munich's city government going back to Microsoft seem to have been greatly exaggerated. There was a review of the city's IT systems that was called for by the mayor, but it wasn't solely just to decide on whether to move back to Microsoft. And while there have been complaints about LiMux, they mostly seem to concern compatibility with OpenOffice.org, which may well be resolved by switching to LibreOffice."
Peer-to-peer lodging service Airbnb has agreed to hand over data on 124 of its hosts in New York as part of an investigation by the state's Attorney General into the operation of illegal hotels. The AG first requested data for almost all of Airbnb's hosts in the state, but after "legal wrangling," that number was whittled down to the current 124. The data in question will be unredacted personal information, meaning names and addresses. In a blog post, Airbnb's David Hantman said, "nothing about these hosting profiles suggests [the Attorney General] is after anyone but individuals who may be flagrantly misusing our platform." Airbnb is confident that the targets of this request are hosts considered to be "bad actors," but they don't explain what classifies somebody as a "bad actor."
Alleged Silk Road mastermind Ross Ulbricht now faces additional drug-related charges. Ars Technica gives a run-down on the run-down, and shows an array of driver's licenses that can't look good to a jury: According to a 17-page amended indictment filed late Thursday night, the government introduced one count of “narcotics trafficking,” of “distribution of narcotics by means of the Internet,” and of "conspiracy to traffic in fraudulent identification documents." Previously, Ulbricht was indicted in February 2014 on four formal criminal offenses: narcotics trafficking conspiracy, continuing criminal enterprise, computer hacking conspiracy, and money laundering conspiracy. Ulbricht pleaded not guilty to the previous charges, and he seems likely to plead not guilty to the new ones as well.
According to The Register (citing a paywalled WSJ article), a new face in targeted ads is emerging (according to "people familiar with the matter") to compete with Google, and it's Amazon. They already have a vast, mineable collection of data about customers' buying, listening and viewing habits, so exploiting personalized ads seems a natural follow-on. According to the report, the ad system would replace Google as ad vendor on Amazon itself, and "It is also apparently hoping to beef up its ad placement business on other sites as part of Amazon's strategy to carve its way into Google's multi-billion-dollar AdWords' empire." Pretty soon Amazon will able to just save me time by ordering the things I would have ordered based on ads that they themselves have placed.
walterbyrd (182728) writes "Microsoft Corp. is currently sitting on almost $29.6 billion it would owe in U.S. taxes if it repatriated the $92.9 billion of earnings it is keeping offshore, according to disclosures in the company's most recent annual filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The amount of money that Microsoft is keeping offshore represents a significant spike from prior years, and the levies the company would owe amount to almost the entire two-year operating budget of the company's home state of Washington."
Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes In South Carolina a 16-year old boy, Alex Stone, was arrested and charged with creating a disturbance at his school, as well as suspended, for choosing to write: "I killed my neighbor's pet dinosaur. I bought the gun to take care of the business," in response to a class writing assignment. The story has attracted international attention.
SpzToid (869795) writes The state of Oregon sued Oracle America Inc. and six of its top executives Friday, accusing the software giant of fraud for failing to deliver a working website for the Affordable Care Act program. The 126-page lawsuit claims Oracle has committed fraud, lies, and "a pattern of activity that has cost the State and Cover Oregon hundreds of millions of dollars". "Not only were Oracle's claims lies, Oracle's work was abysmal", the lawsuit said. Oregon paid Oracle about $240.3 million for a system that never worked, the suit said. "Today's lawsuit clearly explains how egregiously Oracle has disserved Oregonians and our state agencies", said Oregon Atty. Gen. Ellen Rosenblum in a written statement. "Over the course of our investigation, it became abundantly clear that Oracle repeatedly lied and defrauded the state. Through this legal action, we intend to make our state whole and make sure taxpayers aren't left holding the bag."
Oregon's suit alleges that Oracle, the largest tech contractor working on the website, falsely convinced officials to buy "hundreds of millions of dollars of Oracle products and services that failed to perform as promised." It is seeking $200 million in damages. Oracle issued a statement saying the suit "is a desperate attempt to deflect blame from Cover Oregon and the governor for their failures to manage a complex IT project. The complaint is a fictional account of the Oregon Healthcare Project."
An anonymous reader writes with this report from Torrentfreak, excerpting: In just a few hours time the brand new season of Doctor Who will premiere, kicking off with the first episode 'Deep Breath'. There's been a huge build up in the media, but for fans who prefer to socialize and obtain news via a dedicated community, today brings bad news. Doctor Who Media (DWM) was a site created in 2010 and during the ensuing four and a half years it amassed around 25,000 dedicated members. A source close to the site told TF that since nothing like it existed officially, DWM's core focus was to provide a central location and community for everything in the 'Whoniverse,' from reconstructions of missing episodes to the latest episodes, and whatever lay between. But yesterday, following a visit by representatives from the BBC and Federation Against Copyright Theft, the site's operator took the decision to shut down the site for good.
AmiMoJo writes "New EU rules are limiting vacuum cleaner motors to 1600W from 2014/09/01. The EU summary of the new rules explains that consumers currently equate watts with cleaning power, which is not the case. Manufacturers will be required to put ratings on packaging, including energy efficiency, cleaning efficiency on hard and carpeted floors, and dust emissions from the exhaust. In the EU vacuum cleaners use more energy than the whole of Denmark, and produce more emissions than dishwashers and washing machines."
onproton writes Northern Illinois University recently began restricting student access to web pages that contain "illegal or unethical" content which, according to University policy, includes resources used for "political activities...and the organization or participation in meetings, rallies and demonstrations." A student raised concerns after attempting to access the Wikipedia page for Westboro Baptist Church, and receiving a filter message informing him that his access of this page would likely violate the University's Acceptable Use Policy, along with a warning that "all violations would be reviewed." This has lead to questions about whether some policies that restrict student access to information are in the best interest of the primary goal of education.
Jason Koebler writes: In order to get inside China's notorious internet filter, Harvard researcher Gary King created his own fake social network to gain access to the programs used to censor content, so he could reverse-engineer the system. "From inside China, we created our own social media website, purchased a URL, rented server space, contracted with one of the most popular software platforms in China used to create these sites, submitted, automatically reviewed, posted, and censored our own submissions," King wrote in a study published in Science. "We had complete access to the software; we were even able to get their recommendations on how to conduct censorship on our own site in compliance with government standards."
An anonymous reader writes: Philip Danks used a camcorder to record Fast & Furious 6 in a U.K. cinema. Later, he shared it via bittorrent and allegedly sold physical copies. Now, he's been sentenced to 33 months in prison for his actions. "In Court it was claimed that Danks' uploading of Fast 6 resulted in more than 700,000 downloads, costing Universal Pictures and the wider industry millions of pounds in losses." Danks was originally told police weren't going to take any action against him, but he unwisely continued to share the movie files after his initial detainment with authorities.