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DW100 writes In a bizarre public blog post the CEO of BlackBerry, John Chen, has claimed that net neutrality laws should include forcing app developers to make their services available on all operating systems. Chen even goes as far as citing Apple's iMessage tool as a service that should be made available for BlackBerry, because at present the lack of an iMessage BlackBerry app is holding the firm back. Some excerpts from Chen's plea: Netflix, which has forcefully advocated carrier neutrality, has discriminated against BlackBerry customers by refusing to make its streaming movie service available to them. Many other applications providers similarly offer service only to iPhone and Android users. ... Neutrality must be mandated at the application and content layer if we truly want a free, open and non-discriminatory internet. All wireless broadband customers must have the ability to access any lawful applications and content they choose, and applications/content providers must be prohibited from discriminating based on the customer’s mobile operating system. Since "content providers" are writing code they think makes sense for one reason or another (expected returns financial or psychic), a mandate to write more code seems like a good way to re-learn why contract law frowns on specific performance.
307 comments | 4 days ago
StartsWithABang writes The US Senate just voted on whether climate change is a hoax, knowing full well that debates or votes don't change what is or isn't scientifically true or valid. Nevertheless, debates have always been a thing in science, and they do have their place: in raising what points would be needed to validate, robustly confirm or refute competing explanations, theories or ideas. The greatest scientific debate in all of history — along with its conclusions — illustrates exactly this.
438 comments | 4 days ago
jfruh writes Last week, justice ministers from EU countries called for ISPs to censor or block certain content in the "public interest." But a legal analysis shows that such moves could actually violate EU privacy laws, since it would inevitably involve snooping on the content of Internet traffic to see what should be blocked.
60 comments | 4 days ago
Lasrick writes The ominous minute hand of the 'Doomsday Clock' has been fixed at 5 minutes to midnight for the past three years. But it could move tomorrow. The clock is a visual metaphor that was created nearly 70 years ago by The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, whose Board of Governors boasts 18 Nobel laureates. Each year, the Bulletin's Science and Security Board assesses threats to humanity — with special attention to nuclear warheads and climate change — to decide whether the Doomsday Clock needs an adjustment. The event will be streamed live from the Bulletin's website at 11 am EST.
144 comments | 4 days ago
An anonymous reader writes With the Ulbricht trial ongoing in a case over the original Silk Road, Homeland Security agents have made another arrest in the Silk Road 2.0 case more than two and a half months after the site was shut down. This time they arrested Brian Richard Farrell who went by the moniker "DoctorClu." From the article: "Homeland Security agents tracked Silk Road 2.0 activity to Farrell's Bellevue home in July, according to an affidavit by Special Agent Michael Larson. In the months that followed, agents watched his activities and interviewed a roommate who said Farrell received UPS, FedEx and postal packages daily. One package was found to contain 107 Xanax pills, Larson said. That led to a search on Jan. 2 that recovered computers, drug paraphernalia, silver bullion bars worth $3,900, and $35,000 in cash, Larson said."
126 comments | 4 days ago
sciencehabit writes The U.S. Senate's simmering debate over climate science has come to a full boil today, as lawmakers prepare to vote on measures offered by Democrats that affirm that climate change is real—with one also noting that global warming is not "a hoax." In an effort to highlight their differences with some Republicans on climate policy, several Democrats have filed largely symbolic amendments to a bill that would approve the Keystone XL pipeline. They are designed to put senators on the record on whether climate change is real and human-caused.
661 comments | 4 days ago
An anonymous reader tips an Associated Press report saying that Healthcare.gov is sending users' personal data to private companies. The information involved is typical ad-related analytic data: "...it can include age, income, ZIP code, whether a person smokes, and if a person is pregnant. It can include a computer's Internet address, which can identify a person's name or address when combined with other information collected by sophisticated online marketing or advertising firms." The Electronic Frontier Foundation confirmed the report, saying that data is being sent from Healthcare.gov to at least 14 third-party domains.
The EFF says, "Sending such personal information raises significant privacy concerns. A company like Doubleclick, for example, could match up the personal data provided by healthcare.gov with an already extensive trove of information about what you read online and what your buying preferences are to create an extremely detailed profile of exactly who you are and what your interests are. It could do all this based on a tracking cookie that it sets which would be the same across any site you visit. Based on this data, Doubleclick could start showing you smoking ads or infer your risk of cancer based on where you live, how old you are and your status as a smoker. Doubleclick might start to show you ads related to pregnancy, which could have embarrassing and potentially dangerous consequences such as when Target notified a woman's family that she was pregnant before she even told them. "
203 comments | 5 days ago
mi writes At least 50 U.S. law enforcement agencies have secretly equipped their officers with radar devices that allow them to effectively peer through the walls of houses to see whether anyone is inside. The device the Marshals Service and others are using, known as the Range-R, looks like a sophisticated stud-finder. Its display shows whether it has detected movement on the other side of a wall and, if so, how far away it is — but it does not show a picture of what's happening inside. The Range-R's maker, L-3 Communications, estimates it has sold about 200 devices to 50 law enforcement agencies at a cost of about $6,000 each. Other radar devices have far more advanced capabilities, including three-dimensional displays of where people are located inside a building, according to marketing materials from their manufacturers. One is capable of being mounted on a drone. And the Justice Department has funded research to develop systems that can map the interiors of buildings and locate the people within them.
289 comments | about a week ago
SonicSpike writes The investigative arm of the Department of Justice is attempting to short-circuit the legal checks of the Fourth Amendment by requesting a change in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. These procedural rules dictate how law enforcement agencies must conduct criminal prosecutions, from investigation to trial. Any deviations from the rules can have serious consequences, including dismissal of a case. The specific rule the FBI is targeting outlines the terms for obtaining a search warrant. It's called Federal Rule 41(b), and the requested change would allow law enforcement to obtain a warrant to search electronic data without providing any specific details as long as the target computer location has been hidden through a technical tool like Tor or a virtual private network. It would also allow nonspecific search warrants where computers have been intentionally damaged (such as through botnets, but also through common malware and viruses) and are in five or more separate federal judicial districts. Furthermore, the provision would allow investigators to seize electronically stored information regardless of whether that information is stored inside or outside the court's jurisdiction.
381 comments | about a week ago
An anonymous reader links to this story at The Stack (based on this translated report) that "The Moscow authorities will begin using the signal from Muscovites' cell-phones in 2015 to research patterns of traffic and points of congestion, with a view to changes in travel infrastructure including roads, the Moscow metro and bus services. The tracking, which appears to opt all users in unilaterally, promises not to identify individual cell-phone numbers, and will use GSM in most cases, but also GPS in more densely-constructed areas of the old city. The system is already in limited use on the roads, but will be extended to pedestrians and subway users in 2015. The city of 11.5 million people has three main cell providers, all of whom cooperate fully with authorities' request for information. A representative of one, Beeline, said: "We prepare reports that detail where our subscribers work, live, move, and other aspects."
63 comments | about a week ago
Amanda Parker (3946253) writes EE, Virgin Media and Vodafone have thrown their support behind net neutrality by signing up to the Open Internet Code. Launched in 2012 by the Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG), the UK code commits the three internet service providers (ISPs) to provide full internet access with no data blocked "on the basis of commercial rivalry." Content providers can now lodge a complaint with the BSG if they feel their services are being discriminated against. This latest development means that all major ISPs providing fixed and mobile networks are signed up to the code. BSG CEO Matthew Evans said: "Unlike some countries, where net neutrality has become a controversial topic for discussion, the UK benefits from a fiercely competitive market and high levels of transparency — which together offer the best assurance of an open internet."
36 comments | about a week ago
schwit1 writes: Shuji Nakamura won the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics (along with two other scientists) for his work inventing blue LEDs. But long ago he abandoned Japan for the U.S. because his country's culture and patent law did not favor him as an inventor. Nakamura has now blasted Japan for considering further legislation that would do more harm to inventors.
"In the early 2000s, Nakamura had a falling out with his employer and, it seemed, all of Japan. Relying on a clause in Japan's patent law, article 35, that assigns patents to individual inventors, he took the unprecedented step of suing his former employer for a share of the profits his invention was generating. He eventually agreed to a court-mediated $8 million settlement, moved to the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) and became an American citizen. During this period he bitterly complained about Japan's treatment of inventors, the country's educational system and its legal procedures. 'The problem is now the Japanese government wants to eliminate patent law article 35 and give all patent rights to the company. If the Japanese government changes the patent law it means basically there would no compensation [for inventors].'"
There is a similar problem with copyright law in the U.S., where changes to the law in the 1970s and 1990s have made it almost impossible for copyrights to ever expire. The changes favor the corporations rather than the individuals who might actually create the work.
190 comments | about a week ago
blottsie writes On Tuesday, President Obama will unveil a dramatic push to improve broadband Internet service for people around the country through community-built municipal broadband networks. Problem is, state legislatures around the country have passed laws making it considerably more difficult for these public Internet projects to get off the ground. In some states, building municipal broadband is prohibited altogether. This piece dives into the state laws standing between us and more competitive Internet service markets.
159 comments | about a week ago
DavidGilbert99 writes A month after it blocked Google's Gmail, the Chinese government now stands accused of hacking Microsoft's Outlook email service, carrying out man-in-the-middle attack to snoop on private conversations. From ZDNet: " On Monday, online censorship watchdog Greatfire.org said the organization received reports that Outlook was subject to a man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack in China....After testing, Greatfire says that IMAP and SMTP for Outlook were under a MITM attack, while the email service's web interfaces were not affected.
35 comments | about a week ago
Mike Lape links to a NYTimes piece which says "The evidence gathered by the 'early warning radar' of software painstakingly hidden to monitor North Korea's activities proved critical in persuading President Obama to accuse the government of Kim Jong-un of ordering the Sony attack, according to the officials and experts, who spoke on the condition of anonymity about the classified N.S.A. operation." From the linked article: For about a decade, the United States has implanted “beacons,” which can map a computer network, along with surveillance software and occasionally even destructive malware in the computer systems of foreign adversaries. The government spends billions of dollars on the technology, which was crucial to the American and Israeli attacks on Iran’s nuclear program, and documents previously disclosed by Edward J. Snowden, the former security agency contractor, demonstrated how widely they have been deployed against China. ... The extensive American penetration of the North Korean system also raises questions about why the United States was not able to alert Sony as the attacks took shape last fall, even though the North had warned, as early as June, that the release of the movie “The Interview,” a crude comedy about a C.I.A. plot to assassinate the North’s leader, would be “an act of war.”
181 comments | about a week ago
Advocatus Diaboli (1627651) writes According to top secret documents from the archive of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden seen exclusively by SPIEGEL, they are planning for wars of the future in which the Internet will play a critical role, with the aim of being able to use the net to paralyze computer networks and, by doing so, potentially all the infrastructure they control, including power and water supplies, factories, airports or the flow of money. Also check out — New Snowden documents show that the NSA and its allies are laughing at the rest of the world.
81 comments | about a week ago
SpzToid writes U.S. congressional Republicans on Friday proposed legislation that would set "net neutrality" rules for broadband providers, aiming to head off tougher regulations backed by the Obama administration. Republican lawmakers hope to counter the Federal Communications Commission's vote on Feb. 26 for rules that are expected to follow the legal path endorsed by President Barack Obama, which Internet service providers (ISPs) and Republicans say would unnecessarily burden the industry with regulation. Net neutrality activists, now with Obama's backing, have advocated for regulation of ISPs under a section of communications law known as Title II, which would treat them more like public utilities. The White House on Thursday said legislation was not necessary to settle so-called "net neutrality" rules because the Federal Communications Commission had the authority to write them.
182 comments | about a week ago
dcblogs writes The White House order last week lifting economic sanctions against Cuba specifically singles out technology, from telecommunication networks to consumer tech. There's much potential and many obstacles. Cuba has an educated population craving technology, but it has little income for new tech. The Cuban government wants to trade with the U.S., but is paranoid about the outside world and has limited Internet access to 5% to 10% of the population, at best. "The government has been very reluctant to have open Internet access," said Harley Shaiken, chairman of the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. But "there is real hunger for technology," and with the easing of the embargo, the government "will be facing new pressures," he said. The country needs a complete technology upgrade, including to its electric grid, and the money to finance these improvements. "Markets like Cuba, which will require a wholesale construction of new infrastructure, don't come along often, if ever," said Todd Thibodeaux, president and CEO of CompTIA, a tech industry trade group. "The flood of companies lining up to get in should be quite substantial," he said. Cuba has a population of about 11 million, about the same size as the Dominican Republic, which spends about $1 billion annually on technology and related services, according to IDC. But capital spending today on IT in Cuba may be no more than $200 million annually.
122 comments | about a week ago
schwit1 writes, "Are paparazzi flying drones over your garden to snap you sunbathing? You may need the Rapere, the drone-hunting drone which uses 'tangle-lines' to quickly down its prey." From The Telegraph's article: It has been designed to be faster and more agile than other drones to ensure that they can't escape - partly by limiting flight time and therefore reducing weight. “Having worked in the UAS industry for years, we've collectively never come across any bogus use of drones. However it's inevitable that will happen, and for people such as celebrities, where there is profit to be made in illegally invading their privacy, there should be an option to thwart it,” the group say on their website. This seems more efficient than going after those pesky paparazzi drones with fighting kites (video), but it should also inspire some skepticism: CNET notes that the team behind it is anonymous, and that "Rapere works in a lab setting, however there aren't any photos or videos of the killer drone in action. The website instead has only a slideshow of the concept."
151 comments | about a week ago
A story at Ars Technica describes yet another Federal database of logged call details maintained by the Federal government which has now come to light, this one maintained by the Department of Justice rather than the NSA, and explains how it came to be discovered: [A] three-page partially-redacted affidavit from a top Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) official, which was filed Thursday, explained that the database was authorized under a particular federal drug trafficking statute. The law allows the government to use "administrative subpoenas" to obtain business records and other "tangible things." The affidavit does not specify which countries records were included, but specifically does mention Iran. ... This database program appears to be wholly separate from the National Security Agency’s metadata program revealed by Edward Snowden, but it targets similar materials and is collected by a different agency. The Wall Street Journal, citing anonymous sources, reported Friday that this newly-revealed program began in the 1990s and was shut down in August 2013. From elsewhere in the article: "It’s now clear that multiple government agencies have tracked the calls that Americans make to their parents and relatives, friends, and business associates overseas, all without any suspicion of wrongdoing," [said ACLU lawyer Patrick Toomey]. "The DEA program shows yet again how strained and untenable legal theories have been used to secretly justify the surveillance of millions of innocent Americans using laws that were never written for that purpose."
102 comments | about a week ago