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wiredmikey writes: The White House's unclassified computer network was recently breached by intruders, a U.S. official said Tuesday. While the White House has not said so, The Washington Post reported that the Russian government was thought to be behind the act. Several recent reports have linked Russia to cyber attacks, including a report from FireEye on Tuesday that linked Russia back to an espionage campaign dating back to 2007. Earlier this month, iSight Partners revealed that a threat group allegedly linked with the Russian government had been leveraging a Microsoft Windows zero-day vulnerability to target NATO, the European Union, and various private energy and telecommunications organizations in Europe. The group has been dubbed the "Sandworm Team" and it has been using weaponized PowerPoint files in its recent attacks. Trend Micro believes the Sandworm team also has their eyes set on compromising SCADA-based systems.
98 comments | 2 days ago
blottsie writes: The most-valuable, second-richest telecommunications company in the world is bankrolling a technology news site called SugarString.com. The publication, which is now hiring its first full-time editors and reporters, is meant to rival major tech websites like Wired and the Verge while bringing in a potentially giant mainstream audience to beat those competitors at their own game.
There's just one catch: In exchange for the major corporate backing, tech reporters at SugarString are expressly forbidden from writing about American spying or net neutrality around the world, two of the biggest issues in tech and politics today.
141 comments | 2 days ago
Anita Hunt (lissnup) writes: Hot on the heels of Brazil's recent initiative in this area, Italy has produced a draft [PDF] Declaration of Internet Rights, and on Monday opened the bill for consultation on the Civici [Italian] platform, a first in Europe. "[A]s it is now, it consists of a preamble and 14 articles that span several pages. Topics range from the 'fundamental right to Internet access' and Net Neutrality to the notion of 'informational self-determination.' The bill also includes provisions on the right to anonymity and tackles the highly debated idea of granting online citizens a 'right to be forgotten.' Measures are taken against algorithmic discriminations and the opacity of the terms of service devised by 'digital platform operators' who are 'required to behave honestly and fairly' and, most of all, give 'clear and simple information on how the platform operates.'"
95 comments | 2 days ago
An anonymous reader writes: His wife thinks he's crazy, but this guy got an NFC chip implanted in his arm, where it will stay for at least a year. He's inviting everyone to come up with uses for it. Especially ones that violate his privacy and security. There must be something better to do than getting into the office or unlocking your work PC.
He says, "The chip we are using is the xNTi, an NFC type 2 NTAG216, which is about the size of a grain of rice and is manufactured by the Dutch semiconductor company NXP, maker of the NFC chip for the new iPhone. It is a glass transponder with an operating frequency of 13.56MHz, developed for mass-market applications such as retail, gaming and consumer electronics. ... The chip's storage capacity is pretty limited, the UID (unique identifier) is 7 bytes, while the read/write memory is 888 bytes. It can be secured with a 32-bit password and can be overwritten about 100,000 times, by which point the memory will be quite worn. Data transmission takes place at a baud rate of 106 kbit/s and the chip is readable up to 10 centimeters, though it is possible to boost that distance."
139 comments | 3 days ago
mrspoonsi sends news that a group of major tech companies has combined to donate $750 million worth of gadgets and services to students in 114 schools across the U.S. Apple is sending out $100 million worth of iPads, MacBooks, and other products. O'Reilly Media is making $100 million worth of educational content available for free. Microsoft and Autodesk are discounting software, while Sprint and AT&T are offering free wireless service. This is part of the ConnectED Initiative, a project announced by the Obama Administration last year to bring modern technology to K-12 classrooms. The FCC has also earmarked $2 billion to improve internet connectivity in schools and libraries over the next two years. Obama also plans to seek funding for training teachers to utilize this infusion of technology.
141 comments | 3 days ago
HughPickens.com writes: Ron Nixon reports in the NY Times that the United States Postal Service says it approved nearly 50,000 requests last year from law enforcement agencies and its own internal inspection unit to secretly monitor the mail of Americans for use in criminal and national security investigations, in many cases without adequately describing the reason or having proper written authorization. In addition to raising privacy concerns, the audit questioned the efficiency and accuracy of the Postal Service in handling the requests. The surveillance program, officially called mail covers, is more than a century old, but is still considered a powerful investigative tool. The Postal Service said that from 2001 through 2012, local, state and federal law enforcement agencies made more than 100,000 requests to monitor the mail of Americans. That would amount to an average of some 8,000 requests a year — far fewer than the nearly 50,000 requests in 2013 that the Postal Service reported in the audit (PDF).
In Arizona in 2011, Mary Rose Wilcox, a Maricopa County supervisor, discovered that her mail was being monitored by the county's sheriff, Joe Arpaio. Wilcox had been a frequent critic of Arpaio, objecting to what she considered the targeting of Hispanics in his immigration sweeps. Wilcox sued the county, was awarded nearly $1 million in a settlement in 2011 and received the money this June when the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling. Andrew Thomas, the former county attorney, was disbarred for his role in investigations into the business dealings of Ms. Wilcox and other officials and for other unprofessional conduct. "I don't blame the Postal Service," says Wilcox, "but you shouldn't be able to just use these mail covers to go on a fishing expedition. There needs to be more control."
111 comments | 3 days ago
McGruber writes: Back on February 4, "Science Guy" Bill Nye debated Creationist Kenneth Alfred "Ken" Ham. That high-profile debate helped boost support for Ham's $73 million "Ark Encounter" project, allowing Ham to announce on February 25 that a municipal bond offering had raised enough money to begin construction. Nye said he was "heartbroken and sickened for the Commonwealth of Kentucky" after learning that the project would move forward. Nye said the ark would eventually draw more attention to the beliefs of Ham's ministry, which preaches that the Bible's creation story is a true account, and as a result, "voters and taxpayers in Kentucky will eventually see that this is not in their best interest."
In July, the Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority unanimously approved $18.25 million worth of tax incentives to keep the ark park afloat. The funds are from a state program that allows eligible tourism attractions a rebate of as much as 25 percent of the investment in the project. Since then, the Ark Park's employment application has became public: "Nestled among the requirements for all job applicants were three troubling obligatory documents: 'Salvation testimony,' 'Creation belief statement,' and a 'Confirmation of your agreement with the AiG statement of faith.' (AiG is Answers in Genesis, Ham's ministry and Ark Encounter's parent company.)"
That caused the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet to halt its issuance of tax incentives for the ark park. Bob Stewart, secretary of the cabinet, wrote to Ham that "the Commonwealth does not provide incentives to any company that discriminates on the basis of religion and we will not make any exception for Ark Encounter, LLC." Before funding could proceed, Stewart explained, "the Commonwealth must have the express written assurance from Ark Encounter, LLC that it will not discriminate in any way on the basis of religion in hiring." The ark park has not yet sunk. It is "still pending before the authority" and a date has not yet been set for the meeting where final approval will be considered.
437 comments | 3 days ago
An anonymous reader writes The U.S. Federal Trade Commission today announced it is suing AT&T. The commission is charging the carrier for allegedly misleading millions of its smartphone customers by changing the terms while customers were still under contract for "unlimited" data plans that were, well, limited. "AT&T promised its customers 'unlimited' data, and in many instances, it has failed to deliver on that promise," FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said in a statement. "The issue here is simple: 'unlimited' means unlimited." How apropos.
173 comments | 3 days ago
Bennett Haselton writes: Social networking company Ello has converted itself to a Public Benefit Corporation, bound by a charter saying that they will not now, nor in the future, make money by running advertisements or selling user data. Ello had followed these policies from the outset, but skeptics worried that venture capitalist investors might pressure Ello to change those policies, so this binding commitment was meant to assuage those fears. But is the commitment really legally binding and enforceable down the road? Read on for the rest.
153 comments | 3 days ago
An anonymous reader writes: The Electronic Frontier Foundation has issued a report grading online service providers for how well they side with users over intellectual property disputes. They looked at sites like YouTube, Imgur, tumblr, and Twitter. "The services could receive a maximum of five stars, based on criteria including publicly documented procedures for responses to DMCA takedown notices and counter-notices, how the services handle trademark disputes, and if the company issued detailed transparency reports." Only two sites got a perfect rating: WordPress and Namecheap. tumblr got the worst score, and Imgur was not far behind. The rest of the sites were in between, though the EFF did give a bit of extra credit to Etsy for its educational guides and Twitter for its transparency reports.
16 comments | 3 days ago
sciencehabit writes: If you want to figure out how many people live in a particular part of your country, you could spend years conducting home visits and mailing out questionnaires. But a new study describes a quicker way. Scientists have figured out how to map populations using cellphone records — an approach that doesn't just reveal who lives where, but also where they go every day. The researchers also compared their results to population density data gathered through remote sensing technologies, a widely-used method that relies on satellite imaging to gather detailed information on population settlement patterns and estimate population counts. They found that the two methods are comparable in accuracy when checked against actual survey-based census data, but estimates from mobile phone data can provide more timely information, down to the hours.
57 comments | 3 days ago
Jason Koebler writes At least 20 additional American cities have expressed a formal interest in joining a coalition that's dedicated to bringing gigabit internet speeds to their residents by any means necessary—even if it means building the infrastructure themselves. The Next Centuries Cities coalition launched last week with an impressive list of 32 cities in 19 states who recognize that fast internet speeds unencumbered by fast lanes or other tiered systems are necessary to keep residents and businesses happy. That launch was so successful that 20 other cities have expressed formal interest in joining, according to the group's executive director.
97 comments | 4 days ago
RoccamOccam writes A former CBS News reporter who quit the network over claims it kills stories that put President Obama in a bad light says she was spied on by a "government-related entity" that planted classified documents on her computer. In her new memoir, Sharyl Attkisson says a source who arranged to have her laptop checked for spyware in 2013 was "shocked" and "flabbergasted" at what the analysis revealed. "This is outrageous. Worse than anything Nixon ever did. I wouldn't have believed something like this could happen in the United States of America," Attkisson quotes the source saying.
233 comments | 4 days ago
schwit1 writes A Dutch company has introduced a detection system that can alert you if a police officer or other emergency services official is using a two-way radio nearby. Blu Eye monitors frequencies used by the encrypted TETRA encrypted communications networks used by government agencies in Europe. It doesn't allow the user to listen in to transmissions, but can detect a radio in operation up to one kilometer away. Even if a message isn't being sent, these radios send pulses out to the network every four seconds and Blu Eye can also pick these up, according to The Sunday Times. A dashboard-mounted monitor uses lights and sounds to alert the driver to the proximity of the source, similar to a radar detector interface.
215 comments | 4 days ago
McGruber (1417641) writes "According to a report published by The Financial Times (paywalled), ex-Microsoft CEO Billionaire Steve Ballmer will be able to write off about a billion dollars of his basketball team's purchase price from the taxable income he makes over the next 15 years. "Under an exception in US law, buyers of sports franchises can use an accounting treatment known as goodwill against their other taxable income. This feature is commonly used by tax specialists to structure deals for sports teams. Goodwill is the difference between the purchase price of an asset and the actual cash and other fixed assets belonging to the team."
255 comments | 4 days ago
Maurits van der Schee writes "The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that embedding a copyrighted YouTube video in your site is not copyright infringement. From the article: "The case in question was referred to EU’s Court of Justice by a German court. It deals with a dispute between the water filtering company BestWater International and two men who work as independent commercial agents for a competitor. Bestwater accused the men of embedding one of their promotional videos, which was available on YouTube without the company’s permission. The video was embedded on the personal website of the two through a frame, as is usual with YouTube videos. While EU law is clear on most piracy issues, the copyright directive says very little about embedding copyrighted works. The Court of Justice, however, now argues that embedding is not copyright infringement."
68 comments | 4 days ago
TMB writes Al Jazeera reports on a Rutgers study about e-voting in New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy, and it is damning. It concludes that the middle of a natural disaster is the last time to try switching to a new voting method, especially one rife with such problems as e-voting. The table of contents includes such section headings as "Internet voting is not safe, should not be made legal, and should never be incorporated into emergency measures."
77 comments | 5 days ago
schwit1 writes: The IRS admits to seizing hundreds of thousands of dollars of private assets, without any proof of illegal activity, merely because there is a law that lets them do it. From the article: "Using a law designed to catch drug traffickers, racketeers and terrorists by tracking their cash, the government has gone after run-of-the-mill business owners and wage earners without so much as an allegation that they have committed serious crimes. The government can take the money without ever filing a criminal complaint, and the owners are left to prove they are innocent. Many give up and settle the case for a portion of their money.
'They're going after people who are really not criminals,' said David Smith, a former federal prosecutor who is now a forfeiture expert and lawyer in Virginia. 'They're middle-class citizens who have never had any trouble with the law.'" The article describes several specific cases, all of which are beyond egregious and are in fact entirely unconstitutional. The Bill of Rights is very clear about this: The federal government cannot take private property without just compensation."
424 comments | 5 days ago
TheRealHocusLocus writes: We are witness to a historic first: an individual charged with espionage and actively sought by the United States government has been (virtually) invited to speak at Harvard Law School, with applause. [Note: all of the following links go to different parts of a long YouTube video.] HLS Professor Lawrence Lessig conducted the hour-long interview last Monday with a list of questions by himself and his students.
Some interesting segments from the interview include: Snowden's assertion that mass domestic intercept is an "unreasonable seizure" under the 4th Amendment; that it also violates "natural rights" that cannot be voted away even by the majority; a claim that broad surveillance detracts from the ability to monitor specific targets such as the Boston Marathon bombers; him calling out Congress for not holding Clapper accountable for misstatements; and his lament that contractors are exempt from whistleblower protection though they do swear an oath to defend the Constitution from enemies both foreign and domestic.
These points have been brought up before. But what may be most interesting to these students is Snowden's suggestion that a defendant under the Espionage Act should be permitted to present an argument before a jury that the act was committed "in the public interest." Could this help ensure a fair trial for whistleblowers whose testimony reveals Constitutional violation?
221 comments | 5 days ago
New submitter steve_torquay writes: Last week, President Obama signed a new Executive Order calling for "all agencies making personal data accessible to citizens through digital applications" to "require the use of multiple factors of authentication and an effective identity proofing process." This does not necessarily imply that the government will issue online credentials to all U.S. residents.
The National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC) is working towards a distributed identity ecosystem that facilitates authentication and authorization without compromising privacy. NSTIC points out that this is a great opportunity to leverage the technology to enable a wide array of new citizen-facing digital services while reducing costs and hassles for individuals and government agencies alike.
58 comments | about a week ago