New submitter pefisher writes "The British are apparently admitting that they track their citizens as they travel the world (through information provided by intelligence agencies) and are arresting them if they have been somewhere that frightens them. 'Sir Peter, who leads the Association of Chief Police Officer's "Prevent" strategy on counter-terrorism, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that those returning from Syria "may well be charged and investigated, but they will be put into our programmes".' The program seems to consist of being spied on by the returnee's cooperative neighbors."
From Ars Technica comes this update in the defamation case filed by climate researcher Michael Mann against political commentator Mark Steyn of National Review magazine, who rhetorically compared Mann to Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky and accused him of publishing intentionally misleading research results. "The defendants tried to get it dismissed under the District of Columbia's Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) statute, which attempts to keep people from being silenced by frivolous lawsuits. The judge hearing the case denied the attempt and then promptly retired; Mann next amended his complaint, leading an appeals court to send the whole thing back to a new trial judge. Now the new judge has denied the SLAPP attempt yet again. In a decision released late last week (and hosted by defendant Mark Steyn), the judge recognizes that the comparison to a child molester is part of the "opinions and rhetorical hyperbole" that are protected speech when used against public figures like Mann. However, the accompanying accusations of fraud are not exempt:"
The L.A. Times reports that a group of students and parents, fed up with what they see as overarching job security in California schools, are suing in the hopes of making harder for poor teachers to stay on the books. From the article: "The lawsuit, filed by the nonprofit, advocacy group Students Matter, contends that these education laws are a violation of the Constitution's equal protection guarantee because they do not ensure that all students have access to an adequate education. Vergara versus California, filed on behalf of nine students and their families, seeks to revamp a dismissal process that the plaintiffs say is too costly and time consuming, lengthen the time it takes for instructors to gain tenure and dismantle the 'last hired, first fired' policies that fail to consider teacher effectiveness. The lawsuit aims to protect the rights of students, teachers and school districts against a "gross disparity" in educational opportunity, lawyers for the plaintiffs said." Perhaps related.
An anonymous reader points out this recently published study (PDF) on detecting malicious (or at least suspicious) Tor exit relays. From their conclusions: "After developing a scanner, we closely monitored all ~1000 exit relays over a period of four months. Wed discovered 25 relays which were either outright malicious or simply misconfigured. Interestingly, the majority of the attacks were coordinated instead of being isolated actions of independent individuals. Our results further suggest that the attackers made an active effort to remain under the radar and delay detection." One of the authors, Philipp Winter, wrote a followup blog post to help clarify what the paper's findings mean for Tor users, including this clarification: "First, it's important to understand that 25 relays in four months isn't a lot. It is ultimately a very small fraction of the Tor network. Also, it doesn't mean that 25 out of 1,000 relays are malicious or misconfigured (we weren't very clear on that in the paper). We have yet to calculate the churn rate of exit relays which is the rate at which relays join and leave the network. 1,000 is really just the approximate number of exit relays at any given point in time. So the actual number of exit relays we ended up testing in four months is certainly higher than that. As a user, that means that you will not see many malicious relays 'in the wild."
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that "A federal judge overturned a jury's multimillion-dollar damage award to the programmer of the original John Madden Football video game on Wednesday, saying there was no evidence that his work was copied for seven years, without credit, by the marketer of later versions of the hugely successful game. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer of San Francisco spared Electronic Arts Inc. from nearly $4 million in damages, plus interest that could have exceeded $7 million. The jury verdict also could have led to larger damages against the company for later versions of the game, which reaped billions of dollars in revenues, if future juries found that those, too, had been lifted from the work of programmer Robin Antonick." Also at Kotaku.
tsu doh nimh writes "Michaels Stores Inc., which runs more than 1,250 crafts stores across the United States, said Saturday that it is investigating a possible data breach involving customer cardholder information. According to Brian Krebs, the journalist who broke the story [and, previously] news of the Target and Neiman Marcus breaches, the U.S. Secret Service has confirmed it is investigating. Krebs cited multiple sources in the banking industry saying they were tracking a pattern of fraud on cards that were all recently used at Michaels Stores Inc. In response to that story, Michaels issued a statement saying it 'recently learned of possible fraudulent activity on some U.S. payment cards that had been used at Michaels, suggesting that the Company may have experienced a data security attack.' In 2011, Michaels disclosed that attackers had physically tampered with point-of-sale terminals in multiple stores, but so far there are no indications what might be the cause of the latest breach. Both Target and Neiman Marcus have said the culprit was malicious software designed to steal payment card data, and at least in Target's case that's been shown to be malware made to infect retail cash registers."
Bob9113 writes "According to an article on Ars Technica, the Republican National Committee (RNC) has passed a resolution that "encourages Republican lawmakers to immediately take action to halt current unconstitutional surveillance programs and provide a full public accounting of the NSA's data collection programs." The resolution, according to Time, was approved by an overwhelming majority voice vote at the Republican National Committee's Winter Meeting General Session, going on this week in Washington, DC."
wiredmikey writes "Microsoft on Friday said that attackers breached the email accounts of a "select number" of employees, and obtained access to documents associated with law enforcement inquiries. According to the company, a number of Microsoft employees were targeted with attacks aiming to compromise both email and social media accounts '..We have learned that there was unauthorized access to certain employee email accounts, and information contained in those accounts could be disclosed,' said Adrienne Hall, General Manager at Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing Group. 'It appears that documents associated with law enforcement inquiries were stolen,' Hall said. Targeted attacks like this are not uncommon, especially for an organization like Microsoft. What's interesting about this is that the incident was significant enough to disclose, indicating that a fair number of documents could have been exposed, or that the company fears some documents will make their way to the public if released by the attackers—which may be the case if this was a 'hacktivist' attack."
Lasrick writes "Tom Bielefeld, a physicist specializing in nuclear security, writes a detailed article that has some surprising revelations about nuclear security in the U.S. (and elsewhere). Although some security measures have been tightened since 9/11, the US does not require transports of category-1 to be protected by armed guards, and individual states don't have to provide lists of 'safe havens' to the transport company (and they often don't). And at hospitals and other buildings that house radioactive materials and devices, 'security conditions remain hair-raising, even when these facilities have been checked by inspectors.'"
Toe, The writes "The New York Police Department has quietly installed about 200 temporary surveillance cameras in midtown Manhattan to help spot trouble along 'Super Bowl Boulevard,' a 13-block street fair on Broadway that's expected to draw large crowds during the windup to the game. The temporary cameras for the Super Bowl festivities will supplement a system of thousands of permanent cameras covering midtown and Wall Street that the NYPD monitors from a command center in lower Manhattan. The department has pioneered analytical software that allows it to program the cameras to detect suspicious activity, such as a bag or other objects left in one place for a long time. Hazmat and bomb squads will be on standby. Others officers will patrol with bomb-sniffing dogs. Still more will watch from rooftops and from police helicopters. At a recent security briefing at the stadium, police chiefs and other officials said success will be measured in part by how well authorities conceal all the concern over potential threats." Now it's a proven tradition: Superbowl crowds are a good place to test people-watching gear.
schwit1 sends this news from Aviation Week: "A new U.S. Defense Department report warns that ongoing software, maintenance and reliability problems with Lockheed Martin Corp's F-35 stealth fighter could delay the Marine Corps' plans to start using its F-35 jets by mid-2015. It said Lockheed had delivered F-35 jets with 50 percent or less of the software capabilities required by its production contracts with the Pentagon. The computer-based logistics system known as ALIS was fielded with 'serious deficiencies' and remained behind schedule, which affected servicing of existing jets needed for flight testing, the report said. It said the ALIS diagnostic system failed to meet even basic requirements. The F35 program, which began in 2001, is 70 percent over initial cost estimates, and years behind schedule, but top U.S. officials say it is now making progress. They have vowed to safeguard funding for the program to keep it on track. Earlier this week, the nonprofit Center for International Policy said Lockheed had greatly exaggerated its estimate (PDF) that the F-35 program sustained 125,000 U.S. jobs to shore up support for the program."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "David Stout reports at Time Magazine that what began with a Craigslist ad from a lesbian couple calling for a sperm donor in rural Topeka, Kansas ended in court on Wednesday with a judge ordering the sperm donor to pay child support. The Kansas Department for Children and Families filed the case in October 2012 seeking to have William Marotta declared the father of a child born to Jennifer Schreiner in 2009 so he can be held responsible for about $6,000 in public assistance the state provided, as well as future child support. 'In this case, quite simply, the parties failed to perform to statutory requirement of the Kansas Parentage Act in not enlisting a licensed physician at some point in the artificial insemination process, and the parties' self-designation of (Marotta) as a sperm donor is insufficient to relieve (Marotta) of parental right and responsibilities to the child,' wrote Judge Mattivi. Marotta opposed that action, saying he had contacted Schreiner and her partner at the time, Angela Bauer, in response to an ad they placed on Craigslist seeking a sperm donor and signed a contract waiving his parental rights and responsibilities. 'We stand by that contract,' says Defense attorney Swinnen adding that the Kansas statute doesn't specifically require the artificial insemination be carried out by a physician. 'The insinuation is offensive, and we are responding vigorously to that. We stand by our story. There was no personal relationship whatsoever between my client and the mother, or the partner of the mother, or the child. Anything the state insinuates is vilifying my client, and I will address it.'"
theodp writes "Probably not the most fortuitous timing, but the USPTO has granted Google its wish for a patent on Transportation-Aware Physical Advertising Conversions, a system that arranges for free or discounted transportation to an advertiser's business location that will be more or less convenient based upon how profitable a customer is deemed. It's reminiscent of the free personal chauffeured limousine rides long enjoyed by Las Vegas casino 'whales', but at scale and using cars that may not have drivers. A server, Google explains, 'arranges the selected transportation option, for example, by dispatching a vehicle or providing instructions for using public transportation.' So, it seems a Larry or Sergey type might expect to be taken gratis to the Tesla dealership via a private autonomous car or even helicopter, while others may get a discount on a SF Muni bus ride to Safeway. Google also describes how advertisers will be able to use a customer's profile 'to exclude a customer from being considered for an offer based on exclusion criteria identified by a business,' such as age, job title, purchasing history, clothing size, or other 'desirable' characteristics."
An anonymous reader writes "Three out of five PCLOB board members are in agreement: The NSA spy programs are illegal.. Unfortunately, these lawyers are not in a position to act or make any changes, only to advise congress and the president. Could this be the start of change to come? 'According to leaked copies of a forthcoming report by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), the government's metadata collection program "lacks a viable legal foundation under Section 215, implicates constitutional concerns under the First and Fourth Amendments, raises serious threats to privacy and civil liberties as a policy matter, and has shown only limited value As a result, the board recommends that the government end the program.'" Not surprisingly, the Obama administration disagrees.
jfruh writes "The Supreme Court issued a ruling that might help marginally curb patent madness. Ruling on a case between Medtronic and Mirowski Family Ventures, the court rules that the burden of proof in patent infringement cases is always on the patent holder. This is true even in the specific case at hand, in which Medtronic sought a declaratory judgement that it was not violating the Mirowski patents."
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from TorrentFreak: "During a debate on the UK's Intellectual Property Bill, the Prime Minister's Intellectual Property Adviser has again called for a tougher approach to online file-sharing. In addition to recommending 'withdrawing Internet rights from lawbreakers,' Mike Weatherley MP significantly raised the bar by stating that the government must now consider 'some sort of custodial sentence for persistent offenders.' Google also got a bashing – again." The article goes on to say "Weatherley noted that the Bill does not currently match penalties for online infringement with those available to punish infringers in the physical world. The point was detailed by John Leech MP, who called for the maximum penalty for digital infringement to be increased to 10 years’ imprisonment instead of the current two years."
phantomfive writes "'Seven whistleblowers have been prosecuted under the Obama administration,' writes Jesselyn Radack, a lawyer who advised two of them. She explains why they can't get a fair trial. In the Thomas Drake case, the administration retroactively marked documents as classified, saying, 'he knew they should have been classified.' In the Bradley Manning case, the jury wasn't allowed to see what information was leaked. The defendants, all who have been charged with espionage, have limited access to court documents. Most of these problems happen because the law was written to deal with traitorous spies, not whistleblowers."
itwbennett writes "The New York City Health Department's Rat Information Portal provides raw data on where the rats are, based on inspections done by the health department, as well as by their rat indexing initiative. The portal isn't a new open data initiative, but if you're a NYC resident and not a big fan of rodents, the site is worth a look. 'The most interesting part of the portal is the interactive heat map of rat inspection data,' says ITworld's Phil Johnson. 'Using this interactive map, you can look up the inspection history, going back to 2009, for any address in the five boroughs. It will tell you the dates and results of any inspections, as well of any follow up compliance checks. As for raw data, the site provides city-wide rat reports, aggregated to the zip code level, going back to 2006.'"
Gunkerty Jeb writes "After months of public calls from privacy advocates and security experts, Verizon on Wednesday released its first transparency report, revealing that it received more than 164,000 subpoenas and between 1,000 - 2,000 National Security Letters in 2013. The report, which covers Verizon's landline, Internet and wireless services, shows that the company also received 36,000 warrants, most of which requested location or stored content data."
Sockatume writes "Remember the fun of spurious substring matches, AKA the Scunthorpe problem? The UK's advanced 'intelligent' internet filters do. Supposedly the country's great new filtering regime has been blocking a patch for League of Legends because some of the filenames within it include the substring 'sex.' Add one to the list of embarrassing failures for the nation's new mosaic of opt-out censorship systems, which have proven themselves incapable of distinguishing between abusive sites and sites for abuse victims, or sites for pornography versus sites for sexual and gender minorities."
schneidafunk writes " Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance.' was the message sent to thousands of protesters as a new law prohibiting public demonstrations went into effect." From NYTimes: "... Protesters were concerned that the government seemed to be using cutting-edge technology from the advertising industry to pinpoint people for political profiling. Three cellphone companies in Ukraine ... denied that they had provided the location data to the government or had sent the text messages, the newspaper Ukrainskaya Pravda reported. Kyivstar suggested that it was instead the work of a 'pirate' cellphone tower set up in the area."
An anonymous reader writes "Canadian law professor Michael Geist reports that the Canadian arm of the RIAA is calling for new Internet regulation, including website blocking and search result manipulation. While the Canadian music industry experienced increased digital sales last year (sales declined in the U.S.) and the Ontario government is handing out tens of millions of tax dollars to the industry, the industry now wants the government to step in with website blocking and ordering search companies to change their results to focus on iTunes and other sales sites."
jjp9999 writes "Weibo, China's replacement for Twitter and Facebook, went offline for about two hours on Jan. 20, when a DNS attack switched its IP address to overseas VPN software used to circumvent censorship. On Jan. 21, the brief IP switch was the most discussed topic on Weibo, with one user, ITHome, saying posting 'What IP is 184.108.40.206? It's sure to go down in history.' The IP address is one of those used by Freegate, which is free software released by Chinese dissidents in the U.S. intended to help Chinese people break through the Great Firewall. However, Bill Xia, president of Dynamic Internet Technology, which makes Freegate, said he and his team of volunteers thought their networks were under attack when they got a surge of traffic with about 100,000 users a second hitting their IP address. Xia said they are still trying to analyze the incident, but he assumes it was a slip-up [on the part of] the Chinese authorities in charge of censoring content. 'Our guess is they messed up again,' he said. 'This doesn't make sense for them, so I assume it was a mistake in their operation.'"
New submitter fynbar writes "Computer scientists have identified almost two dozen computers that were actively working to sabotage the Tor privacy network by carrying out attacks that can degrade encrypted connections between end users and the websites or servers they visit (PDF). 'Two of the 25 servers appeared to redirect traffic when end users attempted to visit pornography sites, leading the researchers to suspect they were carrying out censorship regimes required by the countries in which they operated. A third server suffered from what researchers said was a configuration error in the OpenDNS server. The remainder carried out so-called man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks designed to degrade encrypted Web or SSH traffic to plaintext traffic. The servers did this by using the well-known sslstrip attack designed by researcher Moxie Marlinspike or another common MitM technique that converts unreadable HTTPS traffic into plaintext HTTP.'"
schwit1 writes "This report explains how Virgin Galactic space tourists could be grounded by federal regulations. From the article: 'Virgin Galactic submitted an application to the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation in late August 2013, says Attenborough. The office, which goes by the acronym AST, has six months to review the application, meaning an approval may come as early as February. Industry experts, however, say that may be an overly optimistic projection. "An application will inevitably be approved, but it definitely remains uncertain exactly when it will happen," says Dirk Gibson, an associate professor of communication at the University of New Mexico and author of multiple books on space tourism. "This is extremely dangerous and unchartered territory. It's space travel. AST has to be very prudent," he says. "They don't want to endanger the space-farers or the public, and they can't let the industry get started and then have a Titanic-like scenario that puts an end to it all in the eyes of the public.""
enharmonix writes "Although Google initially invested in Intellectual Ventures, a patent holding firm, the two have since parted ways and are about to face off in court over some technologies used in Motorola (and other) phones. This is an important battle and the timing is significant given Congress's recent interest in patent reform. 'Two of the patents in the upcoming Motorola trial cover inventions by Richard Reisman, U.S. government records show. Through his company, Teleshuttle, Reisman has developed several patent portfolios for various technologies, including an online update service, according to the Teleshuttle website. IV claims that the two Reisman patents cover several of Motorola's older-generation cellphones that have Google Play, a platform for Android smartphone apps. Motorola argues that IV's patents should never have been issued because the inventions were known in the field already."
cold fjord writes with this excerpt from Computerworld: "[W]hite hat hacker David Kennedy, CEO of TrustedSec, may feel like he's beating his head against a stone wall. Kennedy said, 'I don't understand how we're still discussing whether the website is insecure or not. ... It is insecure — 100 percent.' Kennedy has continually warned that healthcare.gov is insecure. In November, after the website was allegedly 'fixed,' he told Congress it was even more vulnerable to hacking and privacy breaches. ... 'Out of the issues identified last go around, there has been a half of a vulnerability closed out of the 17 previously disclosed ... other security researchers have also identified an additional 20+ exposures on the site.' ... Kennedy said he was able to access 70,000 records within four minutes ... At the House Science and Technology Committee hearing held last week ... elite white hat hackers — Kevin Mitnick, Ed Skoudis, Chris Nickerson, Eric Smith, Chris Gates, John Strand, Kevin Johnson, and Scott White – blasted the website's insecurity. ... Mitnick, the 'world's most famous hacker' testified: '... It would be a hacker's wet dream to break into Healthcare.gov ... A breach may result in massive identity theft never seen before — these databases house information on every U.S. citizen! It's shameful the team that built the Healthcare.gov site implemented minimal, if any, security best practices.'"
Slashdot contributor Bennett Haselton writes: "Internet users in Saudi Arabia, along with most users in the United Arab Emirates, are blocked by their respective government censors from accessing the websites of the Trinity Davison Lutheran Church, Deliverance Tabernacle Ministries in Pittsburgh, the Amitayu Buddhist Society of Taiwan, and GayFaith.org. An attempt to access any of those websites yields an error page like this one. However, the sites are not blocked because they conflict with the religions beliefs of those countries' governments. Rather, they are blocked because Smartfilter -- the American-made blocking program sold by McAfee, and used for state-mandated Internet censorship in those countries -- classifies those sites as "pornography". You can see the screen shots here, here, here and here." Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.
An anonymous reader writes ""King.com, owners of Candy Crush, have received a U.S. trademark on the use of the word 'candy' in games and clothing. Forbes thinks it is overly broad. 'One would think Hasbro, the maker of that venerable children's board game (which does have video game versions) Candy Land, would already have this trademark sewed up.'" According to an update on the story, the company also has a EU trademark on the same term, but (however much comfort this is) is enforcing its claims only selectively, as against a game called All Candy Casino Slots – Jewel Craze Connect: Big Blast Mania Land.
An anonymous reader writes "A Google Glass user was interrogated without legal counsel for a couple of hours under suspicion that he may have been recording a film in the AMC movie theater. Although the matter could have been cleared in minutes, federal agents insisted on interrogating the user for hours. So long for our constitutional freedoms." Hours of being detained that could have been avoided if they had just searched his devices (which he repeatedly suggested they do): "Eventually, after a long time somebody came with a laptop and an USB cable at which point he told me it was my last chance to come clean. I repeated for the hundredth time there is nothing to come clean about and this is a big misunderstanding so the FBI guy finally connected my Glass to the computer, downloaded all my personal photos and started going though them one by one (although they are dated and it was obvious there was nothing on my Glass that was from the time period they accused me of recording). Then they went through my phone, and 5 minutes later they concluded I had done nothing wrong." Update: 01/21 21:41 GMT by U L : The Columbus Dispatch confirmed the story with the Department of Homeland Security. The ICE and not the FBI detained the Glass wearer, and there happened to be an MPAA task force at the theater that night, who then escalated the incident.
sandbagger writes "Health Canada scientists are so concerned about losing access to their research library that they're finding workarounds, with one squirreling away journals and books in his basement for colleagues to consult, says a report obtained by CBC News. The report said the number of in-house librarians went from 40 in 2007 to just six in April 2013. 'I look at it as an insidious plan to discourage people from using libraries' said Dr. Rudi Mueller, who left the department in 2012. 'If you want to justify closing a library, you make access difficult and then you say it is hardly used.' This is hardly new for Stephen Harper's Conservative government. Over the Christmas holidays, several scientific libraries were closed and their contents taken to the dump."
judgecorp writes "The group of security experts who urged people to boycot the RSA conference (over allegations that the security firm RSA has taken a $10 million bribe from the NSA to weaken the security of its products) have put together a rival conference called TrustyCon just down the road from San Francisco's Moscone Center, where the EMC-owned firm will have its conference at the end of February."
cold fjord writes "The Hill reports, 'Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) predicted Sunday that lawmakers who favored shutting down the bulk collection of telephone metadata would not be successful in their efforts as Congress weighs potential reforms to the nation's controversial intelligence programs. "I don't believe so," Feinstein said during an appearance on NBC's Meet the Press (video). "The president has very clearly said that he wants to keep the capability So I think we would agree with him. I know a dominant majority of the — everybody, virtually, except two or three, on the Senate Intelligence Committee would agree with that." ... "A lot of the privacy people, perhaps, don't understand that we still occupy the role of the Great Satan. New bombs are being devised. New terrorists are emerging, new groups, actually, a new level of viciousness," Feinstein said. "We need to be prepared. I think we need to do it in a way that respects people's privacy rights."'"
New submitter MrBingoBoingo writes "Recently it was announced here on Slashdot that OpenBSD was facing an impending shortfall that jeopardized its continued existence. A sponsorship to save OpenBSD has been announced, and it wasn't one of the usual culprits that saved OpenBSD, but a Romanian Bitcoin billionaire."
An anonymous reader writes "The East Buchanan Telephone Cooperative started charging cellular prices for home DSL internet service starting on January 1st, 2014. A 5GB plan costs $24.95 a month while a 25 GB plan will run $99.95 per month. 100 GB is the most data you can get in a package for $299.95 per month. Each additional GB is $5. They argue that the price increase is justified because their costs have increased by 900% since 2009. About half of their customers use less than 5 GB a month while their largest users use around 100 GB a month. They argue that the switch to measured internet will appropriately place the cost on their heaviest users. With the landmark Net Neutrality ruling this week will larger providers try to move to similar price models?"
An anonymous reader writes "MailChimp Chief Data Scientist [John Foreman] is at Disney World this weekend wearing his RFID-equipped MagicBand. Here's how he thinks the practice of digitally tracking consumers in the physical world will reach everywhere from theme parks to our homes." Foreman's conclusion (and headline) — shades of Scott McNeally's famous "Get over it" — is "You don't want your privacy." That seems to miss the mark, at least for me: I don't mind parceling out certain kinds of information (like whether I like to buy decaf at Starbucks, or how long the wait is to ride Space Mountain), in contexts of my own choosing, but that's much different from being snooped on by the NSA or other state actors in other contexts.
First time accepted submitter etash writes "A bit more than a year ago a man was arrested in Greece for satirizing a dead monk, after the far-right party golden dawn, petitioned for his arrest. A couple of days ago he was given a ten-month sentence. What actually enraged the religious Greek blogosphere was not the satire. He wrote a fictitious story about a miracle done in the past by this specific monk. The story was then sent to [a religious blog] and then in a matter of days it was copy pasted and presented as true by most of the religious and far-right blogs and news sites. The final act of the dramedy took place when he came out and revealed that the story was not real; he intended to show the absurdity and the lack of reliability of these sites."
An anonymous reader writes "The WSJ is reporting that Amazon has obtained a patent for 'anticipatory shipping,'' and claims it knows its customers so well it can start shipping even before orders are placed. The technique could cut delivery time and discourage consumers from visiting physical stores. In the patent document, Amazon says delays between ordering and receiving purchases 'may dissuade customers from buying items from online merchants.' Of course, Amazon's algorithms might sometimes err, prompting costly returns. To minimize those costs, Amazon said it might consider giving customers discounts, or convert the unwanted delivery into a gift. 'Delivering the package to the given customer as a promotional gift may be used to build goodwill,' the patent said. Considering the problems that can arise when shipping something a customer did not order anticipatory shipping has the potential to backfire faster than an Amazon drone can deliver."
wiredmikey writes "While the recent data breach that hit Target has dominated headlines lately, another massive data breach was disclosed this week that affected at least 20 million people in South Korea. According to regulators, the personal data including names, social security numbers, phone numbers, credit card numbers and expiration dates of at least 20 million bank and credit card users was taken by a temporary consultant working at the Korea Credit Bureau (KCB). The consultant later sold the data to phone marketing companies, but has since been arrested along with mangers at the companies he sold the stolen data to. A similar insider-attack occurred at Vodafone late last year when a contractor made off with the personal data of two million customers from a server located in Germany. According to a study from PwC, organizations have made little progress developing defenses against both internal and external attackers, and insiders pose just as great a security risk to organizations as outside attackers."
sandbagger writes "The cynics at the Register have picked apart Barack Obama's NSA reform promises. As to be expected, there's some good, some deliberate vagueness, talk of 'ticking bomb scenarios' and the politician's favourite 'promises to commit to future reforms'. Basically, it's a fig-leaf to kick the can down the road so the next president has to deal with it. He's promising bulk data will go to a third party so the NSA can't see it. Okay, who is this magical third party?" They don't seem to me nearly cynical enough.
Former Googler and Foursquare employee Sean Haufler is now a student at Yale studying CS and Economics, but he hasn't put away his real-world software skills for academia. When two other Yale students named Harry Yu and Peter Xu were threatened with the school's punishment committee for designing a site that extends and improves the presentation of data from the school-controlled course selection guide (the Yale Bluebook [available only at Yale]), Haufler decided to create a similar site which he hopes will force the school's hand to either allow or deny this kind of data-mashing presentation. He acknowledges that there are legitimate questions about copyright, but Haufler's site treads lightly in a way that Yu and Xus did not: "Banned Bluebook never stores data on any servers. It never talks to any non-Yale servers. Moreover, since my software is smarter at caching data locally than the official Yale course website, I expect that students using this extension will consume less bandwidth over time than students without it. Don’t believe me? You can read the source code. No data ever leaves Yale’s control. Trademarks, copyright infringement, and data security are non-issues. It's 100% kosher." And if the school disagrees? "If Yale denies this right, I'll see you at the punishment committee." Of note: the Yale Bluebook site itself grew out of an independent student project, but was later acquired by the school. Update: 01/20 00:26 GMT by T : Correction: Unlike Yu and Xu, Haufler's approach is not a full-fledged separate site, but rather a Chrome extension that presents the data from Yale's own site differently, rather than at any point re-hosting it. Mea culpa.
retroworks writes "Dr. Gary Becker (University of Chicago) and Julio Elias (Universidad CEMA, Argentina) wrote a thought-provoking editorial in last week's WSJ, arguing that the prohibition on voluntary sale and trade of human organs is probably killing people. In 2012, 95,000 American men, women and children were on the waiting list for new kidneys. Yet only about 16,500 kidney transplant operations were performed that year. 'The altruistic giving of organs might decline with an open market, since the incentive to give organs to a relative, friend or anyone else would be weaker when organs are readily available to buy. On the other hand, the altruistic giving of money to those in need of organs could increase to help them pay for the cost of organ transplants.' Paying for organs would lead to more transplants, the article maintains. 'Initially, a market in the purchase and sale of organs would seem strange, and many might continue to consider that market "repugnant." Over time, however, the sale of organs would grow to be accepted, just as the voluntary military now has widespread support.'"
PapayaSF writes "TheHill.com reports that Accenture has two months to fix HealthCare.gov by building a 'financial management platform that tracks eligibility and enrollment transactions, accounts for subsidy payments to insurance plans, "provides stable and predictable financial accounting and outlook for the entire program," and that integrates with existing CMS and IRS systems.' The procurement document, posted on a federal website, states that if this is not completed in time, there will be 'financial harm to the government' and 'the entire healthcare reform program is jeopardized.' Risk mitigation (which pays insurers who enroll a higher-than-expected number of sick patients) must be accurately forecast, or it might put 'the entire health insurance industry at risk.' Accenture will also have to fix the enrollment transmissions, which have been sending inaccurate and garbled data to insurance companies. Because the back-end cannot currently handle the federal subsidies, insurers will be paid estimated amounts as a stopgap measure. The document also said that officials realized in December that there was no time for a 'full and open competition process' before awarding Accenture the $91 million contract. What are their odds of success?"
cold fjord writes "Reuters reports, 'A blogger is entitled to the same free speech protections as a traditional journalist and cannot be liable for defamation unless she acted negligently, a federal appeals court ruled on Friday. Crystal Cox lost a defamation trial in 2011 over a blog post she wrote accusing a bankruptcy trustee and Obsidian Finance Group of tax fraud. A lower court judge had found that Obsidian did not have to prove that Cox acted negligently because Cox failed to submit evidence of her status as a journalist. But in the ruling, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said Cox deserved a new trial, regardless of the fact that she is not a traditional reporter. "As the Supreme Court has accurately warned, a First Amendment distinction between the institutional press and other speakers is unworkable."... Eugene Volokh, [a] Law professor who represented Cox, said Obsidian would now have to show that Cox had actual knowledge that her post was false when she published it. ... "In this day and age, with so much important stuff produced by people who are not professionals, it's harder than ever to decide who is a member of the institutional press."' Further details are available at Courthouse News Service."
An anonymous reader writes "In December, porn.com started accepting Bitcoin for its premium services, and the virtual currency quickly came to account for 10 percent of sales. At the start of January, a post on Reddit's Bitcoin subforum boosted the figure to 50 percent, before settling down to about 25 percent. The tremendous interest has led David Kay, the marketing director at porn.com's parent company Sagan, to talk very positively about the virtual currency: 'I definitely believe that porn will be Bitcoin's killer app,' he told The Guardian. 'Fast, private and confidential payments.'"
schwit1 writes "The U.S. Supreme Court agreed on Friday to decide whether police can search an arrested criminal suspect's cell phone without a warrant in two cases that showcase how the courts are wrestling to keep up with rapid technological advances. Taking up cases from California and Massachusetts arising from criminal prosecutions that used evidence obtained without a warrant, the high court will wade into how to apply older court precedent, which allows police to search items carried by a defendant at the time of arrest, to cell phones."
greatgreygreengreasy writes "In 2005, then-governor of North Dakota John Hoeven signed into law a bill 'ensuring drivers' ownership of their EDR (Electronic Data Recorder) data.' Now a U.S. senator, Hoeven (R-ND) has teamed up with Amy Klobuchar, D-MN, to introduce similar legislation at the Federal level. 'Under this legislation, EDR data could only be retrieved [for specific reasons].' The EFF has expressed concern in the past over the so-called black boxes and their privacy implications. This legislation, however, would not address the recent revelations by a Ford executive on their access to data, since in those cases, 'The vehicle owner or lessee consents to the data retrieval.' The bill has gained the support of about 20 senators so far."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "CNN reports that Ohio inmate Dennis McGuire appeared to gasp and convulse for roughly 10 minutes before he finally died during his execution by lethal injection using a new combination of drugs. The new drugs were used because European-based manufacturers banned U.S. prisons from using their drugs in executions — among them, Danish-based Lundbeck, which manufactures pentobarbital. The state used a combination of the drugs midazolam, a sedative, and the painkiller hydromorphone, the state corrections department told CNN. In an opinion piece written for CNN earlier this week, a law professor noted that McGuire's attorneys argued he would 'suffocate to death in agony and terror.' 'The state disagrees. But the truth is that no one knows exactly how McGuire will die, how long it will take or what he will experience in the process,' wrote Elisabeth A. Semel, clinic professor of law and director of the Death Penalty Clinic at U.C. Berkeley School of Law. According to a pool report from journalists who witnessed the execution, the whole process took more than 15 minutes, during which McGuire made 'several loud snorting or snoring sounds.' Allen Bohnert, a public defender who lead McGuire's appeal to stop his execution in federal court on the grounds that the drugs would cause undue agony and terror, called the execution process a 'failed experiment' and said his office will look into what happened. 'The people of the state of Ohio should be appalled by what took place here today in their name.'"
In a speech today, U.S. President Barack Obama announced changes for the operations of the country's intelligence agencies. He says the current program will end "as it currently exists," though most of the data collection schemes will remain intact. However, the data collected in these sweeps will not be stored by the U.S. government, instead residing with either the communications providers or another third party. (He pointed out that storing private data within a commercial entity can have its own oversight issues, so the attorney general and intelligence officials will have to figure out the best compromise.) In order for the NSA to query the database, they will need specific approval from a national security court. Obama also announced "new oversight" to spying on foreign leaders, and an end to spying on leaders of friendly and allied countries. Further, decisions from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court will be annually reviewed for declassification. A panel advocating for citizen privacy will have input into the FISC. There will be chances to national security letters: they will no longer have an indefinite secrecy period. Companies will be able to disclose some amount of information about the NSLs they receive, something they've been asking for. Another change is a reduction in the number of steps from suspected terrorists that phone data can be gathered. Instead of grabbing all the data from people three steps away, it's now limited to two.