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Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

Google

FTC Releases Google Privacy Audit, Blacks Out the Details 57

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-for-your-eyes dept.
chicksdaddy writes "Google could tell you about its privacy practices except, well....they're private. That's the conclusion privacy advocates are drawing after the Federal Trade Commission took a black marker to an independent audit of the company's privacy practices before releasing it to the group EPIC in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Security Ledger is reporting that the FTC released a copy of a Price Waterhouse Coopers audit of Google that was mandated as part of a settlement with the FTC over complaints following a 2010 complaint by EPIC over privacy violations in Google Buzz, a now-defunct social networking experiment. However, the agency acceded to Google requests to redact descriptions of the search giant's internal procedures and the design of its privacy program."
Government

The CIA and Jeff Bezos Bet $30 Million On Quantum Computing Company 73

Posted by samzenpus
from the always-bet-on-qubits dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The CIA's investment fund, In-Q-Tel, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos have invested $30 million in a Canadian company that claims to build quantum computers, reports Technology Review in a detailed story on why that startup, D-Wave, appears to be attracting serious interest after years of skepticism from experts. A spokesman for In-Q-Tel says that intelligence agencies 'have many complex problems that tax classical computing architecture,' a feeling apparently strong enough to justify a bet on a radically different, and largely unproven, approach to computing."
Youtube

YouTube Alters Copyright Algorithms, Will 'Manually' Review Some Claims 71

Posted by timothy
from the get-your-hands-off-my-manuals dept.
thomst writes "David Kravets of Wired's Threat Level blog reports that Google's Thabet Alfishawi has announced YouTube will alter its algorithms 'that identify potentially invalid claims. We stop these claims from automatically affecting user videos and place them in a queue to be manually reviewed.' YouTube's Content ID algorithms have notably misfired in recent months, resulting in video streams as disparate as Curiosity's Mars landing and Michelle Obama's Democratic Convention speech being taken offline on specious copyright infringement grounds. Kravets states, 'Under the new rules announced Wednesday, however, if the uploader challenges the match, the alleged rights holder must abandon the claim or file an official takedown notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.' (A false takedown claim under the DMCA can result in non-trivial legal liability.)" Update: 10/05 11:24 GMT by S : Google has clarified its earlier comments. The user videos will be placed in a queue for manual review not by Google, but by the content owners.
Canada

Recording of Recently Shut-Down Telemarketers In Action 104

Posted by timothy
from the canadians-are-so-polite dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Just yesterday, the FTC, in conjunction with other government agencies, shut down an international telemarketing scam. A recent video has surfaced showing them in action, trying to scam one of the principals of a Canadian web start-up. Watch the scammers lie through their teeth to convince their 'victim' that he needs to buy a lifetime subscription to their anti-virus product."
Crime

Verizon Tech Given 4-year Federal Prison Sentence For $4.5M Equipment Scam 163

Posted by timothy
from the job-opportunities dept.
McGruber writes "Michael Baxter, the network engineer at the southeastern regional headquarters of Verizon Wireless who submitted hundreds of fraudulent service requests to Cisco, has been sentenced to four years in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release. Baxter was also ordered to pay $2.3 million in restitution to Cisco Systems, and $462,828 in restitution to Verizon. Instead of placing the replacement parts into service in the Verizon Wireless network, Baxter took the parts home and sold them to third-party re-sellers for his own profit. He used the money to buy cars, jewelry and multiple cosmetic surgeries for his girlfriend."
Books

After 7 Years In Court, Google Settles With Publishers On Book Scanning 127

Posted by timothy
from the you've-been-organized-as-part-fo-the-world's-data dept.
redletterdave writes "After seven long years of litigation, Google Inc. and the Association of American Publishers have reached an agreement to settle over the search giant's book-scanning project, which will allow publishers to choose whether or not they want their books, journals and publications digitized by Google and accessed via its Google Library Project. The agreement, according to the two companies, acknowledges the rights and interests of copyright holders, so U.S. publishers can choose to remove their books and journals digitized by Google for its Library Project, or choose to keep their publications available. For those that keep their works online with Google, those publishers will be able to keep a digital copy for their own use and sell their publications via the Google Play marketplace." Also reported by Reuters, as carried by the Chicago Tribune, and the BBC.
Censorship

Philippines' Cybercrime Law Makes SOPA Look Reasonable 103

Posted by timothy
from the setting-the-bar-low dept.
silentbrad writes with this report from Forbes: "The dark days of SOPA and PIPA are behind the U.S., at least temporarily, as copyright tycoons reground and restrategize, attempting to come up with measures that don't cause the entire internet to shut down in protest. But one country has already moved ahead with similar legislation. The government of the Philippines has passed the Cybercrime Prevention Act, which on the surface, as usual, sounds perfectly well-intentioned. But when you read the actual contents of what's been deemed 'cybercrime,' SOPA's proposed censorship sounds downright lax by comparison. Yes, there's the usual hacking, cracking, identity theft and spamming, which most of us can agree should be illegal. But there's also cybersex, pornography, file-sharing (SOPA's main target), and the most controversial provision, online libel." At least it doesn't mention blasphemy.
Facebook

Facebook Privacy Boosted As Private Message 'Leak' Is Dismissed 44

Posted by timothy
from the check-the-foundation-for-rot dept.
judgecorp writes "Claims that old private Facebook messages have been leaking onto people's Timelines have been dismissed by the French privacy watchdog, CNIL. Apparently, as many concluded early on, the "leaked" messages were just old Wall-to-Wall posts, that users had mistakenly believed were private. Given the lack of user understanding, now is a good time for Facebook to revamp its privacy help pages. Let's hope users pay attention, and Facebook genuinely resists exploiting their naivety." Update: 10/04 17:42 GMT by T : Maybe we shouldn't be so hard on Facebook; Mark Zuckerberg says keeping up with a billion users makes it tough to follow all that data.
Cellphones

UK 'Virtual ID Card' Scheme Set For Launch 84

Posted by timothy
from the bitte-ihre-telefon dept.
First time accepted submitter evrybodygonsurfin writes "The UK Government will announce details this month of a controversial national identity scheme which will allow people to use their mobile phones and social media profiles as official identification documents for accessing public services. People wishing to apply for services ranging from tax credits to fishing licences and passports will be asked to choose from a list of familiar online log-ins, including those they already use on social media sites, banks, and large retailers such as supermarkets, to prove their identity." I can't wait until carrying a telephone is mandatory. In the U.S. at least, how else will the government send you important messages?
Crime

Russian High-Tech Export Scandal Produces 8 Arrests in Houston 83

Posted by timothy
from the it-isn't-the-bars-it's-the-humidity dept.
Penurious Penguin writes "Millionaire Alexander Fishenko, owner of US-based Arc Electronics Inc, and seven others have been arrested in Houston Texas, with a total of 11 indicted in a conspiracy to smuggle advanced microelectronics from the U.S. to Russia. The technology allegedly involves components of radar, weapons guidance, and detonators. Amongst the evidence are accounting records indicating notable similarity between the revenue of Arc Electronics and the Russian Federation's defense spending; intercepted phone calls and emails; and a letter to Arc Electronics from a Russian domestic intelligence lab complaining of defective microchips . A Russian foreign ministry spokesman has denied there were any intelligence connections in the affair."
Businesses

Advertisers Blast Microsoft Over IE Default Privacy Settings 558

Posted by samzenpus
from the don't-track-me-bro dept.
theodp writes "GeekWire reports that Microsoft is sticking to its decision to implement 'Do-Not-Track' as the default for IE 10, despite drawing the ire of corporate America, the Apache Software Foundation, and the FTC Chairman. Representatives of a veritable Who's Who of Corporate America — e.g., GM, IBM, BofA, Walmart, Merck, Allstate, AT&T, Motorola — signed off on a letter blasting Microsoft for its choice. 'By presenting Do Not Track with a default on,' the alliance argues, 'Microsoft is making the wrong choice for consumers.' The group reminds Microsoft that Apache — whose Platinum Sponsors have branded Microsoft's actions a deliberate abuse of open standards and designed its software to ignore the 'do-not-track' setting if the browser reaching it is IE 10. It also claims that the FTC Chairman, formerly supportive of Microsoft's privacy efforts, now recognizes 'the harm to consumers that Microsoft's decision could create.'"
Crime

Shakedowns To Fix Negative Online Reviews 179

Posted by samzenpus
from the pay-up dept.
First time accepted submitter unjedai writes "A company is putting horrible reviews of small business online, and then offering to improve the company's reputation and take the reviews off for a fraction of the cost that a real reputation improvement company would charge. Sierra West received a call from a 'reputation improvement company' telling them they had a negative review online and that the company would take the review offline if Sierra West paid $500. 'Of course when someone is offering $500 the day (the bad review) goes up seemed not legitimate.'"
Government

Starting Next Year, Brazil Wants To Track All Cars Electronically 178

Posted by Soulskill
from the we-know-you-weren't-stuck-in-traffic dept.
New submitter juliohm writes "As of January, Brazil intends to put into action a new system that will track vehicles of all kinds via radio frequency chips. It will take a few years to accomplish, but authorities will eventually require all vehicles to have an electronic chip installed, which will match every car to its rightful owner. The chip will send the car's identification to antennas on highways and streets, soon to be spread all over the country. Eventually, it will be illegal to own a car without one. Besides real time monitoring of traffic conditions, authorities will be able to integrate all kinds of services, such as traffic tickets, licensing and annual taxes, automatic toll charge, and much more. Benefits also include more security, since the system will make it harder for thieves to run far away with stolen vehicles, much less leave the country with one."
Piracy

MPAA Boss Admits SOPA and PIPA Are Dead, Not Coming Back 186

Posted by Soulskill
from the time-to-schedule-the-victory-lap dept.
concealment points out comments from MPAA CEO Chris Dodd, who has acknowledged that SOPA and PIPA were soundly — and perhaps permanently — defeated. Quoting Ars Technica: "Dodd sounded chastened, with a tone that was a far cry from the rhetoric the MPAA was putting out in January. 'When SOPA-PIPA blew up, it was a transformative event,' said Dodd. 'There were eight million e-mails [to elected representatives] in two days.' That caused senators to run away from the legislation. 'People were dropping their names as co-sponsors within minutes, not hours,' he said. 'These bills are dead, they're not coming back,' said Dodd. 'And they shouldn't.' He said the MPAA isn't focused on getting similar legislation passed in the future, at the moment. 'I think we're better served by sitting down [with the tech sector and SOPA opponents] and seeing what we agree on.' Still, Dodd did say that some of the reaction to SOPA and PIPA was 'over the top' — specifically, the allegations of censorship, implied by the black bar over Google search logo or the complete shutdown of Wikipedia. 'DNS filtering goes on every day on the Internet,' said Dodd. 'Obviously it needs to be done very carefully. But five million pages were taken off Google last year [for IP violations]. To Google's great credit, it recently changed its algorithm to a point where, when there are enough complaints about a site, it moves that site down on their page — which I applaud.'"
Social Networks

Why Klout's Social Influence Scores Are Nonsense 98

Posted by Soulskill
from the another-system-to-game dept.
jfruh writes "Klout is a new social media service that attempts to quantify how much 'influence' you have, based on your social media profile. Their metrics are bizarre — privacy blogger Dan Tynan has been rated as highly influential on the topic of cigars, despite having only smoked one, decades ago. Nevertheless, Klout scores have real-world consequences, with people deemed influential getting discounts on concert tickets or free access to airport VIP lounges (in hopes that they'll tweet about it, presumably)."
Government

French Science and Higher Education Programs Avoid Austerity 139

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the we're-clearly-in-the-mirror-universe dept.
ananyo writes "Bucking a trend of cutting science seen elsewhere, the French government has committed to increasing spending on research and development in its draft austerity budget for 2013. France's education and research ministry gets a 2.2% boost under the proposed budget, giving it a budget of just under €23 billion (US$29 billion). Most other ministries get a cut. The upshot of the cash increase is that 1,000 new university posts will be created, no publicly funded research jobs will be cut and funding for research grants will rise (albeit less than inflation) by 1.2% to €7.86 billion. The move to spend on science during a recession is notable and means that French politicians understand that a sustainable commitment to public spending on science is vital for long-term economic growth. The situation is in stark contrast to that in the U.S. and in the UK, where a recent policy to boost hi-tech industries, unveiled with much fanfare, failed to do much for science. Meanwhile, in Australia, there's alarm over proposals to freeze research grants— a step that could jeopardize 1700 jobs."
The Courts

Unredacted Filings Reveal Claims of Juror Misconduct in Apple vs Samsung Trial 282

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the just-get-judge-judy dept.
zaphod777 writes with this bit from Groklaw on more Jury related intrigue in the Apple-Samsung trial: "Samsung has now filed an unredacted version [PDF] of its motion for judgment as a matter of law, a new trial, and/or remittitur. That's the one that was originally filed with a redacted section we figured out was about the foreman, Velvin Hogan. The judge ordered it filed unsealed, and so now we get to read all about it. It's pretty shocking to see the full story. I understand now why Samsung tried to seal it. They call Mr. Hogan untruthful in voir dire (and I gather in media interviews too), accuse him of 'implied bias' and of tainting the process by introducing extraneous 'evidence' of his own during jury deliberations, all of which calls, Samsung writes, for an evidentiary hearing and a new trial with an unbiased jury as the cure." It would seem that everyone's favorite foreman did not disclose that he was sued by Seagate for breach of contract, and that he may have had a chip on his shoulder considering that Samsung is the largest single shareholder of Seagate.
Privacy

Report Slams DHS Fusion Centers: No Terrorists Nabbed, Civil Rights Violated 178

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the that'll-be-a-misdemeanor-reading-/.-charge dept.
PolygamousRanchKid writes with news of a Senate report on just how ineffective those DHS "Fusion centers" have proven to be. From the article: "The lengthy, bipartisan report is a scathing evaluation of what the Department of Homeland Security has held up as a crown jewel of its security efforts. ... Because of a convoluted grants process set up by Congress, Homeland Security officials don't know how much they have spent in their decade-long effort to set up so-called fusion centers in every state. ... 'The subcommittee investigation could identify no reporting which uncovered a terrorist threat, nor could it identify a contribution such fusion center reporting made to disrupt an active terrorist plot,' the report said. When fusion centers did address terrorism, they sometimes did so in ways that infringed on civil liberties. The centers have made headlines for circulating information about Ron Paul supporters, the ACLU, activists on both sides of the abortion debate, war protesters, and advocates of gun rights."
Facebook

What Happened To Diaspora, the Facebook Killer? It's Complicated 215

Posted by Soulskill
from the migrating-half-a-billion-people-is-easy dept.
pigrabbitbear writes "Created by four New York University students, Diaspora tried to destroy the notion that one social network could completely dominate the web. Diaspora – 'the privacy aware, personally controlled, do-it-all distributed open source social network,' as described on their Kickstarter page – offered what seemed like the perfect antidote to Zuckerbergian tyranny. The New York Times quickly got wind. Tired of being bullied, technologists rallied behind the burgeoning startup spectacle, transforming what began as a fun project into a political movement. Before a single line of code had been written, Diaspora was a sensation. Its anti-establishment rallying cry and garage hacker ethos earned it kudos from across an Internet eager for signs of life among a generation grown addicted to status updates. And yet, the battle may have been lost before it even began. Beyond the difficulty of actually executing a project of this scope and magnitude, the team of four young kids with little real-world programming experience found themselves crushed under the weight of expectation. Even before they had tried to produce an actual product, bloggers, technologists and open-source geeks everywhere were already looking to them to save the world from tyranny and oppression. Not surprisingly, the first release, on September 15, 2010 was a public disaster, mainly for its bugs and security holes. Former fans mockingly dismissed it as 'swiss cheese.'"
Government

82-Year-Old Nun Breaks Into Nuclear Facility, Contractors Blamed 223

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-read-the-headline-again dept.
Lasrick writes "Private security contractors strike again, this time at the Y-12 National Security Complex. A nun, a gardener, and a housepainter cut through three security fences to find themselves 20 feet away from highly dangerous nuclear material. And of course, only one guard has been fired (the one who arguably acted the bravest and did the right thing). A Department of Energy report (PDF) on the incident found 'troubling displays of ineptitude in responding to alarms, failures to maintain critical 2 security equipment, over reliance on compensatory measures, misunderstanding of security protocols, poor communications, and weaknesses in contract and resource management.' The contractors have been put on notice, (PDF), but they still have the contracts."

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