theodp writes "Mother Jones reports on Obama's Digital Gurus, the top-secret team of analytics engineers and scientists led by hipster CTO Harper Reed who work on text analytics, social network/media analysis, web personalization, computational advertising, and online experiments & testing from the campaign's Chicago HQ and satellite offices. For OFA (Obama for America), writes Tim Murphy, there is no such thing as Too Much Information. 'In terms of just the sheer amount of data that political candidates have on you,' says UNC Prof Daniel Kreiss, 'I think everyone finds it creepy.' Still playing catch-up to OFA in its data efforts is Team Romney, which reportedly hired former employees from places like Google Analytics, Apple, Ominture, and Overstock.com in an attempt to reverse engineer the Obama campaign's strategy."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
An anonymous reader writes "Confronted with a growing meningitis scare, states are coming under enormous pressure to meet federal requests that they contact more than 1,000 hospitals and clinics that received any injectable drugs from the company at the center of the deadly outbreak."
WebMink writes "It used to just be speculation, but the numbers are now in — patent trolls are costing America jobs and economic growth. Newly-published research using data commissioned by Congress shows big rises in patent troll activity over the last five years — from 22% to 40% of all patent suits filed, with 4 out of five litigants being patent trolls. Other papers show that jobs are being lost and startups threatened, while VC money is just making things worse by making startups waste money filing more patents. Worst of all, it's clear this is just the tip of the iceberg; there's evidence that unseen pre-lawsuit settlements with patent trolls represent a much larger threat than anything the research can easily measure."
An anonymous reader writes with word that NetFlix recently opened its streaming service in Finland and was promptly caught stealing movie subtitles from a local DivX community site. How were they caught? NetFlix failed to remove references to the pirate site in the subtitles.
Hugh Pickens writes "Remember Righthaven? Steve Green writes that the copyright troll who partnered with the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Denver Post to file 275 no-warning copyright infringement lawsuits in 2010 and 2011 against parties that used content from those papers without authorization has just been ordered to turn over to a creditor hard drives from its computers so the creditor could determine if Righthaven has any assets that can be liquidated for the benefit of Righthaven's creditors. Federal judges in three states rejected Righthaven's lawsuits because the company lacked standing as the newspapers — not Righthaven — maintained control of the material Righthaven was suing over. Some defendants were also cleared by the fair use doctrine in copyright law. In the aftermath of Righthaven's legal debacle, the company shut down and claimed to be broke. Creditors in another case seized its website and trademark and auctioned them. They also seized the copyrights it sued over, but they didn't sell. Meanwhile Kurt Opsahl, an attorney for the EFF, has for months been urging Judge Peggy Leen to hit Righthaven CEO Steven Gibson with 'coercive sanctions' for Righthaven's failure to turn over information that will help the EFF find Righthaven assets. 'Steven Gibson is now going to have to show some responsibility,' said Opsahl after the judge issued a court order that could cost its CEO a fine of $500 per day for non-compliance. 'The CEO of Righthaven remains responsible for taking care of the business of the company.'"
hypnosec writes "Cyber-scammers have started using '1.usa.gov' links in their spam campaigns in a bid to fool gullible users into thinking that the links they see on a website or have received in their mail or newsletter are legitimate U.S. Government websites. Spammers have created these shortened URLs through a loophole in the URL shortening service provided by bit.ly. USA.gov and bit.ly have collaborated, enabling anyone to shorten a .gov or .mil URL into a 'trustworthy' 1.usa.gov URL. Further, according to an explanation provided by HowTo.gov, creating these usa.gov short URLs does not require a login." Which might not be a big deal, except that the service lets through URLs with embedded redirects, and it is to these redirected addresses that scammers are luring their victims.
An anonymous reader writes with a link to this Reuters story, from which he excerpts: "Italy's supreme court has upheld a ruling that said there was a link between a business executive's brain tumor and his heavy mobile phone usage, potentially opening the door to further legal claims. The court's decision flies in the face of much scientific opinion, which generally says there is not enough evidence to declare a link between mobile phone use and diseases such as cancer and some experts said the Italian ruling should not be used to draw wider conclusions about the subject. 'Great caution is needed before we jump to conclusions about mobile phones and brain tumors,' said Malcolm Sperrin, director of medical physics and clinical engineering at Britain's Royal Berkshire Hospital. The Italian case concerned company director Innocenzo Marcolini who developed a tumor in the left side of his head after using his mobile phone for 5-6 hours a day for 12 years. He normally held the phone in his left hand, while taking notes with his right hand. Marcolini developed a so-called neurinoma affecting a cranial nerve, which was apparently not cancerous but nevertheless required surgery that badly affected his quality of life."
SternisheFan writes with this snippet from gizmodo: "The Associated Press reports that smartphone robberies now account for nearly half of all robberies in San Francisco, as well as an impressive 40 percent here in New York City. And the numbers aren't just high, they're getting higher fast. In Los Angeles, smartphone robberies are up 27 percent from last year, with no signs of slowing down. The thefts come in all varieties as well. Victims have reported having their phones—iPhones in particular (surprise!)—yanked out of their hands while talking, snatched just as public transit reaches a stop, or even taken at gunpoint." When I was relieved at gunpoint of my (very, very dumb) phone a few years ago in Philadelphia (very, very dumb), it made for a lousy evening. Have you been robbed (or accosted) like this? If so, where?
New submitter jaa101 writes "Facebook has refused a request from Australian police to take down a page with details of undercover police vehicles saying it cannot stop people taking photos in public places. The original story is paywalled and it doesn't give a link to the relevant page which seems to be here . This page for the state of Victoria has 12000 likes but a similar page for the state of Queensland has over 34000, and there are other Australian pages too."
An anonymous reader writes "In his latest story, Brian Krebs reports on a collaboration between brand holders and credit card companies to shut down payment processing for rogue online pharmacies, pirate software sellers and fake anti-virus scams. By conducting test purchases, they map out which banks are being used to accept payments for which scams. Writes Krebs, 'Following the money trail showed that a majority of the purchases were processed by just 12 banks in a handful of countries, including Azerbaijan, China, Georgia, Latvia, and Mauritius.' These results are then fed to Visa and Mastercard who typically shut down the merchant accounts 'within one month after a complaint was lodged.' If you can't accept payments, you can't make money — and without money you can't pay the spammers who advertise your product. This effort is apparently quite effective and has led to much concern by those running such sites."
e065c8515d206cb0e190 writes "Several websites have announced the launch of Silent Circle, PGP's founder Phil Zimmermann's new suite of tools for the paranoid. After a first day glitch with a late approval of their iOS app, the website seems to now accept subscriptions. Have any slashdotters subscribed? What does SilentCircle provide that previous applications didn't have?"
theodp writes "The NY Times reports a judge in the second-degree murder case against George Zimmerman has ruled that Trayvon Martin's school and social media records should be provided to the defense. Judge Debra S. Nelson said Martin's Twitter, Facebook and school records were relevant in the self-defense case. In those instances, showing whether a victim 'had an alleged propensity to violence' or aggression is germane, the judge said. The defense also got permission for access to the social media postings of a Miami girl who said she was on the phone with Martin just before the shooting. Time to update the Miranda warning to include: 'Anything you Tweet or post can and will be held against you in a court of law'?'"
Trailrunner7 writes "There are thousands of apps in the Google Play mobile market that contain serious mistakes in the way that SSL/TLS is implemented, leaving them vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks that could compromise sensitive user data such as banking credentials, credit card numbers and other information. Researchers from a pair of German universities conducted a detailed analysis of thousands of Android apps and found that better than 15 percent of those apps had weak or bad SSL implementations. The researchers conducted a detailed study of 13,500 of the more popular free apps on Google Play, the official Android app store, looking at the SSL/TLS implementations in them and trying to determine how complete and effective those implementations are. What they found is that more than 1,000 of the apps have serious problems with their SSL implementations that make them vulnerable to MITM attacks, a common technique used by attackers to intercept wireless data traffic. In its research, the team was able to intercept sensitive user data from these apps, including credit card numbers, bank account information, PayPal credentials and social network credentials."
Bismillah writes "The 'Skynet' anti-filesharing law introduced last year in New Zealand is starting to bite, with people being hauled in front of the Copyright Tribunal by the music industry after receiving three notices. Of the three Copyright Tribunal cases to be heard currently, the first one's just been dropped. Why? Nobody knows. RIANZ isn't saying. Interesting things: the accused was the ISP account holder, a student sharing a place with others who also used the Internet connection. The cost of the five songs downloaded is NZ$11.95 but RIANZ wanted NZ$1,075.50 because it estimated the music was shared/downloaded 90 times in total. A high deterrent penalty of NZ$1,250 was also asked for."
CuteSteveJobs writes "The New Matilda reports how the U.S. is now able to extradite people for minor offences, and asks why foreign governments so willingly give up their nationals to the U.S. to 'face justice' over minor crimes committed outside U.S. borders? Lawyer Kellie Tranter writes, 'the long arm of the Government is using criminal enforcement powers to enforce commercial interests at the behest of corporations and their lobbyists.' A former NSW Chief Judge said it was bizarre 'that people are being extradited to the U.S. to face criminal charges when they have never been to the U.S. and the alleged act occurred wholly outside the U.S.' He said although copyright violations are a great problem, a country 'must protect its nationals from being removed from their homeland to a foreign country merely because the commercial interests of that foreign country.' Australia recently 'streamlined' its laws to make extradition to the U.S. even easier."
An anonymous reader writes "For all of those wondering about China's massive high speed rail network, it costs some serious cash. Running high speed lines across the nation is expensive — to the tune of $100 billion dollars a year. This covers the cost to maintain the network, build it, and pay all of the staff. The problem is, corruption has reared its ugly head. The network itself has had its share of problems, with people dying as a result. There is also the problem that many of Chinese poor make so little money they can't afford to ride it. The sad fact is that so much money is being spent, no one can even keep count."
hypnosec writes "The Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security has proposed some rather over the line measures and wants to extend such powers to the police that would allow them to break into computers and mobile phones in any part of the world. According to the proposal (PDF in Dutch), dated October 15, the ministry has asked for powers that would allow police to not only break into computers, but also allow them to install spyware, search for data in those computers, and destroy data. As explained by digital rights group 'Bits of Freedom,' which obtained the copy of the proposal, if the Dutch police get such powers, the security of computer users would be lessened and there will be a 'perverse incentive to keep information security weak.'"
OverTheGeicoE writes "If you're concerned about possible health effects from TSA's X-ray body scanners, you might be pleased to learn that TSA is making changes. TSA is removing X-ray body scanners from major airports including Los Angeles International, Boston's Logan, Chicago's O'Hare, and New York City's JFK. Then again, these changes might not please you at all, because they are not mothballing the offending devices. No, they are instead moving them to smaller airports like the one in Mesa, AZ. Is this progress, or is TSA just moving potentially dangerous scanners from 'Blue' areas to 'Red' ones right before a presidential election?"
Yesterday we ran a video interview with Eben Moglen, who according to Wikipedia, "is a professor of law and legal history at Columbia University, and is the founder, Director-Counsel and Chairman of [the] Software Freedom Law Center." And as we also said yesterday, since 2011 he's been working with FreedomBox, a project working toward "a personal server running a free software operating system, with free applications designed to create and preserve personal privacy." Prof. Moglen is also one of the most polished speakers anywhere, on any topic, in our opinion. So please enjoy this second video of him speaking to (and answering questions from) Slashdot readers.
An anonymous reader sends this quote from the Chronicle of Higher Education: "[Minnesota's] Office of Higher Education has informed the popular provider of massive open online courses, or MOOC's, that Coursera is unwelcome in the state because it never got permission to operate there. It's unclear how the law could be enforced when the content is freely available on the Web, but Coursera updated its Terms of Service to include the following caution: 'Notice for Minnesota Users: Coursera has been informed by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education that under Minnesota Statutes (136A.61 to 136A.71), a university cannot offer online courses to Minnesota residents unless the university has received authorization from the State of Minnesota to do so. If you are a resident of Minnesota, you agree that either (1) you will not take courses on Coursera, or (2) for each class that you take, the majority of work you do for the class will be done from outside the State of Minnesota.' Tricia Grimes, a policy analyst for the state's Office of Higher Education, said letters had been sent to all postsecondary institutions known to be offering courses in Minnesota."