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The Courts

US Gov't Seeks To Keep Megaupload Assets Because Kim Dotcom Is a Fugitive 164

Posted by timothy
from the them-as-has-gits-by-law dept.
mrspoonsi writes with this excerpt from Billboard: 'On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Justice told a Virginia federal judge that Kim Dotcom and cohorts have no business challenging the seizure of an estimated $67 million in assets because the Megaupload founder is evading prosecution. The government brought criminal charges against Dotcom in early 2012, but he's been holed up in New Zealand awaiting word on whether he'll be extradited. The government got antsy and this past July, brought a civil complaint for forfeiture in rem, a maneuver to firmly establish a hold over money from bank accounts around the world, luxury cars, big televisions, watches, artwork and other property allegedly gained by Megaupload in the course of crimes. Dotcom is fighting the seizures by questioning the government's basis for asserting a crime, saying "there is no such crime as secondary criminal copyright infringement," as well as challenging how the seized assets are tied to the charges against Dotcom. But according to the U.S. government, Dotcom doesn't get the pleasure of even making the arguments. In a motion to strike, the government cites the doctrine of fugitive disentitlement, which bars a person from using the resources of the court if that person is aware of prosecution and is evading it.
United States

US Intelligence Unit Launches $50k Speech Recognition Competition 62

Posted by samzenpus
from the unseen-mechanized-ear dept.
coondoggie writes The $50,000 challenge comes from researchers at the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The competition, known as Automatic Speech recognition in Reverberant Environments (ASpIRE), hopes to get the industry, universities or other researchers to build automatic speech recognition technology that can handle a variety of acoustic environments and recording scenarios on natural conversational speech.
The Courts

Court Shuts Down Alleged $120M Tech Support Scam 125

Posted by samzenpus
from the shutting-it-down dept.
wiredmikey writes A federal court has temporarily shut down and frozen the assets of two telemarketing operations accused by the FTC of scamming customers out of more than $120 million by deceptively marketing computer software and tech support services. According to complaints filed by the FTC, since at least 2012, the defendants used software designed to trick consumers into believing there were problems with their computers and then hit them with sales pitches for tech support products and services to fix their machines.

According to the FTC, the scams began with computer software that claimed to improve the security or performance of the customer's computer. Typically, consumers downloaded a free, trial version of the software that would run a computer system scan. The scan always identified numerous errors, whether they existed or not. Consumers were then told that in order to fix the problems they had to purchase the paid version of the software for between $29 and $49. In order to activate the software after the purchase, consumers were then directed to call a toll-free number and connected to telemarketers who tried to sell them unneeded computer repair services and software, according to the FTC complaint. The services could cost as much as $500, the FTC stated.
United States

Number of Coders In Congress To Triple (From One To Three) 158

Posted by samzenpus
from the small-steps dept.
jfruh writes Last weekend, Tim Berners-Lee said that the UK needs more members of parliament who can code. Well, the most recent U.S. congressional election has obliged him on this side of the Atlantic: the number of coders in Congress has tripled, with the downside being that their numbers have gone from one to three.
The Internet

Head of FCC Proposes Increasing Internet School Fund 104

Posted by Soulskill
from the dollars-for-bits dept.
Rambo Tribble writes: The commissioners at the FCC are expected to vote, on December 11, on a proposal by Chairman Tom Wheeler to increase the funding for the nation's largest educational technology subsidy program, E-Rate, by 62 percent. The proposal is intended to be paid for by higher fees on phone service. The increased cost is pegged at $1.92 a year, per telephone line. Support for the proposal, or lack thereof, appears to be falling along partisan lines. To quote Wheeler, however, "Almost two-thirds of American schools cannot appropriately connect their students to the 21st century."
Republicans

Republicans Block Latest Attempt At Curbing NSA Power 428

Posted by Soulskill
from the and-everybody-will-have-forgotten-about-it-in-two-years dept.
Robotron23 writes: The latest attempt at NSA reform has been prevented from passage in the Senate by a margin of 58 to 42. Introduced as a means to stop the NSA collecting bulk phone and e-mail records on a daily basis, the USA Freedom Act has been considered a practical route to curtailment of perceived overreach by security services, 18 months since Edward Snowden went public. Opponents to the bill said it was needless, as Wall Street Journal raised the possibility of terrorists such as ISIS running amok on U.S. soil. Supporting the bill meanwhile were the technology giants Google and Microsoft. Prior to this vote, the bill had already been stripped of privacy protections in aid of gaining White House support. A provision to extend the controversial USA Patriot Act to 2017 was also appended by the House of Representatives.
United Kingdom

UK Hotel Adds Hefty Charge For Bad Reviews Online 302

Posted by Soulskill
from the will-they-never-learn dept.
Bizzeh writes: A British couple has been "fined" £100 by a Blackpool hotel for leaving critical comments on Trip Advisor. The UK's Trading Standards organization is investigating the incident, saying it may breach regulations. The Broadway Hotel's booking policy reads (in small print), "Despite the fact that repeat customers and couples love our hotel, your friends and family may not. "For every bad review left on any website, the group organizer will be charged a maximum £100 per review."
Canada

City of Toronto Files Court Injunction Against Uber 168

Posted by Soulskill
from the a-very-polite-injunction dept.
Sebolains writes: The city of Toronto in Ontario, Canada has filed a court injunction on Uber Canada Inc. today that requests for all operations in the city to cease. Uber has been operating there since 2012 without a license from the city, and so officials are concerned that Uber's operations pose a risk to both drivers and riders. How quickly this will happen, we don't know, but the city has asked the courts to be expedient in hearing this application.
Privacy

NYT: Privacy Concerns For ClassDojo, Other Tracking Apps For Schoolchildren 66

Posted by Soulskill
from the won't-somebody-other-than-advertisers-think-of-the-children dept.
theodp writes: The NY Times' Natasha Singer files a report on popular and controversial behavior tracking app ClassDojo, which teachers use to keep a running tally of each student's score, award virtual badges for obedience, and to communicate with parents about their child's progress. "I like it because you get rewarded for your good behavior — like a dog does when it gets a treat," was one third grader's testimonial. Some parents, teachers and privacy law scholars say ClassDojo (investors) — along with other unproven technologies that record sensitive information about students — is being adopted without sufficiently considering the ramifications for data privacy and fairness. "ClassDojo," writes Singer, "does not seek explicit parental consent for teachers to log detailed information about a child's conduct. Although the app's terms of service state that teachers who sign up guarantee that their schools have authorized them to do so, many teachers can download ClassDojo, and other free apps, without vetting by school supervisors. Neither the New York City nor Los Angeles school districts, for example, keep track of teachers independently using apps."

A high school teacher interviewed for the article confessed to having not read ClassDojo's policies on handling student data, saying: "I'm one of those people who, when the terms of service are 18 pages, I just click agree." And, if all this doesn't make you parents just a tad nervous, check out this response to the "Has anyone ran a data analysis on their CD data?" question posed to the Class Dojo Community: "I needed to analyze data in regards to a student being placed on ADHD medicine to see whether or not he made any improvements. I have also used it to determine any behavioral changes depending on if a student was with mom/dad for a custody review. I use dojo consistently, so I LOVE getting to use the data to evaluate and share with parents, or even administrators."
Encryption

Launching 2015: a New Certificate Authority To Encrypt the Entire Web 204

Posted by Soulskill
from the respect-their-authority dept.
Peter Eckersley writes: Today EFF, Mozilla, Cisco, and Akamai announced a forthcoming project called Let's Encrypt. Let's Encrypt will be a certificate authority that issues free certificates to any website, using automated protocols (demo video here). Launching in summer 2015, we believe this will be the missing piece that deprecates the woefully insecure HTTP protocol in favor of HTTPS.
The Media

Uber Threatens To Do 'Opposition Research' On Journalists 297

Posted by timothy
from the is-any-publicity-good-publicity dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes A senior executive at Uber reportedly told a Buzzfeed writer that the company "should consider hiring a team of opposition researchers to dig up dirt on its critics in the media — and specifically to spread details of the personal life of a female journalist who has criticized the company." As detailed by the executive, Uber would spend a million dollars on the effort, which would involve "four top opposition researchers and four journalists," and dig into personal lives and families. Uber has pushed back against the report, insisting that it's never done opposition research, but the idea of any company engaging in such practices seems more like something Nixon would have dreamed up at his worst than a strategy by a "disruptive" startup.
Google

Court Rules Google's Search Results Qualify As Free Speech 137

Posted by timothy
from the hey-man-it's-what-we-feel-about-those-results dept.
wabrandsma writes with this news from Ars Technica: The regulation of Google's search results has come up from time to time over the past decade, and although the idea has gained some traction in Europe (most recently with "right to be forgotten" laws), courts and regulatory bodies in the U.S. have generally agreed that Google's search results are considered free speech. That consensus was upheld last Thursday, when a San Francisco Superior Court judge ruled in favor of Google's right to order its search results as it sees fit.
Privacy

Tor Eyes Crowdfunding Campaign To Upgrade Its Hidden Services 106

Posted by samzenpus
from the price-of-privacy dept.
apexcp writes The web's biggest anonymity network is considering a crowdfunding campaign to overhaul its hidden services. From the article: "In the last 15 months, several of the biggest anonymous websites on the Tor network have been identified and seized by police. In most cases, no one is quite sure how it happened. The details of such a campaign have yet to be revealed. With enough funding, Tor could have developers focusing their work entirely on hidden services, a change in developer priorities that many Tor users have been hoping for in recent years."
Canada

What the US Can Learn From Canada's Internet Policy 142

Posted by samzenpus
from the great-white-north-policy dept.
blottsie writes As the U.S. continues to debate how best to establish net neutrality regulations over Internet service providers, author and journalist Peter Nowak explains how how Canada has already dealt with these issues, and what the U.S. can learn from its neighbor to the north."[Canadian Prime Minister Stephen] Harper has made the connection between telecom policy and actual votes, and that has had enormous impact on public policy," says Michael Geist, the Canada Research Chair in internet and e-commerce law at the University of Ottawa. "This is a ballot-box or pocket-book issue that hasn't really been seen yet in the United States."
Biotech

Group Tries To Open Source Seeds 99

Posted by samzenpus
from the lettuce-for-linux dept.
jenwike writes The Open Source Seed Initiative is a passionate group that wants to ensure their seeds are never patented, but making sure seeds are free for use and distribution by anyone isn't as easy as you might think. Part of the equation are plant characteristics, like an extended head on lettuce — is that an invention? Or, would you argue that it is the product of the collective sharing of material that improves the whole crop over time? In this report, one farmer says, "If you're not exchanging germplasm, you're cutting your own throat."
Government

Sweden Considers Adding "Sexism" Ratings To Video Games 635

Posted by samzenpus
from the including-everyone dept.
An anonymous reader writes A government-funded agency in Sweden is considering creating special labels for video games based on whether or not the games' portrayals of women are sexist. From the article: "Avoiding sexism and gender stereotypes in video games produced in Sweden will become a key goal for the association, which has been given a 272,000 kronor ($36,672) grant by Sweden's government-funded innovation agency, Vinnova. Inspired by the Bechdel test, which looks at whether fictional films or books feature at least two women talking about a topic other than men, Dataspelsbranchen will work with several game developers to analyze how Swedish video games portray female characters and gender issues.
United States

State Department Joins NOAA, USPS In Club of Hacked Federal Agencies 54

Posted by timothy
from the more-funding-next-year dept.
Hot on the heels of recent cyber attacks on NOAA, the USPS, and the White House, the New York Times reports that the U.S. State Department has also suffered an online security breach, though it's not clear who to blame. “This has impacted some of our unclassified email traffic and our access to public websites from our main unclassified system,” said one senior State Department official, adding that the department expected its systems to be up soon. ....The breach at the White House was believed to be the work of hackers in Russia, while the breaches at NOAA and the Postal Service were believed to the work of hackers inside China. Attributing attacks to a group or nation is difficult because hackers typically tend to route their attack through compromised web servers all over the world. A senior State Department official said the breach was discovered after “activity of concern” was detected on portions of its unclassified computer system. Officials did not say how long hackers may have been lurking in those systems, but security improvements were being added to them on Sunday.
Crime

Ask Slashdot: Dealing With VoIP Fraud/Phishing Scams? 141

Posted by timothy
from the our-menu-options-have-recently-changed dept.
An anonymous reader writes I run the IT department for a medium-sized online retailer, and we own a set of marketing toll-free numbers that route to our VoIP system for sales. Yesterday we began receiving dozens and now hundreds of calls from non-customers claiming that we're calling out from our system and offering them $1 million in prizes and asking for their checking account details (a classic phishing scheme). After verifying that our own system wasn't compromised, we realized that someone was spoofing the Caller ID of our company on a local phone number, and then they were forwarding call-backs to their number to one of our 1-800 numbers. We contacted the registered provider of the scammer's phone number, Level3, but they haven't been able to resolve the issue yet and have left the number active (apparently one of their sub-carriers owns it). At this point, the malicious party is auto-dialing half of the phone book in the DC metro area and it's causing harm to our business reputation. Disabling our inbound 800 number isn't really possible due to the legitimate marketing traffic. Do you have any suggestions?
Networking

Can the US Actually Cultivate Local Competition in Broadband? 135

Posted by timothy
from the but-what-we-really-want-is-more-rules dept.
New submitter riskkeyesq writes with a link to a blog post from Dane Jasper, CEO of Sonic.net, about what Jasper sees as the deepest problem in the U.S. broadband market and the Internet in general: "There are a number of threats to the Internet as a system for innovation, commerce and education today. They include net neutrality, the price of Internet access in America, performance, rural availability and privacy. But none of these are the root issue, they're just symptoms. The root cause of all of these symptoms is a disease: a lack of competition for consumer Internet access." Soft landings for former legislators, lobbyists disguised as regulators, hundreds of thousands of miles of fiber sitting unused, the sham that is the internet provider free market is keeping the US in a telecommunications third-world. What, exactly, can American citizens do about it? One upshot, in Jasper's opinion (hardly disinterested, is his role at CEO at an ISP that draws praise from the EFF for its privacy policies) is this: "Today’s FCC should return to the roots of the Telecom Act, and reinforce the unbundling requirements, assuring that they are again technology neutral. This will create an investment ladder to facilities for competitive carriers, opening access to build out and serve areas that are beyond our reach today."
Supercomputing

US DOE Sets Sights On 300 Petaflop Supercomputer 127

Posted by timothy
from the who-is-this-we-paleface? dept.
dcblogs writes U.S. officials Friday announced plans to spend $325 million on two new supercomputers, one of which may eventually be built to support speeds of up to 300 petaflops. The U.S. Department of Energy, the major funder of supercomputers used for scientific research, wants to have the two systems – each with a base speed of 150 petaflops – possibly running by 2017. Going beyond the base speed to reach 300 petaflops will take additional government approvals. If the world stands still, the U.S. may conceivably regain the lead in supercomputing speed from China with these new systems. How adequate this planned investment will look three years from now is a question. Lawmakers weren't reading from the same script as U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz when it came to assessing the U.S.'s place in the supercomputing world. Moniz said the awards "will ensure the United States retains global leadership in supercomputing." But Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.) put U.S. leadership in the past tense. "Supercomputing is one of those things that we can step up and lead the world again," he said.

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