Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
Hugh Pickens writes "Currently — as most of us know — TSA agents briefly examine government ID and boarding passes as each passenger presents their documents at a checkpoint at the end of a security line. Thom Patterson writes at CNN that under a 2008 Apple patent application that was approved in July and filed under the working title "iTravel," a traveler's phone would automatically send electronic identification to a TSA agent as soon as the traveler got in line and as each traveler waits in line. TSA agents would examine the electronic ID at an electronic viewing station. Next, at the X-ray stations, a traveler's phone would confirm to security agents that the traveler's ID had already been checked. Apple's patent calls for the placement of special kiosks (PDF) around the airport which will automatically exchange data with your phone via a close range wireless technology called near field communication (NFC). Throughout the process, the phone photo could be displayed on a screen for comparison with the traveler. Facial recognition software could be included in the process. Several experts say a key question that must be answered is: How would you prove that the phone is yours? To get around this problem, future phones or electronic ID may require some form of biometric security function including photo, fingerprint and photo retinal scan comparisons. Of course, there is still a ways to go. If consumers, airlines, airports and the TSA don't embrace the NFC kiosks, experts say it's unlikely Apple's vision would become reality. 'First you would have to sell industry on Apple's idea. Then you'd have to sell it to travel consumers,' says Neil Hughes of Apple Insider. 'It's a chicken-and-egg problem.'"
bonch writes "Google-owned Motorola is asking the International Trade Commission to ban every Apple device that uses iMessage, based on a patent issued in 2006 for 'a system for providing continuity between messaging clients.' Motorola also claims that banning Macs and iPhones won't have an impact on U.S. consumers. They say, 'With so many participants in the highly competitive Wireless communication, portable music, and computer market, it is unlikely that consumers would experience much of an impact if the requested exclusion orders were obtained.' The ITC has yet to make a decision."
McGruber writes "Continuing its standard practice of wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, the TSA has awarded an indefinite delivery / indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract, worth up to $245 Million, to American Science and Engineering Inc. to deliver an unspecified number of 'second generation' Advanced Imaging Technology screening systems for use at U.S. airports. As previously reported, Jonathan Corbett proved that TSA's current nude-o-scopes are incapable of actually detecting hidden objects."
zaba writes "A company named PersonalWeb Technologies has decided to sue a host of heavy players in the tech industry, including Apple, Facebook, IBM, Microsoft and Yahoo! for patents it holds related to data processing. They have a previous suit against other big names like Amazon, Google and HP. Anyone care to guess where the company is based or where the suits were filed?" The company is also targeting GitHub, but seems to have accidentally sued Rackspace — GitHub's host — instead. Rackspace has responded, saying, "It’s apparent that the people filing the suit don’t understand the technology or the products enough to realize that Rackspace Cloud Servers and GitHub are completely different products from different companies."
Last year Aaron Swartz was indicted on four felony counts for allegedly stealing millions of academic journal articles from JSTOR. Today, Federal prosecutors piled on nine additional felony charges. The charges (PDF) are mostly covered under the 1984 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and are likely to test the legislation's limits. According to Wired, "The indictment accuses Swartz of repeatedly spoofing the MAC address — an identifier that is usually static — of his computer after MIT blocked his computer based on that number. The grand jury indictment also notes that Swartz didn't provide a real e-mail address when registering on the network. Swartz also allegedly snuck an Acer laptop bought just for the downloading into a closet at MIT in order to get a persistent connection to the network. Swartz allegedly hid his face from surveillance cameras by holding his bike helmet up to his face and looking through the ventilation holes when going in to swap out an external drive used to store the documents. Swartz also allegedly named his guest account 'Gary Host,' with the nickname 'Ghost.'"
Today several public interest groups, including Public Knowledge, announced plans to file a net neutrality complaint with the FCC over AT&T's restriction of FaceTime on iPads and iPhones. Free Press Policy Director Matt Wood said, "AT&T’s decision to block FaceTime unless a customer pays for voice and text minutes she doesn’t need is a clear violation of the FCC’s Open Internet rules. It’s particularly outrageous that AT&T is requiring this for iPad users, given that this device isn’t even capable of making voice calls. AT&T's actions are incredibly harmful to all of its customers, including the deaf, immigrant families and others with relatives overseas, who depend on mobile video apps to communicate with friends and family." The groups have sent a letter (PDF) to AT&T asking them to reconsider their policy. The communications giant has previously responded to complaints by proclaiming their transparency and saying that charging more for being able to use FaceTime over mobile broadband is a "reasonable restriction."
pigrabbitbear writes "The active ingredient in OxyContin, oxycodone, isn't a new compound. It was originally synthesized in Germany in 1916. The patent on the medication had expired well before Purdue Pharma, a Stamford, Connecticut-based pharmaceutical company and the industry leader in pain medication, released it under the brand name in 1996. The genius of Purdue's continued foray into pain-management medication – they had already produced versions of hydromorphone, oxycodone, fentanyl, codeine, and hydrocodone – was twofold. They not only created a drug from an already readily available compound, but they were able to essentially re-patent the active ingredient by introducing a time-release element. Prior to the 1990s, strong opioid medications were not routinely given for miscellaneous or chronic, moderately painful conditions; the strongest classes of drugs were often reserved for the dying. But Purdue parlayed their time-release system not only into the patent for OxyContin. They also went on a PR blitz, claiming their drug was unique because of the time-release element and implied that it was so difficult to abuse that the risk of addiction was 'under 1%.'"
theodp writes "'It's important to use your common name,' Google explains in its Google+ ground rules, 'so that the people you want to connect with can find you.' Using a 'secondary online identity,' the search giant adds, is a big Google+ no-no. 'There are lots of places where you can be anonymous online,' Betanews' Joe Wilcox notes. 'Google+ isn't one of them.' Got it. But if online anonymity is so evil, then what's the deal with Google's newly-awarded patent for Social Computing Personas for Protecting Identity in Online Social Interactions? 'When users reveal their identities on the internet,' Google explained to the USPTO in its patent application, 'it leaves them more vulnerable to stalking, identity theft and harassment.' So what's Google's solution? Providing anonymity to social networking users via an 'alter ego' and/or 'anonymous identity.' So does Google now believe that there's a genuine 'risk of disclosing a user's real identity'? Or is this just a case of Google's left hand not knowing what its right hand is patenting?"
jfruh writes "Most U.S. wireless carriers are trying to have it both ways on tethering or smartphones-as-hotspots — moving people from unlimited data plans to plans where they pay by the gigabyte, but then also charging them extra if they want to share the gigabytes they've paid for with other devices. But on Android phones on Verizon, at least, you can still tether, not because Verizon is trying to be more consumer friendly, but because, according to an FCC ruling, they agreed to allow it when they bought formerly public spectrum."
ananyo writes "Climate scientist Michael Mann reported Monday that he and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville have prevailed in a court case against the conservative American Tradition Institute (ATI), which had sought access to emails he wrote while serving as a professor at the school from 1999-2005. Now at the Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Mann says the ruling supports the University of Virginia's argument than an exemption to the state's freedom-of-information law 'applies to faculty communications in furtherance of their work.' The Prince William County Circuit Court ruling came directly from the bench in and was not immediately available online. The Virgina Supreme Court tossed out a case against Mann in March. The state's conservative attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, had, among other things, demanded access to the climatologist's emails, arguing that Mann might have manipulated data and thus defrauded the government in applying for scientific grants."
hypnosec writes "The Department of Work and Pensions in the UK has a /8 block of IPv4 addresses that is unused. An e-petition was created asking the DWP to sell off the block to ease the IPv4 address scarcity in the RIPE region. John Graham-Cumming, the person who first discovered the unused block, discovered that these 16.9 million IP addresses were unused after checking in the ASN database."
Zocalo writes "The BBC has a fascinating look into the music download habits of the UK population based on stats compiled by Musicmetric. The stats, gathered through the monitoring of BitTorrent swarms and geo-locating the IPs, shows the hotspots for music copyright infringement across the UK and regional preferences for certain types of music. Some of the outliers are somewhat unusual though, suggesting some problems with the methodology or sample size, unless people on the Isle of Wight really do prefer trumpet-playing crooner Louis Armstrong to the likes of Rihanna and Ed Sheeran who top the lists nationwide. Not in the UK? There are some global stats on the ' Most pirated near you? tab' of the story. Better yet, if you want to crunch the numbers for yourself all of the data has been made available at the Musicmatch website under the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial ShareAlike license and a RESTful API to access the data (free for non-commercial use, but requiring an API token) is also available."
hypnosec writes "Google has blocked the anti-Islamic video, which was posted on YouTube, in Indonesia as well as India. YouTube has already denied a complete removal of the clip 'Innocence of Muslims' that mocks Islam and Prophet Mohammed. The video has led to protests and violence across the Arab world. The foreign ministry spokesperson of Indonesia and India have confirmed that Google has blocked access to the video. Indonesia has also asked RIM to filter the video on its smartphones."
MarkWhittington writes "A recent story in The Atlantic reminds us that the Apollo program, so fondly remembered in the 21st Century, was opposed by a great many people while it was ongoing, on the theory that the money spent going to the moon would have been better spent on poverty programs. The problem with this view was that spending for Lyndon Johnson's Great Society dwarfed the Apollo program, that the programs in the Great Society largely failed to address poverty and other social ills, and that the Apollo program actually had a stimulative effect on the economy that fostered economic growth and created jobs by driving the development of technology,"
submeta writes "Researchers in Munich have successfully performed a quantum key exchange between a moving aircraft and a ground station. Quantum key distribution, which exploits the phenomenon of entanglement, offers theoretically perfect encryption (although it can be vulnerable in practice). This advance is an important step on the way to key exchange with a satellite, which could enable practical usage of the technology."