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

Communications

In Brazil, Trees To Call For Help If Illegally Felled 130

Posted by timothy
from the do-you-read-me-over dept.
Damien1972 writes "The Brazilian government has begun fixing trees in the Amazon rainforest with a wireless device, known as Invisible Tracck, which will allow trees to contact authorities once they are felled and moved. Here's how it works: Brazilian authorities fix the Invisible Tracck onto a tree. An illegal logger cuts down the tree and puts it onto a truck for removal, unaware that they are carrying a tracking device. Once Invisible Tracck comes within 20 miles (32 kilometers) of a cellular network it will 'wake up' and alert authorities."
Government

GAO Finds US Military's Critical Technologies List Outdated, Useless 71

Posted by timothy
from the things-belonging-to-the-emperor dept.
chicksdaddy writes "The U.S. Department of Defense has stopped updating its main reference list of vital defense technologies that are banned from export, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), The Security Ledger reports. The Militarily Critical Technologies List (MCTL) is used to identify technologies that are critical to national defense and that require extra protection — including bans on exports and the application of anti-tamper technology. GAO warned six years ago that the Departments of State and Commerce, which are supposed to use the list, found it too broad and outdated to be of much use. The latest report (GAO 13-157) finds that the situation has worsened: budget cuts forced the DOD to largely stop updating and grooming the list in 2011. Sections on emerging technologies are outdated, while other sections haven't been updated since 1999. Without the list to rely on, the DOD has turned to a hodgepodge of other lists, while officials in the Departments of State and Commerce who are responsible for making decisions about whether to allow a particular technology to be exported have turned to ad-hoc networks of subject experts. Other agencies are looking into developing their own MCTL equivalents, potentially wasting government resources duplicating work that has already been done, GAO found."
Music

Jonathan Coulton Song Used By Glee Without Permission 307

Posted by timothy
from the perhaps-they-can-call-it-willful dept.
FunPika writes "Jonathan Coulton, who is known for songs such as "Code Monkey", is claiming that his cover of "Baby Got Back" was used without permission on Glee, a television show aired by Fox Broadcasting Company. When the Glee version appeared on YouTube last week, Coulton suspected that it sounded similar to his cover, and several of his fans confirmed this by analyzing the two tracks. Despite Coulton contacting Fox, they continued with airing the episode and have placed the song on sale in iTunes."
Government

Senators Seek H-1B Cap That Can Reach 300,000 605

Posted by Soulskill
from the come-to-america-and-let-our-robots-replace-you dept.
dcblogs writes "A bipartisan group of Senators is planning to introduce a bill that allows the H-1B visa cap to rise automatically with demand to a maximum of 300,000 visas annually. This 20-page bill, called the Immigration Innovation Act of 2013 or the 'I-Squared Act of 2013,' is being developed by Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Chris Coons (D-Del.). It may be introduced next week. Presently, the U.S. has an H-1B visa cap of 65,000. There are another 20,000 H-1B visas set aside for advanced degree gradates of U.S. universities, for 85,000 in total. Under the new bill, the base H-1B cap would increase from 65,000 to 115,000. But the cap would be allowed to rise automatically with demand, according to a draft of the legislation."
Crime

Have Questions For MIT's Aaron Swartz Review? 175

Posted by Soulskill
from the light-where-it-must-shine dept.
theodp writes "Explaining that it believes 'the most important questions are the ones that will come from the MIT community,' MIT announced that it won't be accepting questions from outsiders for its President-ordered 'review' of the events that preceded the suicide of Aaron Swartz. But if you feel the 25 questions asked thus far don't cover all the bases, how about posting additional ones in the comments where MIT'ers can see them and perhaps repost to the MIT site some that they feel deserve answers? Do it soon — MIT President Rafael Reif will be returning any day now from Davos, where he sat on a panel with Bill Gates, who coincidentally once found himself in hot water over unauthorized computer access. 'They weren't sure how mad they should be about it,' Gates explained in a 2010 interview, 'because we hadn't really caused any damage, but it wasn't a good thing. Computer hacking was literally just being invented at the time, and so fortunately we got off with a bit of a warning.'" Related: text has been published of public domain advocate Carl Malamud's remarks at Swartz's memorial. Quoting: "Aaron wasn't a lone wolf, he was part of an army, and I had the honor of serving with him for a decade. Aaron was part of an army of citizens that believes democracy only works when the citizenry are informed, when we know about our rights—and our obligations."
Cellphones

Unlocking New Mobile Phones Becomes Illegal In the US Tomorrow 475

Posted by Soulskill
from the who-owns-your-stuff dept.
Tyketto writes "Referencing a decision outlined in the Federal Register, Tech News Daily has published an article noting that the window to unlock your new mobile phone in the U.S. is closing. 'In October 2012, the Librarian of Congress, who determines exemptions to a strict anti-hacking law called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), decided that unlocking mobile phones would no longer be allowed. But the library provided a 90-day window during which people could still buy a phone and unlock it. That window closes on January 26.' While this doesn't apply to phones purchased before the window closes, this means that after 1/26/13, for any new mobile phone you purchase, you'll have to fulfill your contract, or break the law to unlock it." It will still be perfectly legal to purchase an unlocked phone, which many carriers offer. This change removes the exemption for buying a new phone under contract (and thus, at a discount) and then unlocking it.
Microsoft

Privacy Advocates Demand Transparency From Skype 95

Posted by samzenpus
from the pay-no-attention-to-the-man-behind-the-curtain dept.
tsamsoniw writes "Dozens of privacy advocates, Internet activists, and journalists have issued an open letter to Skype and Microsoft, calling on the companies to finally get around to being clear and transparent as to who has access to Skype user data and how that data is secured. 'Since Skype was acquired by Microsoft, both entities have refused to answer questions about exactly what kinds of user data can be intercepted, what user data is retained, or whether eavesdropping on Skype conversations may take place,' reads the letter, signed by such groups as the Digital Rights Foundation and the Electronic Frontier Foundation."
Businesses

California's Surreal Retroactive Tax On Tech Startup Investors 514

Posted by timothy
from the do-not-pass-go-remit-$200 dept.
waderoush writes "Engineers and hackers don't think much about tax policy, but there's a bizarre development in California that they should know about, since it could reduce the pool of angel-investment money available for tech startups. Under a tax break available since the 1990s, startup founders and other investors in California were allowed to exclude or defer their gains when they sold stock in California-based small businesses. Last year, a California appeals court ruled that the tax break was unconstitutional, since it discriminated against investors in out-of-state companies. Now the Franchise Tax Board, California's version of the IRS, has issued a notice saying how it intends to implement the ruling — and it's a doozie. Not only is the tax break gone, but anyone who claimed an exclusion or deferral on the sale of small-business stock since 2008 is about to get a big retroactive tax bill. Investors, entrepreneurs, and even the plaintiffs in the original lawsuit are up in arms about the FTB's notice, saying that it goes beyond the court's intent and that it will drive investors out of the state. This Xconomy article takes an in-depth look at the history of the court case, the FTB's ruling, and the reaction in the technology and investing communities."
Piracy

Responding to US Gambling Law, Antigua Set To Launch "Pirate" Site 377

Posted by timothy
from the mouse-that-roared dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Government of Antigua is planning to launch a website selling movies, music and software, without paying U.S. copyright holders. The Caribbean island is taking the unprecedented step because the United States refuses to lift a trade 'blockade' preventing the island from offering Internet gambling services, despite several WTO decisions in Antigua's favor. The country now hopes to recoup some of the lost income through a WTO approved 'warez' site."
Crime

UK Anonymous Hacktivists Get Jail Time 96

Posted by timothy
from the sadly-taking-up-room-for-spammers dept.
twoheadedboy writes "Two members of the Anonymous hacking collective have been handed a total of 25 months in prison. Christopher Weatherhead, a 22-year-old who went under the pseudonym Nerdo, received the most severe punishment — 18 months in prison. Another member, Ashley Rhodes, was handed seven months, whilst Peter Gibson was given a six-month suspended sentence. They were convicted for hitting a variety of websites, including those belonging to PayPal and MasterCard."
Businesses

Sony Fined In UK For PlayStation Network Hack 86

Posted by timothy
from the that's-barely-a-bonus-for-ceos dept.
Sockatume writes "The UK's information protection authority, the ICO, has fined Sony for failing to adequately secure the information of PlayStation Network users. The investigation was triggered by a 2011 security breach, during which personally identifying information (including password hashes) was recovered from a Sony database where it had been stored without encryption. In the ICO's view Sony's security measures were inadequate, and the attack could have been prevented. The £250,000 (ca. $400,000) fine, the largest the ICO has ever imposed, is equivalent to a few pennies per affected user. Sony disagrees with the ICO's decision and intends to appeal."
Google

Google Pushing Back On Law Enforcement Requests For Access To Gmail Accounts 75

Posted by samzenpus
from the for-your-eyes-only dept.
Virtucon writes "Ars technica has an interesting article on how Google is handling requests from law enforcement for access to Gmail accounts. With the recent Petraeus scandal where no criminal conduct was found, it seems that they're re-enforcing their policies and standing up for their users. 'In order to compel us to produce content in Gmail we require an ECPA search warrant,' said Chris Gaither, Google spokesperson. 'If they come for registration information, that's one thing, but if they ask for content of email that's another thing.'"
Electronic Frontier Foundation

EFF Moves To Nix Trademark On "Gaymer" 231

Posted by samzenpus
from the it-gets-better dept.
netbuzz writes "Spurred by the mark holder's cease and desist letter to Reddit's subreddit r/gaymer, the Electronic Frontier Foundation today officially petitioned the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to rescind its grant of a trademark registration on the word "gaymer". 'This registration should never have been granted,' said EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry. 'Gaymer is a common term that refers to members of this vibrant gaming community, and we are happy to help them fight back and make sure the term goes back to the public domain where it belongs.'"
Government

Finland Is Crowdsourcing Its New Copyright Law 103

Posted by samzenpus
from the power-to-the-people dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Internet activists in Finland, upset with the country's strict copyright laws, are ready to take advantage of the country's promise to vote on any citizen-proposed bill that reaches 50,000 signatures. Digital rights group Common Sense in Copyright has proposed sweeping changes to Finland's Lex Karpela, a 2006 amendment to the Finnish copyright law that more firmly criminalized digital piracy. Under it, 'countless youngsters have been found guilty of copyright crimes and sentenced to pay thousands, in some cases hundreds of thousands, of euros in punitive damages to the copyright organizations.' The proposal to fix copyright is the best-rated and most-commented petition on the Open Ministry site."
Data Storage

Open Source ExFAT File System Reaches 1.0 Status 151

Posted by Soulskill
from the progress-bar-finished dept.
Titus Andronicus writes "fuse-exfat, a GPLv3 implementation of the exFAT file system for Linux, FreeBSD, and OS X, has reached 1.0 status, according to an announcement from Andrew Nayenko, the primary developer. exFAT is a file system designed for sneaker-netting terabyte-scale files and groups of files on flash drives and memory cards between and among Windows, OS X, and consumer electronics devices. It was introduced by Microsoft in late 2006. Will fuse-exfat cut into Microsoft's juicy exFAT licensing revenue? Will Microsoft litigate fuse-exfat's developers and users into patent oblivion? Will there be a DKMS dynamic kernel module version of the software, similar to the ZFS on Linux project? All that remains to be seen. ReadWrite, The H, and Phoronix cover the story."
Government

US Government Announces National Day of Civic Hacking 102

Posted by Soulskill
from the does-not-involve-hondas dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Yesterday in a post at the White House website, the U.S. government announced that June 1-2 would be the National Day of Civic Hacking. 'Civic Hacking Day is an opportunity for software developers, technologists, and entrepreneurs to unleash their can-do American spirit by collaboratively harnessing publicly-released data and code to create innovative solutions for problems that affect Americans.' It will be a joint project with Random Hacks of Kindness, Code for America. Activities are being planned in many cities across the country, and you can also sign up to host your own event. It's nice to see the government use the word 'hacking' in a positive way, since most uses of the term these days involve malicious activity."
Google

Google Report Shows Governments Want More Private Data 89

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the hungry-hungry-government dept.
judgecorp writes "The latest Google Transparency Report, which tallies the number of times personal data is requested from Google, shows that governments are becoming more inquisitive than ever. Requests for user data have gone up by 70 percent since Google started these reports in 2009 — but the report shows Google is getting better at saying no: in 2009 it complied — fully or partially — with 76 percent of requests, and that figure is now down to 66 percent." This report is the first to feature requests broken down by the legal process used.
Government

The One Sided Cyber War 215

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the great-firewall-of-america dept.
Curseyoukhan writes with a skeptical perspective on the U.S. Cyberwar posturing. From the article: "The first shot was probably the release of Stuxnet sometime during or before 2009. Even though no one has officially claimed responsibility everyone knows who was behind it. Stuxnet hit with a bang and did a whole lot of damage to Iran's uranium-enrichment capabilities. We followed up Stuxnet with Flame — the Ebola virus of spyware. What did the Iranians fire back with? A series of massive, on-going and ineffective DDoS attacks on American banks. This is a disproportionate response but not in the way military experts usually mean that phrase. It's the equivalent of someone stealing your car and you throwing an ever-increasing number of eggs at his house in response. It's fascinating that Iran continues to do nothing more despite the fact that U.S. critical infrastructure currently has the defensive posture of a dog waiting for a belly rub. Keep that in mind the next time you hear that a 'cyber Pearl Harbor' is imminent."
The Almighty Buck

Tech Firms Keep Piles of 'Foreign Cash' In US 427

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the hanging-out-on-rusty's-yacht dept.
theodp writes "There's a funny thing about the estimated $1.7 trillion that American companies say they have indefinitely invested overseas,' reports the WSJ's Kate Linebaugh (reg. or the old Google trick). 'A lot of it is actually sitting right here at home.' And if tech companies like Google and Microsoft want to keep more than three-quarters of the cash owned by their foreign subsidiaries at U.S. banks, held in U.S. dollars or parked in U.S. government and corporate securities, Linebaugh explains, this money is still overseas in the eyes of the IRS and isn't taxed as long as it doesn't flow back to the U.S. parent company. Helping corporations avoid the need to tap their foreign-held cash are low interest rates at home, which have allowed U.S. companies to borrow cheaply. Oracle, for instance, raised $5 billion last year, paying an interest rate roughly two-thirds of a percentage point above the low post-crash Treasury yield, about 2.5% at the time (by contrast, grad students and parents pay 6.8%-7.9% for Federal student loans). Were the funds it manages to keep in the hands of its foreign subsidiaries brought home and subjected to U.S. income tax, Oracle estimated it could owe Uncle Sam about $6.3 billion."
Google

Steve Jobs Threatened Palm To Stop Poaching Employees 270

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the asymmetry-of-financial-resources dept.
An anonymous reader writes with more news about the no-poach agreements that seemed to plague tech companies. From the article: "Steve Jobs threatened patent litigation if Palm wouldn't agree to stop hiring Apple employees, says former Palm CEO Edward Colligan in a statement dated August 7th, 2012. The allegation is backed up by a trove of recently-released evidence that shows just how deeply Silicon Valley's no-hire agreements pervaded in the mid-2000s. Apple, Google, Intel, and others are the focus of a civil lawsuit into the 'gentleman's agreements,' in which affected employees are fighting for class action status and damages from resulting lost wages, potentially reaching into the hundreds of millions of dollars."

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