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Privacy

Responding to Celeb Photo Leaks, Reddit Scotches "Fappening" Subreddit 307

Posted by timothy
from the whew-that's-a-relief-said-all-the-celebrities dept.
4chan might have introduced a DMCA policy, but Reddit goes farther: VentureBeat reports that the online community known as The Fappening has been dissolved by Reddit, in response to its use in posting and sharing many of the photos leaked from dozens of celebrities. This isn’t the first time Reddit has decided to take action to ban certain questionable communities from its site, as its previously killed other subreddits like Creepshots for similar invasions of privacy as well as banned well-known power users shown to enable such actions. ... Reddit system admin Jason Harvey (aka “alienth”) attempted to cool some of the fuss by starting that discussion about why the company decided to ban the subreddit. Most of it boils down to Reddit waiting too long to speak up about it before making the decision to ban, while assuming its users would mostly understand why it took place. ... “If Reddit is truly to be a platform that’s open in any way, it needs transparency when (heavy handed) actions such as these are taken,” said Reddit user SaidTheCanadian in response to Harvey, while also suggesting the company create a “public log” of sorts showing all banning actions as well as explanations for each instance of a banned community. “I don’t want to be part of a community where community voices are silenced without meaningful notice or explanation. (No one really does like that secret police feeling.)”
GNU is Not Unix

Stallman Does Slides -- and Brevity -- For TEDx 326

Posted by timothy
from the time-and-place-restrictions dept.
New submitter ciaran2014 writes Richard Stallman's long-format talks are well-known — there are videos going back to 2001 and transcripts dating back to 1986 — but he recently condensed his free software talk down to 14 minutes and set it to hand-drawn slides for TEDxGeneva (video link). He introduces with the four freedoms, as always, and then moves on to spyware, surveillance, non-free drivers, free software in schools, non-free javascript, Service as a Software Substitute and how free software is today necessary for a strong democracy. As usual, the talk is suitable for non-technical audiences.
United Kingdom

New DNA Analysis On Old Blood Pegs Aaron Kosminski As Jack the Ripper 133

Posted by timothy
from the everybody's-got-a-theory dept.
It surely won't be the last theory offered, but a century and a quarter after the notorious crimes of Jack the Ripper, an "armchair detective" has employed DNA analysis on the blood-soaked shawl of one of the Ripper's victims, and has declared it in a new book an unambiguous match with Jewish immigrant Aaron Kosminski, long considered a suspect. Kosminski died in 1919 in an insane asylum. The landmark discovery was made after businessman Russell Edwards, 48, bought the shawl at auction and enlisted the help of Dr Jari Louhelainen, a world-renowned expert in analysing genetic evidence from historical crime scenes. Using cutting-edge techniques, Dr Louhelainen was able to extract 126-year-old DNA from the material and compare it to DNA from descendants of [Ripper victim Catherine] Eddowes and the suspect, with both proving a perfect match. (Also at The Independent.) It's not the first time DNA evidence has been used to try to pin down the identity of Jack the Ripper, but the claimed results in this case are far less ambiguous than another purported mitochondrial DNA connection promoted by crime novelist Patricia Cornwell in favor of artist Walter Sickert as the killer in a 2002 book. Update: 09/07 16:03 GMT by T : Corrected Sickert's first name, originally misstated as "William."
Government

New US Airstrikes In Iraq Intended to Protect Important Dam 215

Posted by timothy
from the limited-disengagement dept.
U.S. military involvement in Iraq is heating up again; the sudden rise of the organization known as the Islamic State has put a kink in the gradual, ongoing winding down of U.S. military presence in that country, and today that kink has gotten a little sharper. From The New York Times: The United States launched a fresh series of airstrikes against Sunni fighters in Iraq late Saturday in what Defense Department officials described as a mission to stop militants from seizing an important dam on the Euphrates River and prevent the possibility of floodwaters being unleashed toward the capital, Baghdad. The attacks were aimed at militant fighters of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria as they were moving toward the Haditha Dam, officials said. The operation represented another expansion of the limited goals that President Obama set out when he announced last month that he had authorized airstrikes in Iraq.
Microsoft

Protesters Blockade Microsoft's Seattle Headquarters Over Tax Breaks 246

Posted by timothy
from the orchestrated-outrage-on-display dept.
reifman (786887) writes "A thousand unionized healthcare workers protested outside Microsoft's Seattle offices over its Nevada tax dodge on Friday. Microsoft shareholders have pocketed more than $5.34 billion in tax savings as Washington State social services and schools have taken huge cuts. In a hearing Wednesday, the Supreme Court suggested it may hold the Legislature in contempt and order it to repeal all tax breaks to restore proper funding to K-12 schools and universities." I suspect Microsoft's lawyers are careful to engage in legal tax avoidance rather than illegal tax evasion. Geekwire notes "The South Lake Union satellite facility is not a major office for Microsoft, compared to its presence in Redmond. It’s not clear why the workers didn’t protest at Microsoft headquarters."
HP

Silicon Valley Fights Order To Pay Bigger Settlement In Tech Talent Hiring Case 200

Posted by timothy
from the political-economy dept.
The Washington Post carries a story from the Associated Press that says the big companies hit hardest by Judge Lucy Koh's ruling in the "No Poaching" case have not suprisingly appealed that ruling, which found that a proposed settlement of $324.5 million to a class-action lawsuit was too low. The suit, filed on behalf of 60,000 high-tech workers allegedlly harmed by anti-competitive hiring practices, will probably enter its next phase next January or March. (Judge Koh is probably not very popular at Apple in particular.) If you're one of those workers (or in an analogous situation), what kind of compensation or punitive action do you think is fair?
Government

"Net Neutrality" Coiner Tim Wu Is Running For Lt. Governor of New York 40

Posted by timothy
from the well-tim's-a-good-name dept.
speedplane (552872) writes Tim Wu, the popular Columbia Law Professor, author of The Master Switch, and the guy who coined the term Net Neutrality, is running for Lieutenant Governor of the great state of New York. He "has waged a shoestring anti-establishment campaign," that is well underway, and has even begun receiving attacks from the incumbent: "It has not always been smooth for Mr. Wu .... Surrogates for Mr. Cuomo have pounced on his admitted lack of 'message discipline' for comments he made comparing net neutrality to the suffragist movement (which he says were taken out of context) and sympathizing with Airbnb (which he says is 'fair game' because he has a 'wait-and-see approach' to regulating start-ups)."
Government

FAA Scans the Internet For Drone Users; Sends Cease and Desist Letters 222

Posted by timothy
from the and-now-you're-safe dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this news from Government Attic: "The FAA has released a set of cease and desist letters sent in 2012 and 2013 to people operating drone vehicles for a variety of purposes including: tornado research, inspecting gas well stacks, aerial photography, journalism education, and other purposes. Drone cease and desist letters sent during 2014 are available from the FAA upon request." The text of the letters (bureaucratically polite, but bureaucratically firm) often starts with notes indicating to the UAV operators to whom they were sent that the FAA became interested in them because it "became aware of" their web sites, or even because someone tipped them off about an article in a community newsletter. The letters go on to outline the conditions under which the FAA allows the operation of unmanned aircraft, and specifically notes: Those who use UAS only for recreational enjoyment, operate in accordance with Advisory circular 91-57. This generally applies to operations in remotely populated areas away from airports, persons and buildings, below 400 feet Above Ground Level, and within visual line of sight. On February 6, 2007 the FAA published UAS guidance in the Federal Register, 14 CPR Part 91 / Docket No. FAA-2006-25714 I Unmanned Aircraft Operations in the National Airspace System. Toward the end of the docket it says, ''The FAA recognizes that people and companies other than modelers might be flying UAS with the mistaken understanding that they are legally operating under the authority of AC 91-57. AC 91-57 only applies to modelers, and thus specifically excludes Its use by persons or companies for business purposes." Update: 09/07 02:16 GMT by T : Pray forgive the OCR that turned "persons" into "pecions" and "circular" into "arcular"; updated to fix those. Update: 09/08 11:07 GMT by T : Correction: Carl Malamud is not affiliated with Government Attic as this story originally described: sorry for the error.
Music

Deadmau5 Accuses Disney of Pirating His Music 137

Posted by timothy
from the could-have-become-a-doctor dept.
An anonymous reader writes After Disney objected to musician Joel Zimmerman [aka Deadmau5]'s trademark application in the U.S. (his logo is already properly trademarked in many other countries), a battle of trademarks and copyrights ensued. Apparently, Disney was (URL has since been disabled, as per DMCA law requires) hosting a video containing a remix of music which Zimmerman claims ownership of. Not only that, but the Deadmau5 logo was prominently displayed next to said video. The mouse fight was on and a few hours ago Deadmau5 retaliated with a rather surprising counter attack. As it turns out, Disney is hosting a Deadmau5 video on their website, without permission. "Disney prominently features the deadmau5 Mark next to the Infringing Video. implying a non-existent endorsement by Zimmerman," the letter reads. "Again. we are unaware of any license allowing you the right to reproduce, distribute or otherwise exploit the deadmau5 Mark or to exploit Zimmerman's name and likeness in connection with same." At the time of writing Disney hasn't complied with the request, but it seems that they have no other option than to comply. Whether it will change anything in their stance towards the DJ's mouse ear trademark application is doubtful though.
Medicine

Obama Administration Seeks $58M To Put (Partly) Toward Fighting Ebola 105

Posted by timothy
from the let's-order-a-pizza-and-a-dishwasher dept.
The Associated Press reports (here, as carried by the Washington Times) that The White House is asking Congress for $58 million above current levels to speed the production of promising drugs to fight Ebola and additional flexibility for the Department of Homeland Security to cope with the thousands of unaccompanied Central American children still arriving at the southern border. ... [T]he $58 million request for the Centers for Disease Control would help the agency ramp up production and testing of the experimental drug called ZMapp, which has shown promise in fighting the Ebola epidemic in western Africa. It would also help keep the development and manufacturing of two Ebola vaccines on track. The White House request also seeks to use $10 million in unused balances at the Department of Health and Human Services to help with the Ebola outbreak in Africa. The scarcity of ZMapp, the most promising treatment known for Ebola, is such that the third U.S. doctor to have been returned after being infected by the disease will be treated without it.
Privacy

Should Cyborgs Have the Same Privacy Rights As Humans? 206

Posted by timothy
from the for-some-values-of-cyborg dept.
Jason Koebler (3528235) writes When someone with an e-tattoo or an implanted biochip inevitably commits a crime, and evidence of that crime exists on that device within them, do they have a legal right to protect that evidence? Do cyborgs have the same rights as humans? "The more you take a thing with no rights and integrate it indelibly into a thing that we invest with rights, the more you inevitably confront the question: Do you give the thing with no rights rights, or do you take those rights away from the thing with rights?," Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, who just released a paper exploring the subject, said.
Privacy

Shadowy Tech Brokers Deliver Data To the NSA 35

Posted by Soulskill
from the in-30-minutes-or-it's-free dept.
An anonymous reader notes an article about a group of companies whose business is to wiretap various ISPs (with permission) to gather data in response to federal subpoenas. Many smaller ISPs don't have the resources to deal with the flood of data requests from agencies like the NSA, so they outsource compliance and collection in order to keep costs down. The article profiles one of these companies, called Neustar: Neustar can in many cases execute the warrant from anywhere within the U.S., keeping within the bounds of the country's surveillance law. But when a wiretap device is needed, they are not hard to come by. Most networking equipment makers sell devices that can be used to collect data, or used to inspect data — so-called deep-packet inspection devices, which can also be used to prevent piracy, the spread of malware, and website access, all at the Internet provider level. Once a FISA warrant is issued, so-called "tasking" orders, which contain selectors — like a phone number or an email address — are often sent electronically to the ISP. These tell the ISP or phone company, or third-parties like Neustar, exactly where to wiretap and what data to collect to hand back to the requesting authority.
Government

NYPD Starts Body Camera Pilot Program 170

Posted by Soulskill
from the every-step-you-take-every-move-you-make dept.
An anonymous reader writes: In the wake of the Michael Brown shooting, calls for continuous recording of all police activity have become loud and strenuous. Now, one of the biggest police forces in the world will begin testing body cameras. The New York Police Department announced a pilot program to test the wearable cameras in high-crime districts. "[T]he participation of the New York department, with its 35,000 uniformed members and vast footprint on the country's policing policy, could permanently shift the balance in favor of the cameras, which both civil libertarians and many police chiefs have cited as a way to improve relations between citizens and law enforcement, particularly in heavily policed minority communities." The NYPD will be testing hardware from two manufacturers: Vievu and Taser International. While the 60-camera pilot program will get running for about $60,000, IT costs are expected to quickly outstrip that amount.
Cellphones

NVIDIA Sues Qualcomm and Samsung Seeking To Ban Import of Samsung Phones 110

Posted by samzenpus
from the sue-baby-sue dept.
Calibax writes NVIDIA has filed complaints against Samsung and Qualcomm at the ITC and in the U.S. District court in Delaware. The suit alleges that the companies are both infringing NVIDIA GPU patents covering technology including programmable shading, unified shaders and multithreaded parallel processing. NVIDIA is seeking damages and a ban on U.S. import of a number of devices with Snapdragon and Exynos processors until there is an agreement on licensing.
Security

Hackers Break Into HealthCare.gov 150

Posted by samzenpus
from the our-bad dept.
mpicpp is one of many to point out that hackers broke into the HealthCare.gov website in July and uploaded malicious software. "Hackers silently infected a Healthcare.gov computer server this summer. But the malware didn't manage to steal anyone's data, federal officials say. On Thursday, the Health and Human Services Department, which manages the Obamacare website, explained what happened. And officials stressed that personal information was never at risk. "Our review indicates that the server did not contain consumer personal information; data was not transmitted outside the agency, and the website was not specifically targeted," HHS spokesman Kevin Griffis said. But it was a close call, showing just how vulnerable computer systems can be. It all happened because of a series of mistakes. A computer server that routinely tests portions of the website wasn't properly set up. It was never supposed to be connected to the Internet — but someone had accidentally connected it anyway. That left it open to attack, and on July 8, malware slipped past the Obamacare security system, officials said.
Media

Buenos Aires Issues a 'Netflix Tax' For All Digital Entertainment 165

Posted by timothy
from the that-is-not-nettily-neutral dept.
New submitter DoILookAmused writes A few years ago, the Argentinean government implemented a 35% tax on all offshore buys using a credit card. In yesterday's press release, the city of Buenos Aires announced it will charge a 3% gross income tax for all streaming or media purchase abroad allegedly to bring it to "competitive prices with local media companies". This tax doesn't supersede the national 35% tax, which has sparked several reactions.
Security

Privacy Vulnerabilities In Coursera, Including Exposed Student Email Addresses 31

Posted by timothy
from the don't-I-know-you-from-the-semiotics-class? dept.
An anonymous reader writes Coursera, the online education platform with over 9 million students, appears to have some serious privacy shortcomings. According to one of Stanford's instructors, 'any teacher can dump the entire user database, including over nine million names and email addresses.' Also, 'if you are logged into your Coursera account, any website that you visit can list your course enrollments.' The attack even has a working proof of concept [note: requires Coursera account]. A week after the problems were reported, Coursera still hasn't fixed them.
Patents

Intellectual Ventures Sheds At Least Part of Its "Patent Troll" Reputation 75

Posted by timothy
from the look-sir-it-has-atoms dept.
pacopico writes Intellectual Ventures, the world's most infamous patent troll, has changed its tune — maybe. According to a story in Businessweek, the company has started turning a number of its ideas into products, ranging from hydration sensors to waterless washing machines and self-healing concrete. The story reveals some new tidbits about IV, including that it pays inventors $17,000 per idea, has a new start-up fund and that one of its cofounders got tossed out of school for hacking. IV is obvisouly trying to improve its reputation, but plenty of skeptics remain who think this is just a ruse meant to draw attention away from its patent lawsuits.
Government

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler Says Switching ISPs Is Too Hard 145

Posted by timothy
from the good-reason-to-use-webmail dept.
Jason Koebler writes Did you hear about those Comcast service calls from hell that have been cropping up over the last couple months? So did FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, who said today that switching internet service providers is too damn hard, in part because ISPs have grown used to having a monopoly on broadband services. "Once consumers choose a broadband provider, they face high switching costs that include early-termination fees and equipment rental fees," Wheeler said in a speech today. Wheeler didn't specifically say what the FCC will do (if anything) to change that, but said the answer is to help facilitate more true competition: "If those disincentives to competition weren't enough, the media is full of stories of consumers' struggles to get ISPs to allow them to drop service."
The Military

Could Tech Have Stopped ISIS From Using Our Own Heavy Weapons Against Us? 448

Posted by Soulskill
from the smart-phones-are-way-smarter-than-smart-bombs dept.
JonZittrain writes: This summer, ISIS insurgents captured Mosul — with with it, three divisions' worth of advanced American military hardware. After ISIS used it to capture the Mosul Dam, the U.S. started bombing its own pirated equipment. Could sophisticated military tanks and anti-aircraft missiles given or sold to countries like Iraq be equipped with a way to disable them if they're compromised, without opening them up to hacking by an enemy?

We already require extra authentication at a distance to arm nuclear weapons, and last season's 24 notwithstanding, we routinely operate military drones at a distance. Reportedly in the Falkland Islands war, Margaret Thatcher was able to extract codes to disable Argentina's Exocet missiles from the French. The simplest implementation might be like the proposal for land mines that expire after a certain time. Perhaps tanks — currently usable without even an ignition key — could require a renewal code digitally signed by the owning country to be entered manually or received by satellite every six months or so.

I'm a skeptic of kill switches, especially in consumer devices, but still found myself writing up the case for a way to disable military hardware in the field. There are lots of reasons it might not work — or work too well — but is there a way to improve on what we face now?

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