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Power

Costa Rica Goes 75 Days Powering Itself Using Only Renewable Energy 316

Posted by samzenpus
from the cleaning-things-up dept.
An anonymous reader writes with news about an impressive renewable energy accomplishment in Costa Rica. Costa Rica has achieved a clean energy milestone by using 100 per cent renewable energy for a record 75 days in a row. The feat was achieved thanks to heavy rainfall, which powered four hydroelectric plants in the first three months of the year, the state-run Costa Rican Electricity Institute said. No fossil fuels have been burnt to generate electricity since December 2014, in the state which is renowned for its clean energy policies."
Crime

Online "Swatting" Becomes a Hazard For Gamers Who Play Live On the Internet 569

Posted by samzenpus
from the hands-up-controllers-down dept.
HughPickens.com writes Nick Wingfield reports at the NYT that practical jokers who call in bogus reports of violence provoking huge police responses have set their sights on a new set of victims: video gamers who play live on the Internet, often in front of huge online audiences. Last month, several hundred people were watching Joshua Peters as he played RuneScape from his parents' home as video showed Peters suddenly leaving his computer when police officers appeared at the house and ordered him and his family at gunpoint to lie face down on the ground after some had called 911 claiming Peters had just shot his roommate. "With the live-streaming platforms, it amplifies the entire situation," says James Clayton Eubanks who says he has been swatted about a half-dozen times while he streamed his Call of Duty sessions. "Not only do they get to do this and cause this misery, they get to watch it unfold in front of thousands of people."

Game companies like Twitch have publicly said that swatting is dangerous, but that there is little else they can do to prevent the pranks. Tracking the culprits behind the pranks is difficult. While bomb scares and other hoaxes have been around for decades, making threats anonymously has never been so easy. Swatters use text messages and online phone services like Skype to relay their threats, employing techniques to make themselves hard to trace. They obtain personal addresses for their victims through property records and other public databases, or by tricking businesses or customer service representatives at a victim's Internet provider into revealing the information. Brandon Willson, a gamer known online as "Famed God," made up a murder to get police to go to an unsuspecting west suburban resident's home last year and ended up behind bars in Nevada awaiting extradition. As part of the investigation, police traveled to Las Vegas to help local police execute a search warrant at Willson's home. Computers seized there contained evidence of the swatting incident, as well as similar incidents across the country, prosecutors claim. Willson faces up to five years in prison if he is convicted on charges of computer tampering and one count each of intimidation, computer fraud, identity theft and disorderly conduct. His mother, Brenda Willson, says her son is innocent and does not smoke, drink or have tattoos. "He would never swat," she says.
United Kingdom

UK Government Admits Intelligence Services Allowed To Break Into Any System 107

Posted by samzenpus
from the whenever-we-feel-like-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes Recently, Techdirt noted that the FBI may soon have permission to break into computers anywhere on the planet. It will come as no surprise to learn that the U.S.'s partner in crime, the UK, granted similar powers to its own intelligence services some time back. What's more unexpected is that it has now publicly said as much, as Privacy International explains: "The British Government has admitted its intelligence services have the broad power to hack into personal phones, computers, and communications networks, and claims they are legally justified to hack anyone, anywhere in the world, even if the target is not a threat to national security nor suspected of any crime." That important admission was made in what the UK government calls its "Open Response" to court cases started last year against GCHQ.
Programming

A Software Project Full of "Male Anatomy" Jokes Causes Controversy 764

Posted by samzenpus
from the can't-we-all-just-get-along? dept.
An anonymous reader writes with the story of a Github user's joke repository that is causing some controversy. "There's no question that the tech world is an overwhelmingly male place. There's legit concern that tech is run-amok with 'brogrammers' that make women programmers feel unwelcome. On the other hand, people just want to laugh. It's at that intersection that programmer Randy Hunt, aka 'letsgetrandy' posted a 'project' earlier this week to software hosting site GitHub called 'DICSS.' The project, which is actual free and open source software, is surrounded by geeky jokes about the male anatomy. And it's gone nuts, so to speak, becoming the most trending project on Github, and the subject of a lot of chatter on Twitter. And, Hunt tells us, the folks at Github are scratching their heads wondering what they should do about it. Some people love DICSS ... and some people are, understandably, offended. The offended people point out that this is exactly the sort of thing that makes tech unwelcoming to women, and not just because of the original project, but because of some of the comments (posted as "commits") that might take the joke too far."
Government

WHO Report Links Weed Killer Ingredient To Cancer Risk 179

Posted by samzenpus
from the what's-to-blame dept.
An anonymous reader sends word that a common weed killer may cause cancer according to the World Health Organization. "The world's most widely used weed killer can 'probably' cause cancer, the World Health Organization said on Friday. The WHO's cancer arm, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, said glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup and other herbicides, was 'classified as probably carcinogenic to humans.' It also said there was 'limited evidence' that glyphosate was carcinogenic in humans for non-Hodgkin lymphoma." Unsurprisingly, Monsanto, Roundup's manufacturer disagrees saying there is no evidence to support the findings and calls on WHO to hold a meeting to explain their conclusions.
The Military

Islamic State Doxes US Soldiers, Airmen, Calls On Supporters To Kill Them 335

Posted by samzenpus
from the directions-to-a-murder dept.
An anonymous reader writes in with this story about the latest weapon used by ISIS: doxing. "Middle East terrorist organization Islamic State (ISIS) has called on its followers take the fight to 100 members of the United States military residing in the US. A group calling itself the 'Islamic State Hacking Division' has posted names, addresses, and photographs of soldiers, sailors, and airmen online, asking its 'brothers residing in America' to murder them, according to Reuters. Although the posting purports to come from the 'Hacking Division,' US Department of Defense officials say that none of their systems appear to have been breached by the group. Instead, the personal data was almost certainly culled from publicly available sources, a DoD official told the New York Times on the condition of anonymity."
Google

FTC's Internal Memo On Google Teaches Companies a Terrible Lesson 121

Posted by samzenpus
from the I've-learned-nothing dept.
schwit1 writes FTC staffers spent enormous time pouring through Google's business practices and documents as well as interviewing executives and rivals. They came to the conclusion that Google was acting in anti-competitive ways, such as restricting advertisers from working with rival search engines. But commissioners balked at the prospect of a lengthy and protracted legal fight. For a big company, that process may have been enlightening. Agency staffers might find evidence of anti-competitive behavior. But that doesn't mean the firm will face the music in the end. Previous attempts to go after big companies — such as the Justice Department's long-running antitrust case against Microsoft in the 1990s — loomed large in regulators' minds at the time of the Google probe, according to a former official who worked at the agency then. "Even if we were in the right and could win," said the former official, "it could take a lot of resources away from other enforcement."
The Almighty Buck

DuckDuckGo Donates $100,000 Among Four FOSS Projects 36

Posted by samzenpus
from the have-a-little-cash dept.
jones_supa writes As is the search engine company's annual habit, DuckDuckGo has chosen to advance four open source projects by donating to them. The primary focus this year was to support FOSS projects that bring privacy tools to anyone who needs them. $25,000 goes to The Freedom of the Press Foundation to support SecureDrop, which is a whistleblower submission used to securely accept documents from anonymous sources. The Electronic Frontier Foundation was given $25,000 to support PrivacyBadger, which is a browser add-on that stops advertisers and other third-party trackers from secretly tracking your surfing habits. Another $25,000 arrives at GPGTools to support GPG Suite, which is a software package for OS X that encrypts files or messages. Finally, $25,000 was donated to Riseup to support Tails, which is a live operating system that aims at preserving your privacy and anonymity.
Earth

In Response to Pollution Spike, Paris Temporarily Halves Traffic By Decree 198

Posted by timothy
from the solomonic-wisdom dept.
As reported by News.com.au, the city of Paris has implemented a harsh (but temporary) measure for drivers, in response to a surge in pollution: banning cars with even-numbered registration plates from the streets. According to the article, City mayor Anne Hidalgo had asked authorities to prevent one in every two cars from taking to the capital’s streets and make all public transport temporarily free in a bid to drive down pollution. Only vehicles with numberplates ending in an odd number will be allowed to drive, though exceptions exist for vehicles like taxis, electric cars and ambulances. ... Public transportation is to be free until at least Monday in Paris and its surrounding towns in an effort to force pollution down by coaxing drivers to give up their cars for a few days. Similar emergency measures were last implemented almost exactly a year ago — on March 17 — during a particularly bad spike in the pollution levels.
Crime

Hundreds Expelled, Many Arrested, For Cheating In India's School Exams 233

Posted by timothy
from the not-exactly-subtle-about-it dept.
Etherwalk writes Sources conflict, but it looks like as many as 300 people have been arrested for cheating in the Indian state of Bihar after the Hindustan Times published images of dozens of men climbing the walls of a test center to pass answers inside. 500-700+ students were expelled and police had been bribed to look the other way. Xinhau's version of the story omits any reference to police bribery, while The ABC's omits the fact that police fired guns into the air.
IBM

A Sucker Is Optimized Every Minute 110

Posted by timothy
from the straight-to-godwin dept.
theodp writes Now that we have hard data on everything, observes the NY Times' Virginia Heffernan in A Sucker Is Optimized Every Minute, we no longer make decisions from our hearts, guts or principles. "The gut is dead," writes Heffernan. "Long live the data, turned out day and night by our myriad computers and smart devices. Not that we trust the data, as we once trusted our guts. Instead, we 'optimize' it. We optimize for it. We optimize with it." To win Presidential elections. To turn web pages into Googlebait. To sucker people into registering for websites. Of the soon-to-arrive Apple Watch, Heffernan notes: "After time keeping, the watch's chief feature is 'fitness tracking': It clocks and stores physiological data with the aim of getting you to observe and change your habits of sloth and gluttony. Evidently I wasn't the only one whose thoughts turned to 20th-century despotism: The entrepreneur Anil Dash quipped on Twitter, albeit stretching the truth, 'Not since I.B.M. sold mainframes to the Nazis has a high-tech company embraced medical data at this scale.'"
Government

Government Spies Admit That Cyber Armageddon Is Unlikely 70

Posted by timothy
from the only-as-far-as-you-can-throw-them dept.
Nicola Hahn writes NSA director Mike Rogers spoke to a Senate Committee [Thursday], admonishing them that the United States should bolster its offensive cyber capabilities to deter attacks. Never mind that deterrence is problematic if you can't identify the people who attacked you. In the past a speech by a spymaster like Rogers would have been laced with hyperbolic intimations of the End Times. Indeed, for almost a decade mainstream news outlets have conveyed a litany of cyber doomsday scenarios on behalf of ostensibly credible public officials. So it's interesting to note a recent statement by the U.S. intelligence community that pours a bucket of cold water over all of this. According to government spies the likelihood of a cyber Armageddon is "remote." And this raises some unsettling questions about our ability to trust government officials and why they might be tempted to fall back on such blatant hyperbole.
Communications

Taxi Apps Accused of Facilitating Sexual Harassment In Brazil 49

Posted by timothy
from the just-need-you-to-complete-this-form dept.
New submitter André Costa writes The companies responsible for taxi apps Easy Taxi and 99Taxis are being accused of making it too easy for taxi drivers to harass female customers (some news reports — in Portuguese — can be found here, here and here). These apps currently disclose informations such as the client's name, cell phone and address to the driver. One customer that started being harassed through offensive text messages after a ride started an online petition demanding that the companies take effective measures to protect female customers. The petition already collected more than 27,000 signatures, and both Easy Taxi and 99Taxis already announced that they will implement features that will protect clients' privacy. At first, users will be allowed to choose if they want their phone numbers to be disclosed. Within a couple of months, both companies said they will provide VOIP calls, which will eliminate the need to exchange phone numbers.
Government

ISPs Worry About FCC's 'Future Conduct' Policing 130

Posted by timothy
from the now-lookie-hyeah-boah dept.
jfruh (300774) writes "In the wake of the FCC passing net neutrality rules, the federal agency now has the authority to keep an eye on ISPs 'future conduct,' to prevent them from even starting to implement traffic-shaping plans that would violate net neutrality. Naturally, this has a lot of ISPs feeling nervous." From the article: The net neutrality rules, beginning on page 106, outline a process for staff to give advisory opinions to broadband providers who want to run a proposed business model past the agency before rolling it out. But those advisory opinions won’t have the weight of an official commission decision. The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau will be able to reconsider, rescind or revoke those advisory opinions, and the commission itself will be able to overrule them, according to the order. “It’s unclear what you’re supposed to do when you have a new innovation or a new service,” the telecom lobbyist said. “There’s just a lot of ambiguity.” Even the Electronic Frontier Foundation, one of the most vocal proponents of strong net neutrality rules, urged the commission to jettison its future conduct standard.
Security

How 'The Cloud' Eats Away at Your Online Privacy (Video) 86

Posted by Roblimo
from the it-seems-the-network-is-the-computer-after-all dept.
Tom Henderson, Principal Researcher at ExtremeLabs Inc., is not a cloud fan. He is a staunch privacy advocate, and this is the root of his distrust of companies that store your data in their memories instead of yours. You can get an idea of his (dis)like of vague cloud privacy protections and foggy vendor service agreements from the fact that his Network World columnn is called Thumping the Clouds. We called Tom specifically to ask him about a column entry titled The downside to mass data storage in the cloud.

Today's video covers only part of what Tom had to say about cloud privacy and information security, but it's still an earful and a half. His last few lines are priceless. Watch and listen, or at least read the transcript, and you'll see what we mean.
Canada

Defending Privacy Doesn't Pay: Canadian Court Lets Copyright Troll Off the Hook 52

Posted by Soulskill
from the pennies-for-personal-data dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A Canadian court has issued its ruling on the costs (PDF) in the Voltage — TekSavvy case, a case involving the demand for the names and address of thousands of TekSavvy subscribers by Voltage on copyright infringement grounds. Last year, the court opened the door to TekSavvy disclosing the names and addresses, but also established new safeguards against copyright trolling in Canada. The court awarded only a fraction of the costs sought by TekSavvy, which sends a warning signal to ISPs that getting involved in these cases can lead to significant costs that won't be recouped. That is a bad message for privacy. So is the likely outcome for future cases (should they arise) with subscribers left with fewer notices and information from their ISP given the costs involved and the court's decision to not compensate for those costs.
Google

FTC: Google Altered Search Results For Profit 232

Posted by Soulskill
from the shareholder-value dept.
mi writes: We've always suspected that Google might tweak its search algorithms to gain an advantage over its rivals — and, according to an FTC investigation inadvertently shared with the Wall Street Journal, it did. Quoting: "In a lengthy investigation, staffers in the FTC's bureau of competition found evidence that Google boosted its own services for shopping, travel and local businesses by altering its ranking criteria and "scraping" content from other sites. It also deliberately demoted rivals. For example, the FTC staff noted that Google presented results from its flight-search tool ahead of other travel sites, even though Google offered fewer flight options. Google's shopping results were ranked above rival comparison-shopping engines, even though users didn't click on them at the same rate, the staff found. Many of the ways Google boosted its own results have not been previously disclosed.
Government

German Vice Chancellor: the US Threatened Us Over Snowden 337

Posted by Soulskill
from the apparently-that-works-pretty-well dept.
siddesu sends this report from The Intercept: German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said this week in Homburg that the U.S. government threatened to cease sharing intelligence with Germany if Berlin offered asylum to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden or otherwise arranged for him to travel to that country. 'They told us they would stop notifying us of plots and other intelligence matters,' Gabriel said.
United States

Leaked Document Reveals Upcoming Biometric Experiments At US Customs 97

Posted by samzenpus
from the scan-me dept.
sarahnaomi sends word of new biometric technologies coming to U.S. entry points. "The facial recognition pilot program launched last week by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which civil liberties advocates say could lead to new potentially privacy-invading programs, is just the first of three biometric experiments that the feds are getting ready to launch. The three experiments involve new controversial technologies like iris and face scanner kiosks, which CBP plans to deploy at the Mexican border, and facial recognition software, according to a leaked document obtained by Motherboard. All three pilots are part of a broader Customs and Border Protection program to modernize screenings at American entry and exit ports, including at the highly politicized Mexican border, with the aid of new biometric technologies. The program is known as Apex Air Entry and Exit Re-Engineering Project, according to the leaked slides. These pilot programs have the goal of "identifying and implementing" biometric technologies that can be used at American borders to improve the immigration system as well as US national security, according to the slides."
Security

Target To Pay $10 Million In Proposed Settlement For 2013 Data Breach 54

Posted by samzenpus
from the pay-up dept.
itwbennett writes Target has agreed to pay $10 million in a proposed settlement to a class-action lawsuit stemming from its massive 2013 data breach, which affected as many as 110 million people. Individual victims could receive up to $10,000. The proposed settlement also includes measures to better protect the customer data that Target collects, according to documents filed with the U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota.