United States

Ted Cruz To Oversee NASA and US Science Programs 496

Posted by Soulskill
from the pi-is-exactly-3 dept.
romanval sends word that U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) will become the new chairman of the subcommittee that oversees NASA and government scientific research. Cruz has both spoken in favor of NASA and attempted to cut its budget, but he's most notable for his opposition to the science supporting climate change. From the article: His vociferous opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and his support of extreme budget cuts could spell trouble for NASA's less prominent programs, such as its own climate research and sophisticated supercomputers. His role on the front lines of the 2013 government shutdown, which critics say had lasting negative effects on public safety, NASA research and EPA scientists' ability to visit contaminated sites, also suggests at best a narrow focus on NASA's largest projects and at worst a disregard for agencies that require science funding.

Obama Proposes 30-Day Deadline For Disclosing Security Breaches 125

Posted by Soulskill
from the assuming-you-discover-it-within-30-days dept.
Following the string of massive data breaches at major corporations, President Obama has called for legislation that would standardize how these incidents are disclosed to the public. "The Personal Data Notification and Protection Act would demand a single, national standard requiring companies to inform their customers within 30 days of discovering their data has been hacked. In a speech Monday at the Federal Trade Commission, Mr. Obama said that the current patchwork of state laws does not protect Americans and is a burden for companies that do business across the country. The president also proposed the Student Data Privacy Act, which would prohibit technology firms from profiting from information collected in schools as teachers adopt tablets, online services and Internet-connected software. And he will announce voluntary agreements by companies to safeguard home energy data and to provide easy access to credit scores as an “early warning system” for identity theft.

FBI Access To NSA Surveillance Data Expands In Recent Years 52

Posted by timothy
from the simply-shocked dept.
itwbennett writes The FBI's access to email and other data collected from overseas targets in the NSA's Prism program has been growing since 2008, according to a 2012 U.S. Department of Justice inspector general's report declassified last Friday by the DOJ in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the New York Times. Here are some of the milestones mentioned in the report: In 2008, the FBI began reviewing email accounts targeted by the NSA through the Prism program. In October 2009, the FBI requested that information collected under the Prism program be 'dual routed' to both the NSA and the FBI so that the FBI 'could retain this data for analysis and dissemination in intelligence reports.' And in April 2012, the FBI began nominating email addresses and phone numbers that the NSA should target in it surveillance program, according to the document.

How Bitcoin Could Be Key To Online Voting 480

Posted by timothy
from the vote-at-mt-gox dept.
blottsie (3618811) writes If implemented correctly, the proliferation of online voting could solve one of the biggest problems in American democracy: low voter turnout. The 2014 midterms, for example, boasted the lowest voter turnout in 72 years. Making it easier to vote by moving the action from a polling station to your pocket could only increase turnout, especially in the primaries. Making online voting work is infinitely harder than it initially seems. However, in the past few years, there's been a renewed effort to solve the conundrum of online voting using a most unexpected tool: Bitcoin. The key idea is this: The main job in online voting is ensuring that the election system records someone’s vote the way they intended. Running votes over the blockchain, which is public, creates an auditable trail linking a person and their vote. Bitcoin-enabled voters don’t have to place their trust in Florida ballot counters trying to discern the difference a hanging chad and a dimpled chad—nor in black box online voting systems from private companies where what’s happening inside is a mystery. The proof is right there on the blockchain.

Canada's Copyright Notice Fiasco: Why the Government Bears Responsibility 73

Posted by timothy
from the state-is-never-your-friend dept.
An anonymous reader writes Canada's copyright notice fiasco, with false and misleading notices being sent to thousands of Internet users, has attracted growing attention with the government promising to address the issue. This morning, Michael Geist posts internal government documents that show that the government was aware of these risks before launching the system, but did nothing about it. The documents show that the government decided to forge ahead with the system without any regulations, despite repeated warnings that additional rules on the scope of the notices was needed.

'Silk Road Reloaded' Launches On a Network More Secret Than Tor 155

Posted by timothy
from the ok-but-is-it-better? dept.
rossgneumann writes A new anonymous online drug market has emerged, but instead of using the now infamous Tor network, it uses the lesser known "I2P" alternative. "Silk Road Reloaded" launched yesterday, and is only accessible by downloading the special I2P software, or by configuring your computer in a certain way to connect to I2P web pages, called 'eepsites', and which end in the suffix .i2p. The I2P project site is informative, as is the Wikipedia entry.

Chicago E-Learning Scheme Embraces Virtual Badges For Public Schoolers 46

Posted by timothy
from the credit-for-hooky dept.
theodp (442580) writes "Over at the Chicago City of Learning, children are asked to join the CPS Connects initiative and instructed to provide their Chicago Public School (CPS) student ID to "connect your learning experiences in your school and around the city". Doing so, explains the website, will allow kids to "earn digital badges that unlock new, related opportunities and can give access to live learning experiences throughout Chicago from program partners," which will serve as "an indicator of achievement to colleges and employers." The initiative aims to "get 80% of all 3rd-12th grade students to claim their accounts by January 30th." Before you scoff at the idea that a child's future could depend on his or her Digital Badge collection, consider that the supporters helping government make it happen include the MacArthur Foundation, Gates Foundation, and Mozilla, and a number of business and education partners have made public pledges committing to help accelerate the spread and scale of digital badges for learning. Digital badge-based employment has also earned a thumbs-up from the White House. It's unclear, but might make sense that Chicago kids' digital badges will be collected and shared in the citywide data warehouse being built by the 'cradle-to-career' Thrive Chicago initiative, which is working with the Mayor's Office and CPS to develop a "data system that integrates data from multiple partner agencies, links program participation data to other youth data, and provides a web interface where partner agencies can access youth data targeted on improving youth outcomes at the individual and aggregate levels." After all, the data collected will include "student demographics, school attendance, grades, student behavior, out of school time program participation, and progress to graduation." Not only that, Thrive Chicago's Leadership Council includes the interim President of the MacArthur Foundation (as well as Microsoft and IBM employees)." Update: 01/12 15:52 GMT by T : An earlier version of this story misstated the name of the MacArthur Foundation, which has now been corrected.

Several European Countries Lay Groundwork For Heavier Internet Censorhip 319

Posted by timothy
from the were-you-in-a-free-speech-zone-at-the-time? dept.
Gigaom reports that more internet censorship may be on the way, as several European countries' governments do a unity rally of their own, in the wake of the last week's terror attacks in France: The interior ministers of France, Germany, Latvia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden and the U.K. said in a statement (PDF) that, while the internet must remain “in scrupulous observance of fundamental freedoms, a forum for free expression, in full respect of the law,” ISPs need to help “create the conditions of a swift reporting of material that aims to incite hatred and terror and the condition of its removing, where appropriate/possible.” ... It seems, to say the least, an awkward reaction to what was in part a free-speech-related attack — the left-wing Charlie Hebdo has itself frequently been accused of hate speech for its portrayal of Muslims and others. On that front, a German newspaper that reprinted blasphemous Charlie Hebdo cartoons of Mohammed in the wake of the attack was firebombed in the early hours of Sunday morning, with no injuries. Others that did the same remain under police guard.

US Lawmakers Push For a Permanent Ban On Internet Access Taxes 100

Posted by timothy
from the special-exceptions dept.
jfruh (300774) writes Since 1998, U.S. law has forbidden states from taxing Internet access — but the law has an expiration date that's been extended five times now. The new Congress is attempting to make the ban permanent, but some members are objecting to the fact that the proposed bill leaves in place grandfather clauses for states like Texas and Ohio that already had taxes in place in 1998.

Tesla vs. Car Dealers: the Lobbyist Went Down To Georgia 190

Posted by timothy
from the which-interest-is-the-most-special? dept.
McGruber writes The Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) newspaper's Jim Galloway has an update on the behind-the-scenes battles over who can sell you a new car: "Traditional car dealers are in the midst of a legal fight to push Tesla, the fledgling California electric car company, out of Georgia. Never mind that metro Atlanta is one of the hottest markets for electric vehicles in the nation. Signs point to a parallel battle in the General Assembly. Last week, the National Automobile Dealers Association began trolling for sympathetic lawmakers. While Georgia dealers say they have "no plans" to revisit an anti-Tesla bill that failed last year, Tesla is preparing a defense. It has already hired one of the top lobbying firms in Atlanta."

The Georgia Automobile Dealers Association wields considerable influence in the state Capitol; the AJC determined that the Georgia Auto Dealers Association (GADA) had made over $600,000 in recent campaign contributions to state lawmakers. Despite those contributions, a bill to boot Tesla from Georgia mysteriously died during last year's legislative session. While no legislator would claim credit for killing the bill, Galloway noted that Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who presides over the Senate, drives a Nissan Leaf.

Nuclear Waste Accident Costs Los Alamos Contractor $57 Million 166

Posted by timothy
from the maybe-it's-really-absorbant-money dept.
HughPickens.com writes The LA Times reports that Los Alamos National Security, the contractor managing the nuclear weapons laboratory at Los Alamos, NM has been slapped with a $57-million reduction in its fees for 2014, largely due to a costly nuclear waste accident in which a 55-gallon drum packaged with plutonium waste from bomb production erupted after being placed in a 2,150-foot underground dump in the eastern New Mexico desert. Casks filled with 3.2 million cubic feet of deadly radioactive wastes remain buried at the crippled plant and the huge facility was rendered useless. The exact causes of the chemical reaction are still under investigation, but Energy Department officials say a packaging error at Los Alamos caused a reaction inside the drum. The radioactive material went airborne, contaminating a ventilation shaft that went to the surface giving low-level doses of radiation to 21 workers. According to a DOE report, the disaster at WIPP is rooted in careless contractors and lack of DOE oversight (PDF). "The accident was a horrific comedy of errors," says James Conca, a scientific advisor and expert on the WIPP. "This was the flagship of the Energy Department, the most successful program it had. The ramifications of this are going to be huge. Heads will roll."

The accident is likely to cause at least an 18-month shutdown and possibly a closure that could last several years. Waste shipments have already backed up at nuclear cleanup projects across the country, which even before the accident were years behind schedule. According to the Times, the cost of the accident, including likely delays in cleanup projects across the nation, will approach $1 billion. But some nuclear weapons scientists say the fine is an overreaction. "It was a mistake by an individual — a terrible mistake — and Washington now wants to punish a lot of people," says Conca. "The amount of radiation that was released was trivial. As long as you don't lick the walls, you can't get any radiation down there. Why are we treating this like Fukushima?"

Google Fund To Pay For 1 Million Copies of Charlie Hebdo 311

Posted by timothy
from the anti-intimidation dept.
BarbaraHudson writes The Register is reporting that money set aside from a deal with France's publishers is going to pay for the printing of 1 million copies of next weeks' Charlie Hebdo, "Eight of the 12 people killed were journalists attending an editorial meeting, however, a senior editor and the magazine's chief executive were in London at the time of the attack. They have vowed to do a massive 1 million copy print run next week – Charlie Hebdo's circulation is normally around 60k. The cash will come from €60m fund (€20m per year over three years) that supports digital publishing innovation. The fund was set up in 2013 following negotiations between Google and the French government as a remedy to demands from European publishers that Google pay for displaying news snippets in its search results.

Canadian Government Steps In To Stop Misleading Infringement Notices 103

Posted by Soulskill
from the drawing-the-wrong-kind-of-attention dept.
Dangerous_Minds writes: Recently, misleading notices were spotted being sent out by Rightscorp. Michael Geist posted the letter which, among other things, cites U.S. laws, says the Canadians could be on the hook for $150,000 (does not actually exist in the recent copyright reforms now in force), and that payments should be made directly to the company. Apparently, the Canadian government was not amused and has announced that they will be speaking with rightsholders and ISPs to address the concerns that were raised. The government says, "These notices are misleading and companies cannot use them to demand money from Canadians."

LAPD Orders Body Cams That Will Start Recording When Police Use Tasers 219

Posted by Soulskill
from the looking-forward-to-all-the-youtube-clips dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Lily Hay Newman reports that the LAPD has ordered 3,000 Tasers which, when discharged, will automatically activate cameras on officers' uniforms, creating visual records of incidents at a time of mounting concern about excessive force by U.S. law enforcement officers. The new digital Taser X26P weapons record the date, time, and duration of firing, and whether Taser wires actually strike suspects and how long the thousands of volts of electricity pulse through them. "This technology gives a much better picture of what happens in the field," says Steve Tuttle.

The idea of using a Taser discharge as a criterion for activating body cams is promising, especially as more and more police departments adopt body cams and struggle to establish guidelines for when they should be on or off. Police leadership — i.e., chiefs and upper management — is far more supportive of the technology and tends to view body-worn cameras as a tool for increasing accountability and reducing civil liability. On the other hand, the patrol officer culture is concerned that the technology will be an unfair intrusion into their routine activities — for instance, it might invite over-managing minor policy violations. "In addition to these new Taser deployments, we plan to issue a body-worn camera and a Taser device to every officer," says Police Chief Charlie Beck. "It is our goal to make these important tools available to every front line officer over the next few years."
The Internet

Anonymous Declares War Over Charlie Hebdo Attack 509

Posted by Soulskill
from the fighting-fire-with-bits dept.
mpicpp writes with news that hackers claiming to represent Anonymous have declared war on terrorists. They pledged to take down websites and social media accounts being used by jihadists as retaliation for the Charlie Hebdo attack. They said, "It is clear that some people do not want, in a free world, this inviolable and sacred right to express in any way one's opinions. Anonymous will never leave this right violated by obscurantism and mysticism. We will fight always and everywhere the enemies of freedom of speech. ... Freedom of speech and opinion is a non-negotiable thing, to tackle it is to attack democracy. Expect a massive frontal reaction from us because the struggle for the defense of those freedoms is the foundation of our movement.
Electronic Frontier Foundation

EFF Takes On Online Harassment 189

Posted by Soulskill
from the can't-we-all-just-get-along dept.
Gamoid writes: The Electronic Frontier Foundation has identified online harassment as a major challenge facing free speech on the Internet, and lays out its plan to fix it. They say, "Online harassment is a digital rights issue. At its worst, it causes real and lasting harms to its targets, a fact that must be central to any discussion of harassment. Unfortunately, it's not easy to craft laws or policies that will address those harms without inviting government or corporate censorship and invasions of privacy—including the privacy and free speech of targets of harassment. ... Just because the law sometimes allows a person to be a jerk (or worse) doesn’t mean that others in the community are required to be silent or to just stand by and let people be harassed. We can and should stand up against harassment. Doing so is not censorship—it’s being part of the fight for an inclusive and speech-supporting Internet."

Glitch In OS X Search Can Expose Private Details of Apple Mail Users 49

Posted by timothy
from the where-are-you-now dept.
itwbennett (1594911) writes "The potential privacy risk in Apple's OS X Yosemite, first reported by German tech news site Heise and confirmed by IDG News Service, appears when people use the Spotlight Search feature, which also indexes emails received with the Apple Mail email client. Performing a Spotlight search opens email previews that load external images, including tracking pixels that are used to gather data, even when the Mail client is asked not to do this." From the article: A preview of the unopened emails was shown by Spotlight, which revealed to the operator of the server hosting the pixels the receiver’s IP address, current OS version and some details about the browser used as well as the version of Quick Look, a program that let’s users preview a document.

In Paris, Terrorists Kill 2 More, Take At Least 7 Hostages 490

Posted by timothy
from the illiberality-in-action dept.
As reported by The Daily Beast, news on the ongoing terror attack (or attacks) in Paris. Chérif and Saïd Kouachi, who are accused of slaughtering 12 in an attack on Charlie Hebdo magazine, have been cornered by hundreds of security officials close to Charles de Gaulle Airport, north of Paris. Officials say they believe the heavily armed brothers are holding one hostage. Twenty miles south, in the east of the city, at least one gunman is believed to have taken six hostages at a Jewish store. Police suspect that the third gunman is the same man who shot and killed a policewoman on Thursday morning before escaping in a bulletproof vest. Update: 01/09 17:44 GMT by T : And now all three of the gunmen involved in today's hostage taking are dead. Watch this space for updates. Update: 01/09 17:15 GMT by T : CNN's story features a stream of updates (and an autoplaying video ad to beware), as does The Telegraph. Latest news is that brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi have been killed by police, but it's unclear whether the same is true of the third hostage-taker.

Inside North Korea's Naenara Browser 159

Posted by timothy
from the threat-is-right dept.
msm1267 (2804139) writes with this excerpt from Threatpost Up until a few weeks ago, the number of people outside of North Korea who gave much thought to the Internet infrastructure in that country was vanishingly small. But the speculation about the Sony hack has fixed that, and now a security researcher has taken a hard look at the national browser used in North Korea and found more than a little weirdness. The Naenara browser is part of the Red Star operating system used in North Korea and it's a derivative of an outdated version of Mozilla Firefox. The country is known to tightly control the communications and activities of its citizens and that extends online, as well. Robert Hansen, vice president of WhiteHat Labs at WhiteHat Security, and an accomplished security researcher, recently got a copy of Naenara and began looking at its behavior, and he immediately realized that every time the browser loads, its first move is to make a request to a non-routable IP address, That address is not reachable from networks outside the DPRK.

"Here's where things start to go off the rails: what this means is that all of the DPRK's national network is non-routable IP space. You heard me; they're treating their entire country like some small to medium business might treat their corporate office," Hansen wrote in a blog post detailing his findings. "The entire country of North Korea is sitting on one class A network (16,777,216 addresses). I was always under the impression they were just pretending that they owned large blocks of public IP space from a networking perspective, blocking everything and selectively turning on outbound traffic via access control lists."
The Internet

HTTP/2 - the IETF Is Phoning It In 161

Posted by samzenpus
from the natives-getting-restless dept.
An anonymous reader writes HTTP/2 is back in the spotlight again. After drawing significant ire over a proposal for officially sanctioned snooping, the IETF is drawing criticism for plowing ahead with its plans for HTTP/2 on an unrealistically short schedule and with an insufficiently clear charter. A few days ago the IETF announced Last Call for comments on the HTTP/2 protocol.

Poul-Henning Kamp writes, "Some will expect a major update to the world's most popular protocol to be a technical masterpiece and textbook example for future students of protocol design. Some will expect that a protocol designed during the Snowden revelations will improve their privacy. Others will more cynically suspect the opposite. There may be a general assumption of 'faster.' Many will probably also assume it is 'greener.' And some of us are jaded enough to see the "2.0" and mutter 'Uh-oh, Second Systems Syndrome.' The cheat sheet answers are: no, no, probably not, maybe, no and yes."

"Given this rather mediocre grade-sheet, you may be wondering why HTTP/2.0 is even being considered as a standard in the first place. The Answer is Politics. Google came up with the SPDY protocol, and since they have their own browser, they could play around as they choose to, optimizing the protocol for their particular needs. SPDY was a very good prototype which showed clearly that there was potential for improvement in a new version of the HTTP protocol. Kudos to Google for that. But SPDY also started to smell a lot like a 'walled garden'."

"The IETF, obviously fearing irrelevance, hastily 'discovered' that the HTTP/1.1 protocol needed an update, and tasked a working group with preparing it on an unrealistically short schedule. This ruled out any basis for the new HTTP/2.0 other than the SPDY protocol. With only the most hideous of SPDY's warts removed, and all other attempts at improvement rejected as 'not in scope,' 'too late,' or 'no consensus,' the IETF can now claim relevance and victory by conceding practically every principle ever held dear in return for the privilege of rubber-stamping Google's initiative."