Censorship

Irish Legislator Proposes Law That Would Make Annoying People Online a Crime 110

Posted by Soulskill
from the turn-yourselves-in-at-the-local-pub dept.
An anonymous reader sends this report from TechDirt: Is Ireland looking to pass a law that would "outlaw ebooks and jail people for annoying others?" Well, no, not really, but that's the sort of unintended consequences that follow when laws are updated for the 21st century using little more than a word swap. Ireland has had long-standing laws against harassment via snail mail, telephones and (as of 2007) SMS messages. A 2014 report by the government's somewhat troublingly-named "Internet Content Governance Advisory Group" recommended updating this section of the law to cover email, social media and other internet-related transmissions. ... The broad language -- if read literally -- could make emailing an ebook to someone a criminal offense. Works of fiction are, by definition, false. ... It's the vestigial language from previous iterations of the law -- words meant to target scam artists and aggressive telemarketers -- that is problematic. Simply appending the words "electronic communications" to an old law doesn't address the perceived problem (cyberbullying is cited in the governance group's report). It just creates new problems.
Communications

Traffic App Waze To Alert L.A. Drivers of Kidnappings and Hit-and-Runs 77

Posted by timothy
from the target-audience-is-rubberneckers dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Traffic-alert app Waze has announced a partnership with Los Angeles to share information on hit-and-runs and kidnappings taking place across the city, alongside traffic data and road closure updates. The deal forms part of a data-sharing agreement between L.A. authorities and the Google-owned tech startup detailed yesterday by the city's mayor Eric Garcetti. He assured that the data provided to the city by Waze would be "aggregated" and completely anonymous. According to the councillor the collaboration was mutually confirmed on Monday following a "very good meeting" between Waze and LAPD chief officer Charlie Beck. This move signals a considerable turn of events after Beck argued at the end of last year that the traffic alert app posed a danger to police due to its ability to track their location. The complaint followed the shooting of two police officers in New York after the shooter used the app to track his targets.
Communications

New Privacy Concerns About US Program That Can Track Snail Mail 64

Posted by timothy
from the ask-not-what-your-country-can-do-to-you dept.
Lashdots writes: A lawyers' group has called for greater oversight of a government program that gives state and federal law enforcement officials access to metadata from private communications for criminal investigations and national security purposes. But it's not digital: this warrantless surveillance is conducted on regular mail. "The mail cover has been in use, in some form, since the 1800s," Chief Postal Inspector Guy J. Cottrell told Congress in November. The program targets a range of criminal activity including fraud, pornography, and terrorism, but, he said, "today, the most common use of this tool is related to investigations to rid the mail of illegal drugs and illegal drug proceeds." Recent revelations that the U.S. Postal Service photographs the front and back of all mail sent through the U.S., ostensibly for sorting purposes, has, Fast Company reports, brought new scrutiny—and new legal responses—to this obscure program.
Facebook

Facebook's "Hello" Tells You Who's Calling Before You Pick Up 78

Posted by samzenpus
from the who-is-it? dept.
Mark Wilson writes: When you receive a call you'll usually see the number of the caller, but this may not be helpful in identifying them before you decide whether to pick up. Facebook's answer to this problem is Hello. This new app comes from the Facebook Messenger team and aims to tell you more about the person getting in touch with you even if you don't have their number saved in your address book. Currently available for Android, the dialer app also allows for the blocking of calls from individuals.
Privacy

UK Police Chief: Some Tech Companies Are 'Friendly To Terrorists' 228

Posted by Soulskill
from the arguments-that-are-getting-old dept.
An anonymous reader points out comments from Mark Rowley, the UK's national police lead for counter-terrorism, who thinks tech companies aren't doing enough to prevent terrorists from using their services. He said, "[The acceleration of technology] can be set up in a way which is friendly to terrorists and helps them ... and creates challenges for law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Or it can be set up in a way which doesn't do that." Rowley wouldn't name which companies in particular he's talking about, but he added, "Snowden has created an environment where some technology companies are less comfortable working with law reinforcement and intelligence agencies and the bad guys are better informed. We all love the benefit of the internet and all the rest of it, but we need their support in making sure that they're doing everything possible to stop their technology being exploited by terrorists. I'm saying that needs to be front and center of their thinking and for some it is and some it isn't."
Twitter

Twitter Rolls Out New Anti-Abuse Tools 252

Posted by Soulskill
from the making-it-harder-to-be-a-jerk dept.
An anonymous reader writes: After facing criticism that it gives trolls and hatemongers a platform to intimidate people, Twitter has now rolled out a new set of tools and policies to handle abusive tweets. Previously, they only prohibited threats of violence that were "direct" and "specific," but now that's been expanded to all threats of violence or tweets promoting violence. They said, "Our previous policy was unduly narrow and limited our ability to act on certain kinds of threatening behavior." Twitter has also added non-permanent bans, as well as this: "[W]e have begun to test a product feature to help us identify suspected abusive Tweets and limit their reach. This feature takes into account a wide range of signals and context that frequently correlates with abuse including the age of the account itself, and the similarity of a Tweet to other content that our safety team has in the past independently determined to be abusive." Twitter's general counsel recently said, "Freedom of expression means little as our underlying philosophy if we continue to allow voices to be silenced because they are afraid to speak up. We need to do a better job combating abuse without chilling or silencing speech."
Privacy

Baltimore Police Used Stingrays For Phone Tracking Over 25,000 Times 81

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-don't-remember-that-episode-of-The-Wire dept.
An anonymous reader writes The Baltimore Police Department is starting to come clean about its use of cell-phone signal interceptors — commonly known as Stingrays — and the numbers are alarming. According to recent court testimony reported by The Baltimore Sun, the city's police have used Stingray devices with a court order more than 25,000 times. It's a massive number, representing an average of nearly nine uses a day for eight years (the BPD acquired the technology in 2007), and it doesn't include any emergency uses of the device, which would have proceeded without a court order.
Businesses

Comcast and TWC Will Negotiate With Officials To Save Their Merger 101

Posted by samzenpus
from the lets-talk-about-this dept.
An anonymous reader writes with news about Comcast and Time Warner Cable's attempt to keep their proposed merger alive. "Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Cable Inc. are slated to sit down for the first time on Wednesday with Justice Department officials to discuss potential remedies in hopes of keeping their $45.2 billion merger on track, according to people familiar with the matter. The parties haven't met face-to-face to hash out possible concessions in the more than 14 months since the deal was announced. Staffers at both the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission remain concerned a combined company would wield too much power in the broadband Internet market and give it unfair competitive leverage against TV channel owners and new market entrants that offer video programming online, said people with knowledge of the review."
Cellphones

Does Lack of FM Support On Phones Increase Your Chances of Dying In a Disaster? 350

Posted by timothy
from the well-if-you-put-it-that-way dept.
theodp writes "You may not know it," reports NPR's Emma Bowman, "but most of today's smartphones have FM radios inside of them. But the FM chip is not activated on two-thirds of devices. That's because mobile makers have the FM capability switched off. The National Association of Broadcasters has been asking mobile makers to change this. But the mobile industry, which profits from selling data to smartphone users, says that with the consumer's move toward mobile streaming apps, the demand for radio simply isn't there." But FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate says radio-enabled smartphones could sure come in handy during times of emergency. So, is it irresponsible not to activate the FM chips? And should it's-the-app-way-or-the-highway Apple follow Microsoft's lead and make no-static-at-all FM available on iPhones?
Communications

Norway Will Switch Off FM Radio In 2017 293

Posted by timothy
from the video-sought-by-police-for-questioning dept.
New submitter titten writes The Norwegian Ministry of Culture has announced that the transition to DAB will be completed in 2017. This means that Norway, as the first country in the world to do so, has decided to switch off the FM network. Norway began the transition to DAB in 1995. In recent years two national and several local DAB-networks has been established. 56 per cent of radio listeners use digital radio every day. 55 per cent of households have at least one DAB radio, according to Digitalradio survey by TNS Gallup, continuously measuring the Norwegian`s digital radio habits.
Security

Calling Out a GAO Report That Says In-Flight Wi-Fi Lets Hackers Access Avionics 113

Posted by timothy
from the this-postcard-is-just-an-atom-bomb dept.
An anonymous reader writes A new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) warns that in-flight W-Fi, including wireless entertainment and internet-based cockpit communications, may allow hackers to gain remote access to avionics systems and take over navigation. At the same time, a cyber expert and pilot called the report "deceiving" and said that "To imply that because IP is used for in-flight WiFi and also on the avionics networks means that you can automatically take over the avionics network makes about as much sense as saying you can take over the jet engines because they breathe air like the passengers and there is no air gap between passengers who touch the plane and the engines which are attached to the plane."
Transportation

GAO Warns FAA of Hacking Threat To Airliners 78

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-agile-enough-to-respond dept.
chicksdaddy writes: A report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) warns that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration may be failing to address cyber security vulnerabilities that could allow remote attacks on avionics systems needed to keep the plane airborne. In a report issued Tuesday (PDF), the GAO said, "significant security-control weaknesses remain that threaten the agency's ability to ensure the safe and uninterrupted operation of the national airspace system." Among those: a lack of clear certification for aircraft airworthy readiness that encompasses cyber security protections. That lapse could allow planes to fly with remotely exploitable vulnerabilities that could affect aircraft controls and guidance systems.

The GAO report did not provide details of any specific vulnerability affecting any specific aircraft. Rather, GAO cited FAA personnel and experts, saying that the possibility exists that "unauthorized individuals might access and compromise aircraft avionics systems," in part by moving between Internet-connected in-flight entertainment systems and critical avionics systems in the aircraft cabin.

Security researchers have long warned that hackers could jump from in-flight entertainment systems in the passenger cabin to cockpit avionics systems if airlines did not take proper precautions, such as so-called "air gapping" the networks. At last year's Black Hat Briefings, researcher Ruben Santamarta of IOActive demonstrated a method of hacking the satellite communications equipment on passenger jets through their WiFi and inflight entertainment systems.
The Internet

Republicans Introduce a Bill To Overturn Net Neutrality 441

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-neutrality dept.
New submitter grimmjeeper writes: IDG News reports, "A group of Republican lawmakers has introduced a bill that would invalidate the U.S. Federal Communications Commission's recently passed net neutrality rules. The legislation (PDF), introduced by Representative Doug Collins, a Georgia Republican, is called a resolution of disapproval, a move that allows Congress to review new federal regulations from government agencies, using an expedited legislative process."

This move should come as little surprise to anyone. While the main battle in getting net neutrality has been won, the war is far from over.
The legislation was only proposed now because the FCC's net neutrality rules were just published in the Federal Register today. In addition to the legislation, a new lawsuit was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by USTelecom, a trade group representing ISPs.
The Internet

Researchers Developing An Algorithm That Can Detect Internet Trolls 279

Posted by samzenpus
from the don't-forget-the-fire dept.
An anonymous reader writes Researchers at Cornell University claim to be able to identify a forum or comment-thread troll within the first ten posts after the user joins with more than 80% accuracy, leading the way to the possibility of methods to automatically ban persistently anti-social posters. The study observed 10,000 new users at cnn.com, breitbart.com and ign.com, and characterizes an FBU (Future Banned User) as entering a new community with below-average literacy or communications skill, and that the low standard is likely to drop shortly before a permanent ban. It also observes that higher rates of community intolerance are likely to foster the anti-social behavior and speed the ban.
Encryption

U.S. Gov't Grapples With Clash Between Privacy, Security 134

Posted by Soulskill
from the politicians-who-don't-know-which-way-the-wind-is-blowing dept.
schwit1 writes: WaPo: "For months, federal law enforcement agencies and industry have been deadlocked on a highly contentious issue: Should tech companies be obliged to guarantee U.S. government access to encrypted data on smartphones and other digital devices, and is that even possible without compromising the security of law-abiding customers?"

NSA director Adm. Michael S. Rogers wants to require technology companies to create a digital key that could open any smartphone or other locked device to obtain text messages or photos, but divide the key into pieces so that no one person or agency alone could decide to use it. But progress is nonexistent:

"The odds of passing a new law appear slim, given a divided Congress and the increased attention to privacy in the aftermath of leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. There are bills pending to ban government back doors into communications devices. So far, there is no legislation proposed by the government or lawmakers to require Internet and tech firms to make their services and devices wiretap-ready."
Input Devices

Finding an Optimal Keyboard Layout For Swype 140

Posted by Soulskill
from the designed-for-2015 dept.
New submitter Analog24 writes: The QWERTY keyboard was not designed with modern touchscreen usage in mind, especially when it comes to swype texting. A recent study attempted to optimize the standard keyboard layout to minimize the number of swype errors. The result was a new layout that reduces the rate of swipe interpretation mistakes by 50.1% compared to the QWERTY keyboard.
Communications

Microsoft: Feds Are 'Rewriting' the Law To Obtain Emails Overseas 100

Posted by Soulskill
from the get-out-of-my-inbox dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The Electronic Communications Privacy Act was written in 1986. It's incredibly outdated, yet it still governs many internet-related rights for U.S. citizens. Microsoft has now challenged Congress to update the legislation for how online communications work in 2015. The company is currently embroiled in a legal battle with the government over a court order to release emails stored in a foreign country to U.S. authorities. In a new legal brief (PDF), Microsoft says, "For an argument that purports to rest on the 'explicit text of the statute,' the Government rewrites an awful lot of it. Congress never intended to reach, nor even anticipated, private communications stored in a foreign country when it enacted [the ECPA]." In an accompanying blog post, Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith wrote, "Until U.S. law is rewritten, we believe that the court in our case should honor well-established precedents that limit the government's reach from extending beyond U.S. borders. ... To the contrary, it is clear Congress's intent was to ensure that your digital information is afforded the same legal protections as your physical documents and correspondence, a principle we at Microsoft believe should be preserved."
Crime

AT&T Call Centers Sold Mobile Customer Information To Criminals 92

Posted by samzenpus
from the was-that-wrong? dept.
itwbennett writes Employees at three call centers in Mexico, Colombia and the Philippines sold hundreds of thousands of AT&T customer records, including names and Social Security numbers, to criminals who attempted to use the customer information to unlock stolen mobile phones, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission said. AT&T has agreed to pay a $25 million civil penalty, which is the largest related to a data breach and customer privacy in the FCC's history.
Communications

Ask Slashdot: What Would a Constructed Language Have To Be To Replace English? 626

Posted by Soulskill
from the good-source-control-and-versioning dept.
Loren Chorley writes: The idea of constructing a language capable of replacing English has fascinated me for a long time. I'd like to start a project with some of my own ideas and anyone who's interested, but I'd really like to hear what the Slashdot community thinks on the topic first. Taking for granted that actually replacing English is highly unlikely, what characteristics would the new language need? More specifically: How could the language be made as easy as possible to learn coming from any linguistic background? How could interest in the language be fostered in as many people as possible? What sort of grammar would you choose and why? How would you build words and how would you select meanings for them, and why? What sounds and letters (and script(s)) would you choose? How important is simplicity and brevity? How important are aesthetics (and what makes a language aesthetic)? What other factors could be important to consider, and what other things would you like to see in such a language?
Security

Anonabox Recalls Hundreds of Insecure 'Privacy' Routers 50

Posted by Soulskill
from the less-anona-and-more-box dept.
Sparrowvsrevolution writes: It turns out all those critics of the controversial Tor router project Anonabox might have been on to something. Late last month, Anonabox began contacting the first round of customers who bought its tiny, $100 privacy gadget to warn them of serious security flaws in the device, and to offer to ship them a more secure replacement free of charge. While the miniature routers do direct all of a user's Internet traffic over Tor as promised, the company says that its first batch lacked basic password protection, with no way to keep out unwanted users in Wi-Fi range. And worse yet, the faulty Anonaboxes use the hardcoded root password 'admin,' which allows any of those Wi-Fi intruders to completely hijack the device, snooping on or recording all of a user's traffic.

Anonabox's parent company, Sochutel, says that only 350 of the devices lacked that password protection, and that it's fixed the gaping security oversights in newer version of the router.

The initial security criticisms of Anonabox helped to convince Kickstarter to freeze the proejct's $600,000 crowdfunding campaign in October. But Anonabox relaunched on Indiegogo and was later acquired by the tech firm Sochutel. Sochutel claims that the security flaws in the routers developed prior to its acquisition of Anonabox were out of its control, and that it's now hiring outside auditors to check its products' security.