Transportation

Amazon Proposes Dedicated Airspace For Drones 105 105

An anonymous reader writes: Amazon has published two new position papers which lay out its vision for future drone regulation. Under Amazon's plan, altitudes under 200ft would be reserved for basic hobbyist drones and those used for things like videography and inspection. Altitudes between 200ft and 400ft would be designated for "well-equipped vehicles" capable of operating autonomously out of line of sight. They would need sophisticated GPS tracking, a stable data uplink, communications capabilities with other drones, and sensors to avoid collisions. This, of course, is where Amazon would want to operate its drone delivery fleet. From 400ft to 500ft would be a no-fly zone buffer between the drone airspace and integrated airspace. Amazon's plan also makes room for "predefined low-risk areas," where hobbyists and other low-tech drones can fly higher than the 200ft ceiling. "Additionally, it is Amazon's view that air traffic management operations should follow a 'managed by exception' approach. This means operators are always aware of what the fleet is doing, yet they only intervene in significant off-nominal cases."
AT&T

FCC Approves AT&T's DirecTV Purchase 100 100

An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has granted approval to AT&T to purchase DirecTV for $48.5 billion. AT&T will become the largest provider of cable or satellite TV in the U.S., with 26.4 million subscribers. "Adding TV customers gives AT&T more power to negotiate with big media companies over prices for those channels. The deal also combines a nationwide satellite TV service, the country's largest, with the No. 2 nationwide wireless network as time spent on mobile devices increases." The FCC did put conditions on the deal: AT&T must make fiber internet service available to 12.5 million people, offer cheaper internet plans to low-income customers, and not mess with the internet traffic of online video competitors.
The Internet

Secret Service Agents Stake Out the Ugliest Corners of the Internet 169 169

HughPickens.com writes: Josephine Wolff reports at The Atlantic that Secret Service Internet Threat Desk is a group of agents tasked with identifying and assessing online threats to the president and his family. The first part of this mission — finding threats — is in many ways made easier by the Internet: all you have to do is search! Pulling up every tweet which uses the words "Obama" and "assassinate" takes mere seconds, and the Secret Service has tried to make it easier for people to draw threats to its attention by setting up its own Twitter handle, @secretservice, for users to report threatening messages to. The difficulty is trying to figure out which ones should be taken seriously.

The Secret Service categorizes all threats, online and offline alike, into one of three categories. Class 3 threats are considered the most serious, and require agents to interview the individual who issued the threat and any acquaintances to determine whether that person really has the capability to carry out the threat. Class 2 threats are considered to be serious but issued by people incapable of actually follow up on their intentions, either because they are in jail or located at a great distance from the president. And Class 1 threats are those that may seem serious at first, but are determined not to be. The overall number of threats directed at the first family that require investigation has stayed relatively steady at about 10 per day — except for the period when Obama was first elected, when the Secret Service had to follow up on roughly 50 threats per day. "That includes threats on Twitter," says Ronald Kessler, author of In the President's Secret Service. "It makes no difference to [the Secret Service] how a threat is communicated. They can't take that chance of assuming that because it's on Twitter it's less serious."
Communications

Criminal Inquiry Sought Over Hillary Clinton's Personal Email Server 427 427

cold fjord writes: The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Inspectors General from the State Department and intelligence agencies have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a personal email server while she was U.S. Secretary of State. At issue is the possible mishandling of sensitive government information. Dozens of the emails provided by Hillary Clinton have been retroactively classified as part of the review of her emails as they are screened for public release. So far 3,000 of 55,000 emails have been released. The inspectors general found hundreds of potentially classified emails. "The Justice Department has not decided if it will open an investigation, senior officials said. ... The inspectors general also criticized the State Department for its handling of sensitive information, particularly its reliance on retired senior Foreign Service officers to decide if information should be classified, and for not consulting with the intelligence agencies about its determinations."
Mars

Interviews: Shaun Moss Answers Your Questions About Mars and Space Exploration 48 48

Recently the founder of the Mars Settlement Research Organization and author of The International Mars Research Station Shaun Moss agreed to sit down and answer any questions you had about space exploration and colonizing Mars. Below you will find his answers to your questions.
Privacy

US Court: 'Pocket-Dialed' Calls Are Not Private 179 179

itwbennett writes: In a case of a pocket-dialed call, a conscientious secretary, and sensitive personnel issues, a federal appeals court in Ohio has ruled pocket-dialers shouldn't have any expectation of privacy. 'Under the plain-view doctrine, if a homeowner neglects to cover a window with drapes, he would lose his reasonable expectation of privacy with respect to a viewer looking into the window from outside of his property,' the court said. The same applies to pocket-dialed calls, according to the court. If a person doesn't take reasonable steps to keep their call private, their communications are not protected by the Wiretap Act.
Privacy

FCC CIO: Consumers Need Privacy Controls In the Internet of Everything Era 46 46

Lemeowski writes: Who is responsible for ensuring security and privacy in the age of the Internet of Things? As the number of Internet-connected devices explodes — Gartner estimates that 25 billion devices and objects will be connected to the Internet by 2020 — security and privacy issues are poised to affect everyone from families with connected refrigerators to grandparents with healthcare wearables. In this interview, U.S. Federal Communications Commission CIO David Bray says control should be put in the hands of individual consumers. Speaking in a personal capacity, Bray shares his learnings from a recent educational trip to Taiwan and Australia he took as part of an Eisenhower Fellowship: "A common idea Bray discussed with leaders during his Eisenhower Fellowship was that the interface for selecting privacy preferences should move away from individual Internet platforms and be put into the hands of individual consumers." Bray says it could be done through an open source agent that uses APIs to broker their privacy preferences on different platforms.
Communications

Comet Lander Falls Silent; Scientists Fear It Has Moved 36 36

vivaoporto writes: European scientists say the Philae comet lander fell silent on Monday, raising fears that it has moved again on its new home millions of miles from Earth. Over the last few weeks, Rosetta has been flying along the terminator plane of the comet in order to find the best location to communicate with Philae. However, over the weekend of 10-11 July, the star trackers struggled to lock on to stars at the closer distances. No contact has been made with Philae since 9 July. The data acquired at that time are being investigated by the lander team to try to better understand Philae's situation.

One possible explanation being discussed at DLR's Lander Control Center is that the position of Philae may have shifted slightly, perhaps by changing its orientation with respect to the surface in its current location. The lander is likely situated on uneven terrain, and even a slight change in its position – perhaps triggered by gas emission from the comet – could mean that its antenna position has also now changed with respect to its surroundings. This could have a knock-on effect as to the best position Rosetta needs to be in to establish a connection with the lander.

The current status of Philae remains uncertain and is a topic of on-going discussion and analysis. But in the meantime, further commands are being prepared and tested to allow Philae to re-commence operations. The lander team wants to try to activate a command block that is still stored in Philae's computer and which was already successfully performed after the lander's unplanned flight across to the surface to its final location. "Although the mission will now focus its scientific priority on the orbiter, Rosetta will continue attempting – up to and past perihelion – to obtain Philae science packets once a stable link has been acquired," adds Patrick Martin, Rosetta mission manager.
Security

How Developers Can Rebuild Trust On the Internet 65 65

snydeq writes: Public keys, trusted hardware, block chains — InfoWorld's Peter Wayner discusses tech tools developers should be investigating to help secure the Internet for all. 'The Internet is a pit of epistemological chaos. As Peter Steiner posited — and millions of chuckles peer-reviewed — in his famous New Yorker cartoon, there's no way to know if you're swapping packets with a dog or the bank that claims to safeguard your money,' Wayner writes. 'We may not be able to wave a wand and make the Internet perfect, but we can certainly add features to improve trust on the Internet. To that end, we offer the following nine ideas for bolstering a stronger sense of assurance that our data, privacy, and communications are secure.'
The Military

Report: US Military Is Wasting Millions On Satellite Comms 154 154

An anonymous reader writes: Fast information exchange is the key to a powerful military, and satellites have been an incredible boon to the commanders of modern fighting forces. But a new report from the Government Accountability Office says the U.S. military is vastly overpaying for its satellite communications, to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. They say the Department of Defense "has become increasingly reliant on commercial SATCOM to support ongoing U.S. military operations." You see, every part of the DoD is required to go through the Defense Information Systems Agency when procuring SATCOM equipment. The problem is that this process is incredibly slow, and fraught with red tape. Because of this, many in the military skip DISA and go straight to commercial providers — at a steep markup. The GAO estimates that this cost taxpayers around $45 million extra in a single year.
Communications

Reddit Will 'Hide' Vile Content After Policy Change 164 164

AmiMoJo writes: It will be more difficult to find "abhorrent" content posted to community news site Reddit, the site has announced. It stopped short of banning the material outright and instead will require users to log-in to access it. The company reiterated its existing complete bans of illegal content, including child abuse images and so-called "revenge porn." Chief executive and co-founder Steve Huffman told users: "We've spent the last few days here discussing, and agree that an approach like this allows us as a company to repudiate content we don't want to associate with the business, but gives individuals freedom to consume it if they choose."
Communications

Facebook Finally Ends XMPP Support For 3rd Party Chat 63 63

New submitter AcquaCow writes: Facebook has been pushing their Messenger app to all devices, requiring it for chatting with friends and family. It was announced last year that they would be ending their chat API and that the service would end on April 30, 2015. April passed, so did May, but the service remained functional. Finally, as of July 7th, 2015 it has not been possible to connect to chat.facebook.com. This doesn't seem to be an outage at this point. Looks like we have to wait for 3rd party messenger apps to adopt support for Facebook's Platform API v2 to allow new connectivity.
Communications

Reddit CEO: Site Is 'Not a Bastion of Free Speech,' Change Coming 581 581

An anonymous reader writes: Reddit's new CEO, cofounder Steve Huffman, has made a statement regarding the site's controversial racism- and abuse-related community "subreddits." He said, "we don't have any obligation to support them." In the brief announcement, Huffman explains that a robust content policy is something they have "been thinking about for quite some time" and is in the cards in the near future. It has also come to light via former CEO Yishan Wong that ousted interim boss Ellen Pao was one of the few defenders of the controversial subreddits, favoring a strategy of coexistence over the board's plan to eliminate problem communities. Wong blames another co-founder, Alexis Ohanian, for strategy changes that led to the firing of "Ask Me Anything" administrator Victoria Taylor whose unexpected absence crippled that component of the site.
Google

Encryption Rights Community: Protecting Our Rights To Strongly Encrypt 140 140

Lauren Weinstein writes: Around the world, dictatorships and democracies alike are attempting to restrict access to strong encryption that governments cannot decrypt or bypass on demand. Firms providing strong encryption to protect their users — such as Google and Apple — are now being accused by government spokesmen of "aiding" terrorism by not making their users' communications available to law enforcement on demand. Increasingly, governments that have proven incapable of protecting their own systems from data thefts are calling for easily abused, technologically impractical government "backdoors" in commercial encryption that would put all private communications at extreme risk of attacks. This new G+ community will discuss means and methods to protect our rights related to encrypted communications, unfettered by government efforts to undermine our privacy in this context.
Communications

For £70,000, You Might Be Able to Own an Enigma 65 65

In 2007, we mentioned the eBay sale of an Enigma machine; now, The Guardian reports that another one is to be auctioned off next week, with an expected selling price of about £70,000 (at this writing, that's about $108,000). According to the article, "The machine being offered for sale, which dates from 1943 and currently belongs to a European museum, will go under the hammer at Sotheby's in London on Tuesday." The new owner may have need of a restoration manual and some reproduction batteries.
The Internet

Undersea Cable Break Disrupts Life In Northern Mariana Islands 102 102

An anonymous reader writes: The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands experienced a devastating undersea cable break on Wednesday, with phone, Internet, SMS, banking services, the National Weather Service office, and airliners all being affected. The US territory depends on a single undersea fiber optic connection with Guam for its connectivity to the outside world (except for a backup microwave link, which was itself damaged during a recent storm). While services are in the process of being restored, this may be a prime example of the need for reliable backup systems in our "always connected" mindset.
Communications

ISRO Launches Record 5 UK Satellites, Part of a Long String of Successes 33 33

vasanth writes: India launched its heaviest commercial space mission ever with its polar rocket successfully putting five British satellites into the intended orbit after a flawless takeoff. With the overall mass of five satellites being about 1,440 kg, this launch becomes the "heaviest commercial mission" ever undertaken by ISRO and its commercial arm Antrix Corporation.

The workhorse of India's space program, the PSLV is on a run of 25 consecutive successful launches. First flown in 1993, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, or PSLV, is by far India's most-used rocket for orbital missions – accounting for thirty of the country's 46 launches to date including Friday's.
Privacy

Snoopers' Charter Could Mean Trouble For UK Users of Encryption-Capable Apps 174 174

An anonymous reader writes with a story at IB Times that speculates instant messaging apps which enable encrypted communications (including Snapchat, Facebook Messenger and iMessage) could be banned in the UK under the so-called Snooper's Charter now under consideration. The extent of the powers that the government would claim under the legislation is not yet clear, but as the linked article says, it "would allow security services like the Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ, and MI5, or Military Intelligence Section 5, to access instant messages sent between people to and from the country," and evidently "would give the government right to ban instant messaging apps that use end-to-end encryption." That might sound outlandish, but reflects a popular and politically safe sentiment: "'In our country, do we want to allow a means of communication between people which we cannot read? My answer to that question is: "No, we must not,"' [Prime Minister] Cameron said earlier this year following the Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris."
Government

The Guardian Looks At Hacking Team's Client List, Internal Communications 35 35

There are lots of small but interesting news bits to take from the data dump made available by Wikileaks of internal documents from the Italian security firm Hacking Team, such as that a police unit investigating major crimes in Florida, according to some of the leaked emails, was interested in purchasing some of the company's surveillance technology. The Guardian has taken a longer look at the company's business and tactics, and outlines many of their actual and potential clients, in particular their government customers, and skewers Hacking Team's claims "that it does not sell to repressive regimes."

Shades of Blue Coat.
Government

Amnesty International Seeks Explanation For 'Absolutely Shocking' Surveillance 112 112

Mark Wilson writes: A court recently revealed via email that the UK government had been spying on Amnesty International. GCHQ had put Amnesty under surveillance — despite this having previously been denied — and now the human rights organization wants answers.

In a letter to the UK Prime Minister David Cameron, Amnesty International asks for an explanation for the surveillance. The Investigatory Powers Tribunal's (IPT) email made it clear that GCHQ had been intercepting, accessing and storing communications, something that Amnesty International's Secretary General, Salil Shetty believes 'makes it vividly clear that mass surveillance has gone too far'.