An anonymous reader writes "For all of those wondering about China's massive high speed rail network, it costs some serious cash. Running high speed lines across the nation is expensive — to the tune of $100 billion dollars a year. This covers the cost to maintain the network, build it, and pay all of the staff. The problem is, corruption has reared its ugly head. The network itself has had its share of problems, with people dying as a result. There is also the problem that many of Chinese poor make so little money they can't afford to ride it. The sad fact is that so much money is being spent, no one can even keep count."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
hypnosec writes "The Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security has proposed some rather over the line measures and wants to extend such powers to the police that would allow them to break into computers and mobile phones in any part of the world. According to the proposal (PDF in Dutch), dated October 15, the ministry has asked for powers that would allow police to not only break into computers, but also allow them to install spyware, search for data in those computers, and destroy data. As explained by digital rights group 'Bits of Freedom,' which obtained the copy of the proposal, if the Dutch police get such powers, the security of computer users would be lessened and there will be a 'perverse incentive to keep information security weak.'"
OverTheGeicoE writes "If you're concerned about possible health effects from TSA's X-ray body scanners, you might be pleased to learn that TSA is making changes. TSA is removing X-ray body scanners from major airports including Los Angeles International, Boston's Logan, Chicago's O'Hare, and New York City's JFK. Then again, these changes might not please you at all, because they are not mothballing the offending devices. No, they are instead moving them to smaller airports like the one in Mesa, AZ. Is this progress, or is TSA just moving potentially dangerous scanners from 'Blue' areas to 'Red' ones right before a presidential election?"
Yesterday we ran a video interview with Eben Moglen, who according to Wikipedia, "is a professor of law and legal history at Columbia University, and is the founder, Director-Counsel and Chairman of [the] Software Freedom Law Center." And as we also said yesterday, since 2011 he's been working with FreedomBox, a project working toward "a personal server running a free software operating system, with free applications designed to create and preserve personal privacy." Prof. Moglen is also one of the most polished speakers anywhere, on any topic, in our opinion. So please enjoy this second video of him speaking to (and answering questions from) Slashdot readers.
An anonymous reader sends this quote from the Chronicle of Higher Education: "[Minnesota's] Office of Higher Education has informed the popular provider of massive open online courses, or MOOC's, that Coursera is unwelcome in the state because it never got permission to operate there. It's unclear how the law could be enforced when the content is freely available on the Web, but Coursera updated its Terms of Service to include the following caution: 'Notice for Minnesota Users: Coursera has been informed by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education that under Minnesota Statutes (136A.61 to 136A.71), a university cannot offer online courses to Minnesota residents unless the university has received authorization from the State of Minnesota to do so. If you are a resident of Minnesota, you agree that either (1) you will not take courses on Coursera, or (2) for each class that you take, the majority of work you do for the class will be done from outside the State of Minnesota.' Tricia Grimes, a policy analyst for the state's Office of Higher Education, said letters had been sent to all postsecondary institutions known to be offering courses in Minnesota."
coondoggie writes "It's not clear if the Federal Trade Commission is throwing up its hands at the problem or just wants some new ideas about how to combat it, but the agency is now offering $50,000 to anyone who can create what it calls an innovative way to block illegal commercial robocalls on landlines and mobile phones."
schliz writes "This week, Australia's Attorney-General released a discussion paper about introducing laws that would force companies to notify members of the public any time personal information about that customer falls into the wrong hands. California introduced similar mandatory data breach notification laws in 2003, but Australian privacy advocates are now opposing the move, saying it's a decade too late."
another random user writes in with a BBC story about Google's displeasure with proposed French plans to make search engines pay for content. "Google has threatened to exclude French media sites from search results if France goes ahead with plans to make search engines pay for content. In a letter sent to several ministerial offices, Google said such a law 'would threaten its very existence.' French newspaper publishers have been pushing for the law, saying it is unfair that Google receives advertising revenue from searches for news. French Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti also favors the idea. She told a parliamentary commission it was 'a tool that it seems important to me to develop.'"
Eben Moglen, says Wikipedia, "is a professor of law and legal history at Columbia University, and is the founder, Director-Counsel and Chairman of [the] Software Freedom Law Center, whose client list includes numerous pro bono clients, such as the Free Software Foundation." And if that wasn't enough, since 2011 he's been working with FreedomBox, a project working toward "a personal server running a free software operating system, with free applications designed to create and preserve personal privacy." Prof. Moglen is also one of the most polished speakers anywhere, on any topic, ever. That's why, instead of editing this interview Timothy Lord did with him, we simply cut it in half, removed a little introductory and end conversation, and let the Professor roll on. The second half of this interview will run tomorrow. It's at least as worthwhile as the first half, especially if you are interested in Free Software.
First time accepted submitter connor4312 writes "Apple got caught with its hand in the cookie jar when privacy experts protested the use of a universal device identifier, or UDID, to track the online preferences of iPhone and iPad users. Enough is enough, right? Well, maybe not. It looks like device tracking is back with iOS 6, courtesy of a new tracking technology: IDFA, or identifier for advertisers."
First time accepted submitter Guru80 writes "PayPal recently posted a new Policy Update which includes changes to the PayPal User Agreement. The update to the User Agreement is effective November 1, 2012 and contains several changes, including changes that affect how claims you and PayPal have against each other are resolved. You will, with limited exception, be required to submit claims you have against PayPal to binding and final arbitration, unless you opt out of the Agreement to Arbitrate (Section 14.3) by December 1, 2012. Unless you opt out: (1) you will only be permitted to pursue claims against PayPal on an individual basis, not as a plaintiff or class member in any class or representative action or proceeding and (2) you will only be permitted to seek relief (including monetary, injunctive, and declaratory relief) on an individual basis. With so many privacy policies changing to include such wording, does it really hold any weight if some obscure and buried opt-out option isn't checked?"
judgecorp writes "Twitter has censored a neo-Nazi group, blocking Besseres Hannover (Better Hannover), a group accused of promoting race hate. This is the first time Twitter has used its power of blocking users in specific countries, announced back in January. Although blocked in Germany, the group is visible to the rest of the world." Update: 10/18 14:46 GMT by T : Note, that's Twitter doing the blocking, not Google, as it appeared originally. HT to reader eldavojohn.
sfcrazy writes "Apple has lost is appeal in a UK court against Samsung's Galaxy Tab. The court of appeals has upheld its previous judgment that Samsung did not infringe on any Apple design. According to the order Apple will have to run an ads in leading UK newspapers as well its own website stating that Samsung did not infringes its products. To ensure that the ad is visible the court also ordered that the text of the ad must not be in a font size smaller than Ariel 14. Apple will have to run the ad on its site for a period of one month."
WebMink writes "Knowing that its explosive special edition on China this week will be blocked by censorship, UK political magazine 'New Statesmen' has taken the unusual step of posting its own torrents of the PDF of the Mandarin edition on the magazine. Looking at the content of the issue they are probably right to expect censorship — there's an article from the former newspaper editor Cheng Yizhong about media censorship, and Ai Weiwei interviews a member of the '50 cent party' — a commenter paid half a dollar every time he derails an online debate in China. 'Essentially, these people are paid internet trolls; their job is to stop any meaningful discussion online about the government.'" Specifically, the magazine has made available this issue as a PDF and also as a torrent (magnet link).
An anonymous reader writes "'We're able to view just everything that they do,' Bill Diggins, U.S. chief for the Verizon Wireless marketing initiative, told an industry conference earlier this year. 'And that's really where data is going today. Data is the new oil.' From the article: 'The company this month began offering reports to marketers showing what Verizon subscribers are doing on their phones and other mobile devices, including what iOS and Android apps are in use in which locations. Verizon says it may link the data to third-party databases with information about customers' gender, age, and even details such as "sports enthusiast, frequent diner or pet owner."'"
First time accepted submitter kandelar writes "PBS recently ran a story about how some scientists are using human hair to trace where a person has been. The combinations of different isotopes in water make for somewhat unique signatures from place to place. These isotopes get placed in growing hair strands which can then be traced back to identify where a person has been."
another random user sends word that a set of newly-granted Apple patents published by the USPTO includes an alternative to the near field communication (NFC) technology that has begun to pop up in mobile devices. From the article: "Apple has received a Granted Patent relating to techniques for triggering a process within a portable electronic device that identifies itself for purposes of establishing communications with another device that is in proximity. At the moment, NFC is the technology that's getting all of the attention lately in respect to making it easier for two mobile devices to share information. While Apple is likewise doing research with NFC, they're also working with an alternate methodology for which they've now gained a patent for. In accordance with Apple's newly granted patent, a method for network device discovery monitors a compass output in a portable electronic device. As the portable device and an external device come closer to each other, a magnetic field signature is computed based on the monitored compass output. A determination is then made as to whether the computed signature could be associated with or implies that a previously defined type of electronic device (with which a network device discovery process can be conducted) is in close proximity. In other words, as the two devices come closer to each other, their respective magnetic characteristics cause the compass output to change in a way that implies that a network device discovery process should be initiated between the two devices."
beaverdownunder writes "A former police officer in the Australian state of Victoria has called on law enforcement to prosecute creators of hate pages on social media following Facebook's decision to close down a page mocking Jill Meagher, the 29-year-old Melbourne woman abducted and killed last month. Susan McLean, who spent 27 years with Victoria Police before launching her cyber safety consultancy three years ago, said police have the ability to prosecute the creators of pages that are in breach of Australian laws but appear to be unwilling to use it. 'There have been many cases in the UK where these people have been hunted down and charged and jailed. We need to do that in Australia.' Under section 474.17 of the Commonwealth Crimes Act, it is an offense to use 'a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offense,' punishable by three years in jail."
Frequent contributor Bennett Haselton writes: After I sent 10 new proxy sites to my (confirmed-opt-in) mailing list, two of them ended up on one of Spamhaus's blacklists, and as a result, all 10 domains were disabled by the domain registrar, so the sites disappeared from the Web. Did you even know this could happen?"
concealment writes with news that Amazon's Jeff Bezos has called for new legislation from governments to end abuse of the patent system. He said, 'Patents are supposed to encourage innovation and we're starting to be in a world where they might start to stifle innovation. Governments may need to look at the patent system and see if those laws need to be modified because I don't think some of these battles are healthy for society.' His comments are from an interview with the UK's Metro. Bezos was also optimistic about the future of the private space industry: "If private companies can start to generate profits from this kind of activity then you’ll start to see the flywheel spin more rapidly and we’ll make more progress, because I really do think we want to live in a civilization where millions of people are living and working in space."