An anonymous reader writes "Monday, the Supreme Court will hear a case on the validity of breast cancer gene patents. The court has a chance to end human gene patents after three decades. From the article: 'Since the 1980s, patent lawyers have been claiming pieces of humanity's genetic code. The United States Patent and Trademark Office has granted thousands of gene patents. The Federal Circuit, the court that hears all patent appeals, has consistently ruled such patents are legal. But the judicial winds have been shifting. The Supreme Court has never ruled on the legality of gene patents. And recently, the Supreme Court has grown increasingly skeptical of the Federal Circuit's patent-friendly jurisprudence. Meanwhile, a growing number of researchers, health care providers, and public interest groups have raised concerns about the harms of gene patents. The American Civil Liberties Union estimates that more than 40 percent of genes are now patented. Those patents have created "patent thickets" that make it difficult for scientists to do genetic research and commercialize their results. Monopolies on genetic testing have raised prices and reduced patient options.'"
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
badger.foo writes "When you publicly assert that somebody sent spam, you need to ensure that your data is accurate. Your process needs to be simple and verifiable, and to compensate for any errors, you want your process to be transparent to the public with clear points of contact and line of responsibility. Here are some pointers from the operator of the bsdly.net greytrap-based blacklist."
An anonymous reader writes "Facebook on Friday released its Android launcher called Home. The company also updated its Facebook app, adding in new permissions to allow it to collect data about the apps you are running. Facebook has set up Home to interface with the main Facebook app on Android to do all the work. In fact, the main Facebook app features all the required permissions letting the Home app meekly state: 'THIS APPLICATION REQUIRES NO SPECIAL PERMISSIONS TO RUN.' As such, it’s the Facebook app that’s doing all the information collecting. It’s unclear, however, if it will do so even if Facebook Home is not installed. Facebook may simply be declaring all the permissions the Home launcher requires, meaning the app only starts collecting data if Home asks it to."
chamilto0516 writes "Twenty-five miles due south of Salt Lake City, a massive construction project is nearing completion. The heavily secured site belongs to the National Security Agency. The NSA says the Utah Data Center is a facility for the intelligence community that will have a major focus on cyber security. Some published reports suggest it could hold 5 zettabytes of data. Asked if the Utah Data Center would hold the data of American citizens, Alexander [director of the NSA] said, 'No...we don't hold data on U.S. citizens,' adding that the NSA staff 'take protecting your civil liberties and privacy as the most important thing that they do, and securing this nation.' But critics, including former NSA employees, say the data center is front and center in the debate over liberty, security and privacy." According to University of Utah computing professor Matthew Might, one thing is clear about the Utah Data Center, it means good paying jobs. "The federal government is giving money to the U.'s programming department to develop jobs to fill the NSA building," he says.
An anonymous reader writes "Australia's premiere government research organization, the CSIRO, has been rocked by allegations of corruption including: dishonesty with 60 top-class scientists bullied or fired, fraud against drug giant Novartis, and illegally using intellectual property, faking documents and unreliable testimony to judicial officers. CSIRO boss Megan Clark has refused to discipline the staff responsible and the federal police don't want to get involved. Victims are unimpressed and former CSIRO scientists are calling for an inquiry."
houghi writes "The defense lawyers of Guantanamo prisoners have been ordered to stop using government computers for sensitive information due to security and confidentiality concerns. One News from New Zealand says 'In another case, system administrators were searching files at prosecutors' request and were able to access more than 500,000 defense files, including confidential attorney-client communications.' Due to all this, hearings were postponed."
garymortimer writes "SHEPHERD-MIL, a UAV which looks like a native bird with the same flight performance, will be featured at HOMSEC 2013. This UAV is characterized by the glide-ratio and noiseless motor that make it invisible, silent and unobtrusive in sensitive missions. SHEPHERD-MIL is equipped with cameras and geolocation software. The system is especially suitable for border surveillance missions, firefighting, and anti-drug trafficking operations amongst others."
An anonymous reader writes "Google Chairman Eric Schmidt is urging lawmakers to regulate the use of unmanned aircraft by civilians — and quickly. He posed this hypothetical situation to The Guardian: 'You're having a dispute with your neighbor. How would you feel if your neighbor went over and bought a commercial observation drone that they can launch from their backyard. It just flies over your house all day. How would you feel about it?' Schmidt went on to bring up military and terrorist concerns. 'I'm not going to pass judgment on whether armies should exist, but I would prefer to not spread and democratize the ability to fight war to every single human being. It's got to be regulated... It's one thing for governments, who have some legitimacy in what they're doing, but have other people doing it... it's not going to happen.'"
hypnosec writes "The UK Government will be examining whether free to download apps are putting unfair pressure on kids to pay up for additional content within the game through in-app purchases. Office of Fair Trading (OFT), UK, will be carrying out the investigation of games that include 'commercially aggressive' in-app purchases after a number of cases have been reported whereby parents have incurred huge bills after their kids have spent huge amounts on in-app purchases."
An anonymous reader writes "Two hundred hackers from around the world gathered at a Miami Beach hotel Thursday and Friday for the Infiltrate Security conference, which focuses on systems hacking from the 'offensive' perspective (with slides). In a keynote address, Stephen Watt, who served two years in prison for writing the software used by his friend Alberto Gonzalez to steal millions of credit card numbers from TJX, Hannaford and other retailers, acknowledges he was a 'black hat' but denies that he was directly involved in TJX or any other specific job. Watt says his TCP sniffer logged critical data from a specified range of ports, which was then encrypted and uploaded to a remote server. Brad 'RenderMan' Haines gave a presentation on vulnerabilities of the Air Traffic Control system, including the FAA's 'NextGen' system which apparently carries forward the same weakness of unencrypted, unauthenticated location data passed between airplanes and control towers. Regarding the recent potential exploits publicized by Spanish researcher Hugo Teso, Haines says he pointed out similar to the FAA and its Canadian counterpart a year ago, but received only perfunctory response."
Last summer we followed the odd case of lawyer Charles Carreon, as he went after Matthew Inman, creator of The Oatmeal webcomic, with legal threats. Carreon had been hired by FunnyJunk, a website Inman accused of stealing his comics. Carreon demanded $20,000 in compensation for Inman's "false accusations." Inman declined, and then used the publicity to solicit over $200,000 in donations, which he gave to charity after sending Carreon photographs. Carreon dropped the suit against Inman, but the saga continued. A satirical website was set up about Carreon, which caused him to invoke the legal system again. The article documents the absurdities, which included further legal action and a song. Now, however, Carreon is reaping what he has sown; a judge has ordered him to pay over $46,000 for his role in the legal circus.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Death is Nature's way of telling you it's time to get off the Internet. But when you finally shuffle off this mortal coil, you leave something behind: all your email and other digital assets. That's a huge problem not only for the deceased — once you're on the wrong side of the Great Beyond, there's no way to delete those incriminating messages — but also any relatives who might want to access your (former) life. And it's a problem Google's seeking to solve with the new Inactive Account Manager. (In an April 11 blog posting, Google product manager Andreas Tuerk suggested that Inactive Account Manager wasn't a 'great name' for the product, but maybe the company shouldn't be so hard on itself: it's a way better name than, say, Google Death Dashboard.) Inactive Account Manager will delete your Google-related data (Gmail, etc.) after a set amount of time, or else send that data to 'trusted contacts' you set up before your untimely demise. Which raises an interesting, semi-Google-related question: What do you want to have happen to your data after you die? Give it to loved ones, or have an automated system nuke it all? Should more companies that host email and data offer plans like Inactive Account Manager?"
redletterdave writes "TechNet, the trade association representing and led by dozens of prominent technology companies including Google, Apple and Facebook, has formally come out in support of CISPA, sending a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives. The letter said: 'We commend the committee for providing liability protections to companies participating in voluntary information-sharing and applaud the committee's efforts to work with a wide range of stakeholders to address issues such as strengthening privacy protections. As the legislative process unfolds, we look forward to continuing the dialogue with you and your colleagues on further privacy protections, including discussions on the role of a civilian interface for information sharing.'" The White House won't support the bill in its current form, but they plan to work with legislators on a compromise. The current text of the bill is available online.
anderzole writes "The FDA recently gave clearance to Vital Art and Science Inc. (VAS) to market software which enables people with degenerative eye conditions such as macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy to monitor their vision at home with their iPhone. The software, which is called myVisionTrack, isn't a replacement for regular visits to the doctor, but rather allows patients to keep tabs on their vision in between visits with eye care professionals. VAS notes that retinal diseases affect approximately 40 million individuals worldwide and 13 million in the United States. While treatments have been developed to deal with degenerative eye conditions, early diagnosis is of paramount importance — which is why the software is so important."
Peter Eckersley writes "At the EFF we were recently contacted by the organisers of the Melbourne Free University (MFU), an Australian community education group, whose website had been unreachable from a number of Australian ISPs since the 4th of April. It turns out that the IP address of MFU's virtual host has been black-holed by several Australian networks; there is suggestive but not conclusive evidence that this is a result of some sort of government request or order. It is possible that MFU and 1200 other sites that use that IP address are the victims of a block that was put in place for some other reason. Further technical analysis and commentary is in our blog post."
jfruh writes "Faced with an Apple vs. Motorola lawsuit that involves 180 claims and counterclaims across 12 patents, a judge in Florida has thrown up his hands and accused both companies of acting in bad faith. Claiming the parties' were engaged in 'obstreperous and cantankerous conduct', he said that the lawsuit was part of 'a business strategy that appears to have no end.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Mark Zuckerberg, along with other notables such as Google's Eric Schmidt, Yahoo's Marissa Mayer and Reid Hoffman, co-founder of Linkedin, has launched a new immigration reform lobbying group called FWD.us. In an editorial in the Washington Post, Zuckerberg claims that immigrants are the key to a future knowledge-based economy in a United States which currently has 'a strange immigration policy for a nation of immigrants.' As expected, they are calling for more of the controversial H-1B visas which reached their maximum limit in less than a week this year, but those aren't the only things they're looking to change."
itwbennett writes "Privacy blogger Dan Tynan opted out of data aggregator RapLeaf back in 2010 — and wrote about it. At the time, opting out seemed to work well enough. But fast forward a couple of years and ... they're baaaack. While testing a privacy service called Safe Shepherd, Tynan discovered that 'not only [is he] not opted out of RapLeaf's database, they've also gathered far more information about [him] than they had before.' And it's a pretty good bet some of the data came from Facebook apps, which is a practice that the company was slapped for in 2010 and claimed to no longer do."
Nerval's Lobster writes "T-Platforms, which manufactured the fastest supercomputer in Russia (and twenty-sixth fastest in the world), has been placed on the IT equivalent of the no-fly list. In March, the U.S. Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security added T-Platforms' businesses in Germany, Russia and Taiwan to the 'Entity List,' which includes those believed to be acting contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States. U.S. IT companies are essentially banned from doing business with T-Platforms, especially with regards to HPC hardware such as microprocessors, which could be used for what the government views as illegal purposes. The rule, discovered by HPCWire, was published in March. According to the rule, Commerce's End-User Review Committee (ERC) believes that T-Platforms may be assisting the Russian government and military conduct nuclear research — which, given historical tensions between the two countries, apparently falls outside the bounds of permitted use. An email address that T-Platforms listed for its German office bounced, and Slashdot was unable to reach executives at its Russian headquarters for comment."
retroworks writes "I ignored the warning posted here on Slashdot on March 23. Surely someone was setting up some April Fools day hoax. But the Governor has now signed the bill. Whose cold dead hands will they pry the computer mice out of?" Note: while this might not change your opinion of the Florida law or other things it might lead to, it is aimed specifically at the kind of "Internet cafe" where the "Internet" part is essentially just a portal to online gambling, rather than at conventional Internet cafes.