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Government

President Obama To Nominate Cable and Wireless Lobbyist To Head FCC 304

Posted by Soulskill
from the break-out-the-tinfoil-hats dept.
symbolset writes "The Wall Street Journal and others are reporting that longtime telecomm lobbyist Tom Wheeler will be nominated to head the Federal Communications Commission. According to the LA Times: 'Wheeler is a former president of the National Cable Television Assn. and the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Assn. Despite his close ties to industries he will soon regulate, some media watchdogs are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. "As someone who has known Tom for years, I believe that he will be an independent, proactive chairman," said Gigi B. Sohn, president and chief executive of Public Knowledge, adding that she has "no doubt that Tom will have an open door and an open mind, and that ultimately his decisions will be based on what he genuinely believes is best for the public interest, not any particular industry."'"
United States

Variably Sunny: SCOTUS Allows Local FOIA Restrictions 86

Posted by timothy
from the like-a-slapp-in-reverse dept.
v3rgEz writes "The Supreme Court ruled Monday morning that states have the right to restrict public records access to locals, meaning one more hurdle to would-be muckrakers everywhere. Even in-state requesters are harmed: It means one more bureaucratic hurdle and another excuse for agencies to respond in paper rather than electronically. MuckRock has helped file requests in all 50 states — important for projects like the Drone Census — and we're looking for more volunteers to help ensure transparency from sea to shining sea. States impacted: Alabama; Arkansas; Delaware; Georgia; New Hampshire; New Jersey; Tennessee; and Virginia. If you live in one of the above, fill out a simple form and we can help ensure that sunshine isn't restricted depending on where you live."
Government

SOPA Creator Now In Charge of NSF Grants 307

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the dinosaurs-walked-with-man dept.
sl4shd0rk writes "Remember SOPA? If not, perhaps the name Lamar Smith will ring a bell. The U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology chose Smith to Chair as an overseer for the National Science Foundation's funding process. Smith is preparing a bill (PDF) which will require that every grant must benefit 'national defense,' be of 'utmost importance to society,' and not be 'duplicative of other research.' Duplicating research seems reasonable until you consider that this could also mean the NSF will not provide funding for research once someone has already provided results — manufactured or otherwise. A strange target since there is a process in place which makes an effort to limit duplicate funding already. The first and second requirements, even when read in context, still miss the point of basic research. If we were absolutely without-a-doubt-certain of the results, there would be little point in doing the research in the first place."
Education

German Ministry of Education Throws Away PCs For 190,000 € Due To Infection 347

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the burn-it-with-fire dept.
An anonymous reader writes "German IT magazine Heise reports (original in German) that the Ministry of Education in Schwerin had a Conficker virus infection on 170 machines, that was dealt with by simply throwing them on the trash. Other German authorities have now decided that 'the approach taken is not up to the principle of efficiency and economy' and that the 187,300 Euro invested in this radical form of virus removal were inappropriate. The ministry had earlier estimated the cost of cleaning their desktops and servers by more conventional means to 130,000 Euro."
EU

Spain's Extremadura Starts Move To GNU/Linux, Open Source 182

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the better-living-through-free-software dept.
jrepin writes "The government of Spain's autonomous region of Extremadura has begun the switch to open source of it desktop PCs. The government expects the majority of its 40,000 PCs to be migrated this year, the region's CIO Theodomir Cayetano announced on 18 April. Extremadura estimates that the move to open source will help save 30 million euro per year. Extremadura in 2012 completed the inventory of all the software applications and computers used by its civil servants. It also tailored a Linux distribution, Sysgobex, to meet the majority of requirements of government tasks. It has already migrated to open source some 150 PCs at several ministries, including those for Development, Culture and Employment."
Privacy

National Security Draft For Fining Tech Company "Noncompliance" On Wiretapping 165

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the only-criminals-use-pgp dept.
Jeremiah Cornelius writes with what looks to be part of CISPA III: Children of CISPA. From the article: "A government task force is preparing legislation that would pressure companies such as Facebook and Google to enable law enforcement officials to intercept online communications as they occur. ... 'The importance to us is pretty clear,' says Andrew Weissmann, the FBI's general counsel. 'We don't have the ability to go to court and say, "We need a court order to effectuate the intercept." Other countries have that.' Under the draft proposal, a court could levy a series of escalating fines, starting at tens of thousands of dollars, on firms that fail to comply with wiretap orders, according to persons who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. 'This proposal is a non-starter that would drive innovators overseas and cost American jobs,' said Greg Nojeim, a senior counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology. 'They might as well call it the Cyber Insecurity and Anti-Employment Act.'"
United Kingdom

UK Passes "Instagram Act" 230

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-your-pics-are-belong-to-us dept.
kodiaktau writes "The UK govt passed the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act which effectively makes so-called 'orphaned' content posted on social media sites public domain. Corporations now only need to have made a "diligent search" to find the owner of the content before use. From the article: 'The Act contains changes to UK copyright law which permit the commercial exploitation of images where information identifying the owner is missing, so-called "orphan works", by placing the work into what's known as "extended collective licensing" schemes. Since most digital images on the internet today are orphans - the metadata is missing or has been stripped by a large organization - millions of photographs and illustrations are swept into such schemes.'"
Piracy

Cracked Game Released To Get Back At Pirates 509

Posted by samzenpus
from the and-nothing-changed dept.
John Wagger writes "When Greenheart Games released their very first game, Game Dev Tycoon (for Mac, Windows and Linux) yesterday, they did something unusual and as far as I know unique. They released a cracked version of the game, minutes after opening their Store. The pirated copy was completely same as the real copy, except that after a few hours into the game, players started noticing widespread piracy of their games in the game development simulator."
Government

Lawyer Loses It In Letter To Patent Office 342

Posted by samzenpus
from the remain-calm dept.
bizwriter writes "Nobody would ever say that the world of patent law is a roller coaster of excitement but every now and then something interesting happens. Take this attorney who was angry over a patent examiner's rejection of his client's application. Here are a few snippets from the lawyers letter to the examiner: 'Are you drunk? No, seriously... are you drinking scotch and whiskey with a side of crack cocaine while you "examine" patent applications? (Heavy emphasis on the quotes.) Do you just mail merge rejection letters from your home? Is that what taxpayers are getting in exchange for your services? Have you even read the patent application? I'm curious. Because you either haven't read the patent application or are... (I don't want to say the "R" word) "Special."....Your job is not a joke, but you are turning it into a regular three ring circus. If you can't motivate yourself to take your job seriously, then you need to quit and let someone else take over what that actually wants to do the job right.'"
Earth

EPA Report That Lowers Methane-Leak Estimates Further Divides Fracking Camps 127

Posted by samzenpus
from the good-and-bad dept.
gmfeier writes "The EPA has significantly lowered its estimate of how much methane leaks during natural gas production. This has major implications for the fracking debate, but puts the EPA at odds with NOAA. From the article: 'The scope of the EPA's revision was vast. In a mid-April report on greenhouse emissions, the agency now says that tighter pollution controls instituted by the industry resulted in an average annual decrease of 41.6 million metric tons of methane emissions from 1990 through 2010, or more than 850 million metric tons overall. That's about a 20 percent reduction from previous estimates. The agency converts the methane emissions into their equivalent in carbon dioxide, following standard scientific practice.'"
Piracy

Icelandic Pirate Party Wins 3 seats In Parliament 92

Posted by samzenpus
from the scuttle-the-vote dept.
First time accepted submitter Thorhs writes "According to preliminary results (all votes counted, no official word yet) the Icelandic Pirate Party was able to secure 3 members of the national Parliament, the first PP to reach a national Parliament. Things were hairy election night, the PP lost all their MPs when they dropped below the 5% barrier 'needed' in the somewhat complex election system. Thankfully they managed to slip back up above, with 5.1% of the total votes. The old 'crash parties', the ones in charge before our epic financial crash, (Independent and Progressive parties) are the prime candidates to form a new government with just over 51% of the votes, getting 40 of 63 seats. RUV (Icelandic) has good coverage."
Piracy

MPAA Executive Tampers With Evidence In Piracy Case 156

Posted by Soulskill
from the fitting-the-narrative dept.
An anonymous reader writes "TorrentFreak reports on an internet piracy case from Finland, which saw four men found guilty and fined €45,000. During the trial, the defense attorney took note of inconsistencies in log files used as evidence against the men. An investigator for international recording industry organization IFPI revealed after questioning that the files had been tampered with. He said an MPAA executive was present when the evidence gathering took place, and altered the files to hide the identity of 'one of their spies.' 'No one from the MPAA informed the defense that the edits had been made and the tampering was revealed at the worst possible time – during the trial. This resulted in the prosecutor ordering a police investigation into the changes that had been made. "Police then proceeded by comparing the 'work copy' that the IFPI investigator produced with the material that police and the defending counsels had received. Police found out that the material had differences in over 10 files," Hietanen reveals.'"
Privacy

The Coming War Against Personal Photography and Video 221

Posted by Soulskill
from the funded-by-cloud-service-providers dept.
Lauren Weinstein writes "Are you ready for the imagery war — the war against personal photography and capturing of video? You'd better be. 'In some cities, like New York, the surveillance-industrial complex has its fangs deeply into government for the big bucks. It's there we heard the Police Commissioner — just hours ago, really — claim that "privacy is off the table." And of course, there's the rise of wearable cameras and microphones by law enforcement, generally bringing praise from people who assume they will reduce police misconduct, but also dangerously ignoring a host of critical questions. Will officers be able to choose when the video is running? How will the video be protected from tampering? How long will it be archived? Can it be demanded by courts? ... All of this and more is the gung-ho, government surveillance side of the equation. But what about the personal photography and video side? What of individual or corporate use of these technologies in public and private spaces? Will the same politicians promoting government surveillance in all its glory take a similar stance toward nongovernmental applications? Writing already on the wall suggests not. Inklings of the battles to come are already visible, if you know where to look."
Sci-Fi

Politician Wants Sci-fi To Be Mandatory In School 295

Posted by Soulskill
from the when-i-think-scifi,-i-think-rural-west-virginia dept.
Avantare writes "The first sci-fi novel I read was A Wrinkle in Time; the next was Dune. Why don't more people read these extraordinarily imaginative books? Delegate Ray Canterbury, who represents Greenbrier County in southern WV, wants to help with that. Canterbury introduced House Bill 2983, which reads, 'To stimulate interest in math and science among students in the public schools of this state, the State Board of Education shall prescribe minimum standards by which samples of grade-appropriate science fiction literature are integrated into the curriculum of existing reading, literature or other required courses for middle school and high school students.' For decades, walking around with a paperback sci-fi novel in your back pocket at school was the quickest way to find yourself permanently excluded from the cool-kid clique. But what if it wasn't just the geeks who read Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke? What if science fiction was mandatory reading for all students?"
Government

Former Microsoft Managers Now In Charge of Washington State's Budget 126

Posted by Soulskill
from the with-special-advisor-Clippy dept.
reifman writes "The Seattle Times reports, 'For the first time in state history, the Washington state budget is being written by Microsofties,' Representative Ross Hunter has 'tamed his Microsoft-style head-butting with a politician's trust-building.' Senator Andy Hill is 'the first Senate budget chair ever to request Excel files instead of paper spreadsheets.' 'The two must find $1 billion in new money for the state's K-12 system.' Unfortunately, The Times neglects to mention that Hunter and Microsoft are among those behind the deficit and cutbacks in the first place. Hunter helped pass the amnesty bill for Microsoft's $1.5 billion Nevada tax dodge ($4.37 billion if you include impacts from its lobbying to reduce tax rates) that contributed to $4 billion in cuts to K-12 and higher education since 2008. The state has resorted to using Yelp to tax dancing to try to make up the shortfall (for real)."
Crime

Kenya Police: Our Fake Bomb Detectors Are Real 151

Posted by timothy
from the but-how-are-the-elephant-detectors? dept.
First time accepted submitter NF6X writes "Following the conviction of British conman James McCormick for selling fake bomb detectors which were in fact rebadged novelty golf ball divining rods, Nairobi police chief Benson Githinji stated to reporters that his department's fake bomb detectors are serviceable, and contributed towards a recent elimination of successful grenade attacks."
Microsoft

Was Google's Motorola Mobility Acquisition a Mistake? 189

Posted by timothy
from the press-one-to-find-out dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Even before the Google acquisition, Motorola Mobility was engaged in a major legal battle with Microsoft, insisting that the latter needed to pay around $4 billion per year if it wanted to keep using Motorola's patents related to the H.264 video and 802.11 WiFi standards. (The patents in question affected the Xbox and other major Microsoft products.) Had that lawsuit succeeded as Motorola Mobility originally intended, it would have made Google a boatload of cash—but on April 25, a federal judge in Seattle ruled that Microsoft's royalty payments should total around $1.8 million per year. 'Based on Motorola's original demand of more than $4 billion per year from Microsoft,' patent expert Florian Mueller wrote in an April 26 posting on his FOSS Patents blog, 'it would have taken only about three years' worth of royalties for Microsoft to pay the $12.5 billion purchase price Google paid (in fact, way overpaid) for Motorola Mobility.' This latest courtroom defeat also throws into question the true worth of Motorola Mobility's patents. After all, if the best Google can earn from those patents is a few pennies-per-unit from its rivals' products, that may undermine the whole idea of paying $12.5 billion primarily for Motorola Mobility's intellectual-property portfolio.
Crime

NYC Police Comm'r: Privacy Is 'Off the Table' After Boston Bombs 508

Posted by timothy
from the for-your-own-safety dept.
An anonymous reader writes "New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly thinks that now is a great time to install even more surveillance cameras hither and yon around the Big Apple. After the Boston Marathon bombing, the Tsarnaev brothers were famously captured on security camera footage and thereby identified. That just may soften up Americans to the idea of the all-seeing glass eye. 'I think the privacy issue has really been taken off the table,' Kelly gloats."
United States

CISPA Seems Dead In the US Senate 76

Posted by timothy
from the in-the-senate-dead-is-a-good-disguise dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from The Daily Dot: "A Senate committee aide, who requested to not be named, told the Daily Dot that 'there is no possible plan to bring up CISPA,' in the Senate. The aide cited the fact that the Senate tried to pass its own cybersecurity bill, the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 (CSA). While unsuccessful, it underscored a desire for legislation that took more explicit efforts to protect individuals' Internet privacy. 'There are just too many problems with it,' the aide said of CISPA. This is backed up by U.S. News and World Report, which has reported that a staffer on the Senate's Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation explicitly claims CISPA is no longer a possibility, and senators are 'drafting separate bills' to include some CISPA provisions."
China

Chinese Court Fines Apple For Copyright Violations 102

Posted by samzenpus
from the pay-up dept.
hackingbear writes "The Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People's Court ruled in favor of a group of Chinese authors, and Apple will have to pay them in excess of 730,000 yuan (US$118,000) for infringement. Apple had not gotten permission before selling their books on the Apple App Store, it noted. These cases were the second batch of lawsuits filed against Apple by the Writers' Right Protection Union, which includes prominent members like prolific blogger and novelist Han Han who have become a pop culture star through his creative and cynical writings criticizing the (Chinese) government."

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