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The Media

FBI Paid Informant Inside WikiLeaks 458

Posted by timothy
from the anything-to-keep-the-nsa-off-your-mind dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Wired: "On an August workday in 2011, a cherubic 18-year-old Icelandic man named Sigurdur 'Siggi' Thordarson walked through the stately doors of the U.S. embassy in Reykjavik, his jacket pocket concealing his calling card: a crumpled photocopy of an Australian passport. The passport photo showed a man with a unruly shock of platinum blonde hair and the name Julian Paul Assange. Thordarson was long time volunteer for WikiLeaks with direct access to Assange and a key position as an organizer in the group. With his cold war-style embassy walk-in, he became something else: the first known FBI informant inside WikiLeaks. For the next three months, Thordarson served two masters, working for the secret-spilling website and simultaneously spilling its secrets to the U.S. government in exchange, he says, for a total of about $5,000. The FBI flew him internationally four times for debriefings, including one trip to Washington D.C., and on the last meeting obtained from Thordarson eight hard drives packed with chat logs, video and other data from WikiLeaks."
Robotics

DARPA-Funded Software Could Usher In the Era of Open-Source Robotics 17

Posted by Soulskill
from the or-skynet,-either-one dept.
malachiorion writes "The best thing to come out of the DARPA Robotics Challenge, so far, isn't the lineup of nifty rescue bots being developed by teams around the world, or even Boston Dynamics' incredible Atlas humanoid. It's the pumped-up version of Gazebo, the free, open-source robotics simulation software whose expansion and further development is being funded by DARPA. This article has a look at how the software was used in the recent virtual leg of the competition, as well as how it could change the way robotics R&D is conducted (and create more roboticists, with its low-cost, cloud-based architecture)."
Input Devices

Apple Files Patent For New Proprietary Port 282

Posted by Soulskill
from the any-old-port-in-the-storm dept.
rwise2112 writes "Apple proposes a solution to multiple port requirements within limited space: the two in one port. The port is described as a 'Combined Input Port,' where two different interfaces could be in one port. The input port includes an outer wall defining a receiving aperture, a substrate positioned within the receiving aperture. One set of contacts is configured to communicate with a first connector and the second set of contacts is configured to communicate with a second connector. Looks like another addition to the special Apple cable lineup."
The Courts

Teenage League of Legends Player Jailed For Months For Facebook Joke 743

Posted by Soulskill
from the a-very-unwise-joke dept.
Kohath writes "Eighteen-year-old Justin Carter of Austin, Texas was arguing with a friend on Facebook about League of Legends back in February. After being called 'insane,' he responded with 'Oh yeah, I'm real messed up in the head, I'm going to go shoot up a school full of kids and eat their still, beating hearts.' Below that, he wrote 'lol' and 'jk.' He was arrested March 27, 2013 and has been in jail since that time. A hearing to review his case is scheduled for July 1, 2013. His parents have launched a change.org petition to convince the authorities to release their son."
The Courts

Boston Marathon Bomber Charged With Using 'Weapon of Mass Destruction' 533

Posted by Soulskill
from the 30-counts-ought-to-do-it dept.
New submitter bunkymag writes "Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has now been indicted on over 30 charges relating to his part in the Boston Marathon bombing. Of particular note however is a charge of using a 'Weapon of Mass Destruction.' It's a bit out of line with the commonly-held perception of the term, most notably used in justifying the invasion of Iraq. However, U.S. criminal law defines a 'weapon of mass destruction' much more broadly, including virtually any explosive device: bombs, grenades, rockets, missiles, mines, etc. The question arises: is it wise for Tsarnaev to face such a politically-loaded charge? From an outsider perspective, it would seem easy enough to leverage any number of domestic anti-terror laws to achieve anything up to and including the death penalty if required. Why, then, muddy the waters with this new WMD claim, when the price could be giving further ammunition to groups outside of America that already clearly feel the rules are set up to indict them on false pretenses, and explicitly use this sense of outrage to attract new terrorist recruits?"
The Military

U.S. Army Block Access To The Guardian's Website Over NSA Leaks 331

Posted by Soulskill
from the lalalalalala-i-can't-hear-you dept.
New submitter crashcy writes "According to a spokesman for the U.S. Army, the military organization is 'blocking all access to The Guardian newspaper's reports about the National Security Agency's sweeping collection of data about Americans' email and phone communications.' The spokesman goes on to state that it is routine to block access where classified materials may be distributed. The term used was 'network hygiene.' 'Campos wrote if an employee accidentally downloaded classified information, it would result in "labor intensive" work, such as the wipe or destruction of the computer's hard drive. He wrote that an employee who downloads classified information could face disciplinary action if found to have knowingly downloaded the material on an unclassified computer.'"
Privacy

Richard Stallman Speaks About Back Doors After NSA Documents Leak 332

Posted by samzenpus
from the listen-up dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Companies such as Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, and Google are scrambling to restore trust amid fresh litigation over the PRISM surveillance program. Richard Stallman, the founder of the Free Software Foundation and a newly-inducted member of the 2013 Internet Hall of Fame, speaks about not only abandoning the cloud, which he warned about 5 years ago, but also escaping software with back doors. 'I don't think the US government should use operating systems made in China,' he says in this new interview, 'for the same reason that most governments shouldn't use operating systems made in the US and in fact we just got proof since Microsoft is now known to be telling the NSA about bugs in Windows before it fixes them.'"
United States

FTC Wins Huge $7.5 Million Penalty Against "Do Not Call" List Violator 136

Posted by samzenpus
from the pay-up dept.
coondoggie writes "The Federal Trade Commission today said it has won a $7.5 million civil penalty – the largest ever — against Mortgage Investors Corporation, one of the nation's biggest refinancers of veterans' home loans for allegedly violating 'Do Not Call' requirements. According to the FTC’s complaint, Mortgage Investors Corporation called consumers on the Federal Trade Commission’s National Do Not Call Registry, failed to remove consumers from its company call list upon demand, and misstated the terms of available loan products during telemarketing calls."
Government

Tesla Faces Tough Regulatory Hurdle From State Dealership Laws 309

Posted by timothy
from the those-darn-monopolists-at-the-statehouse dept.
First time accepted submitter vinnyjames writes "States like Arizona, Texas, Massachusetts and North Carolina either have or have recently added legislation to prevent Tesla from selling its cars directly to consumers. Now there's a petition on whitehouse.gov to allow them to sell cars directly to consumers." Laws that protect auto dealerships aren't newly created for Tesla, though, as explained in this interview with Duke University's Mike Munger.
Crime

TN Man Indicted For Romney Blackmail Attempt: Wanted $1M In Bitcoins 92

Posted by timothy
from the ok-ok-one-hundred-beeeeeeelion-in-bitcoin dept.
OakDragon writes "A Franklin, Tennessee man has been indicted for his attempt to blackmail Mitt Romney. Michael Mancil Brown allegedly claimed his intent to release some of Romney's pre-2010 tax documents unless one million dollars was converted to Bitcoins and deposited into an account which he specified. Demand letters were sent to Republican and Democratic Party offices in Tennessee, and Pricewaterhouse Coopers (whom he claimed to have stolen the documents from). Pricewaterhouse Coopers denies that he ever obtained such documents. Brown was also attempting to "sell" the documents to others (presumably the Democrats or other interested parties) for the same amount. And yes, he was apparently well aware of the Dr. Evil reference."
Privacy

Automated Plate Readers Let Police Collect Millions of Records On Drivers 276

Posted by timothy
from the carry-on-citizens dept.
schwit1 writes with a report on just how extensive always-on license plate logging has gotten. The article focuses on California; how different is your state? "In San Diego, 13 federal and local law enforcement agencies have compiled more than 36 million license-plate scans in a regional database since 2010 with the help of federal homeland security grants. The San Diego Association of Governments maintains the database. Unlike the Northern California database, which retains the data for between one and two years, the San Diego system retains license-plate information indefinitely. Can we get plate with code to delete the database?"
United Kingdom

Meet PRISM's English Little Brother: Socmint 76

Posted by timothy
from the do-you-know-winston-smith-in-real-life dept.
An anonymous reader writes with a story at Ars Technica, according to which "For the past two years, a secretive unit in the Metropolitan Police has been developing the tools for blanket surveillance of the public's social media conversations. Operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, a staff of 17 officers in the National Domestic Extremism Unit (NDEU) has been scanning the public's tweets, YouTube videos, Facebook profiles, and anything else UK citizens post in the public online sphere. ... Surveillance operations often require a ministerial sign-off or permission from a superior, but it is unclear whether targeting of public social media data requires the same level of oversight, as head of research at Privacy International Eric King points out."
Crime

RC Plane Attack 'Foiled,' Say German Authorities 233

Posted by timothy
from the they've-got-bruce-schneier-in-the-batcave dept.
garymortimer writes with this excerpt from Sky News as carried by Yahoo UK: "German authorities are holding two men of Tunisian origin who they say are facing possible charges for the 'preparation of a serious, state-threatening act of violence.' Prosecutors say the men are suspected of 'procuring information and objects to commit Islamic extremist explosive attacks with remote-controlled model airplanes,' prosecutors added. Police investigating the terror plot on Tuesday launched a series of raids in Stuttgart and Munich in southern Germany and Saxony in the east. They also carried out one raid in Belgium. No-one was arrested. The suspects had been under surveillance for more than a year and authorities had recently detected 'an increased interest in explosives and model aircraft,' according to an unnamed security source quoted by a German news agency."
United States

Supreme Court Overturns Defense of Marriage Act 1073

Posted by timothy
from the totally-bringing-on-the-apocalypse dept.
12 U.S. states have adopted same-sex marriage over the past decade, and many other states have adopted legislation specifically intended to prevent same-sex marriages from being performed or recognized within their borders. The landscape has just changed on that front, though: the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which barred federal recognition of same-sex marriages, has been ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court; here's the ruling itself. From the NBC News version of the story: "The decision was 5-4, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy. “'DOMA instructs all federal officials, and indeed all persons with whom same-sex couples interact, including their own children, that their marriage is less worthy than the marriages of others,' the ruling said. 'The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity.'" One major area this affects is tax law; that's one of the salient points in U.S. v. Windsor, the case that drove the court's conclusion. There's more on the story at many major news outlets, and at law-centric sources like SCOTUSblog. The Boston Globe is also live blogging various reactions.

Update: 06/26 16:58 GMT by T : In a separate decision, the court disappointed supporters of California's Proposition 8, a law passed by voter initiative, under which "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." The court ruled that the private parties which had taken up the Prop 8 banner did not have standing to do so; as the story says, "The 5-4 decision avoids, for now, a sweeping conclusion on whether same-sex marriage is a constitutional "equal protection" right that would apply to all states."
Image

Former Scientologist: CoS Told Brin It Wanted Only "Good" Search Results 205 Screenshot-sm

Posted by timothy
from the refusing-to-clam-up dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Former Scientologist at the highest level Geir Isene reveals that he was brought in to educate top Scientology officials about the Internet, and learned that they had met personally with Google's Sergey Brin (YouTube video), asking him if it were possible for the search giant to filter results so that only positive information about the church would be returned on the word 'Scientology.' You can imagine how that went over. Isene also says that he begged the church's officials to give him a full day to explain the Internet to them before they met with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which had regularly criticized the church for its stands against Internet freedom. Apparently, the church is missing Isene's counsel, because just a few days ago, the EFF put the Church of Scientology into its 'Takedown Hall of Shame.' Last month Geir published his journey 'From Independent Scientologist to Just Me' under the GPL v3 license, recognising how being an open source advocate helped with that."
Australia

Internet Villain of the Year Stephen Conroy Resigns 67

Posted by timothy
from the do-you-trust-his-network? dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Australian Communications Minister and [2009's] Internet Villain of the Year Stephen Conroy has resigned after his patron was booted out by her party. Conroy gained infamy through his repeated attempts to censor the internet and more recently silent web site blocking, web snooping and data retention. His national broadband network remains controversial."
Youtube

YouTube Removes Video of Reactions To Being Videoed 229

Posted by Soulskill
from the now-video-your-reaction-to-the-reaction-to-reactions dept.
theodp writes "To follow-up on an earlier Slashdot post, GeekWire reports that YouTube has removed Surveillance Camera Man's latest video of people's sometimes-violent reactions to being videoed, citing its policy of prohibiting content designed to harass, threaten or bully ("This video has been removed as a violation of YouTube's policy prohibiting content designed to harass, bully or threaten"). In a neat coincidence, the YouTube ban comes just after similar complaints were lodged against Google Glass. 'Some people also seem to feel threatened by Google Glass,' Philip De Cortes wrote in Google Glass Will Fail. 'They wonder if they're being recorded, and they feel like the tool could be used against them in some way.'"
Earth

Obama Reveals Climate Change Plan 577

Posted by Soulskill
from the it-ain't-easy-being-green dept.
Today President Obama gave a speech outlining the administration's plan to take on climate change. (Video of the speech available on YouTube, and the White House published an infographic as well.) Most significantly, Obama's plan would have the EPA set limits on carbon pollution from all U.S. power plants, a goal already meeting resistance from Republicans. The plan also sets the goal of funding enough solar- and wind-based energy projects on public lands to power over 6 million homes by 2020. By 2030, it aims to use efficiency standards to reduce carbon pollution by 3 billion metric tons. Obama called for new efforts to deal with extreme weather like Hurricane Sandy. He also pointed out the difficulty in getting emerging industrial economies to be environmentally conscious. To that end, the plan calls for the end of U.S. support for financing coal power plants in foreign countries, unless those plants use carbon capture and sequestration technologies. The speech addressed the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry up to 800,000 gallons of oil per day from Canada into the U.S. Obama indicated that approval for the pipeline would be tied to emissions goals.
Advertising

FTC Demands Search Engines Separate Paid Advertisements From Search Results 230

Posted by Soulskill
from the signal-to-noise dept.
An anonymous reader notes that the FTC has sent letters to search engine companies (PDF) telling them to make sure advertisements are clearly distinguishable from search results. "According to both the FTC staff's original search engine guidance and the updated guidance, failing to clearly and prominently distinguish advertising from natural search results could be a deceptive practice. The updated guidance emphasizes the need for visual cues, labels, or other techniques to effectively distinguish advertisements, in order to avoid misleading consumers, and it makes recommendations for ensuring that disclosures commonly used to identify advertising are noticeable and understandable to consumers. The letters note that the principles of the original guidance still apply, even as search and the business of search continue to evolve. The letters observe that social media, mobile apps, voice assistants on mobile devices, and specialized search results that are integrated into general search results offer consumers new ways of getting information. The guidance advises that regardless of the precise form that search takes now or in the future, paid search results and other forms of advertising should be clearly distinguishable from natural search results."

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