ectoman writes "In a recent policy speech, Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez indicated that the FTC might be preparing to seriously address patent abuse in the United States. Mark Bohannon, Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Global Public Policy at Red Hat, has reviewed Ramirez's remarks, calling them 'some of the most direct and specific to date from a senior U.S. Government official regarding "harmful PAE [patent assertion entities] activities."' Bohannon writes that the FTC's proposed roadmap for patent reform 'is both ambitious and doable,' and he discusses how the agency could make its potential contributions to reforms most effective. The piece arrives one week after Bohannon analyzed other patent reform efforts currently ongoing in Washington—in a piece Slashdot readers have been discussing."
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dryriver writes with this excerpt from the Guardian: "U.S. intelligence services are spying on the European Union mission in New York and its embassy in Washington, according to the latest top secret U.S. National Security Agency documents leaked by the whistleblower Edward Snowden. One document lists 38 embassies and missions, describing them as 'targets.' It details an extraordinary range of spying methods used against each target, from bugs implanted in electronic communications gear to taps into cables to the collection of transmissions with specialised antennae. Along with traditional ideological adversaries and sensitive Middle Eastern countries, the list of targets includes the E.U. missions and the French, Italian and Greek embassies, as well as a number of other American allies, including Japan, Mexico, South Korea, India and Turkey. ... One of the bugging methods mentioned is codenamed Dropmire, which, according to a 2007 document, is 'implanted on the Cryptofax at the E.U. embassy, DC' – an apparent reference to a bug placed in a commercially available encrypted fax machine used at the mission. The NSA documents note the machine is used to send cables back to foreign affairs ministries in European capitals."
After suing each other for the last few years in various courts around the world, you'd think that if Apple and Samsung were human beings they would have walked away from their rocky relationship a while back. The Wall Street Journal explains (beside the larger fact that they're both huge companies with complex links, rather than a squabbling couple) why it's so hard for Apple to take up with another supplier. Things are starting to look different, though: "Apple's deal this month to start buying chips from TSMC is a milestone. Apple long wanted to build its own processors, and it bought a chip company in 2008 to begin designing the chips itself. But it continued to rely on Samsung to make them. ... TSMC plans to start mass-producing the chips early next year using advanced '20-nanometer' technology, which makes the chips potentially smaller and more energy-efficient."
anagama writes "Lots of new program names, flowcharts, and detail in four previously unreleased PRISM slides published by the Washington Post today. These slides provide some additional detail about PRISM and outline how the NSA gets information from those nine well known internet companies. Apparently, the collection is done by the FBI using its own equipment on the various companies' premises and then passed to the NSA where it is filtered and sorted."
In Paul Theroux's dystopian novel O-Zone, wearing masks in public is simply a fact of life, because of the network of cameras that covers the inhabited parts of earth. Earthquake Retrofit writes with a story at the New York Times describing a life-imitating-art reaction to the perception (and reality) that cameras are watching more of your life than you might prefer: clothing that obscures your electronic presence. "[Adam Harvey] exhibited a number of his stealth-wear designs and prototypes in an art show this year in London. His work includes a series of hoodies and cloaks that use reflective, metallic fabric — like the kind used in protective gear for firefighters — that he has repurposed to reduce a person’s thermal footprint. In theory, this limits one’s visibility to aerial surveillance vehicles employing heat-imaging cameras to track people on the ground. He also developed a purse with extra-bright LEDs that can be activated when someone is taking unwanted pictures; the effect is to reduce an intrusive photograph to a washed-out blur. In addition, he created a guide for hairstyling and makeup application that might keep a camera from recognizing the person beneath the elaborate get-up. The technique is called CV Dazzle — a riff on 'computer vision' and 'dazzle,' a type of camouflage used during World War II to make it hard to detect the size and shape of warships."
An anonymous reader writes "According to a report dated 2010 recently provided by [former NSA contractor Edward] Snowden to the German news magazine 'Der Spiegel', the NSA has systematically been spying on institutions of the EU in Washington DC, New York, and Brussels. Methods of spying include bugging, phone taps, and network intrusions and surveillance according to the documents." All part of a grand tradition.
hyperorbiter writes "With the advent of Google Apps for Education, there has been a massive uptake by the K12 schools I deal with on signing students up with their own Google powered email address under the school domain. In addition, the students' work when using Google Apps is stored offshore and out of our control — with no explicit comeback if TOS are breached by Google. It seems to me that the school cannot with integrity maintain it has control over the data and its use. I have expressed a concern that it is unethical to use these services without informing the students' parents of what is at stake e.g. the students are getting a digital footprint from the age of seven and are unaware of the implications this may have later in life. The response has often been that I'm over-reacting and that the benefits of the services far outweigh the concerns, so rather than risk knee jerk reactions by parents (a valid concern) and thereby hampering 'education', it's better to not bring this stuff up. My immediate issue isn't so much about the use of the cloud services now, but the ethics over lack of disclosure in the parental consent process. Does anyone have ideas about defining the parameters of 'informed consent' where we inform of risks without bringing about paranoia? (Google Apps is just an example here, I think it applies to many cloud services.)"
cold fjord writes "Looks like last year was pretty busy. I wonder how many were leaks and media? From the Washington Post: 'The number of wiretaps secured in federal criminal investigations jumped 71 percent in 2012 over the previous year, according to newly released figures. Federal courts authorized 1,354 interception orders for wire, oral and electronic communications, up from 792 the previous year, ... There was a 5 percent increase in state and local use of wiretaps in the same period. ... There is no explanation of why the federal figures increased so much, and it is generally out of line with the number of wiretaps between 1997 and 2009, which averaged about 550 annually. There was also a large number of wiretaps in 2010, when 1,207 were secured. A single wiretap can sweep up thousands of communications. One 30-day local wiretap in California, for instance, generated 185,268 cellular telephone interceptions, of which 12 percent were incriminating, according to the report. The vast majority of the wiretaps in both federal and state cases were obtained as part of drug investigations, and they overwhelmingly were directed at cellphones ... Only 14 court orders were for personal residences. Most jurisdictions limit the period of surveillance to 30 days, but extensions can be obtained.'"
First time accepted submitter clegrand writes "Julie Brill, a member of the Federal trade Commission, has proposed a voluntary big data industry initiative to allow consumers access to their personal records and the ability to correct them. She has coined it 'Reclaim Your Name.' While some big data companies such as Acxiom already allow such access, it is not an industry-wide practice. She sees this campaign as a natural extension of the Fair Credit Reporting Act and a logical partner for the ongoing effort of the Do Not Track mechanism currently under standardization review with the W3C."
lpress writes "The Los Angeles Unified School District will spend $30 million over the next two years on iPads for 30,000 students. Coverage of the announcement has focused on Apple winning over other tablets, but that is not the key point. The top three proposals each included an app to deliver Pearson's K-12 Common Core System of Courses along with other third-party educational apps. The Common Core curriculum is not yet established, but many states are committed to it, starting next year. The new tablets and the new commitment to the Common Core curriculum will arrive around the same time, and busy faculty (and those hired to train them) will adopt the Pearson material. The tablets will be obsolete in a few years and the hardware platform may change, but lock-in to Pearson's default curriculum may last for generations."
An anonymous reader writes "Internet provider AT&T has patented a new technology that allows the company to accurately track content being shared via BitTorrent and other P2P networks. The company explains that the technology can be utilized to detect pirated downloads and combat congestion on its network. Whether the company is already using the system to track infringing content, or has plans to do so, is unknown."
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."
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)."
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."
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."
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?"
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.'"
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.'"
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."
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.