wiredmikey writes "Britain is running a secret Internet surveillance station in the Middle East, according to a recent report citing the latest leaked documents obtained by fugitive US security contractor Edward Snowden. The Independent newspaper said it was not disclosing the country where the base is located, but said the facility can intercept emails, telephone calls and web traffic for the United States and other intelligence agencies and taps into underwater fibre-optic cables in the region, the newspaper said. The Independent did not disclose how it obtained the details from the Snowden files."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
Daniel_Stuckey writes "As a result of the sequester-induced budget cuts, the CIA is closing the Historical Collections Division office, which declassifies historical documents, and transferring the divisions responsibilities to the office that handles FOIA requests. The Historical Collections Division is described on its website as 'an important part of CIA's ongoing effort to be more open and to provide for more public accountability.' It is a 'voluntary declassification program that focuses on records of historical value,' including information on the Vietnam War, spy satellites, the Bay of Pigs and other historical scandals and operations."
An anonymous reader writes "A guest at at Quebec hotel was bitten by bed bugs, brought some down to the front desk and asked for new room. While the fully booked hotel offers to get him another room in a different hotel, he stays out the night then leaves — telling people at the hotel — some of whom also check out. When he wrote about it on Trip Advisor, the hotel demanded he take it down and when he did they sued him for $95,000."
barlevg writes "In a recent interview, former Vice President and environmental activist Al Gore made a bold claim, that man-made global warming was causing hurricanes to be formed of such severity that 'they're adding a 6' to the hurricane scale, going on to say that 'The fingerprint of man-made global warming is all over these storms and extreme weather events.' In response, the National Weather Service has responded that they have no plans to add a 'doomsday Category 6' to their rating scale: 'No, we're not pursuing any such change. I'm also not sure who VP Gore means by "they,"' also noting that 'Category 5 has no ceiling: it includes hurricanes with top sustained winds of 157 mph and higher.' Furthermore, a recently leaked United Nations climate assessment claims only 'low confidence' of a link between human activity and increased hurricane severity and that this is likely due to increased human settlement in coastal areas and other regions vulnerable to natural disasters." Along similar lines, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that Tesla's Model S, no matter how safe it is, doesn't get any special grade inflation: there's no "5.4" score (as the company did in a press release this week), because that's just not how the NHTSA keeps score. (Hat tip to reader cartechboy.)
jrepin writes "The administration of the Spanish autonomous region of Valencia has completed its switch to LibreOffice, a free and open source suite of office productivity applications. Last week Friday the region's ICT department announced that the office suite is installed on all of the 120,000 desktop PCs of the administration, including schools and courts. The migration will save the government some 1.5 million euro per year on proprietary software licenses."
dryriver writes in with a link to a Times story about the U.S. government's capabilities when it comes to facial recognition. "The federal government is making progress on developing a surveillance system that would pair computers with video cameras to scan crowds and automatically identify people by their faces, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews with researchers working on the project. The Department of Homeland Security tested a crowd-scanning project called the Biometric Optical Surveillance System — or BOSS — last fall after two years of government-financed development. Although the system is not ready for use, researchers say they are making significant advances. That alarms privacy advocates, who say that now is the time for the government to establish oversight rules and limits on how it will someday be used. There have been stabs for over a decade at building a system that would help match faces in a crowd with names on a watch list — whether in searching for terrorism suspects at high-profile events like a presidential inaugural parade, looking for criminal fugitives in places like Times Square or identifying card cheats in crowded casinos."
mspohr writes "For over a year, EFF has been fighting the government in federal court to force the public release of an 86-page opinion of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). Issued in October 2011, the secret court's opinion found that surveillance conducted by the NSA under the FISA Amendments Act was unconstitutional and violated 'the spirit of' federal law."
v3rgEz writes "The days of anonymous commenting on The Huffington Post are numbered. Founder Arianna Huffington said in a question-and-answer session with reporters in Boston Wednesday that the online news site plans to require users to comment on stories under their real names, beginning next month. 'Freedom of expression is given to people who stand up for what they’re saying and not hiding behind anonymity,' Huffington said."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Tom Groenfeldt reports in Forbes that the U.S. Postal Service has awarded a contract to SecureKey to implement the Federal Cloud Credential Exchange (FCXX) designed to enable individuals to securely access online services at multiple federal agencies — such as health benefits, student loan information, and retirement benefit information — without the need to use a different password or other digital identification for each service. SecureKey already operates a trusted identity service in Canada using identification keys provided by one of five participating Canadian banks. It allows Canadians to connect with 120 government programs online with no additional user names or passwords for everything from benefits queries to fishing licenses. The SecureKey program is designed to connect identity providers — such as banks, governments, healthcare organizations, and others — with consumers' favorite online services though a cloud-based broker service. The platform allows identity providers and online services to integrate once, reducing the integration and business complexity otherwise incurred in establishing many-to-many relationships."
Despite being part of public court proceedings, Comcast sent a notice of infringement ordering Torrent Freak to stop hosting a letter linking a subscriber to Prenda Law. From the article: "Comcast has sent TorrentFreak a cease and desist letter, claiming copyright over contents of an article which revealed that Prenda Law was involved in operating a pirate honeypot. Failure to comply will result in a lawsuit in which the Internet provider will seek damages, a Comcast representative informs us. In addition, Comcast also alerted our hosting provider, who is now threatening to shut down our server."
An anonymous reader writes with bad, but not unexpected news: "The U.S. soldier convicted of handing a trove of secret government documents to anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks has been sentenced to 35 years in prison. Pte First Class Bradley Manning, 25, was convicted in July of 20 charges against him, including espionage. Last week, he apologized for hurting the U.S. and for 'the unexpected results' of his actions. He will receive credit for three and a half years, but be dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Army."
mask.of.sanity writes "Criminals have stolen millions from three unnamed U.S. banks by launching slow and stealthy denial of service attacks as a distraction before attacking wire payment switches. The switches manage and execute wire transfers and could have coughed up much more cash should the attackers have pressed on. RSA researcher Limor Kessem said, 'The service portal is down, the bank is losing money and reliability, and the security team is juggling the priorities of what to fix first. That's when the switch attack – which is very rare because those systems are not easily compromised [and require] high-privilege level in a more advanced persistent threat style case – takes place.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Yet another privacy concern story, this time from Florida. The Longboat Key police have their new license plate camera up and running, but according to the police chief, this one stores all images as 'evidence' for up to ten years. When questioned about the possibility for abuses of this camera's historical record, the chief said, 'There are regulations, policies and laws in place that prohibit that kind of abuse. And if abuse is discovered, it's punished.' What could possibly go wrong?"
jfruh writes "As we discussed this weekend, David Miranda, the partner of the Guardian's Glenn Greenwald, was detained while transporting encrypted data on the Snowden affair from Berlin; all his electronics were seized. Over at the Guardian offices, British police destroyed more of the newspaper's hard drives. Privacy blogger Dan Tynan sees where this one is going: reporters like Greenwald are going to stop even bothering to be circumspect with their revelations. Sorting through the contents of such infocaches to redact sensitive information just gives the government time to track you down. Eventually, the information will just be dumped online, warts and all, as soon as someone who wants the information public gets ahold of it."
New submitter niftymitch sends this quote from an article at SFGate: "San Francisco's fire chief has explicitly banned firefighters from using helmet-mounted video cameras after images from a battalion chief's Asiana Airlines crash recording became public and led to questions about first responders' actions leading up to a fire rig running over a survivor. ... Filming the scene may have violated both firefighters' and victims' privacy, Hayes-White said, trumping whatever benefit came from knowing what the footage shows. 'There comes a time that privacy of the individual is paramount, of greater importance than having a video,' Hayes-White said. Critics, including some within the department, questioned the chief's order and its timing — coming as Johnson's footage raised the possibility of Fire Department liability in the death of 16-year-old Ye Meng Yuan. .. [Battalion Chief Kevin Smith, president of the employee group that includes Johnson, said,] 'The department seems more concerned with exposure and liability than training and improving efficiency. Helmet cams are the wave of the future - they can be used to improve communication at incidents between firefighters and commanders.'"
New submitter herbalt writes "The code of the free FPS game Urban Terror (a standalone game based on a Quake 3 mod), has been stolen. The development team, Frozen Sand, at first stated their Git Repository had been hacked, but later issued an announcement stating the perpetrator of the leak was a member of the development team. Frozen Sand also states they have found chat logs indicating there had been 'a plot to get B1naryTh1ef to steal the code so they could sell Urban Terror under a different name on Steam.'"
cold fjord writes "The People's Republic of China continues its long march toward liberalization with two steps forward (And one+ step back?). The BBC reports, 'A senior Chinese official has said the country will phase out the practice of taking organs from executed prisoners from November. Huang Jiefu said China would now rely on using organs from voluntary donors under a new national donation system. Prisoners used to account for two-thirds of transplant organs, based on previous estimates from state media. For years, China denied that it used organs from executed prisoners, but admitted it a few years ago... Human rights groups estimate that China executes thousands of prisoners a year, but correspondents say that the official figures remain a state secret.'"
WillgasM writes "Changing your IP address or using proxy servers to access public websites you've been forbidden to visit is a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, according to a judge's broad ruling (PDF) during a case on Friday involving Craigslist and 3taps. Opponents argue that this creates a slippery slope that many unsuspecting web users may find themselves upon. With your typical connection being assigned an address dynamically, is an IP ban really a 'technological barrier' to be circumvented? How long until we see the first prosecution for unauthorized viewing of a noindex page?" Probably a long time; the judge in the case rejected the slippery slope argument: 'There, and sprinkled throughout its earlier, ostensibly text-based, arguments, 3taps posits outlandish scenarios where, for example, someone is criminally prosecuted for visiting a hypothetical website www.dontvisitme.com after a "friend" — apparently not a very good one — says the site has beautiful pictures but the homepage says that no one is allowed to click on the links to view the pictures. Needless to say, the Court’s decision [regarding 3taps' actions]... does not speak to whether the CFAA would apply to other sets of facts where an unsuspecting individual somehow stumbles on to an unauthorized site.' Willful evasion of blocks for commercial gain, on the other hand ...
An anonymous reader was the first to write with news that Groklaw is shutting down: "There is now no shield from forced exposure. Nothing in that parenthetical thought list is terrorism-related, but no one can feel protected enough from forced exposure any more to say anything the least bit like that to anyone in an email, particularly from the U.S. out or to the U.S. in, but really anywhere. You don't expect a stranger to read your private communications to a friend. And once you know they can, what is there to say? Constricted and distracted. That's it exactly. That's how I feel. So. There we are. The foundation of Groklaw is over. I can't do Groklaw without your input. I was never exaggerating about that when we won awards. It really was a collaborative effort, and there is now no private way, evidently, to collaborate." Why it's a big deal.