wiredmikey writes "The US Federal Trade Commission fined Google $22.5 million for violating the privacy of people who used rival Apple's Safari web browser even after pledging not to do so. The FTC said Google had agreed with the commission in October 2011 not to place tracking cookies on or deliver targeted ads to Safari users, but then went ahead and did so. 'For several months in 2011 and 2012, Google placed a certain advertising tracking cookie on the computers of Safari users who visited sites within Google's DoubleClick advertising network,' the FTC said in a statement. 'Google had previously told these users they would automatically be opted out of such tracking.' While Google agreed to the fine, it did NOT admit it had violated the earlier agreement."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
Nerval's Lobster writes that New York City isn't just gathering data on citizens with cameras and other data sources for sifting through later to seek evidence in the event of violent acts; it's using some of that data in real-time in an attempt to reveal potential criminal activity. They've even picked a name for their system that echoes DARPA's Total Information Awareness, which I guess is more diplomatic than just calling it Precrime: "The Domain Awareness System will draw data from 911 calls, previous crime reports, license-plate readers, law-enforcement databases, environmental sensors, and roughly 3,000 closed-circuit cameras. It will rely on the New York City Wireless Network (NYCWiN), a high-speed wireless broadband infrastructure that allows city agencies to rapidly transmit data, and used for everything from emergency response to reading meters. Mayor Bloomberg argued that the system isn't an example of Big Brother overstepping the line. 'What you're seeing is what the private sector has used for a long time,' he told Gothamist. 'If you walk around with a cell phone, the cell phone company knows where you are. We're not your mom and pop's police department anymore.'"
hypnosec writes "A new report by an open source internet measurement platform, Measurement Lab, sheds light onto throttling of and restriction on BitTorrent traffic by ISPs (Internet Service Providers) across the globe. The report by Measurement Lab reveals that hundreds of ISPs across the globe are involved in the throttling of peer-to-peer traffic, and specifically BitTorrent traffic. The Glasnost application run by the platform helps in detecting whether ISPs shape traffic. Tests can be carried out to check whether the throttling or blocking is carried out 'on email, HTTP or SSH transfer, Flash video, and P2P apps including BitTorrent, eMule and Gnutella.' Going by country, United States has actually seen a drop in throttling compared to what it was back in 2010. Throttling in the U.S. is worst for Cox at 6 per cent and best for Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and others at around 3 per cent. The United Kingdom is seeing a rise in traffic shaping and BT is the worst at 65 per cent. Virgin Media throttles around 22 per cent of the traffic while the least is O2 at 2 per cent. More figures can be found here."
Hugh Pickens writes "Rebecca Rosen writes that when hackers broke into Mat Honan's Apple account last week, they couldn't answer his security questions but Apple didn't care and issued a temporary password anyway. This was a company disregarding its own measure, saying, effectively, security questions are a joke and we don't take them very seriously. But even if Apple had required the hackers to answer the questions, it's very likely that the hackers would have been able to find the right answers. 'The answers to the most common security questions — where did you go to high school? what is the name of the first street you lived on? — are often a matter of the public record,' writes Rosen, 'even more easily so today than in the 1980s when security questions evolved as a means of protecting bank accounts.' Part of the problem is that a good security question is hard to design and has to meet four criteria: A good security question should be definitive — there should only be one correct answer; Applicable — the question should be possible to answer for as large a portion of users as possible; Memorable — the user should have little difficulty remembering it; and Safe — it should be difficult to guess or find through research. Unfortunately few questions fit all these criteria and are known only by you. 'Perhaps mother's maiden name was good enough for banking decades ago, but I'm pretty sure anyone with even a modicum of Google skills could figure out my mom's maiden's name,' concludes Rosen. Passwords have reached the end of their useful life adds Bruce Schneier. 'Today, they only work for low-security applications. The secret question is just one manifestation of that fact.'"
Qedward writes "Certainly not the first country to raise concerns, but Facebook's facial recognition feature will now be investigated by the Norwegian Data Protection Agency. Last year, Facebook added the ability to use facial recognition technology to help to tag images as a default feature to users worldwide. Ove Skåra, communications manager at the Norwegian Data Protection Agency or Datatilsynet said: 'Facial recognition, is a technology that it is important to have critical view of, and see how it is actually used.' Outside of Europe, U.S. Senator Al Franken, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee's privacy subcommittee, called on Facebook to turn off the feature by default in July."
Ian Lamont writes "LendInk, a community for people interesting in using the lending features of the Kindle and Nook, has been shut down after some authors mistakenly thought the site was hosting pirated ebooks. The site brought together people who wanted to loan or borrow specific titles that are eligible for lending, and then sent them to Amazon or BarnesAndNoble.com to make the loans. Authors and publishers who were unaware of this feature of the Kindle and Nook, and/or mistakenly assumed the site was handing out pirated copies, were infuriated. LendInk's hosting company received hundreds of complaints and shut the site down. LendInk's owner says: 'The hosting company has offered to reinstate Lendink.com on the condition that I personally respond to all of the complaints individually. I have to say, I really do not know if it is worth the effort at this point. I have read the comments many of these people have posted and I don't think any form of communication will resolve the issues in their eyes. Most are only interested in getting money from me and others are only in it for the kill. They have no intentions of talking to me or working this out. So much for trying to start a business and live the American Dream.'"
chill writes "People have been discussing the raid on the Dotcom mansion for months, but now more details and video footage of that morning have begun to emerge from the trial. From the article: 'At 6.46am on January 20, the raid was underway. The helicopter carrying members of the elite special tactics group flew into the Coatesville home of Dotcom. "Ground units, Gates are open," someone says into the radio. Dotcom's pregnant wife their three children, some guests and about a dozen staff were also there. All is quiet below. Within seconds four armed members of the special tactics group ran towards the main door. The helicopter immediately took off. The main justification for using it at all was that Dotcom's security staff could have stopped police vehicles at the gates. But as the chopper flew out, ground forces were already arriving just seconds behind.'"
An anonymous reader writes "A U.S. government report released on Tuesday says the Federal Communications Commission needs to update its guidelines for limiting cell phone radio-frequency exposure. The limit was set in 1996 to an exposure rate of 1.6 watts per kilogram, and has not been updated since. The report does not advocate in favor of any particular research, and actually points out that the limit could possibly be raised, but says the FCC's rules have not kept pace with recent studies on the subject one way or the other. An executive for The Wireless Association said, 'The FCC has been vigilant in its oversight in this area and has set safety standards to make sure that radio frequency fields from wireless phones remain at what it has determined are safe levels. The FCC's safety standards include a 50-fold safety factor and, as the FCC has noted, are the most conservative in the world.'"
david.emery writes "In a document from the ongoing Samsung/Apple trial, provided in both English translation and Korean original, Samsung engineers provided a detailed comparison of user interface features in their phone against the iPhone. In almost all cases, the recommendation was to adopt the iPhone's approach. Among other observations, this shows how much work goes into defining the Apple iPhone user experience." Ars has an article on the evidence offered by Apple so far.
Billly Gates writes "Microsoft has confirmed that Internet Explorer 10 will have Do-Not-Track settings enabled by default. IE 10 comes with Windows 8, and will go release candidate for Windows 7 very soon, according to Anne Kohn in a comment in IE's blog. During Windows 8 setup, users who choose the 'Express' option will have DNT on by default, while using the 'Custom' option will give them the chance to change the setting, if they want. IE 10 already has a score of 319 in html5test.com, while MS is trying to position IE as a great browser again. Will this pressure other browsers such as Firefox and Opera to do the same?" When Microsoft began talking about this in May, it touched off quite a debate at W3C about whether browsers should have DNT turned on by default or not.
Lucas123 writes "Over the past three years, about 21 million patients have had their unencrypted medical records exposed in data security breaches that were big enough to require they be reported to the federal government. Each of the 477 breaches that were reported to the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) involved 500 or more patients, which the government posts on what the industry calls 'The Wall of Shame.' About 55,000 other breach reports involving fewer than 500 records where also reported to the OCR. Among the largest breaches reported was TRICARE Management Activity, the Department of Defense's health care program, which reported 4.9 million records lost when backup tapes went missing. Another five breaches involved 1 million or more records each. Yet, only two of the organizations involved in the breaches have been fined by the federal government."
New submitter rkhalloran writes "The remnants of the failed litigation engine that was the SCO Group has finally filed for liquidation under Chapter 7 of the bankruptcy code. 'There is no reasonable chance of "rehabilitation."' Groklaw describes the recent filing (PDF) thus: 'I will try my best to translate the legalese for you: the money is almost all gone, so it's not fun any more. SCO can't afford Chapter 11. We want to shut the costs down, because we'll never get paid. But it'd look stupid to admit the whole thing was ridiculous and SCO never had a chance to reorganize through its fantasy litigation hustle. Besides, Ralph Yarro and the other shareholders might sue. So they want the litigation to continue to swing in the breeze, just in case. But SCO has no money coming in and no other prospects, so they want to proceed in a cheaper way and shut this down in respects to everything else.' I guess that means the lawyers will suck the marrow from the carcass and leave the bones to bleach out in the sun."
Wired has an article about a ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals saying the government can't be sued over intercepting phone calls without a warrant. The decision (PDF) vacated an earlier ruling which allowed a case to be brought against the government. The plaintiffs in the case argued that the government had implicitly waived sovereign immunity, but today's ruling points out that it can only be waived explicitly. Judge McKeown wrote, "This case effectively brings to an end the plaintiffs’ ongoing attempts to hold the Executive Branch responsible for intercepting telephone conversations without judicial authorization." The ruling does, however, take time to knock down the government's claim that the case was brought frivolously: "In light of the complex, ever-evolving nature of this litigation, and considering the significant infringement on individual liberties that would occur if the Executive Branch were to disregard congressionally-mandated procedures for obtaining judicial authorization of international wiretaps, the charge of 'game-playing' lobbed by the government is as careless as it is inaccurate. Throughout, the plaintiffs have proposed ways of advancing their lawsuit without jeopardizing national security, ultimately going so far as to disclaim any reliance whatsoever on the Sealed Document. That their suit has ultimately failed does not in any way call into question the integrity with which they pursued it."
jfruh writes "One of the odder moments during the Oracle v. Google trial over Java patents came when patent blogger Florian Mueller disclosed that he had a 'consulting relationship' with Oracle. Now it looks like we're going to find out which other tech bloggers and journalists were on the payroll of one of the two sides in this epic fight. Judge William Alsup has ordered (PDF) that both parties disclose 'all authors, journalists, commentators or bloggers who have reported or commented on any issues in this case and who have received money (other than normal subscription fees) from the party or its counsel during the pendency of this action.'"
An anonymous reader writes "In a new study, Barracuda Labs analyzed a random sampling of more than 70,000 fake Twitter accounts that are being used to sell fake Twitter followers. They also analyzed some of the people that are using such fake followers including the recent example of U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney's Twitter account. Between Facebook's 10-Q filing stating that 83 million of its accounts are fake, to Mitt Romney's Twitter account recently falling under scrutiny for suspicious followings, fake social network profiles are a hot topic at the moment. And these fake profiles are at the center of a very vibrant and growing underground economy. This underground economy consists of dealers who create and sell the use of thousands of fake social accounts, and abusers who buy follows or likes from these fake accounts to boost their perceived popularity, sell advertising based on their now large social audience or conduct other malicious activity."