New submitter ferrisoxide.com writes "In Victoria (Australia), detailed information about electricity customers' power usage, which gives insights into when a house is occupied, is being shared with third parties including mail houses, debt collectors, data processing analysts and government agencies."
theodp writes "As part of the economic stimulus program, the Obama administration put into effect a Bush-era incentive program that provides tens of billions of dollars for physicians and hospitals that make the switch to electronic records, using systems like Athenahealth [note: video advertisement] (which made U.S. CTO Todd Park a wealthy man). The goal was not only to improve efficiency and patient safety, but also to reduce health care costs. But, in reality, the move to electronic health records may be contributing to billions of dollars in higher costs for Medicare, private insurers and patients by making it easier for hospitals and physicians to bill more for their services, whether or not they provide additional care. Hospitals received $1 billion more in Medicare reimbursements in 2010 than they did five years earlier, at least in part by changing the billing codes they assign to patients in emergency rooms, according to a NY Times analysis. There are also fears that features which can be used to automatically generate detailed patient histories and clone examination findings for multiple patients make it too easy to give the appearance that more thorough exams were conducted than perhaps were. Critics say the abuses are widespread. 'It's like doping and bicycling,' said Dr. Donald W. Simborg. 'Everybody knows it's going on.'"
SquarePixel writes "Google has yanked its free music service in China after being unable to make it popular enough. The service offered Chinese people free licensed music downloads and was launched in 2009 to compete with the rival search engine Baidu. 'Once China's second largest search provider, Google has now fallen to fourth place, overtaken by other local companies. — Google's popularity in the country has waned ever since 2010, when the company pulled the plug on its China-based search engine following disputes with the government over censorship and hacking concerns. Google's market share is at 5 percent, while Baidu's is 74 percent.'"
doug141 writes "A Colorado county put bar codes on printed ballots in a last minute effort to comply with a rule about eliminating identifying markings. Citizens sued, because the bar codes can still be traced back to individual voters. In a surprise ruling, Denver U.S. District Judge Christine Arguello said the U.S. Constitution did not contain a 'fundamental right' to secret ballots, and that the citizens could not show their voting rights had been violated, nor that they might suffer any specific injury from the bar codes."
An anonymous reader writes "Scheduled to be released next month, Ubuntu 12.10 now includes both Amazon ads in the user's dash and by default an Amazon store in the user's launcher. The reason for these 'features'? Affiliate revenue. Despite previous controversies with Banshee and Yahoo, Canonical is 'confident it will be an interesting and useful feature for our 12.10 users.' But are the 'users' becoming products?" Update: 09/22 19:35 GMT by T : Reader bkerensa scoffs, calling the Amazon integration unobtrusive, and says objections to its inclusion in the OS should be ignored, "because in reality ads will not be found in 12.10 unless you are seeing them on a third party website you go to in a web browser." He's got screenshots.
shortyadamk writes "According to the Government Services Administration auction page: 'Attention GSA Auctions bidders and interested participants. NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) Space Shuttle Program has retired and NASA has partnered with GSA Auctions to sell the many shuttle related items through a series of auctions in 2012.' The only catch is that you must be a U.S. Citizen and schedule a visit 48 hours ahead of time to pick up your item. I'm not really sure which piece of the shuttle I'd want the most... Those robotic arms are pretty sweet."
tetrahedrassface writes "Rasbmc developer Sam Nazarko is reporting that Xbian had violated the GPL and stolen his installer code without providing attribution and not releasing their source. His breakdown of events is interesting, and currently the Xbian project has been taken offline with several tweets saying Xbian development is terminated."
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft doesn't like long passwords. In fact, the software giant not only won't let you use a really long one in Hotmail, but the company recently started prompting users to only enter the first 16 characters of their password. Let me rephrase that: if you have a password that has more than 16 characters, it will no longer work. Microsoft is making your life easier! You no longer have to input your whole password! Just put in the first 16 characters!" At least they warn you; I've run into some sites over the years that silently drop characters after an arbitrary limit.
Qedward writes "Freedom to go under a pseudonym is, miraculously, one freedom to survive the security lock-down of the previous decade. Now Facebook wants to change this. James Firth shows Facebook is clamping down on pseudonyms, with an interesting screenshot of being asked whether a friend is using their real name."
scibri writes "Think the imprisonment of Pussy Riot is a miscarriage of justice? Check out the story of their cellmate: Chemist Olga Nikolaevna Zelenina heads a laboratory at the Penza Agricultural Institute. She is an expert in the biology of hemp and poppy, and is a sought-after expert in legal cases involving narcotics produced from these plants. Last year, she was asked by defense lawyers to give her opinion in a case involving imported poppy seeds. The prosecutors didn't like her evidence though, and now she's in prison accused of complicity in organized drug trafficking."
SquarePixel writes "Facebook has disabled face recognition features on its site for all new European users. The move follows privacy recommendations made by the Irish Data Protection Commissioner. Tag Suggest information has been turned off for new users, and Facebook plans to delete the information for existing EU users by October 15th. 'The DPC says today’s report (PDF) is the result of evaluations it made through the first half of 2012 and on-site at Facebook’s HQ in Dublin over the course of two days in May and four in July. The DPC says FB has made just about all of the improvements it requested in five key areas: better transparency for the user in how their data is handled; user control over settings; more clarity on the retention periods for the deletion of personal data, and users getting more control over deleting things; an improvement in how users can access their personal data; and the ability of Facebook to be able to better track how they are complying with data protection requirements.'"
dcblogs writes "A Republican-led effort to issue up to 55,000 STEM visas a year to students who earn advanced degrees at U.S. universities was defeated in a House vote. It needed a two-thirds vote, or about 290 ayes, for approval. Its supporters came up short, 257 to 158. Both parties support green cards for science, technology, engineering and math advanced degree grads, but can't agree on legislation. U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who has introduced his own STEM bill, urged House leaders to seek new negotiations: 'A bipartisan compromise can easily be ready for the lame duck session. There is too broad a consensus in favor of this policy to settle for gridlock.'"
pigrabbitbear writes "Is bottled beer nuclear bombproof? The United States government conducted a couple tests in the 1950s to find out—it exploded nuclear bombs with 'packaged commercial beverages' deposited at varying distances from the blast center to see if beer and soda would be safe to drink afterwards. The finding? Yep, surviving bottled and canned drinks can be consumed in the event of a nuclear holocaust, without major health risks."
Nofsck Ingcloo writes "CNet has published a guest column by Eric Wheeler warning the world of the evil consequences of Do Not Track. In it he makes strong (I would claim exaggerated) arguments in favor of targeted advertising. He claims the threat of political action on Do Not Track should, 'strike fear into the hearts of every company that does business online....' He speaks of compromising a $300 billion industry, which I read as being the industry composed of online advertisers and all their clients. He clearly thinks the trade off between freedom from snooping and free access to web content always favors free access. He concludes his arguments by saying, 'Taken as a whole, the potentially dire impact of Do Not Track is clear: the end of the free internet and a crippling blow to the technology industry.' He then goes on to advocate contacting legislators and the FTC in opposition to Do Not Track."
Reader Presto Vivace blesses us with news that the state of New Jersey "has banned motorists from making big smiles [for their license pictures] because such expressions don't work with facial recognition software." Now that passports are by decree grim and glasses-free, I'm expecting the next phase to involve the banning of facial hair, lips, and any hair that blocks the ears.
First time accepted submitter David Off writes "In 2008 a Skype user looking for cheap rate gateway numbers found himself connected to the Bank of France where he was asked for a password. He typed 1 2 3 4 5 6 and found himself connected to their computer system. The intrusion was rapidly detected but led to the system being frozen for 48 hours as a security measure. Two years of extensive international police inquiries eventually traced the 37-year-old unemployed Breton despite the fact he'd used his real address when he registered with Skype. The man was found not guilty in court today (Original, in French) of maliciously breaking into the bank."
Hugh Pickens writes "Kia Makarechi reports that Neil Young isn't particularly concerned with the effects of piracy on artists but is more concerned that the files that are being shared are of such low quality. 'It doesn't affect me because I look at the internet as the new radio,' says Young. 'I look at the radio as gone. Piracy is the new radio. That's how music gets around. That's the radio. If you really want to hear it, let's make it available, let them hear it, let them hear the 95 percent of it.' Young is primarily concerned about whether the MP3 files we're all listening to actually are pretty poor from an audio-quality standpoint. Young's main concern is that your average MP3 file only contains about five percent of the audio from an original recording and is pushing a new format called Pono that would be 'high-resolution' digital tracks of the same quality as that produced during the studio recording. Young wants to see better music recording and high resolution recording, but we're not anywhere near that and hopes that 'some rich guy' will solve the problem of creating and distributing '100 percent' of the sound in music. 'Steve Jobs was a pioneer of digital music, his legacy was tremendous. But when he went home, he listened to vinyl.'"
First time accepted submitter jaymz666 writes "Can a court really order you to delete a Facebook account? When Asher initially appeared in court after the July 20 accident, the judge told her to delete her Facebook account, Kittinger said. Asher did not take it seriously, and was charged with contempt of court when the judge learned her Facebook page was still active. Seems like a big overreach."
McGruber writes "Arthur Firstenberg, the Santa Fe, New Mexico man who sued his neighbors, claiming their Wi-Fi made him sick, has lost what might have been his final round in court. According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, state District Judge Sarah Singleton ruled that no scientific study has yet proved that electromagnetic stimulus adversely impacts personal health. While he lost the lawsuit, he did score a victory: the neighbors he sued have moved out of Santa Fe."