coondoggie writes "The U.S. Department of Homeland Security this week issued a call for unmanned systems makers to participate in a program that will ultimately determine their safety and performance for use in first responder, law enforcement and border security situations. In a twist that will certainly raise some eyebrows, the results of the program — called the Robotic Aircraft for Public Safety (RAPS) — will remain unavailable to the public, which, considering how involved the actual public may be with these drones is unfortunate."
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New submitter M0j0_j0j0 writes "After receiving 2000 complaints regarding 'illegal file sharing' from ACAPOR regarding P2P networks, the Portuguese prosecutor refused to take the case into court on the premise that file sharing is not illegal in the territory if files are for personal and not commercial use. The court also stated that the complaints had, as sole evidence, the IP address of users, and that it is a wrong statement to assume an IP address is directly related to one individual. TorrentFreak has a piece in English with more details (original source in Portuguese)."
angry tapir writes "Bitcoin exchanges generally don't seem to recover that easily after security breaches. However, BitFloor, which was hacked and had 24,000 Bitcoins stolen in early September, is coming back online, refunding account holders whose coins were stolen and implementing new security measures, including cold storage for private keys." The key word is "intends" — but I hope it happens as promised.
Mad Hamster writes "In the latest installment of the megaupload saga, an official study has determined that New Zealand's Government Communications and Security Bureau broke NZ law by spying on Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom. NZ Prime Minister John Key has apologised to Dotcom and all New Zealanders for this, saying they were entitled to be protected by the law but it had failed them. Link is to writeup in The Guardian." Lots of outlets are reporting this, based on TorrentFreak's report.
silentbrad writes "The CBC (among others) reports: "A Facebook spokesperson is denying reports that private messages sent by users on the social networking site have become public. The purported glitch began generating attention Monday after French newspaper Metro reported that private messages dating from 2007 to 2009 had become accessible to friends and acquaintances on their profile pages. Other newspapers across the country began reporting similar incidences, citing reports from the site's users. The issue may be related to Facebook moving to its Timeline layout worldwide. ... The company issued a statement in response, saying: 'A small number of users raised concerns after what they believed to be private messages appeared on their timeline. Our engineers investigated these reports and found that the messages were older wall posts that had always been visible on the users' profile pages. Facebook is satisfied that there has been no breach of user privacy.' TechCrunch.com wrote that there was no evidence the messages in question had been private, and posted an explanation from a company spokesperson. 'Every report we've seen, we've gone back and checked. We haven't seen one report that's been confirmed [of a private message being exposed]. A lot of the confusion is because before 2009 there were no likes and no comments on wall posts. People went back and forth with wall posts instead of having a conversation [in the comments of single wall post.]'"
chicksdaddy writes "File this one under 'proof of the obvious,' but researchers at the recent 4th International Workshop on Location Based Social Networks presented a paper proving that your activity on Foursquare can be used to reliably determine your hometown. A study of data on 13 million Foursquare accounts showed that researchers could infer 'with high accuracy' where a particular user lives based on their accumulation of mayorships, check-ins and tips. Specifically: the researchers could correctly infer the home town of the Foursquare users 78% of the time, within an accuracy of about 50 kilometers."
First time accepted submitter Cute and Cuddly writes in with some new Julian Assange news. "The U.S. military has designated Julian Assange and WikiLeaks as enemies of the United States — the same legal category as the al-Qaeda terrorist network and the Taliban insurgency. Declassified US Air Force counter-intelligence documents, released under US freedom-of-information laws, reveal that military personnel who contact WikiLeaks or WikiLeaks supporters may be at risk of being charged with 'communicating with the enemy.'"
h00manist writes that, as promised, "The police executed an order to detain Google's top executive in Brazil (Original in Portuguese), Fábio José Silva Coelho. Google refused an order to remove a YouTube video which accused a mayoral candidate of several crimes. Police say he will be released today; Brazilian law for the case allows for a one-year max sentence. Streisand Effect, anyone?"
An anonymous reader writes "In an apparent reaction to the security vulnerabilities demonstrated by The H's associates at heise Security, the company behind WhatsApp Messenger is taking action against the developers of a library of functions for using the WhatsApp service via a PC. The developers have responded by removing the source code from the web. However, the popular texting alternative WhatsApp still has a major security problem. Attackers can compromise other users' accounts with relative ease, and send and receive messages from another user's account. Forked versions of the code are still available on Github."
OverTheGeicoE writes "The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) recently filed a petition to force the Department of Homeland Security to start its public comment period on body scanners within 60 days or stop using them entirely. The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has issued its ruling (PDF), and has refused EPIC's petition. DHS told the court earlier that it expected to have a formal rule proposal on body scanners by the end of February, so the court denied EPIC's motion on the expectation that public comment period would start by late March. TFA and this submission have a pessimistic headline on this ruling, but other sources seem to think the glass is half-full, and that EPIC in effect got what it wanted. Is this a victory or a defeat? Will the rulemaking process start on time, or will a TSA dog eat the proposed rule in late March and force further delay?"
Trailrunner7 writes with one perspective on the inability of the Congress to pass 'cybersecurity' legislation before recessing. From the article: "They've taken innumerable swings at it, and struck out every time, ... and, for once, we all should be thankful for our lawmakers' inability to act. ... What it's not good at is understanding the Internet or acting swiftly and decisively. The current cybersecurity legislation mess is the perfect combination of those two factors. Corporations and government agencies in the U.S. have been getting their heads handed to them by attackers from around the world for several years now. Long-term, persistent campaigns have been targeting defense contractors, energy and utility companies, manufacturing firms, and government agencies with an alarming rate of success. But Congress, or at least some members of it, don't seem to understand that. Sen. Joseph Lieberman sent a letter Monday to President Obama, comparing the threat to U.S. networks from foreign attackers to the threat from terrorists before 9/11. He then urged the president to use his executive authority to somehow influence the situation. Let's be clear: If the companies that own and operate critical infrastructure — not to mention defense contractors — don't understand the nature of the threat they're facing at this point, no amount of incentives will change that. Neither Congress nor the President can fix this problem with the kinds of solutions they're considering." Reader CurseYouKhan links to a different perspective: "Chabinsky is the latest of several former Federal security types to issue warnings on the topic. Earlier this year, Shawn Henry, who recently retired as the Bureau’s top cyber-sleuth, also called for a more offense-minded approach. Ex-CIA director Michael Hayden thinks the private sector may not wait for the government to act. He expects to see the emergence of a 'digital Blackwater,' or the emergence of firms that could be hired to go all mercenary on online intruders."
nonprofiteer writes with news on what SceneTap has been up to for the last few months since. From the article: "SceneTap uses facial recognition technology to help bar-hoppers decide which night spot to go to based on how crowded a bar is and what the age and gender ratio is. ... Despite the fact that what the app does now is fairly innocuous. But what the app could do in the future, as described in a patent application filed in June, is pretty creepy. The patent application describes much more detailed data collection, including bar goers' race, height, weight, attractiveness, hair color, clothing type, and the presence of facial hair or glasses, and includes other possibilities usually left to the realm of dystopic fiction, including putting microphones in the cameras that could detect what customers are saying, and using facial recognition technology to identify customers and then get information about them from social networking websites and databases to determine 'relationship status, intelligence, education and income for the entire venue.'"
SternisheFan writes with news of a settlement in a case of Rent-to-Own firms grossly violating the privacy of their customers. From the article: "Seven rent-to-own companies and a software developer have settled federal charges that they spied on customers, ... The companies captured screenshots of confidential and personal information, logged keystrokes, and took webcam pictures of people in their homes. Their aim was to track the computers belonging to customers who were behind with their payments. 'An agreement to rent a computer doesn't give a company license to access consumers' private emails, bank account information, and medical records, or, even worse, webcam photos of people in the privacy of their own homes,' says FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz. 'The FTC orders today will put an end to their cyber spying.' Developer DesignerWare produced the software that was used to gather the information, PC Rental Agent. The package included a 'kill switch' designed to disable a computer of it was stolen, or if payments weren't made. However, an add-on program called Detective Mode could log key strokes, capture screen shots and take photographs using a computer's webcam, says the FTC in its complaint (PDF)."
CuteSteveJobs writes "The Age reports on creeping Australian government surveillance, beginning with the first operation launched on a baseless rumor. Six decades later the still-unaware victim read five months of transcripts with deep distress. Two decades ago few Australians would have consented to carrying a government-accessible tracking device, but phone and tablet data accessible without a warrant includes historic and real-time location data. In 2010-2011 there were 250,000 warrantless accesses by Federal agencies including ASIO, AFP, the Tax Office, Defence, Immigration, Citizenship, Health, Ageing, and Medicare. This is 18 times the rate of similar requests in the U.S."
Techmeology writes "The Dutch Supreme Court has asked the European Court of Justice to decide whether downloading copyrighted material for personal use — even from illegal sources — is legal. At the heart of the debate is whether the European Copyright Directive requires that any new legal copy of material must have originated from a copy that is itself legal. The case tests the law in the Netherlands, where copyright holders are granted a levy on blank media in exchange for the legalization of private copying." In the Netherlands, it is already legal to download from illegal sources. But EU law might conflict and trump that.