drdread66 writes "A nationwide corn shortage brought on by last year's drought has started to curtail ethanol production. While this shouldn't be surprising to anyone, it raises public policy issues regarding ethanol usage requirements in motor fuel. Given that the energy efficiency of ethanol fuel is questionable at best, is it time to lift the mandate for ethanol in our gasoline?"
Slashdot Deals: Cyber Monday Sale! Courses ranging from coding to project management - all eLearning deals 25% off with coupon code "CYBERMONDAY25". ×
First time accepted submitter CarlosF writes "Does Lunar New Year belong alongside those other red-letter days? Efforts to recognize Lunar New Year at the state and local level have been afoot for years. In 1994, San Francisco decided to close public schools on Lunar New Year, but this was largely a response to demographic reality rather than political pressure."
An anonymous reader writes "Ars is reporting that the patent-holding company, along with the heirs of Dutch programmer, Joannes Jozef Everardus Van Der Meer (deceased 2004), have filed suit against Facebook for violating two patents relating to social media web sites. The two patents in question were filed for back in 1998, a full four years before Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg first entered university at Harvard. Among the claims made in the lawsuit is that Facebook's "Like" button violates one of Van Der Meer's patents. Facebook even cited one of Van Der Meer's patents in one of their own filings later on. The suit seeks unspecified damages."
McGruber writes "The Federal Times, a weekly print newspaper published by Gamnett Government Media Corp, is reporting that the Rapiscan Systems 'backscatter' passenger screening machines used by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration will likely be redeployed to federal buildings. Rapiscan System's backscatter machines have exposed passengers to radiation since they were first installed. As previously reported on Slashdot, TSA decided last month to stop using the machines because the manufacturer was unable to make changes to the machines that were mandated by Congress. Now TSA is attempting to sucker another federal agency into taking the nude-o-scopes."
walterbyrd writes "Microsoft scored a victory against Google-owned Motorola Mobility this week after a judge scrapped 13 of the latter party's patent claims in a years-long dispute over H.264-related royalties. Waged in U.S. and German courts, the battle involves three patents (7,310,374, 7,310,375, and 7,310,376) that Motorola licenses to Microsoft for several products, including the Xbox 360, Windows and Windows Phone. PJ is commenting on the case over at Groklaw.net."
An anonymous reader writes "Slate provides the first-person account of a CEO who received an e-mail with several business documents attached threatening to distribute them to competitors and business partners unless the CEO paid $150,000. 'Experts I consulted told me that the hacking probably came from government monitors who wanted extra cash,' writes the CEO, who successfully ended the extortion with an e-mail from the law firm from the bank of his financial partner, refusing payment and adding that the authorities had been notified. According to the article, IT providers routinely receive phone calls from their service providers if they detect any downtime on the monitors of network traffic installed by the Chinese government, similar to the alerts provided to telecom providers about VoIP fraud on their IP-PBX switches. 'Hundreds of millions of Chinese operate on the Internet without any real sense of privacy, fully aware that a massive eavesdropping apparatus tracks their every communication and move...' writes the CEO. 'With China's world and ours intersecting online, I expect we'll eventually wonder how we could have been so naive to have assumed that privacy was normal- or that breaches of it were news.'"
First time accepted submitter rogue-girl writes that a "Cairo Administrative Court announced earlier on Feb. 9 that a ruling has been issued to block YouTube within the country for 30 days. This decision comes after a lawsuit was filed back in September 2012 during the turmoil caused by the infamous trailer 'The Innocence of Muslims' spread through the popular video platform. The Court has also asked for all websites having published parts or the entire trailer to be banned for 30 days."
An anonymous reader writes "Distributel, an independent Canadian ISP, has fought back in a file sharing lawsuit by opposing a motion to disclose the names of subscribers alleged to have engaged in file sharing. The company did not oppose a similar request in November 2012, but says in court documents filed on Friday that several factors led to a change in position after it received another request for more names. Those concerns include evidence of copyright trolling, privacy issues, and weak evidence of actual infringement by its subscribers. The decision to fight back points to mounting ISP frustration in Canada with file sharing lawsuits that come after the Canadian government sent clear signals that such actions were unwelcome."
Wired reports that the 3-D printed AR-15 magazine from Defense Distributed we mentioned a few weeks back has been improved through design, and is now robust enough to last through firing (at least) several hundred rounds, rather than fewer than a hundred as in the previous iteration. CNET says the video demonstration on YouTube was first yanked, then restored, but as of now seems to have been yanked again.
New submitter terbeaux writes "The documentary TPB AFK follows the creators of The Pirate Bay — Peter Sunde, Fredrik Neij and Gottfrid Svartholm — through their technical and logistical trials of keeping TPB online as well as their court appearances in Sweden. After its premiere at Berlin International Film Festival, TechCrunch is reporting that TPB AFK is now available under a Creative Commons license for purchase, download on TPB, or viewing on YouTube. The budget for the film was raised on Kickstarter, where the makers achieved twice the funding goal in the allotted month-long funding campaign. The film already has 40,000 YouTube views, 19,000 torrent seeders, and over 2,000 paid downloads. There are public screenings happening world-wide."
dreamstateseven writes "In a not-so-unexpected move, the Department of Homeland Security has concluded that travelers along the nation's borders may have their electronics seized and the contents of those devices examined for any reason whatsoever — all in the name of national security. According to legal precedent, the Fourth Amendment — the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures — does not apply along the border. The memo highlights the friction between today's reality that electronic devices have become virtual extensions of ourselves housing everything from e-mail to instant-message chats to photos and our papers and effects — juxtaposed against the government's stated quest for national security. By the way, the government contends the Fourth-Amendment-Free Zone stretches 100 miles inland from the nation's actual border."
New submitter ElDuque writes "Slate's top story today is a long, heavily-researched article about the life of, and case against, Aaron Swartz. It covers the formative years of both Mr. Swartz and the free information / open knowledge movement he felt so strongly about. Quoting: 'Aaron Swartz is a difficult puzzle. He was a programmer who resisted the description, a dot-com millionaire who lived in a rented one-room studio. He could be a troublesome collaborator but an effective troubleshooter. He had a talent for making powerful friends, and for driving them away. He had scores of interests, and he indulged them all. ... He was fascinated by large systems, and how an organization’s culture and values could foster innovation or corruption, collaboration or paranoia. Why does one group accept a 14-year-old as an equal partner among professors and professionals while another spends two years pursuing a court case that’s divorced from any sense of proportionality to the alleged crime? How can one sort of organization develop a young man like Aaron Swartz, and how can another destroy him?'"
Presto Vivace sends this news from the Hill: "House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and ranking member Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) said Friday that they plan to re-introduce the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) next week during a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. The bill is aimed at improving information-sharing about cyber threats between government and industry so cyberattacks can be thwarted in real time. ... It would also encourage companies to share anonymous cyber-threat information with one another, and provide liability protection for businesses so they don't get hit with legal action for sharing data about cyber threats. " You may recall CISPA from last year, when it was hailed as being even worse than SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act. We discussed why it was a bad bill back then; the new version is reportedly identical, so all of the same reasons will apply. The bill stalled last year against White House plans to veto it. Congressman Rogers said this about privacy fears: "We're talking about exchanging packets of information, zeroes and ones, if you will, one hundred millions times a second. So some notion that this is a horrible invasion of content reading is wrong. It is not even close to that." Don't worry folks; it's just zeroes and ones.
theodp writes "Got Milk? Got Milk Delivery Patent? Perhaps unfamiliar with the concept of the Milkman, the USPTO has granted Amazon.com a patent for the Recurring Delivery of Products , an idea five Amazon inventors came up with to let customers schedule product deliveries to their doorsteps or mailboxes on a recurring basis, without needing to submit a new order every time. 'For instance,' the filing explains, 'a customer may request delivery of one bunch of bananas every week and two gallons of milk every two weeks.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "The U.S. Department of Justice has just settled with book publisher Macmillan in an ongoing case over the price of e-books, bringing its number of settlements with big-name publishers up to five. Justice claims that those five publishers, along with Apple, agreed to 'raise retail e-book prices and eliminate price competition, substantially increasing prices paid by consumers.' Apple competes fiercely in the digital-media space against Amazon, which often discounts the prices of Kindle e-books as a competitive gambit; although all five publishers earn significant revenues from sales of Kindle e-books, Amazon's massive popularity among book-buyers — coupled with the slow decline of bricks-and-mortar bookstores — gives it significant leverage when it comes to lowering those e-book prices as it sees fit. But Justice and Apple seem determined to keep their court date later this year."
First time accepted submitter admiral snackbar writes "The European Court of Human Rights has declared that the copyright monopoly stands in direct conflict with fundamental Human Rights, as defined in the European Union and elsewhere. 'For the first time in a judgment on the merits, the European Court of Human Rights has clarified that a conviction based on copyright law for illegally reproducing or publicly communicating copyright protected material can be regarded as an interference with the right of freedom of expression and information under Article 10 of the European Convention [on Human Rights]. Such interference must be in accordance with the three conditions enshrined in the second paragraph of Article 10 of the Convention. This means that a conviction or any other judicial decision based on copyright law, restricting a person's or an organization's freedom of expression, must be pertinently motivated as being necessary in a democratic society, apart from being prescribed by law and pursuing a legitimate aim.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "Software developer Jeff Cogswell is back with an extensive under-the-hood breakdown of Facebook's Graph Search, trying to see if peoples' privacy concerns about the social network's search engine are entirely justified. His conclusion? 'Some of the news articles I've read talk about how Graph Search will start small and slowly grow as it accumulates more information. This is wrong—Graph Search has been accumulating information since the day Facebook opened and the first connections were made in the internal graph structure,' he writes. 'People were nervous about Google storing their history, but it pales in comparison to the information Facebook already has on you, me, and roughly a billion other people.' There's much more at the link, including a handy breakdown of graph theory."
Frequent contributor Bennett Haselton is still thinking about prediction markets, and giving away money. He writes: "In an article last December I described a problem with prediction markets, where even markets with cap on betting limits could be manipulated by a single trader willing to spend a lot of money to distort the marketplace odds. So I offered a $100 cash prize to be split between readers who collectively came up with the best solution to the problem. Here's an idea that I think would work." Read on for the rest.
New submitter jdela writes "Finnish Minister for Justice Anna-Maja Henriksson backs expanding FInland's child pornography blocklist to also include websites with animal porn and largely-undefined 'violent pornography.' Her proposal does not have the unanimous backing of the Finnish government, with Minister of Interior Päivi Räsänen doubting the need to expand pornography blocks. Under current law, adopted in 2006, the Finnish NBI maintains a blocklist of foreign sites linked to child pornography. This blocklist is enforced on Finnish Internet users."
chicksdaddy writes "To paraphrase a quote attributed to F. Scott Fitzgerald: 'Rich countries aren't like everyone else. They have less malware.' That's the conclusion of a special Security Intelligence Report from Microsoft, anyway. The special supplement, released on Wednesday, investigated the links between rates of computer infections and a range of national characteristics including the relative wealth of a nation, observance of the rule of law and the rate of software piracy. The conclusion: cyber security (by Microsoft's definition: low rates of malware infection) correlated positively with many characteristics of wealthy nations – high Gross Income Per Capita, higher broadband penetration and investment in R&D and high rates of literacy. It correlated negatively with characteristics common in poorer nations – like demographic instability, political instability and lower levels of education.'"
ananyo writes "How open do researchers want open-access papers to be? Apparently, not that open — when given a choice of licenses, most opt to limit the use of data and words in their open-access publications, according to figures released by the open-access journal Scientific Reports. Since July 2012 the journal has been offering researchers a choice of three types of license. The first, most liberal license, CC-BY, allows anyone, even commercial organizations, to re-use it. A more restrictive version, CC-BY-NC-SA, lets others remix, tweak and build on work if they give credit to the original author, but only for non-commercial (NC) purposes, and only if they license what they produce under the same terms (SA, or 'share-alike'). A third licence, CC-BY-NC-ND, is the most restrictive, allowing others to download and share work, but not to change it in any way (ND, 'no derivative works'), or use it commercially. The results from Scientific Reports shows that, for the 685 papers accepted by the journal, authors chose either of the more restrictive licences 95% of the time — and the most restrictive, CC-BY-NC-ND, 68% of the time."
jfruh writes "The MPAA and other entertainment industry groups have been locked for years in a legal struggle against Newzbin2, a Usenet-indexing site. Since Newzbin2 profited from making it easier for users to find pirated movies online, the MPAA contends they can sue to take those profits on behalf of members who produced that content in the first place. But a British court has rejected that argument."
ianare writes "A propaganda video from the North Korean authorities has been removed from YouTube following a copyright claim by games maker Activision. It shows a space craft flying around the world and eventually over a city resembling New York. The buildings are then seen crumbling amid fires and missile attacks. However, the dramatic images (video) were soon recognized as having been lifted from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. By Tuesday, the video had been blocked, with a message notifying users of Activision's complaint shown in its place."
An anonymous reader writes "According to an Al-Jazeera report, 'Charlottesville, Virginia is the first city in the United States to pass an anti-drone resolution. The writing of the resolution coincides with a leaked memo outlining the legal case for drone strikes on U.S. citizens and a Federal Aviation Administration plan to allow the deployment of some 30,000 domestic drones.' The finalized resolution is fairly weak, but it's a start. There is also some anti-drone legislation in the Oregon state Senate, and it has much bigger teeth. It defines public airspace as anything above your shoelaces, and the wording for 'drone' is broad enough to include RC helicopters and the like."
An anonymous reader writes "Michael Geist reports that a coalition of Canadian industry groups, including the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Marketing Association, the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association and the Entertainment Software Association of Canada, are demanding legalized spyware for private enforcement purposes. The potential scope of coverage is breathtaking: a software program secretly installed by an entertainment software company designed to detect or investigate alleged copyright infringement would be covered by this exception. This exception could potentially cover programs designed to block access to certain websites (preventing the contravention of a law as would have been the case with SOPA), attempts to access wireless networks without authorization, or even keylogger programs tracking unsuspecting users (detection and investigation)."
New submitter jzoetewey writes "An author I know (MCA Hogarth) recently had her book Spots the Space Marine taken off Amazon because Games Workshop claimed it violated their trademark. The interesting thing? Their trademark doesn't include ebooks or novels. Unfortunately, she doesn't have the money to fight them. Plus, the idea of a space marine was around long before they were: 'In their last email to me, Games Workshop stated that they believe that their recent entrée into the e-book market gives them the common law trademark for the term “space marine” in all formats. If they choose to proceed on that belief, science fiction will lose a term that’s been a part of its canon since its inception.' Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing also made this important point: 'Amazon didn't have to honor the takedown notice. Takedown notices are a copyright thing, a creature of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. They don't apply to trademark claims. This is Amazon taking voluntary steps that are in no way required in law.'"
Kwyj1b0 writes "The Whitehouse plans to open up the APIs to its 'We the People' initiative. The first set of Read APIs (allowing anyone to read data on petitions) will be released in March 2013. In addition, selected people will be invited to attend the White House Open Data Day Hackathon on February 22nd. Write APIs will follow, allowing people to extend petition capabilities to their own sites. Privacy, of course, should be an important concern that needs to be addressed."
Hugh Pickens writes "The Postal Service has been losing billions of dollars each year as Americans increasingly rely on online communications that drive down mail volumes. Now, Reuters reports that the Postal Service plans to drop Saturday delivery of first-class mail by August, saving $2 billion per year. 'The Postal Service is advancing an important new approach to delivery that reflects the strong growth of our package business and responds to the financial realities resulting from America's changing mailing habits,' says Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe. But the Postal Service is already facing some pushback for moving forward with delivery schedule changes. 'Today's announcement by Postmaster General Donahoe to eliminate six-day delivery is yet another death knell for the quality service provided by the U.S. Postal Service,' says Jeanette Dwyer, president of the National Rural Letter Carriers' Association. 'To erode this service will undermine the Postal Service's core mission and is completely unacceptable.' Package deliveries will continue under the new plan and were a bright spot in a bleak 2012 fiscal year, with package revenue rising 8.7 percent during the year. Donahoe says the changes would allow the Postal Service to continue benefiting from rising package deliveries as Americans order more products from sites such as eBay Inc and Amazon.com Inc."
First time accepted submitter ios and web coder writes "From the article: 'A dizzying story that involves falsified medical research, plagiarism, and legal threats came to light via a DMCA takedown notice today. Retraction Watch, a site that followed (among many other issues) the implosion of a Duke cancer researcher's career, found all of its articles on the topic pulled by WordPress, its host. The reason? A small site based in India apparently copied all of the posts, claimed them as their own, then filed a DMCA takedown notice to get the originals pulled from their source. As of now, the originals are still missing as their actual owners seek to have them restored.' This is extremely worrying. Even though the original story is careful not to make accusations, I will. This sure smells like a 'Reputation Defense' dirty trick."
itwbennett writes "DARPA (the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) has awarded $3 million to software provider Continuum Analytics to help fund the development of Python's data processing and visualization capabilities for big data jobs. The money will go toward developing new techniques for data analysis and for visually portraying large, multi-dimensional data sets. The work aims to extend beyond the capabilities offered by the NumPy and SciPy Python libraries, which are widely used by programmers for mathematical and scientific calculations, respectively. The work is part of DARPA's XData research program, a four-year, $100 million effort to give the Defense Department and other U.S. government agencies tools to work with large amounts of sensor data and other forms of big data."
PatrickRIot writes "Aeon Magazine ran a longform critique of Open Source politics last week titled 'Open Sesame: "Openness" is the new magic word in politics – but should governments really be run like Wikipedia?' It referenced Tim O'Reilly and the man himself has stepped in at the bottom of the page for a detailed and lengthy rejoinder. 'I'm a bit surprised to learn that my ideas of "government as a platform" are descended from Eric Raymond's ideas about Linux, since: a) Eric is a noted libertarian with disdain for government b) Eric's focus on Linux was on its software development methodology. From the start, I was the open source activist focused on the power of platforms, arguing the role for the architecture of Unix and the Internet in powering the open source movement. ... One thing that distresses me about this discussion is the notion that somehow, if open government doesn't solve every problem, or creates new problems as it solves others, it is a failed movement. The world doesn't go forward in a straight line! The "open" democracy experiment of 1776 is still ongoing; we're trying to figure out how to use technology to adapt it to the 21st century and a country with a hundredfold greater population.'"
An anonymous reader writes "A copyright monitoring program called MarkMonitor mistakenly flagged HBO.com for pirating its own shows, and sent automatic DMCA takedown notices to the network. It's a funny story, until you realize that MarkMonitor is the same software that will power the U.S. Copyright Alerts System (a.k.a. "Six Strikes"), due to be rolled out by the five largest U.S. ISPs sometime in the next month."
chiguy writes with this snippet From NBC News: "The Equifax credit reporting agency, with the aid of thousands of human resource departments around the country, has assembled...[a database]...containing 190 million employment and salary records covering more than one-third of U.S. adults...[Equifax] says [it] is adding 12 million records annually.' This salary information is for sale: "Its database is so detailed that it contains week-by-week paystub information dating back years for many individuals, as well as ... health care provider, whether someone has dental insurance and if they've ever filed an unemployment claim.""
New submitter oztechmuse writes "Australian Telco Telstra is planning to trial shaping some BitTorrent traffic during peak hours. Like all other telcos worldwide, they are facing increasing traffic with a long tail of users: 20% of users consume 80% of bandwidth. The problem is, telcos in Australia are already shaping BitTorrent traffic as a study by Measurement Lab has shown and traffic use continues to increase. Also, the 20% of broadband users consuming the most content will just find a different way of accessing the content and so overall traffic is unlikely to be reduced."
theodp writes "Back in Biblical times, creating abundance was considered innovative. That was then. Last Tuesday, GeekWire reports, the USPTO awarded Amazon.com a broad patent on reselling and lending 'used' digital goods for an invention that Amazon boasts can be used to 'maintain scarcity' of digital objects, including audio files, eBooks, movies, apps, and pretty much anything else."
An anonymous reader writes "In a move that might dampen the popularity of Airbnb's site for Amsterdam, the city government is now using the accommodation listing service as a source of tips about illegal rental property. 'Airbnb is never a smoking gun,' said Jan-Jaap Eikelboom, spokesman for the city of Amsterdam, regarding use of the service. But the government does use Airbnb and its competitors to compare its own nuisance data with street listings on sites like Airbnb, and has been doing so for a while, he said. This combined information can come in handy when investigating suspicious buildings and can help with spotting illegal activity, he said."
ahziem writes "As author of the BleachBit system cleaner, I received a polite but firm request from Piriform, makers of the similar application CCleaner, to remove a two-year-old feature from BleachBit that allows individual BleachBit users to import winapp2.ini data files created by the community that define which files to delete for applications. Does Piriform's request have merit? Do I need a lawyer? What is a good response to avoid any ugly situation?"
Nate the greatest writes "The developer of the popular Android app Moon+ Reader was surprised to discover this weekend that he is a filthy stinking pirate. Google informed him via an automated email that Moon+ Reader had been removed from Google Play because the app had switched to using pirate sites as the main sources of ebooks. Or at least, that's what LitRes claims, but when they complained to Google LitRes didn't tell the whole truth. What was really happening is that users of the app are enabling piracy, not the app itself. Thanks to the way Moon+ Reader is designed to let users share links to ebook sources some of the sources are indeed pirate sites (less than your average Google Search). In reality the app was no more a source of pirated content than your average web browser. What do you say when an ebook distributor's anti-piracy plan involves going after app developers rather than pirate sites? Something printable, IMO."
lcam writes "A Richard Stallman opinion piece appears at Reuters addressing the 'Too big to fail' view that has recently caused large corporations to be bailed out by taxpayer dollars. His solution is elegant: 'We tax a company’s gross income, with a tax rate that increases as the company gets bigger. Companies would be able to reduce their tax rates by splitting themselves up.' However, it could use some refining. For example, his measure would create a required minimum 'Return on Investment' scale that corporations need to follow to be viable, and these types of metrics are very industry specific. Another issue is that many large corporations stay in business because they don't take unnecessary risk. Companies like Intel, Lockheed, Walmart are very large and have a very low chance of failure, yet Stallman would have them split up as a result of the excessive risks that banks and insurance companies were seen to have taken. It also has the potential to cause problems with the global market; some multinationals may find it better to simply 'move out' to a country that doesn't compromise their business models. How can this idea be made better?"
mask.of.sanity writes "Security researchers have shown how to raid Africa micro-finance bank accounts en masse using fake audio one time passwords. The banks use audio one-time passwords to authenticate users logging into their accounts, but failed to implement properly security controls across numerous systems. Crucially, the researchers did not reveal how they cracked the encryption in order to protect users."
An anonymous reader writes "SCO, now calling itself TSG, has just filed a motion (Pdf) with the bankruptcy court in Delaware asking it to authorize 'the abandonment, disposal, and/or destruction of certain surplus, obsolete, non-core or burdensome, property, including, without limitation, shelving, convention materials, telecommunications and computer equipment, accounting and sales documents, and business records.'"
schwit1 writes "A proposal by the Prince George's County Board of Education to copyright work created by staff and students for school could mean that a picture drawn by a first-grader, a lesson plan developed by a teacher or an app created by a teen would belong to the school system, not the individual. It's not unusual for a company to hold the rights to an employee's work, copyright policy experts said. But the Prince George's policy goes a step further by saying that work created for the school by employees during their own time and using their own materials is the school system's property."
An anonymous reader writes "My company has been contacted by certified letter by Delaware law firm. They are seeking license fees for a Wi-fi patent. I believe this is a patent troll (not that this matters in relation to dealing with this issue). This is a newly formed law firm less than 4 months old. This patent is U.S. Patent No. 5,506,866. This patent covers equipment and method related to the transmission of information involving the multiplexing information into a stream of signal points (and demultiplexing the same), and related technology. They have 'offered' to license this patent with no amounts specified. Unfortunately we are a small free software company. The company is setup as a sole proprietorship. I'm not asking for legal advise from the Slashdot community. The question is where might one look for 'legal counsel' with the expertise to answer these types of legal questions as it relates to this inquiry. I would prefer to avoid legal fees, court cases, or license fees running the company into the ground. The company is registered in New Jersey."
coondoggie writes "When it comes to relatively new technologies, few have been developing at the relentless pace of mobile. But with that development has come a serious threat to the security of personal information and privacy. The Federal Trade Commission has issued a report (PDF) on mobility issues and said less than one-third of Americans feel they are in control of their personal information on their mobile devices. 'The report makes recommendations for critical players in the mobile marketplace: mobile platforms (operating system providers, such as Amazon, Apple, BlackBerry, Google, and Microsoft), application (app) developers, advertising networks and analytics companies, and app developer trade associations. ... The report recommends that mobile platforms should: Provide just-in-time disclosures to consumers and obtain their affirmative express consent before allowing apps to access sensitive content like geolocation; Consider developing a one-stop “dashboard” approach to allow consumers to review the types of content accessed by the apps they have downloaded; Consider offering a Do Not Track (DNT) mechanism for smartphone users.'"
concealment sends this excerpt from the NY Times: "Late last year, Zoe Keating, an independent musician from Northern California, provided an unusually detailed case in point. In voluminous spreadsheets posted to her Tumblr blog, she revealed the royalties she gets from various services, down to the ten-thousandth of a cent. Even for an under-the-radar artist like Ms. Keating, who describes her style as “avant cello,” the numbers painted a stark picture of what it is like to be a working musician these days. After her songs had been played more than 1.5 million times on Pandora over six months, she earned $1,652.74. On Spotify, 131,000 plays last year netted just $547.71, or an average of 0.42 cent a play. 'In certain types of music, like classical or jazz, we are condemning them to poverty if this is going to be the only way people consume music,' Ms. Keating said. ... The question dogging the music industry is whether these micropayments can add up to anything substantial. 'No artist will be able to survive to be professionals except those who have a significant live business, and that’s very few,' said Hartwig Masuch, chief executive of BMG Rights Management."
An anonymous reader writes "Today Steven Chu, U.S. Secretary of Energy, released a letter indicating he won't continue to hold the job for President Obama's second term. He'll continue until the ARPA-E Summit at the end of February, and then perhaps a bit longer until a replacement is found. MIT's Technology Review sums up his contributions thus: 'Under his leadership, the U.S. Department of Energy has changed the way it does energy research and development. He leaves behind new research organizations that are intently focused on solving specific energy problems, particularly the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy as well as several Innovation Hubs. The latter were modeled closely on Chu's experience working at the legendary Bell labs, where researchers solving basic problems rubbed shoulders with engineers who knew how to build things. At one Innovation Hub, for example, researchers who are inventing new materials that can absorb sunlight or split water are working together with engineers who are building prototypes that could use those materials to generate fuel from sunlight. Chu also brought an intense focus on addressing climate change through technical innovation, speaking clearly and optimistically about the potential for breakthroughs to change what's possible.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Facebook has brought back its photo Tag Suggestions feature to the U.S. after temporarily suspending it last year to make some technical improvements. Facebook says it has re-enabled it so that its users can use facial recognition 'to help them easily identify a friend in a photo and share that content with them.' Facebook first rolled out the face recognition feature across the U.S. in late 2010. The company eventually pushed photo Tag Suggestions to other countries in June 2011, but in the US there was quite a backlash. Yet Facebook doesn't appear to have made any privacy changes to the feature: it's still on by default."
pigrabbitbear writes "It always sounded like a hoax, didn't it? Silk Road: an Internet website where you can buy any drug in the world? Yeah, right. But it's real. It was almost two years ago that we first heard about the site, which hosts everything from Adderall to Ketamine, LSD to MDMA and tons and tons of weed. After it started to pick up a ton of press and exposure, we all thought that certainly the Silk Road would get shut down. It's super illegal to sell drugs or even to help people sell drugs. But it didn't. Silk Road survives to this day. However, with the arrival this week of the first conviction of a Silk Road-related crime, you have to wonder if Silk Road's days might be numbered after all. The trouble is brewing in Australia, where a guy named Paul Leslie Howard is facing as many as five years in prison for selling drugs on Silk Road. We're not talking millions of dollars worth of drugs, but we are talking about thousands of dollars worth. And just as Silk Road natives had feared, Howard was one of those Silk Road n00bs who read a newspaper article about the site and decided to try it out for himself."
New submitter Matt Slaybaugh writes "John Foley at InformationWeek has an editorial saying that the missing piece in the new gun control legislation is adequate data management. 'President Obama introduced 23 executive orders on Jan. 16 aimed at reducing gun violence through a combination of tougher regulation and enforcement, research, training, education and attention to mental healthcare. Several of the proposed actions involve better information sharing, including requiring federal agencies to make relevant data available to the FBI's background check system and easing legal barriers that prevent states from contributing data to that system.' But concrete plans are needed now to improve the current poor system of data collection and sharing. Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel's Digital Government Strategy, introduced in May, 'defines an IT architecture and processes for sharing digitized content securely, using Web APIs and with attention to protecting privacy. ... Unfortunately, on top of the data quality issues identified by the White House, and the FBI's and ATF's outdated IT systems, there's a lack of transparency about the systems used to enforce federal gun-control laws.'"