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Businesses

Apple Plans 'High-Tech Manufacturing' of Data-Center Gear in Arizona (businessinsider.com) 102

An anonymous reader shares a Business Insider report: Apple is seeking permission to conduct "high-tech manufacturing" and to build data-center server gear in a Mesa, Arizona, facility, according to a notice published Monday by the US federal government. A notification published in the Federal Register on Monday said Apple was looking for approval from the Foreign-Trade Zones Board to produce "finished products" in a special zone that exempts it from customs duty payments. "Apple Inc has repurposed the site as a global data command center that will conduct high-tech manufacturing of finished data center cabinets for other data centers," according to a document filed by Mesa on behalf of Apple in June and made public Monday. [...] The Arizona effort would mark a rare instance of a US tech company manufacturing and assembling a finished product domestically, where labor costs are higher. Apple's effort appears limited to equipment for its internal operations, however, rather than for a mass-market consumer product.
Businesses

Supreme Court Will Not Examine Tech Industry Legal Shield (reuters.com) 49

An anonymous reader shares a Reuters report: The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday let stand a lower court's decision that an online advertising site accused by three young women of facilitating child sex trafficking was protected by a federal law that has shielded website operators from liability for content posted by others. The refusal by the justices to take up the women's appeal in the case involving the advertising website Backpage.com marked a victory for the tech industry, which could have faced far-reaching consequences had the Supreme Court decided to limit the scope of the Communications Decency Act, passed by Congress in 1996 to protect free speech on the internet.
IBM

IBM Is First Company To Get 8,000 US Patents In One Year, Breaking Record (silicon.co.uk) 94

Reader Mickeycaskill writes: For the 24th year in a row, IBM received the most patents of any company in the US. But for the first time it got more than 8,000 -- the first firm in any industry to do so. In total, its inventors were granted 8,088 patents in 2016, covering areas as diverse as artificial intelligence (AI), cognitive computing, cloud, health and cyber security.
That's equal to more than 22 patents a day generated by its researchers, engineers and designers, with more than a third of the patents relating to AI, cognitive computing and cloud computing alone. IBM is betting big on cloud and other services, having spun off its hardware units like servers and PCs to Lenovo. The other nine companies in the top ten list of 2016 US patent recipients consist of: Samsung electronics (with 5,518 patents), Canon (3,665), Qualcomm (2,897), Google (2,835), Intel (2,784), LG Electronics (2,428), Microsoft (2,398), Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (2,288) and Sony (2,181).

Privacy

Lawyer Rewrites Instagram's Privacy Policy So Kids and Parents Can Have a Meaningful Talk About Privacy (qz.com) 95

Kids, of age between 12 and 15, are increasingly joining Facebook's Instagram service, but according to a research, they likely don't even understand what they are signing up for. Jenny Afia, a privacy law expert at Schillings, a UK-based law firm, rewrote Instagram's terms of service in child-friendly language, so that not only the kids but their parents are able to understand what things are at stake. Highlighted are the changes the lawyer has made: Officially you own any original pictures and videos you post, but we are allowed to use them, and we can let others use them as well, anywhere around the world. Other people might pay us to use them and we will not pay you for that. [...] We may keep, use and share your personal information with companies connected with Instagram. This information includes your name, email address, school, where you live, pictures, phone number, your likes and dislikes, where you go, who your friends are, how often you use Instagram, and any other personal information we find such as your birthday or who you are chatting with, including in private messages (DMs). [...] We might send you adverts connected to your interests which we are monitoring. You cannot stop us doing this and it will not always be obvious that it is an advert.
Movies

IMDb Ignores New Law Banning It From Publishing Actors' Ages Online, Cites Free Speech Violations (betanews.com) 217

Back in September, the state of California passed a new law that banned sites that offer paid subscriptions, and allow people to post resumes, from publishing individuals' ages. It's a law that has the potential to affect many sites, but it is the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) that hit the headlines. From a report: IMDb was told to remove actors' ages from the site by 1 January, 2017, but the site has failed to take any action. A full week into 2017, IMDb has not only chosen to ignore the new law, but has also filed a lawsuit in a bid to stop California from implementing Assembly Bill No. 1687. The reason? IMDb believes that the law is a violation of the First Amendment and it says the state has "chosen instead to chill free speech and to undermine access to factual information of public interest" rather than trying to tackle age-discrimination in a more meaningful way.
Censorship

Russia Demands LinkedIn App Takedown, Apple and Google Comply (fortune.com) 110

Russia has forced Apple and Google to remove the LinkedIn mobile app from their Russian application markets, the latest chapter in a months-long campaign against the professional networking site. From a report on Fortune: A recently-passed Russian law requires that any company holding data on Russians house that data within Russia. Russia began blocking LinkedIn's website last November under that law, which some critics argue is an indirect form of censorship. The removal of the LinkedIn app from Apples App Store and Google's Play shows the willingness of major internet gatekeepers to comply with individual nations' data-control laws, on both the web and mobile devices.
Mozilla

Browser Autofill Profiles Can Be Abused For Phishing Attacks (bleepingcomputer.com) 112

An anonymous reader quotes Bleeping Computer: Browser autofill profiles are a reliable phishing vector that allow attackers to collect information from users via hidden form fields, which the browser automatically fills with preset personal information and which the user unknowingly sends to the attacker when he submits a form... Finnish web developer Viljami Kuosmanen has published a demo on GitHub... A user looking at this page will only see a Name and Email input field, along with a Submit button. Unless the user looks at the page's source code, he won't know that the form also contains six more fields named Phone, Organization, Address, Postal Code, City, and Country. If the user has an autofill profile set up in his browser, if he decides to autofill the two visible fields, the six hidden fields will be filled in as well, since they're part of the same form, even if invisible to the user's eye.

Browsers that support autofill profiles are Google Chrome, Safari, and Opera. Browsers like Edge, Vivaldi, and Firefox don't support this feature, but Mozilla is currently working on a similar feature.

Education

What's Happening As The University of California Tries To Outsource IT Jobs To India (pressreader.com) 483

Long-time Slashdot reader Nova Express shares an epic column by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Michael Hiltzik. It details what's happening now as the University of California tries to outsources dozens of IT jobs -- about 20% of their IT workforce -- by February 28th. Some of the highlights:
  • The CEO of UCSF's Medical Center says he expects their security to be at least as good as it is now, but acknowledges "there are no guarantees."
  • Nine workers have filed a complaint with the state's Department of Fair Employment and Housing arguing they're facing discrimination.
  • California Senator Feinstein is already complaining that the university is tapping $8.5 billion in federal funding "to replace Californian IT workers with foreign workers or labor performed abroad."
  • Representative Zoe Lofgren (from a district in Silicon Valley) is arguing that the university "is training software engineers at the same time they're outsourcing their own software engineers. What message are they sending their own students?"
  • 57-year-old sys-admin Kurt Ho says his replacement spent just two days with him, then "told me he would go back to India and train his team, and would be sending me emails with questions."
  • The university's actions will ultimately lower their annual $5.83 billion budget by just 0.1%.

Red Hat Software

Interviews: Ask Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst A Question (redhat.com) 165

Jim Whitehurst joined Red Hat in 2008, as its valuation rose past $10 billion and the company entered the S&P 500. He believes that leaders should engage people, and then provide context for self-organizing, and in 2015 even published The Open Organization: Igniting Passion and Performance (donating all proceeds to the Electronic Frontier Foundation). The book describes a post-bureaucratic world of community-centric companies led with transparency and collaboration, with chapters on igniting passion, building engagement, and choosing meritocracy over democracy.

Jim's argued that Red Hat exemplifies "digital disruption," and recently predicted a world of open source infrastructure running proprietary business software. Fortune has already called Red Hat "one of the geekiest firms in the business," and their open source cloud computing platform OpenStack now competes directly with Amazon Web Services. Red Hat also sponsors the Fedora Project and works with the One Laptop Per Child initiative.

So leave your best questions in the comments. (Ask as many questions as you'd like, but please, one per comment.) We'll pick out the very best questions, and then forward them on for answers from Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst.
Businesses

Uber Gives Cities Free Travel-Time Data (usatoday.com) 26

Uber is now "leveraging anonymous GPS information from hundreds of thousands of online Uber vehicles" using a new tool called Uber Movement. An anonymous reader quotes USA Today: Uber is going to make urban traffic and mobility data gleaned from its millions of drivers and riders using the Uber app freely available to all. The data, which shows anonymized travel times between points in cities, will be available on a public website called Uber Movement. Uber says it will first invite planning agencies and researchers to access the information and then make the website free to the public... The San Francisco-based company decided to release the data when it realized it had "this very valuable but untapped resource for understanding a city's transportation infrastructure," said Andrew Salzberg, Uber's head of transportation policy...

Pegged to a transportation conference in DC on Sunday, the release is also likely is a bid to gain some goodwill with cities, with which Uber has often had bare-knuckled fights over regulation... Uber Movement doesn't map individuals rides, but rather segments of rides, focusing on travel time between specific points... The Uber data will give cities a low-cost way to do high-resolution travel time analysis

Boston's chief information officer says the new tool "gives people tools to ask us questions. That's really powerful."
Operating Systems

Richard Stallman Acknowledges Libreboot Is No Longer A Part of GNU (gnu.org) 393

Libreboot became an official GNU project in May. Now an anonymous Slashdot reader writes: Richard Stallman has officially announced that Libreboot is no longer a GNU package. The maintainer of Libreboot had tried to leave the GNU project in September 2016, but the departure was not acknowledged until January 2017. Libreboot is a replacement for proprietary BIOS systems, effectively a distribution of coreboot without any binary blobs and adding an automated build/install process.
In the post titled "Goodbye to GNU Libreboot," Stallman wrote that "When a package's maintainer steps down, that doesn't by itself break the relationship between GNU and the package. If it is left without a maintainer but is still useful, the GNU Project will usually look for new maintainers to work on it. However, we can instead drop ties with the package, if that seems the right thing to do.

"A few months ago, the maintainer of GNU Libreboot decided not to work on Libreboot for the GNU Project any more. That was her decision to make. She also asserted that Libreboot was no longer a GNU package -- something she could not unilaterally do. The GNU Project had to decide what to do in regard to Libreboot. We have decided to go along with the former GNU maintainer's wishes in this case, for a combination of reasons: (1) it had not been a GNU package for very long, (2) she was the developer who had originally made it a GNU package, and (3) there were no major developers who wanted to continue developing Libreboot under GNU auspices."
The Courts

A Federal Judge's Decision Could End Patent Trolling (computerworld.com) 168

"Forcing law firms to pay defendants' legal bills could undermine the business model of patent trolls," reports Computerworld. whoever57 writes: Patent trolls rely on the fact that they have no assets and, if they lose a case, they can fold the company that owned the patent and sued, thus avoiding paying any of the defendant's legal bills. However in a recent case, the judge told the winning defendant that it can claim its legal bills from the law firm. The decision is based on the plaintiff's law firm using a contract under which it would take a portion of any judgment, making it more than just counsel, but instead a partner with the plaintiff. This will likely result in law firms wanting to be paid up front, instead of offering a contingency-based fee.
The federal judge's decision "attacks the heart of the patent-troll system," according to the article, which adds that patent trolls are "the best evidence that pure evil exists."
Crime

Macbook Saves Man's Life During Fort Lauderdale Airport Shooting (chron.com) 175

A 37-year-old credits his MacBook Pro laptop with saving his life during a shooting at the baggage claim of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. An anonymous reader quotes WPLG Miami: He placed it in his backpack, but didn't think of it when he felt an impact on his back during the shooting... When the bloodshed was over, he said he went to the men's restroom and saw a bullet hole on the laptop. He gave it to FBI agents. And he was in shock when they found a 9 mm bullet in his backpack. That was when he realized a gunman aimed to kill him, but the laptop took the bullet for him. "If I didn't have that backpack on, the bullet would have shot me between the shoulders," Frappier said.
Government

FBI Releases (Redacted) Documents About The San Bernardino iPhone Case (go.com) 35

The FBI released 100 pages of documents about the unidentified vendor who unlocked the iPhone used by the San Bernardino shooter, but "censored critical details that would have shown how much the FBI paid, whom it hired and how it opened the phone." An anonymous reader quotes the Associated Press: The files make clear that the FBI signed a nondisclosure agreement with the vendor. The records also show that the FBI received at least three inquiries from companies interested in developing a product to unlock the phone, but none had the ability to come up with a solution fast enough for the FBI. The FBI also said in contracting documents that it did not solicit competing bids or proposals because it thought widely disclosing the bureau's needs could harm national security... The suit by the media organizations argued there was no legal basis to withhold the information and challenged the adequacy of the FBI's search for relevant records. It also said the public had a right to know whether the vendor has adequate security measures, is a proper recipient of government funds and will act only in the public interest. In refusing to provide the records, the FBI said the records had been compiled for law enforcement purposes and might interfere with ongoing enforcement proceedings, even though at the time the shooters were both dead and there were no indications others were involved.
Government

Chile's Goverment Announces Unexplainable 'UFO' Footage (yahoo.com) 124

An anonymous reader quotes Yahoo News:The report from an alleged UFO sighting by the Chilean military over two years ago has just been declassified, leaving experts completely stumped. The Chilean government agency which investigates UFOs, the CEFAA, reports that a naval helicopter was carrying out a routine daylight coastal patrol in November 2014 when the camera operator noticed an unidentified flying object ahead...flying horizontally and at a steady speed similar to that of the helicopter. The mysterious object could be seen with the naked eye but couldn't be detected with the helicopter's radar, ground radar stations or air traffic controllers. Authorities ruled out that it was an aircraft as no craft had been authorized to fly in the area.
In 2014 the CIA admitted their tests of a high-altitude U-2 reconnaissance aircraft between 1954 and 1972 coincided with a spike in UFO reports. Could this be another new military aircraft that's getting its first tests?
Crime

How A Massive India Call Center Swindled 15,000 Americans (nytimes.com) 104

An FBI agent based in India says the country has now become a major hub for call-center fraud, blaming "a demographic bulge of computer-savvy, young, English-speaking job seekers; a vast call-center culture; super-efficient technology; and what can only be described as ingenuity." The Justice Depatment recently indicted one company for scamming "hundreds of millions of dollars" from over 15,000 victims, placing more than 1.8 million phone calls to Americans, and Slashdot reader retroworks brings an update: The New York Times has an interesting blow-by-blow story on two India tech center employees who informed on their call center fraud operation, which targeted Americans (especially recent immigrants) with fraudulent IRS calls and other scams. [May be paywalled; free version here.] The building was surrounded by police, phone lines cut. Eventually 630 of the employees were released, and charges were brought against 70 managers and executives of the call center.
The operation filled a seven-story high-rise, and the Times reports that after the raid, "fraudulent IRS calls to Americans dropped 95% percent, according to the Better Business Bureau." But they add that one former employee believes the scams will continue. Within weeks of the raid, he'd been offered a nearly identical job: calling Americans and claiming that their computer was infected with a virus.
Privacy

WikiLeaks Threatens To Publish Twitter Users' Personal Info (usatoday.com) 211

WikiLeaks said on Twitter earlier today that it wants to publish the private information of hundreds of thousands of verified Twitter users. The group said an online database would include such sensitive details as family relationships and finances. USA Today reports: "We are thinking of making an online database with all 'verified' twitter accounts [and] their family/job/financial/housing relationships," the WikiLeaks Task Force account tweeted Friday. The account then tweeted: "We are looking for clear discrete (father/shareholding/party membership) variables that can be put into our AI software. Other suggestions?" Wikileaks told journalist Kevin Collier on Twitter that the organization wants to "develop a metric to understand influence networks based on proximity graphs." Twitter bans the use of Twitter data for "surveillance purposes." In a statement, Twitter said: "Posting another person's private and confidential information is a violation of the Twitter rules." Twitter declined to say how many of its users have verified accounts but the Verified Twitter account which follows verified accounts currently follows 237,000. Verified accounts confirm the identity of the person tweeting by displaying a blue check mark. Twitter says it verifies an account when "it is determined to be an account of public interest." Twitter launched the feature in 2009 after celebrities complained about people impersonating them on the social media service.
Iphone

Original iPhone Prototype With iPod Click Wheel Surfaces Online (macrumors.com) 35

Famed Apple leaker Sonny Dickson has shared an early prototype of the original iPhone, with a collection of images and a video that provides a glimpse into one version of the iPhone that Apple created and tested before ending up with the first iteration of the device. Mac Rumors reports: The prototype includes some similar features to the first generation iPhone, like an aluminum chassis, multi-touch compatible screen, 2G connectivity and Wi-Fi, but its entire user interface is taken directly from the click wheel system of Apple's original iPod line. Called "Acorn OS," the prototype software includes an on-screen click wheel on the bottom half of the screen and a menu system on the top half, and the two are bisected by a bar with rewind, menu, play/pause, and fast-forward buttons. On the menu are options such as "Favorites," "SMS," "Music," "Settings," and "Recents," and it's navigated by circling around the click wheel to go up and down, with a center press confirming an action, just like on the iPod. Dickson references Apple's patent for a "multi-functional hand-held device," filed and published in 2006, as proof that such a prototype did exist at one point and could potentially have been an alternate version of the iPhone. In one of the patent's drawings, a click wheel can be seen as a possible input method for the proposed device. The patent's abstract describes a product with "at most only a few physical buttons, keys, or switches so that its display size can be substantially increased."
Government

US Releases Declassified Report On Russian Hacking, Concludes That Putin 'Developed a Clear Preference' For Trump (theverge.com) 731

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has released its unclassified report on Russian hacking operations in the United States. "We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election," according to the report. "Russia's goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump." The report, titled "Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections," details the successful hack of the Democratic National Committee. "The Kremlin's campaign aimed at the U.S. election featured disclosures of data obtained through Russian cyber operations; intrusions into U.S. state and local electoral boards; and overt propaganda," according to the report. The report states that Russian intelligence services made cyber-attacks against "both major U.S. political parties" to influence the 2016 election. The report also publicly names Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks.com, two sources of stolen information released to the public, as Russian operatives working on behalf of the country's military intelligence unit, the GRU. Officials from the organization were recently the target of U.S. sanctions. WikiLeaks is also cited as a recipient of stolen information. The report also notes that the U.S. has determined Russia "accessed elements of multiple state or local electoral boards," though no vote-tallying processes were tampered with. The FBI and CIA have "high confidence" the election tampering was ordered by Putin to help then-candidate Trump, according to the report. NSA has "moderate confidence" in the assessment. bongey writes: The declassified DNI report offers no direct evidence of Russia hacking DNC or Podesta emails. Exactly half of the report (subtract blank and TOC) 9 of 18 is just devoted to going after RT.com by claiming they have close ties to Russia and therefore a propaganda arm, trying to imply that rt.com is related to the hacking. "Many of the key judgments in this assessment rely on a body of reporting from multiple sources that are consistent with our understanding of Russian behavior. Insights into Russian efforts -- including specific cyber operations -- and Russian views of key U.S. players derive from multiple corroborating sources. Some of our judgments about Kremlin preferences and intent are drawn from the behavior of Kremlin loyal political figures, state media, and pro-Kremlin social media actors, all of whom the Kremlin either directly uses to convey messages or who are answerable to the Kremlin." UPDATE 1/6/17: President-elect Donald Trump met with U.S. intelligence officials Friday, calling the meeting "constructive" and offering praise for intel officials. "While Russia, China, other countries, outside groups and people are consistently trying to break through the cyber infrastructure of our governmental institutions, businesses and organizations including the Democrat National Committee, there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election, including the fact that there was no tampering whatsoever with voting machines," Trump said in a statement after the meeting.
Android

Fake Malware-Filled Super Mario Run Apps Take Advantage of Android Absence (silicon.co.uk) 34

Mickeycaskill writes: Nintendo's Super Mario Run was downloaded more than 40 million times in the first four days it was available. But an Android version has yet to materialize. An official release is on the way, but cybercriminals are taking advantage of this vacuum by spreading malicious apps masquerading as the real thing. The "Android Marcher trojan" appears as a fake landing page advertising the release of the game, where it can be downloaded onto users' devices. It then targets financial and banking apps and can modify your settings and read your contacts. The popularity of Pokemon GO last year saw similar scams emerge as users waited for the game.

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