Roku-enabled TVs will be receiving a new OS update that will listen to what show or movie you're watching via your cable or satellite set-top or over-the-air antenna, in order to suggest internet-streaming content. "Compatible TVs will use automatic content recognition (ACR) technology to identify the content and then suggest additional viewing options available on via streaming services like Netflix, Hulu or Vudu," reports Variety. From the report: It may seem vaguely Big Brother-ish, but Roku is being careful about ensuring consumer privacy: Users will be required to enable the feature via an opt-in prompt. In addition, the "More Ways to Watch" feature can be turned off at any time (although Roku says viewing information collected prior to the feature being turned off will not be deleted). For now, the "More Ways to Watch" feature is available only in the U.S., and only for Roku-enabled television sets available from Best Buy's Insignia, Sharp, Hisense and TCL. It will be coming first to conventional HDTV models first, followed by support for 4K Roku TV models later this summer.
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Governments that cut off internet access to their citizens could find themselves refused new IP addresses under a proposal put forward by one of the five global IP allocation organizations. From a report: The suggested clampdown will be considered at the next meeting of internet registry Afrinic in Botswana in June: Afrinic is in charge of managing and allocating IP address blocks across Africa. Under the proposal, a new section would be added to Afrinic's official rules that would allow the organization to refuse to hand over any new IP address to a country for 12 months if it is found to have ordered an internet shutdown. The ban would cover all government-owned entities and others that have a "direct provable relationship with said government." It would also cover any transfer of address space to those entities from others. That withdrawal of services would escalate if the country continued to pull the plug on internet access. Under the proposal: "In the event of a government performing three or more such shutdowns in a period of 10 years -- all resources to the aforementioned entities shall be revoked and no allocations to said entities shall occur for a period of 5 years."
The future of illegal torrent websites doesn't look good. As torrent websites continue to disappear, the founder of The Pirate Bay believes the trend is the just the beginning. From an article: While it might look like torrenters are are still fighting this battle, Sunde claims that the reality is more definitive: "We have already lost." [...] Take the net neutrality law in Europe. It's terrible, but people are happy and go like "it could be worse." That is absolutely not the right attitude. Facebook brings the internet to Africa and poor countries, but they're only giving limited access to their own services and make money off of poor people. [...] Well, I have given up the idea that we can win this fight for the internet. The situation is not going to be any different, because apparently that is something people are not interested in fixing. Or we can't get people to care enough. Maybe it's a mixture, but this is kind of the situation we are in, so its useless to do anything about it. We have become somehow the Black Knight from Monty Python's Holy Grail. We have maybe half of our head left and we are still fighting, we still think we have a chance of winning this battle.
hypercard writes: Researchers from West Point recently presented research on a real-time passive analysis of Netflix traffic. The paper, entitled "Identifying HTTPS-Protected Netflix Videos in Real-Time" is based on research conducted by Andrew Reed, Michael Kranch and Benjamin Klimkowski. The team's technique demonstrates frighteningly accurate results based solely on information captured from TCP/IP headers. Even with the recent upgrade to HTTPS, their technique was effective at identifying the correct video with greater than 99.99 percent accuracy against their database of over 42,000 videos. "When tested against 200 random 20-minute video streams, our system identified 99.5 percent of the videos with the majority of the identifications occurring less than two and a half minutes into the video stream," the paper reads. However, there are important points to note. First, the attack described only applies to streams still using Silverlight. Additionally, an attacker would likely need significant resources and access to intercept, fingerprint and process the traffic in real time. Netflix has reacted positively to the team's research and acknowledged the issue as a known drawback to processing video streams with HTTPS.
hackingbear quotes a report from TechCrunch: China is not only taking the spotlight in strong defense of global markets and free trade, filling a vacuum left by retreating Western capitalist democracies, China is quickly becoming a (if not the) global leader in intellectual property protection and enforcement. And there too, just as Western democracies (especially the United States) have grown increasingly skeptical of the value of intellectual property and have weakened protection and enforcement, China has been steadily advancing its own intellectual property system and the protected assets of its companies and citizens. In addition to filing twice as many patents as the U.S., China is increasingly being selected as a key venue for patent litigation between non-Chinese companies. Why? Litigants feel they are treated fairly. Reports indicated that in 2015, 65 foreign plaintiffs won all of their cases against other foreign companies before Beijing's IP court. And even foreign plaintiffs suing Chinese companies won about 81 percent of their patent cases, roughly the same as domestic Chinese plaintiffs. China's journey from piracy to protection models the journeys of other Western and Asian countries. While building its industrial economies, the U.S. and major European powers violated IP laws with no consideration. As reported by The Guardian, Doron Ben-Atar, a history professor at Fordham University, has noted that "U.S. and every major European state engaged in technology piracy and industrial espionage in the 18th and 19th century." It took Western economies a hundred or more years to change that behavior. China's mind-whipping change is happening over decades, not centuries.
An anonymous reader writes: A number of major VPN providers reported a significant increase in subscriptions, downloads, and traffic from Americans since the U.S. Congress voted to repeal the Broadband Consumer Privacy Rules that would have mandated internet service providers get user permission before collecting information. The International Business Times reports that "several popular VPN providers reported a more than 50 percent increase in downloads." VPN provider ExpressVPN said they "experienced a 105 percent increase in traffic from the U.S. and a 97 percent spike in sales" since the repeal. Additionally, "KeepSolid, the New York-based company behind VPNUnlimited, noted a 32 percent increase in purchases and growth of 49 percent in total downloads," reports IBT. "The company also reports having a considerable amount of increased engagement via social media regarding user privacy." Have you taken any privacy measures since Congress voted to repeal ISP privacy rules? If you use a VPN, which provider do you recommend and why?
An anonymous reader shares a BetaNews article: A new study reveals that over half of office-based employees say their companies don't have written policies on data retention or personal use of work devices, or if they do, they aren't aware of them. The study conducted by Harris Poll for e-discovery company kCura reveals communication habits that could put organizations at risk of incurring increased data retention and discovery costs in today's increasingly litigious business environment. "Complete bans on the personal use of work devices would be difficult -- if not impossible -- to implement, and could be harmful to employee morale. However, companies do need to implement reasonable policies to mitigate risk," the report adds.
Web companies met with FCC Ajit Pai on Tuesday and urged him not to gut the net neutrality rules that protect their traffic, a week after he met with broadband providers that have tried to kill the Obama-era regulations. From a report: The Internet Association, a trade group representing companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon, stressed the importance of defending current net neutrality rules in a meeting with Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai on Tuesday. "The internet industry is uniform in its belief that net neutrality preserves the consumer experience, competition and innovation online," the group said in the meeting, according to a filing with the FCC. "Existing net neutrality rules should be enforced and kept in tact." The net neutrality rules, approved by the FCC in 2015, are intended to keep the internet open and fair. The rules prevent internet providers from playing favorites by deliberately speeding up or slowing down traffic from specific websites and apps. This is the first face-to-face encounter between the tech association and the new FCC head. It comes on the heels of reports Pai met with the telecom industry to discuss changing how the rules are enforced, potentially weakening them.
BlackBerry, the former smartphone maker, was awarded $814.9m in an arbitration decision against Qualcomm over a dispute relating to royalty payments. The two companies entered into arbitration talks in February about Qualcomm's "agreement to cap certain royalties applied to payments made by BlackBerry under a license agreement between the parties," BlackBerry said in a statement. From a report: BlackBerry argued that it was overpaying Qualcomm in royalty payments. Last April, BlackBerry and Qualcomm entered discussions to settle the dispute and analyze an existing "agreement to cap certain royalties applied to payments made by BlackBerry under a license agreement between the two parties." Despite the dispute, BlackBerry CEO John Chen said Wednesday that the companies "continue to be valued technology partners." He said BlackBerry will continue to collaborate with Qualcomm, specifically for security in the auto industry and in application-specific integrated circuits.
Chattanooga, Tennessee is home to some of the fastest internet speeds in the United States, offering city dwellers Gbps and 10 Gpbs connections. Instead of voting to expand those connections to the rural areas surrounding the city, which have dial up, satellite, or no internet whatsoever, Tennessee's legislature voted to give Comcast and AT&T a $45 million taxpayer handout. Motherboard reports: The situation is slightly convoluted and thoroughly infuriating. EPB -- a power and communications company owned by the Chattanooga government -- offers 100 Mbps, 1 Gbps, and 10 Gpbs internet connections. A Tennessee law that was lobbied for by the telecom industry makes it illegal for EPB to expand out into surrounding areas, which are unserved or underserved by current broadband providers. For the last several years, EPB has been fighting to repeal that state law, and even petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to try to get the law overturned. This year, the Tennessee state legislature was finally considering a bill that would have let EPB expand its coverage (without providing it any special tax breaks or grants; EPB is profitable and doesn't rely on taxpayer money). Rather than pass that bill, Tennessee has just passed the "Broadband Accessibility Act of 2017," which gives private telecom companies -- in this case, probably AT&T and Comcast -- $45 million of taxpayer money over the next three years to build internet infrastructure to rural areas.
An anonymous reader quotes a report from WRGB: The discovery of two working computers hidden in a ceiling at the Marion Correctional Institution prompted an investigation by the state into how inmates got access. In late July, 2015 staff at the prison discovered the computers hidden on a plywood board in the ceiling above a training room closet. The computers were also connected to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction's network. Authorities say they were first tipped off to a possible problem in July, when their computer network support team got an alert that a computer "exceeded a daily internet usage threshold." When they checked the login being used, they discovered an employee's credentials were being used on days he wasn't scheduled to work. That's when they tracked down where the connection was coming from and alerted Marion Correctional Institution of a possible problem. Investigators say there was lax supervision at the prison, which gave inmates the ability to build computers from parts, get them through security checks, and hide them in the ceiling. The inmates were also able to run cabling, connecting the computers to the prison's network. Furthermore, "investigators found an inmate used the computers to steal the identify of another inmate, and then submit credit card applications, and commit tax fraud," reports WRGB. "They also found inmates used the computers to create security clearance passes that gave them access to restricted areas."
hondo77 writes a report via Washington Post: Thought the Trump Administration's war on science was just about climate change? Think again. "Attorney General Jeff Sessions will end a Justice Department partnership with independent scientists to raise forensic science standards and has suspended an expanded review of FBI testimony across several techniques that have come under question, saying a new strategy will be set by an in-house team of law enforcement advisers," reports Washington Post. The National Commission on Forensic Science, "jointly led by Justice and the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has prompted several changes," including "new accrediting and ethical codes for forensic labs and practitioners" and the FBI abandoning "its four-decade-long practice of tracing bullets to a specific manufacturer's batch through chemical analyses after its method were scientifically debunked." "The availability of prompt and accurate forensic science analysis to our law enforcement officers and prosecutors is critical to integrity in law enforcement, reducing violent crime, and increasing public safety," Sessions said in the statement. "We applaud the professionalism of the National Commission on Forensic Science and look forward to building on the contributions it has made in this crucial field."
A team of scientists at Newcastle University in the UK managed to reveal a user's phone PIN code using its gyroscope data. "In one test, the team cracked a passcode with 70 percent accuracy," reports Digital Trends. "By the fifth attempt, the accuracy had gone up to 100 percent." From the report: It takes a lot of data, to be sure. The Guardian notes users had to type 50 known PINs five times before the researchers' algorithm learned how they held a phone when typing each particular number. But it highlights the danger of malicious apps that gain access to a device's sensors without requesting permission. The risk extends beyond PIN codes. In total, the team identified 25 different smartphone sensors which could expose compromising user information. Worse still, only a small number -- such as the camera and GPS -- ask the user's permission before granting access to that data. It's precise enough to track behavior. Using an "orientation" and "emotion trace" data, the researchers were able to determine what part of a web page a user was clicking on and what they were typing. The paper has been published in International Journal of Information Security.
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Recode: The company filed an opposition request late last night to Uber's motion for arbitration. If the case went to arbitration, an alternate form for dispute resolution, it would remain in private. Alphabet self-driving subsidiary Waymo "has not consented to arbitrate this dispute with Uber," the new filing said, "and Waymo cannot be coerced into arbitration simply because the trade secrets that Uber stole and that Uber is using in Uber's self-driving cars happen to come from former Waymo employees. That is not the law." Alphabet alleges that its proprietary self-driving technology is being used by the ride-hailing company illegally. The Google parent company claims that Uber's self-driving head at the center of the case, Anthony Levandowski, stole 14,000 files from Alphabet, where he worked on self-driving technology before leaving to launch autonomous truck startup Otto. Uber acquired Otto in August. Alphabet alleged the files Levandowski stole include designs for Alphabet's lidar -- light detection and ranging -- technology. Lidar is a key component to most self-driving systems. Legal arguments aside, there are questions surrounding what might motivate each company's position on openness of proceedings. Alphabet's opposition suggested Uber is seeking to delay proceedings, including a hearing on an injunction Alphabet wants against Uber and to prevent public access to proceedings. "Uber does not like what the public is learning through this litigation about Uber's illegal and unfair competition," the latest filing said.
New submitter pecosdave writes: The XBMC/ Kodi development team has taken a lot of heat over the years, mostly due to third-party developers introducing piracy plugins to the platform. In many cases, cheap Android computers are often sold with these plugins pre-installed with the Kodi or XBMC name attached to them -- something that caused Amazon to ban sales of such devices. The Kodi team is not happy about this, and has taken the fight to the sellers. The Kodi team is now trying to work with rights holders to introduce DRM and legitimate plugins to the platform. Is this the first step towards creating a true one-stop do it yourself Linux entertainment system?
Qualcomm has filed a 139-page rebuttal of a lawsuit lodged by Apple in January in which the US chipmaker counterclaimed that the iPhone giant was "misrepresenting facts and making false statements." From a report on ArsTechnica: It alleged that Apple had "breached" and "mischaracterized" deals it had in place with Qualcomm and accused the Tim Cook-run firm of interfering with the chipmaker's "long-standing agreements" with iPhone and iPad manufacturers, such as Foxconn. In a statement, Qualcomm said, "Apple effectively chose to limit the performance of the Qualcomm-based iPhones by not taking advantage of the full potential speed of which Qualcomm's modems are capable. Apple's actions were intended to prevent consumers from realizing that iPhones containing Qualcomm chipsets performed far better than iPhones containing chipsets supplied by Intel."
Americans generally feel they're being over-taxed, especially around this time of the year. But is that really true? An article on Bloomberg investigates: The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development analyzed how 35 countries tax wage-earners, making it possible to compare tax burdens across the world's biggest economies. Each year, the OECD measures what it calls the "tax wedge," the gap between what a worker gets paid and what they actually spend or save. Included are income taxes, payroll taxes, and any tax credits or rebates that supplement worker income. Excluded are the countless other ways that governments levy taxes, such as sales and value-added taxes, property taxes, and taxes on investment income and gains. Guess who came out at the top of the list? No. Not the U.S. At the top are Belgium and France, while workers in Chile and New Zealand are taxed the least. America is in the bottom third.
Google wants the US government to know that it takes gender pay equity very seriously -- and is baffled by the contention that a gap exists at the tech giant. From a report: In responding to allegations lodged by the US Department of Labor that Google systematically pays its female employees less than it pays men, the search giant said in a blog post that employee gender doesn't factor into compensation decisions. Google described the process that it arrives at suggested compensation as "extremely scientific and robust," relying on the employee's role, job level and location, as well as recent performance ratings. What isn't considered in determining pay is whether the employee is male or female -- that information is masked out to those making the compensation decisions, Eileen Naughton, Google vice president for People Operations, explained in the post late Tuesday. "The analysts who calculate the suggested amounts do not have access to employees' gender data," Naughton wrote. "An employee's manager has limited discretion to adjust the suggested amount, providing they cite a legitimate adjustment rationale.
"The Digital Millennium Copyright Act's so-called 'safe harbor' defense to infringement is under fire from a paparazzi photo agency," reports Ars Technica. "A new court ruling says the defense may not always be available to websites that host content submitted by third parties." The safe harbor provision "allow[s] websites to be free from legal liability for infringing content posted by their users -- so long as the website timely removes that content at the request of the rights holder," explains Ars. From the report: [A] San Francisco-based federal appeals court is ruling that, if a website uses moderators to review content posted by third parties, the safe harbor privilege may not apply. That's according to a Friday decision in a dispute brought by Mavrix Photographs against LiveJournal, which hosts the popular celebrity fan forum "Oh No they Didn't." The site hosted Mavrix-owned photos of Beyonce Knowles, Katy Perry, and other stars without authorization. LiveJournal claimed it was immune from copyright liability because it removed the photos. Mavrix claimed that the site's use of voluntary moderators removed the safe-harbor provision. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Mavrix to a degree, but the court wants to know how much influence the moderators had on what was and was not published. With that, the court sent the case back to a lower court in Los Angeles to figure that out, perhaps in a trial. The highly nuanced decision overturned a lower court ruling that said LiveJournal was protected by safe harbor. The lower court said LiveJournal does not solicit any specific infringing material from its users or edit the content of its users' posts.
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Most Americans want to let local governments build out internet service if the internet providers in their area aren't any good, according to the Pew Research Center. In a phone survey of over 4,000 people last month, Pew found that 70 percent of respondents agreed that local governments should have the power to start their own high-speed networks if current offerings are "too expensive or not good enough." The results show an overwhelming support for municipal broadband -- networks that are at least somewhat run by local governments -- at a time when encouraging broadband buildout is a top federal priority. But despite the support, in much of the US, building out municipal networks just isn't possible. More than 20 states have passed laws banning local governments from starting their own broadband service, largely at the behest of internet providers that want to avoid competition at all cost. Though Pew's survey found some positive results for municipal broadband, it found less support for broadband subsidies for low-income homes. Under half of all Americans, 44 percent, said they supported subsidies, while nearly everyone else surveyed said they felt internet service "is affordable enough" that most households should be able to pay for it. (At the same time, nearly half of all people surveyed said they didn't know what speed of internet they received.)