Aguazul2 writes "I live in Peru and use OpenVPN to connect to my own Linux VPS in the UK for non-live TV. Recently the VPN connection has slowed to a crawl (5% previous rate). Further investigation shows that all connections to my VPS from Peru (even HTTP) are equally slow, whilst the rest of the 'net seems fine. My VPS host says they do no traffic shaping, and connections from Germany to the VPS are fast. This leaves the NSA and Telefonica (Movistar) as suspects. Could the NSA be slowing all VPNs to/from South America because of Snowden and Greenwald? A traceroute shows traffic going through domains with NYC in their name — are my packets being indefinitely detained in transit? Or maybe it is Telefonica and their Sandvine traffic management? Either way this certainly isn't network neutrality, especially on an 'unlimited' plan. Is there a way to tell for certain who is throttling me? If Telefonica have throttled traffic to/from that one IP address, what options do I have to work around it? It seems that separate connections are throttled independently, so can I multiplex over many UDP ports without having to hack OpenVPN myself? This is really frustrating, especially with two untrustworthy parties on the route. I wonder, is this kind of mess the future of the internet?"
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onehitwonder writes "Lawrence Lessig has teamed with the Electronic Frontier Foundation to sue Liberation Music, which recently demanded that YouTube take down a lecture Lessig had posted that features clips from the song 'Lisztomania' by the French band Phoenix (on Liberation Music's label). Liberation claimed copyright infringement as the reason it demanded the takedown, but in his countersuit, Lessig is claiming Liberation's 'overly aggressive takedown violates the DMCA and that it should be made to pay damages,' according to Ars Technica."
Frosty Piss writes with this excerpt from The Register: "The Guardian's editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger fears journalists – and, by extension, everyone – will be reduced to using pen and paper to avoid prying American and British spooks online. And his reporters must fly around the world to hold face-to-face meetings with sources ('Not good for the environment, but increasingly the only way to operate') because they believe all their internet and phone chatter will be eavesdropped on by the NSA and GCHQ. 'It would be highly unadvisable for any journalist to regard any electronic means of communication as safe,' he wrote. El Reg would like to save The Guardian a few bob, and reduce the jet-setting lefty paper's carbon footprint, by suggesting some handy tips – most of them based on the NSA's own guidance."
Lasrick writes "Maryn McKenna at Wired explores fears of a pandemic of MERS after October's hajj to Saudi Arabia, the annual pilgrimage to Islam's holy sites: 'The reason is MERS: Middle East respiratory syndrome, a disease that has been simmering in the region for months. The virus is new, recorded in humans for the first time in mid-2012. It is dire, having killed more than half of those who contracted it. And it is mysterious, far more so than it should be—because Saudi Arabia, where the majority of cases have clustered, has been tight-lipped about the disease's spread, responding slowly to requests for information and preventing outside researchers from publishing their findings about the syndrome.'"
An anonymous reader sends in a harrowing story from Aditya Mukerjee about his recent attempt to fly from New York to Los Angeles. After being pulled aside in the security line, he faced hours of interrogation by uncommunicative officials from several different agencies. When he was finally cleared, his airline, Jet Blue, wouldn't let him on the plane anyway. When he got home, he found evidence that it had been searched. He writes, "It was 2:20PM by the time I was finally released from custody. My entire body was shaking uncontrollably, as if I were extremely cold, even though I wasn’t. I couldn’t identify the emotion I was feeling. Surprisingly, as far as I could tell, I was shaking out of neither fear nor anger - I felt neither of those emotions at the time. The shaking motion was entirely involuntary, and I couldn’t force my limbs to be still, no matter how hard I concentrated. In the end, JetBlue did refund my flight, but they cancelled my entire round-trip ticket. Because I had to rebook on another airline that same day, it ended up costing me about $700 more for the entire trip. .. But no matter how I’ve tried to rationalize this in the last week and a half, nothing can block out the memory of the chilling sensation I felt that first morning, lying on my air mattress, trying to forget the image of large, uniformed men invading the sanctuary of my home in my absence, wondering when they had done it, wondering why they had done it."
An anonymous reader writes "A major security hole in the City of Johannesburg's online billing system has meant that customer invoices have been visible on the open web with a bit of simple parameter phishing. Change a digit in the URL for your bill, and someone else's appears. Including major corporations like the roads agency, SANRAL (which is R55 000 in arrears, apparently). Neighboring Ekhuruleni had a similar problem too. Both problems were discovered by regular visitors at a local IT forum, and it's interesting to compare the two cities reactions. Ekhuruleni quietly and quickly fixed the problem, while Joburg has threatened legal action against the user — who tried to raise the issue with the city IT team several times before going public. Legal experts say there's a potential case for a class action."
Bismillah writes "Police affidavits show that the New Zealand Police requested and received assistance from the country's signals intelligence agency, the GCSB, which appears to have used PRISM to intercept Kim and Mona Dotcom and the Megaupload associates' communications."
wiredmikey writes "Britain is running a secret Internet surveillance station in the Middle East, according to a recent report citing the latest leaked documents obtained by fugitive US security contractor Edward Snowden. The Independent newspaper said it was not disclosing the country where the base is located, but said the facility can intercept emails, telephone calls and web traffic for the United States and other intelligence agencies and taps into underwater fibre-optic cables in the region, the newspaper said. The Independent did not disclose how it obtained the details from the Snowden files."
Daniel_Stuckey writes "As a result of the sequester-induced budget cuts, the CIA is closing the Historical Collections Division office, which declassifies historical documents, and transferring the divisions responsibilities to the office that handles FOIA requests. The Historical Collections Division is described on its website as 'an important part of CIA's ongoing effort to be more open and to provide for more public accountability.' It is a 'voluntary declassification program that focuses on records of historical value,' including information on the Vietnam War, spy satellites, the Bay of Pigs and other historical scandals and operations."
An anonymous reader writes "A guest at at Quebec hotel was bitten by bed bugs, brought some down to the front desk and asked for new room. While the fully booked hotel offers to get him another room in a different hotel, he stays out the night then leaves — telling people at the hotel — some of whom also check out. When he wrote about it on Trip Advisor, the hotel demanded he take it down and when he did they sued him for $95,000."
barlevg writes "In a recent interview, former Vice President and environmental activist Al Gore made a bold claim, that man-made global warming was causing hurricanes to be formed of such severity that 'they're adding a 6' to the hurricane scale, going on to say that 'The fingerprint of man-made global warming is all over these storms and extreme weather events.' In response, the National Weather Service has responded that they have no plans to add a 'doomsday Category 6' to their rating scale: 'No, we're not pursuing any such change. I'm also not sure who VP Gore means by "they,"' also noting that 'Category 5 has no ceiling: it includes hurricanes with top sustained winds of 157 mph and higher.' Furthermore, a recently leaked United Nations climate assessment claims only 'low confidence' of a link between human activity and increased hurricane severity and that this is likely due to increased human settlement in coastal areas and other regions vulnerable to natural disasters." Along similar lines, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that Tesla's Model S, no matter how safe it is, doesn't get any special grade inflation: there's no "5.4" score (as the company did in a press release this week), because that's just not how the NHTSA keeps score. (Hat tip to reader cartechboy.)
jrepin writes "The administration of the Spanish autonomous region of Valencia has completed its switch to LibreOffice, a free and open source suite of office productivity applications. Last week Friday the region's ICT department announced that the office suite is installed on all of the 120,000 desktop PCs of the administration, including schools and courts. The migration will save the government some 1.5 million euro per year on proprietary software licenses."
dryriver writes in with a link to a Times story about the U.S. government's capabilities when it comes to facial recognition. "The federal government is making progress on developing a surveillance system that would pair computers with video cameras to scan crowds and automatically identify people by their faces, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews with researchers working on the project. The Department of Homeland Security tested a crowd-scanning project called the Biometric Optical Surveillance System — or BOSS — last fall after two years of government-financed development. Although the system is not ready for use, researchers say they are making significant advances. That alarms privacy advocates, who say that now is the time for the government to establish oversight rules and limits on how it will someday be used. There have been stabs for over a decade at building a system that would help match faces in a crowd with names on a watch list — whether in searching for terrorism suspects at high-profile events like a presidential inaugural parade, looking for criminal fugitives in places like Times Square or identifying card cheats in crowded casinos."
mspohr writes "For over a year, EFF has been fighting the government in federal court to force the public release of an 86-page opinion of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). Issued in October 2011, the secret court's opinion found that surveillance conducted by the NSA under the FISA Amendments Act was unconstitutional and violated 'the spirit of' federal law."
v3rgEz writes "The days of anonymous commenting on The Huffington Post are numbered. Founder Arianna Huffington said in a question-and-answer session with reporters in Boston Wednesday that the online news site plans to require users to comment on stories under their real names, beginning next month. 'Freedom of expression is given to people who stand up for what they’re saying and not hiding behind anonymity,' Huffington said."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Tom Groenfeldt reports in Forbes that the U.S. Postal Service has awarded a contract to SecureKey to implement the Federal Cloud Credential Exchange (FCXX) designed to enable individuals to securely access online services at multiple federal agencies — such as health benefits, student loan information, and retirement benefit information — without the need to use a different password or other digital identification for each service. SecureKey already operates a trusted identity service in Canada using identification keys provided by one of five participating Canadian banks. It allows Canadians to connect with 120 government programs online with no additional user names or passwords for everything from benefits queries to fishing licenses. The SecureKey program is designed to connect identity providers — such as banks, governments, healthcare organizations, and others — with consumers' favorite online services though a cloud-based broker service. The platform allows identity providers and online services to integrate once, reducing the integration and business complexity otherwise incurred in establishing many-to-many relationships."
Despite being part of public court proceedings, Comcast sent a notice of infringement ordering Torrent Freak to stop hosting a letter linking a subscriber to Prenda Law. From the article: "Comcast has sent TorrentFreak a cease and desist letter, claiming copyright over contents of an article which revealed that Prenda Law was involved in operating a pirate honeypot. Failure to comply will result in a lawsuit in which the Internet provider will seek damages, a Comcast representative informs us. In addition, Comcast also alerted our hosting provider, who is now threatening to shut down our server."
An anonymous reader writes with bad, but not unexpected news: "The U.S. soldier convicted of handing a trove of secret government documents to anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks has been sentenced to 35 years in prison. Pte First Class Bradley Manning, 25, was convicted in July of 20 charges against him, including espionage. Last week, he apologized for hurting the U.S. and for 'the unexpected results' of his actions. He will receive credit for three and a half years, but be dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Army."
mask.of.sanity writes "Criminals have stolen millions from three unnamed U.S. banks by launching slow and stealthy denial of service attacks as a distraction before attacking wire payment switches. The switches manage and execute wire transfers and could have coughed up much more cash should the attackers have pressed on. RSA researcher Limor Kessem said, 'The service portal is down, the bank is losing money and reliability, and the security team is juggling the priorities of what to fix first. That's when the switch attack – which is very rare because those systems are not easily compromised [and require] high-privilege level in a more advanced persistent threat style case – takes place.'"