Oldcynic writes "The Canadian mint has allowed 500 developers to enter a contest to create a new digital currency. The currency would allow micro payments using electronic devices. From the article: 'Less than a week after the government announced the penny’s impending death, the Mint quietly unveiled its digital currency called MintChip. Still in the research and development phase, MintChip will ultimately let people pay each other directly using smartphones, USB sticks, computers, tablets and clouds. The digital currency will be anonymous and good for small transactions — just like cash, the Mint says. To make sure its technology meets the gold standard in a world where digital transactions are gaining steam, the Mint is holding a contest for software developers to create applications using the MintChip.'" It looks like the Canadian Mint might have a bit of Sweden envy.
h00manist writes "Nicholas Merrill ran a New York based ISP and got tired of federal 'information requests.' He is now planning an ISP which would be built from the ground up for privacy. Everything encrypted, maximum technical and legal resistance to information requests. Merrill has formed an advisory board with members including Sascha Meinrath from the New America Foundation; former NSA technical director Brian Snow; and Jacob Appelbaum from the Tor Project. Kickstarter-like IndieGoGo has a project page."
coondoggie writes "When it comes to stirring the brains of genius, a good competition can bring forward some really great ideas. That's the driving notion behind myriad public competitions, or challenges, as they are often labeled, that will take place in the near future sponsored by the U.S. government. The competitions are increasing by design as part of the $45 billion America Competes Act renewed by Congress last year that gave every federal department and agency the authority to conduct prize competitions, according to the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy."
Freddybear writes with news that yesterday Maryland passed a bill through both houses of the state legislature that would forbid employers from requiring job applicants or employees to provide access to social media accounts. The bill now awaits only the signature of governor Martin O'Malley. "The bill is the first of its kind in the country, and has shined a spotlight on the practice of employers demanding personal social media passwords from potential hires, [said Melissa Goemann of the ACLU]." Similar legislation is being developed in California, Illinois and Michigan, according to the Washington Post.
We've heard recently of CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, a bill currently making its way through Congress that many are calling the latest incarnation of SOPA. Reader SolKeshNaranek points out an article at Techdirt explaining exactly why this bill is bad, and how its backers are trying to deflect criticism by using language that's different and rather vague. Quoting: "The bill defines 'cybersecurity systems' and 'cyber threat information' as anything to do with protecting a network from: '(A) efforts to degrade, disrupt, or destroy such system or network; or (B) theft or misappropriation of private or government information, intellectual property, or personally identifiable information.' It's easy to see how that definition could be interpreted to include things that go way beyond network security — specifically, copyright policing systems at virtually any point along a network could easily qualify."
Trepidity writes "In a decision today (PDF), the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act 'does not extend to violations of use restrictions,' and therefore violating terms of service and corporate use policies is not a federal crime. Law profesor Orin Kerr cheered the decision, but since three other Courts of Appeals have reached opposite decisions, it might be heading to the Supreme Court."
New submitter gchaix writes "The U.S. Federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has publicly embraced open source software and has begun posting its code to GitHub. From the article: 'Until recently, the federal government was hesitant to adopt open-source software due to a perceived ambiguity around its legal status as a commercial good. In 2009, however, the Department of Defense made it clear that open-source software products are on equal footing with their proprietary counterparts. We agree, and the first section of our source code policy is unequivocal: We use open-source software, and we do so because it helps us fulfill our mission. Open-source software works because it enables people from around the world to share their contributions with each other. The CFPB has benefited tremendously from other people's efforts, so it's only right that we give back to the community by sharing our work with others.'"
An anonymous reader writes "The DARPA Robotics Challenge is offering tens of million of dollars in funding to teams from anywhere in the world to build robots capable of performing complex mobility and manipulation tasks such as walking over rubble and operating power tools. It all will culminate in an audacious competition with robots driving trucks, breaking through walls, and attempting to perform repairs in a simulated industrial-disaster setting. The winner takes all: a $2 million cash prize."
New submitter zarmanto writes "In a move that is so long overdue that it boggles the mind, the FCC and the four largest cellular providers in the U.S. state that they will be joining forces to combat cell phone theft. From the article: 'Over the next six months, each of the four operators is expected to put in place a program to disable phones reported as stolen and within 18 months the FCC plans to help merge them into a central database in order to prevent a phone from being used on another carrier's network.'"
An anonymous reader writes "I finally started looking at my taxes and instead of handing over my personal information and money to TurboTax I was wondering if there were any recommendations for freely available/open source tax software? Ideally, the data would be stored in a portable, open format. I wouldn't really need a GUI, but something that filled out PDF forms would be nice." It's a question that just won't go away. Open source solution or not, if you're a U.S. taxpayer, the deadline for filing is nearly to hand.
suraj.sun writes "Iran topped a recent list of repressive regimes that most aggressively restrict Internet freedom. The list, published by Reporters Without Borders, is a part of the 2012 edition of the organization's Enemies of the Internet report. One of the details addressed in that report is the Iranian government's bizarre plan to create its own 'clean' Internet. The proposed system, an insular nation-wide intranet that is isolated from the regular Internet, will be heavily regulated by the government. In addition to developing its own Intranet system, the Iranian government is also creating its own custom email service and a national search engine called Ya Haq (Oh Just One) that is intended to replace Google. In order to obtain an account on the state-approved mail service, users will have to register their identity with the government." The "clean Internet" part, at least, was also mentioned earlier this year; Iran is one of the recurring champions when it comes to such dubious honors.
inode_buddha writes "It's part of the $1 billion AOL patent deal, and it's something that would have made many minds explode back in the 1990s. It still makes my mind explode today. Marc Andreesen points out that MS now has a significant chunk of the old Netscape. What are the ramifications for Mozilla?"
An anonymous reader writes "Utah's Medicaid hack estimate has grown a second time. This time we have gone from over 180,000 Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Plan (CHIP) recipients having their personal information stolen to a grand total of 780,000. More specifically, the state now says approximately 500,000 victims had sensitive personal information stolen and 280,000 victims had their Social Security numbers (SSNs) compromised."
Fluffeh writes "Back in 2007, Heartland had a security breach that resulted in a 130 million credit card details being lifted. A class action suit followed and many thought it would send a direct message to business to ensure proper security measures protecting their clients and customers. With the Heartland case now over and settlements paid out and divided up, the final breakdown is as follows: Class members: $1925 (11 cases out of 290 filed were 'valid'). Lawyers for the plaintiff class action: $606,192. Non-Profits: around $1,000,000 (The Court ruled a minimum of $1 million in payouts). Heartland also paid its own lawyers around $2 million. Eric Goldman (Law Professor) has additional commentary on his Law Blog: 'The opinion indicates Heartland spent $1.5M to advertise the settlement. Thus, it appears they spent over $130,000 to generate each legitimate claim. Surprisingly, the court blithely treats the $1.5M expenditure as a cost of doing business, but I can't wrap my head around it. What an obscene waste of money! Add in the $270k spent on claims administration, and it appears that the parties spent $160k per legitimate claimant. The court isn't bothered by the $270k expenses either, even though that cost about $1k per tendered claim (remember, there were 290 total claims).'"