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Government

VP Biden Briefs US Governors On H-1B Visas, IT, and Coding 3

Posted by Soulskill
from the at-least-he-was-wearing-pants dept.
theodp writes: Back in 2012, Computerworld blasted Vice President Joe Biden for his ignorance of the H-1B temporary work visa program. But Joe's got his H-1B story and he's sticking to it, characterizing the visa program earlier this month in a speech to the National Governors Association as "apprenticeships" of sorts that companies provide to foreign workers to expand the Information Technology industry only after proving there are no qualified Americans to fill the jobs. Biden said he also learned from his talks with tech's top CEOs that 200,000 of the jobs that companies provide each year to highly-skilled H-1B visa holders could in fact be done by Americans with no more than a two-year community college degree.
United States

The Secret Government Rulebook For Labeling You a Terrorist 67

Posted by Soulskill
from the suspect-wears-a-funny-hat dept.
Advocatus Diaboli sends this report: The Obama administration has quietly approved a substantial expansion of the terrorist watchlist system, authorizing a secret process that requires neither "concrete facts" nor "irrefutable evidence" to designate an American or foreigner as a terrorist, according to a key government document obtained by The Intercept. ...The heart of the document revolves around the rules for placing individuals on a watchlist. "All executive departments and agencies," the document says, are responsible for collecting and sharing information on terrorist suspects with the National Counterterrorism Center. It sets a low standard—"reasonable suspicion"—for placing names on the watchlists, and offers a multitude of vague, confusing, or contradictory instructions for gauging it. In the chapter on "Minimum Substantive Derogatory Criteria"—even the title is hard to digest—the key sentence on reasonable suspicion offers little clarity.
Government

The Department of Homeland Security Needs Its Own Edward Snowden 144

Posted by Soulskill
from the any-volunteers? dept.
blottsie writes: Out of all the U.S. government agencies, the Department of Homeland Security is one of the least transparent. As such, the number of Freedom of Information Act requests it receives have doubled since 2008. But the DHS has only become more adamant about blocking FOIA requests over the years. The problem has become so severe that nothing short of an Edward Snowden-style leak may be needed to increase transparency at the DHS.
AI

Researchers Design Bot To Conduct National Security Clearance Interviews 89

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the why-do-you-say-you-are-not-a-threat-to-national-security? dept.
meghan elizabeth (3689911) writes Advancing a career in the U.S. government might soon require an interview with a computer-generated head who wants to know about that time you took ketamine. A recent study by psychologists at the National Center for Credibility Assessment, published in the journal Computers and Human Behavior, asserts that not only would a computer-generated interviewer be less "time consuming, labor intensive, and costly to the Federal Government," people are actually more likely to admit things to the bot. Eliza finds a new job.
Software

UK Cabinet Office Adopts ODF As Exclusive Standard For Sharable Documents 157

Posted by Soulskill
from the won-the-battle,-working-on-the-war dept.
Andy Updegrove writes: "The U.K. Cabinet Office accomplished today what the Commonwealth of Massachusetts set out (unsuccessfully) to achieve ten years ago: it formally required compliance with the Open Document Format (ODF) by software to be purchased in the future across all government bodies. Compliance with any of the existing versions of OOXML, the competing document format championed by Microsoft, is neither required nor relevant. The announcement was made today by The Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude. Henceforth, ODF compliance will be required for documents intended to be shared or subject to collaboration. PDF/A or HTML compliance will be required for viewable government documents. The decision follows a long process that invited, and received, very extensive public input – over 500 comments in all."
United Kingdom

UK Users Overwhelmingly Spurn Broadband Filters 110

Posted by timothy
from the but-it's-a-free-service dept.
nk497 (1345219) writes "Broadband customers are overwhelmingly choosing not to use parental-control systems foisted on ISPs by the government — with takeup in the single-digits for three of the four major broadband providers. Last year, the government pushed ISPs to roll out network-level filters, forcing new customers to make an "active" decision about whether they want to use them or not. Only 5% of new BT customers signed up, 8% opted in for Sky and 4% for Virgin Media. TalkTalk rolled out a parental-control system two years before the government required it and has a much better takeup, with 36% of customers signing up for it. The report, from regulator Ofcom, didn't bother to judge if the filters actually work, however."
Piracy

For Now, UK Online Pirates Will Get 4 Warnings -- And That's It 137

Posted by timothy
from the on-high-alert dept.
New submitter Tmackiller writes with an excerpt from VG247.com: The British government has decriminalised online video game, music and movie piracy, scrapping fuller punishment plans after branding them unworkable. Starting in 2015, persistent file-sharers will be sent four warning letters explaining their actions are illegal, but if the notes are ignored no further action will be taken. The scheme, named the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (VCAP), is the result of years of talks between ISPs, British politicians and the movie and music industries. The UK's biggest providers – BT, TalkTalk, Virgin and Sky – have all signed up to VCAP, and smaller ISPs are expected to follow suit. VCAP replaces planned anti-piracy measures that included cutting users' internet connections and creating a database of file-sharers. Geoff Taylor, chief executive of music trade body the BPI, said VCAP was about "persuading the persuadable, such as parents who do not know what is going on with their net connection." He added: "VCAP is not about denying access to the internet. It's about changing attitudes and raising awareness so people can make the right choice." Officials will still work to close and stem funding to file-sharing sites, but the news appears to mean that the British authorities have abandoned legal enforcement of online media piracy. Figures recently published by Ofcom said that nearly a quarter of all UK downloads were of pirated content." Tmackiller wants to know "Will this result in more private lawsuits against file sharers by the companies involved?"
Facebook

The Loophole Obscuring Facebook and Google's Transparency Reports 18

Posted by samzenpus
from the fuzzy-math dept.
Jason Koebler writes The number of law enforcement requests coming from Canada for information from companies like Facebook and Google are often inaccurate thanks to a little-known loophole that lumps them in with U.S. numbers. For example, law enforcement and government agencies in Canada made 366 requests for Facebook user data in 2013, according to the social network's transparency reports. But that's not the total number. An additional 16 requests are missing, counted instead with U.S. requests thanks to a law that lets Canadian agencies make requests with the U.S. Department of Justice.
Government

Activist Group Sues US Border Agency Over New, Vast Intelligence System 81

Posted by samzenpus
from the lets-see-what-you-have-there dept.
An anonymous reader writes with news about one of the latest unanswered FOIA requests made to the Department of Homeland Security and the associated lawsuit the department's silence has brought. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has sued the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in an attempt to compel the government agency to hand over documents relating to a relatively new comprehensive intelligence database of people and cargo crossing the US border. EPIC's lawsuit, which was filed last Friday, seeks a trove of documents concerning the 'Analytical Framework for Intelligence' (AFI) as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. EPIC's April 2014 FOIA request went unanswered after the 20 days that the law requires, and the group waited an additional 49 days before filing suit. The AFI, which was formally announced in June 2012 by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), consists of "a single platform for research, analysis, and visualization of large amounts of data from disparate sources and maintaining the final analysis or products in a single, searchable location for later use as well as appropriate dissemination."
Businesses

California In the Running For Tesla Gigafactory 171

Posted by samzenpus
from the if-you-build-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes Thanks to some clean-energy tax incentives approved late this spring, California appears to be in the running again for Tesla's "Gigafactory". From the article: "The decision should have been made by now, and ground broken, according to the company's timeline, but is on hold, allowing California, which was not in the race initially — CEO Elon Musk has called California an improbable choice, citing regulations — to throw its hat in the ring. 'In terms of viability, California has progressed. Now it's a four-plus-one race,' said Simon Sproule, Tesla's vice president of global communication and marketing, referring to the four named finalists — Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada — for the prize. That's heartening. Having the Gigafactory would be a vindication of Gov. Jerry Brown's drive to make California the home of advanced manufacturing, of which Tesla's battery technology is a prime example. With its technology, 'Tesla may be in position to disrupt industries well beyond the realm of traditional auto manufacturing. It's not just cars,' a Morgan Stanley analyst told Quartz, an online business publication last year.
Space

A Look At NASA's Orion Project 108

Posted by samzenpus
from the bruce-willis-approved dept.
An anonymous reader writes "People in north Iowa got a first-hand look at NASA's Orion Project. Contractors with NASA were in Forest City to talk about the new project and show off a model of the new spaceship. NASA has big plans to send humans to an asteroid by 2025. The mission, however, will not be possible without several important components that include yet-to-be-developed technologies, as well as the Space Launch System (SLS) and the Orion spacecraft to fly astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit. In fact, Orion's first flight test later this year will provide NASA with vital data that will be used to design future missions."
Wikipedia

Russian Government Edits Wikipedia On Flight MH17 663

Posted by samzenpus
from the writing-history dept.
An anonymous reader writes A political battle has broken out on Wikipedia over an entry relating to the crash of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, with the Russian government reportedly removing sections which accuse it of providing 'terrorists' with missiles that were used to down the civilian airliner. A Twitter bot which monitors edits made to the online encyclopedia from Russian government IP addresses spotted that changes are being made to a page relating to the crash. All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK) changed a Russian language version of a page listing civil aviation accidents to say that "The plane was shot down by Ukrainian soldiers." That edit replaced text – written just an hour earlier – which said MH17 had been shot down "by terrorists of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic with Buk system missiles, which the terrorists received from the Russian Federation."
United States

Ars Editor Learns Feds Have His Old IP Addresses, Full Credit Card Numbers 204

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-stone-left-unturned dept.
mpicpp writes with the ultimate results of Ars's senior business editor Cyrus Farivar's FOIA request. In May 2014, I reported on my efforts to learn what the feds know about me whenever I enter and exit the country. In particular, I wanted my Passenger Name Records (PNR), data created by airlines, hotels, and cruise ships whenever travel is booked. But instead of providing what I had requested, the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) turned over only basic information about my travel going back to 1994. So I appealed—and without explanation, the government recently turned over the actual PNRs I had requested the first time.

The 76 new pages of data, covering 2005 through 2013, show that CBP retains massive amounts of data on us when we travel internationally. My own PNRs include not just every mailing address, e-mail, and phone number I've ever used; some of them also contain: The IP address that I used to buy the ticket, my credit card number (in full), the language I used, and notes on my phone calls to airlines, even for something as minor as a seat change.
Power

EPA Mulling Relaxed Radiation Protections For Nuclear Power 223

Posted by Soulskill
from the one-new-member-of-the-x-men-per-100,000-normals dept.
mdsolar sends this news from Forbes: Both proponents and opponents of nuclear power expect the Environmental Protection Agency in coming months to relax its rules restricting radiation emissions from reactors and other nuclear facilities. EPA officials say they have no such intention, but they are willing to reconsider the method they use to limit public exposure—and the public's level of risk.

At issue is a 1977 rule that limits the total whole-body radiation dose to any member of the public from the normal operation of the uranium fuel cycle—fuel processing, reactors, storage, reprocessing or disposal—to 0.25 millisieverts per year. (This rule, known as 40 CFR part 190, is different from other EPA regulations that restrict radionuclides in drinking water and that limit public exposure during emergencies. Those are also due for revision.) "We have not made any decisions or determined any specifics on how to move forward with any of these issues. We do, however, believe the regulation uses outdated science, and we are thinking about how to bring the regulation more in line with current thinking," said Brian Littleton, a chemical engineer with EPA's Office of Radiation and Indoor Air."
Government

Drone Search and Rescue Operation Wins Fight Against FAA 77

Posted by Soulskill
from the compelling-reasons-to-get-lost-in-the-woods dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Back in February, officials at the Federal Aviation Administration told a Texas search-and-rescue team they couldn't use drones help locate missing persons. The team, which is called EquuSearch, challenged the FAA in court. On Friday, the court ruled (PDF) in favor of EquuSearch, saying the FAA's directive was "not a formal cease-and-desist letter representing the agency's final conclusion." EquuSearch intends to resume using the drones immediately. This puts the FAA in the position of having to either initiate formal proceedings against EquuSearch, which is clearly operating to the benefit of society (as opposed to purely commercial drone use), or to revisit and finalize its rules for small aircraft entirely. The latter would be a lengthy process because "Congress has delegated rule making powers to its agencies, but the Administrative Procedures Act requires the agencies to provide a public notice and comment period first."
Transportation

Japan To Offer $20,000 Subsidy For Fuel-Cell Cars 155

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-a-bit-easier-being-green dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Toyota is on track to launch the first consumer fuel-cell car in Japan next year, and the country's Prime Minister says the government wants to assist the new alternative to gas-driven vehicles. Shinzo Abe announced that Japan will offer subsidies of almost $20,000 for fuel cell cars, which will decrease the Toyota model's cost by about 28%. He said, "This is the car of a new era because it doesn't emit any carbon dioxide and it's environmentally friendly. The government needs to support this. Honda is also planning to release a fuel-cell car next year, but experts expect widespread adoption to take decades, since hydrogen fuel station infrastructure is still in its infancy."
United Kingdom

UK Government Faces Lawsuit Over Emergency Surveillance Bill 44

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the spilled-some-state-oppression dept.
judgecorp (778838) writes The British Government has had to produce an emergency surveillance Bill after the European Court of Justice ruled that European rules on retaining metadata were illegal. That Bill has now been passed by the House of Commons with almost no debate, and will become law if approved by the House of Lords. But the so-called DRIP (Data retention and Investigatory Powers) Bill could face a legal challenge: the Open Rights Group (ORG) is fundraising to bring a suit which would argue that blanket data retention is unlawful, so these emergency measures would be no more legal than the ones they replaced.
Communications

FTC To Trap Robocallers With Open Source Software 125

Posted by Soulskill
from the about-bloody-time dept.
coondoggie writes: The Federal Trade Commission today announced the rules for its second robocall exterminating challenge, known this time as Zapping Rachel Robocall Contest. 'Rachel From Cardholder Services,' was a large robocall scam the agency took out in 2012. The agency will be hosting a contest at next month's DEF CON security conference to build open-source methods to lure robocallers into honeypots and to predict which calls are robocalls. They'll be awarding cash prizes for the top solutions.
Transportation

Chicago Red Light Cameras Issue Thousands of Bogus Tickets 228

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-not-a-bug,-it's-a-funding-mechanism dept.
mpicpp points out a report in the Chicago Tribune saying that thousands of the city's drivers have been wrongfully ticketed for red light violations because of "faulty equipment, human tinkering, or both." The Tribune's investigation uncovered the bogus tickets by analyzing the data from over 4 million tickets issued in the past seven years. Cameras that for years generated just a few tickets daily suddenly caught dozens of drivers a day. One camera near the United Center rocketed from generating one ticket per day to 56 per day for a two-week period last summer before mysteriously dropping back to normal. Tickets for so-called rolling right turns on red shot up during some of the most dramatic spikes, suggesting an unannounced change in enforcement. One North Side camera generated only a dozen tickets for rolling rights out of 100 total tickets in the entire second half of 2011. Then, over a 12-day spike, it spewed 563 tickets — 560 of them for rolling rights. Many of the spikes were marked by periods immediately before or after when no tickets were issued — downtimes suggesting human intervention that should have been documented. City officials said they cannot explain the absence of such records.
Space

Preparing For Satellite Defense 114

Posted by Soulskill
from the road-to-kessler-syndrome dept.
Taco Cowboy sends a report into China's development of anti-satellite technology, and efforts by the U.S. and Japan to build defenses for this new potential battleground. Last year, China launched what they said was a science space mission, but they did so at night and with a truck-based launch system, which are not generally used for science projects. Experts believe this was actually a missile test for targets in geostationary orbit. U.S. and Japanese analysts say China has the most aggressive satellite attack program in the world. It has staged at least six ASAT missile tests over the past nine years, including the destruction of a defunct Chinese weather satellite in 2007. ... Besides testing missiles that can intercept and destroy satellites, the Chinese have developed jamming techniques to disrupt satellite communications. In addition, ... the Chinese have studied ground-based lasers that could take down a satellite's solar panels, and satellites equipped with grappling arms that could co-orbit and then disable expensive U.S. hardware. To defend themselves against China, the U.S. and Japan are in the early stages of integrating their space programs as part of negotiations to update their defense policy guidelines. ... Both countries have sunk billions of dollars into a sophisticated missile defense system that relies in part on data from U.S. spy satellites. That's why strategists working for China's People's Liberation Army have published numerous articles in defense journals about the strategic value of chipping away at U.S. domination in space.

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