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Electronic Frontier Foundation

Why No Executive Order To Stop NSA Metadata Collection? 312

Posted by timothy
from the if-the-president-does-it-it's-legal dept.
An anonymous reader links to this editorial at Ars Technica which argues that "As chief executive, Obama has the power to reform the NSA on his own with the stroke of a pen. By not putting this initiative into an executive order, he punted to Congress on an issue that affects the civil liberties of most anybody who picks up a phone. Every day Congress waits on the issue is another day Americans' calling records are being collected by the government without suspicion that any crime was committed. 'He does not need congressional approval for this,' said Mark Jaycoxx, an Electronic Frontier Foundation staff attorney."
The Internet

Oxford Internet Institute Creates Internet "Tube" Map 56

Posted by samzenpus
from the follow-the-lines dept.
First time accepted submitter Jahta (1141213) writes "The Oxford Internet Institute has created a schematic of the world's international fiber-optic links in the style of the famous London Tube map. The schematic also highlights nodes where censorship and surveillance are known to be in operation. The map uses data sourced from cablemap.info. Each node has been assigned to a country, and all nodes located in the same country have been collapsed into a single node. The resulting network has been then abstracted."
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Adam Carolla Joins Fight Against Podcast Patent Troll 126

Posted by timothy
from the save-penn's-sunday-school dept.
First time accepted submitter tor528 (896250) writes "Patent troll Personal Audio has sued top podcasters including Adam Carolla and HowStuffWorks, claiming that they own the patent for delivery of episodic content over the Internet. Adam Carolla is fighting back and has started a Fund Anything campaign to cover legal fees. From the Fund Anything campaign page: 'If Adam Carolla loses this battle, then every other Podcast will be quickly shut down. Why? Because Patent Trolls like Personal Audio would use a victory over Carolla as leverage to extort money from every other Podcast.. As you probably know, Podcasts are inherently small, owner-operated businesses that do not have the financial resources to fight off this type of an assault. Therefore, Podcasts as we know them today would cease to exist.' James Logan of Personal Audio answered Slashdotters' questions in June 2013. Links to the patent in question can be found on Personal Audio's website. The EFF filed a challenge against Personal Audio's podcasting patent in October 2013."
Google

Gmail Goes HTTPS Only For All Connections 141

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the nsa-already-has-the-private-key dept.
Trailrunner7 (1100399) writes "Perhaps no company has been as vocal with its feelings about the revelations about the NSA's collection methods as Google has, and the company has been making a series of changes to its infrastructure in recent months to make it more difficult for adversaries to snoop on users' sessions. The biggest of those changes landed Thursday when the company switched its Gmail service to HTTPS only, enforcing SSL encryption on all Gmail connections. The change is a significant one, especially given the fact that Google also has encrypted all of the links between its data centers. Those two modifications mean that Gmail messages are encrypted from the time they leave a user's machine to the time they leave Google's infrastructure. This makes life much more difficult for anyone—including the NSA–who is trying to snoop on those Gmail sessions." GMail also does TLS for SMTP, but regrettably Talk (what's left of it) does not do TLS for XMPP server-to-server connections, effectively forcing XMPP server admins to lower their security if they want to federate with Google.
The Military

Russian Army Spetsnaz Units Arrested Operating In Ukraine 623

Posted by timothy
from the news-that-matters dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from The Examiner: "The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) confirmed March 16 the arrest of a group of Russians in the Zaporizhzhia (Zaporozhye) region of Ukraine. The men were armed with firearms, explosives and unspecified 'special technical means'. This follows the March 14 arrest ... of several Russians dressed black uniforms with no insignia, armed with AKS-74 assault rifles and in possession of numerous ID cards under various names. One of which was an ID card of Military Intelligence Directorate of the Russian armed forces; commonly known as 'Spetsnaz'. ... Spetsnaz commandos operating in eastern Ukraine would have the missions encompassing general ground reconnaissance of Ukrainian army units ... missions they may perform preparatory to a Russian invasion would be planting explosives at key communications choke points to hinder movement of Ukrainian forces; seizing control of roads, rail heads, bridges and ports for use by arriving Russian combat troops; and possibly capturing or assassinating Ukrainian generals or politicians in key positions ... Spetsnaz also infiltrate themselves into local populations ... Once in place they begin 'stirring the pot' of ethnic and political strife with the goal of creating violent clashes usually involving firearms and destabilizing local authority." The submitter adds links to more at Forbes, The Daily Beast, and The New Republic.
IBM

IBM Distances Itself From the NSA and Its Spy Activities 61

Posted by samzenpus
from the we-don't-even-know-those-guys dept.
An anonymous reader writes "NSA surveillance has raised concerns among customers globally about the safety of their data from U.S. government spying. More organizations, companies and countries are looking for ways to distant themselves from the NSA activities to safeguard the information of internet users. IBM is the latest to fall into the category of companies that do not want to be associated with the NSA spy activities."
Advertising

Google Blurring Distinction Between Ads and Organic Search Results 187

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-will-be-notified-which-results-are-ads-in-6-months dept.
jfruh writes "For years, paid links returned from Google search queries have been set off from 'real' search results by their placement on the page and by a colored background. But some users have begun to see a different format for these ads: a tiny yellow button that reads 'AD' at the end of the link is the only distinguishing feature. Google is notoriously close-mouthed about this sort of thing, but it may begin rolling the new format out to more users soon."
Education

Is the New "Common Core SAT" Bill Gates' Doing? 273

Posted by timothy
from the secret-machinations dept.
theodp writes "'I want to explain why Common Core is among the most important education ideas in years,' wrote Bill Gates in a USA Today op-ed last month that challenged the "dangerous misconceptions" of those who oppose the initiative (pretty confident for a guy who conceded there wasn't much to show for his earlier $5B education reform effort!). 'The Gates Foundation helped fund this process,' acknowledged Gates in quite an understatement of his influence. Receiving $6.5M in Gates Grants was Student Achievement Partners, whose founder David Coleman was dubbed the 'Architect of the Common Core.' So it's not too surprising that at last week's SXSWedu, Coleman — now President and CEO of The College Board (no stranger to Gates money itself) — announced a dramatic overhaul of the SAT that includes a new emphasis on evidence-based reading and writing and evidence analysis, which the AJC's Maureen Downey calls 'reflective of the approach of the Common Core State Standards.'" (Read more, below.)
Stats

Is Traffic Congestion Growing Three Times As Fast As Economy? 187

Posted by timothy
from the feels-that-way-in-austin dept.
cartechboy writes "Math watch time: For many traffic analysts, INRIX is considered the gold-standard. This week the company says traffic congestion surged in 2013 and grew over three times as fast as the American economy. The bad news: If true, this reverses two consecutive years of traffic declines with a six percent increase in 2013. (GDP, by comparison, grew 1.9 percent last year.) The analysts then theorize links between economic growth and traffic congestion, which makes sense on the surface. (As the economy improves, more jobs are created, so more commuters on the roads) But INRIX's theory creates as many questions as it answers. For example, the U.S. GDP has been steadily growing since 2009. So why did congestion decline in 2011 and 2012?"
Medicine

Pro-Vaccination Efforts May Be Scaring Wary Parents From Shots 482

Posted by Soulskill
from the can't-win-for-losing dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Thomas Kienzle reports for the Associated Press on a study which found public health campaigns touting vaccines' effectiveness and debunking the links between autism and other health risks might actually be backfiring, and convincing parents to skip the shots for their kids. 'Corrections of misperceptions about controversial issues like vaccines may be counterproductive in some populations,' says Dr. Brendan Nyhan. 'The best response to false beliefs is not necessarily providing correct information.' In the study, researchers focused on the now-debunked idea that the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella (or MMR) caused autism. Surveying 1,759 parents, researchers found that while they were able to teach parents that the vaccine and autism were not linked, parents who were surveyed who had initial reservations about vaccines said they were actually less likely to vaccinate their children after hearing the researchers messages. Researchers looked at four methods designed to counter the myth (PDF) that the MMR vaccine can cause autism. They gave people either information from health authorities about the lack of evidence for a connection, information about the danger of the three diseases the MMR vaccine protects against, pictures of children who had one of those three diseases, or a story about an infant who almost died from measles.

At the study's start, the group of parents who were most opposed to vaccination said that on average, the chance they would vaccinate a future child against MMR was 70 percent. After these parents had been given information that the MMR vaccine does not cause autism, they said, on average, the chance they would vaccinate a future child was only 45 percent — even though they also said they were now less likely to believe the vaccine could cause autism. Vaccination rates are currently high, so it's important that any strategies should focus on retaining these numbers and not raise more concerns, tipping parents who are willing to vaccinate away from doing so. 'We shouldn't put too much weight on the idea that there's some magic message out there that will change people's minds.'"
Science

DARPA Funds Research Into a Network-Based Interpretation of Dreams 54

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-was-funneled-into-a-distortive-hub-by-percolative-clowns dept.
KentuckyFC writes "Despite the universal experience of dreaming, psychologists and neuroscientists have little understanding of its purpose and mechanisms, or how it varies from one culture to another. So new approaches to oneirology, or dream research, are always welcome. Now a DARPA-funded research team is using network science to analyse dreams for the first time. Dreams have become amenable to network studies because dream reports and their interpretations are now widely available on the web in repositories such as UC Santa Cruz's Dreambank. The DARPA team crawled these databases in English, Chinese and Arabic for symbols that appear in dreams and their descriptions. They then created a network for each language by treating symbols as nodes and linking them to other nodes with similar descriptions. They then searched the networks for regions of more densely connected nodes that form communities. For example, in English, symbols such as 'ladder,' 'hill' and 'goal" form just such a community, representing 'achievement after a struggle.' Finally, they compared the communities from different languages to look for similarities. The results show that dream symbols seem to be connected in similar ways regardless of the cultural background of the dreamers. That provides a new window into the cultural links between dreams experienced by people in different parts of the world."
The Almighty Buck

Mt. Gox Gone? Apparent Theft Shakes Bitcoin World 695

Posted by timothy
from the repercussions-will-repurcate dept.
mendax was one of many readers to write with news about the apparent shutdown of Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, in the wake of massive theft. "The New York Times is reporting that Mt. Gox, the most prominent Bitcoin exchange, 'appeared to be on the verge of collapse late Monday, raising questions about the future of a volatile marketplace.' 'On Monday night, a number of leading Bitcoin companies jointly announced that Mt. Gox, the largest exchange for most of Bitcoin's existence, was planning to file for bankruptcy after months of technological problems and what appeared to have been a major theft. A document circulating widely in the Bitcoin world said the company had lost 744,000 Bitcoins in a theft that had gone unnoticed for years. That would be about 6 percent of the 12.4 million Bitcoins in circulation.' Maybe the U.S. Dollar isn't so bad after all." Forbes goes further, and says flatly that Mt. Gox has shut down; Wired calls it an implosion. Reader electron gunner links to the alleged leaked document which outlines the exchange's crisis strategy. Watch this story for updates, since there are bound to be new developments.
Censorship

Internet Shutdown Adds To Venezuela's Woes 194

Posted by timothy
from the if-weren't-for-that-pernicious-free-market dept.
Slashgear reports that many state-run internet links in Venezuela have been shut down by that country's government, as censorship efforts there step up along with widespread turmoil, partly in the form of widespread anti-government protests. The article begins: "Don’t expect one whole heck of a lot of tweets coming out of Venezuela in the immediate future as President Nicolas Maduro’s government has shut down the internet and select TV channels. Having shut down Twitter access for the area this past week, Venezuela’s state-run ISP CANTV has been cut in areas such as San Cristobal. This area is a regional capital in the west of the country and CANTV controls the vast majority of internet connectivity in the area. The Electronic Frontier Foundation made note that Venezuelans working with several different ISPs lost all connectivity on Thursday of this past week. Users lost connectivity to the major content delivery network Edgecast and the IP address which provides access to Twitter’s image hosting service while another block stopped Venezuelan access to the text-based site Pastebin."
Google

Gmail's 'Unsubscribe' Tool Comes Out of the Weeds 129

Posted by timothy
from the and-don't-come-back dept.
itwbennett writes "Starting this week, a new, clearly marked 'unsubscribe' link will appear at the top of the header field in marketers' emails. Previously only appearing for a small percentage of users, the feature will now be made available for most promotional messages with unsubscribe options, Google said on Thursday. Email recipients do not need to take action for the links to appear."
Worms

Routers Pose Biggest Security Threat To Home Networks 264

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the but-it's-a-firewall dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "The remote-access management flaw that allowed TheMoon worm to thrive on Linksys routers is far from the only vulnerability in that particular brand of hardware, though it might be simpler to call all home-based wireless routers gaping holes of insecurity than to list all the flaws in those of just one vendor. An even longer list of Linksys (and Cisco and Netgear) routers were identified in January as having a backdoor built into the original versions of their firmware in 2005 and never taken out. Serious as those flaws are, they don't compare to the list of vulnerabilities resulting from an impossibly complex mesh of sophisticated network services that make nearly every router aimed at homes or small offices an easy target for attack, according to network-security penetration- and testing services. For example, wireless routers (especially home routers owned by technically challenged consumers) are riddled with security holes stemming from design goals that emphasize usability over security, which often puts consumers at risk from malware or attacks on devices they don't know how to monitor, but through which flow all their personal and financial information via links to online banking, entertainment, credit cards and even direct connections to their work networks, according to a condemnation of the Home Network Administration Protocol from Tenable Network Security. Meanwhile, a January 2013 study from Rapid7 found 40 million to 50 million network-enabled devices, including nearly all home routers, were vulnerable to exploits using UPnP. Is there any way to fix this target-rich environment?" If only there were an easily upgradeable open source router operating system to which vendors could add support for their hardware leaving long term maintenance to a larger community.
Displays

The Road To VR 61

Posted by samzenpus
from the more-real-than-real dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Stack Overflow co-founder Jeff Atwood has posted about how much progress we've made toward commercially viable virtual reality gaming — and how far we have to go. The Oculus Rift headset is technologically brilliant compared to anything we'd have before, but Atwood says there are still a number of problems to solve. Quoting: 'It's a big commitment to strap a giant, heavy device on your face with 3+ cables to your PC. You don't just casually fire up a VR experience. ... Demos are great, but there aren't many games in the Steam Store that support VR today, and the ones that do support VR can feel like artificially tacked on novelty experiences. I did try Surgeon Simulator 2013 which was satisfyingly hilarious. ... VR is a surprisingly anti-social hobby, even by gamer standards, which are, uh low. Let me tell you, nothing is quite as boring as watching another person sit down, strap on a headset, and have an extended VR "experience". I'm stifling a yawn just thinking about it. ... Wearing a good VR headset makes you suddenly realize how many other systems you need to add to the mix to get a truly great VR experience: headphones and awesome positional audio, some way of tracking your hand positions, perhaps an omnidirectional treadmill, and as we see with the Crystal Cove prototype, an external Kinect style camera to track your head position at absolute minimum.' Atwood also links to Michael Abrash's VR blog, which is satisfyingly technical for those interested in the hardware and software problems of VR."
The Internet

A Strategy For Attaining Cuban Internet Connectivity 119

Posted by timothy
from the about-time-and-overdue dept.
lpress writes "In the mid 1990s, there was debate within the Cuban government about the Internet. A combination of pressure from the U.S. trade embargo, the financial crisis brought on by the collapse of the Soviet Union and fear of free expression led to a decision to limit Internet access. This has left Cuba with sparse, antiquated domestic infrastructure today. Could the government improve the situation if they decided to do so? They don't have sufficient funds to build out modern infrastructure and foreign investment through privatization of telecommunication would be difficult to obtain. Furthermore, that strategy has not benefited the people in other developing nations. A decentralized strategy using a large number of satellite links could quickly bootstrap the Cuban Internet. Decentralized funding and control of infrastructure has been an effective transitional strategy in other cases, for example, with the NSFNET in the U.S. or the Grameen Phone ladies in Bangladesh. This proposal would face political roadblocks in both the US and Cuba; however, change is being considered in the U.S. and the Castro government has been experimenting with small business and they have begun allowing communication agents to sell telephone and Internet time. It might just work — as saying goes "Be realistic. Demand the impossible.""
Firefox

Mozilla To Show Sponsored Links To First-Time Firefox Users 182

Posted by Soulskill
from the trying-not-to-say-the-word-'ad' dept.
Mozilla has announced a new initiative to show sponsored content within the Firefox browser. Currently, opening a new tab in Firefox will display a set of nine tiles showing your most commonly visited websites. When a user installs Firefox and opens it for the first time, they see these tiles, but eight of them are blank (one links to a Firefox tutorial). As the user browses the web, those tiles gradually fill in with visited sites. But Mozilla is going to fill out those blank eight tiles for new users. They say, "Some of these tile placements will be from the Mozilla ecosystem, some will be popular websites in a given geographic location, and some will be sponsored content from hand-picked partners to help support Mozilla’s pursuit of our mission. The sponsored tiles will be clearly labeled as such, while still leading to content we think users will enjoy." Existing users shouldn't see any difference, and the tiles will be replaced with commonly-visited sites like they do now.
Your Rights Online

Blogger Fined €3,000 for 'Publicizing' Files Found Through Google Search 248

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-crafty-hackers-and-your-keyword-searches dept.
mpicpp points out an article detailing the case of French blogger Olivier Laurelli, who had the misfortune to click links from search results. Laurelli stumbled upon a public link leading to documents from the French National Agency for Food Safety, Environment, and Labor. He downloaded them — over 7 Gb worth — and looked through them, eventually publishing a few slides to his website. When one of France's intelligence agencies found out, they took Laurelli into custody and indicted him, referring to him as a 'hacker.' In their own investigation, they said, "we then found that it was sufficient to have the full URL to access to the resource on the extranet in order to bypass the authentication rules on this server." The first court acquitted Laurelli of the charges against him. An appeals court affirmed part of the decision, but convicted him of "theft of documents and fraudulent retention of information." He was fined €3,000 (about $4,000).
Privacy

3 Reasons To Hate Mass Surveillance; 3 Ways To Fight It 120

Posted by timothy
from the not-an-exhaustive-list dept.
This site's "Your Rights Online" section, sadly, has never suffered for material. The revelations we've seen over the last year-and-change, though, of widespread spying on U.S. citizens, government spying in the E.U. on international conferences, the UK's use of malware against citizens, and the use of modern technology to oppress government protesters in the middle east and elsewhere shows how persistent it is. It's been a banner year on that front, and the banner says "You are being spied on, online and off." A broad coalition of organizations is calling today "The Day We Fight Back" against the growing culture of heads-they-win, tails-you-lose surveillance, but all involved know this is not a one-day struggle. (Read more, below.)

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