Government

Woman Behind Pakistan's First Hackathon, Sabeen Mahmud, Shot Dead 28

Posted by samzenpus
from the trying-to-silence-the-future dept.
An anonymous reader sends word that Sabeen Mahmud, a prominent Pakistani social and human rights activist, has been shot dead. The progressive activist and organizer who ran Pakistan's first-ever hackathon and led a human rights and a peace-focused nonprofit known as The Second Floor (T2F) was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Karachi. Sabeen Mahmud was leaving the T2F offices with her mother some time after 9pm on Friday evening, reports the Pakistani newspaper Dawn. She was on her way home when she was shot, the paper reports. Her mother also sustained bullet wounds and is currently being treated at a hospital; she is said to be in critical condition.
United States

Declassified Report From 2009 Questions Effectiveness of NSA Spying 34

Posted by Soulskill
from the moving-at-the-speed-of-government dept.
schwit1 writes: With debate gearing up over the coming expiration of the Patriot Act surveillance law, the Obama administration on Saturday unveiled a 6-year-old report examining the once-secret program code-named Stellarwind, which collected information on Americans' calls and emails. The report was from the inspectors general of various intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

They found that while many senior intelligence officials believe the program filled a gap by increasing access to international communications, others including FBI agents, CIA analysts and managers "had difficulty evaluating the precise contribution of the [the surveillance system] to counterterrorism efforts because it was most often viewed as one source among many available analytic and intelligence-gathering tools in these efforts."

"The report said that the secrecy surrounding the program made it less useful. Very few working-level C.I.A. analysts were told about it. ... Another part of the newly disclosed report provides an explanation for a change in F.B.I. rules during the Bush administration. Previously, F.B.I. agents had only two types of cases: "preliminary" and "full" investigations. But the Bush administration created a third, lower-level type called an "assessment." This development, it turns out, was a result of Stellarwind.
Government

Think Tanks: How a Bill [Gates Agenda] Becomes a Law 124

Posted by Soulskill
from the daily-dose-of-cynicism dept.
theodp writes: The NY Times' Eric Lipton was just awarded a 2015 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting that shed light on how foreign powers buy influence at think tanks. So, it probably bears mentioning that Microsoft's 'two-pronged' National Talent Strategy (PDF) to increase K-12 CS education and the number of H-1B visas — which is on the verge of being codified into laws — was hatched at an influential Microsoft and Gates Foundation-backed think tank mentioned in Lipton's reporting, the Brookings Institution. In 2012, the Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings hosted a forum on STEM education and immigration reforms, where fabricating a crisis was discussed as a strategy to succeed with Microsoft's agenda after earlier lobbying attempts by Bill Gates and Microsoft had failed. "So, Brad [Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith]," asked the Brookings Institution's Darrell West at the event, "you're the only [one] who mentioned this topic of making the problem bigger. So, we galvanize action by really producing a crisis, I take it?" "Yeah," Smith replied (video). And, with the help of nonprofit organizations like Code.org and FWD.us that were founded shortly thereafter, a national K-12 CS and tech immigration crisis was indeed created.
Government

FCC Chairman: a Former Cable Lobbyist Who Helped Kill the Comcast Merger 67

Posted by Soulskill
from the judging-books-by-covers dept.
An anonymous reader writes: After Friday's news that the Comcast/TWC merger is dead, the Washington Post points out an interesting fact: FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, who was instrumental in throwing up roadblocks for the deal, used to be a lobbyist for the cable and wireless industry. "Those who predicted Wheeler would favor industry interests 'misunderstood him from the beginning — the notion that because he had represented various industries, he was suddenly in their pocket never made any sense,' said one industry lawyer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he represents clients before the FCC." The "revolving door" between government and industry is often blamed for many of the problems regulating corporations. We were worried about it ourselves when Wheeler was nominated for his current job. I guess this goes to show that it depends more on the person than on their previous job.
Patents

Vizio, Destroyer of Patent Trolls 87

Posted by Soulskill
from the best-defense-is-a-strong-offense dept.
An anonymous reader writes: We read about a lot of patent troll cases. Some are successful and some are not, but many such cases are decided before ever going to court. It's how the patent troll operates — they know exactly how high litigation costs are. Even without a legal leg to stand on, they can ask for settlements that make better financial sense for the target to accept, rather than dumping just as much money into attorney's fees for an uncertain outcome. Fortunately, some companies fight back. TV-maker Vizio is one of these, and they've successfully defended against 16 different patent trolls, some with multiple claims. In addition, they're going on the offensive, trying to wrest legal fees from the plaintiffs for their spurious claims. "For the first time, it stands a real chance, in a case where it spent more than $1 million to win. Two recent Supreme Court decisions make it easier for victorious defendants to collect fees in patent cases. The TV maker is up against a storied patent plaintiffs' firm, Chicago-based Niro, Haller & Niro, that has fought for Oplus tooth and nail. ... For Vizio, the company feels that it's on the verge of getting vindication for a long-standing policy of not backing down to patent trolls."
Government

A Guide To the 5 Cybersecurity Bills Now Before Congress 14

Posted by Soulskill
from the better-know-a-bill dept.
blottsie writes: At press time, the House had passed two cybersecurity bills, one Senate bill had been passed out of committee and reported to the full chamber for a final vote, and a third House bill and a second Senate bill were awaiting review by the appropriate committee. The two House bills that passed earlier this week will be combined and sent to the Senate, but the Senate won't take up them up directly; instead, it will vote on its own two bills. It's complicated, so here's a quick breakdown of the key details.
Patents

Microsoft Increases Android Patent Licensing Reach 99

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-you-can't-beat-'em,-bleed-'em dept.
BrianFagioli writes: Microsoft may not be winning in the mobile arena, but they're still making tons of money from those who are. Patent licensing agreements net the company billions each year from device makers like Samsung, Foxconn, and ZTE. Now, Microsoft has added another company to that list: Qisda Corp. They make a number of Android and Chrome-based devices under the Qisda brand and the BenQ brand, and now Microsoft will be making money off those, too.
Piracy

Pirate Bay Blockade Censors CloudFlare Customers 134

Posted by timothy
from the broad-brush-swung-wildly dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The blockade of the Pirate Bay by UK ISPs is causing trouble for CloudFlare customers. Several websites have been inadvertently blocked by Sky because a Pirate Bay proxy is hosted behind the same IP-addresses. In a response, CloudFlare threatened to disconnect the proxy site from its network. Like any form of censorship web blockades can sometime lead to overblocking, targeting perfectly legitimate websites by mistake. This is also happening in the UK where Sky's blocking technology is inadvertently blocking sites that have nothing to do with piracy.
Crime

Allegation: Philly Cops Leaned Suspect Over Balcony To Obtain Password 210

Posted by timothy
from the forget-it-jake-it's-the-city-of-brotherly-love dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this news from Ars Technica: If you want access to encrypted data on a drug dealer's digital device, you might try to break the crypto—or you might just try to break the man.

According to testimony from a police corruption trial currently roiling the city of Philadelphia, officers from an undercover drug squad took the latter route back in November 2007. After arresting their suspect, Michael Cascioli, in the hallway outside his 18th floor apartment, the officers took Cascioli back inside. Although they lacked a search warrant, the cops searched Cascioli's rooms anyway. According to a federal indictment (PDF), the officers 'repeatedly assaulted and threatened [Cascioli] during the search to obtain information about the location of money, drugs, and drug suppliers.'
That included, according to Cascioli, lifting him over the edge of his balcony to try to frighten out of him the password to his Palm Pilot. That sounds like a good time for a duress password.
Cellphones

Patents Show Google Fi Was Envisioned Before the iPhone Was Released 31

Posted by timothy
from the I-could-show-you-my-notes-from-7th-grade dept.
smaxp writes: Contrary to reports, Google didn't become a mobile carrier with the introduction of Google Fi. Google Fi was launched to prove that a network-of-networks serves smartphone users better than a single mobile carrier's network. Patents related to Google Fi, filed in early 2007, explain Google's vision – smartphones negotiate for and connect to the fastest network available. The patent and Google Fi share a common notion that the smartphone should connect to the fastest network available, not a single carrier's network that may not provide the best performance. It breaks the exclusive relationship between a smartphone and a single carrier. Meanwhile, a story at BostInno points out that Google's not the only one with a network-hopping hybrid approach to phone calls.
Government

German Intelligence Helped NSA Spy On EU Politicians and Companies 75

Posted by Soulskill
from the der-rubberschtampen dept.
An anonymous reader writes: We've known for some time already that intelligence agencies operate beyond rules, laws, and regulations. Now, we learn that the NSA and the German intelligence service, BND, lied and withheld information about misuse from the German Chancellor's Office.

"The BND realized as early as 2008 that some of the selectors were not permitted according to its internal rules, or covered by a 2002 US-Germany anti-terrorism "Memorandum of Agreement" on intelligence cooperation. And yet it did nothing to check the NSA's requests systematically. It was only in the summer of 2013, after Edward Snowden's revelations of massive NSA and GCHQ surveillance, that the BND finally started an inquiry into all the selectors that had been processed. According to Der Spiegel, investigators found that the BND had provided information on around 2,000 selectors that were clearly against European and German interests. Not only were European businesses such as the giant aerospace and defense company EADS, best-known as the manufacturer of the Airbus planes, targeted, so were European politicians—including German ones.

However, the BND did not inform the German Chancellor's office, which only found out about the misuse of the selector request system in March 2015. Instead, the BND simply asked the NSA to make requests that were fully covered by the anti-terrorism agreement between the two countries. According to Die Zeit, this was because the BND was worried that the NSA might curtail the flow of its own intelligence data to the German secret services if the selector scheme became embroiled in controversy.
Censorship

Irish Legislator Proposes Law That Would Make Annoying People Online a Crime 110

Posted by Soulskill
from the turn-yourselves-in-at-the-local-pub dept.
An anonymous reader sends this report from TechDirt: Is Ireland looking to pass a law that would "outlaw ebooks and jail people for annoying others?" Well, no, not really, but that's the sort of unintended consequences that follow when laws are updated for the 21st century using little more than a word swap. Ireland has had long-standing laws against harassment via snail mail, telephones and (as of 2007) SMS messages. A 2014 report by the government's somewhat troublingly-named "Internet Content Governance Advisory Group" recommended updating this section of the law to cover email, social media and other internet-related transmissions. ... The broad language -- if read literally -- could make emailing an ebook to someone a criminal offense. Works of fiction are, by definition, false. ... It's the vestigial language from previous iterations of the law -- words meant to target scam artists and aggressive telemarketers -- that is problematic. Simply appending the words "electronic communications" to an old law doesn't address the perceived problem (cyberbullying is cited in the governance group's report). It just creates new problems.
Businesses

Comcast Officially Gives Up On TWC Merger 112

Posted by Soulskill
from the keeping-them-small-enough-to-govern dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Confirming speculation from yesterday, Comcast announced this morning that its attempt to merge with Time Warner Cable has been terminated. The announcement was very brief, but indicated that regulatory pressure was the reason they killed the deal. CEO Brian Roberts said, "Today, we move on. Of course, we would have liked to bring our great products to new cities, but we structured this deal so that if the government didn't agree, we could walk away." The Washington Post adds, "The move by regulators to throw up roadblocks shows that the government has grown concerned about massive media conglomerates bigfooting rivals that are finding success by streaming content over the Internet, analysts said. And after years of approving a wave of mergers in the industry — including that of Comcast and NBC Universal in 2011 — federal officials are taking a new tone, they said."
Businesses

Good: Companies Care About Data Privacy Bad: No Idea How To Protect It 75

Posted by samzenpus
from the we've-tried-everything-that-doesn't-cost-us-money dept.
Esther Schindler writes: Research performed by Dimensional Research demonstrated something most of us know: Just about every business cares about data privacy, and intends to do something to protect sensitive information. But when you cross-tabulate the results to look more closely at what organizations are actually doing to ensure that private data stays private, the results are sadly predictable: While smaller companies care about data privacy just as much as big ones do, they're ill-equipped to respond. What's different is not the perceived urgency of data privacy and other privacy/security matters. It's what companies are prepared (and funded) to do about it. For instance: "When it comes to training employees on data privacy, 82% of the largest organizations do tell the people who work for them the right way to handle personally identifiable data and other sensitive information. Similarly, 71% of the businesses with 1,000-5,000 employees offer such training. However, even though smaller companies are equally concerned about the subject, that concern does not trickle down to the employees quite so effectively. Half of the midsize businesses offer no such training; just 39% of organizations with under 100 employees regularly train employees on data privacy."
Music

Music Industry Argues Works Entering Public Domain Are Not In Public Interest 297

Posted by samzenpus
from the watching-out-for-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes: With news that Canada intends to extend the term of copyright for sound recordings and performers, the recording industry is now pushing the change by arguing that works entering the public domain is not in the public interest. It is hard to see how anyone can credibly claim that works are "lost" to the public domain and that the public interest in not served by increased public access, but if anyone would make the claim, it would be the recording industry.
Google

Median Age At Google Is 29, Says Age Discrimination Lawsuit 336

Posted by samzenpus
from the get-ready-for-carrousel dept.
dcblogs writes: The typical employee at Google is relatively young, according to a lawsuit brought by an older programmer who is alleging age discrimination. Between 2007 and 2013, Google's workforce grew from 9,500 to more than 28,000 employees, "yet as of 2013, its employees' median age was 29 years old," the lawsuit claims. That's in contrast to the median age of nearly 43 for all U.S. workers who are computer programmers, according to the lawsuit.
Crime

Gen. Petraeus To Be Sentenced To Two Years Probation and Fine 93

Posted by samzenpus
from the standing-tall-before-the-man dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Petraeus, a now-retired U.S. Army General, has already agreed to plead guilty to a criminal misdemeanor charge of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material. As part of the agreement with prosecutors filed in March, the government will not seek any prison time. Instead, Petraeus will agree to pay a $40,000 fine and receive two years of probation, according to court documents. The recommendations are not binding on the federal judge who will preside at the hearing Thursday afternoon in Charlotte.
Government

Bloomberg Report Suggests Comcast & Time Warner Merger Dead 99

Posted by timothy
from the it's-very-ill dept.
andyring writes: According to Bloomberg News, the Time Warner/Comcast merger of raw evil is dead. Comcast plans as early as tomorrow to withdraw the merger proposal, "after regulators decided that the deal wouldn't help consumers, making approval unlikely" according to the story. If so, that means regulators won't have the chance to kill it themselves.
United States

Drone Killed Hostages From U.S. and Italy, Drawing Obama Apology 331

Posted by timothy
from the tragic-events dept.
HughPickens.com writes: The NYT reports that President Obama has offered an emotional apology for the accidental killing of two hostages held by Al Qaeda, one of them American, in a United States government counterterrorism operation in January, saying he takes "full responsibility" for their deaths. "As president and as commander in chief, I take full responsibility for all our counterterrorism operations," including the one that inadvertently took the lives of the two captives, a grim-faced Obama said in a statement to reporters in the White House briefing room. The White House earlier released an extraordinary statement revealing that intelligence officials had confirmed that Warren Weinstein, an American held by Al Qaeda since 2011, and Giovanni Lo Porto, an Italian held since 2012, died during the operation. Gunmen abducted Warren Weinstein in 2011 from his home in Lahore, Pakistan. They posed as neighbors, offered food and then pistol-whipped the American aid worker and tied up his guards, according to his daughter Alisa Weinstein.

The White House did not explain why it has taken three months to disclose the episode. Obama said that the operation was conducted after hundreds of hours of surveillance had convinced American officials that they were targeting an Al Qaeda compound where no civilians were present, and that "capturing these terrorists was not possible." The White House said the operation that killed the two hostages "was lawful and conducted consistent with our counterterrorism policies" but nonetheless the government is conducting a "thorough independent review" to determine what happened and how such casualties could be avoided in the future.
Earth

USGS: Oil and Gas Operations Could Trigger Large Earthquakes 170

Posted by timothy
from the now-there's-some-economic-stimulus dept.
sciencehabit writes: The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has taken its first stab at quantifying the hazard from earthquakes associated with oil and gas development. The assessment, released in a preliminary report today, identifies 17 areas in eight states with elevated seismic hazard. And geologists now say that such induced earthquakes could potentially be large, up to magnitude 7, which is big enough to cause buildings to collapse and widespread damage. Update: 04/23 15:56 GMT by T : New submitter truavatar adds: At the same time, the Oklahoma Geological Survey released a statement explicitly calling out deep wastewater injection wells to Oklahoma earthquakes, stating "The OGS considers it very likely that the majority of recent earthquakes, particularly those in central and north-central Oklahoma, are triggered by the injection of produced water in disposal wells."