Snapchat Isn't Liable For Connecting 12-Year-Old To Convicted Sex Offenders

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - 11 godzin 51 min ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A judge has dismissed (PDF) a complaint from a parent and guardian of a girl, now 15, who was sexually assaulted when she was 12 years old after Snapchat recommended that she connect with convicted sex offenders. According to the court filing, the abuse that the girl, C.O., experienced on Snapchat happened soon after she signed up for the app in 2019. Through its "Quick Add" feature, Snapchat "directed her" to connect with "a registered sex offender using the profile name JASONMORGAN5660." After a little more than a week on the app, C.O. was bombarded with inappropriate images and subjected to sextortion and threats before the adult user pressured her to meet up, then raped her. Cops arrested the adult user the next day, resulting in his incarceration, but his Snapchat account remained active for three years despite reports of harassment, the complaint alleged. Two years later, at 14, C.O. connected with another convicted sex offender on Snapchat, a former police officer who offered to give C.O. a ride to school and then sexually assaulted her. The second offender is also currently incarcerated, the judge's opinion noted. The lawsuit painted a picture of Snapchat's ongoing neglect of minors it knows are being targeted by sexual predators. Prior to C.O.'s attacks, both adult users sent and requested sexually explicit photos, seemingly without the app detecting any child sexual abuse materials exchanged on the platform. C.O. had previously reported other adult accounts sending her photos of male genitals, but Snapchat allegedly "did nothing to block these individuals from sending her inappropriate photographs." Among other complaints, C.O.'s lawsuit alleged that Snapchat's algorithm for its "Quick Add" feature was the problem. It allegedly recklessly works to detect when adult accounts are seeking to connect with young girls and, by design, sends more young girls their way -- continually directing sexual predators toward vulnerable targets. Snapchat is allegedly aware of these abuses and, therefore, should be held liable for harm caused to C.O., the lawsuit argued. Although C.O.'s case raised difficult questions, Judge Barbara Bellis ultimately agreed with Snapchat that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act barred all claims and shielded Snap because "the allegations of this case fall squarely within the ambit of the immunity afforded to" platforms publishing third-party content. According to Bellis, C.O.'s family had "clearly alleged" that Snap had failed to design its recommendations systems to block young girls from receiving messages from sexual predators. Specifically, Section 230 immunity shields Snap from liability in this case because Bellis considered the messages exchanged to be third-party content. Snapchat designing its recommendation systems to deliver content is a protected activity, Bellis ruled. Despite a seemingly conflicting ruling in Los Angeles that found that "Section 230 didn't protect Snapchat from liability for allegedly connecting teens with drug dealers," Bellis didn't appear to consider it persuasive. She did, however, critique Section 230's broad application, suggesting courts are limited without legislative changes, despite the morally challenging nature of some cases.pdiv class="share_submission" style="position:relative;" a class="slashpop" href="'"img src=""/a a class="slashpop" href=""img src=""/a /div/ppa href=";utm_medium=feed"Read more of this story/a at Slashdot./p

Study Finds Anti-Piracy Messages Backfire, Especially For Men

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2024-02-22 15:00
jbmartin6 shares a report from Phys.Org: Threatening messages aimed to prevent digital piracy have the opposite effect if you're a man, a new study from the University of Portsmouth has found. According to the research, women tend to respond positively to this kind of messaging, but men typically increase their piracy behaviors by 18%. [...] This paper studies how effective anti-piracy messages are as a deterrent, examining the change in TV and film piracy intentions among 962 adults compared with their past behavior. The three messages examined in the study were verbatim copies of three real-world anti-piracy campaigns. Two of the campaigns used threatening messages to try to combat piracy and the third was educational in tone. One of the threatening messages was from crime reduction charity, Crimestoppers, which focused on the individual's risk of computer viruses, identity fraud, money and data theft and hacking. The other message was based on a campaign by the French government, which used a "three strike" process, whereby infringers were given two written warnings before their internet access was terminated. The educational message was taken from the campaign "Get It Right from a Genuine Site," which focuses on the cost to the economy and to the individual creative people, and signposts consumers away from piracy sites and towards legal platforms such as Spotify or Netflix. The study found that one threatening message influences women to reduce their piracy intentions by over 50%, but men increase their piracy behaviors. The educational messages had no effect on either men or women. "The research shows that anti-piracy messages can inadvertently increase piracy, which is a phenomenon known as psychological reactance," explained [lead author, Kate Whitman, from the University of Portsmouth's Centre for Cybercrime and Economic Crime]. "From an evolutionary psychology point of view, men have a stronger reaction to their freedom being threatened and therefore they do the opposite." Moreover, the study found that participants with the most favorable attitudes towards piracy demonstrated the most polarized changes in piracy intentions -- the threatening messages increased their piracy even more. The study has been published in the Journal of Business Ethics. "I'm not so sure about the author's attribution of this difference to evolutionary psychology, so looking forward to some educational comments on that," adds Slashdot reader jbmartin6.pdiv class="share_submission" style="position:relative;" a class="slashpop" href=""img src=""/a a class="slashpop" href=""img src=""/a /div/ppa href=";utm_medium=feed"Read more of this story/a at Slashdot./p

Leaked Hacking Files Show Chinese Spying On Citizens and Foreigners Alike

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2024-02-22 01:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from PBS: Chinese police are investigating an unauthorized and highly unusual online dump of documents from a private security contractor linked to the nation's top policing agency and other parts of its government -- a trove that catalogs apparent hacking activity and tools to spy on both Chinese and foreigners. Among the apparent targets of tools provided by the impacted company, I-Soon: ethnicities and dissidents in parts of China that have seen significant anti-government protests, such as Hong Kong or the heavily Muslim region of Xinjiang in China's far west. The dump of scores of documents late last week and subsequent investigation were confirmed by two employees of I-Soon, known as Anxun in Mandarin, which has ties to the powerful Ministry of Public Security. The dump, which analysts consider highly significant even if it does not reveal any especially novel or potent tools, includes hundreds of pages of contracts, marketing presentations, product manuals, and client and employee lists. They reveal, in detail, methods used by Chinese authorities used to surveil dissidents overseas, hack other nations and promote pro-Beijing narratives on social media. The documents show apparent I-Soon hacking of networks across Central and Southeast Asia, as well as Hong Kong and the self-ruled island of Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its territory. The hacking tools are used by Chinese state agents to unmask users of social media platforms outside China such as X, formerly known as Twitter, break into email and hide the online activity of overseas agents. Also described are devices disguised as power strips and batteries that can be used to compromise Wi-Fi networks. I-Soon and Chinese police are investigating how the files were leaked, the two I-Soon employees told the AP. One of the employees said I-Soon held a meeting Wednesday about the leak and were told it wouldn't affect business too much and to "continue working as normal." The AP is not naming the employees -- who did provide their surnames, per common Chinese practice -- out of concern about possible retribution. The source of the leak is not known. Jon Condra, an analyst with Recorded Future, a cybersecurity company, called it the most significant leak ever linked to a company "suspected of providing cyber espionage and targeted intrusion services for the Chinese security services." According to Condra, citing the leaked material, I-Soon's targets include governments, telecommunications firms abroad and online gambling companies within China.pdiv class="share_submission" style="position:relative;" a class="slashpop" href=""img src=""/a a class="slashpop" href=""img src=""/a /div/ppa href=";utm_medium=feed"Read more of this story/a at Slashdot./p

Frozen Embryos Are 'Children,' According To Alabama's Supreme Court

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2024-02-21 05:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The Alabama Supreme Court on Friday ruled that frozen embryos are "children," entitled to full personhood rights, and anyone who destroys them could be liable in a wrongful death case. The first-of-its-kind ruling throws into question the future use of assisted reproductive technology (ART) involving in vitro fertilization for patients in Alabama -- and beyond. For this technology, people who want children but face challenges to conceiving can create embryos in clinical settings, which may or may not go on to be implanted in a uterus. In the Alabama case, a hospital patient wandered through an unlocked door, removed frozen, preserved embryos from subzero storage and, suffering an ice burn, dropped the embryos, killing them. Affected IVF patients filed wrongful-death lawsuits against the IVF clinic under the state's Wrongful Death of a Minor Act. The case was initially dismissed in a lower court, which ruled the embryos did not meet the definition of a child. But the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that "it applies to all children, born and unborn, without limitation." In a concurring opinion, Chief Justice Tom Parker cited his religious beliefs and quoted the Bible to support the stance. "Human life cannot be wrongfully destroyed without incurring the wrath of a holy God, who views the destruction of His image as an affront to Himself," Parker wrote. "Even before birth, all human beings bear the image of God, and their lives cannot be destroyed without effacing his glory." In 2020, the US Department of Health and Human Services estimated that there were over 600,000 embryos frozen in storage around the country, a significant percentage of which will likely never result in a live birth. The result of this ruling "could mean that any embryos that are destroyed or discarded in the process of IVF or afterward could be the subject of wrongful death lawsuits," notes Ars. [According to national ART data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of egg retrievals that fail to result in a live birth ranges from 46 percent to 91 percent, depending on the patient's age. Meanwhile, the percentage of fertilized egg or embryo transfers that fail to result in a live birth range from 51 percent to 76 percent, depending on age.] "The ruling creates potentially paralyzing liability for ART clinics and patients who use them. Doctors may choose to only attempt creating embryos one at a time to avoid liability attached to creating extras, or they may decline to provide IVF altogether to avoid liability when embryos do not survive the process. This could exacerbate the already financially draining and emotionally exhausting process of IVF, potentially putting it entirely out of reach for those who want to use the technology and putting clinics out of business."pdiv class="share_submission" style="position:relative;" a class="slashpop" href="'Children%2C'+According+To+Alabama'"img src=""/a a class="slashpop" href=""img src=""/a /div/ppa href=";utm_medium=feed"Read more of this story/a at Slashdot./p

Cox Communications Wins Order Overturning $1 Billion US Copyright Verdict

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2024-02-21 02:45
Internet service provider Cox Communications has been cleared of a $1 billion jury verdict in favor of several major record labels that had accused it of failing to curb user piracy. "The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, ruled on Tuesday that the amount of damages was not justified and that a federal district court should hold a new trial to determine the appropriate amount," reports Reuters. From the report: A Virginia jury in 2019 found Cox, the largest unit of privately-owned Cox Enterprises, liable for its customers' violations of over 10,000 copyrights belonging to labels including Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, and Universal Music Group. The labels' attorney Matt Oppenheim said that the appeals court "affirmed the jury's verdict that Cox is a willful infringer," and that "the evidence of Cox's complete disregard for copyright law and copyright owners has not changed." "A second jury will get to hear that same compelling evidence, and we fully expect it will render a significant verdict," Oppenheim said. More than 50 labels teamed up to sue Cox in 2018, in what was seen as a test of the obligations of internet service providers (ISPs) to thwart piracy. The labels accused Cox of failing to address thousands of infringement notices, cut off access for repeat infringers, or take reasonable measures to deter pirates. Atlanta-based Cox had told the 4th Circuit that upholding the verdict would force ISPs to boot households or businesses based on "isolated and potentially inaccurate allegations," or require intrusive oversight of customers' internet usage. Other ISPs, including Charter Communications, Frontier Communications and Astound Broadband, formerly RCN, have also been sued by the record labels.pdiv class="share_submission" style="position:relative;" a class="slashpop" href=""img src=""/a a class="slashpop" href=""img src=""/a /div/ppa href=";utm_medium=feed"Read more of this story/a at Slashdot./p

Vietnam To Collect Biometrics For New ID Cards

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2024-02-21 00:40
Starting in July, the Vietnamese government will begin collecting biometric information from its citizens when issuing new identification cards. The Register reports: Prime minister Pham Minh Chinh instructed the nation's Ministry of Public Security to collect the data in the form of iris scans, voice samples and actual DNA, in accordance with amendments to Vietnam's Law on Citizen Identification. The ID cards are issued to anyone over the age of 14 in Vietnam, and are optional for citizens between the ages of 6 and 14, according to a government news report. Amendments to the Law on Citizen Identification that allow collection of biometrics passed on November 27 of last year. The law allows recording of blood type among the DNA-related information that will be contained in a national database to be shared across agencies "to perform their functions and tasks." The ministry will work with other parts of the government to integrate the identification system into the national database. [...] Vietnam's future identity cards will incorporate the functions of health insurance cards, social insurance books, driver's licenses, birth certificates, and marriage certificates, as defined by the amendment. As for how the information will be collected, the amendments state: "Biometric information on DNA and voice is collected when voluntarily provided by the people or the agency conducting criminal proceedings or the agency managing the person to whom administrative measures are applied in the process of settling the case according to their functions and duties whether to solicit assessment or collect biometric information on DNA, people's voices are shared with identity management agencies for updating and adjusting to the identity database."pdiv class="share_submission" style="position:relative;" a class="slashpop" href=""img src=""/a a class="slashpop" href=""img src=""/a /div/ppa href=";utm_medium=feed"Read more of this story/a at Slashdot./p

Wyze Says Camera Breach Let 13,000 Customers Briefly See Into Other People's Homes

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pn, 2024-02-19 17:04
An anonymous reader shares a report: Wyze's problems with letting its security camera customers briefly see into other customer homes is a lot worse than we thought. Last week, co-founder David Crosby said that "so far" the company had identified 14 people who were able to briefly see into a stranger's property because they were shown an image from someone else's Wyze camera. Now we're being told that number of affected customers has ballooned to 13,000. The revelation came from an email sent to customers entitled "An Important Security Message from Wyze," in which the company copped to the breach and apologized, while also attempting to lay some of the blame on its web hosting provider AWS. [...] The breach, however, occurred as Wyze was attempting to bring its cameras back online. Customers were reporting seeing mysterious images and video footage in their own Events tab. Wyze disabled access to the tab and launched its own investigation.pdiv class="share_submission" style="position:relative;" a class="slashpop" href="'"img src=""/a a class="slashpop" href=""img src=""/a /div/ppa href=";utm_medium=feed"Read more of this story/a at Slashdot./p

US Cities Try Changing Their Zoning Rules to Allow More Housing

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - N, 2024-02-18 14:34
Tech workers are accused of driving up rents in America's major cities mdash; but in fact, the problem may be everywhere. Half of America's renters "are paying more than a third of their salary in housing costs," reports NPR's Weekend Edition, "and for those looking to buy, scant few homes on the market are affordable for a typical household. "To ramp up supply, cities are taking a fresh look at their zoning rules and the regulations that spell out what can be built where and what can't." And many are finding that their old rules are too rigid, making it too hard and too expensive to build many new homes. So these cities, as well as some states, are undertaking a process called zoning reform. They're crafting new rules that do things like allow multifamily homes in more neighborhoods, encourage more density near transit and streamline permitting processes for those trying to build... Minneapolis was ahead of the pack as it made a series of changes to its zoning rules in recent years: allowing more density downtown and along transit corridors, getting rid of parking requirements, permitting construction of accessory dwelling units, which are secondary dwellings on the same lot. And one change in particular made national news: The city ended single-family zoning, allowing two- and three-unit homes to be built in every neighborhood. Researchers at The Pew Charitable Trusts examined the effects of the changes between 2017 and 2022, as many of the city's most significant zoning reforms came into effect. They found what they call a "blueprint for housing affordability." "We saw Minneapolis add 12% to its housing stock in just that five-year period, far more than other cities," Alex Horowitz, director of housing policy initiatives at Pew, told NPR... "The zoning reforms made apartments feasible. They made them less expensive to build. And they were saying yes when builders submitted applications to build apartment buildings. So they got a lot of new housing in a short period of time," says Horowitz. That supply increase appears to have helped keep rents down too. Rents in Minneapolis rose just 1% during this time, while they increased 14% in the rest of Minnesota. Horowitz says cities such as Minneapolis, Houston and Tysons, Va., have built a lot of housing in the last few years and, accordingly, have seen rents stabilize while wages continue to rise, in contrast with much of the country... Now, these sorts of changes are happening in cities and towns around the country. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley built a zoning reform tracker and identified zoning reform efforts in more than 100 municipal jurisdictions in the U.S. in recent years. Other cities reforming their codes include Milwaukee, Columbus, New York City, Walla Walla, and South Bend, Indiana, according to the article mdash; which also includes this quote from Nolan Gray, the urban planner who wrote the book Arbitrary Lines: How Zoning Broke the American City and How to Fix It. "Most American cities and most American states have rules on the books that make it really, really hard to build more infill housing. So if you want a California-style housing crisis, don't do anything. But if you want to avoid the fate of states like California, learn some of the lessons of what we've been doing over the last few years and allow for more of that infill, mixed-income housing." Although interestingly, the article points out that California in recent years has been pushing zoning reform at the state level, "passing lots of legislation to address the state's housing crisis, including a law that requires cities and counties to permit accessory dwelling units. Now, construction of ADUs is booming, with more than 28,000 of the units permitted in California in 2022."pdiv class="share_submission" style="position:relative;" a class="slashpop" href=""img src=""/a a class="slashpop" href=""img src=""/a /div/ppa href=";utm_medium=feed"Read more of this story/a at Slashdot./p

Zeus, IcedID Malware Kingpin Faces 40 Years In Prison

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2024-02-17 12:00
Connor Jones reports via The Register: A Ukrainian cybercrime kingpin who ran some of the most pervasive malware operations faces 40 years in prison after spending nearly a decade on the FBI's Cyber Most Wanted List. Vyacheslav Igorevich Penchukov, 37, pleaded guilty this week in the US to two charges related to his leadership role in both the Zeus and IcedID malware operations that netted millions of dollars in the process. Penchukov's plea will be seen as the latest big win for US law enforcement in its continued fight against cybercrime and those that enable it. However, authorities took their time getting him in 'cuffs. [...] "Malware like IcedID bleeds billions from the American economy and puts our critical infrastructure and national security at risk," said US attorney Michael Easley for the eastern district of North Carolina. "The Justice Department and FBI Cyber Squad won't stand by and watch it happen, and won't quit coming for the world's most wanted cybercriminals, no matter where they are in the world. This operation removed a key player from one of the world's most notorious cybercriminal rings. Extradition is real. Anyone who infects American computers had better be prepared to answer to an American judge." This week, he admitted one count of conspiracy to commit a racketeer influenced and corrupt organizations (RICO) act offense relating to Zeus, and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in relation to IcedID. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years. His sentencing date is set for May 9, 2024. Zeus malware, a banking trojan that formed a botnet for financial theft, caused over $100 million in losses before its 2014 dismantlement. Its successor, SpyEye, incorporated enhanced features for financial fraud. Despite the 2014 takedown of Zeus, Penchukov moved on to lead IcedID, a similar malware first found in 2017. IcedID evolved from banking fraud to ransomware, severely affecting the University of Vermont Medical Center in 2020 with over $30 million in damages.pdiv class="share_submission" style="position:relative;" a class="slashpop" href=""img src=""/a a class="slashpop" href=""img src=""/a /div/ppa href=";utm_medium=feed"Read more of this story/a at Slashdot./p

California Bill Wants To Scrap Environmental Reviews To Save Downtown San Francisco

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2024-02-17 05:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the San Francisco Chronicle: San Francisco's leaders have spent the past few years desperately trying to figure out how to deal with a glut of empty offices, shuttered retail and public safety concerns plaguing the city's once vibrant downtown. Now, a California lawmaker wants to try a sweeping plan to revive the city's core by exempting most new real estate projects from environmental review, potentially quickening development by months or even years. State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, introduced SB1227 on Friday as a proposal to exempt downtown projects from the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, for a decade. The 1970 landmark law requires studies of a project's expected impact on air, water, noise and other areas, but Wiener said it has been abused to slow down or kill infill development near public transit. "Downtown San Francisco matters to our city's future, and it's struggling -- to bring people back, we need to make big changes and have open minds," Wiener said in a statement. "That starts with remodeling, converting, or even replacing buildings that may have become outdated and that simply aren't going to succeed going forward." Eligible projects would include academic institutions, sports facilities, mixed-use projects including housing, biotech labs, offices, public works and even smaller changes such as modifying an existing building's exterior. The city's existing zoning and permit requirements would remain intact. "We're not taking away any local control," Wiener said in an interview with the Chronicle on Friday. California Sen. Scott Wiener is proposing a bill that, he said, would make it easier for San Francisco's downtown area to recover from the pandemic. However, it's not clear how much of an impact the bill would have if it's eventually passed since other factors are at play. New construction has been nearly frozen in San Francisco since the pandemic, amid consistently high labor costs, elevated interest rates and weakening demand for both apartments and commercial space.Major developers have reiterated that they have no plans to start work on significant new projects any time soon. Last week, Kilroy Realty, which has approval for a massive 2.3 million-square-foot redevelopment ofSouth of Market's Flower Mart, said no groundbreakings are planned this year -- anywhere.pdiv class="share_submission" style="position:relative;" a class="slashpop" href=""img src=""/a a class="slashpop" href=""img src=""/a /div/ppa href=";utm_medium=feed"Read more of this story/a at Slashdot./p

Scientists Propose AI Apocalypse Kill Switches

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2024-02-17 04:02
A paper (PDF) from researchers at the University of Cambridge, supported by voices from numerous academic institutions including OpenAI, proposes remote kill switches and lockouts as methods to mitigate risks associated with advanced AI technologies. It also recommends tracking AI chip sales globally. The Register reports: The paper highlights numerous ways policymakers might approach AI hardware regulation. Many of the suggestions -- including those designed to improve visibility and limit the sale of AI accelerators -- are already playing out at a national level. Last year US president Joe Biden put forward an executive order aimed at identifying companies developing large dual-use AI models as well as the infrastructure vendors capable of training them. If you're not familiar, "dual-use" refers to technologies that can serve double duty in civilian and military applications. More recently, the US Commerce Department proposed regulation that would require American cloud providers to implement more stringent "know-your-customer" policies to prevent persons or countries of concern from getting around export restrictions. This kind of visibility is valuable, researchers note, as it could help to avoid another arms race, like the one triggered by the missile gap controversy, where erroneous reports led to massive build up of ballistic missiles. While valuable, they warn that executing on these reporting requirements risks invading customer privacy and even lead to sensitive data being leaked. Meanwhile, on the trade front, the Commerce Department has continued to step up restrictions, limiting the performance of accelerators sold to China. But, as we've previously reported, while these efforts have made it harder for countries like China to get their hands on American chips, they are far from perfect. To address these limitations, the researchers have proposed implementing a global registry for AI chip sales that would track them over the course of their lifecycle, even after they've left their country of origin. Such a registry, they suggest, could incorporate a unique identifier into each chip, which could help to combat smuggling of components. At the more extreme end of the spectrum, researchers have suggested that kill switches could be baked into the silicon to prevent their use in malicious applications. [...] The academics are clearer elsewhere in their study, proposing that processor functionality could be switched off or dialed down by regulators remotely using digital licensing: "Specialized co-processors that sit on the chip could hold a cryptographically signed digital "certificate," and updates to the use-case policy could be delivered remotely via firmware updates. The authorization for the on-chip license could be periodically renewed by the regulator, while the chip producer could administer it. An expired or illegitimate license would cause the chip to not work, or reduce its performance." In theory, this could allow watchdogs to respond faster to abuses of sensitive technologies by cutting off access to chips remotely, but the authors warn that doing so isn't without risk. The implication being, if implemented incorrectly, that such a kill switch could become a target for cybercriminals to exploit. Another proposal would require multiple parties to sign off on potentially risky AI training tasks before they can be deployed at scale. "Nuclear weapons use similar mechanisms called permissive action links," they wrote. For nuclear weapons, these security locks are designed to prevent one person from going rogue and launching a first strike. For AI however, the idea is that if an individual or company wanted to train a model over a certain threshold in the cloud, they'd first need to get authorization to do so. Though a potent tool, the researchers observe that this could backfire by preventing the development of desirable AI. The argument seems to be that while the use of nuclear weapons has a pretty clear-cut outcome, AI isn't always so black and white. But if this feels a little too dystopian for your tastes, the paper dedicates an entire section to reallocating AI resources for the betterment of society as a whole. The idea being that policymakers could come together to make AI compute more accessible to groups unlikely to use it for evil, a concept described as "allocation."pdiv class="share_submission" style="position:relative;" a class="slashpop" href=""img src=""/a a class="slashpop" href=""img src=""/a /div/ppa href=";utm_medium=feed"Read more of this story/a at Slashdot./p

New Bill Would Let Defendants Inspect Algorithms Used Against Them In Court

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2024-02-17 03:25
Lauren Feiner reports via The Verge: Reps. Mark Takano (D-CA) and Dwight Evans (D-PA) reintroduced the Justice in Forensic Algorithms Act on Thursday, which would allow defendants to access the source code of software used to analyze evidence in their criminal proceedings. It would also require the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to create testing standards for forensic algorithms, which software used by federal enforcers would need to meet. The bill would act as a check on unintended outcomes that could be created by using technology to help solve crimes. Academic research has highlighted the ways human bias can be built into software and how facial recognition systems often struggle to differentiate Black faces, in particular. The use of algorithms to make consequential decisions in many different sectors, including both crime-solving and health care, has raised alarms for consumers and advocates as a result of such research. Takano acknowledged that gaining or hiring the deep expertise needed to analyze the source code might not be possible for every defendant. But requiring NIST to create standards for the tools could at least give them a starting point for understanding whether a program matches the basic standards. Takano introduced previous iterations of the bill in 2019 and 2021, but they were not taken up by a committee.pdiv class="share_submission" style="position:relative;" a class="slashpop" href=""img src=""/a a class="slashpop" href=""img src=""/a /div/ppa href=";utm_medium=feed"Read more of this story/a at Slashdot./p

New 'Gold Pickaxe' Android, iOS Malware Steals Your Face For Fraud

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2024-02-17 02:02
An anonymous reader quotes a report from BleepingComputer: A new iOS and Android trojan named 'GoldPickaxe' employs a social engineering scheme to trick victims into scanning their faces and ID documents, which are believed to be used to generate deepfakes for unauthorized banking access. The new malware, spotted by Group-IB, is part of a malware suite developed by the Chinese threat group known as 'GoldFactory,' which is responsible for other malware strains such as 'GoldDigger', 'GoldDiggerPlus,' and 'GoldKefu.' Group-IB says its analysts observed attacks primarily targeting the Asia-Pacific region, mainly Thailand and Vietnam. However, the techniques employed could be effective globally, and there's a danger of them getting adopted by other malware strains. [...] For iOS (iPhone) users, the threat actors initially directed targets to a TestFlight URL to install the malicious app, allowing them to bypass the normal security review process. When Apple remove the TestFlight app, the attackers switched to luring targets into downloading a malicious Mobile Device Management (MDM) profile that allows the threat actors to take control over devices. Once the trojan has been installed onto a mobile device in the form of a fake government app, it operates semi-autonomously, manipulating functions in the background, capturing the victim's face, intercepting incoming SMS, requesting ID documents, and proxying network traffic through the infected device using 'MicroSocks.' Group-IB says the Android version of the trojan performs more malicious activities than in iOS due to Apple's higher security restrictions. Also, on Android, the trojan uses over 20 different bogus apps as cover. For example, GoldPickaxe can also run commands on Android to access SMS, navigate the filesystem, perform clicks on the screen, upload the 100 most recent photos from the victim's album, download and install additional packages, and serve fake notifications. The use of the victims' faces for bank fraud is an assumption by Group-IB, also corroborated by the Thai police, based on the fact that many financial institutes added biometric checks last year for transactions above a certain amount.pdiv class="share_submission" style="position:relative;" a class="slashpop" href="'Gold+Pickaxe'"img src=""/a a class="slashpop" href=""img src=""/a /div/ppa href=";utm_medium=feed"Read more of this story/a at Slashdot./p

RFK Jr. Wins Deferred Injunction In Vax Social Media Suit

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2024-02-16 19:20
schwit1 writes: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. won a preliminary injunction against the White House and other federal defendants in his suit alleging government censorship of his statements against vaccines on social media. The injunction, however, will be stayed until the US Supreme Court rules in a related case brought by Missouri and Louisiana. An injunction is warranted because Kennedy showed he is likely to succeed on the merits of his claims, Judge Terry A. Doughty of the US District Court for the Western District of Louisiana said Wednesday. The White House defendants, the Surgeon General defendants, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defendants, the Federal Bureau of Investigation defendants, and the Cybersecurity amp; Infrastructure Security Agency defendants likely violated the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment, Doughty said. Kennedy's class action complaint, brought with health care professional Connie Sampognaro and Kennedy's nonprofit, Children's Health Defense, alleges that the federal government, beginning in early 2020, began a campaign to induce Facebook, Google (YouTube), and X, formerly known as Twitter, to censor constitutionally protected speech. Specifically, Kennedy said, the government suppressed "facts and opinions about the COVID vaccines that might lead people to become 'hesitant' about COVID vaccine mandates." Kennedy has sufficiently shown that these defendants "jointly participated in the actions of the social media" platforms by '"insinuating' themselves into the social-media companies' private affairs and blurring the line between public and private action," Doughty said.pdiv class="share_submission" style="position:relative;" a class="slashpop" href=""img src=""/a a class="slashpop" href=""img src=""/a /div/ppa href=";utm_medium=feed"Read more of this story/a at Slashdot./p

Air Canada Found Liable For Chatbot's Bad Advice On Plane Tickets

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2024-02-16 05:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Air Canada has been ordered to pay compensation to a grieving grandchild who claimed they were misled into purchasing full-price flight tickets by an ill-informed chatbot. In an argument that appeared to flabbergast a small claims adjudicator in British Columbia, the airline attempted to distance itself from its own chatbot's bad advice by claiming the online tool was "a separate legal entity that is responsible for its own actions." "This is a remarkable submission," Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT) member Christopher Rivers wrote. "While a chatbot has an interactive component, it is still just a part of Air Canada's website. It should be obvious to Air Canada that it is responsible for all the information on its website. It makes no difference whether the information comes from a static page or a chatbot." In a decision released this week, Rivers ordered Air Canada to pay Jake Moffatt $812 to cover the difference between the airline's bereavement rates and the $1,630.36 they paid for full-price tickets to and from Toronto bought after their grandmother died.pdiv class="share_submission" style="position:relative;" a class="slashpop" href="'"img src=""/a a class="slashpop" href=""img src=""/a /div/ppa href=";utm_medium=feed"Read more of this story/a at Slashdot./p

Leaked Emails Show Hugo Awards Self-Censoring To Appease China

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2024-02-16 02:50
samleecole shares a report from 404 Media: A trove of leaked emails shows how administrators of one of the most prestigious awards in science fiction censored themselves because the awards ceremony was being held in China. Earlier this month, the Hugo Awards came under fire with accusations of censorship when several authors were excluded from the awards, including Neil Gaiman, R. F. Kuang, Xiran Jay Zhao, and Paul Weimer. These authors' works had earned enough votes to make them finalists, but were deemed "ineligible" for reasons not disclosed by Hugo administrators. The Hugo Awards are one of the largest and most important science fiction awards. [...] The emails, which show the process of compiling spreadsheets of the top 10 works in each category and checking them for "sensitive political nature" to see if they were "an issue in China," were obtained by fan writer Chris M. Barkley and author Jason Sanford, and published on fandom news site File 770 and Sanford's Patreon, where they uploaded the full PDF of the emails. They were provided to them by Hugo Awards administrator Diane Lacey. Lacey confirmed in an email to 404 Media that she was the source of the emails. "In addition to the regular technical review, as we are happening in China and the *laws* we operate under are different...we need to highlight anything of a sensitive political nature in the work," Dave McCarty, head of the 2023 awards jury, directed administrators in an email. "It's not necessary to read everything, but if the work focuses on China, taiwan, tibet, or other topics that may be an issue *in* China...that needs to be highlighted so that we can determine if it is safe to put it on the ballot of if the law will require us to make an administrative decision about it." The email replies to this directive show administrators combing through authors' social media presences and public travel histories, including from before they were nominated for the 2023 awards, and their writing and bodies of work beyond just what they were nominated for. Among dozens of other posts and writings, they note Weimer's negative comments about the Chinese government in a Patreon post and misspell Zhao's name and work (calling their novel Iron Widow "The Iron Giant"). About author Naseem Jamnia, an administrator allegedly wrote, "Author openly describes themselves as queer, nonbinary, trans, (And again, good for them), and frequently writes about gender, particularly non-binary. The cited work also relies on these themes. I include them because I don't know how that will play in China. (I suspect less than well.)" "As far as our investigation is concerned there was no reason to exclude the works of Kuang, Gaiman, Weimer or Xiran Jay Zhao, save for being viewed as being undesirable in the view of the Hugo Award admins which had the effect of being the proxies Chinese government," Sanford and Barkley wrote. In conjunction with the email trove, Sanford and Barkley also released an apology letter from Lacey, in which she explains some of her role in the awards vetting process and also blames McCarty for his role in the debacle. McCarty, along with board chair Kevin Standlee, resigned earlier this month.pdiv class="share_submission" style="position:relative;" a class="slashpop" href=""img src=""/a a class="slashpop" href=""img src=""/a /div/ppa href=";utm_medium=feed"Read more of this story/a at Slashdot./p

AMC To Pay $8 Million For Allegedly Sharing Subscribers' Viewing History With Tech Companies

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2024-02-16 00:50
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: On Thursday, AMC notified subscribers of a proposed $8.3 million settlement that provides awards to an estimated 6 million subscribers of its six streaming services: AMC+, Shudder, Acorn TV, ALLBLK, SundanceNow, and HIDIVE. The settlement comes in response to allegations that AMC illegally shared subscribers' viewing history with tech companies like Google, Facebook, and X (aka Twitter) in violation of the Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA). Passed in 1988, the VPPA prohibits AMC and other video service providers from sharing "information which identifies a person as having requested or obtained specific video materials or services from a video tape service provider." It was originally passed to protect individuals' right to private viewing habits, after a journalist published the mostly unrevealing video rental history of a judge, Robert Bork, who had been nominated to the Supreme Court by Ronald Reagan. The so-called "Bork Tapes" revealed little -- other than that the judge frequently rented spy thrillers and British costume dramas -- but lawmakers recognized that speech could be chilled by monitoring anyone's viewing habits. While the law was born in the era of Blockbuster Video, subscribers suing AMC wrote in their amended complaint (PDF) that "the importance of legislation like the VPPA in the modern era of datamining is more pronounced than ever before." According to subscribers suing, AMC allegedly installed tracking technologies -- including the Meta Pixel, the X Tracking Pixel, and Google Tracking Technology -- on its website, allowing their personally identifying information to be connected with their viewing history. [...] If it's approved, AMC has agreed to "suspend, remove, or modify operation of the Meta Pixel and other Third-Party Tracking Technologies so that use of such technologies on AMC Services will not result in AMC's disclosure to the third-party technology companies of the specific video content requested or obtained by a specific individual." All registered users of AMC services who "requested or obtained video content on at least one of the six AMC services" between January 18, 2021, and January 10, 2024, are currently eligible to submit claims under the proposed settlement. The deadline to submit is April 9. In addition to distributing the $8.3 million settlement fund among class members, subscribers will also receive a free one-week digital subscription.pdiv class="share_submission" style="position:relative;" a class="slashpop" href="'"img src=""/a a class="slashpop" href=""img src=""/a /div/ppa href=";utm_medium=feed"Read more of this story/a at Slashdot./p

Your AI Girlfriend Is a Data-Harvesting Horror Show

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2024-02-15 05:30
"A lot of that AI chatbots that you spend days talking to push hard on getting more and more private information from you," writes longtime Slashdot reader michelcultivo, sharing a report from Gizmodo. "To be perfectly blunt, AI girlfriends and boyfriends are not your friends," says Misha Rykov, a Mozilla Researcher from the company's *Privacy Not Included project. "Although they are marketed as something that will enhance your mental health and well-being, they specialize in delivering dependency, loneliness, and toxicity, all while prying as much data as possible from you." Gizmodo reports: Mozilla dug into 11 different AI romance chatbots, including popular apps such as Replika, Chai, Romantic AI, EVA AI Chat Bot amp; Soulmate, and CrushOn.AI. Every single one earned the Privacy Not Included label, putting these chatbots among the worst categories of products Mozilla has ever reviewed. You've heard stories about data problems before, but according to Mozilla, AI girlfriends violate your privacy in "disturbing new ways." For example, CrushOn.AI collects details including information about sexual health, use of medication, and gender-affirming care. 90% of the apps may sell or share user data for targeted ads and other purposes, and more than half won't let you delete the data they collect. Security was also a problem. Only one app, Genesia AI Friend amp; Partner, met Mozilla's minimum security standards. One of the more striking findings came when Mozilla counted the trackers in these apps, little bits of code that collect data and share them with other companies for advertising and other purposes. Mozilla found the AI girlfriend apps used an average of 2,663 trackers per minute, though that number was driven up by Romantic AI, which called a whopping 24,354 trackers in just one minute of using the app. The privacy mess is even more troubling because the apps actively encourage you to share details that are far more personal than the kind of thing you might enter into a typical app. EVA AI Chat Bot amp; Soulmate pushes users to "share all your secrets and desires," and specifically asks for photos and voice recordings. It's worth noting that EVA was the only chatbot that didn't get dinged for how it uses that data, though the app did have security issues. [...]pdiv class="share_submission" style="position:relative;" a class="slashpop" href=""img src=""/a a class="slashpop" href=""img src=""/a /div/ppa href=";utm_medium=feed"Read more of this story/a at Slashdot./p

NYC Sues Social Media Companies Over Youth Mental Health Crisis

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2024-02-15 03:25
New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced a lawsuit against four of the nation's largest social media companies, accusing them of fueling a "national youth mental health crisis." From a report: The lawsuit was filed to hold TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and YouTube Accountable for their damaging influence on the mental health of children, Adams said. The lawsuit, filed in California Superior Court, alleged the companies intentionally designed their platforms to purposefully manipulate and addict children and teens to social media applications. The lawsuit pointed to the use of algorithms to generate feeds that keep users on the platforms longer and encourage compulsive use. "Over the past decade, we have seen just how addictive and overwhelming the online world can be, exposing our children to a non-stop stream of harmful content and fueling our national youth mental health crisis," Adams said. "Our city is built on innovation and technology, but many social media platforms end up endangering our children's mental health, promoting addiction, and encouraging unsafe behavior." The lawsuit accused the social media companies of manipulating users by making them feel compelled to respond to one positive action with another positive action. "These platforms take advantage of reciprocity by, for example, automatically telling the sender when their message was seen or sending notifications when a message was delivered, encouraging teens to return to the platform again and again and perpetuating online engagement and immediate responses," the lawsuit said. The city is joining hundreds of school districts across the nation in filing litigation to force the tech companies to change their behavior and recover the costs of addressing the public health threat.pdiv class="share_submission" style="position:relative;" a class="slashpop" href=""img src=""/a a class="slashpop" href=""img src=""/a /div/ppa href=";utm_medium=feed"Read more of this story/a at Slashdot./p

US Military Notifies 20,000 of Data Breach After Cloud Email Leak

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2024-02-15 02:02
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: The U.S. Department of Defense is notifying tens of thousands of individuals that their personal information was exposed in an email data spill last year. According to the breach notification letter sent out to affected individuals on February 1, the Defense Intelligence Agency -- the DOD's military intelligence agency -- said, "numerous email messages were inadvertently exposed to the Internet by a service provider," between February 3 and February 20, 2023. TechCrunch has learned that the breach disclosure letters relate to an unsecured U.S. government cloud email server that was spilling sensitive emails to the open internet. The cloud email server, hosted on Microsoft's cloud for government customers, was accessible from the internet without a password, likely due to a misconfiguration. The DOD is sending breach notification letters to around 20,600 individuals whose information was affected. "As a matter of practice and operations security, we do not comment on the status of our networks and systems. The affected server was identified and removed from public access on February 20, 2023, and the vendor has resolved the issues that resulted in the exposure. DOD continues to engage with the service provider on improving cyber event prevention and detection. Notification to affected individuals is ongoing," said DOD spokesperson Cdr. Tim Gorman in an email to TechCrunch.pdiv class="share_submission" style="position:relative;" a class="slashpop" href=""img src=""/a a class="slashpop" href=""img src=""/a /div/ppa href=";utm_medium=feed"Read more of this story/a at Slashdot./p