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Richard Stallman Asks: Should Big Tech Be Taxed For Hurting Society?

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - N, 2018-06-03 01:34
Richard Stallman weighed in Friday on what he calls "massive commercial surveillance of individuals," saying that the two camps arguing about it "both miss the point." First there's the trustbusters who want to break Big Tech companies into smaller firms too small to eliminate their competition or exert undue influences on regulators. Then there's those who urge carefully-calibrated regulations to ensure tech companies always act in a way that's good for society. RMS writes: By arguing about whether to divide up the power that this data gives to businesses, or to regulate the use of it (perhaps nationalizing it), they miss the point that both alternatives destroy our privacy and give the state a perfect basis for repression. The danger is to collect that data at all. More generally, I think the idea of taxing companies for the magnitude of harm that they do (regardless of whether they broke any rules to do it) is a good one.

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Uber Driver Kills His Passenger

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2018-06-02 23:34
An anonymous reader quotes the Washington Post: An Uber driver in Denver killed his passenger early Friday morning, telling a witness he had fired several times in self-defense, police said... Police say Michael Andre Hancock shot Hyun Kim, 45, with a semiautomatic pistol during a confrontation at 2:47 a.m. Friday, according to a partially redacted probable-cause affidavit provided to The Washington Post... Hancock does not have a criminal record in the state, the Denver Post reported. An Uber official said Hancock has been driving with the popular ride-hailing app for three years. His father, also named Michael Hancock, told KDVR-TV he had a permit to carry a concealed handgun. Putnam, the police spokeswoman, said she was unsure if that had been confirmed. Company policy says riders and drivers cannot carry firearms in vehicles while using the ride-sharing app. Some states have regulations that override that prohibition, but in Colorado, which allows guns in vehicles to protect lives and property, the regulation for Uber users still applies, Uber spokeswoman Carly DeBeikes told The Post in a statement. Uber, rocked by allegations of inadequate screening and abuse among its drivers and corporate leaders, said Hancock's access to the app was removed Uber was fined $8.9 million by Colorado regulators last year "for allowing 57 people with past criminal or motor vehicle offenses to drive for the company," reports the Denver Post. They note that in some cases Uber's drivers only had revoked or suspended licenses, while "a similar investigation of smaller competitor Lyft found no violations."

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CSS Is Now So Overpowered It Can Deanonymize Facebook Users

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2018-06-02 22:34
An anonymous reader writes: Some of the recent additions to the Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) web standard are so powerful that a security researcher has abused them to deanonymize visitors to a demo site and reveal their Facebook usernames, avatars, and if they liked a particular web page of Facebook. Information leaked via this attack could aid some advertisers linking IP addresses or advertising profiles to real-life persons, posing a serious threat to a user's online privacy. The leak isn't specific to Facebook but affects all sites which allow their content to be embedded on other web pages via iframes. The actual vulnerability resides in the browser implementation of a CSS feature named "mix-blend-mode," added in 2016 in the CSS3 web standard. Security researchers have proven that by overlaying multiple layers of 1x1px-sized DIV layers on top of iframes, each layer with a different blend mode, they could determine what's displayed inside it and recover the data, to which parent websites cannot regularly access. This attack works in Chrome and Firefox, but has been fixed in recent versions.

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Woman Looking At Apple Watch Found Guilty of Distracted Driving

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2018-06-02 21:34
Ontario law defines distracted driving as "holding or using a handheld wireless communication device" -- and a judge just fined Victoria Ambrose $400 for checking her Apple Watch while waiting at a stoplight. Long-time Slashdot reader innocent_white_lamb quotes the National Post: Even with its miniaturization and trendy technology, an Apple Watch is no safer "than a cellphone taped to someone's wrist," said a justice of the peace, while convicting a Guelph woman this month of holding or using a hand-held wireless communication device while driving... "The key to determining this matter is distraction. It is abundantly clear from the evidence that Ms. Ambrose was distracted..." When the light turned green Ambrose had remained parked at an intersection, according to the officer who ticketed her, though two cars ahead of her had moved forward. Ambrose testified that she was only checking the time, but the officer told the court he'd seen Ambrose check her watch four different times.

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'Why I'm Switching From Chrome To Firefox and You Should Too'

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2018-06-02 19:34
An anonymous reader quotes an associate technology editor at Fast Company's Co.Design: While the amount of data about me may not have caused harm in my life yet -- as far as I know -- I don't want to be the victim of monopolistic internet oligarchs as they continue to cash in on surveillance-based business models. What's a concerned citizen of the internet to do? Here's one no-brainer: Stop using Chrome and switch to Firefox... [W]hy should I continue to use the company's browser, which acts as literally the window through which I experience much of the internet, when its incentives -- to learn a lot about me so it can sell advertisements -- don't align with mine....? Unlike Chrome, Firefox is run by Mozilla, a nonprofit organization that advocates for a "healthy" internet. Its mission is to help build an internet in an open-source manner that's accessible to everyone -- and where privacy and security are built in. Contrast that to Chrome's privacy policy, which states that it stores your browsing data locally unless you are signed in to your Google account, which enables the browser to send that information back to Google. The policy also states that Chrome allows third-party websites to access your IP address and any information that site has tracked using cookies. If you care about privacy at all, you should ditch the browser that supports a company using data to sell advertisements and enabling other companies to track your online movements for one that does not use your data at all.... Firefox protects you from being tracked by advertising networks across websites, which has the lovely side effect of making sites load faster... Ultimately, Firefox's designers have the leeway to make these privacy-first decisions because Mozilla's motivations are fundamentally different from Google's. Mozilla is a nonprofit with a mission, and Google is a for-profit corporation with an advertising-based business model.. While Firefox and Chrome ultimately perform the same service, the browsers' developers approached their design in a radically different way because one organization has to serve a bottom line, and the other doesn't. The article points out that ironically, Mozilla supports its developers partly with revenue from Google, which (along with other search engines) pays to be listed as one of the search engines available in Firefox's search bar. "But because it relies on these agreements rather than gathering user data so it can sell advertisements, the Mozilla Corporation has a fundamentally different business model than Google."

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German Spy Agency Can Keep Tabs On Internet Hubs, Federal Court Rules

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2018-06-02 12:00
Earlier this week, a federal court in Germany threw out a challenge by the world's largest internet hub, the De-Cix exchange, against the tapping of its data flows by the BND foreign intelligence service. What this means is that the country's spy agency can continue to monitor major internet hubs if Berlin deems it necessary for strategic security interests. From a report: The operator had argued the agency was breaking the law by capturing German domestic communications along with international data. However, the court in the eastern city of Leipzig ruled that internet hubs "can be required by the federal interior ministry to assist with strategic communications surveillance by the BND." De-Cix says its Frankfurt hub is the world's biggest internet exchange, bundling data flows from as far as China, Russia, the Middle East and Africa, which handles more than six terabytes per second at peak traffic. De-Cix Management GmbH, which is owned by eco Association, the European internet industry body, had filed suit against the interior ministry, which oversees the BND and its strategic signals intelligence. It said the BND, a partner of the US National Security Agency (NSA), has placed so-called Y-piece prisms into its data-carrying fibre optic cables that give it an unfiltered and complete copy of the data flow. The surveillance sifts through digital communications such as emails using certain search terms, which are then reviewed based on relevance.

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Trump Orders a Lifeline For Struggling Coal and Nuclear Plants

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2018-06-02 01:20
According to The New York Times, President Trump has ordered Energy Secretary Rick Perry to "prepare immediate steps" to stop the closure of unprofitable coal and nuclear plants around the country. From the report: Under one proposal outlined in the memo, which was reported by Bloomberg, the Department of Energy would order grid operators to buy electricity from struggling coal and nuclear plants for two years, using emergency authority that is normally reserved for exceptional crises like natural disasters. That idea triggered immediate blowback from a broad alliance of energy companies, consumer groups and environmentalists. On Friday, oil and gas companies joined with wind and solar organizations in a joint statement condemning the plan, saying that it was "legally indefensible" and would force consumers to pay more for electricity. The administration has also discussed invoking the Defense Production Act of 1950, which allows the federal government to intervene in private industry in the name of national security. (Harry S. Truman used the law to impose price controls on the steel industry during the Korean War.) If the Trump administration were to invoke these two statutes, the move would almost certainly be challenged in federal court by natural gas and renewable energy companies, which could stand to lose market share. Such an intervention could cost consumers between $311 million to $11.8 billion pear year, according to a preliminary estimate (PDF) by Robbie Orvis, director of energy policy design at Energy Innovation.

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Top US Antitrust Official Uncertain of Need For Four Wireless Carriers

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2018-06-01 22:01
An anonymous reader shares a report: The head of the U.S. Justice Department's antitrust division, Makan Delrahim, declined on Friday to support the Obama administration's firm backing of the need for four U.S. wireless carriers. Asked about T-Mobile's plan to buy Sprint for $26 billion, Delrahim declined to reiterate the view of President Barack Obama's enforcers, who had said that four wireless carriers were needed. Instead, Delrahim told reporters, "I don't think there's any magical number that I'm smart enough to glean." He also said the department would look at the companies' arguments that the proposed merger was needed for them to build the next generation of wireless, referred to as 5G, but that they had to prove their case.

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Google Plans Not To Renew its Contract for Project Maven, a Controversial Drone AI Imaging Program

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2018-06-01 21:20
Kate Konger, reporting for Gizmodo: Google will not seek another contract for its controversial work providing artificial intelligence to the U.S. Department of Defense for analyzing drone footage after its current contract expires. Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene announced the decision at a meeting with employees Friday morning, three sources told Gizmodo. The current contract expires in 2019 and there will not be a follow-up contract, Greene said. The meeting, dubbed Weather Report, is a weekly update on Google Cloud's business. Google would not choose to pursue Maven today because the backlash has been terrible for the company, Greene said, adding that the decision was made at a time when Google was more aggressively pursuing military work. The company plans to unveil new ethical principles about its use of AI next week.

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Thousands of Organizations Are Exposing Sensitive Data Via Google Groups Lists, Researchers Find

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2018-06-01 20:40
Brian Krebs reports: Google is reminding organizations to review how much of their Google Groups mailing lists should be public and indexed by Google.com. The notice was prompted in part by a review that KrebsOnSecurity undertook with several researchers who've been busy cataloging thousands of companies that are using public Google Groups lists to manage customer support and in some cases sensitive internal communications. Google Groups is a service from Google that provides discussion groups for people sharing common interests. Because of the organic way Google Groups tend to grow as more people are added to projects -- and perhaps given the ability to create public accounts on otherwise private groups -- a number of organizations with household names are leaking sensitive data in their message lists. Many Google Groups leak emails that should probably not be public but are nevertheless searchable on Google, including personal information such as passwords and financial data, and in many cases comprehensive lists of company employee names, addresses and emails. Google has outlined instructions on how to secure the discussion boards.

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Signs of Sophisticated Cellphone Spying Found Near White House, US Officials Say

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2018-06-01 17:20
A federal study found signs that surveillance devices for intercepting cellphone calls and texts were operating near the White House and other sensitive locations in the Washington area last year. From a report: A Department of Homeland Security program discovered evidence of the surveillance devices, called IMSI catchers, as part of federal testing last year, according to a letter from DHS to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) on May 22. The letter didn't specify what entity operated the devices and left open the possibility that there could be alternative explanations for the suspicious cellular signals collected by the federal testing program last year. The discovery bolsters years of independent research suggesting that foreign intelligence agencies use sophisticated interception technology to spy on officials working within the hub of federal power in the nation's capital. Experts in surveillance technology say that IMSI catchers -- sometimes known by one popular brand name, StingRay -- are a standard part of the tool kit for many foreign intelligence services, including for such geopolitical rivals as Russia and China.

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Ticketfly Temporarily Shuts Down To Investigate 'Cyber Incident'

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2018-06-01 12:00
Earlier today, ticket distribution service Ticketfly shut down after a "cyber incident" compromised its systems. A hacker reportedly defaced the company's website and claimed to have compromised the "backstage" database where festivals, promoters and venues manage their events. Engadget reports: The intrusion might have started through Ticketfly's Wordpress blog -- the hacker claimed to have downloaded and posted this on Ticketfly's site before it was taken down. The firm hasn't said when it expects services to return to normal, and it has yet to gauge the full extent of the breach. It took everything down out of an "abundance of caution," according to a spokesperson. According to Motherboard, the hacker apparently demanded a single bitcoin to divulge the vulnerability that left Ticketfly open to attack. You can view the FAQ page for more information on the incident.

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Now Even Russian Lawmakers Want a Piece of Mark Zuckerberg

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2018-06-01 07:00
PolygamousRanchKid shares a report from Quartz: In an ironic twist in the saga of Facebook's troubles, Russian lawmakers have declared that they, too, would like to question Mark Zuckerberg. According to the Moscow Times, senator Anton Belyakov yesterday offered to invite the Facebook CEO to address the upper chamber of the Russian parliament. "After all, he spoke about information security, not giving access to personal data, preventing the dissemination of harmful content," Belyakov reportedly said, referring to Zuckerberg's meetings with the U.S. Congress and European Parliament. Another reason for those meetings was to discuss whether the social network facilitated Russian meddling in foreign elections. The U.S. company is in trouble with Russian authorities for disobeying a 2015 law that requires it to store the data of Russian citizens on the country's soil. In April, the state communications watchdog threatened that if Facebook didn't comply, it would face the same fate as LinkedIn, which was banned in the country last year. Much to the chagrin of UK politicians, he (Zuckerberg) has not agreed to multiple calls, and even a mild threat, to testify in front of a UK parliamentary committee.

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AT&T Wants To Settle With FTC To Avoid Unlimited Data Throttling Lawsuit

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2018-06-01 02:20
AT&T has given up its years-long quest to cripple the Federal Trade Commission's authority to regulate broadband providers. "Just weeks ago, AT&T said it intended to appeal its loss in the case to the U.S. Supreme Court before a deadline of May 29," reports Ars Technica. "But today, AT&T informed (PDF) court officials that it has decided not to file a petition to the Supreme Court and did not ask for a deadline extension." From the report: AT&T had been trying to limit the FTC's authority since October 2014, when the FTC sued AT&T for promising unlimited data to wireless customers and then throttling their speeds by as much as 90 percent. With AT&T having ruled out a Supreme Court appeal, the FTC can finally pursue its case against AT&T and try to secure refunds for affected customers. AT&T's decision also means that traditional phone companies will have to face some net neutrality oversight from the FTC after the Federal Communications Commission finalizes its net neutrality repeal. AT&T said it will try to settle the case with the FTC instead of going to trial. AT&T's decision might indicate that it is already having settlement talks with the agency. "We have decided not to seek review by the Supreme Court, to focus instead on negotiating a fair resolution of the case with the Federal Trade Commission," AT&T said in a statement to Ars. The FTC is barred from regulating common carriers, and AT&T has long been a common carrier for its mobile voice and landline phone services. AT&T previously argued that the FTC can't regulate any product offered by AT&T, whether it is or isn't a common carrier service. Though ultimately unsuccessful, AT&T's attempt to deny the FTC's authority to regulate any aspect of its business has delayed the throttling case for years.

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Consumers' Privacy Concerns Not Backed By Their Actions

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2018-05-31 18:50
Ian Barker, writing for BetaNews: A large majority of people say they are concerned about their online privacy, but this is not reflected in their actions according to a new study. The survey from Blue Fountain Media reveals that 90 percent of respondents are very concerned about their internet privacy and 48 percent wish 'more was being done about it.' Yet despite this 60 percent of those polled happily download apps without reading terms and conditions, and close to 20 percent still download apps even when they have read the terms and don't like them. A third of those polled say they would delete an app that tracks their whereabouts, but 50 percent say whether they would do so depends how much they like the app. Interestingly less than 10 percent believe an app that tracks their location is actually useful to them.

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Alibaba Co-founder Says Many Americans 'Want To Stop China' From Upgrading Its Tech

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2018-05-31 17:21
With the threat of Trump's ever-looming trade war with China and his administration's sanctions on Chinese companies like ZTE, it's hard to remember a more contentious period between the two countries in recent times. Adding fuel to the conversation, an Alibaba co-founder alleged that many Americans want to stop China from upgrading its technology and from becoming more innovative. From a report: Chinese media outlets have repeatedly asserted that American complaints about the tech sector are really just efforts to slow the country's rise as a global power. "There's nothing wrong with a country wanting to upgrade its own manufacturing sector, go higher tech, be more innovative," Tsai said. "But then, from the Chinese perspective, what we're seeing is there are a lot of people in America that want to stop China from doing that." After three decades of producing low-end manufacturing goods, Tsai said, China recognizes the need to develop better technology, upgrade its manufacturing sector and focus more on value-added areas like robotics, aeronautics and high-tech medical equipment.

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ProtonMail Launches Free ProtonVPN Service For Macs

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2018-05-31 16:00
The creators of popular encrypted email service ProtonMail have released a free version of their ProtonVPN software for macOS. From a report: Even though the free version does not contain the full features that you would come to expect from a paid VPN service it is more than capable of obfuscating IP addresses and your location. While ProtonVPN has already released Windows and Android versions, according to Dr. Andy Yen, CEO of ProtonMail, their reason for releasing the free macOS version "is to make the world a safer place by ensuring that citizens around the world have access to an Internet free of spying and censorship. Releasing a free VPN service for macOS is another important step in that direction."

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Google Promises Ethical Principles To Guide Development of Military AI

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2018-05-31 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Google is drawing up a set of guidelines that will steer its involvement in developing AI tools for the military, according to a report from The New York Times. What exactly these guidelines will stipulate isn't clear, but Google says they will include a ban on the use of artificial intelligence in weaponry. The principles are expected to be announced in full in the coming weeks. They are a response to the controversy over the company's decision to develop AI tools for the Pentagon that analyze drone surveillance footage. Internal emails obtained by the Times show that Google was aware of the upset this news might cause. Chief scientist at Google Cloud, Fei-Fei Li, told colleagues that they should "avoid at ALL COSTS any mention or implication of AI" when announcing the Pentagon contract. "Weaponized AI is probably one of the most sensitized topics of AI -- if not THE most. This is red meat to the media to find all ways to damage Google," said Li. But Google never ended up making the announcement, and it has since been on the back foot defending its decision. The company says the technology it's helping to build for the Pentagon simply "flags images for human review" and is for "non-offensive uses only." The contract is also small by industry standards -- worth just $9 million to Google, according to the Times.

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Face Recognition Is Now Being Used In Schools

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2018-05-31 05:00
Presto Vivace shares a report from The Intercept: Officials at the Lockport, New York, school district have purchased face recognition technology as part of a purported effort to prevent school shootings. Starting in September, all 10 of Lockport District's school buildings, just north of Buffalo, will be outfitted with a surveillance system that can identify faces and objects. The software, known as Aegis, was developed by SN Technologies Corp., a Canadian biometrics firm that specifically advertises to schools. It can be used to alert officials to whenever sex offenders, suspended students, fired employees, suspected gang members, or anyone else placed on a school's "blacklist" enters the premises. Aegis also sends alerts any time one of the "top 10" most popular guns used in school shootings appears in view of a camera. The district is spending most of its recent $4 million state "Smart School" grant on these and other enhancements to its security systems, including bullet-proof greeter windows and a mass notification system, according to the Niagra Gazette. Slashdot reader Presto Vivace adds: "This is why municipal elections are so important. Just because this stuff is on the market, does not mean your local school system has to buy it." The report notes that "all the major school shootings in the last five years in the U.S. have been carried out by current students or alumnae of the school in question." These students wouldn't have their face entered into the face recognition system's blacklist. Furthermore, "Most shooters don't brandish their guns before opening fire; and by the time they do, an object-detection algorithm that could specify the exact type of weapon they're firing would not be of much use," reports The Intercept. "... the technology would give a school, at best, only a few extra seconds in response time to a shooting."

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California Begins Trial Rollout of Digital License Plates

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2018-05-31 03:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Car and Driver: California is taking its first steps toward America's first digital license plate. Using display technology akin to the e-ink used in the Amazon Kindle, a Foster City, California, outfit called Reviver Auto has come up with a digital plate that is now available on a limited basis in California, with the first fleet trial taking place on a fleet of 24 City of Sacramento -- owned Chevrolet Volt cars wearing plates supplied at no cost by Reviver. The new monochrome units -- which were also just rolled out in Dubai -- comply with reflectivity standards and are GPS enabled, allowing owners to track a stolen vehicle or at least its plate. Owners accustomed to an otherwise-paperless lifestyle will appreciate that, thanks to the Reviver's Rplate Pro, registration can be paid via the internet, assuring that one never has to make a last-minute trip to the DMV's no-appointment Hell Line. It should also be a boon to companies with large fleets. What's more, it's easy to upgrade to a special-interest plate if one chooses to do so.

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