aggregator

Massive Criminal Trial Begins For 'Cyberbunker' Dark Web Server

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2020-10-24 19:34
The Times of London reports: A gang of cyberexperts turned a former German military bunker into one of Europe's biggest hubs for the "dark web" and a superhighway for at least a quarter of a million offences, including drug trafficking and the falsification of identity papers, a court has been told. Four people from the Netherlands, three Germans and a Bulgarian are accused of creating a digital safe haven in which criminals could operate with impunity. Dutch News reports: Deals which were processed through the servers include drugs — with platforms such as Cannabis Road — which had millions of active users, the Telegraaf said on Tuesday. Other sites allowed people to order fake money and ID papers, and the bunker was also used to stage a bot attack on German telecom firm Deutsche Telekom, the paper said. The investigation into the bunker took years of observation and phone tapping, culiminating in a raid involving 650 police officers in September 2019. . Long-time Slashdot reader Qbertino writes: Prosecuters believe to have a case which is set to take 15 months until the end of 2021 simply due to the sheer mass of material they've gatherd to make a case. The defendants, which include adolescents at the time of crime, face up to 15 years in prison should they be convicted. As recently as this June, the cyberbunker was still being contacted by several phishing sites, as well as thousands of bots looking for their old command and control server.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Hackers Behind Life-Threatening Attack On Chemical Maker Are Sanctioned

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2020-10-24 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Russian state nationals accused of wielding life-threatening malware specifically designed to tamper with critical safety mechanisms at a petrochemical plant are now under sanction by the US Treasury Department. The attack drew considerable concern because it's the first known time hackers have used malware designed to cause death or injury, a prospect that may have actually happened had it not been for a lucky series of events. The hackers -- who have been linked to a Moscow-based research lab owned by the Russian government -- have also targeted a second facility and been caught scanning US power grids. Now the Treasury Department is sanctioning the group, which is known as the State Research Center of the Russian Federation FGUP Central Scientific Research Institute of Chemistry and Mechanics or its Russian abbreviation TsNIIKhM. Under a provision in the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA, the US is designating the center for "knowingly engaging in significant activities undermining cybersecurity against any person, including a democratic institution, or government on behalf of the Government of the Russian Federation." Under the sanctions, all property of TsNIIKhM that is or has come within the possession of a US person is blocked, and US persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with anyone in the group. What's more, any legal entity that's 50-percent or more owned by one of the center members is also blocked. Some non-US persons who engage in transactions with TsNIIKhM may be subject to sanctions.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

T-Mobile Screwups Caused Nationwide Outage But FCC Isn't Punishing Carrier

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2020-10-23 22:50
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The Federal Communications Commission has finished investigating T-Mobile for a network outage that Chairman Ajit Pai called "unacceptable." But instead of punishing the mobile carrier, the FCC is merely issuing a public notice to "remind" phone companies of "industry-accepted best practices" that could have prevented the T-Mobile outage. After the 12-hour nationwide outage on June 15 disrupted texting and calling services, including 911 emergency calls, Pai wrote that "The T-Mobile network outage is unacceptable" and that "the FCC is launching an investigation. We're demanding answers -- and so are American consumers." Pai has a history of talking tough with carriers and not following up with punishments that might have a greater deterrence effect than sternly worded warnings. That appears to be what happened again yesterday when the FCC announced the findings from its investigation into T-Mobile. Pai said that "T-Mobile's outage was a failure" because the carrier didn't follow best practices that could have prevented or minimized it, but he announced no punishment. The matter appears to be closed based on yesterday's announcement, but we contacted Chairman Pai's office today to ask if any punishment of T-Mobile is forthcoming.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Facebook Touts Free Speech. In Vietnam, It's Aiding in Censorship

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2020-10-23 19:30
An anonymous reader shares a report: For months, Bui Van Thuan, a chemistry teacher turned crusading blogger in Vietnam, published one scathing Facebook post after another on a land dispute between villagers and the communist government. In a country with no independent media, Facebook provides the only platform where Vietnamese can read about contentious topics such as Dong Tam, a village outside Hanoi where residents were fighting authorities' plans to seize farmland to build a factory. Believing a confrontation was inevitable, the 40-year-old Thuan condemned the country's leaders in a Jan. 7 post. "Your crimes will be engraved on my mind," he wrote. "I know you -- the land robbers -- will do everything, however cruel it is, to grab the people's land." Facebook blocked his account the next day at the government's insistence, preventing 60 million Vietnamese users from seeing his posts. One day later, as Thuan had warned, police stormed Dong Tam with tear gas and grenades. A village leader and three officers were killed. For three months, Thuan's Facebook account remained suspended. Then the company told him the ban would be permanent. "We have confirmed that you are not eligible to use Facebook," the message read in Vietnamese. Thuan's blacklisting, which the Menlo Park-based social media giant now calls a "mistake," illustrates how willingly the company has acquiesced to censorship demands from an authoritarian government. Facebook and its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, say the platform protects free expression except in narrow circumstances, such as when it incites violence. But in countries including Cuba, India, Israel, Morocco, Pakistan and Turkey, Facebook routinely restricts posts that governments deem sensitive or off-limits. Nowhere is that truer than in Vietnam. Facebook, whose site was translated into Vietnamese in 2008, now counts more than half the country's people among its account holders. The popular platform has enabled government critics and pro-democracy activists -- in both Vietnam and the United States -- to bypass the communist system's strict controls on the media. But in the last several years, the company has repeatedly censored dissent in Vietnam, trying to placate a repressive government that has threatened to shut Facebook down if it does not comply, The Times found.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Bot Generated Fake Nudes of Over 100,000 Women Without Their Knowledge, Says Report

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2020-10-23 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Forbes: Around 104,852 women had their photos uploaded to a bot, on the WhatsApp-like text messaging app Telegram, which were then used to generate computer-generated fake nudes of them without their knowledge or consent, researchers revealed on Tuesday. These so-called "deepfake" images were created by an ecosystem of bots on the messaging app Telegram that could generate fake nudes on request, according to a report released by Sensity, an intelligence firm that specializes in deepfakes. The report found that users interacting with these bots were mainly creating fake nudes of women they know from images taken from social media, which is then shared and traded on other Telegram channels. The Telegram channels the researchers examined were made up of 101,080 members worldwide, with 70% coming from Russia and other eastern European countries. A small number of individuals targeted by the bot appear to be underage. According to the report, the bots received significant advertising on the Russian social media website VK. However, the Russian social platform's press team told Forbes that these communities or links were not promoted using VK's advertising tools, adding "VK doesn't tolerate such content or links... and blocks communities that distribute them."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Drivers Sue Uber Over Pressure To Support Prop 22

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2020-10-23 02:45
Uber drivers say the company unlawfully pressured them to support a ballot initiative that would make gig workers independent contractors, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday in San Francisco Superior Court by a proposed class of California drivers. Bloomberg Law reports: The suit alleges Uber used a coercive campaign of misinformation to exert pressure on drivers to advocate and vote for the passage of Proposition 22, which would overturn a California law that makes it difficult for the gig companies to be classified as contractors. If the workers were classified as employees, they would be entitled to overtime, minimum wage and other benefits. According to the complaint Uber, Lyft and other gig economy giants invested nearly $200 million into the campaign "Yes on 22." The drivers in the lawsuit say they were faced with a "barrage of misinformation" about the ballot initiative through pop-ups on the Uber app, which made misleading representations about driver benefits under Proposition 22 including regarding accident insurance, earnings guarantees, scheduling, and anti-discrimination protections. One such pop-up only provides the opportunity for drivers to select "Yes on Prop. 22" or "OK," to exit, which pressures drivers to accept Uber's political stance, the complaint alleges. The proposed class action claims the company is attempting to direct the political activities of its California drivers with respect to Proposition 22, and threatening their discharge to coerce them to follow a particular political course of action, in direct violation of state law.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

WHO To Grant Wikipedia Free Use of Its Published Material To Combat Covid Misinformation

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2020-10-22 20:45
As part of efforts to stop the spread of false information about the coronavirus pandemic, Wikipedia and the World Health Organization announced a collaboration on Thursday: The health agency will grant the online encyclopedia free use of its published information, graphics and videos. The collaboration is the first between Wikipedia and a health agency. From a report: "We all consult just a few apps in our daily life, and this puts W.H.O. content right there in your language, in your town, in a way that relates to your geography," said Andrew Pattison, a digital content manager for the health agency who helped negotiate the contract. "Getting good content out quickly disarms the misinformation." Since its start in 2001, Wikipedia has become one of the world's 10 most consulted sites; it is frequently viewed for health information. The agreement puts much of the W.H.O.'s material into the Wikimedia "commons," meaning it can be reproduced or retranslated anywhere, without the need to seek permission -- as long as the material is identified as coming from the W.H.O. and a link to the original is included. "Equitable access to trusted health information is critical to keeping people safe and informed," said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the W.H.O.'s director general. His agency translates its work into six official languages, which do not include, for example, Hindi, Bengali, German or Portuguese, so billions of people cannot read its documents in their native or even second language. Wikipedia articles, by contrast, are translated into about 175 languages. The first W.H.O. items used under the agreement are its "Mythbusters" infographics, which debunk more than two dozen false notions about Covid-19. Future additions could include, for example, treatment guidelines for doctors, said Ryan Merkley, chief of staff at the Wikimedia Foundation, which produces Wikipedia. If the arrangement works out, it could be extended to counter misinformation regarding AIDS, Ebola, influenza, polio and dozens of other diseases, Mr. Merkley said, "But this was something that just had to happen now." Eventually, live links will be established that would, for example, update global case and death numbers on Wikipedia as soon as the W.H.O. posts them, Mr. Pattison said.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Firefox 'Site Isolation' Feature Enters User Testing, Expected Next Year

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2020-10-22 20:07
An anonymous reader shares a report: Site Isolation is a modern browser security feature that works by separating each web page and web iframes in their own operating system process in order to prevent sites from tampering or stealing with each other's data. The feature was first deployed with Google Chrome in mid-2018, with the release of Chrome 67. Although initially, Site Isolation was meant to be deployed as a general improvement to Chrome's security posture, the feature came just in time to serve as a protective measure against the Spectre vulnerability impacting modern CPUs. Seeing the feature's success, Mozilla also announced plans to support it with the Firefox browser in February 2019, as part of an internal project codenamed Fission. For both Google and Mozilla, implementing Site Isolation was a time-consuming operation, requiring engineers to re-write large chunks of their browsers' internal architecture. The process took about two years for both Google and Mozilla. While Site Isolation is now a stable feature inside Chrome, this work is now nearing its completion inside Firefox. According to an update to the Project Fission wiki page, Site Isolation can now be enabled inside versions of Firefox Nightly, the Firefox version where new features are tested.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

How a Secretive Phone Company Helped the Crime World Go Dark

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2020-10-22 18:50
Reader jkoebler writes: This is an in-depth, narrative investigation into Phantom Secure, a privacy-focused phone company that started selling locally to models and other VIPs, before eventually becoming a preferred network for serious, organized crime. One of Phantom's clients was the Sinaloa Cartel, according to a text message Phantom's owner Vincent Ramos sent to an associate included in court records. The story follows how Phantom got set up, how it took over the world, and eventually how it got taken down by the FBI. It is the result of more than two years of reporting involving sources from the law enforcement, organized crime, and cybersecurity worlds. It features daring escapes from Las Vegas hotels, undercover agents, and a silver-plated AK-47 emblazoned with the Louis Vuitton logo.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Google AI Tech Will Be Used For Virtual Border Wall, CBP Contract Shows

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2020-10-22 05:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Intercept: After years of backlash over controversial government work, Google technology will be used to aid the Trump administration's efforts to fortify the U.S.-Mexico border, according to documents related to a federal contract. In August, Customs and Border Protection accepted a proposal to use Google Cloud technology to facilitate the use of artificial intelligence deployed by the CBP Innovation Team, known as INVNT. Among other projects, INVNT is working on technologies for a new "virtual" wall along the southern border that combines surveillance towers and drones, blanketing an area with sensors to detect unauthorized entry into the country. Contracting documents indicate that CBP's new work with Google is being done through a third-party federal contracting firm, Virginia-based Thundercat Technology. Thundercat is a reseller that bills itself as a premier information technology provider for federal contracts. The contract was obtained through a FOIA request filed by Tech Inquiry, a new research group that explores technology and corporate power founded by Jack Poulson, a former research scientist at Google who left the company over ethical concerns. Not only is Google becoming involved in implementing the Trump administration's border policy, the contract brings the company into the orbit of one of President Donald Trump's biggest boosters among tech executives. Documents show that Google's technology for CBP will be used in conjunction with work done by Anduril Industries, a controversial defense technology startup founded by Palmer Luckey. The brash 28-year-old executive -- also the founder of Oculus VR, acquired by Facebook for over $2 billion in 2014 -- is an open supporter of and fundraiser for hard-line conservative politics; he has been one of the most vocal critics of Google's decision to drop its military contract. Anduril operates sentry towers along the U.S.-Mexico border that are used by CBP for surveillance and apprehension of people entering the country, streamlining the process of putting migrants in DHS custody. CBP's Autonomous Surveillance Towers program calls for automated surveillance operations "24 hours per day, 365 days per year" to help the agency "identify items of interest, such as people or vehicles." The program has been touted as a "true force multiplier for CBP, enabling Border Patrol agents to remain focused on their interdiction mission rather than operating surveillance systems." It's unclear how exactly CBP plans to use Google Cloud in conjunction with Anduril or for any of the "mission needs" alluded to in the contract document. Google faced internal turmoil in 2018 over a contract with the Pentagon to deploy AI-enhanced drone image recognition solutions. "In response to the controversy, Google ended its involvement with the initiative, known as Project Maven, and established a new set of AI principles to govern future government contracts," notes The Intercept.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

FCC Defends Helping Trump, Claims Authority Over Social Media Law

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2020-10-22 01:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The Federal Communications Commission's top lawyer today explained the FCC's theory of why it can grant President Donald Trump's request for a new interpretation of a law that provides legal protection to social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Critics of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's plan from both the left and right say the FCC has no authority to reinterpret Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which gives legal immunity to online platforms that block or modify content posted by users. FCC General Counsel Thomas Johnson said those critics are wrong in a blog post published on the FCC website today. Johnson noted that the Communications Decency Act was passed by Congress as part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which was an update to the Communications Act of 1934 that established the FCC and provided it with regulatory authority. Johnson also pointed to Section 201(b) of the Communications Act, which gave the FCC power to "prescribe such rules and regulations as may be necessary in the public interest to carry out the provisions of this Act." Johnson then explained why he believes this means the FCC can reinterpret Section 230: "The Supreme Court has twice considered whether the FCC's general rulemaking authority under Section 201(b), adopted in 1938, extends to the 1996 amendments to the Act. Both times, the Court held that it does. Writing for the Court in Iowa Utilities Board, and employing his trademark textualist method, Justice Scalia wrote that this provision 'means what it says: The FCC has rulemaking authority to carry out the 'provisions of [the 1934] Act.'' The Court explained that 'the clear fact that the 1996 Act was adopted, not as a freestanding enactment, but as an amendment to, and hence part of, [the 1934] Act' shows that Congress intended the Commission to have rulemaking authority over all its provisions. Likewise, in the later City of Arlington case, the Court confirmed that the Commission's rulemaking authority '[o]f course... extends to the subsequently added portions of the Act.' From these authorities, a simple conclusion follows: Because Section 230 is among the 'subsequently added portions of the Act,' it is subject to the FCC's Section 201(b) rulemaking authority." Matt Wood, VP of policy and general counsel at media-advocacy group Free Press, told Ars today: "The FCC lawyers' latest sleight-of-hand is a clever distraction, but still not good enough to save the Commission's pending foray into speech codes and Internet regulation. The agency claims that it's not going to make rules, it's merely going to interpret the supposed ambiguities in the language of Section 230 and let courts apply that interpretation. But there's no ambiguity to resolve, nor any reason for courts to follow the FCC's interpretation. And there's no hiding the fact that the FCC's pretense of interpretation without the effect of substantive rules is a ruse and nothing better."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

The Police Can Probably Break Into Your Phone

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2020-10-21 17:31
At least 2,000 law enforcement agencies have tools to get into encrypted smartphones, according to new research, and they are using them far more than previously known. From a report: In a new Apple ad, a man on a city bus announces he has just shopped for divorce lawyers. Then a woman recites her credit card number through a megaphone in a park. "Some things shouldn't be shared," the ad says, "iPhone helps keep it that way." Apple has built complex encryption into iPhones and made the devices' security central to its marketing pitch. That, in turn, has angered law enforcement. Officials from the F.B.I. director to rural sheriffs have argued that encrypted phones stifle their work to catch and convict dangerous criminals. They have tried to force Apple and Google to unlock suspects' phones, but the companies say they can't. In response, the authorities have put their own marketing spin on the problem. Law enforcement, they say, is "going dark." Yet new data reveals a twist to the encryption debate that undercuts both sides: Law enforcement officials across the nation regularly break into encrypted smartphones. That is because at least 2,000 law enforcement agencies in all 50 states now have tools to get into locked, encrypted phones and extract their data, according to years of public records collected in a report by Upturn, a Washington nonprofit that investigates how the police use technology. At least 49 of the 50 largest U.S. police departments have the tools, according to the records, as do the police and sheriffs in small towns and counties across the country, including Buckeye, Ariz.; Shaker Heights, Ohio; and Walla Walla, Wash. And local law enforcement agencies that don't have such tools can often send a locked phone to a state or federal crime lab that does. With more tools in their arsenal, the authorities have used them in an increasing range of cases, from homicides and rapes to drugs and shoplifting, according to the records, which were reviewed by The New York Times. Upturn researchers said the records suggested that U.S. authorities had searched hundreds of thousands of phones over the past five years. While the existence of such tools has been known for some time, the records show that the authorities break into phones far more than previously understood -- and that smartphones, with their vast troves of personal data, are not as impenetrable as Apple and Google have advertised. While many in law enforcement have argued that smartphones are often a roadblock to investigations, the findings indicate that they are instead one of the most important tools for prosecutions.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

FCC To Delay $9 Billion Rural Broadband Push To Fix Data Flaws

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2020-10-21 02:02
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg Law: The Federal Communications Commission is poised to delay $9 billion in rural 5G subsidies for 18 to 24 months so it can fix mapping flaws that bar the agency from determining which areas need the service. The holdup is the most recent delay in the FCC's nine-year effort to pay wireless carriers to expand service to remote areas that otherwise are too unprofitable to serve. The FCC scrapped a similar subsidy effort last year, after it found carriers' maps exaggerated existing coverage areas, meaning locations that needed the subsidies wouldn't have gotten them. The commission plans to vote Oct. 27 on an order that would create the new $9 billion effort to replace the program it scrapped. Under the order, however, the agency would wait to award funds until it evaluates new data it's collecting on rural service locations. The replacement 5G program would distribute twice as many funds as its predecessor. As in the earlier effort, the subsidies would come from the agency's Universal Service Fund, which is raised from monthly fees on consumers' phone bills. It will likely take until at least mid-2022 for the FCC to collect the data, putting the commission on track to start awarding the funding to carriers later that year. That timeline assumes Congress appropriates the $65 million needed to fund the initiative next year, though there is bipartisan support to do so.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

US Accuses Google of Protecting Illegal Monopoly

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Wt, 2020-10-20 16:00
The Justice Department plans to accuse Google of maintaining an illegal monopoly over search and search advertising in a lawsuit to be filed on Tuesday, the government's most significant legal challenge to a tech company's market power in a generation, according to officials at the agency. From a report: In its suit, to be filed in a federal court in Washington, D.C., the agency will accuse Google, a unit of Alphabet, of illegally maintaining its monopoly over search through several exclusive business contracts and agreements that lock out competition, said the officials, who were not authorized to speak on the record. Such contracts include Google's payment of billions of dollars to Apple to place the Google search engine as the default for iPhones. The agency will argue that Google, which controls about 80 percent of search queries in the United States, struck agreements with phone makers using Alphabet's Android operating system to pre-load the search engine on their phones and make it hard for rival search engines to become a replacement. By using contracts to maintain its monopoly, competition and innovation has suffered, the suit with argue. The suit reflects the pushback against the power of the nation's largest corporations, and especially technology giants like Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple. Conservatives like President Trump and liberals like Senator Elizabeth Warren have been highly critical of the concentration of power in a handful of tech behemoths. Attorney General William P. Barr, who was appointed by Mr. Trump, has played an unusually active role in the investigation. He pushed career Justice Department attorneys to bring the case by the end of September, prompting pushback from lawyers who wanted more time and complained of political influence. Mr. Barr has spoken publicly about the inquiry for months and set tight deadlines for the prosecutors leading the effort. Update The Justice Department has filed the lawsuit.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

US To Accuse Google of Protecting Illegal Monopoly

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Wt, 2020-10-20 16:00
The Justice Department plans to accuse Google of maintaining an illegal monopoly over search and search advertising in a lawsuit to be filed on Tuesday, the government's most significant legal challenge to a tech company's market power in a generation, according to officials at the agency. From a report: In its suit, to be filed in a federal court in Washington, D.C., the agency will accuse Google, a unit of Alphabet, of illegally maintaining its monopoly over search through several exclusive business contracts and agreements that lock out competition, said the officials, who were not authorized to speak on the record. Such contracts include Google's payment of billions of dollars to Apple to place the Google search engine as the default for iPhones. The agency will argue that Google, which controls about 80 percent of search queries in the United States, struck agreements with phone makers using Alphabet's Android operating system to pre-load the search engine on their phones and make it hard for rival search engines to become a replacement. By using contracts to maintain its monopoly, competition and innovation has suffered, the suit with argue. The suit reflects the pushback against the power of the nation's largest corporations, and especially technology giants like Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple. Conservatives like President Trump and liberals like Senator Elizabeth Warren have been highly critical of the concentration of power in a handful of tech behemoths. Attorney General William P. Barr, who was appointed by Mr. Trump, has played an unusually active role in the investigation. He pushed career Justice Department attorneys to bring the case by the end of September, prompting pushback from lawyers who wanted more time and complained of political influence. Mr. Barr has spoken publicly about the inquiry for months and set tight deadlines for the prosecutors leading the effort.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Instagram's Handling of Kids' Data Is Now Being Probed In the EU

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Wt, 2020-10-20 01:20
Facebook's lead data regulator in Europe has opened another two probes into its business empire -- both focused on how the Instagram platform processes children's information. TechCrunch reports: The action by Ireland's Data Protection Commission (DPC), reported earlier by the Telegraph, comes more than a year after a U.S. data scientist reported concerns to Instagram that its platform was leaking the contact information of minors. David Stier went on to publish details of his investigation last year -- saying Instagram had failed to make changes to prevent minors' data being accessible. He found that children who changed their Instagram account settings to a business account had their contact info (such as an email address and phone number) displayed unmasked via the platform -- arguing that "millions" of children had had their contact information exposed as a result of how Instagram functions. Facebook disputes Stier's characterization of the issue -- saying it has always made it clear that contact info is displayed if people choose to switch to a business account on Instagram. It also does now let people opt out of having their contact info displayed if they switch to a business account. Nonetheless, its lead EU regulator has now said it has identified "potential concerns" relating to how Instagram processes children's data. "The DPC has been actively monitoring complaints received from individuals in this area and has identified potential concerns in relation to the processing of children's personal data on Instagram which require further examination," it writes. The regulator's statement specifies that the first inquiry will examine the legal basis Facebook claims for processing children's data on the Instagram platform, and also whether or not there are adequate safeguards in place. [...] The DPC says the second inquiry will focus on the Instagram profile and account settings -- looking at "the appropriateness of these settings for children." "Amongst other matters, this Inquiry will explore Facebook's adherence with the requirements in the GDPR in respect to Data Protection by Design and Default and specifically in relation to Facebook's responsibility to protect the data protection rights of children as vulnerable persons," it adds. A Facebook company spokesperson said in a statement: "We've always been clear that when people choose to set up a business account on Instagram, the contact information they shared would be publicly displayed. That's very different to exposing people's information. We've also made several updates to business accounts since the time of Mr. Stier's mischaracterization in 2019, and people can now opt out of including their contact information entirely. We're in close contact with the IDPC and we're cooperating with their inquiries."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Proprietary Grapes Come With Draconian End User License Agreement

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pn, 2020-10-19 16:01
They did EULA to a grape. A company put an end user license agreement (EULA) on a bag of grapes: "The recipient of the produce contained in this package agrees not to propagate or reproduce any portion of this produce, including 'but not limited to' seeds, stems, tissue, and fruit," read the EULA on a bag of Carnival brand grapes posted on Twitter by user Tube Time. From a report When you purchase a bag of delicious and sugary Carnival brand grapes, you enter into an agreement whereby you will consume the grapes and do nothing else with them. This kind of warning against reproduction is something we're used to with digital products like video games, but is jarring to see spread to the world of consumer produce. "It's always shocking and more than a little absurd to find these licenses on everyday consumer products, especially at the grocery store," Aaron Perzanowski, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University and the co-author of The End of Ownership, told Motherboard in an email. In the broader world of agriculture, however, there's actually quite a lot of precedent for this. And patented seeds with specific restrictions is a constant sore point for farmers. Agriculture giant Monsanto has patented a whole host of proprietary seeds that are weed- and insect-resistant, and threatens to sue farmers who harvest and replant them from year-to-year. In fact, the Supreme Court has already ruled on this.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Privacy Advocates Alarmed By Singapore's World-First Face-Scanning Plans

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pn, 2020-10-19 13:34
"Singapore will become the world's first country to use facial verification in its national ID scheme, but privacy advocates are alarmed by what they say is an intrusive system vulnerable to abuse," reports AFP: Face scanning technology remains controversial despite its growing use and critics have raised ethical concerns about it in some countries — for instance, law enforcement agencies scanning crowds at large events to look for troublemakers. Singapore authorities are frequently accused of targeting government critics and taking a hard line on dissent, and activists are concerned about how the face scanning tech will be used. "There are no clear and explicit restraints on government power when it comes to things like surveillance and data gathering," said Kirsten Han, a freelance journalist from the city. "Will we one day discover that this data is in the hands of the police or in the hands of some other agency that we didn't specifically give consent for?" Those behind the Singapore scheme stress facial verification is different to recognition as it requires user consent, but privacy advocates remain sceptical. "The technology is still far from benign," Privacy International research officer Tom Fisher told AFP. He said systems like the one planned for Singapore left "opportunities for exploitation", such as use of data to track and profile people.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

What If the Government Ran a Social Network?

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pn, 2020-10-19 05:34
A publicly-funded social network run by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation "has been proposed as one possible response if Facebook and Google limit services in Australia when the mandatory news code becomes law this year," reports the Guardian: Facebook has warned it will block Australians from sharing news if the landmark plan to make digital platforms pay for news content becomes law. Google has been running a public campaign against the code and launched an international campaign targeting YouTube users when the government announced it would force the company to pay news publishers for content... The proposal for a platform hosted by the ABC is among a raft of risk mitigation proposals in a report commissioned by the Centre for Responsible Technology, "Tech-Xit: Can Australia survive without Google and Facebook?" The proposed platform would connect the community without harvesting data in the way Google and Facebook do, and could rely on the wide reach of the ABC across local, regional and national communities, as well as the trust the invested in the institution by the public. "An ABC platform which engages the community, allows for a genuine exchange and influence on decision making, and applying principles of independent journalism and storytelling would provide real value to local communities starved of civic engagement," the report says. "[We should] develop viable alternatives to Google and Facebook, such as national online social platform hosted through the ABC..." The report argues the arrival of the mandatory news code is a chance to push back against the profit or surveillance imperative of the tech giants and look for alternatives. "Google and Facebook's response to the ACCC mandatory news code has placed in stark relief our national over-reliance on them," the director of the Australia Institute's Centre for Responsible Technology, Peter Lewis, said. "This analysis shows that two global corporations that play a dominant role in our civic and commercial institutions are prepared to threaten to withdraw those services to protect their own commercial self-interest."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Another California City Launches a Two-Year Guaranteed Income Program

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pn, 2020-10-19 03:44
The Los Angeles Times reports a new guaranteed income pilot program which within a few months "will begin giving 800 Compton residents free cash for a two-year period," according to mayor Aja Brown: So far, private donors have contributed $2.5 million to the Fund for Guaranteed Income, a charity headed by Nika Soon-Shiong, daughter of Los Angeles Times owner Patrick Soon-Shiong... Each selected family will receive at least a few hundred dollars on a recurring basis, as well as tools that will help them access financial guidance, Brown said. Parents or other residents caring for dependents may receive more. Anonymous researchers will track the participants' spending and well-being. Brown said she had been aware of the concept of universal guaranteed income for years, but got to see it in action in February 2019 when Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs launched the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration, which gave 125 residents $500 a month for 18 months... The concept of giving citizens free money with no strings attached was once a radical idea that has begun gaining traction, partly as a result of the pandemic. Opponents of guaranteed income have argued that extra cash with no strings attached would lead to higher levels of unemployment and that recipients might spend the money on drugs or alcohol or other "temptation goods." But decades of research has indicated that very few people work less after receiving cash transfers, and those who do use usually spend more with their families, said Halah Ahmad, head of public relations and policy communications for the Jain Family Institute, a nonprofit research firm that helps design guaranteed income pilot programs. In a review of 19 studies on cash transfers between 1997 and 2014 by the World Bank, authors found that "Almost without exception, studies find either no significant impact or a significant negative impact of transfers on temptation goods."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.