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Venezuela's Government Blocks Access To Wikipedia

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - N, 2019-01-20 00:34
Haaretz (with contributions from Reuters and the Associated Press) reports: According to NetBlocks, a digital rights group that tracks restrictions to the internet, as of 12 January, Venezuela largest telecommunications provider CANTV has prevented access to Wikipedia in all languages. The internet observatory told Haaretz the ban was discovered by attempting "to access Wikipedia and other services 60,000 times from 150 different points in the country using multiple providers." Roughly 16 million people have access to the internet in the South American country ravaged by poverty and now facing a political crisis as leader Nicolas Maduro attempts to cling to power following a highly contested re-election last year. Wikipedia receives on average 60 million views from the country every month. According to NetBlocks, the ban was likely imposed after a Wikipedia article listed newly-appointed National Assembly president Juan Guaidà as âoepresident number 51 of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela,â ousting Maduro from his presidential status on Wikipedia... Alp Toker, the head of NetBlocks, explained to Haaretz that the block followed a string of controversial edits on the Spanish-language article for Guaido as well as other related articles. Long-time Slashdot reader williamyf identifies himself as "a Venezuelan in Venezuela." He reports that "The method used seems to be to intercept the SSL handshake and not a simple DNS block," adding "the situation is developing." In May of last year the government declared a "state of emergency" that authorized the government to police the internet and filter content, rights activists reported Monday. They added that now Venezuela's new leaders plan to introduce legislation requiring messaging service providers to censor content, and implementing other so-called "content security" measures.

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Is US Surveillance Technology Propping Up Authoritarian Regimes?

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2019-01-19 23:34
A senior policy analyst from a non-partisan national security think tank -- and one of their cybersecurity policy fellows -- sound a dire warning in an op-ed shared by Slashdot reader schwit1: From facial recognition software to GPS trackers to computer hacking tools to systems that monitor and redirect flows of Internet traffic, contemporary surveillance technologies enable "high levels of social control at a reasonable cost," as Nicholas Wright puts it in Foreign Affairs. But these technologies don't just aid and enable what Wright and other policy analysts have called "digital authoritarianism." They also promote a sovereign and controlled model of the Internet, one characterized by frequent censorship, pervasive surveillance and tight control by the state. The United States could be a world leader in preventing the spread of this Internet model, but to do so, we must reevaluate the role U.S. companies play in contributing to it.... On one hand, the United States cares deeply about protecting a global and open Internet... On the other hand, American companies are selling surveillance technology that undermines this mission -- contributing to the broader spread of digital authoritarianism that the United States claims to fight. (This also implicates allies such as Britain, whose companies have also sold surveillance technology to oppressive regimes.) We won't be able to allay this situation until the United States updates its approach to exporting surveillance technology. Of course, this must be done carefully. But digital authoritarianism is spreading, and U.S. companies need to stop helping it.-

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Larry Lessig Will Headline Friday's 'Grand Re-opening of the Public Domain' Event

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2019-01-19 21:34
An anonymous reader quotes the Internet Archive's blog Please join us for a Grand Re-opening of the Public Domain, featuring a keynote address by Creative Commons' founder, Lawrence Lessig, on January 25, 2019. Co-hosted by the Internet Archive and Creative Commons, this celebration will feature legal thought leaders, lightning talks, demos, and the chance to play with these new public domain works. The event will take place at the Internet Archive in San Francisco.... Join the creative, legal, library, and advocacy communities plus an amazing lineup of people who will highlight the significance of this new class of public domain works. Presenters include Larry Lessig, political activist and Harvard Law professor; Corynne McSherry, legal director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation; Cory Doctorow, science fiction author and co-editor of Boing Boing; Pam Samuelson, copyright scholar; and Jamie Boyle, the man who literally wrote the book on the public domain, and many others. Attendees will also receive a discount on the world premiere of DJ Spooky's Quantopia: The Evolution of the Internet, a live concert commissioned by the Internet Archive "synthesizing data and art, both original and public domain materials, in tribute to the depth and high stakes of free speech and creative expression involved in our daily use of media."

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Russian Hackers Allegedly Attempted To Breach the DNC After the 2018 Midterms

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2019-01-19 00:45
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fortune: Russian hackers attempted to breach Democratic National Committee email addresses in a spear-phishing campaign just after the 2018 midterms, according to a DNC court document filed Thursday night. "The content of these emails and their timestamps were consistent with a spear-phishing campaign that leading cybersecurity experts have tied to Russian intelligence," reads the complaint. "Therefore, it is probable that Russian intelligence again attempted to unlawfully infiltrate DNC computers in November 2018." The complaint [...] said there is no evidence that the attempted hack in Nov. 2018 was successful. Spear-phishing campaigns involve sending emails that appear to be from a trusted source in order to gain confidential information. According to CNN, the emails in question appeared to have been sent from a State Department official and contained a PDF attachment that, if opened, would allow the hacker access to the recipient's computer. The timing and content of these emails were consistent with the practices of the Russian hacking group known as Cozy Bear, one of the two groups that hacked the DNC prior to the 2016 U.S. presidential election. According to the cybersecurity firm FireEye, Cozy Bear attempted to hack over 20 entities in Nov. 2018, including clients in local government, transportation, defense, law enforcement, and military.

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The Government's Secret UFO Program Funded Research on Wormholes and Extra Dimensions

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2019-01-19 00:05
Documents released by the Department of Defense reveal some of what its infamous Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program was working on. From a report: The Department of Defense funded research on wormholes, invisibility cloaking, and "the manipulation of extra dimensions" under its shadowy Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, first described in 2017 by the New York Times and the Washington Post. On Wednesday, the Defense Intelligence Agency released a list of 38 research titles pursued by the program in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy. The list provides one of the best looks at the Pentagon's covert UFO operation or study of "anomalous aerospace threats." According to Aftergood's FOIA request, the document marked "For Official Use Only" was sent to Congress on January 2018. One such research topic, "Traversable Wormholes, Stargates, and Negative Energy," was led by Eric W. Davis of EarthTech International Inc, which describes itself as a facility "exploring the forefront reaches of science and engineering," with an interest in theories of spacetime, studies of the quantum vacuum, and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

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US Regulators Have Met To Discuss Imposing a Record-Setting Fine Against Facebook For Some of Its Privacy Violations: Report

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2019-01-18 22:00
U.S. regulators have met to discuss imposing a record-setting fine against Facebook for violating a legally binding agreement with the government to protect the privacy of its users' personal data, The Washington Post reported Friday [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source], citing three people familiar with the deliberations. From the report: The fine under consideration at the Federal Trade Commission, a privacy and security watchdog that began probing Facebook last year, would mark the first major punishment levied against Facebook in the United States since reports emerged in March that Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy, accessed personal information on about 87 million Facebook users without their knowledge. The penalty is expected to be much larger than the $22.5 million fine the agency imposed on Google in 2012. That fine set a record for the greatest penalty for violating an agreement with the FTC to improve its privacy practices.

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Lawsuit Reveals How Facebook Profited Off Confused Children: Report

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2019-01-18 20:50
Documents outlining how Facebook profited off children are expected to be made public soon, according to Reveal News of the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR), who requested the documents. From a report: In a report about the trove of previously-sealed documents, Reveal News explains that Facebook has previously faced lawsuits for failing to refund charges made by children playing games on Facebook. According to Reveal, the children did not know that their parent's credit card was stored on the platform when they clicked "buy," and in some cases, hundreds or even thousands of dollars were spent. In one case, the plaintiff, who is a child, spent several hundreds of dollars in just a few weeks. According to the report, more documents show "widespread confusion by children and their parents, who didn't understand Facebook continued to charge them as they played games."

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Digital License Plates Are Now Allowed in Michigan

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2019-01-18 18:46
Digital license plates are now allowed in Michigan thanks to a new state law. It will join California and Arizona as one of the few states in the US that allow digital license plates, allowing drivers to register their cars electronically and eschew old-school metal plates. From a report: To be clear, digital license plates consist of displays covered in glass that are mounted onto a frame. They come with their own computer chips and wireless communication systems. Some of the benefits of using digital licenses versus old metal ones are the ability to display Amber alerts or stolen vehicle messages when needed, but they could also make it easier to digitally renew license plates over the years. That comes at a price, though. Currently, they cost $499 for a basic version, and $799 for a premium version that features a GPS navigation add-on.

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Court Rejects FCC Request To Delay Net Neutrality Case

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2019-01-18 03:30
A federal appeals court denied the FCC's request to postpone oral arguments in a court battle over the agency's decision to repeal its net neutrality rules. The FCC had asked for the hearing to be postponed since the commission's workforce has largely been furloughed due to the partial government shutdown. The hearing remains set for February 1. The Hill reports: After the FCC repealed the rules requiring internet service providers to treat all web traffic equally in December of 2017, a coalition of consumer groups and state attorneys general sued to reverse the move, arguing that the agency failed to justify it. The FCC asked the three-judge panel from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to delay oral arguments out of "an abundance of caution" due to its lapse of funding. Net neutrality groups opposed the motion, arguing that there is an urgent need to settle the legal questions surrounding the FCC's order.

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Twitter Bug Exposed Some Android Users' Protected Tweets For Years

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2019-01-18 01:30
Twitter disclosed on its Help Center page today that some Android users had their private tweets revealed for years due to a security flaw. "The issue caused the Twitter for Android app to disable the 'Protect your Tweets' setting for some Android users who made changes to their account settings, such as changing the email address associated with their account, between November 3rd, 2014 and January 14th, 2019," reports The Verge. From the report: Though the company says the issue was fixed earlier this week and that iOS or web users weren't affected, it doesn't yet know how many Android accounts were affected. Twitter says it's reached out to affected users and turned the setting back on for them, but it still recommends that users review their privacy settings to make sure it reflects their desired preferences.

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Oklahoma Government Data Leak Exposes FBI Investigation Records, Millions of Department Files

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2019-01-18 00:10
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: Researchers have disclosed the existence of a server exposed to the public which not only contained terabytes of confidential government data but information relating to FBI investigations. According to UpGuard cybersecurity researchers Greg Pollock and Chris Vickery, the open storage server belonged to the Oklahoma Department of Securities (ODS), a U.S. government department which deals with securities cases and complaints. The database was found through the Shodan search engine which registered the system as publicly accessible on November 30, 2018. The UpGuard team stumbled across the database on December 7th and notified the department a day later after verifying what they were working with. To ODS' credit, the department removed public access to the server on the same day. In order to examine the security breach, the team was able to download the server's contents. The oldest records dated back to 1986 and the most recent was timestamped in 2016. In total, three terabytes of information representing millions of files. Contents ranged from personal data to system credentials and internal communication records. ODS said in a statement to ZDNet: "All state IP addresses, and many city and county addresses, are registered to OMES, but the agency has no visibility into the computer systems at the Oklahoma Department of Securities. For the past eight years the state has been working to consolidate all IT infrastructure under OMES and ODS had the option to consolidate its systems voluntarily and they did not."

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Apple CEO Tim Cook Calls For Laws To Tackle 'Shadow Economy' of Data Firms

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2019-01-17 16:45
Apple's chief executive has called for regulation to tackle the "shadow economy" of data brokers -- intermediaries who trade in the personal information of largely unsuspecting consumers -- as the company continues its push to be seen as supportive of privacy. Tim Cook, in an op-ed for Time Magazine published on Thursday, said: One of the biggest challenges in protecting privacy is that many of the violations are invisible. For example, you might have bought a product from an online retailer -- something most of us have done. But what the retailer doesn't tell you is that it then turned around and sold or transferred information about your purchase to a "data broker" -- a company that exists purely to collect your information, package it and sell it to yet another buyer. The trail disappears before you even know there is a trail. Right now, all of these secondary markets for your information exist in a shadow economy that's largely unchecked -- out of sight of consumers, regulators and lawmakers. Let's be clear: you never signed up for that. We think every user should have the chance to say, "Wait a minute. That's my information that you're selling, and I didn't consent." Meaningful, comprehensive federal privacy legislation should not only aim to put consumers in control of their data, it should also shine a light on actors trafficking in your data behind the scenes. Some state laws are looking to accomplish just that, but right now there is no federal standard protecting Americans from these practices. That's why we believe the Federal Trade Commission should establish a data-broker clearinghouse, requiring all data brokers to register, enabling consumers to track the transactions that have bundled and sold their data from place to place, and giving users the power to delete their data on demand, freely, easily and online, once and for all.

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Collection 1 Data Breach Exposes More Than 772 Million Email Addresses

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2019-01-17 09:00
A collection of almost 773 million unique email addresses and just under 22 million unique passwords were exposed on cloud service MEGA. Security researcher Troy Hunt said the collection of data, dubbed Collection #1, totaled over 12,000 separate files and more than 87GB of data. ZDNet reports: "What I can say is that my own personal data is in there and it's accurate; right email address and a password I used many years ago," Hunt wrote. "In short, if you're in this breach, one or more passwords you've previously used are floating around for others to see." Some passwords, including his own, have been "dehashed", that is converted back to plain text. Hunt said he gained the information after multiple people reached out to him with concerns over the data on MEGA, with the Collection #1 dump also being discussed on a hacking forum. "The post on the forum referenced 'a collection of 2000+ dehashed databases and Combos stored by topic' and provided a directory listing of 2,890 of the files," Hunt wrote. The collection has since been removed. You can visit Hunt's Have I Been Pwned service to see if you are affected by this breach.

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Key West Moves To Ban Sunscreens That Could Damage Reefs

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2019-01-17 04:10
Yesterday, the Key West City Commission unanimously voted to ban the sale of sunscreens that contain two ingredients -- oxybenzone and octinoxate -- that a growing body of scientific evidence says harm coral reefs. The measure must now be reviewed again by the commission before it becomes law. The second vote is scheduled for February 5th. Miami Herald reports: Environmental researchers have published studies showing how these two ingredients, which accumulate in the water from bathers or from wastewater discharges, can damage coral reefs through bleaching and harming the corals' DNA. In some instances, the corals can die. A Feburary 2016 study in the Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology examining the impact of oxybenzone in corals in Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands concluded that the sunscreen ingredient "poses a hazard to coral reef conservation and threatens the resiliency of coral reefs to climate change.'' Last year, Hawaii banned the sale or distribution of any sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate, a measure that will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2021. It was the first state in the nation to implement such a ban. In Florida, the website for the South Florida Reef Ambassador Initiative, which falls under the state's Department of Environmental Protection, tells divers to "Avoid sunscreens with Oxybenzone and Avobenzone. The benzones are compounds that are lethal to coral reproduction in very small amounts." Experts who have studied the issue say sunscreens with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which are minerals, also block ultraviolet rays. They create a barrier on the skin that deflect the sun's rays .

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Marco Rubio Introduces Privacy Bill To Create Federal Regulations On Data Collection

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2019-01-17 02:10
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fortune: Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) introduced a bill Wednesday aimed at creating federal standards of privacy protection for major internet companies like Facebook, Amazon, and Google. The bill, titled the American Data Dissemination Act, requires the Federal Trade Commission to make suggestions for regulation based on the Privacy Act of 1974. Congress would then have to pass legislation within two years, or the FTC will gain the power to write the rules itself (under current laws, the FTC can only enforce existing rules). While Rubio's bill is intended to reign in the data collection and dissemination of companies like Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Google, and Netflix, it also requires any final legislation to protect small businesses from being stifled by new rules. The caveat comes when one considers states' rights to create their own privacy laws. Under Rubio's legislation, any national regulations would preempt state laws -- even if the state's are more strict. "While we may have disagreements on the best path forward, no one believes a privacy law that only bolsters the largest companies with the resources to comply and stifles our start-up marketplace is the right approach," Rubio wrote in an op-ed for The Hill, announcing his bill.

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Federal Prosecutors Are Investigating Huawei For Allegedly Stealing Trade Secrets, Says Report

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2019-01-17 01:30
According to The Wall Street Journal, federal prosecutors have launched a criminal investigation to see if Huawei allegedly stole trade secrets from U.S. companies. The probe is reportedly built out of civil lawsuits against the telecommunications firm. The Hill reports: People familiar with the probe told the Journal that it is at an advanced stage and that an indictment could soon be coming. Huawei has long faced scrutiny from both lawmakers and national security officials, who have labeled the firm as a national security threat over its ties to the Chinese government. The company has denied that characterization, and China this week called for other countries to end âoethe groundless fabrications and unreasonable restrictionsâ on Huawei and other firms.

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Hackers Broke Into An SEC Database and Made Millions From Inside Information, Says DOJ

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2019-01-16 03:45
Federal prosecutors unveiled charges in an international stock-trading scheme that involved hacking into the Securities and Exchange Commission's EDGAR corporate filing system. "The scheme allegedly netted $4.1 million for fraudsters from the U.S., Russia and Ukraine," reports CNBC. "Using 157 corporate earnings announcements, the group was able to execute trades on material nonpublic information. Most of those filings were 'test filings,' which corporations upload to the SEC's website." From the report: The scheme involves seven individuals and operated from May to at least October 2016. Prosecutors said the traders were part of the same group that previously hacked into newswire services. Carpenito, in a press conference Tuesday, said the thefts included thousands of valuable, private business documents. "After hacking into the EDGAR system they stole drafts of [these] reports before the information was disseminated to the general public," he said. Those documents included quarterly earnings, mergers and acquisitions plans and other sensitive news, and the criminals were able to view it before it was released as a public filing, thus affecting the individual companies' stock prices. The alleged hackers executed trades on the reports and also sold them to other illicit traders. One inside trader made $270,000 in a single day, according to Carpenito. The hackers used malicious software sent via email to SEC employees. Then, after planting the software on the SEC computers, they sent the information they were able to gather from the EDGAR system to servers in Lithuania, where they either used it or distributed the data to other criminals, Carpenito said.

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Apple Maps Gooses DuckDuckGo In Search Privacy Partnership

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2019-01-16 03:25
Search engine DuckDuckGo now displays location information from Apple Maps in its search results. "DuckDuckGo now uses Apple Maps both for small maps in location-related search results and for larger, interactive search results that appear in a separate maps tab," reports CNET. "That replaces a combination including MapBox, OpenStreetMap and homegrown technology." From the report: The top reason DuckDuckGo argues you should try it is that it doesn't keep any personal information on you and what you searched for, unlike search leader Google. That dovetails nicely with Apple's sustained push to improve online privacy. But maintaining your privacy can be tough when you're looking for location-related information. DuckDuckGo says it's struck a balance, though. It doesn't send personally identifiable information such as your computer's Internet Protocol network address, to Apple or other third parties, DuckDuckGo said. "For local searches, where your approximate location information is sent by your browser to us, we discard it immediately after use," the company added.

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Project Alias Hacks Amazon Echo and Google Home To Protect Your Privacy

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2019-01-16 01:20
fahrbot-bot writes: The gadget, called Alias, is an always-listening speaker, designed to fit on top of an Amazon Echo or Google Home, where it looks like a mass of melted candle wax. It's composed of a 3D-printed top layer, a mic array, a Raspberry Pi, and two speakers. It only connects to the internet during the initial setup process. Alias stays "off the grid" while you're using it, preventing your conversations from leaving the device. When the Alias hears its own (customizable) wake word, it'll stop broadcasting white noise and wake up Alexa or Google Assistant so you can use them as normal.

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US Now Says All Online Gambling Illegal, Not Just Sports Bets

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2019-01-16 00:40
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: The U.S. Justice Department's decision that all internet gambling is illegal will cast a pall on the industry as businesses and state lotteries evaluate the implications of the change and the government's plans to enforce it. The U.S. now says federal law bars all internet gambling, reversing its position from 2011 that only sports betting is prohibited under a law passed 50 years earlier. Although the federal law specifically prohibits transmission of wagers and related information across state lines, the Justice Department's new interpretation will impact all online gambling because as a practical matter it's difficult to guarantee that no payments are routed through other states, said Aaron Swerdlow, an attorney with Glaser Weil Fink Howard Avchen & Shapiro LLP in Los Angeles. The reversal was prompted by the department's criminal division, which prosecutes illegal gambling. The opinion issued about seven years ago that the 1961 Wire Act only banned sports gambling was a misinterpretation of the statute, according to a 23-page opinion by the department's Office of Legal Counsel dated Nov. 2 and made public Monday. The new reading of the law probably will be tested in the courts as judges may entertain challenges to the government's view of the law's scope, the Justice Department said. It may also affect states that began selling lottery tickets online after the 2011 opinion, as well as casinos that offer online gambling. In contrast, the Supreme Court last May "cleared the way [...] for states to legalize sports betting, striking down a 1992 federal law that had prohibited most states from authorizing sports betting."

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