aggregator

The Big Levandowski: Could an Uber Engineer's Indictment Discourage Workers From Changing Jobs?

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - N, 2019-09-01 00:40
Long-time Slashdot reader theodp writes: For nearly 20 years," writes WIRED's Alex Davies in How Anthony Levandowski Put Himself at the Center of an Industry, "the French-American Levandowski has played a kind of purposeful Forrest Gump for the world of autonomous driving. Rather than stumbling into the center of one momentous event after another, Levandowski has put himself there. And he has left a mixed trail in his wake: Former colleagues have described him as brilliant, engaging, motivating, fast-charging, inconsiderate, a weasel, and just plain evil. None, though, deny that whether for good or ill, the benefit of society or himself, Levandowski has played a propulsive role in the development of self-driving tech." But that's of little comfort to Levandowski, who was charged by the Feds earlier this week with stealing driverless-vehicle technology from Alphabet Inc.'s Waymo unit, prompting the New Yorker's Charles Duhigg to explain How the Anthony Levandowski Indictment Helps Big Tech Stifle Innovation in Silicon Valley. The Economic Espionage Act of 1996, Duhigg notes, "was mostly intended to be used against overseas saboteurs, but it has largely been directed at American citizens -- and, in effect, has made federal prosecutors into heavies operating on behalf of disgruntled tech firms." The definition of a 'trade secret' in the statute, Duhigg adds, is so broad that it could very well mean anything. Daniel Olmos, an attorney who has represented individuals accused of stealing trade secrets, once told Duhigg, "I get calls all the time from scared engineers, who once put some work stuff on their home computer so they could work on it after dinner, and now they're worried if they try to jump to another firm they're gonna get sued. And you know what? They're right to be worried.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Google to Pay More Than $150 Million in YouTube Privacy Case

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2019-08-31 00:40
YouTube has agreed to pay more than $150 million to resolve U.S. allegations that it violated children's privacy laws. Bloomberg reports: The settlement with the Federal Trade Commission resolves a probe into whether the video service broke a law that makes it illegal to collect information on children under 13 and disclose it to others without parental permission. A group of activists last year asked the FTC to look into the matter. The settlement with the world's largest video service represents the most significant U.S. enforcement action against a big technology company in the past five years over practices involving minors. The FTC has been cracking down on firms that violate the 1998 Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). It fined the popular teen app now known as TikTok $5.7 million in February to resolve claims the video service failed to obtain parental consent before collecting names, email addresses and other information from children under 13. The YouTube settlement would be a record amount for a case involving COPPA. Some children's privacy advocates said the government hadn't gone far enough. "Once again, this FTC appears to have let a powerful company off the hook with a nominal fine for violating users' privacy online," Democratic U.S. Senator Ed Markey, a key figure behind the passage of COPPA, said in a statement. "We owe it to kids to come down hard on companies that infringe on children's' privacy and violate federal law." The amount is "woefully low, considering the egregious nature of the violation, how much Google profited from violating the law, and given Google's size and revenue," said Katharina Kopp, deputy director of the Center for Digital Democracy, which helped lead the complaint against YouTube.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

The Plan To Use Fitbit Data To Stop Mass Shootings Is One of the Scariest Proposals Yet

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2019-08-30 23:25
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: Last week, the Washington Post reported that the White House had been briefed on a plan to create an agency called HARPA, a healthcare counterpart to the Pentagon's research and development arm DARPA. Among other initiatives, this new agency would reportedly collect volunteer data from a suite of smart devices, including Apple Watches, Fitbits, Amazon Echos, and Google Homes in order to identify "neurobehavioral signs" of "someone headed toward a violent explosive act." The project would then use artificial intelligence to create a "sensor suite" to flag mental changes that make violence more likely. According to the Post, the HARPA proposal was discussed with senior White House officials as early as June 2017, but has "gained momentum" after the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. The latest version of the plan, reportedly submitted to the Trump administration this month, outlined the biometric project called "SAFE HOME," an acronym for "Stopping Aberrant Fatal Events by Helping Overcome Mental Extremes." A source told the newspaper that every time HARPA has been discussed in the White House "even up to the presidential level, it's been very well-received." A copy of the plan obtained by the Post characterizes HARPA as pursuing "breakthrough technologies with high specificity and sensitivity for early diagnosis of neuropsychiatric violence" and claims that "a multi-modality solution, along with real-time data analytics, is needed to achieve such an accurate diagnosis." That's a lot of vague buzzwords, but the general idea is clear: collect a wealth of personal data in order to flag mental status changes in individuals and determine whether those changes can predict mass violence. It's an approach that strikes George David Annas, deputy director of the Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship Program at SUNY Upstate Medical University, as ridiculous. "The proposed data collection goes beyond absurdity when they mention the desire to collect FitBit data," Annas told Gizmodo. "I am unaware of any study linking walking too much and committing mass murder. As for the other technologies, what are these people expecting? 'Alexa, tell me the best way to kill a lot of people really quickly'? Really?" "Creating a watchlist of citizens who most likely will never act violently based on their mental health is a very dangerous proposal with major ethical considerations," Emma Fridel, a doctoral candidate at Northeastern University specializing in mass murder, told Gizmodo. "Doing so to predict the unpredictable is utterly absurd."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Trump Launches Space Command

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2019-08-30 09:00
President Donald Trump announced Thursday the official establishment of the U.S. military's Space Command. CNN reports: Space Command will become the 11th combatant command, joining the ranks of U.S. Central Command, which oversees operations in the Middle East, and U.S. Special Operations Command, which oversees Special Operations Forces. The command will initially consist of just 287 personnel and its final location has yet to be determined. Its responsibilities will be transferred primarily from U.S. Strategic Command. The command's establishment comes as the U.S. has grown increasingly concerned about threats to its satellites, which are critical to military operations and commercial business. While the command's establishment has received broad support, Trump also spoke Thursday about the creation of a U.S. Space Force, a military branch his administration wants to see established under the Department of the Air Force, similar to how the Marine Corps sits under the Department of the Navy. Space Command "will soon be followed -- very importantly -- by the establishment of the United States Space Force as the sixth branch of the United States Armed Forces," Trump said, adding that the Space Force will "organize, train and equip warriors to support Space Command's mission." NPR notes that the Space Command was first established by the Air Force in 1985. "As the Cold War was heating up, it was meant to coordinate missile defense and surveillance efforts," reports Engadget. "But by 2002, military focus had shifted to terrorism, and Space Command was merged into the unified Strategic Command. It was refocussed to the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

FTC Is Investigating Juul's Marketing Practices

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2019-08-30 02:50
The FTC is investigating whether e-cigarette startup Juul Labs used influencers and other marketing to appeal to minors (Warning: source paywalled; alternative source). The Wall Street Journal reports: The probe, which hasn't previously been disclosed, began before the agency's antitrust review of a December deal in which tobacco giant Altria Group invested $12.8 billion to take a 35% stake in Juul, those and other people familiar with the matter said. The FTC is also determining whether to seek monetary damages, one of the people said. The agency in September first sent Juul a letter requesting information about its marketing, two of the people said. FTC investigators are looking at whether Juul engaged in deceptive marketing. The agency has designated the investigation as nonpublic. The Food and Drug Administration and several state attorneys general also are investigating Juul's marketing practices. The FDA last October conducted a surprise inspection of Juul's headquarters and collected documents about its marketing. Juul's first marketing campaign in 2015, called "Vaporized," pitched the brand as a cool lifestyle accessory with images of people in their 20s and 30s, which critics say made the brand attractive to teens. Later, as sales of the sleek devices took off in 2017, Juul-related posts exploded on Instagram and Twitter with photos posted by young people using the product. Juul has since shut down its Facebook and Instagram accounts in the U.S. and changed its marketing to feature only adult smokers at least 35 years old who have switched to Juul. It has also voluntarily stopped selling sweet and fruity flavors in bricks-and-mortar stores. "We fully cooperate and are transparent with any government agency or regulator who have interest in our category," a Juul spokesman said. The company says it has never marketed to youth and that its products are intended for adult cigarette smokers. The company says it supports legislation to raise the minimum purchase age to 21. It also unveiled a plan on Thursday to install an electronic age-verification system at gas stations and convenience stores intended to curb illegal sales to minors.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

China Intercepts WeChat Texts From US and Abroad, Researcher Says

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2019-08-30 01:30
China is intercepting texts from WeChat users living outside of the country, mostly from the U.S. Taiwan, South Korea, and Australia. NPR reports: The popular Chinese messaging app WeChat is Zhou Fengsuo's most reliable communication link to China. That's because he hasn't been back in over two decades. Zhou, a human rights activist, had been a university student in 1989, when the pro-democracy protests broke out in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. After a year in jail and another in political reeducation, he moved to the United States in 1995. But WeChat often malfunctions. Zhou began noticing in January that his chat groups could not read his messages. "I realized this because I was expecting some feedback [on a post] but there was no feedback," Zhou tells NPR at from his home in New Jersey. As Chinese technology companies expand their footprint outside China, they are also sweeping up vast amounts of data from foreign users. Now, analysts say they know where the missing messages are: Every day, millions of WeChat conversations held inside and outside China are flagged, collected and stored in a database connected to public security agencies in China, according to a Dutch Internet researcher. Zhou is not the only one experiencing recent issues. NPR spoke to three other U.S. citizens who have been blocked from sending messages in WeChat groups or had their accounts frozen earlier this year, despite registering with U.S. phone numbers. This March, [Victor Gevers, co-founder of the nonprofit GDI Foundation, an open-source data security collection] found a Chinese database storing more than 1 billion WeChat conversations, including more than 3.7 billion messages, and tweeted out his findings. Each message had been tagged with a GPS location, and many included users' national identification numbers. Most of the messages were sent inside China, but more than 19 million of them had been sent from people outside the country, mostly from the U.S., Taiwan, South Korea and Australia.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

EPA To Roll Back Regulations On Methane, a Potent Greenhouse Gas

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2019-08-30 00:10
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times: The Trump administration laid out on Thursday a far-reaching plan to cut back on the regulation of methane emissions, a major contributor to climate change. The Environmental Protection Agency ,in its proposed rule, aims to eliminate federal requirements that oil and gas companies install technology to detect and fix methane leaks from wells, pipelines and storage facilities. It will also reopen the question of whether the E.P.A. even has the legal authority to regulate methane as a pollutant. Under the proposal, methane, the main component of natural gas, would be only indirectly regulated. A separate but related category of gases, known as volatile organic compounds, would remain regulated under the new rule, and those curbs would have the side benefit of averting some methane emissions. The new rule must go through a period of public comment and review, and would most likely be finalized early next year, analysts said. Over all, carbon dioxide is the most significant greenhouse gas, but methane is a close second. It lingers in the atmosphere for a shorter period of time but packs a bigger punch while it lasts. By some estimates, methane has 80 times the heating-trapping power of carbon dioxide in the first 20 years in the atmosphere. Methane currently makes up nearly 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. A significant portion of that comes from the oil and gas industry. Other sources include cattle and agriculture. The E.P.A.'s economic analysis of the rule estimates that it would save the oil and natural gas industry $17 million to $19 million a year. For comparison, the annual revenue of the United States oil industry as a whole typically ranges between $100 billion and $150 billion.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Microsoft Vendors Win a $7.6 Billion Deal for Pentagon Software

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2019-08-29 22:50
Vendors led by General Dynamics were awarded a contract for as much as $7.6 billion to provide Microsoft office software for the Pentagon, the Defense Department and General Services Administration said. From a report: While the Microsoft 360 productivity software is cloud-based, the contract isn't related to the hotly disputed "JEDI" cloud project that the Pentagon has yet to award. Amazon.com and Microsoft are the two remaining competitors for that prize, which may reach $10 billion. The project awarded Thursday, called Defense Enterprise Office Solutions, or DEOS, will provide tools including word processing, email, file-sharing and spreadsheets. The agencies said they chose a bid from General Dynamics' CSRA unit and partner companies for a contract that the Defense Department estimates at as much as $7.6 billion over 10 years, including a five-year base period and opportunities to renew.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Ten Years On, Foursquare Is Now Checking In to You

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2019-08-29 20:52
Location social networks never took off, and Gowalla's star burned out fast. Gilt sold at a loss. And Tumblr, recently sold by Yahoo for less than 1 percent of what it originally paid, has become a cautionary tale. If you haven't been paying close attention, you'd be forgiven for assuming that Foursquare had fallen prey to the same fates as its once-hot peers. From a report: But you'd be wrong. This year, Foursquare's revenue will surpass $100 million, a critical mile marker for any company on its way to a public offering. In fact its story of success is a perfect tech-industry parable: A charming, rickety, vintage-2000s social app that's survived the last decade by evolving into a powerhouse enterprise data-extraction business. In 2014, Foursquare made a decision to shift its attention from its consumer apps to a growing business-to-business operation; five years later, 99 percent of Foursquare's business comes from its software and data products. Its clients include Uber, Twitter, Apple, Snapchat, and Microsoft. The company is still shining brightly, not because location-based social networks or New York's start-up scene have finally reached escape velocity, but because Foursquare had something that other start-ups didn't: location technology rivaled by only Google and Facebook. [...] By 2014, Foursquare made the decision to focus on providing software tools and data to app developers, advertisers, and brands. Foursquare began charging developers for the use of its location technology in their own apps (it has worked with more than 150,000 to date) and selling its data to brands, marketers, advertisers, and data-hungry investors. The company's tools could measure foot traffic in and out of brick-and-mortar locations and build consumer profiles based on where people had recently visited. Soon, Foursquare began brandishing its power with public market predictions. It projected iPhone sales in 2015 based on traffic to Apple stores and, in 2016, the huge drop in Chipotle's sales figures (thanks to E. coli) two weeks before the burrito-maker announced its quarterly earnings. Co-founder and executive chairman Dennis Crowley says the human check-ins gave Foursquare engineers and data scientists the ability to verify and adjust location readings from other sources, like GPS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. As it turns out, the goofy badges for Uncle Tony that made Foursquare easy to dismiss as a late-2000s fad were an incredibly powerful tool. [...] In addition to all of those active check-ins, at some point Foursquare began collecting passive data using a "check-in button you never had to press." It doesn't track people 24/7 (in addition to creeping people out, doing so would burn through phones' batteries), but instead, if users opt-in to allow the company to "always" track their locations, the app will register when someone stops and determine whether that person is at a red light or inside an Urban Outfitters. The Foursquare database now includes 105 million places and 14 billion check-ins.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

DOJ: Former FBI Director James Comey Violated Policy On His Trump Memos -- But Won't Be Prosecuted

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2019-08-29 17:25
Former FBI Director James Comey violated official policy in the way he handled his memos describing his exchanges with President Trump, an investigation concluded -- but Comey won't be charged. . An anonymous reader shares a report: Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz conducted the investigation into Comey's actions and then referred his results to prosecutors. "After reviewing the matter, the DOJ declined prosecution," the IG's office said in a statement on Thursday. Investigators concluded that Comey broke several rules. One involved the former director's decision to arrange for a friend to disclose the contents of a memo to a reporter with The New York Times. Another involved Comey's decision to keep memos at home and discuss them with his lawyers but not reveal their contents or what he was doing to the FBI. FBI officials have since assessed that some of the material in Comey's memos deserved to be classified as "confidential," the lowest level of classification. But investigators didn't establish that Comey revealed any secret information to the press. The former FBI director responded on Twitter on Thursday morning by quoting a section of the IG report and pointing out what he called all the untruthful things said about him and other matters by Trump and the president's supporters.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Apple Reverses Stance on iPhone Repairs and Will Supply Parts To Independent Shops For the First Time

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2019-08-29 16:08
Apple said on Thursday it will start offering independent repair shops parts, tools and guides to help fix broken iPhones. From a report: The new repair program allows big and small repair outfits to sign up and get access to parts for common out-of-warranty repairs, something that was previously restricted to Apple's network of authorized service providers. The move represents an about face for Apple, which typically encourages any repairs to be made by its authorized service providers and makes it difficult for users to replace aging or broken parts themselves. Additionally, the company has fought California's proposed right-to-repair bill, which would require companies like Apple to make repair information and parts available to both device owners and independent repair shops. Apple said the new program is free to join but that shops will be required to have an Apple-certified technician who has taken a preparatory course provided by the company.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Illinois County To Use Algorithm To Automatically Expunge Old Marijuana Convictions

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2019-08-29 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: With a statewide marijuana decriminalization ordinance set to take effect at the start of 2020, Cook County, Illinois is slated to automatically clear "tens of thousands of cannabis convictions" with the assistance of an algorithm, the Chicago Tribune reported on Wednesday. Cook County is the nation's second most populous county as well as home to the nation's third largest city, Chicago. The Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act goes into effect on Jan. 1 and will decriminalize the possession of less than 30 grams (slightly over an ounce) of marijuana for those aged over 21, as well as create a process by which those convicted of possession of larger amounts up to 500 grams (about 17.6 ounces) can petition to have their records expunged of the charge. Expunged charges should no longer appear in background checks or law enforcement records. County prosecutors and California-based Code for America nonprofit have formed a partnership to use the nonprofit's "Clear My Record technology" to automate the process of clearing the records of those convicted of possessing 30 grams or less, the Tribune wrote, which Code for America says will save staff resources and expedite processing time. "Code for America founder and executive director Jennifer Pahlka told the paper that the process will come at no cost to the state and will be carried out without action needed on the part of the convicted persons," reports Gizmodo. "The biggest hurdle will be getting the records in a form that can be quickly processed by a machine." "Marijuana cases that were charged along with other offenses" aren't eligible to be run through the automated program and will have to go through a manual process, the Tribune wrote.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

US Cyberattack Hurt Iran's Ability To Target Oil Tankers, Officials Say

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2019-08-29 03:25
"A secret cyberattack against Iran in June wiped out a critical database used by Iran's paramilitary arm to plot attacks against oil tankers and degraded Tehran's ability to covertly target shipping traffic in the Persian Gulf, at least temporarily," reports The New York Times, citing senior American officials. From the report: Iran is still trying to recover information destroyed in the June 20 attack and restart some of the computer systems -- including military communications networks -- taken offline, the officials said. Senior officials discussed the results of the strike in part to quell doubts within the Trump administration about whether the benefits of the operation outweighed the cost -- lost intelligence and lost access to a critical network used by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Iran's paramilitary forces. The United States and Iran have long been involved in an undeclared cyberconflict, one carefully calibrated to remain in the gray zone between war and peace. The June 20 strike was a critical attack in that ongoing battle, officials said, and it went forward even after President Trump called off a retaliatory airstrike that day after Iran shot down an American drone. Iran has not escalated its attacks in response, continuing its cyberoperations against the United States government and American corporations at a steady rate, according to American government officials.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Top MPAA Lawyer, Mastermind Behind Its Plan To Attack the Internet, Arrested On Blackmail and Sexual Assault Charges

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2019-08-29 01:20
Steven Fabrizio, a top executive at the Motion Picture Association of America, has been fired following charges of second degree sexual abuse and blackmail. An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from a Techdirt report, written by Mike Masnick: Beyond being the MPAA's top legal attack dog for nearly a decade, the Sony Pictures email leak showed that Fabrizio was the mastermind behind Hollywood's Project Goliath to use MPAA/Hollywood Studio funds to pay for having state Attorney's General and news media owned by those studios, to attack Google to try to pressure it into some sort of "deal" with the studios. Fabrizio was also formerly the top litigator at the RIAA, and led its charge against Napster. Fabrizio was deeply involved in key copyright lawsuits, including the fights against Grokster, Hotfile, and Aereo. Basically, much of the history of "anti-piracy" litigation and "anti-piracy" efforts regarding the internet, was somehow touched by Steve Fabrizio. And, of course, the usual line that people would give in supporting these positions is that it was necessary is because "piracy is illegal" and so on. Anyway, that's why it's a bit shocking to discover that Fabrizio has now been arrested in DC (and fired by the MPAA) for alleged sexual assault and blackmail. Variety's story on the charges is really quite incredible: "According to a police affidavit, Fabrizio is accused of threatening a woman he met on a 'sugar daddy' dating site. The police allege that Fabrizio and the woman had consensual sex once on Aug. 19, after which he paid her $400. After that, she did not want to see him again. According to the affidavit, Fabrizio sent numerous texts insisting on a second meeting, and threatening to expose her if she did not comply. 'I know where you live,' he allegedly wrote. 'I know where you work. Don't think -- Hospital would be happy to know that it's young nurses are having sexual for money / Same for your landlord.' Fabrizio allegedly used those threats to coerce her into having sex again, according to the affidavit. The police allege that he then sent additional texts threatening to tell her parents if she did not continue to have sex with him a couple times a month. The woman called the police. After arranging for another meeting, Fabrizio was arrested outside the woman's apartment on Friday morning, according to the document."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Netflix-like Pirate Sites Offered More Video Than the Real Netflix, Feds Say

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2019-08-28 22:01
A federal grand jury yesterday indicted eight people who allegedly ran two pirate streaming services that "offered more television programs and movies than legitimate streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Vudu, and Amazon Prime Video," the Department of Justice said. From a report: Jetflicks, which operated from 2007 to 2017, obtained its video from torrent sites and Usenet sites "using automated programs and databases such as SickRage, Sick Beard, SABnzbd, and TheTVDB," the indictment said. Jetflicks made "those episodes available on servers in the United States and Canada to Jetflicks subscribers for streaming and/or downloading," the indictment said. Torrent sites that Jetflicks operators relied on allegedly included the Pirate Bay, RARBG, and Torrentz. With this method, defendants often "provid[ed] episodes to subscribers the day after the shows originally aired on television," a DOJ announcement yesterday said. Jetflicks charged subscription fees as low as $9.99 per month, letting subscribers "watch an unlimited number of commercial-free television programs," the indictment said. The service claimed to have more than 37,000 subscribers. One of the eight defendants, 36-year-old Darryl Julius Polo, left Jetflicks to create another site called iStreamItAll, which was still online today. iStreamItAll likely won't stay online long, though, as the indictment said the site's domain names are subject to forfeiture. The Jetflicks domain names were also subject to forfeiture orders, and the website is offline. Jetflicks "claimed to have more than 183,200 different television episodes," while iStreamItAll "at one point claimed to have 115,849 different television episodes and 10,511 individual movies," the DOJ said. iStreamItAll "publicly asserted that it had more content than Netflix, Hulu, Vudu and Amazon Prime," the DOJ said. (Netflix offered 4,010 movies and 1,569 TV shows as of 2018, according to Netflix search engine Fixable.)

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Australian Who Says He Invented Bitcoin Ordered To Hand Over Up To $5B

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2019-08-28 20:00
The Australian man who claimed to have invented cryptocurrency bitcoin has been ordered to hand over half of his alleged bitcoin holdings, reported to be worth up to $5 billion. From a report: The IT security consultant Craig Wright, 49, was sued by the estate of David Kleiman, a programmer who died in 2013, for a share of Wright's bitcoin haul over the pair's involvement in the inception of the cryptocurrency from 2009 to 2013. Kleiman's estate alleges Wright and Kleiman were partners, and therefore his family is entitled to a share of the bitcoin that was mined by the pair in that time. Wright denies there was a partnership. A US district court in Florida on Tuesday ruled that half of the bitcoin mined and half of the intellectual property held by Wright from that time belongs to Kleiman. One issue is it is not known exactly how much bitcoin Wright holds. It has been claimed that the Kleiman estate could get anywhere between 410,000 and 500,000 bitcoin, putting the value at between $4.1 billion and $4.99 billion as of Wednesday. Wright claimed to the court that he couldn't access the bitcoin because he doesn't have a list of the public addresses of that bitcoin. He claimed in 2011, after seeing the cryptocurrency had begun to be associated with drug dealers and human traffickers, he put the bitcoin he mined in 2009 and 2010 into an encrypted file and into a blind trust. The encrypted key was divided into multiple key slices, and the key slices were given to Kleiman who distributed them to people through the trust.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Microsoft Readies exFAT Patents For Linux and Open Source

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2019-08-28 18:05
An anonymous reader writes: For years, Microsoft used its patents as a way to profit from open-source products. The poster-child for Microsoft's intellectual property aggression were the File Allocation Table (FAT) patents. But the Microsoft of then is not the Microsoft of now. First, Microsoft open-sourced its entire patent portfolio and now Microsoft is explicitly making its last remaining FAT intellectual property, the exFAT patents, available to Linux and open source via the Open Invention Network (OIN). Microsoft announced that it now loves Linux and "we say that a lot, and we mean it! Today we're pleased to announce that Microsoft is supporting the addition of Microsoft's exFAT (Extended File Allocation Table) technology to the Linux kernel." ExFAT is based on FAT, one of the first floppy disk file systems. Over time, FAT became Microsoft's files ystem of choice for MS-DOS and Windows. It would become the default file system for many applications. Microsoft extended FAT to flash memory storage devices such as USB drives and SD cards in 2006 with exFAT. While FAT isn't commonly used today, exFAT is used in hundreds of millions of storage device. Indeed, exFAT is the official file system for SD Card Association's standard large capacity SD cards. Now, Microsoft states: "It's important to us that the Linux community can make use of exFAT included in the Linux kernel with confidence. To this end, we will be making Microsoft's technical specification for exFAT publicly available to facilitate the development of conformant, interoperable implementations. We also support the eventual inclusion of a Linux kernel with exFAT support in a future revision of the Open Invention Network's Linux System Definition, where, once accepted, the code will benefit from the defensive patent commitments of OIN's 3040+ members and licensees." Specifically, according to a Microsoft representative, "Microsoft is supporting the addition of the exFAT file system to the Linux kernel and the eventual inclusion of a Linux kernel with exFAT support in a future revision of the Open Invention Network's Linux System Definition."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Apple is Turning Siri Audio Clip Review Off by Default and Bringing it in House

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2019-08-28 17:20
Apple is making changes to the way that Siri audio review, or 'grading' works across all of its devices. From a report: First, it is making audio review an explicitly opt-in process in an upcoming software update. This will be applicable for every current and future user of Siri. Second, only Apple employees, not contractors, will review any of this opt-in audio in an effort to bring any process that uses private data closer to the company's core processes. Apple has released a blog post outlining some Siri privacy details that may not have been common knowledge as they were previously described in security white papers. Apple apologizes for the issue. In a statement, the company said, "as a result of our review, we realize we haven't been fully living up to our high ideals, and for that we apologize. As we previously announced, we halted the Siri grading program. We plan to resume later this fall when software updates are released to our users -- but only after making the following changes..."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Doorbell-Camera Firm Ring Has Partnered With 400 Police Forces, Extending Surveillance Reach

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2019-08-28 16:00
The doorbell-camera company Ring has quietly forged video-sharing partnerships with more than 400 police forces across the United States, granting them access to homeowners' camera footage and a powerful role in what the company calls America's "new neighborhood watch." The Washington Post: The partnerships let police automatically request the video recorded by homeowners' cameras within a specific time and area, helping officers see footage from the company's millions of Internet-connected cameras installed nationwide, the company said. Officers don't receive ongoing or live-video access, and homeowners can decline the requests, which Ring sends via email thanking them for "making your neighborhood a safer place." The number of police deals, which has not previously been reported, will likely fuel broader questions about privacy, surveillance and the expanding reach of tech giants and local police. The rapid growth of the program, which launched last spring, surprised some civil-liberties advocates, who believed fewer than 300 agencies had signed on. Ring is owned by Amazon, which bought the firm last year for more than $800 million, financial filings show. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos also owns The Washington Post. Ring officials and law-enforcement partners portray the vast camera network as an irrepressible shield for American neighborhoods, saying it can assist police investigators and protect homes from criminals, intruders and thieves. "The mission has always been making the neighborhood safer," said Eric Kuhn, the general manager of Neighbors, Ring's crime-focused companion app. "We've had a lot of success in terms of deterring crime and solving crimes that would otherwise not be solved as quickly."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

North Carolina Sues 8 E-Cigarette Companies For Allegedly Marketing To Kids

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2019-08-28 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: North Carolina is aggressively going after the vaping industry for what the state sees as its role in getting kids hooked on nicotine. On Tuesday, State Attorney General Josh Stein announced that his office would be filing lawsuits against eight e-cigarette companies, arguing that each purposefully targeted underage customers. The lawsuits follow a similar one filed by Stein's office against the vaping giant Juul in May. According to Stein, the eight named companies -- Beard Vape, Direct eLiquid, Electric Lotus, Electric Tobacconist, Eonsmoke, Juice Man, Tinted Brew, and VapeCo -- all ran afoul of the state's Unfair or Deceptive Trade Practices Act. They're alleged to have used colorful labeling and sweet flavors in their products to knowingly entice kids into buying them. They're also accused of failing to take even meager steps to prevent children from getting their hands on these products, such as instituting age verification checks on their websites. "One look at their marketing materials demonstrates just how egregious their sales tactics are -- with flavors like cotton candy, gummy bear, unicorn, and graham cracker, they're clearly targeting young people," Stein said. "To teenagers, the health and addiction risks of vaping are simply too high. That is why my office is asking the court to protect our kids by shutting down these operations in our state." A lawsuit filed last week in Chicago accuses e-cigarette maker Juul Labs and Philip Morris USA of similar misconduct, such as illegally marketing nicotine-delivery devices to minors and deceiving consumers about the risks of vaping.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.