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Italy Bans Uber

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2017-04-08 03:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Next Web: A court just banned Uber from using its apps in Italy -- yes, all of Italy. The court ruled in favor of the country's taxi drivers -- who filed the suit -- claiming Uber was "unfair competition." Now Uber can't use it's apps -- including UberBlack, Uber LUX, X, and Select -- and it can't promote or advertise itself at all within the country. For all intents and purposes, Uber is banned in Italy.

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WikiLeaks Reveals Grasshopper, the CIA's Windows Hacking Tool

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2017-04-08 00:40
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Next Web: In case you haven't had your dose of paranoia fuel today, WikiLeaks released new information concerning a CIA malware program called "Grasshopper," that specifically targets Windows. The Grasshopper framework was (is?) allegedly used by the CIA to make custom malware payloads. According to the user guide: "Grasshopper is a software tool used to build custom installers for target computers running Microsoft Windows operating systems." Grasshopper is designed to detect the OS and protection on any Windows computer on which it's deployed, and it can escape detection by anti-malware software. If that was enough for you to put your computer in stasis, brace yourself for a doozy: Grasshopper reinstalls itself every 22 hours, even if you have Windows Update disabled. As if this wasn't alarming enough, the Grasshopper user guide even states upfront that Grasshopper uses bits from a toolkit taken from Russian organized crime.

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Senate Confirms Neil Gorsuch To Supreme Court

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2017-04-07 23:20
halfEvilTech quotes a report from Washington Post: The U.S. Senate confirmed Neil M. Gorsuch to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday. On a vote of 54 to 45, senators confirmed Gorsuch, 49, a Denver-based judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit. He will become the 113th person to serve on the Supreme Court and is scheduled to be sworn in Monday. Gorsuch's confirmation was the result of a rule change in the Senate. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell used the power of his position to change the rules of the Senate to lower the threshold on Supreme Court nominations to end debate from 60 to 51 votes. Therefore, "all presidential nominees for executive branch positions and the federal courts need only a simple majority vote to be confirmed by senators," reports Washington Post. It is unclear as to what exactly Gorsuch's confirmation means for the tech industry. However, it is certain that Gorsuch will "face cases that demand a solid command of the complex issues digital technology raises, from copyright and privacy to intellectual property rights and data storage," writes Issie Lapowsky via Wired.

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The Trump Administration No Longer Wants Twitter To Reveal the Owner of an Anti-Trump Account

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2017-04-07 20:40
From a report on Recode: The Trump administration informed Twitter on Friday that it would withdraw its demand that the social media company unmask an account critical of the president -- a move that prompted Twitter to drop its lawsuit. On Thursday, Twitter revealed that U.S. customs agents filed a legal order in a bid to get the company to reveal who is behind @ALT_USCIS -- a so-called "alt-agency" account that has been taking aim at Trump, his immigration policy and the inner workings of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

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The Cost of Drugs For Rare Diseases Is Threatening the US Health Care System

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2017-04-07 19:20
An anonymous reader shares an article: There are 7,000 rare diseases affecting 25 million to 30 million Americans. The average drug approved under the Orphan Drug Act of 1983 (ODA), which governs rare disease approval, costs $118,820 per year. Assuming a similar cost, if a single drug were approved under the ODA for 10% of rare diseases, the total would exceed $350 billion annually -- more than 10 percent of the total amount that America spends on health care and much more than the health care costs attributable to either diabetes or Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. If this seems far-fetched, consider the two drugs for treating Duchenne muscular dystrophy that the FDA approved in the last six months: eteplirsen, which is sold by Sarepta Therapeutics and costs $300,000 annually per patient, and deflazacort, which is sold by Marathon Pharmaceuticals and costs $89,000 annually per patient. However, approval of such costly drugs exposes an uncomfortable truth: scientific discovery has outpaced health care economics. [...] In the United Kingdom, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) determines the cost effectiveness, or value, of newly approved drugs based on their impact on quality-adjusted life years. These determinations inform the National Health System's (NHS) treatment-coverage decisions. In contrast, the FDA is prohibited from considering cost or value in its decision making, and there is no U.S. governmental equivalent of NICE.

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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Plans Fast-Track Repeal of Net Neutrality

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2017-04-07 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: The chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission is moving quickly to replace the Obama administration's landmark net neutrality rules and wants internet service providers to voluntarily agree to maintain an open internet, three sources briefed on the meeting said Thursday. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican appointed by President Donald Trump, met on Tuesday with major telecommunications trade groups to discuss his preliminary plan to reverse the rules, the sources said. The rules approved by the FCC under Democratic President Barack Obama in early 2015 prohibited broadband providers from giving or selling access to speedy internet, essentially a "fast lane," to certain internet services over others. As part of that change, the FCC reclassified internet service providers much like utilities. Pai wants to overturn that reclassification, but wants internet providers to voluntarily agree to not obstruct or slow consumer access to web content, two officials said late Tuesday. The officials briefed on the meeting said Pai suggested companies commit in writing to open internet principles and including them in their terms of service, which would make them binding. It is unclear if regulators could legally compel internet providers to adopt open internet principles without existing net neutrality rules. As part of that move, the Federal Trade Commission would assume oversight of ensuring compliance.Three sources said Pai plans to unveil his proposal to overturn the rules as early as late April and it could face an initial vote in May or June.

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China Court Orders Samsung Units To Pay $11.6 Million To Huawei Over Patent Case

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2017-04-07 12:00
A Chinese court has ordered Samsung Electronics's mainland subsidiaries to pay 80 million yuan ($11.60 million) to Huawei Technologies for patent infringement, the China firm's first victory against Samsung on its legal challenges over intellectual property. From a report: Three units of Samsung have been ordered by the Quanzhou Intermediary Court to pay the sum for infringing a patent held by Huawei Device Co Limited, the handset unit of Huawei, the Quanzhou Evening News, a government-run newspaper, said on its website on Thursday. The verdict is the first on several lawsuits of Huawei against the South Korean technology giant. Huawei filed lawsuits against Samsung in May in courts in China and the United States -- the first by it against Samsung -- claiming infringements of smartphone patents. Samsung subsequently countersued Huawei in China for IP infringement.

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Facebook To Use Photo-Matching To Block Repeat 'Revenge Porn'

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2017-04-07 02:40
An anonymous reader quotes a report from AOL: Facebook is adding tools to make it easier for users to report so-called "revenge porn" and to automatically prevent the images from being shared again once they have been banned, the company said. "Revenge porn" refers to the sharing of sexually explicit images on the internet, without the consent of the people depicted in the pictures, in order to extort or humiliate them. The practice disproportionately affects women, who are sometimes targeted by former partners. Beginning on Wednesday, users of the world's largest social network should see an option to report a picture as inappropriate specifically because it is a "nude photo of me," Facebook said in a statement. The company also said it was launching an automated process to prevent the repeat sharing of banned images. Photo-matching software will keep the pictures off the core Facebook network as well as off its Instagram and Messenger services, it said.

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Uber Contract 'Gibberish', Says MP Investigating Gig Economy

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2017-04-07 02:00
A committee of MPs has lambasted Uber's contracts with drivers as "gibberish" and "almost unintelligible" as the company attempts to ensure its drivers remain self-employed. From a report: Frank Field, chair of the work and pensions select committee that is carrying out an investigation into the so-called gig economy, said: "Quite frankly the Uber contract is gibberish. They are well aware that many, if not most, of their drivers speak English as a second language -- they recently lost a court case trying to escape Transport for London's new English testing rules for private hire drivers -- yet their contract is almost unintelligible." [...] Publishing full details of Uber's contract terms, along with those for the takeaway courier firm Deliveroo and Amazon, Field said all three used some kind of "egregious clause" which attempted to prevent people challenging their "self-employed" designation, although neither Uber's nor Amazon's contract went as far as Deliveroo's, in the committee's view.

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London Police Ink Shadowy Deal With Industry On Website Takedowns

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2017-04-07 01:00
AmiMoJo writes: The EFF is warning about unregulated activity against websites by the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) of the City of London Police. A program called RogueBlock accepts notifications from IP holders, which the PIPCU then acts on, giving private companies legal jurisdiction over the entire internet, with appeals in the case of malicious reports and mistakes being extremely difficult to make. For example, Spanish sports streaming site Rojadirecta had its domain name seized by the U.S. government for over a year, despite the site being lawful in its native Spain. The EFF terms this kind of activity "Shadow Regulation."

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New Destructive Malware Intentionally Bricks IoT Devices

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2017-04-07 00:40
An anonymous reader writes: "A new malware strain called BrickerBot is intentionally bricking Internet of Things (IoT) devices around the world by corrupting their flash storage capability and reconfiguring kernel parameters. The malware spreads by launching brute-force attacks on IoT (BusyBox-based) devices with open Telnet ports. After BrickerBot attacks, device owners often have to reinstall the device's firmware, or in some cases, replace the device entirely. Attacks started on March 20, and two versions have been seen. One malware strain launches attacks from hijacked Ubiquiti devices, while the second, more advanced, is hidden behind Tor exit nodes. Several security researchers believe this is the work of an internet vigilante fed up with the amount of insecure IoT devices connected to the internet and used for DDoS attacks. "Wow. That's pretty nasty," said Cybereason security researcher Amit Serper after Bleeping Computer showed him Radware's security alert. "They're just bricking it for the sake of bricking it. [They're] deliberately destroying the device."

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Uber Said To Use 'Sophisticated' Software To Defraud Drivers, Passengers

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2017-04-06 23:20
A class-action lawsuit against Uber alleges that Uber has "devised a 'clever and sophisticated' scheme in which it manipulates navigation data used to determine 'upfront' rider fare prices while secretly short-changing the driver," reports Ars Technica. "When a rider uses Uber's app to hail a ride, the fare the app immediately shows to the passenger is based on a slower and longer route compared to the one displayed to the driver. The software displays a quicker, shorter route for the driver. But the rider pays the higher fee, and the driver's commission is paid from the cheaper, faster route, according to the lawsuit." From the report: This latest lawsuit (PDF) claims that Uber implemented the so-called "upfront" pricing scheme in September and informed drivers that fares are calculated on a per-mile and per-minute charge for the estimated distance and time of a ride. "However, the software that calculates the upfront price that is displayed and charged to the Users calculates the expected distance and time utilizing a route that is often longer in both distance and time to the one displayed in the driver's application," according to the suit. In the end, the rider pays a higher fee because the software calculates a longer route and displays that to the passenger. Yet the driver is paid a lower rate based on a quicker route, according to the suit. Uber keeps "the difference charged to the User and the fare reported to the driver, in addition to the service fee and booking fee disclosed to drivers," according to the suit.

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Twitter Sues US Government Over Attempt To Unmask Anti-Trump Account

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2017-04-06 22:40
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: According to Twitter's suit, filed today in Northern California District Court, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has attempted to use a "limited-purpose investigatory tool" to unmask the owner of the Twitter account "@ALT_USCIS." The account, one of several "alt" or "rogue" government accounts that appeared in the wake of Trump's ascent to the presidency, was used "to express public criticism of the Department and the current Administration," according to Twitter's complaint. In the suit, Twitter writes that @ALT_USCIS has purported to be a dissenting member of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. On March 14, Twitter received a summons from Customs requesting records that could reveal the identity of the account's operator, including IP logs and any associated phone number or mailing address. In addition to the Department of Homeland Security and its subagency, the lawsuit names four individuals as defendants: DHS secretary John Kelly, acting CBP commissioner Kevin McAleenan, and special agents Stephen P. Caruso and Adam Hoffman, who issued and served the order itself.

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Facebook Messenger Now Analyzes Your Chats To Give You Recommendations

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2017-04-06 21:20
Facebook's messaging platform, which reports 1 billion monthly active users, announced on Thursday that it is rolling out its experimental virtual assistant "M" to all Messenger users in the United States this week through a new feature called M Suggestions. A report adds: M Suggestions does exactly what its name suggests, using artificial intelligence to understand what is being said in any given Messenger chat to make recommendations that pop up during the course of a conversation. Some folks who already feel like Facebook is watching them when they see ads in their News Feed for bridal gowns after getting engaged may be creeped out by the fact their messages are being analyzed. But Stan Chudnovsky, Facebook Messenger's Head of Product, contends their goal with M Suggestions is to offer a better user experience. To wit, M Suggestions does not currently generate any revenues for Messenger. "The history of the internet is all about removing friction," Chudnovsky told Yahoo Finance. "In this case, instead of you having to think about doing something, like sending a sticker, paying a friend for something or sharing your location, and having to press three taps, M does it for you."

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Apple Taken To Court For Refusing To Fix Devices

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2017-04-06 20:40
Australia's consumer watchdog has begun legal action against Apple over claims it refused to repair iPads and iPhones previously serviced by third parties. From a report on BBC: It alleges that Apple made "false, misleading, or deceptive representations" about consumers' rights under Australian law. The case follows complaints that users were "routinely refused" repairs after an error disabled their devices. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) began an investigation after users complained about Apple's so-called "error 53", which disabled some users' devices after they downloaded an update to their operating system.

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Roku Has Hired a Team of Lobbyists As it Gears Up For a Net Neutrality Fight

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2017-04-06 17:20
Roku appears to be arming itself for the coming net neutrality war. From a report on Recode: The web video streaming and hardware company has plenty at stake as the Federal Communications Commission prepares to pull back rules that require internet providers to treat all web traffic equally. For Roku and others in the business, an end to the Obama-era protections could make it harder -- or, in some cases, more expensive -- to offer content or services to customers at top download speeds. That's why Roku has hired a pair of Republican lobbyists through an outside government-affairs firm, according to a federal ethics reports filed this week, specifically to focus on net neutrality. It's the first time the company has ever retained lobbyists in Washington, D.C. Many in the tech industry support the Obama-era FCC's net neutrality rules, which currently subject telecom companies to utility-style regulation. To Democrats, it's the only way to stop the likes of AT&T, Comcast, Charter or Verizon from blocking competing services or charging media companies for faster delivery of their content.

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Android Devices Can Be Fatally Hacked By Malicious Wi-Fi Networks

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2017-04-06 05:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A broad array of Android phones is vulnerable to attacks that use booby-trapped Wi-Fi signals to achieve full device takeover, a researcher has demonstrated. The vulnerability resides in a widely used Wi-Fi chipset manufactured by Broadcom and used in both iOS and Android devices. Apple patched the vulnerability with Monday's release of iOS 10.3.1. "An attacker within range may be able to execute arbitrary code on the Wi-Fi chip," Apple's accompanying advisory warned. In a highly detailed blog post published Tuesday, the Google Project Zero researcher who discovered the flaw said it allowed the execution of malicious code on a fully updated 6P "by Wi-Fi proximity alone, requiring no user interaction." Google is in the process of releasing an update in its April security bulletin. The fix is available only to a select number of device models, and even then it can take two weeks or more to be available as an over-the-air update to those who are eligible. Company representatives didn't respond to an e-mail seeking comment for this post. The proof-of-concept exploit developed by Project Zero researcher Gal Beniamini uses Wi-Fi frames that contain irregular values. The values, in turn, cause the firmware running on Broadcom's wireless system-on-chip to overflow its stack. By using the frames to target timers responsible for carrying out regularly occurring events such as performing scans for adjacent networks, Beniamini managed to overwrite specific regions of device memory with arbitrary shellcode. Beniamini's code does nothing more than write a benign value to a specific memory address. Attackers could obviously exploit the same series of flaws to surreptitiously execute malicious code on vulnerable devices within range of a rogue access point.

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Amazon Will Refund Millions of Unauthorized In-App Purchases Made By Kids

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2017-04-06 03:25
Amazon will refund millions of dollars worth of unauthorized in-app purchased made by kids, having dropped its appeal of last year's ruling by a federal judge who sided with the Federal Trade Commission in the agency's lawsuit against Amazon. "The FTC's original complaint said that Amazon should be liable for millions of dollars it charged customers, because of the way its Appstore software was designed -- that is, it allowed kids to spend unlimited amounts of money in games and other apps without requiring parental consent," reports TechCrunch. From the report: The issue had to do with the way the Amazon Appstore's in-app purchasing system worked. The Amazon Appstore is the store that comes preloaded on Amazon mobile devices, like Kindle Fire tablets, for example, though there is a way to load it onto other Android devices, too. In Amazon's Appstore, which launched back in 2011, the company didn't originally require passwords on in-app purchases. This allowed kids to buy coins and other items to their hearts' content. One particularly awful example involved a game called "Ice Age Village" that offered an in-app purchase of $99.99. Amazon introduced password-protected in-app purchases in March 2012, but then only on those where the purchase exceeded $20. In early 2013, it updated the system again to require passwords, but also allowed a 15-minute window afterwards where no password was required. The FTC said Amazon didn't obtain "informed consent" until July 2014. To make matters worse, parents complaining weren't told how to get a refund and Amazon had even suggested at times that refunds weren't possible, the FTC's complaint had said. More than $70 million in in-app charges made between November 2011 and May 2016 may be eligible for refunds, the FTC notes. It's not likely that all affected customers will take the time to make their requests, however.

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Canada's RCMP National Police Force Reveals Use of Secretive Cellphone Surveillance Technology

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2017-04-06 02:05
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CBC.ca: The RCMP for the first time is publicly confirming it uses cellphone surveillance devices in investigations across Canada -- but at the same time says the potential of unauthorized snooping in Ottawa, as reported by CBC News, poses a threat to national security. The RCMP held the briefing in the wake of a CBC News investigation that found evidence that devices known as IMSI catchers may be in use near government buildings in Ottawa for the purpose of illegal spying. After shrouding their own use of the technology in secrecy for years, the RCMP took the unprecedented step of speaking publicly about the devices -- also known as Stingrays or Mobile Device Identifiers (MDIs) -- to address public concern amidst mounting questions about their use. The RCMP says that MDIs -- of which it owns 10 -- have become "vital tools" deployed scores of times to identify and track mobile devices in 19 criminal investigations last year and another 24 in 2015. [RCMP Chief Supt. Jeff Adam] says in all cases but one in 2016, police got warrants. The one exception was an exigent circumstance -- in other words, an emergency scenario "such as a kidnapping," said Adam, whose office tracks every instance where an MDI has been used by the RCMP. He says using an MDI requires senior police approval as well as getting a judge's order. And he says the technology provides only a first step in an investigation allowing officers to identify a device. He says only then can police apply for additional warrants to obtain a user's "basic subscriber information" such as name and address connected to the phone. Then, he says, only if the phone and suspect are targets of the investigation can police seek additional warrants to track the device or conduct a wiretap to capture communications. Adam says the RCMP currently has 24 technicians trained and authorized to deploy the devices across Canada. He knows other police forces own and use them too, but declined to name them.

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Taser Offers Free Body Cameras To All US Police

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2017-04-05 23:20
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Taser, the company whose electronic stun guns have become a household name, is now offering a groundbreaking deal to all American law enforcement: free body cameras and a year's worth of access to the company's cloud storage service, Evidence.com. In addition, on Wednesday, the company also announced that it would be changing its name to "Axon" to reflect the company's flagship body camera product. Right now, Axon is the single largest vendor of body cameras in America. It vastly outsells smaller competitors, including VieVu and Digital Ally -- the company has profited $90 million from 2012 through 2016. If the move is successful, Axon could quickly crowd out its rivals entirely. In recent years, federal dollars went to police agencies both big (Los Angeles) and small (Village of Spring Valley, New York), encouraging the purchase of body-worn cameras. However, while cameras are rapidly spreading across America, they are still not ubiquitous yet. Axon wants to change that. "Only 20 percent [of cops] have a camera," Rick Smith, the company's CEO, told Ars. "Eighty percent are going out with a gun and no camera. We only need 20- to 30-percent conversion to make it profitable," he added. "We expect 80 percent to become customers." "Our belief is that a body camera is to a cop what a smartphone is to a civilian," Smith said. "Cops spend about two-thirds of their time doing paperwork. We believe, within 10 years, we can automate police reporting. We can effectively triple the world's police force." The offer is only available to American law enforcement, but Smith said the company would consider foreign agencies on a case-by-case basis.

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