aggregator

Russian YouTube-Ripping Site Wins In US Court

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - N, 2019-01-27 00:34
An anonymous reader quotes TorrentFreak: YouTube rippers are seen as the largest piracy threat to the music industry, and record labels are doing their best to shut them down. In 2017, YouTube-MP3, the world's largest ripping site at the time, shut down after being sued, and several other folded in response to increased legal uncertainty. Not all stream-ripping sites throw in the towel without a fight though. FLVTO.biz and 2conv.com, owned by Russian developer Tofig Kurbanov, remained online despite being sued by several record labels last August.... According to the defense, the court has no jurisdiction over the matter. Only a small fraction of the visitors come from the US, and the site is managed entirely from Russia, it argued.... Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Claude M. Hilton ruled on the matter. In a 14-page opinion, he clearly sides with the operator of the YouTube rippers. Kurbanov doesn't have to stand trial in the U.S. so the case was dismissed. Billboard notes that the site was the 322nd most-visited web site in the world last year (for the 12 months ending in September, according to court documents) -- and that nearly 10 percent of the site's traffic -- 26.3 million visitors -- came from the U.S, including 500,000 from Virginia.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

State of Emergency Declared in Washington State Over Measles Outbreak

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2019-01-26 22:34
An anonymous reader quotes CBS News: The governor of Washington state declared a state of emergency Friday over a measles outbreak that has sickened dozens of people in a county with one of the state's lowest vaccination rates. Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement that the outbreak in Clark County "creates an extreme public health risk" that could spread throughout the state... Clark County Public Health has confirmed 30 measles cases since January 1 and identified another nine suspected cases. Twenty-six of the confirmed cases were people who were not immunized for measles, the agency said... Only 77.4 percent of all public students there complete their vaccinations, according to state records cited by the Oregonian...Most of the confirmed cases -- 21 -- were with children between 1 and 10 years old. Eight cases involved people 11 to 18 years old, and one case was someone 19 to 29. Time magazines also reports that authorities in the neighboring states of Oregon and Idaho "have issued warnings to residents." In November the World Health Organization warned that measles cases worldwide had jumped more than 30% from 2016 to 2017, according to AFP, "in part because of children not being vaccinated."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Canada's Ambassador To China Hopes US Won't Extradite Huawei Exec, Gets Fired

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2019-01-26 19:34
First, a Canadian diplomat on Thursday contradicted what he'd said on Wednesday, according to a story shared by hackingbear: John McCallum, Canada's ambassador in China, appeared to provide legal advice to Meng Wanzhou, who is fighting extradition to the U.S. over fraud allegations. Saying she had a "strong case", McCallum outlined numerous weaknesses of the legal proceedings: political interference from Donald Trump, the extraterritorial nature of the charges and the fact that Canada is not party to American sanctions against Iran. "I regret that my comments with respect to the legal proceedings of Ms Meng have created confusion. I misspoke," McCallum said in a statement released late on Thursday afternoon. "These comments do not accurately represent my position on the issue. As the government has consistently made clear, there has been no political involvement in this process." But ABC News reports that the same diplomat then said Friday that it would be "great" for Canada if the U.S. dropped its extradition request, "in what seem like off script remarks again...." "The Canadian government didn't return multiple messages in response to questions about whether McCallum is speaking for the Canadian government." UPDATE (1/26/2019): "Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has fired Canada's ambassador to China, John McCallum," reports the BBC.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

'This Time It's Russia's Emails Getting Leaked'

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2019-01-26 18:34
"Russian oligarchs and Kremlin apparatchiks may find the tables turned on them," writes Kevin Poulsen at The Daily Beast, reporting on a new leak site that's unleashed "a compilation of hundreds of thousands of hacked emails and gigabytes of leaked documents." "Think of it as WikiLeaks, but without Julian Assange's aversion to posting Russian secrets." Slashdot reader hyades1 shared their report: The site, Distributed Denial of Secrets, was founded last month by transparency activists. Co-founder Emma Best said the Russian leaks, slated for release Friday, will bring into one place dozens of different archives of hacked material that, at best, have been difficult to locate, and in some cases appear to have disappeared entirely from the web. "Stuff from politicians, journalists, bankers, folks in oligarch and religious circles, nationalists, separatists, terrorists operating in Ukraine," said Best, a national-security journalist and transparency activist. "Hundreds of thousands of emails, Skype and Facebook messages, along with lots of docs...." The site is a kind of academic library or a museum for leak scholars, housing such diverse artifacts as the files North Korea stole from Sony in 2014, and a leak from the Special State Protection Service of Azerbaijan. The site's Russia section already includes a leak from Russia's Ministry of the Interior, portions of which detailed the deployment of Russian troops to Ukraine at a time when the Kremlin was denying a military presence there. Though some material from that leak was published in 2014, about half of it wasn't, and WikiLeaks reportedly rejected a request to host the files two years later, at a time when Julian Assange was focused on exposing Democratic Party documents passed to WikiLeaks by Kremlin hackers. "A lot of what WikiLeaks will do is organize and re-publish information that's appeared elsewhere," said Nicholas Weaver, a researcher at the University of California at Berkeley's International Computer Science Institute. "They've never done that with anything out of Russia." The Russian documents were posted simultaneously on the DDoSecrets website and on the Internet Archive, notes the New York Times, adding that the new site has also posted a large archive of internal documents from WikiLeaks itself. "Personally, I am disappointed by what I see as dishonest and egotistic behavior from Julian Assange and WikiLeaks," Best tells the Times. "But she added that she had made the Russian document collection available to WikiLeaks ahead of its public release on Friday, and had posted material favorable to Mr. Assange leaked from the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where he has lived for more than six years to avoid arrest."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

FBI Arrests Three More Men Who Hired 'SWAT' Perpetrator

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2019-01-26 17:34
"Three men allegedly conspired with admitted 'swatter' Tyler Barriss to make hoax reports of bombs and murders to police departments, high schools and a convention center across the United States, according to three indictments unsealed today," reports America's Department of Justice. An anonymous reader quotes NBC News: The three people charged -- Neal Patel, 23, of Des Plaines, Illinois; Tyler Stewart, 19, of Gulf Breeze, Florida; and Logan Patten, 19, of Greenwood, Missouri -- are not accused in the "swatting" call allegedly made by another man that preceded the police shooting of Andrew Finch, a 28, in Wichita on Dec. 28, 2017. But they are accused of asking the suspect in the fatal Kansas case, Tyler Barriss, through Twitter direct messages to make false reports of bombs or threats of shootings that would trigger a law enforcement response and the evacuation of buildings against other targets, including a high school and a Dallas video game tournament.... Patel allegedly conspired with Barriss to make false reports to police in Milford, Connecticut, in December of 2017, and to make a false bomb threat targeting a video game convention in Dallas, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California in Los Angeles. Stewart is accused of conspiring with Barriss to make two false bomb threats about a high school in Gurnee, Illinois, in early December of 2017, and Patten is charged with hiring Barriss to "swat" people in Indiana and Ohio, also in December of 2017, and of scheming with Barriss to "swat" a high school in Missouri, according to prosecutors. After this week's arrests, the three men each face up to 15 years in federal prison. Patel allegedly also used "unauthorized" credit cards to pay Barriss -- and now faces two more bank fraud charges which each carry up to 30 years in federal prison. The article also notes that the 25-year-old who actually made the calls -- and the call which led to a fatal shooting in Wichita -- "has agreed to serve a sentence of between 20 and 25 years in federal prison." And the two gamers involved in the dispute which led to that shooting have also been criminally charged.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

FCC Accused of Colluding With Big Cable To Game 5G Legal Challenge

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2019-01-26 15:00
An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from a report via The Register: U.S. telecoms regulator the FCC has been accused of colluding with companies it is supposed to oversee in order to protect a controversial decision over new 5G networks. Chair of the House Commerce chair, Frank Pallone, has sent a letter to FCC chair Ajit Pai asking for copies of communications between the FCC and the big telcos regarding legal challenges to the regulator's 5G order, which forces local governments to charge a flat fee for installing new base stations. In the letter [PDF], Pallone strongly implies that the committee has heard from a whistleblower. "It has come to our attention that certain individuals at the FCC may have urged companies to challenge the order the Commission adopted in order to game the judicial lottery procedure and intimated the agency would look unfavorably towards entities that were not helpful," it reads. In effect, the letter alleges that FCC staff -- almost certainly from Pai's office -- put pressure on the big telcos to challenge an order that is designed to benefit them as a way of gaming the judicial system so the case didn't end up in a court likely to overturn it.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Millions of Bank Loan and Mortgage Documents Have Leaked Online

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2019-01-26 01:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: [M]illions of documents were found leaking after an exposed Elasticsearch server was found without a password. The documents contained highly sensitive financial data on tens of thousands of individuals who took out loans or mortgages over the past decade with U.S. financial institutions. The documents were converted using a technology called OCR from their original paper documents to a computer readable format and stored in the database, but they weren't easy to read. That said, it was possible to discern names, addresses, birth dates, Social Security numbers and other private financial data by anyone who knew where to find the server. Independent security researcher Bob Diachenko and TechCrunch traced the source of the leaking database to a Texas-based data and analytics company, Ascension. When reached, the company said that one of its vendors, OpticsML, a New York-based document management startup, had mishandled the data and was to blame for the data leak. It turns out that data was exposed again -- but this time, it was the original documents. Diachenko found the second trove of data in a separate exposed Amazon S3 storage server, which too was not protected with a password. Anyone who went to an easy-to-guess web address in their web browser could have accessed the storage server to see -- and download -- the files stored inside. The bucket contained 21 files containing 23,000 pages of PDF documents stitched together -- or about 1.3 gigabytes in size. Diachenko said that portions of the data in the exposed Elasticsearch database on Wednesday matched data found in the Amazon S3 bucket, confirming that some or all of the data is the same as what was previously discovered. Like in Wednesday's report, the server contained documents from banks and financial institutions across the U.S., including loans and mortgage agreements. We also found documents from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as W-2 tax forms, loan repayment schedules and other sensitive financial information. Many of the files also contained names, addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers and more.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Facebook Deliberately Allowed 'Friendly Fraud' To Avoid Harming Revenue

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2019-01-25 23:55
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: Newly unsealed court documents show that Facebook was aware that underage children routinely used their parents' payment information to spend large sums of money on in-game purchases, and the company chose not to fix the problem. For years, it allowed for what it called "friendly fraud" because it feared implementing protections would harm revenue, according to the documents. In 2016, Facebook settled a class-action lawsuit brought by parents of children who were tricked into unwittingly making purchases with real money while playing free video games hosted on the social media platform. Despite its recognition of the problem, internal discussions show that Facebook decided it would be best to fight refund requests and allow the problem to persist. Documents related to the case were placed under seal because Facebook successfully argued that releasing them to the public could harm its business. Reveal, a publication run by the Center for Investigative Reporting, argued that these documents were in the public interest; last week, a judge granted Reveal's request to release the documents. On Thursday night, 135 pages from the court proceedings were unsealed, though Facebook was allowed to maintain some redactions.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

The Messy Truth About Infiltrating Computer Supply Chains

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2019-01-25 22:36
In October last year, Bloomberg Businessweek published an alarming story: Operatives working for China's People's Liberation Army had secretly implanted microchips into motherboards made in China and sold by U.S.-based Supermicro. While Bloomberg's story -- which has been challenged by numerous players -- may well be completely (or partly) wrong, the danger of China compromising hardware supply chains is very real, judging from classified intelligence documents, reports The Intercept. From the report: U.S. spy agencies were warned about the threat in stark terms nearly a decade ago and even assessed that China was adept at corrupting the software bundled closest to a computer's hardware at the factory, threatening some of the U.S. government's most sensitive machines, according to documents provided by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. The documents also detail how the U.S. and its allies have themselves systematically targeted and subverted tech supply chains, with the NSA conducting its own such operations, including in China, in partnership with the CIA and other intelligence agencies. The documents also disclose supply chain operations by German and French intelligence. What's clear is that supply chain attacks are a well-established, if underappreciated, method of surveillance -- and much work remains to be done to secure computing devices from this type of compromise. "An increasing number of actors are seeking the capability to target ... supply chains and other components of the U.S. information infrastructure," the intelligence community stated in a secret 2009 report. "Intelligence reporting provides only limited information on efforts to compromise supply chains, in large part because we do not have the access or technology in place necessary for reliable detection of such operations."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Illinois Supreme Court Rules Against Six Flags in Lawsuit Over Fingerprint Scans, Says Actual Harm Unnecessary For Biometric Case

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2019-01-25 20:35
The family of a teenager whose fingerprint data was collected in 2014 when he bought a season pass to Six Flags Great America had the right to sue the amusement park company under an Illinois privacy law, the state Supreme Court ruled Friday. Chicago Tribune reports: The case is being closely watched by tech giants such as Facebook, who have pushed back against the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). The law requires companies collecting information such as facial, fingerprint and iris scans to obtain prior consent from consumers or employees, detailing how they'll use the data and how long the records will be kept. It also allows private citizens to sue, while other states let only the attorney general bring a lawsuit. The opinion, which overturns an appeals court ruling in favor of Six Flags, has the potential to effect biometrics lawsuits playing out in courtrooms across the country. The Illinois law is one of the strictest of its kind in the nation and has turned the state into a hotbed of lawsuits over alleged misuses of biometric data. Privacy experts say protecting that type of information is critical because, unlike a credit card or bank account number, it's permanent. The National Law Review adds: In short, individuals need not allege actual injury or adverse effect, beyond a violation of his/her rights under BIPA, in order to qualify as an "aggrieved" person and be entitled to seek liquidated damages, attorneys fees and costs, and injunctive relief under the Act. Potential damages are substantial as the BIPA provides for statutory damages of $1,000 per negligent violation or $5,000 per intentional or reckless violation of the Act. To date, no Illinois court has interpreted the meaning of "per violation," but the majority of BIPA suits have been brought as class actions seeking statutory damages on behalf of each individual affected.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

US Patent Operations May Shut Down In Second Week of February

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2019-01-25 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office said it may have to cease patent operations in the second week of February if the partial government shutdown continues, though it has money for trademark work through mid-April. Any furlough of staff could mean significant delays in reviewing the tens of thousands of applications on inventions for things like telecommunications hardware and the next cutting-edge medical treatments. Now it takes on average 15.8 months before a patent applicant can expect a preliminary response from an examiner. More than 640,000 patent applications were filed in fiscal 2018. The patent office, part of the Commerce Department, is funded entirely by user fees and gets no tax dollars, but it requires an appropriation from Congress to spend the money it collects. In fiscal 2018, it had a budget of $3.3 billion and has asked for $3.5 billion for fiscal 2019. The patent office sets aside authorized money in what's called an operating reserve to account for "temporary changes in our cash flow" and that's what it has been using to stay open since the partial shutdown began Dec. 22. At the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, it said it had 1.3 months of operating expenses for patent operations and 4.9 months of expenses for trademark operations.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Google Asks Supreme Court To Rule On When Code Can Be Copyrighted

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2019-01-25 01:00
Google is asking the Supreme Court to make the final call in its infamous dispute with Oracle. "Today, the company announced it has filed a petition with the Court, asking the justices to determine the boundaries of copyright law in code," reports The Verge. From the report: The case dates back to 2010, when Oracle first accused Google of improperly using elements of Oracle's Java programming language to build Android. Oracle said that Google's use of Java application programing interfaces was a violation of copyright law. Google has responded that APIs are too fundamental to programming to be copyrighted. The case has led to two jury trials, and several rulings have doled out wins and losses to both companies over the course of eight years. Last year, a favorable Oracle decision set Google up to potentially lose billions of dollars. Google asked for a Supreme Court hearing on the case in 2014, but the Court rejected the request at the time. The company says new issues are now at play, and is asking the Court to decide whether software interfaces can be copyrighted, and whether using them to build something new constitutes fair use under the law. In its new petition to the Supreme Court, Google says the case is not only important to copyright law, but has "sheer practical importance," as it centers around two touchstones of computing: Google's Android and Oracle's Java. The Court's intervention could alter the future of software, the company argues.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

US Pressed Chinese Firms To Show One Example of When They Resisted Request For Data From Chinese Government, But They Have Never Done So: WSJ

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2019-01-24 22:21
The latest in the Huawei saga, which is increasing tension between the U.S. and China. WSJ reports about a remarkable event: Confronted with U.S. accusations of cyber espionage, Chinese companies and government officials often accuse Washington of hypocrisy, pointing to allegations in 2013 by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden that the U.S. had been hacking into key Chinese networks for years. Western officials say systems of checks and balances in their countries allow for companies to challenge those demands, unlike in China. To further highlight that difference, U.S. officials have repeatedly pressed Chinese companies to demonstrate to them one example of a time they resisted a request for data from the Chinese government, but they have never done so, according to a person familiar with those conversations. U.S. intelligence officials have suggested at times that their views on Huawei are informed by definitive examples of malfeasance, though they have so far refused to share such evidence publicly. When the House Intelligence Committee in 2012 published an unclassified report naming Huawei as a security risk, it spoke generally about a lack of trust lawmakers placed in China but steered clear of providing concrete examples of the company being caught engaging in nefarious activity.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Trump Offered NASA Unlimited Funding To Put People on Mars by 2020, Report Says

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2019-01-24 19:20
From a report, based on a book by Cliff Sims, who worked as a communications official for Trump on his presidential campaign and in the West Wing: As the clock ticked down, Trump "suddenly turned toward the NASA administrator." He asked: "What's our plan for Mars?" Lightfoot explained to the president -- who, again, had recently signed a bill containing a plan for Mars -- that NASA planned to send a rover to Mars in 2020 and, by the 2030s, would attempt a manned spaceflight. "Trump bristled," according to Sims. He asked, "But is there any way we could do it by the end of my first term?" Sims described the uncomfortable exchange that followed the question, with Lightfoot shifting and placing his hand on his chin, hesitating politely and attempting to let Trump down easily, emphasizing the logistical challenges involving "distance, fuel capacity, etc. Also the fact that we hadn't landed an American anywhere remotely close to Mars ever." Sims himself was "getting antsy" by this point. With a number of points left to go over with the president, "all I could think about was that we had to be on camera in three minutes .. And yet we're in here casually chatting about shaving a full decade off NASA's timetable for sending a manned flight to Mars. And seemingly out of nowhere."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Julian Assange Launches Legal Challenge Against Trump Administration

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2019-01-24 04:30
SonicSpike shares a report from The Guardian: Julian Assange, the fugitive WikiLeaks founder whose diplomatic sanctuary in the Ecuadorian embassy appears increasingly precarious, is launching a legal challenge against the Trump administration. Lawyers for the Australian activist have filed an urgent application to the Washington-based Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) aimed at forcing the hand of U.S. prosecutors, requiring them to "unseal" any secret charges against him. The legal move is an attempt to prevent Assange's extradition to the U.S. at a time that a new Ecuadorian government has been making his stay in the central London apartment increasingly inhospitable. The 1,172-page submission by Assange's lawyers calls on the U.S. to unseal any secret charges against him and urges Ecuador to cease its "espionage activities" against him. Baltasar Garzon, the prominent Spanish judge who has pursued dictators, terrorists and drug barons, is the international coordinator of Assange's legal team. He has said the case involves "the right to access and impart information freely" that has been put in "jeopardy." The Trump administration is refusing to reveal details of charges against Assange despite the fact that sources in the U.S. Department of Justice have confirmed to the media that they exist under seal. The application alleges that U.S. prosecutors have begun approaching people in the U.S., Germany and Iceland and pressed them to testify against Assange in return for immunity from prosecution. Those approached, it is said, include people associated with WikiLeaks' joint publications with other media about U.S. diplomacy, Guantanamo Bay and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Should Lawmakers Be Able To Hold Hearings, Debate and Vote On Legislation Virtually From Their District Offices?

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2019-01-24 01:50
Applehu Akbar shares an old report raising a very good question for today's Congress: why not use today's videoconferencing tech to allow representatives to perform most Congressional activity from their home districts?" The ability to "work from home" would be especially beneficial during a government shutdown, like the one we're currently in, where money is tight and Congressional members are "sick and tired of Washington and don't want to show up anymore to vote." Slashdot reader Applehu Akbar writes: Because Congress people serve short terms and campaign largely on constituent service, they have to spend a large percentage of their time shuttling between home and Washington. Virtualizing most of their Washington presence would save fuel and energy while giving them more time with their constituents. In addition, there could be a long-term societal benefit in making Congress less vulnerable to lobbyist influence by keeping them out of the Beltway. Pearce told The Hill in a statement back in 2013: "Thanks to modern technology, members of Congress can debate, vote, and carry out their constitutional duties without having to leave the accountability and personal contact of their congressional districts. Keeping legislators closer to the people we represent would pull back Washington's curtain and allow constituents to see and feel, first-hand, their government at work. Corporations and government agencies use remote work technology; it's time that Congress does the same."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Says Biometrics May Defeat Bots

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2019-01-24 01:10
Trailrunner7 shares a report from Duo Security: From the beginning, Twitter's creators made the decision not to require real names on the service. It's a policy that's descended from older chat services, message boards and Usenet newsgroups and was designed to allow users to express themselves freely. Free expression is certainly one of the things that happens on Twitter, but that policy has had a number of unintended consequences, too. The service is flooded with bots, automated accounts that are deployed by a number of different types of users, some legitimate, others not so much. Many companies and organizations use automation in their Twitter accounts, especially for customer service. But a wide variety of malicious actors use bots, too, for a lot of different purposes. Governments have used bots to spread disinformation for influence campaigns, cybercrime groups employ bots as part of the command-and-control infrastructure for botnets, and bots are an integral part of the cryptocurrency scam ecosystem. This has been a problem for years on Twitter, but only became a national and international issue after the 2016 presidential election. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said this week that he sees potential in biometric authentication as a way to help combat manipulation and increase trust on the platform. "If we can utilize technologies like Face ID or Touch ID or some of the biometric things that we find on our devices today to verify that this is a real person, then we can start labeling that and give people more context for what they're interacting with and ideally that adds some more credibility to the equation. It is something we need to fix. We haven't had strong technology solutions in the past, but that's definitely changing with these supercomputers we have in our pockets now," Dorsey said. Jordan Wright, an R&D engineer at Duo Labs writes: "I think it's a step in the right direction in terms of making general authentication usable, depending on how it's implemented. But I'm not sure how much it will help the bot/automation issue. There will almost certainly need to be a fallback authentication method for users without an iOS device. Bot owners who want to do standard authentication will use whichever method is easiest for them, so if a password-based flow is still offered, they'd likely default to that." "The fallback is the tricky bit. If one exists, then Touch ID/Face ID might be helpful in identifying that there is a human behind an account, but not necessarily the reverse -- that a given account is not human because it doesn't use Touch ID," Wright adds.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Microsoft's Bing Search Engine Goes Offline In China

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2019-01-24 00:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from France 24: The Microsoft-run search engine Bing was unavailable in mainland China late Wednesday, raising concerns among some social media users that it could be the latest foreign website to be blocked by censors. Attempting to open cn.bing.com results in an error message, though users can still access Bing's international site using a virtual private network (VPN), which allows people to circumvent China's "Great Firewall" of censorship. It is not clear whether or not Bing has joined China's long list of prohibited websites or if its China service is experiencing technical difficulties. On Weibo, China's Twitter-like social media site, people complained about the lack of access, with some speculating that Bing too had been "walled off." Others aired their dissatisfaction about having to use Baidu, China's largest domestic search service. "I can't open Bing, but I don't want to use Baidu -- what to do?" wrote one user. "Bing is actually dead -- is this to force me to use Baidu??" said another, cursing. Update January 24, 00:10 GMT: Microsoft says it is aware that some users are unable to access Bing in China and says it is investigating the matter.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Why Free Software Evangelist Richard Stallman is Haunted by Stalin's Dream

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2019-01-23 20:10
Richard Stallman recently visited Mandya, a small town about 60 miles from Bengaluru, India, to give a talk. On the sidelines, Indian news outlet FactorDaily caught up with Stallman for an interview. In the wide-ranging interview, Stallman talked about companies that spy on users, popular Android apps, media streaming and transportation apps, smart devices, DRM, software backdoors, subscription software, and Apple and censorship. An excerpt from the interview: If you are carrying a mobile phone, it is always tracking your movements and it could have been modified to listen to the conversations around you. I call this product Stalin's dream. What would Stalin have wanted to hand out to every inhabitant of the former Soviet Union? Something to track that person's movements and listen to the person's conservations. Fortunately, Stalin could not do it because the technology didn't exist. Unfortunately for us, now it does exist and most people have been pressured or lured into carrying around such a Stalin's dream device, but not me. I am suspicious of new digital technology. I expect it to have new malicious functionalities. It has happened so many times that I have learned to expect this, so I have always checked before I start using some new digital technology. I asked to find out what is nasty about it and I found out these two things. It was something like 20 years ago, and I decided it was my duty as a citizen to refuse, regardless of whatever convenience it might offer me. To surrender my freedom in this way was failing to defend a free society. This is why I do not have a portable phone. I refuse to carry a portable phone. I never have one and unless things change, I never will. I do use portable phones, lots of different ones. If I needed to call someone right now, I would ask one of you, "Could you please make a call for me?" If I am on a bus and it is late and I need to tell somebody that I am going to arrive late, there is always some other passenger in the bus who will make a call for me or send a text for me. Practically speaking, it is not that hard.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Hebei, a Northern Chinese Province, Unveils an App That Triggers a Notification When You're Near Someone in Debt

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2019-01-23 18:53
China is gearing up to launch a social credit system in 2020, giving all citizens an identity number that will be linked to a permanent record. Like a financial score, everything from paying back loans to behaviour on public transport will be included. One aspect of this social credit system is a new app in the northern province of Hebei. From a report: According to the state-run newspaper China Daily, the Hebei-based app will alert people if there are in 500 metres of someone in debt. It's like being on Oxford Street and being able to work out everyone around you who was in debt. According to the financial charity, the Money Charity, the average UK household debt (including mortgages) was $76,000, in June last year. That's a lot of notifications.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.