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FBI Worried Ring and Other Doorbell Cameras Could Tip Owners Off To Police Searches

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Wt, 2020-09-01 00:40
FBI documents warned that owners of Amazon's Ring and similar video doorbells can use the systems -- which collect video footage sometimes used to investigate crimes -- in order to watch police instead. The Verge reports: The Intercept spotted the files in the BlueLeaks data trove aggregated from law enforcement agencies. One 2019 analysis describes numerous ways police and the FBI could use Ring surveillance footage, but it also cites "new challenges" involving sensor- and camera-equipped smart home devices. Specifically, they can offer an early warning when officers are approaching a house to search it; give away officer locations in a standoff; or let the owner capture pictures of law enforcement, "presenting a risk to their present and future safety." These are partly hypothetical concerns. The standoff issue, for instance, was noted in a report about motion-activated panoramic cameras. But the FBI points to a 2017 incident where agents approached the home of someone with a video doorbell, seeking to search the premises. The resident wasn't home but saw them approach by watching a remote video feed, then preemptively contacted his neighbor and landlord about the FBI's approach. He may also have "been able to covertly monitor law enforcement activity" with the camera. This isn't necessarily more information than a security camera would capture. But doorbells like the Ring or Google Nest Hello are pitched as more mainstream devices, and they've also created controversy around police use of the footage.

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For U.S. Space Force Ranks, William Shatner Endorses 'Starfleet Amendment'

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pn, 2020-08-31 12:34
America's House of Representatives proposed a new structure for the U.S. Space Force in what's being called "the Starfleet amendment". Space News reports: Before the House passed the so-called "Starfleet" amendment, Space Force officials had been internally debating a new rank structure to set the space branch apart from its parent service the U.S. Air Force. The amendment in the House version of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act requires the Space Force to use the Navy's rank structure. The proposal will be debated later this year in a House and Senate conference. The Senate would have to support the amendment for it to become law. The amendment was introduced by a former Navy SEAL (now a Republican congressman from Texas), the article reports. But more importantly, the amendment "got a prominent endorsement from the Starfleet captain himself, William Shatner." In a special editorial in Military Times, Shatner wrote: It's been captains throughout entertainment history that have gone into space and been the heroes that saved the day, the planet, the galaxy and the universe. Where in any of this rich history of inspired heroes travelling into space was there a...colonel...? "Star Trek" has borrowed so much of its iconic rank symbols from the U.S. military and NASA. When you unveiled the Space Force logo, many immediately saw it as an homage to "Star Trek" (even though our Delta was an homage to the previous military space insignias). Why not borrow back from "Star Trek" and adopt our ranks as well? We took them from the Navy for good reason, even though Gene Roddenberry was a veteran of the U.S. Army Air Corps. They made better sense when talking about a (space) ship. So wrapping this up, I'm going to say that if you want the public to believe in heroes, that you should adopt the Navy ranks as they are the ones the public is most used to being heroes. So please reconsider and name the Space Force ranks after the U.S. Navy. Space News reports that officials from Space Force "declined to comment on Shatner's article, or on whether his views might carry any weight with lawmakers." But the site's source said there's polarized feelings inside real-world Space Force about the Starfleet amendment. "Some view the prospect of using naval ranks as an insult that would permanently turn the service into a Star Trek punchline."

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Kingpin Behind Massive Identity-Theft Service Says He's Sorry

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - N, 2020-08-30 15:34
Krebs on Security tells the tale of Hieu Minh Ngo, who earned $3 million by selling the identity records he'd stolen from consumer data brokers (which included social security numbers and physical addresses). "He was selling the personal information on more than 200 million Americans," one secret service agent tells the site, "and allowing anyone to buy it for pennies apiece." Handling over 160,000 queries each month, Ngo's service "enabled approximately $1.1 billion in new account fraud at banks and retailers throughout the United States," according to government estimates, "and roughly $64 million in tax refund fraud with the states and the IRS..." Ngo said he wasn't surprised that his services were responsible for so much financial damage. But he was utterly unprepared to hear about the human toll. Throughout the court proceedings, Ngo sat through story after dreadful story of how his work had ruined the financial lives of people harmed by his services... "[D]uring my case, the federal court received like 13,000 letters from victims who complained they lost their houses, jobs, or could no longer afford to buy a home or maintain their financial life because of me. That made me feel really bad, and I realized I'd been a terrible person." Even as he bounced from one federal detention facility to the next, Ngo always seemed to encounter ID theft victims wherever he went, including prison guards, healthcare workers and counselors. "When I was in jail at Beaumont, Texas I talked to one of the correctional officers there who shared with me a story about her friend who lost her identity and then lost everything after that," Ngo recalled. "Her whole life fell apart. I don't know if that lady was one of my victims, but that story made me feel sick. I know now that was I was doing was just evil." The article says Ameria's secret service describes Ngo "as someone who caused more material financial harm to more Americans than any other convicted cybercriminal." "Ngo was recently deported back to his home country after serving more than seven years in prison for running multiple identity theft services. He now says he wants to use his experience to convince other cybercriminals to use their skills for good..."

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Cory Doctorow's New Book Explains 'How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism'

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - N, 2020-08-30 12:34
Blogger/science fiction writer Cory Doctorow (also a former EFF staffer and activist) has just published How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism — a new book which he's publishing free online. In a world swamped with misinformation and monopolies, Doctorow says he's knows what's missing from our proposed solutions: If we're going to break Big Tech's death grip on our digital lives, we're going to have to fight monopolies. That may sound pretty mundane and old-fashioned, something out of the New Deal era, while ending the use of automated behavioral modification feels like the plotline of a really cool cyberpunk novel... But trustbusters once strode the nation, brandishing law books, terrorizing robber barons, and shattering the illusion of monopolies' all-powerful grip on our society. The trustbusting era could not begin until we found the political will — until the people convinced politicians they'd have their backs when they went up against the richest, most powerful men in the world. Could we find that political will again...? That's the good news: With a little bit of work and a little bit of coalition building, we have more than enough political will to break up Big Tech and every other concentrated industry besides. First we take Facebook, then we take AT&T/WarnerMedia. But here's the bad news: Much of what we're doing to tame Big Tech instead of breaking up the big companies also forecloses on the possibility of breaking them up later... Allowing the platforms to grow to their present size has given them a dominance that is nearly insurmountable — deputizing them with public duties to redress the pathologies created by their size makes it virtually impossible to reduce that size. Lather, rinse, repeat: If the platforms don't get smaller, they will get larger, and as they get larger, they will create more problems, which will give rise to more public duties for the companies, which will make them bigger still. We can work to fix the internet by breaking up Big Tech and depriving them of monopoly profits, or we can work to fix Big Tech by making them spend their monopoly profits on governance. But we can't do both. We have to choose between a vibrant, open internet or a dominated, monopolized internet commanded by Big Tech giants that we struggle with constantly to get them to behave themselves... Big Tech wired together a planetary, species-wide nervous system that, with the proper reforms and course corrections, is capable of seeing us through the existential challenge of our species and planet. Now it's up to us to seize the means of computation, putting that electronic nervous system under democratic, accountable control. With "free, fair, and open tech" we could then tackle our other urgent problems "from climate change to social change" — all with collective action, Doctorow argues. And "The internet is how we will recruit people to fight those fights, and how we will coordinate their labor. "Tech is not a substitute for democratic accountability, the rule of law, fairness, or stability — but it's a means to achieve these things."

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Texas A&M Professor Accused of Secretly Collaborating With China Amid NASA Work

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2020-08-29 23:34
CNBC reports: A Texas A&M professor was charged with conspiracy, making false statements and wire fraud on allegations that he was secretly collaborating with the Chinese government while conducting research for NASA, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said Monday... "Once again, we have witnessed the criminal consequences that can arise from undisclosed participation in the Chinese government's talent program," Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers said in a statement. "The Department of Justice will continue seeking to bring participation in these talent programs to light and to expose the exploitation of our nation and our prized research institutions," he added. The DOJ has previously described China's Thousand Talents Plan as a tool of the Chinese Communist Party to "attract, recruit, and cultivate high-level scientific talent in furtherance of China's scientific development, economic prosperity and national security." Through this program, the Chinese government would "often reward individuals for stealing proprietary information," the DOJ said. "While 1.4 million foreign researchers and academics are here in the U.S. for the right reasons, the Chinese Talents Program exploits our open and free universities," said Ryan Patrick, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas, adding that ties to the Chinese government must be disclosed. The criminal complaint accuses the professor of trying to "leverage NASA grant resources to further the research of Chinese institutions" and "gain access to the unique resources of the International Space Station."

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Tesla, Intel, and Others Urge America's FTC to Oppose Qualcomm Ruling

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2020-08-29 22:37
Tesla, Ford, Honda, Daimler, and Intel have asked America's Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to fight a recent court ruling in favour of Qualcomm, reports the BBC: Qualcomm has a practice of requiring customers to sign patent licence agreements before selling them chips. Such practices have drawn accusations the firm is stifling competition... According to Glyn Moody, a journalist specialising in tech policy, the car industry is bothered by Qualcomm's patent practices because "cars are essentially becoming computers on wheels", as the industry continues to develop more advanced connected cars. In the future, it is hoped that connected cars will use 5G processors to connect them to the internet. Carmakers have seen this battle over 4G and are worried it will cement the firm's position as the battle for dominance over 5G technology advances. "This is a completely different world than the one [carmakers] are used to, so they're suddenly faced with dealing with computer standards and computer patents, which is a big problem for them as they don't have any. So if they have to start licensing this stuff, it's going to get expensive for them," Mr. Moody told the BBC... Prof Mark Lemley of Stanford Law School is director of the Stanford Program in Law, Science and Technology. He has been following Qualcomm's various court cases for several years. "Qualcomm made a commitment that it would licence its chips on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, because they wanted their chips to be included in the industry standards, and then they created a structure to avoid doing this," he said. "I think they are in fact violating the antitrust laws."

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American Sleep Medicine Professionals Call For an End to Daylight Saving Time

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2020-08-29 21:39
CNET reports: Twice a year most of the U.S. stumbles around in confusion while missing appointments, resetting their clocks and grumbling about daylight saving time. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine thinks we should knock that nonsense off and just stick with standard time year-round. The AASM released a position statement this week as an accepted paper in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine calling for an end to daylight saving time... The professional organization represents sleep medicine professionals and accredits sleep medicine facilities. "Permanent, year-round standard time is the best choice to most closely match our circadian sleep-wake cycle," said lead author M. Adeel Rishi, a sleep specialist with the Mayo Clinic and vice chair of the AASM Public Safety Committee. "Daylight saving time results in more darkness in the morning and more light in the evening, disrupting the body's natural rhythm." Studies have pointed to health risks connected to daylight saving time and the sleep disruptions it causes. The AASM called out stroke risks, stress reactions and an increase in motor vehicles crashes, particularly in relation to the springtime clock change. "Because the adoption of permanent standard time would be beneficial for public health and safety, the AASM will be advocating at the federal level for this legislative change," said AASM president Kannan Ramar in a release on Thursday.

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Your Browsing History Can Uniquely Identify You

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2020-08-29 20:34
An anonymous reader writes: Researchers from Mozilla report in a study that web browsing histories (the lists of user visited websites) are uniquely identifying users (PDF). In their study that was the case for 99% of users. Treating web browsing histories like fingerprints, the researchers analysed how the users can be reidentified just based on the coarsened list of user-visited websites. In doing so they upheld and confirmed a previous study from 2012, prompting the author of the original study to say that web browsing histories are now personal data subject to privacy regulations like the GDPR. Sensitivity of web browsing history data questions the laws allowing ISPs to sell web browsing histories. The now-vindicated author of the 2012 study added this emphatic note in their blog post. "Web browsing histories are personal data. Deal with it."

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Report: Massive US Spy Satellite May 'Hoover Up' Cellphone Calls

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2020-08-29 18:34
Launching today is America's classified NROL-44 spy satellite, which German public broadcaster DW calls "a massive, open secret": NROL-44 is a huge signals intelligence, or SIGINT, satellite, says David Baker, a former NASA scientist who worked on Apollo and Shuttle missions, has written numerous books, including U.S. Spy Satellites and is editor of SpaceFlight magazine. "SIGINT satellites are the core of national government, military security satellites. They are massive things for which no private company has any purpose," says Baker... "It weighs more than five tons. It has a huge parabolic antenna which unfolds to a diameter of more than 100 meters in space, and it will go into an equatorial plane of Earth at a distance of about 36,000 kilometers (22,000 miles)," says Baker... Spy satellites "hoover up" of hundreds of thousands of cell phone calls or scour the dark web for terrorist activity. "The move from wired communication to digital and wireless is a godsend to governments because you can't cut into wires from a satellite, but you can literally pick up cell phone towers which are radiating this stuff into the atmosphere. It takes a massive antenna, but you're able to sit over one spot and listen to all the communications traffic," says Baker... Some people worry about congestion in space, or satellites bumping into each other, and the threat of a collision causing space debris that could damage other satellites or knock out communications networks. But that may have benefits, too — little bits of spy satellite can hide in all that mess and connect wirelessly to create a "virtual satellite," says Baker. "There are sleeper satellites which look like debris. You launch all the parts separately and disperse them into various orbits. So, you would have sensors on one bit, an amplifier on another bit, a processor on another, and they'll be orbiting relatively immersed in space debris." "Space debris is very good for the space defense industry," says Baker, "because the more there is, the more you can hide in it."

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Thousands of Pirates Tricked Into Downloading Fake 'Tenet' Torrents

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2020-08-29 09:00
The official premiere of Tenet has drawn many people to the movie theaters this week. On pirate sites, there's been plenty of interest too, as thousands of people are being tricked into downloading fake copies. Pirates are not the only ones being fooled though, as Warner Bros. has its eyes set on fake releases too. TorrentFreak reports: All around the world, millions of people have waited in anticipation for the release of Christopher Nolan's sci-fi thriller 'Tenet.' The film was initially scheduled to be released in July but, after several pandemic-related delays, Warner Bros. moved the premiere ahead to the end of August. [...] According to one anti-piracy expert, Tenet's release has all the ingredients for a "perfect storm for piracy." This prediction prompted us to take a look at how Tenet is doing on pirate sites today. This question is not hard to answer, as there is no 'real' pirated copy of the film out there. Instead, sites are overwhelmed with fake Tenet releases. We didn't have to look far. Most torrent sites and other download portals have plenty of Tenet copies. Or at least, that's what uploaders lead users to believe. This includes The Pirate Bay, which faces a moderation backlog, by the looks of it. Most seasoned pirates will know how to avoid these fake torrents. That said, major titles such as Tenet often attract the attention of many novice users too, who will undoubtedly be disappointed. And not just because they can't see the film. These suspicious releases can lead to all sorts of malware, viruses, and worse. The two we downloaded appeared relatively harmless. They included a 700MB video file that shows a still image, asking people to check the readme file. The readme message itself sends people to a suspicious site that requests credit card details "for verification purposes." Needless to say, we declined that offer.

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FTC Probes Huge Financial Data Broker Yodlee

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2020-08-29 00:50
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has sought investigative documents from huge financial data seller Envestnet. Envestnet, via a company it acquired called Yodlee, sells the bank and credit card transaction data of tens of millions of Americans to investment and research firms, which show how much people spent and where. From a report: "In February 2020, we received a civil investigative demand from the FTC for documents and information relating to our data collection, assembly, evaluation, sharing, correction and deletion practices," an Envestnet document, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in February, reads. On Wednesday, lawyers filed a class action lawsuit against Envestnet and Yodlee in the Northern District of California, seeking damages for Yodlee allegedly selling individuals' data without taking proper security protections and sharing the data in unencrypted files.

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Apple Terminates Epic's App Store Account Following Legal Dispute Between the Two Companies

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2020-08-28 22:50
As previously promised by Apple, Epic's App Store account has now been terminated due to the legal dispute between the two companies after Apple removed Fortnite from the iOS App Store. Epic Games still had a few apps available for iOS besides Fortnite, but they were all removed today. From a report: Fortnite for iOS was updated earlier this month with a new option that allowed users to purchase in-game items directly through Epic's payment system instead of using Apple's In-App Purchases. Once Apple removed Fortnite from the App Store, Epic Games started a public campaign and a legal battle against Apple, which led the Cupertino-based company to announce that it would terminate Epic's developer account. That's exactly what Apple did this Friday, August 28. The App Store now shows an alert saying "this app is currently not available in your country or region" when you try to access Epic's profile or any of their apps through a direct link, such as one from Infinity Blade Stickers app.

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Japan's Longest-Serving PM, Shinzo Abe, Resigns For Health Reasons

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2020-08-28 22:12
Late last night, it was rumored that Japan's longest-serving prime minister, Shinzo Abe, would step down due to his struggle with ulcerative colitis. Abe confirmed the reports this morning, telling reporters that it was "gut wrenching" to leave many of his goals unfinished. He also apologized for stepping down during the pandemic. The Associated Press reports: Abe has had ulcerative colitis since he was a teenager and has said the condition was controlled with treatment. Concerns about his health began this summer and grew this month when he visited a Tokyo hospital two weeks in a row for unspecified health checkups. He is now on a new treatment that requires IV injections, he said. While there is some improvement, there is no guarantee that it will cure his condition and so he decided to step down after treatment Monday, he said. "It is gut wrenching to have to leave my job before accomplishing my goals," Abe said Friday, mentioning his failure to resolve the issue of Japanese abducted years ago by North Korea, a territorial dispute with Russia and a revision of Japan's war-renouncing constitution. He said his health problem was under control until earlier this year but was found to have worsened in June when he had an annual checkup. "Faced with the illness and treatment, as well as the pain of lacking physical strength ... I decided I should not stay on as prime minister when I'm no longer capable of living up to the people's expectations with confidence," Abe said at a news conference. Slashdot reader shanen writes: [...] In theory, [Shinzo Abe] was the supreme leader of one of the most important countries in the technological world. In practice, not so much? At a minimum, the New Akiba is far different from the Akihabara of yore, but maybe it's just a chronological coincidence? They are making quite pretty COVID-19 sneeze pictures with the new Japanese supercomputer. I have to admit that either Abe hasn't accomplished that much or he's pretty bad at tooting his own horn. I would be surprised if anyone could articulate what Abe actually stood for even after all these years in the spotlight. Perhaps the funny part is that Abe was apparently just clinging to power to set a new endurance record as Prime Minister. He passed the old number one just a few days ago. But looking forward, I'm actually more interested in trigger effects. My current speculation is that Kishida will snag the ring and he's liable to come out much stronger against China. Xi was already annoyed and I am still expecting stock market turmoil in October, but this may make it worse. Further reading: Japan's Longest-Serving PM, Shinzo Abe, Quits In Bid To 'Escape' Potential Prosecution

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China Secretly Built a Vast New Infrastructure To Imprison Muslims

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2020-08-27 23:50
In a series of investigations, BuzzFeed News used satellite images to reveal 268 newly-built internment camps for Muslims in the Xinjiang region. Longtime Slashdot reader wiredog shares the reports with us. Part 1: China Secretly Built A Vast New Infrastructure To Imprison Muslims Part 2: What They Saw: Ex-Prisoners Detail The Horrors Of China's Detention Camps Part 3: Blanked Out Spots On China's Maps Helped Us Uncover Xinjiang's Camps Here's an excerpt from Part 1 of their investigation: China has secretly built scores of massive new prison and internment camps in the past three years, dramatically escalating its campaign against Muslim minorities even as it publicly claimed the detainees had all been set free. The construction of these purpose-built, high-security camps -- some capable of housing tens of thousands of people -- signals a radical shift away from the country's previous makeshift use of public buildings, like schools and retirement homes, to a vast and permanent infrastructure for mass detention. In the most extensive investigation of China's internment camp system ever done using publicly available satellite images, coupled with dozens of interviews with former detainees, BuzzFeed News identified more than 260 structures built since 2017 and bearing the hallmarks of fortified detention compounds. There is at least one in nearly every county in the far-west region of Xinjiang. During that time, the investigation shows, China has established a sprawling system to detain and incarcerate hundreds of thousands of Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other Muslim minorities, in what is already the largest-scale detention of ethnic and religious minorities since World War II. These forbidding facilities -- including several built or significantly expanded within the last year -- are part of the government's unprecedented campaign of mass detention of more than a million people, which began in late 2016. That year Chen Quanguo, the region's top official and Communist Party boss, whom the US recently sanctioned over human rights abuses, also put Muslim minorities -- more than half the region's population of about 25 million -- under perpetual surveillance via facial recognition cameras, cellphone tracking, checkpoints, and heavy-handed human policing. They are also subject to many other abuses, ranging from sterilization to forced labor. To detain thousands of people in short order, the government repurposed old schools and other buildings. Then, as the number of detainees swelled, in 2018 the government began building new facilities with far greater security measures and more permanent architectural features, such as heavy concrete walls and guard towers, the BuzzFeed News analysis shows. Prisons often take years to build, but some of these new compounds took less than six months, according to historical satellite data. The government has also added more factories within camp and prison compounds during that time, suggesting the expansion of forced labor within the region. Construction was still ongoing as of this month. BuzzFeed News identified 268 newly built compounds by cross-referencing blanked-out areas on Baidu Maps -- a Google Maps-like tool that's widely used in China -- with images from external satellite data providers. These compounds often contained multiple detention facilities.

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Facebook Sues Maker of Advertising SDK for Refusing To Participate in Audit

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2020-08-27 23:10
Facebook has filed lawsuits today in both the US and the UK against MobiBurn, a UK software company that provided advertising tools for mobile app developers. From a report: In particular, MobiBurn provided an advertising software development kit (SDK) that allowed app developers to embed ads inside their applications and monetize user behavior. But in a lawsuit filed today, Facebook claims the SDK contained malicious code that illegally collected the personal data of Facebook users. Facebook said the data was collected when users installed any mobile app that contained the MobiBurn advertising SDK. When this happened, the code would activate and collect a person's name, time zone, email address, and gender. "Security researchers first flagged MobiBurn's behavior to us as part of our data abuse bounty program," said Jessica Romero, Facebook's Director of Platform Enforcement and Litigation.

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'The Future of American Industry Depends On Open Source Tech'

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2020-08-27 22:30
An anonymous reader shares an opinion piece from Wired, written by Kevin Xu and Jordan Schneider. Xu is the author of Interconnected, investor and advisor of open source startups at OSS Capital, and served in the Obama White House. Schneider is the author of the ChinaTalk newsletter and host of the ChinaTalk podcast, posted on Lawfare. From the report: Open source is a technology development and distribution methodology, where the codebase and all development -- from setting a roadmap to building new features, fixing bugs, and writing documentation -- is done in public. A governing body (a group of hobbyists, a company, or a foundation) publicly manages this work, which is most often done in a public repository on either GitHub or GitLab. Open source has two important, and somewhat counterintuitive, advantages: speed and security. These practices lead to faster technological developments, because a built-in global community of developers help them mature, especially if the technology is solving a real problem. Top engineers also prefer to work with and on open source projects. Wrongly cast as secretive automatons, they are more often like artists, who prefer to learn, work, collaborate, and showcase what they've built in public, even when they are barely compensated for that work. But doesn't keeping a technology's codebase open make it more vulnerable to attack? In fact, exposing the codebase publicly for security experts and hackers to easily access and test is the best way to keep the technology secure and build trust with end users for the long haul. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and open source is that sunlight in technology. Linux, the operating system, and Kubernetes, the cloud container orchestration system, are two of the most prominent examples. [...] Using open source technology is now the fastest way new products get built and legacy technologies get replaced. Yet as US policymakers develop their industrial policy to compete with China, open source is conspicuously absent. By leaning on the advantages of open source, policymakers can pursue an industrial policy to help the US compete in the 21st century in line with our broader values. The alternative is to continue a top-down process that picks winners and losers based on not just technology but also political influence, which only helps individual firms secure market share, not sparking innovation more broadly. A few billion more dollars won't save Intel from its technical woes, but a healthier ecosystem leveraging open source technology and community would put the US in a better position for the future. Open source technology allows for vendor-neutrality. Whether you're a country or a company, if you use open source, you're not locked in to another company's technical stack, roadmap, or licensing agreements. After Linux was first created in 1991, it was widely adopted by large companies like Dell and IBM as a vendor neutral alternative to Microsoft's Windows operating system. In the future, chip designers won't be locked into Intel or ARM with RISC-V. With OpenRAN, 5G network builders won't be forced to buy from Huawei, Nokia, or Ericsson. [...] By doubling down on open source, America not only can address some of our most pressing technological challenges faster and more securely, but also revive relationships with our allies and deepen productive collaborations with the tech sector.

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Amazon announces Halo, a fitness band and app that scans your body and voice

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2020-08-27 20:00
Amazon is getting into the health gadget market with a new fitness band and subscription service called Halo. From a report: Unlike the Apple Watch or even most basic Fitbits, the Amazon Halo band doesn't have a screen. The app that goes along with it comes with the usual set of fitness tracking features along with two innovative -- and potentially troubling -- ideas: using your camera to create 3D scans for body fat and listening for the emotion in your voice. The Halo band will cost $99.99 and the service (which is required for Halo's more advanced features) costs $3.99 per month. Amazon is launching it as an invite-only early access program today with an introductory price of $64.99 that includes six months of the service for free. The Halo service is a separate product that isn't part of Amazon Prime. The lack of a screen on the Halo band is the first indicator that Amazon is trying to carve out a niche for itself that's focused a little less on sports and exercise and a little more on lifestyle changes. Alongside cardio, sleep, body fat, and voice tone tracking, a Halo subscription will offer a suite of "labs" developed by partners. They're short challenges designed to improve your health habits -- like meditation, improving your sleep habits, or starting up basic exercise routines.

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DOJ Finally Starts Process of Investigating Nursing Home Deaths From COVID-19

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2020-08-27 12:00
onyxruby writes: The DOJ has finally launched the precursor to an investigation into the mass deaths of senior citizens in nursing homes and long term care facilities. Roughly half of all COVID-19 deaths in the United Stated have occurred in nursing homes. The governors of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan are being requested to provide information to the DOJ. This will be used to determine if a formal investigation into the deaths of tens of thousands of elderly patients will be launched. From the release: "According to the Centers for Disease Control, New York has the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in the United States, with 32,592 victims, many of them elderly. New York's death rate by population is the second highest in the country with 1,680 deaths per million people. New Jersey's death rate by population is 1,733 deaths per million people -- the highest in the nation. In contrast, Texas's death rate by population is 380 deaths per million people; and Texas has just over 11,000 deaths, though its population is 50 percent larger than New York and has many more recorded cases of COVID-19 -- 577,537 cases in Texas versus 430,885 cases in New York. Florida's COVID-19 death rate is 480 deaths per million; with total deaths of 10,325 and a population slightly larger than New York. The Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division is evaluating whether to initiate investigations under the federal 'Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act' (CRIPA), which protects the civil rights of persons in state-run nursing homes, among others. The Civil Rights Division seeks to determine if the state orders requiring admission of COVID-19 patients to nursing homes is responsible for the deaths of nursing home residents." In other COVID-19 related news, Slashdot reader schwit1 shares a report from The Wall Street Journal, reporting that Abbott has been given emergency use authorization for a rapid antigen test. "They say: [it takes 5 minutes and costs only $5]," writes schwit1. "Greater than 95% sensitivity and no machine or lab required, adding they have the ability to make 50 million tests per month by October.

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Microsoft's TikTok Deal Reportedly Ballooned After Trump Intervened

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2020-08-27 05:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: Microsoft's acquisition talks with TikTok and its Chinese parent company ByteDance "ballooned" this summer after President Donald Trump intervened, according to a report from The New York Times, citing people familiar with the situation. ByteDance is being forced to sell TikTok's U.S. business by the Trump administration, which says the app's current ties to China make it a national security threat. An executive order signed by Trump on Aug. 6 means a sale must go through before Sept. 15. However, TikTok sued the U.S. government on Monday, alleging it was deprived of due process. The lawsuit could delay the ban, giving TikTok more time to get a better deal for the sale. When the deal talks began, Microsoft is said to have been reluctant to do any kind of large TikTok acquisition, due in part to the rising tensions between the U.S. and China, according to the Times report. However, a minority stake in the wildly popular video sharing app was viewed positively as it may lead to TikTok ditching Google Cloud, which it currently uses, and signing up to Microsoft Azure, instantly making it one of Microsoft's largest cloud customers. TikTok could also be integrated with Microsoft's $7 billion advertising business. Microsoft issued a statement on Aug. 2 about its pursuit to buy TikTok's U.S. business. However, on Aug, 3, Trump said he'd rather Microsoft, valued at $1.6 trillion, purchase the app that is used by 100 million Americans in its entirety. "I think buying 30% is complicated," Trump told reporters in the Cabinet Room at the White House. There are now several other bidders competing with Microsoft, with the main one being enterprise software firm Oracle. Netflix and Twitter have also been contacted by bankers and investors, but it's not clear if they're interested, according to the Times. In any case, deal talks between the parties have "morphed into a big, messy, political soap opera," according to the report.

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Clearview AI CEO Says 'Over 2,400 Police Agencies' Are Using Its Facial Recognition Software

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2020-08-27 02:45
More than 2,400 police agencies have entered contracts with Clearview AI, a controversial facial recognition firm, according to comments made by Clearview AI CEO Hoan Ton-That in an interview with Jason Calacanis on YouTube. The Verge reports: The hour-long interview references an investigation by The New York Times published in January, which detailed how Clearview AI scraped data from sites including Facebook, YouTube, and Venmo to build its database. The scale of that database and the methods used to construct it were already controversial before the summer of protests against police violence. "It's an honor to be at the center of the debate now and talk about privacy," Ton-That says in the interview, going on to call the Times investigation "actually extremely fair." "Since then, there's been a lot of controversy, but fundamentally, this is such a great tool for society," Ton-That says. Ton-That also gave a few more details on how the business runs. Clearview is paid depending on how many licenses a client adds, among other factors, but Ton-That describes the licenses as "pretty inexpensive, compared to what's come previously" in his interview. Ton-That ballparks Clearview's fees as $2,000 a year for each officer with access. According to Ton-That, Clearview AI is primarily used by detectives. You can watch the full interview here.

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