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Uber Loses Legal Test Case Over Language

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2017-03-03 16:45
Ride-hailing service Uber lost a court battle on Friday to stop a London regulator from forcing private hire drivers to prove their reading and writing skills in English, the latest setback for the firm in London which could now lose some workers. From a report: The ride-hailing app went to court after Transport for London (TfL) said that drivers should have to prove their ability to communicate in English. Uber argued that the standard of reading and writing required by the test was too high. The US firm said the test was "unfair and disproportionate" and it would appeal against the court's decision. The ruling will also apply to all minicab firms in London. "TfL are entitled to require private hire drivers to demonstrate English language compliance," said Judge John Mitting as he rejected Uber's claim. Tom de la Mare QC, for Uber and the drivers, told the judge that the language requirement would result in 70,000 applicants failing to obtain a licence over three years. The proposals would have a disproportionate impact on drivers from countries where English was not generally spoken and give rise to "indirect discrimination on grounds of race and nationality."

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Mike Pence Used His AOL Email For Indiana State Business -- and It Got Hacked

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2017-03-03 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Vice President Mike Pence used a personal AOL email account to conduct sensitive state business -- including issues related to homeland security -- as the governor of Indiana, according to a report from The Indianapolis Star. Not only that, but Pence's email account was also compromised last year, the report reveals. Because personal email accounts are not subject to same types of public transparency laws, it's up to the official and his or her transition staff to hand over any sensitive state-related messages for archiving. Emails from a state account are automatically stored on state servers and subject to public records requests. Pence's office claims the contents of his personal AOL account used for state business are in fact in the process of being archived. A larger concern, however, is security. By using a private AOL account to conduct sensitive state matters, Pence could have exposed sensitive state business. In the hacking incident last year, Pence's email account was compromised by a scammer who used it to try and extort money from members of his contact list by claiming Pence and his wife were stranded in the Philippines, The Indianapolis Star reports. This hack didn't appear to have had been designed specifically to breach Pence's office, which made clear that his AOL account could be compromised by relatively benign breaching techniques designed by spammers and low-level hackers. It is not illegal in Indiana to own and use a personal account while in office, nor is it against the law to handle work-related matters from a personal account -- so long as those emails are in some way archived. However, the Star reports that Pence made no efforts to preserve his AOL emails under after he left office and is only just now doing months after public records requests were first made. "Similar to previous governors, during his time as governor of Indiana, Mike Pence maintained a state email account and a personal email account," reads a statement given to the The Indianapolis Star. "As governor, Mr. Pence fully complied with Indiana law regarding email use and retention. Government emails involving his state and personal accounts are being archived by the state consistent with Indiana law, and are being managed according to Indiana's Access to Public Records Act."

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Virginia Becomes First State To Legalize Delivery Robots

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2017-03-03 01:20
According to Recode, Virginia is the first state to pass legislation allowing delivery robots to operate on sidewalks and crosswalks across the state. The law (HB 2016) was signed by the governor last Friday and will go into effect on July 1. Recode reports: The two Virginia lawmakers who sponsored the bill, Ron Villanueva and Bill DeSteph, teamed up with Starship Technologies, an Estonian-based ground delivery robotics company, to draft the legislation. Robots operating under the new law won't be able to exceed 10 miles per hour or weigh over 50 pounds, but they will be allowed to rove autonomously. The law doesn't require robots to stay within line of sight of a person in control, but a person is required to at least remotely monitor the robot and take over if it goes awry. Robots are only allowed on streets in a crosswalk. Municipalities in the state are allowed to regulate how robots will operate locally, like if a city council wants to impose a stricter speed limit or keep them out entirely.

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Uber Ex-engineer Who Alleged Sexism Retains Lawyer

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2017-03-02 23:01
Marco della Cava and Jessica Guynn, writing for USA Today: The former Uber engineer whose critical blog post has stirred a storm of controversy for the ride-hailing giant has retained an attorney, charging that her former employer is blaming her for a rash of app deletions. Susan Fowler, whose Feb. 19 essay detailed myriad examples of sexism, tweeted Thursday that "Uber names/blames me for account deletes, and has a different law firm - not Holders (sic) - investigating me."

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AI Scientists Gather to Plot Doomsday Scenarios

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2017-03-02 22:41
Dina Bass, reporting for Bloomberg: Artificial intelligence boosters predict a brave new world of flying cars and cancer cures. Detractors worry about a future where humans are enslaved to an evil race of robot overlords. Veteran AI scientist Eric Horvitz and Doomsday Clock guru Lawrence Krauss, seeking a middle ground, gathered a group of experts in the Arizona desert to discuss the worst that could possibly happen -- and how to stop it. Their workshop took place last weekend at Arizona State University with funding from Tesla co-founder Elon Musk and Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn. Officially dubbed "Envisioning and Addressing Adverse AI Outcomes," it was a kind of AI doomsday games that organized some 40 scientists, cyber-security experts and policy wonks into groups of attackers -- the red team -- and defenders -- blue team -- playing out AI-gone-very-wrong scenarios, ranging from stock-market manipulation to global warfare.

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A Norwegian Website Is Making Readers Pass a Quiz Before Commenting

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2017-03-02 16:41
Joseph Lichterman, writing for Nieman Lab: Two weeks ago, NRKbeta, the tech vertical of the Norwegian public broadcaster NRK, published an explainer about a proposed new digital surveillance law in the country. Digital security is a controversial topic, and the conversation around security issues can become heated. But the conversation in the comments of the article was respectful and productive: Commenters shared links to books and other research, asked clarifying questions, and offered constructive feedback. The team at NRKbeta attributes the civil tenor of its comments to a feature it introduced last month. On some stories, potential commenters are now required to answer three basic multiple-choice questions about the article before they're allowed to post a comment. The goal is to ensure that the commenters have actually read the story before they discuss it.

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Can Technology Prevent Cops From Forgetting To Turn On Their Body Cameras?

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2017-03-02 09:00
tedlistens writes from a report via Fast Company: Axon, Taser's growing police camera division, has announced a new wireless sensor for gun and Taser holsters that can detect when a weapon is drawn and automatically activate all nearby cameras. The sensor, Signal Sidearm, is part of a suite of products aimed at reducing the possibility that officers will fail to switch on their cameras during encounters with the public. It happens more than it should: Last year in Chicago, for instance, an officer apparently forgot to turn on his camera before fatally shooting and killing an unarmed 18-year-old named Paul O'Neal. Taser isn't alone in trying to address this and other technical and procedural issues with cameras, but reformers emphasize that just as body cameras won't solve problems with policing, new sensors won't prevent officers from failing to record. Fast Company adds: "Automatically-activated cameras won't be completely effective at providing oversight of police encounters: As happened when Baton Rouge police shot Alton Sterling last year, cameras can fall off during physical encounters, a problem that Taser has worked to address. They can also malfunction, or videos can be deleted. And civil liberties advocates complain that cameras are only as effective as the rules that guide their use: [...] the ACLU has complained that current city policy allowing officers to switch cameras off for privacy reasons gives police too much discretion over when to record. Other issues with cameras being resolved at the local level include the heavy costs of cloud video storage, and the question of whether officers are allowed to view their footage immediately after violent encounters -- a privilege not extended to the public."

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Marissa Mayer Is Giving Yahoo Employees Her Annual Bonus To Make Up For Massive Hacks

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2017-03-02 04:45
Following two separate security breaches revealed last year that compromised the personal information of more than 1.5 billion users, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer announced today via her Tumblr page that she will be redistributing her annual bonus and equity stock grant to Yahoo employees. The Verge reports: Relevant to Mayer's admission here, an independent committee Yahoo brought on to investigate the hacks found the company to be at fault for not sufficiently responding to the security incidents. "While significant additional security measures were implemented in response to those incidents, it appears certain senior executives did not properly comprehend or investigate, and therefore failed to act sufficiently upon, the full extent of knowledge known internally by the company's information security team," reads the committee's findings, which are contained in Yahoo's 10-K report for 2016. As a result of the hacks, Yahoo's top lawyer, Ron Bell, has been fired, Recode reported today. Mayer has accumulated about $162 million during the five years she's spent as the company's CEO in both salary and stock awards, according to CNN. She's also due about $55 million in severance if she decides to leave the company following its acquisition by Verizon. So it's safe to say her bonus would involve a hefty amount of money now going to Yahoo employees who have weathered the storm throughout Mayer's tumultuous tenure.

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Court Throws Out $533 Million Verdict Against Apple Over Data Storage Patent

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2017-03-02 04:05
An anonymous reader quotes a report from 9to5Mac: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit made a decision today to throw out the verdict of a two-year old legal case against Apple based on data storage patents. The original verdict reached by a Texas jury stuck Apple with $533 million in damages. Smartflash LLC targeted game developers who largely all settled out of court in 2014, but Apple defended its use of data storage management and payment processing technology in court. Reuters has more on the new developments: "The trial judge vacated the large damages award a few months after a Texas federal jury imposed it in February 2015, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said on Wednesday the judge should have ruled Smartflash's patents invalid and set aside the verdict entirely. A unanimous three-judge appeals panel said Smartflash's patents were too 'abstract' and did not go far enough in describing an actual invention to warrant protection."

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Yahoo Says Forged Cookie Attack Accessed About 32 Million Accounts

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2017-03-02 03:35
It looks like Yahoo has yet to reach its lowest point. The company revealed today via a regulatory filing that about 32 million user accounts were accessed by hackers in the past two years using forged cookies that allowed them to log into their accounts without passwords. According to Yahoo, the attack is likely connected to the "same state-sponsored actor believed to be responsible for the 2014 [breach]," which resulted in the theft of user information from 500 million user accounts. CNET reports: "Based on the investigation, we believe an unauthorized third party accessed the company's proprietary code to learn how to forge certain cookies," Yahoo said in its annual filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company went on to say that forged cookies have been invalidated to prevent further use on accounts. Yahoo revealed the attack in December but the news was largely overlooked because the company announced at the same time it had identified a separate security breach that took place in 2013 in which hackers stole information on 1 billion Yahoo accounts. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer also revealed today that she is giving yahoo employees her annual bonus to make up for the massive hacks.

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UK: New Drivers Caught Using a Phone Will Lose Their License

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2017-03-02 03:05
Under new rules in England, Scotland and Wales, drivers caught using a phone within two years of passing their test will have their license revoked. BBC reports: Penalties for using a phone at the wheel double from March 1 to six points and a 200 British pound fine. New drivers who get six points or more must retake their practical and theory. More experienced drivers can be banned if they get 12 points in three years. Can I check social media or texts if I'm queuing in traffic or stopped at traffic lights? No -- a hand held phone cannot be used, even if stopped at lights. Texting and scrolling social media (even if the phone is mounted on a hands-free holder) is distracting and dangerous. It doesn't come under the handheld mobile phone law but the police may decide to charge you with a number of other offenses. Can I use my phone to listen to music, play podcasts or watch video clips? You can't watch video clips -- not even if your phone is mounted in a hands-free holder. You can use your phone to listen to music and podcasts but only if your phone is in a hands-free holder or connected by Bluetooth. However, just as you can be distracted by the noise of a car radio, if it affects your ability to drive safely, you could still be prosecuted by the police. Can I use my phone's sat nav? Yes -- as long as the phone is mounted in a hands-free holder. If it's in your hands, it's illegal. However, if you are distracted by the sat nav and it affects your ability to drive safely, you could still be prosecuted by the police.

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IBM Gets a Patent On 'Out-of-Office' Email Messages -- In 2017

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2017-03-02 01:45
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued IBM a -- what the Electronic Frontier Foundation calls -- "stupefyingly mundane" patent on e-mail technology. U.S. Patent No. 9,547,842, "Out-of-office electronic mail messaging system" was filed in 2010 and granted about six weeks ago. Ars Technica reports: The "invention" represented in the '842 patent is starkly at odds with the real history of technology, accessible in this case via a basic Google search. EFF lawyer Daniel Nazer, who wrote about the '842 patent in this month's "Stupid Patent of the Month" blog post, points to an article on a Microsoft publicity page that talks about quirky out-of-office e-mail culture dating back to the 1980s, when Microsoft marketed its Xenix e-mail system (the predecessor to today's Exchange.) IBM offers one feature that's even arguably not decades old: the ability to notify those writing to the out-of-office user some days before the set vacation dates begin. This feature, similar to "sending a postcard, not from a vacation, but to let someone know you will go on a vacation," is a "trivial change to existing systems," Nazer points out. Nazer goes on to identify some major mistakes made during the examination process. The examiner never considered whether the software claims were eligible after the Supreme Court's Alice v. CLS Bank decision, which came in 2014, and in Nazer's view, the office "did an abysmal job" of looking at the prior art. "[T]he examiner considered only patents and patent applications," notes Nazer. The office "never considered any of the many, many, existing real-world systems that pre-dated IBM's application."

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Software Engineer Detained At JFK, Given Test To Prove He's An Engineer

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2017-03-01 23:45
New submitter mendred quotes a report from Mashable: Celestine Omin, a software engineer at Andela -- a tech startup that connects developers in Africa with U.S employers -- had a particularly unwelcoming reception when he deplaned at John F. Kennedy Airport and was given a test to prove he was actually a software engineer. A LinkedIn post detailing Omin's challenging experience explained that upon landing in New York after spending 24 miserable hours on a Qatar Airways flight, he was given some trouble about the short-term visa he obtained for his trip. According to the post, an unprepared and exhausted Omin waited in the airport for approximately 20 minutes before being questioned by a Customs and Border Protection officer about his occupation. After several questions were asked, he was reportedly brought to a small room and told to sit down, where he was left for another hour before another customs officer entered and resumed grilling him. Omin was instructed to answer the following questions: "Write a function to check if a Binary Search Tree is balanced," and "What is an abstract class, and why do you need it."

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White House Supports Renewal of Spy Law Without Reforms

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2017-03-01 23:05
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: The Trump administration does not want to reform an internet surveillance law to address privacy concerns, a White House official told Reuters on Wednesday, saying it is needed to protect national security. The announcement could put President Donald Trump on a collision course with Congress, where some Republicans and Democrats have advocated curtailing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, parts of which are due to expire at the end of the year. The FISA law has been criticized by privacy and civil liberties advocates as allowing broad, intrusive spying. It gained renewed attention following the 2013 disclosures by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden that the agency carried out widespread monitoring of emails and other electronic communications. Portions of the law, including a provision known as Section 702, will expire on Dec. 31 unless Congress reauthorizes them. Section 702 enables two internet surveillance programs called Prism and Upstream, classified details of which were revealed by Snowden. Democratic and Republican lawmakers have said reforms to Section 702 are needed, in part to ensure the privacy protections on Americans are not violated. The U.S. House of Representatives' Judiciary Committee met Wednesday to discuss possible changes to the law.

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Twitter To Get Even Harsher On Trolls

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2017-03-01 17:26
Twitter is cracking down even harder against trolls, including temporarily barring accounts that are harassing other users. From a report: In a blog posted Wednesday, Twitter's vice president of engineering, Ed Ho, announced more safety measures to stop abuse on its platform. One of the methods includes using the company's internal algorithms to identify problematic accounts and limiting certain account functions -- such as only allowing the aggressor to see their followers -- for a set period of time if they engaged in troublesome behavior. Twitter said it was also open to further action if the harassment continued. Other anti-trolling tools include new filters to let users see what kinds of content they want to view from certain accounts and well as allowing people to "mute" tweets based on keywords, phrases or entire conversations.

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NSA Risks Talent Exodus Amid Morale Slump, Trump Fears

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2017-03-01 16:45
Dustin Volz and Warren Strobel, writing for Reuters: The National Security Agency risks a brain-drain of hackers and cyber spies due to a tumultuous reorganization and worries about the acrimonious relationship between the intelligence community and President Donald Trump, according to current and former NSA officials and cybersecurity industry sources. Half-a-dozen cybersecurity executives told Reuters they had witnessed a marked increase in the number of U.S. intelligence officers and government contractors seeking employment in the private sector since Trump took office on Jan. 20. One of the executives, who would speak only on condition of anonymity, said he was stunned by the caliber of the would-be recruits. They are coming from a variety of government intelligence and law enforcement agencies, multiple executives said, and their interest stems in part from concerns about the direction of U.S intelligence agencies under Trump. Retaining and recruiting talented technical personnel has become a top national security priority in recent years as Russia, China, Iran and other nation states and criminal groups have sharpened their cyber offensive abilities. NSA and other intelligence agencies have long struggled to deter some of their best employees from leaving for higher-paying jobs in Silicon Valley and elsewhere.

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Congressional Candidate Brianna Wu Claims Moon-Colonizing Companies Could Destroy Cities By Dropping Rocks

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2017-03-01 12:00
Applehu Akbar quotes a report from Washington Times: A transgender-issues activist and Democratic candidate for Congress says the advent of the space tourism industry could give private corporations a "frightening amount of power" to destroy the Earth with rocks because of the Moon's military importance. Brianna Wu, a prominent "social justice warrior" in the "Gamergate" controversy who now is running for the House seat in Massachusetts' 8th District, suggested in a since-deleted tweet that companies could drop rocks from the Moon. "The moon is probably the most tactically valuable military ground for earth," the tweet said. "Rocks dropped from there have power of 100s of nuclear bombs." After users on social media questioned her scientific literacy, the congressional candidate clarified that the tweet was "talking about dropping [rocks] into our gravity well." Small space rocks can indeed do nuclear-weapons-scale damage if hitting the Earth at orbital speeds. But launching one from the moon, even setting aside issues of aiming, would still require escaping the satellite's gravitational field, a task that requires the power and thrust contained in a huge rocket.

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Americans Have Fewer TVs On Average Than They Did In 2009

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2017-03-01 05:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Americans went from having an average of 2.6 TVs per household in 2009 to having 2.3 TVs in 2015, according to survey data from the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA). The data comes from the agency's Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS), which has been conducted periodically since the 1970s to understand American energy use. The 2015 survey included 5,600 respondents who were contacted in person and then given an option to follow up by mail or online. A fine-detail report on the survey results is due to be released in April 2017. The latest data shows that in 2015, 2.6 percent of households had no TV at all, a jump from the previous four surveys in 2009, 2005, 2001, and 1997 in which a steady 1.2 to 1.3 percent of households didn't own a TV. The 2015 data also showed that the number of people with three TVs or more dropped in 2015. That year, 39 percent of households had more than three TVs, whereas 44 percent had more than three TVs in 2009. Interestingly, the number of households with one or two TVs increased in 2015 to 58 percent, from 54 percent in 2009.

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Severe SQL Injection Flaw Discovered In WordPress Plugin With Over 1 Million Installs

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2017-03-01 03:05
According to BleepingComputer, "A WordPress plugin installed on over one million sites has just fixed a severe SQL injection vulnerability that can allow attackers to steal data from a website's database." The plugin's name is NextGEN Gallery, which has its own set of plugins due to how successful it is. From the report: According to web security firm Sucuri, who discovered the NextGEN Gallery security issues, the first attack scenario can happen if a WordPress site owner activates the NextGEN Basic TagCloud Gallery option on his site. This feature allows site owners to display image galleries that users can navigate via tags. Clicking one of these tags alters the site's URL as the user navigates through photos. Sucuri says that an attack can modify link parameters and insert SQL queries that will be executed by the plugin when the attacker loads the malformed URL. This happens due to improper input sanitization in the URL parameters, a common problem with many WordPress and non-WordPress web applications. The second exploitation scenario can happen if website owners open their site for blog post submissions. Because attackers can create accounts on the site and submit a blog post/article for review, they can also insert malformed NextGEN Gallery shortcodes. Sucuri says the plugin's authors fixed this flaw in NextGEN Gallery 2.1.79.

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Samsung Chief Charged With Bribery and Embezzlement

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Śr, 2017-03-01 02:05
After a three-month investigation, the acting head of Samsung, Lee Jae-yong, has been charged with bribery and embezzlement in connection with the corruption scandal that led to the impeachment of South Korea's president Park Geun-hye. NPR reports: NPR's Elise Hu reported from Seoul that prosecutors announced the indictment after a three-month investigation: "Samsung acting head Lee Jae-Yong got ensnared after documents showed Samsung funneled some $36 million to the president's close confidant. Prosecutors say the money was paid to win government support of a controversial 2015 company merger. The merger did go through, after a vote of support from the government. In a statement, Samsung says it has not paid bribes or made improper requests to the government. Lee is currently in jail awaiting further proceedings in his case." Lee was arrested on Feb. 17, two months after President Park Geun-hye was impeached over allegations of corruption, influence-peddling and cult ties, as we reported. Those corruption allegations were directly tied to the charges brought against Lee, who also goes by the name Jay Y. Lee.

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