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Pedestrians, E-Scooters Are Clashing In the Struggle For Sidewalk Space

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - N, 2019-01-13 20:18
Slashdot reader mileshigh writes: Activists in California have filed a federal lawsuit alleging that parked scooters littering sidewalks interfere with sidewalk accessibility for people with multiple types of disabilities and violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Many people have been wondering when this would happen since California courts are notoriously friendly to ADA complaints and lawsuits. Realistically, this type of lawsuit may well be the Achilles' heel of scooter-sharing services, especially if they're granted class-action status as this lawsuit is requesting. Will likely be the first of many. "Without full use of the sidewalk and curb ramps at street intersections, persons with mobility and/or visual impairments have significant barriers in crossing from a pedestrian walkway to a street," the suit alleges. "This is exacerbated when the sidewalk itself is full of obstructions and no longer able to be fully and freely used by people with disabilities." The suit accuses the city of not maintaining streets and sidewalks in a way that doesn't discriminate against the disabled and allowing "dockless scooters used primarily for recreational purposes to proliferate unchecked throughout San Diego and to block safe and equal access for people with disabilities." The lawsuit also alleges the scooter companies have been allowed to "appropriate the public commons for their own profit."

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The US Government Has Amassed Terabytes of Internal WikiLeaks Data

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - N, 2019-01-13 16:14
An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from a Gizmodo report, written by national security reporter and transparency activist Emma Best: Late last year, the U.S. government accidentally revealed that a sealed complaint had been filed against Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks. Shortly before this was made public, the FBI reconfirmed its investigation of WikiLeaks was ongoing, and the Wall Street Journal reported that the Department of Justice was optimistic that it would be able to extradite Assange. Soon after, portions of sealed transcripts leaked that implicate WikiLeaks and Assange in directing hackers to target governments and corporations. The charges against Assange have not been officially revealed, though it's plausible that the offenses are related to Russian hacking and the DNC emails. The alleged offenses in the complaint notwithstanding, the government has an abundance of data to work with: over a dozen WikiLeaks' computers, hard drives, and email accounts, including those of the organization's current and former editors-in-chief, along with messages exchanged with alleged Russian hackers about DNC emails. Through a series of search warrants, subpoenas, equipment seizures, and cooperating witnesses, the federal government has collected internal WikiLeaks data covering the majority of the organization's period of operations, from 2009 at least through 2017. In some instances, the seized data has been returned and allegedly destroyed, such as in the case of David House, a technologist and friend of Chelsea Manning when she famously became a source for WikiLeaks. In others, the seized materials include communications between WikiLeaks and their sources. Some of these discussions show WikiLeaks discussing their other sources and specific identifying details about them. Other seizures gave authorities a deeper view of the internal workings of WikiLeaks, including one of the earliest known seizures of WikiLeaks-related data, executed on December 14, 2010, when the messages and user information of several WikiLeaks-linked Twitter accounts were ordered. This search-and-seizure order included direct messages associated with WikiLeaks and its founder, former Army private first class and WikiLeaks source Chelsea Manning, WikiLeaks editor Rop Gongrijp, former WikiLeaks associate Jacob Appelbaum, and former WikiLeaks associate and Icelandic MP Birgitta Jonsdottir, between November 1, 2009, and the order's execution.

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Should America Build a Virtual Border Wall? Or Just Crowdfund It...

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - N, 2019-01-13 02:39
As America's government faces its longest-ever shutdown over the president's demands for border wall funding, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has suggested "possible alternatives to a physical wall," according to one Silicon Valley newspaper: Among the president's justifications for a wall is to stop drugs from coming into the United States, so Pelosi proposed spending "hundreds of millions of dollars" for technology to scan cars for drugs, weapons and contraband at the border. "The positive, shall we say, almost technological wall that can be built is what we should be doing," Pelosi, D-San Francisco, said during her weekly press conference. That didn't go over well with Fight for the Future, a digital rights advocacy group that on Friday started a petition asking Democrats to drop plans for a "technological wall" that it says could threaten Fourth Amendment rights that guard against unreasonable searches and seizures. "Current border surveillance programs subject people to invasive and unconstitutional searches of their cell phones and laptops, location tracking, drone surveillance, and problematic watchlists," the group's petition says... In December, the Department of Homeland Security's Office of the Inspector General released a report that showed searches of electronic devices at the border were up nearly 50 percent in 2017. The report also found that border agents were not always following standard operating procedures for searches, including failing to properly document such searches. In addition, information copied by agents were not always deleted as required. The article also notes that Anduril Industries -- founded by Oculus Rift designer Palmer Luckey (and funded by Peter Thiel) -- is one of several companies already working on "a virtual border wall." CNN also reports on a GoFundMe campaign started by an Air Force veteran to simply crowdfund the construction of the wall. Though 340,747 people pledged over $20 million, it failed to reach its $1 billion goal, and is now pointing supporters to a newly-formed non-profit corporation -- named "We Build the Wall." Meanwhile, another 7,121 GoFundMe members have pledged $160,985 to a rival campaign raising money for ladders to climb over Trump's wall.

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California Lawmaker Wants to Ban Paper Receipts, Require Digital Ones

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - N, 2019-01-13 01:37
A California assemblyman has introduced a law barring retailers from printing paper receipts unless a customer requests one. Otherwise they'd be required to provide proof-or-purchase receipts "only in electronic form." : An anonymous reader quotes CNBC: Stores that give out printed receipts without first being asked by the customer could be subject to fines [of $25 per day, up to $300 per year].... Proponents of the bill say the legislation would help reduce waste as well as contaminants in the recycling stream from toxins often used to coat the paper-based receipts... Up to 10 million trees and 21 billion gallons of water are used annually in the U.S. to create receipts, according to Green America, a green ecology organization. It said receipts annually generate 686 million pounds of waste and 12 billion pounds of carbon dioxide, or the equivalent of 1 million cars on the road... Then again, the use of electronic receipts raises some privacy concerns since retailers usually require an email address for an electronic receipt and companies will then be able to potentially track and collect more data about customers. If the bill passes, digital receipts would become California's default option on January 1, 2022.

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German Police Ask Router Owners For Help In Identifying a Bomber's MAC Address

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2019-01-12 20:34
An anonymous reader quotes ZDNet: German authorities have asked the public for help in surfacing more details and potentially identifying the owner of a MAC address known to have been used by a bomber in late 2017... The MAC address is f8:e0:79:af:57:eb. Brandenburg police say it belongs to a suspect who tried to blackmail German courier service DHL between November 2017 and April 2018. The suspect demanded large sums of money from DHL and threatened to detonate bombs across Germany, at DHL courier stations, private companies, and in public spaces. [The bomb threats were real, but one caught fire instead of exploding, while the second failed to explode, albeit containing real explosives.] Investigators called in to negotiate with the bomber managed to exchange emails with the attacker on three occasions, on April 6, 2018, April 13, 2018, and April 14, 2018. One of the details obtained during these conversations was the bomber's MAC address, which based on the hardware industry's MAC address allocation tables, should theoretically belong to a Motorola phone... Now, they're asking router owners to check router access logs for this address, and report any sightings to authorities. Investigators want to know to what routers/networks the bomber has connected before and after the attacks, in order to track his movements and maybe gain an insight into his identity.

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Do Social Media Bots Have a Right To Free Speech?

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2019-01-12 19:34
One study found that 66% of tweets with links were posted by "suspected bots" -- with an even higher percentage for certain kinds of content. Now a new California law will require bots to disclose that they are bots. But does that violate the bots' freedom of speech, asks Laurent Sacharoff, a law professor at the University of Arkansas. "Even though bots are abstract entities, we might think of them as having free speech rights to the extent that they are promoting or promulgating useful information for the rest of us," Sacharoff says. "That's one theory of why a bot would have a First Amendment free speech right, almost independent of its creators." Alternatively, the bots could just be viewed as direct extensions of their human creators. In either case -- whether because of an independent right to free speech or because of a human creator's right -- Sacharoff says, "you can get to one or another nature of bots having some kind of free speech right." In previous Bulletin coverage, the author of the new California law dismisses the idea that the law violates free speech rights. State Sen. Robert Hertzberg says anonymous marketing and electioneering bots are committing fraud. "My point is, you can say whatever the heck you want," Hertzberg says. "I don't want to control one bit of the content of what's being said. Zero, zero, zero, zero, zero, zero. All I want is for the person who has to hear the content to know it comes from a computer. To me, that's a fraud element versus a free speech element." Sacharoff believes that the issue of bots and their potential First Amendment rights may one day have its day in court. Campaigns, he says, will find that bots are helpful and that their "usefulness derives from the fact that they don't have to disclose that they're bots. If some account is retweeting something, if they have to say, 'I'm a bot' every time, then it's less effective. So sure I can see some campaign seeking a declaratory judgment that the law is invalid," he says. "Ditto, I guess, [for] selling stuff on the commercial side."

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Car Manufacturers Want To Monitor Drivers Inside Their Cars

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2019-01-12 18:34
Startups are demonstrating "sensor technology that watches and analyzes drivers, passengers and objects in cars" reports Reuters -- a technology that "will mean enhanced safety in the short-term, and revenue opportunities in the future." SonicSpike shares their report: Whether by generating alerts about drowsiness, unfastened seat belts or wallets left in the backseat, the emerging technology aims not only to cut back on distracted driving and other undesirable behavior, but eventually help automakers and ride-hailing companies make money from data generated inside the vehicle... Data from the cameras is analyzed with image recognition software to determine whether a driver is looking at his cellphone or the dashboard, turned away, or getting sleepy, to cite a few examples... European car safety rating program Euro NCAP has proposed that cars with driver monitoring for 2020 should earn higher ratings... But automakers are more excited by the revenue possibilities when vehicle-generated data creates a more customized experience for riders, generating higher premiums, and lucrative tie-ins with third parties, such as retailers. "The reason (the camera) is going to sweep across the cabin is not because of distraction ... but because of all the side benefits," said Mike Ramsey, Gartner's automotive research director. "I promise you that companies that are trying to monetize data from the connected car are investigating ways to use eye-tracking technology...." Carmakers could gather anonymized data and sell it. A billboard advertiser might be eager to know how many commuters look at his sign, Ramsey said. Tracking the gaze of a passenger toward a store or restaurant could, fused with mapping and other software, result in a discount offered to that person. The Cadillac CT6 already has interior-facing cameras, Reuters reports, while Audi and Tesla "have developed systems but they are not currently activated." And this year Mazda, Subaru and Byton plan to introduce cameras that watch for inattentive drivers. But where will it end? One company's product combines five 2D cameras with AI technology to provide "in-vehicle scene understanding" which includes each passenger's height, weight, gender and posture. And while low on specifics, Reuters reports that several companies that sell driver-watching technologies "have already signed undisclosed deals for production year 2020 and beyond."

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Marriott Faces Multiple Class-Action Lawsuits Over Hotel Reservation Data Breach

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2019-01-12 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Vox: More than 150 people who previously stayed in Marriott properties are suing the hotel chain in a federal class-action lawsuit, claiming that Marriott didn't do enough to protect them from a data breach that exposed more than 300 million guests' personal information, including names, credit card information, and passport numbers. The suit, which was filed Maryland federal district court on January 9, claims that Marriott did not adequately protect guest information before the breach and, once the breach had been discovered, "failed to provide timely, accurate, and adequate notice" to guests whose information may have been obtained by hackers. According to the suit, Marriott's purchase of the Starwood properties [in 2016] is part of the problem. "This breach had been going on since 2014. In conducting due diligence to acquire Starwood, Marriott should have gone through and done an accounting of the cybersecurity of Starwood," Amy Keller, an attorney at DiCello Levitt & Casey who is representing the Marriott guests, told Vox. "In so doing, it should have caught -- at the very least -- that there was some suspicious activity concerning the database where a lot of consumer information was contained." Instead, Keller said, the breach continued for an additional two years after the acquisition, until Marriott caught it in September 2018. And even then, the suit claims, the company waited until November to tell guests about the breach.

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Government Shutdown: TLS Certificates Not Renewed, Many Websites Are Down

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2019-01-12 14:01
More than 80 TLS certificates used by US government websites have expired so far without being renewed, leaving some websites inaccessible to the public. From a report: NASA, the US Department of Justice, and the Court of Appeals are just some of the US government agencies currently impacted, according to Netcraft. The blame falls on the current US federal government shutdown caused by US President Donald Trump's refusal to sign any 2019 government budget bill that doesn't contain funding for a Mexico border wall he promised during his election campaign. This has resulted in hundreds of thousands of government workers being furloughed across all government agencies, including staff handling IT support and cybersecurity. As a result, government websites are dropping like flies, with no one being on hand to renew TLS certificates.

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Amazon Dash Buttons Ruled Illegal In Germany

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2019-01-12 03:10
Amazon Dash buttons have been ruled illegal in Germany for making it too easy to buy Amazon products. Germany consumer advocacy group, Verbraucherzentrale NRW, "complained that Amazon's terms enable the company to switch out an ordered product with something else, and the buttons break laws protecting shoppers from buying things they are not fully informed about," reports Gizmodo. From the report: At first the wifi-connected buttons enabled users to quickly buy basic home goods and groceries -- like detergent, paper towels, macaroni and cheese, and bottled water. But Amazon has since added dozens more, from Slim Jims to Red Bull to Calvin Kline underwear. "We are always open to innovation. But if innovation means that the consumer is put at a disadvantage and price comparisons are made difficult then we fight that," Wolfgang Schuldzinski, leader of Verbraucherzentrale NRW, said to in a public statement. The Munich court has sided with the organization, and ruled that the Dash buttons break consumer protection rules. The Verbraucherzentrale NRW statement suggests Amazon can't appeal the decision. But an Amazon spokesperson told Gizmodo that the company believes the button and its app don't violate German law, and Amazon is going to appeal. "The decision is not only against innovation, it also prevents customers from making an informed choice for themselves about whether a service like Dash Button is a convenient way for them to shop," the spokesperson said.

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Federal Shutdown May Send Millennial Workers To Exits

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - So, 2019-01-12 00:30
dcblogs writes: The federal government measures the "engagement" of its federal workforce once a year with a massive survey of 1.5 million employees. And what it has found is that most federal workers are very dedicated to their work. Its most recent survey -- the 2018 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey -- asked employees if they are "willing to put in extra effort to get their job done," 96% of the survey takers responded affirmatively. Moreover, 91% agreed with the statement that they "look for ways to do their jobs better," and 90% "believe their work is important." But this job dedication is being tested by the U.S. government shutdown, and most at risk of leaving are Millennial-age workers. Less than 6% of federal employees are under the age of 30 and represent half of all people who leave an agency within the first two years. The best employees have options, and "a major concern is that the brightest, hardest-working, and most capable, dedicated government employees may opt out of government service and take jobs in the private sector," Talya Bauer, professor of management at Portland State University in Oregon and president of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, said. The shutdown could hurt the reputation of the government as a good place to work, she said.

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Netflix Sued By 'Choose Your Own Adventure' Publishers Over Black Mirror: Bandersnatch

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2019-01-11 23:50
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Polygon: Netflix's first interactive movie, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch makes no bones about its Choose Your Own Adventure inspiration, and that's reportedly caught the eye of the series' original publisher. Chooseco, a publishing company specializing in children's books, is suing Netflix for infringing on the company's "Choose Your Own Adventure" trademark. According to the official complaint, Netflix has been in negotiations with Chooseco over a license for the series since 2016, but Chooseco says Netflix never actually gained permission to use it. After the release of Black Mirror: Bandersnatch late last month, Chooseco has filed a complaint against Netflix for $25 million in damages, as the company says that Netflix's new movie benefits from association with the Choose Your Own Adventure series, without the company ever receiving the trademark. Chooseco says it sent a cease-and-desist request to Netflix at least once over the Choose Your Own Adventure trademark in the past. Netflix has declined to comment on the complaint.

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Electric Scooter Rental Service Bird Sent a 'Notice of Claimed Infringement' To a News Site For Reporting On Lawful Re-use of Scooters

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2019-01-11 21:50
Bird, an electric scooter rental company, sent a "Notice of Claimed Infringement" to news blog Boing Boing for reporting about people doing legal things that Bird does not like. EFF reports: Electric scooters have swamped a number of cities across the US, many of the scooters carelessly discarded in public spaces. Bird, though, has pioneered a new way to pollute the commons by sending a meritless takedown letter to a journalist covering the issue. The company cites the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and implies that even writing about the issue could be illegal. It's not. Bird sent a "Notice of Claimed Infringement" over this article on Boing Boing, one of the Internet's leading sources of news and commentary. The article reports on the fact that large numbers of Bird scooters are winding up in impound lots, and that it's possible to lawfully purchase these scooters when cities auction them off, and then to lawfully modify those scooters so they work without the Bird app. The letter is necessarily vague about exactly how the post infringed any of Bird's rights, and with good reason: the post does no such thing, as we explain in a letter on behalf of Happy Mutants LLC, which owns and operates Boing Boing. The post reports on lawful activity, nothing more. In fact, the First Amendment would have protected it even if reported on illegal conduct or advocated for people to break the law. (For instance, a person might lawfully advocate that an electric scooter startup should violate local parking ordinances. Hypothetically.) So, in a sense, it doesn't matter whether Bird is right or wrong when it claims that it's illegal to convert a Bird scooter to a personal scooter. Either way, Boing Boing was free to report on it.

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Google Demanded T-Mobile, Sprint To Not Sell Google Fi Customers' Location Data

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2019-01-11 18:16
An anonymous reader shares a report: On Thursday, AT&T announced it was stopping the sale of its customers' real-time location data to all third parties, in response to a Motherboard investigation showing how data from AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint trickled down through a complex network of companies until eventually landing the hands of bounty hunters and people unauthorized to handle it. To verify the existence of this trade, Motherboard paid $300 on the black market to successfully locate a phone. Google, whose Google Fi program offers phone, text, and data services that use T-Mobile and Sprint network infrastructure in the United States, told Motherboard that it asked those companies to not share its customers' location data with third parties. "We have never sold Fi subscribers' location information," a Google spokesperson told Motherboard in a statement late on Thursday. "Google Fi is an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) and not a carrier, but as soon as we heard about this practice, we required our network partners to shut it down as soon as possible." Google did not say when it made this a requirement.

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Shareholders Sue Alphabet's Board For Role In Allegedly Covering Up Sexual Misconduct By Senior Execs

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2019-01-11 05:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: Attorneys in San Francisco representing an Alphabet shareholder are suing the board of directors for allegedly covering up sexual misconduct claims against top executives. The suit comes months after an explosive New York Times report detailed how Google shielded executives accused of sexual misconduct, either by keeping them on staff or allowing them amicable departures. For example, Google reportedly paid Android leader Andy Rubin a $90 million exit package, despite asking for his resignation after finding sexual misconduct claims against him credible. The new lawsuit, filed in California's San Mateo County, asserts claims for breach of fiduciary duty, abuse of control, unjust enrichment, and waste of corporate assets. The attorneys say the lawsuit is the result of "an extensive original investigation into non-public evidence" and produced copies of internal Google minutes from board of directors meetings. "The Directors' wrongful conduct allowed the illegal conduct to proliferate and continue," the suit reads. "As such, members of Alphabet's Board were knowing and direct enablers of the sexual harassment and discrimination."

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Software Patents Poised To Make a Comeback Under New Patent Office Rules

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2019-01-11 02:40
Ben Klemens writes via Ars Technica: A landmark 2014 ruling by the Supreme Court called into question the validity of many software patents. In the wake of that ruling, countless broad software patents became invalid, dealing a blow to litigation-happy patent trolls nationwide. But this week the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) proposed new rules that would make it easier to patent software. If those rules take effect, it could take us back to the bad old days when it was easy to get broad software patents -- and to sue companies that accidentally infringe them. The Federal Circuit Appeals Court is the nation's highest patent court below the Supreme Court, and it is notoriously patent friendly. Ever since the Supreme Court's 2014 ruling, known as Alice v. CLS Bank, the Federal Circuit has worked to blunt the ruling's impact. In a 2016 ruling called Enfish, the Federal Circuit ruling took a single sentence from the Supreme Court's 2014 ruling and used it as the legal foundation for approving more software patents. This legal theory, known as the "technical effects doctrine," holds that software that improves the functioning of a computer should be eligible for a patent. A version of this rule has long held sway in Europe, but it has only recently started to have an impact in U.S. law. This week, the Patent Office published a new draft of the section on examining software and other potentially abstract ideas in its Manual of Patent Examination Procedure (MPEP). This is the official document that helps patent examiners understand and interpret relevant legal principles. The latest version, drawing on recent Federal Circuit rulings, includes far tighter restrictions on what may be excluded from patentability. This matters because there's significant evidence that the proliferation of software patents during the 1990s and 2000s had a detrimental impact on innovation -- precisely the opposite of how patents are supposed to work.

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Nest Competitor Ring Reportedly Gave Employees Full Access To Customers' Live Camera Feeds

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Pt, 2019-01-11 01:20
Amazon-owned Ring allowed employees to access customers' live camera feeds, according to a report from The Intercept. "Ring's engineers and executives have 'highly privileged access' to live camera feeds from customers' devices," reports 9to5Google. "This includes both doorbells facing the outside world, as well as cameras inside a person's home. A team tasked with annotating video to aid in object recognition captured 'people kissing, firing guns, and stealing.'" From the report: U.S. employees specifically had access to a video portal intended for technical support that reportedly allowed "unfiltered, round-the-clock live feeds from some customer cameras." What's surprising is how this support tool was apparently not restricted to only employees that dealt with customers. The Intercept notes that only a Ring customer's email address was required to access any live feed. According to the report's sources, employees had a blase attitude to this potential privacy violation, but noted that they "never personally witnessed any egregious abuses." Meanwhile, a second group of Ring employees working on R&D in Ukraine had access to a folder housing "every video created by every Ring camera around the world." What's more, these employees had a "corresponding database that linked each specific video file to corresponding specific Ring customers." Also bothersome is Ring's reported stance towards encryption. Videos in that bucket were unencrypted due to the costs associated with implementation and "lost revenue opportunities due to restricted access." In response to the report, Ring said: "We have strict policies in place for all our team members. We implement systems to restrict and audit access to information. We hold our team members to a high ethical standard and anyone in violation of our policies faces discipline, including termination and potential legal and criminal penalties. In addition, we have zero tolerance for abuse of our systems and if we find bad actors who have engaged in this behavior, we will take swift action against them."

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Google Wins Round in Fight Against Global Right To Be Forgotten

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2019-01-10 18:01
Google shouldn't have to apply the so-called right to be forgotten globally, an adviser to the EU's top court said in a boost for the U.S. giant's fight with a French privacy regulator over where to draw the line between privacy and freedom of speech. From a report: While backing Google's stance, Advocate General Maciej Szpunar of the EU Court of Justice said that search engine operators must take every measure available to remove access to links to outdated or irrelevant information about a person on request. The Luxembourg-based court follows such advice in a majority of its final rulings, which normally come a few months after the opinions. Google has been fighting efforts led by France's privacy watchdog to globalize the right to be forgotten, which was created by the EU court in a landmark ruling in 2014, without defining how, when and where search engine operators should remove links. This has triggered a wave of legal challenges. The Alphabet unit currently removes such links EU-wide and since 2016 it also restricts access to such information on non-EU Google sites when accessed from the EU country where the person concerned by the information is located -- referred to as geo-blocking. This approach was backed by Szpunar.

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How Cartographers For the US Military Inadvertently Created a House of Horrors in South Africa

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2019-01-10 17:21
Kashmir Hill, reporting at Gizmodo: The visitors started coming in 2013. The first one who came and refused to leave until he was let inside was a private investigator named Roderick. He was looking for an abducted girl, and he was convinced she was in the house. John S. and his mother Ann live in the house, which is in Pretoria, the administrative capital of South Africa and next to Johannesburg. They had not abducted anyone, so they called the police and asked for an officer to come over. Roderick and the officer went through the home room by room, looking into cupboards and under beds for the missing girl. Roderick claimed to have used a "professional" tracking device "that could not be wrong," but the girl wasn't there. This was not an unusual occurrence. John, 39, and Ann, 73, were accustomed to strangers turning up at their door accusing them of crimes; the visitors would usually pull up maps on their smartphones that pointed at John and Ann's backyard as a hotbed of criminal activity. [...] The outline of this story might sound familiar to you if you've heard about this home in Atlanta, or read about this farm in Kansas, and it is, in fact, similar: John and Ann, too, are victims of bad digital mapping. There is a crucial difference though: This time it happened on a global scale, and the U.S. government played a key role. [...] Technologist Dhruv Mehrotra crawled MaxMind's free database for me and plotted the locations that showed up most frequently. Unfortunately, John and Ann's house must have just missed MaxMind's cut-off for remediation. Theirs was the 104th most popular location in the database, with over a million IP addresses mapped to it.

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The Feds Cracked El Chapo's Encrypted Comms Network By Flipping His System Admin

Slashdot - Your Rights Online - Cz, 2019-01-10 03:00
With signs that the New York trial of notorious Mexican drug lord and alleged mass murderer Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is entering its end phase, prosecutors on Tuesday played copies of what they said were audio recordings of Guzman the FBI obtained "after they infiltrated his encrypted messaging system" with the help of Colombian and former cartel systems engineer Cristian Rodriguez, Reuters reported. Gizmodo reports: As has been previously reported by Vice, Colombian drug lord Jorge Cifuentes testified that Rodriguez had forgot to renew a license key critical to the communications network of Guzman's Sinaloa Cartel in September 2010, forcing cartel leaders to temporarily rely on conventional cell phones. Cifuentes told the court he considered Rodriguez "an irresponsible person" who had compromised their security, with a terse phone call played by prosecutors showing Cifuentes warned the subordinate he was in "charge of the system always working." But on Tuesday it was revealed that the FBI had lured Rodriguez into a meeting with an agent posing as a potential customer much earlier, in February 2010, according to a report in the New York Times. Later, they flipped Rodriguez, having him transfer servers from Canada to the Netherlands in a move masked as an upgrade. During that process, Rodriguez slipped investigators the network's encryption keys. The communications system ran over Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), with only cartel members able to access it. Getting through its encryption gave authorities access to roughly 1,500 of Guzman's and other cartel members' calls from April 2011 to January 2012, the Times wrote, with FBI agents able to identify ones placed by the drug lord by "comparing the high-pitched, nasal voice on the calls with other recordings of the kingpin, including a video interview he gave to Rolling Stone in October 2015."

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