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Communications

PayPal Will Be Able To Robo-Text/Call Users With No Opt-out Starting July 1 35

Posted by Soulskill
from the change-your-listed-phone-number-to-their-customer-support-line dept.
OutOnARock notes that as PayPal separates from eBay in the coming months, new terms of service are set to take effect on July 1st. Most of the changes unexciting, but one provision has consumer rights groups up in arms: PayPal is granting itself the ability to use automated systems to call and text users. These robocalls could happen for something as serious as debt collection or as frivolous as advertisements. What's more, the company grants the same rights to its affiliates. Activists are questioning the legality of these changes. "Given that both the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (which created the Do Not Call list) and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ban most robocalling and texting, this seemed in direct opposition to consumer protections granted Americans by Congress." PayPal says it will comply with all laws, but their actions may spark a legal debate about whether terms of service can qualify as "written consent."
Privacy

Senate Passes USA Freedom Act 214

Posted by Soulskill
from the agreeing-to-disagree-about-agreeing dept.
schwit1 points out that the U.S. Senate has passed the USA Freedom Act by a vote of 67-32, sending it on to President Obama, who is expected to sign it into law. The bill removes mass metadata collection powers from the NSA, but also grants a new set of surveillance powers to replace them. Telecoms now hang on to that data, and the government can access it if they suspect the target is part of a terrorism investigation and one of the call's participants is overseas. "The second provision revived Tuesday concerns roving wiretaps. Spies may tap a terror suspect's communications without getting a renewed FISA Court warrant, even as a suspect jumps from one device to the next. The FISA Court need not be told who is being targeted when issuing a warrant. The third spy tool renewed is called "lone wolf" in spy jargon. It allows for roving wiretaps. However, the target of wiretaps does not have to be linked to a foreign power or terrorism."
Privacy

FBI Is Behind Mysterious Flights Over US Cities 137

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-such-bureau dept.
New submitter kaizendojo sends a report from the Associated Press indicating the FBI has a small fleet of planes that fly across the U.S. carrying surveillance equipment. The planes are registered with fictitious companies to hide their association with the U.S. government. The FBI says they're only used for investigations that are "specific" and "ongoing," but they're often used without getting permission from a judge beforehand. "Some of the aircraft can also be equipped with technology that can identify thousands of people below through the cellphones they carry, even if they're not making a call or in public. Officials said that practice, which mimics cell towers and gets phones to reveal basic subscriber information, is rare." The AP identified at least 50 FBI-controlled planes, which have done over 100 flights since late April. The AP adds that they've seen the planes "orbiting large, enclosed buildings for extended periods where aerial photography would be less effective than electronic signals collection."
Security

Professional Russian Trolling Exposed 245

Posted by timothy
from the in-ex-soviet-russia dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Today the New York Times published a stunning exposé revealing the strategies used by one of the Web's greatest enemies: professional, government-backed "internet trolls." These well-paid agent provocateurs are dedicated to destroying the value of the Internet as an organizing and political tool. The trolling attacks described within are mind-boggling -- they sound like the basis of a Neal Stephenson novel as much as they do real life -- but they all rely on the usual, inevitable suspects of imperfect security and human credulity.
The Courts

Blackberry Defeats Typo In Court, Typo To Discontinue Sales of Keyboard 66

Posted by timothy
from the one-way-or-another-it's-over dept.
New submitter juniorkindergarten writes: Blackberry and Typo have reached a final settlement that effectively ends Typo selling its iPhone keyboard accessory. Blackberry took Typo to court for twice for patent infringement over the copying of Blackberry's keyboard design. Blackberry and Typo first battled it out in court, with Typo losing for copying the Blackberry Q10 keyboard design. Typo redesigned its keyboard, and again Blackberry sued them for patent infringement. The final result is that Typo cannot sell keyboards for screens less than 7.9", but can still sell keyboards for the iPad and iPad air. Exact terms were not disclosed.
Transportation

US Airport Screeners Missed 95% of Weapons, Explosives In Undercover Tests 323

Posted by samzenpus
from the security-theater dept.
An anonymous reader writes: An internal investigation by the TSA found that 95% of agents testing airport checkpoints were able to bring weapons through. In one case, an alarm sounded, but during the pat down, the screener failed to detect a fake plastic explosive taped to the undercover agent's back. ABC reports: "Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson was apparently so frustrated by the findings he sought a detailed briefing on them last week at TSA headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, according to sources. U.S. officials insisted changes have already been made at airports to address vulnerabilities identified by the latest tests. 'Upon learning the initial findings of the Office of Inspector General's report, Secretary Johnson immediately directed TSA to implement a series of actions, several of which are now in place, to address the issues raised in the report,' the DHS said in a written statement to ABC News."
Image

Indicted Ex-FIFA Executive Cites Onion Article In Rant Slamming US 190 Screenshot-sm

Posted by samzenpus
from the everything-is-true dept.
schwit1 writes with news that former FIFA Vice President Jack Warner has evidently not heard of The Onion. In a video on his Facebook page, Warner holds up a printout of an Onion story titled “FIFA Frantically Announces 2015 Summer World Cup In United States” and says: “Then I look to see that Fifa has frantically announced, 2015, this year [...] the World Cup, beginning May 27. If FIFA is so bad, why is it that the USA wants to keep the Fifa World Cup?” The next World Cup is not due to be held until 2018 and there have been no games in the U.S.. Warner is facing extradition to the U.S. on corruption charges. Time further reports: Even Sunday wasn't easy, when Warner needed two attempts to get his message across by telling followers that the latest accusations against him stem largely from the U.S. being upset that it did not win the rights to host the 2022 World Cup — which went to Qatar. In an eight-minute Facebook video, which was quickly deleted after numerous news reports picked up on the gaffe, Warner held up a printout of a fictitious story from The Onion bearing the headline: "FIFA Frantically Announces 2015 Summer World Cup In United States." The fake story was published on Wednesday, hours after Warner was indicted in the U.S. and arrested and briefly jailed in Trinidad. Warner asked why the story was "two days before the FIFA election" when Sepp Blatter was re-elected as president.
Security

Cybersecurity and the Tylenol Murders 74

Posted by samzenpus
from the best-practices dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Cindy Cohn writes at EFF that when a criminal started lacing Tylenol capsules with cyanide in 1982, Johnson & Johnson quickly sprang into action to ensure consumer safety. It increased its internal production controls, recalled the capsules, offered an exchange for tablets, and within two months started using triple-seal tamper-resistant packaging. Congress ultimately passed an anti-tampering law but the focus of the response from both the private and the public sector was on ensuring that consumers remained safe and secure, rather than on catching the perpetrator. Indeed, the person who did the tampering was never caught.

According to Cohn the story of the Tylenol murders comes to mind as Congress considers the latest cybersecurity and data breach bills. To folks who understand computer security and networks, it's plain that the key problem are our vulnerable infrastructure and weak computer security, much like the vulnerabilities in Johnson & Johnson's supply chain in the 1980s. As then, the failure to secure our networks, the services we rely upon, and our individual computers makes it easy for bad actors to step in and "poison" our information. The way forward is clear: We need better incentives for companies who store our data to keep it secure. "Yet none of the proposals now in Congress are aimed at actually increasing the safety of our data. Instead, the focus is on "information sharing," a euphemism for more surveillance of users and networks," writes Cohn. "These bills are not only wrongheaded, they seem to be a cynical ploy to use the very real problems of cybersecurity to advance a surveillance agenda, rather than to actually take steps to make people safer." Congress could step in and encourage real security for users—by creating incentives for greater security, a greater downside for companies that fail to do so and by rewarding those companies who make the effort to develop stronger security. "It's as if the answer for Americans after the Tylenol incident was not to put on tamper-evident seals, or increase the security of the supply chain, but only to require Tylenol to "share" its customer lists with the government and with the folks over at Bayer aspirin," concludes Cohn. "We wouldn't have stood for such a wrongheaded response in 1982, and we shouldn't do so now."
Security

Ransomware Creator Apologizes For "Sleeper" Attack, Releases Decryption Keys 45

Posted by samzenpus
from the my-bad dept.
colinneagle writes: Last week, a new strain of ransomware called Locker was activated after having been sitting silently on infected PCs. Security firm KnowBe4 called Locker a "sleeper" campaign that, when the malware's creator "woke it up," encrypted the infected devices' files and charged roughly $24 in exchange for the decryption keys. This week, an internet user claiming to be the creator of Locker publicly apologized for the campaign and appears to have released the decryption keys for all the devices that fell victim to it, KnowBe4 reported in an alert issued today. Locker's creator released this message in a PasteBin post, along with a link to a file hosted on Mega.co containing the decryption keys. The malware creator also said that an automatic decryption process for all devices that were affected by Locker will begin June 2nd.

However, the post did not mention anything about providing a refund to victims who paid the 0.1 bitcoin (equal to $22.88 at the time this was posted and about $24 last week) required for the decryption keys since last week. KnowBe4 CEO Stu Sjouwerman says the files released do not appear to be malicious after brief analysis, and that "it does contain a large quantity of RSA keys and Bitcoin addresses." But he warned those interested to only open these files "at your own risk until further analyses are performed." Sjouwerman speculated that the malware creator may have been spooked by attention from law enforcement or Eastern European organized crime syndicates that are behind most ransomware campaigns.
The Courts

Supreme Court Overturns Conviction For Man Who Posted 'Threatening' Messages On Facebook 144

Posted by Soulskill
from the being-a-jerk-online-is-not-a-crime dept.
schwit1 sends news that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled 7-2 in favor of Anthony Elonis, a man who wrote a series of angry messages on Facebook. The posts included quotes from rap lyrics containing "violent imagery," and were directed at Elonis's wife, his co-workers, law enforcement, and a kindergarten class. Elonis was charged and convicted under a federal statute that outlaws "any communication containing any threat to kidnap any person or any threat to injure the person of another." The jury in his case was told the standard for judging such a threat was whether a "reasonable person" would interpret it as such. According to the Court's ruling (PDF), that standard was not enough to convict him. They call it "a standard feature of civil liability in tort law inconsistent with the conventional criminal conduct requirement of 'awareness of some wrongdoing.'" The case is notable for being the first Supreme Court ruling about free speech on social media, but the ruling itself was quite narrow.
Patents

Khan Academy Seeks Patents On Learning Computer Programming, Social Programming 96

Posted by timothy
from the well-that-sounds-bad dept.
theodp writes: When it announced its brand new Computer Science platform in August 2012, Khan Academy explained it drew inspiration from both Bret Victor and GitHub (SlideShare). Still, that didn't stop Khan Academy from eventually seeking patents on its apparently Victor-inspired Methods and Systems for Learning Computer Programming and GitHub-inspired Systems and Methods for Social Programming, applications for which were quietly disclosed by the USPTO earlier this year. Silicon Valley legal powerhouse Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, which provides a pro bono team of 20+ to assist billionaire-backed Khan Academy with its legal needs, filed provisional patent applications for KA in August 2013 — provisional applications can be filed up to 12 months following an inventor's public disclosure of the invention — giving it another 12 months before formal claims had to be filed (KA's non-provisional applications were filed in August 2014).
United States

Patriot Act Spy Powers To Expire As Rand Paul Blocks USA Freedom Act Vote 495

Posted by timothy
from the on-paper-at-least dept.
Saturday, we mentioned that three major spying powers that the U.S. government has exercised under the Patriot Act might be nixed, as the sections of the Act granting authority to use them expires. The Daily Dot reports that Senator (and presidential contender) Rand Paul today used Senate rules to block a bill which would have extended those powers, which means that as of midnight Sunday on the U.S. east coast, sections 206, 207 and 215 of the Patriot Act will have expired. Says the Daily Dot's article, linked by reader blottsie: The reform bill, which the House passed before leaving town for a week-long recess, would end the government's bulk collection of Americans' phone records under the Patriot Act's controversial Section 215 but leaves the other two provisions intact. ... Sunday's procedural meltdown was the second narrow defeat for the USA Freedom Act. In a late-night session on Friday, May 22, the bill fell three votes short of an initial procedural step after [Senate Majority Leader] McConnell lobbied hard against it. The Senate's failure to meet its deadline was a blow to President Obama, who on Friday had warned lawmakers that the country would be vulnerable if the USA Freedom Act did not pass.
Crime

Scientists Study Crime In Progress In a VR Simulated Environment 80

Posted by timothy
from the what-would-g-gordon-liddy-do? dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Claire Nee writes in the NYT that for psychologists, it's best to observe actual behavior, in real time, and afterward interview research participants. Yet for obvious ethical and safety reasons, it's almost never possible to observe a crime as it happens. Now psychologists have devised a simulated environment that can be navigated using a mouse or a game controller. and had willing, experienced ex-burglars to commit a mock burglary in it. Ex-burglars approached the task in a dramatically different way from a comparison group of postgraduate students, of a similar age as our experienced ex-burglars. Burglars entered and exited the house at the rear, while students, unaware of the cover that the side and rear of the house afforded, entered at the exposed front. Burglars spent significantly more time in areas of the house with high-value items and navigated it much more systematically than the students did. They also showed greater discernment, by stealing fewer but more valuable items. Most important, all participants burgled the real and the simulated houses almost identically (PDF). We concluded that using simulations can be a robust way to study crime, and in studying it this way, we will not be limited to just burglary. "A better understanding of criminal behavior will help us reduce opportunities for crime in our neighborhoods," concludes Nee. "By knowing what the burglar is looking for — what signals wealth, occupancy, ease of access and security in properties — we can make adjustments in awareness and protection."
Businesses

How Elon Musk's Growing Empire is Fueled By Government Subsidies 352

Posted by timothy
from the damned-if-you-don't dept.
theodp writes: By the Los Angeles Times' reckoning, Elon Musk's Tesla Motors, SolarCity, and SpaceX together have benefited from an estimated $4.9 billion in government support. The figure compiled by The Times, explains reporter Jerry Hirsch, comprises a variety of government incentives, including grants, tax breaks, factory construction, discounted loans and environmental credits that Tesla can sell. It also includes tax credits and rebates to buyers of solar panels and electric cars. "He definitely goes where there is government money," said an equity research analyst. "Musk and his companies' investors enjoy most of the financial upside of the government support, while taxpayers shoulder the cost," Hirsch adds. "The payoff for the public would come in the form of major pollution reductions, but only if solar panels and electric cars break through as viable mass-market products. For now, both remain niche products for mostly well-heeled customers." And as Musk moves into a new industry — battery-based home energy storage — Hirsch notes Tesla has already secured a commitment of $126 million in California subsidies to companies developing energy storage technology.
Businesses

Steve Albini: The Music Industry Is a Parasite -- and Copyright Is Dead 183

Posted by timothy
from the but-how's-the-marrow? dept.
journovampire sends word of another thought-provoking rant from Steve Albini (mentioned here last a few years back for his paean to the beauty of analog tape for recording): The veteran producer addressed an audience in Barcelona on Saturday: "The old copyright model – the person who creates something owns it and anyone else that wants to use it or see it has to pay them – has expired."
Communications

Orange County Public Schools To Monitor Students On Social Media 166

Posted by timothy
from the well-that's-air-tight dept.
The Orlando Sentinel reports that Orange County, Florida, is undertaking a sweeping effort to snoop on the social media communications of the county's public school students and staff, for the nebulous task of "[ensuring] safe school operations," and say they will use the software (at a license cost of about $13,000 per year) "to conduct routine monitoring for purposes of prevention or early intervention of potential issues where students or staff could be at risk to themselves or to others." The software they're using is from Snaptrends, which offers "location-based social media discovery." According to one of the comments attached to the linked story, there are monthly fees, in addition to the annual licensing cost.
Censorship

Artist Uses 3D Printing To Preserve Artifacts Destroyed By ISIS 73

Posted by timothy
from the not-quite-the-same dept.
tedlistens writes: "From the burning of the Library of Alexandria to the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan in Afghanistan by the Taliban, to the Nazi's battle to burn as much "degenerate art" as they could find, mobs and soldiers have been quick to destroy what took societies centuries to create; what museums and collectors spent decades collecting, preserving, and documenting for the public." However, as noted by Motherboard in an article to which tedlistens links, "The digital era looks different: files can be cheaply hosted in data centers spread across several states or continents to ensure permanence. Morehshin Allahyari, an Iranian born artist, educator, and activist, wants to apply that duplicability to the artifacts that ISIS has destroyed. Now, Allahyari is working on digitally fabricating the sculptures for a series called "Material Speculation" as part of a residency in Autodesk's Pier 9 program. The first in the series is "Material Speculation: ISIS," which, through intense research, is modeling and reproducing statues destroyed by ISIS in 2015. Allahyari isn't just interested in replicating lost objects but making it possible for anyone to do the same: Embedded within each semi-translucent copy is a flash drive with Allahyari's research about the artifacts, and an online version is coming.
Your Rights Online

Can You Commit Copyright Infringement By Using Your Own Work? 172

Posted by timothy
from the out-there-to-grab dept.
Mrs. Grundy writes: Notorious appropriation artist Richard Prince has been in the news again with his show consisting of screen shots of other people's Instagram photos printed as large inkjets on canvas. These prints have reportedly sold for $90,000. In 2013 Prince successfully defeated a lawsuit for a previous appropriation by convincing the court his work was 'transformative' and it's likely this new work would also find a sympathetic ear in the court. Among the photographs whose work he used this time were several from the Suicide Girls Instagram feed. In response, Selena Mooney, cofounder of Suicide Girls, began offering exact replicas of Prince's pieces that used her photographs for a mere $90. Photographer Mark Meyer looks at the bizarre possibility that if Prince's use of Mooney's work is transformative and fair, Mooney's might be copyright infringement.
Government

The Patriot Act May Be Dead For Good 212

Posted by timothy
from the why-do-you-hate-america? dept.
HughPickens.com points out Shane Harris's report at The Daily Beast that when powerful spying authorities under the Patriot Act expire at the stroke of midnight Monday, as currently appears likely, they may never return. "Senators have been negotiating over whether to pass a House bill that would renew and tweak existing provisions in the long-controversial law, but if the sunset comes and the provisions are off the books, lawmakers in both chambers would be facing a vote to reinstate controversial surveillance authorities, which is an entirely different political calculation. ... Three major Patriot provisions are on the chopping block: so-called roving wiretaps, which let the government monitor one person's multiple electronic devices; the "lone-wolf" provision, which allows surveillance of someone who's not connected to a known terrorist group; and Section 215, which, among other things, the government uses to collect the records of all landline phone calls in the United States." Obama has been urging Congress to pass the Freedom Act, but not warning that the sky will fall if they don't. That may reflect a calculation on the president's part that the surveillance authorities aren't important enough to lose political capital fighting to keep them. Meanwhile with the Senate not slated to return to Washington until just hours before that deadline, opponents like Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) showing no signs of budging, and the House so far unwilling to bail out the upper chamber, the prospects for an eleventh-hour breakthrough look slim.
The Courts

Silk Road Founder Ross Ulbricht Sentenced To Life In Prison 363

Posted by Soulskill
from the sorry-about-your-luck dept.
An anonymous reader sends an update on the trial of Ross Ulbricht, the man behind the Silk Road online black market. Sentencing is now complete, and Ulbricht has been given life in prison. He had been facing a 20-year minimum because of the charge of being a "drug kingpin," and prosecutors were asking for a sentence substantially higher than the minimum. Prior to the sentence being handed down today, Ulbricht spoke before the court for 20 minutes, asking for leniency and for the judge to leave him a "light at the end of the tunnel." The judge was unswayed, giving Ulbricht the most severe sentence possible. She said, "The stated purpose [of the silk road] was to be beyond the law. ... Silk Road's birth and presence asserted that its creator was better than the laws of this country. This is deeply troubling, terribly misguided, and very dangerous." Ulbricht's family plans to appeal.