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Submission Summary: 1 pending, 202 declined, 52 accepted (255 total, 20.39% accepted)

Submission + - Republicans push to limit FCC's net neutrality rules

Presto Vivace writes: Senate Republicans push rider to limit FCC's net neutrality rules

Senate Republicans are pushing a measure to bar the Federal Communications Commission from regulating broadband Internet rates under its net neutrality rules.

While the commission has vowed not to regulate rates under net neutrality, Republicans oppose the rules and are wary of expanding the FCC's powers.

The measure is included as a policy rider in the Senate's Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill that was reported out of an Appropriations subcommittee on Wednesday

Submission + - Trucks driven by software

Presto Vivace writes: Self-Driving Trucks Will Hit Us Like Ton of Bricks

At $40,000 a year, the incentive to replace truck drivers with software is massive. And it will happen. Not only that, but insurance costs will drop. Most truck accidents are caused by user error: Driving too fast, driving while tired, driving intoxicated, etc.
Robots don't drink, don't get tired, won't drive unsafe to get to a destination faster,

Think of all the fun hackers could have with trucks driven by software.

Submission + - ISP Not Following Net Neutrality? The FCC's Got A Complaint Form For That.

Presto Vivace writes: Consumerist

The FCC has updated their new consumer help center — specifically, the internet service complaint form. Among the issues concerned consumers can complain about, the form now contains “open internet/net neutrality,” right there alphabetically between “interference” and “privacy.”
So what, specifically, qualifies as a net neutrality violation you can complain about? The FCC has guidance for that, too. In general, paraphrased, if’s a problem if there’s
Blocking: ISPs may not block access to any lawful content, apps, services, or devices.
Throttling: ISPs may not slow down or degrade lawful internet traffic from any content, apps, sites, services, or devices.
Paid prioritization: ISPs may not enter into agreements to prioritize and benefit some lawful internet traffic over the rest of it on their networks.

Submission + - Copyright Law As an Intimidation Tactic

Presto Vivace writes: Guy Reveals Airtel Secretly Inserting JavaScript, Gets Threatened With Jail For Criminal Copyright Infringement

Last week, an Indian blogger, Thejesh GN, discovered that mobile operator Airtel was injecting javascript into subscribers' browsing sessions, which is both incredibly sketchy and a huge security concern (not to mention raising net neutrality issues on the side). He posted the proof to GitHub and tweeted about it.
He posted the evidence showing that javascript was being quietly inserted, and that it apparently tried to insert some sort of toolbar:
That's all super sketchy. But that's just the very beginning of this story. Because days later, Thejesh received the most ridiculous legal threat letter, coming from a lawyer named Ameet Mehta from the law firm Solicis Lex. It claims to be representing an Israeli company, Flash Network, which is apparently responsible for the code injection software... and it claims that by merely revealing to the public that Airtel was doing these injections, he had engaged in criminal copyright infringement under the Information Technology Act, 2000.

Submission + - WikiLeaks releases secret TISA docs

Presto Vivace writes: The new agreement that would hamstring governments and citizens even further.

the EU would be forbidden from requiring that US companies like Google or Facebook keep the personal data of European citizens within the EU—one of the ideas currently being floated in Germany. Article 9.1 imposes a more general ban on requiring companies to locate some of their computing facilities in a territory: "No Party may require a service supplier, as a condition for supplying a service or investing in its territory, to: (a) use computing facilities located in the Party’s territory."

Article 6 of the leaked text seems to ban any country from using free software mandates: "No Party may require the transfer of, or access to, source code of software owned by a person of another Party, as a condition of providing services related to such software in its territory." The text goes on to specify that this only applies to "mass-market software," and does not apply to software used for critical infrastructure. It would still prevent a European government from specifying that its civil servants should use only open-source code for word processing—a sensible requirement given what we know about the deployment of backdoors in commercial software by the NSA and GCHQ.

Any agreement whose text has not been publicly released cannot possibly be a good agreement.

Submission + - Why American broadband is slow

Presto Vivace writes: The basic truth about broadband that cable companies want to hide

The American cities that are delivering best-in-the-world speeds at bargain prices are precisely the cities that aren't relying on Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, Time-Warner, etc. to run their infrastructure. In Kansas City, Google built a state-of-the-art fiber optic network largely just to prove a point. In Chattanooga and Lafayette, the government did it. At the moment, the US federal government could issue 5-year bonds at a 1.58 percent interest rate and make grants to cities interested in following Chattanooga and Lafayette down that path. But it doesn't happen, because while broadband incumbents don't want to spend the money it would take to build state-of-the-art fiber networks, they are happy to spend money on lobbying.

Submission + - You destroy basic usability by hijacking the scrollbar

Presto Vivace writes: Facebook vs the news media

Here’s an absolute fact that all of these reporters, columnists, and media pundits need to get into their heads:
The web doesn’t suck. Your websites suck.
All of your websites suck.
You destroy basic usability by hijacking the scrollbar. You take native functionality (scrolling, selection, links, loading) that is fast and efficient and you rewrite it with ‘cutting edge’ javascript toolkits and frameworks so that it is slow and buggy and broken. You balloon your websites with megabytes of cruft. You ignore best practices. You take something that works and is complementary to your business and turn it into a liability.
The lousy performance of your websites becomes a defensive moat around Facebook.
Of course, Facebook might still win even if you all had awesome websites, but you can’t even begin to compete with it until you fix the foundation of your business.

Submission + - Apple and Google attend spy summit in the UK

Presto Vivace writes: APPLE AND GOOGLE JUST ATTENDED A CONFIDENTIAL SPY SUMMIT IN A REMOTE ENGLISH MANSION

The three-day conference, which took place behind closed doors and under strict rules about confidentiality, was aimed at debating the line between privacy and security.

Among an extraordinary list of attendees were a host of current or former heads from spy agencies such as the CIA and British electronic surveillance agency Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ. Other current or former top spooks from Australia, Canada, France, Germany and Sweden were also in attendance. Google, Apple, and telecommunications company Vodafone sent some of their senior policy and legal staff to the discussions. And a handful of academics and journalists were also present.

According to an event program obtained by The Intercept, questions on the agenda included: “Are we being misled by the term ‘mass surveillance’?” “Is spying on allies/friends/potential adversaries inevitable if there is a perceived national security interest?” “Who should authorize intrusive intelligence operations such as interception?” “What should be the nature of the security relationship between intelligence agencies and private sector providers, especially when they may in any case be cooperating against cyber threats in general?” And, “How much should the press disclose about intelligence activity?”

The most disturbing part of this is the number of journalists present.

Submission + - GM: That Car You Bought? We're Really The Ones Who Own It.

Presto Vivace writes:

Congratulations! You just bought a new Chevy, GMC, or Cadillac. You really like driving it. And it’s purchased, not leased, and all paid off with no liens, so it’s all yours isn’t it? Well, no, actually: according to GM, it’s still theirs. You just have a license to use it. At least, that’s what an attorney for GM said at a hearing this week, Autoblog reports. Specifically, attorney Harry Lightsey said, “It is [GM’s] position the software in the vehicle is licensed by the owner of the vehicle.”... ...The U.S. Copyright Office is currently holding a series of hearings on whether or not anyone other than the manufacturer of a car has a right to tinker with that car’s copyrighted software. And with the way modern design goes, that basically means with the car, at all.

Submission + - Australian defence controls could criminalise teaching encryption

Presto Vivace writes: How the DSGL covers encryption

The DSGL contains detailed technical specifications. Very roughly, it covers encryption above a certain “strength” level, as measured by technical parameters such as “key length” or “field size”.

The practical question is how high the bar is set: how powerful must encryption be in order to be classified as dual-use?

The bar is currently set low. For instance, software engineers debate whether they should use 2,048 or 4,096 bits for the RSA algorithm. But the DSGL classifies anything over 512 bits as dual-use. In reality, the only cryptography not covered by the DSGL is cryptography so weak that it would be imprudent to use.

Moreover, the DSGL doesn’t just cover encryption software: it also covers systems, electronics and equipment used to implement, develop, produce or test it.

In short, the DSGL casts an extremely wide net, potentially catching open source privacy software, information security research and education, and the entire computer security industry in its snare.

Most ridiculous, though, are some badly flawed technicalities. As I have argued before, the specifications are so imprecise that they potentially include a little algorithm you learned at primary school called division. If so, then division has become a potential weapon, and your calculator (or smartphone, computer, or any electronic device) is a potential delivery system for it.

Submission + - The Myth of Outsourcing's Efficiency

Presto Vivace writes: Why outsourcing winds up producing cost creep over time

Outsouring over time starts to create its own bureaucracy bloat. It’s the modern corporate version of one of the observations of C. Northcote Parkinson: “Officials make work for each other.” As Clive describes, the first response to the problems resulting from outsourcing is to try to bury them, since outsourcing is a corporate religion and thus cannot be reversed even when the evidence comes in against it. And then when those costs start becoming more visible, the response is to try to manage them, which means more work (more managerial cost!) and/or hiring more outside specialists (another transfer to highly-paid individuals).

Submission + - UK Intelligence officers given immunity from hacking laws

Presto Vivace writes: Legislative changes exempting law enforcement officers from ban on breaking into people’s digital devices were never debated by parliament, tribunal hears

The unnoticed rewriting of a key clause of the Computer Misuse Act has exempted law enforcement officials from the prohibition on breaking into other people’s laptops, databases, mobile phones or digital systems. It came into force in May.

The amended clause 10, entitled somewhat misleadingly “Savings”, is designed to prevent officers from committing a crime when they remotely access computers of suspected criminals. It is not known what category of offences are covered.

I would love to know how much malware is government sponsored.

Submission + - How the NSA Converts Spoken Words Into Searchable Text

Presto Vivace writes: Dan Froomkin reports:

Though perfect transcription of natural conversation apparently remains the Intelligence Community’s “holy grail,” the Snowden documents describe extensive use of keyword searching as well as computer programs designed to analyze and “extract” the content of voice conversations, and even use sophisticated algorithms to flag conversations of interest.

I am torn between admiration of the technical brilliance of building software like this and horror as to how it is being used.

Submission + - Bernie Sanders, H-1B skeptic

Presto Vivace writes: Will the Vermont senator raise the visibility of the visa issue with his presidential run?

The H-1B visa issue rarely surfaces during presidential races, and that's what makes the entrance by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) into the 2016 presidential race so interesting. ... ...Sanders is very skeptical of the H-1B program, and has lambasted tech firms for hiring visa workers at the same time they're cutting staff. He's especially critical of the visa's use in offshore outsourcing.

Submission + - Software, tractors, and property rights

Presto Vivace writes: We Can’t Let John Deere Destroy the Very Idea of Ownership

In a particularly spectacular display of corporate delusion, John Deere—the world’s largest agricultural machinery maker —told the Copyright Office that farmers don’t own their tractors. Because computer code snakes through the DNA of modern tractors, farmers receive “an implied license for the life of the vehicle to operate the vehicle.”

When some people discover the truth, they just can't understand why everybody isn't eager to hear it.

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