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United States

Department of Justice Harvests Cell Phone Data Using Planes 202

Posted by samzenpus
from the we-can-hear-you-now dept.
Tyketto writes The US Department of Justice has been using fake communications towers installed in airplanes to acquire cellular phone data for tracking down criminals, reports The Wall Street Journal. Using fix-wing Cessnas outfitted with DRT boxes produced by Boeing, the devices mimic cellular towers, fooling cellphones into reporting "unique registration information" to track down "individuals under investigation." The program, used by the U.S. Marshals Service, has been in use since 2007 and deployed around at least five major metropolitan areas, with a flying range that can cover most of the US population. As cellphones are designed to connect to the strongest cell tower signal available, the devices identify themselves as the strongest signal, allowing for the gathering of information on thousands of phones during a single flight. Not even having encryption on one's phone, like found in Apple's iPhone 6, prevents this interception. While the Justice Department would not confirm or deny the existence of such a program, Verizon denies any involvement in this program, and DRT (a subsidiary of Boeing), AT&T, and Sprint have all declined to comment.
The Almighty Buck

Mayday PAC Goes 2 For 8 224

Posted by Soulskill
from the above-the-mendoza-line dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Lawrence Lessig's Mayday.us project had a bold goal: create a super PAC to end all super PACs. It generated significant support and raised over $10 million, which it spent endorsing a group of candidates for the recent mid-term elections and the primaries beforehand. The results weren't kind. Only two of the eight candidates backed by Mayday won their elections, and both of those candidates were quite likely to win anyway. Lessig was understandably displeased with the results. In a post on the Mayday site, he said, "What 2014 shows most clearly is the power of partisanship in our elections. Whatever else voters wanted, they wanted first their team to win."

Kenneth Vogel, author of Big Money, a recent book on the rise of super PACs, was critical of of Mayday's efforts, saying, "While voters do express high levels of disgust about the state of campaign finance and the level of corruption in Washington, they tend to actually cast votes more on bread-and-butter economic issues." Still, Lessig is hopeful for the future: "We moved voters on the basis of that message. Not enough. Not cheaply enough. But they moved."
The Media

Ferguson No-Fly Zone Revealed As Anti-Media Tactic 265

Posted by timothy
from the pretty-damning-stuff dept.
The AP (here, carried by the San Francisco Chronicle) reports that recorded conversations reveal flight restrictions requested in August by the police force of Ferguson, MO, and agreed to by Federal aviation safety officials, were specifically intended to limit the access of journalists to the area, rather than purely in response to safety concerns. One FAA manager in Kansas City was recorded saying police "did not care if you ran commercial traffic through this TFR (temporary flight restriction) all day long. They didn't want media in there." "There is really ... no option for a [Temporary Flight Restriction] that says, you know, 'OK, everybody but the media is OK,'" he said. The managers then worked out wording they felt would keep news helicopters out of the controlled zone but not impede other air traffic. The conversations contradict claims by the St. Louis County Police Department, which responded to demonstrations following the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, that the restriction was solely for safety and had nothing to do with preventing media from witnessing the violence or the police response. Police said at the time, and again as recently as late Friday to the AP, that they requested the flight restriction in response to shots fired at a police helicopter. But police officials confirmed there was no damage to their helicopter and were unable to provide an incident report on the shooting. On the tapes, an FAA manager described the helicopter shooting as unconfirmed "rumors."

Comment: Re:what's the point? (Score 1) 136

by Reziac (#48296069) Attached to: A Smart Electric Bike: Taking the Copenhagen Wheel Out For a Spin

That may be, but there are always folks who want to build something with their own hands. Considering how many different kits are available, there must be plenty of demand, and they must work well enough to stay in business against the integrated solutions.

And total price may be a factor, especially if a person already owns the two major parts.

Comment: Re:I'm not sure what bothers me more, (Score 1) 613

by Reziac (#48295211) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Where Do You Stand on Daylight Saving Time?

Not at any school I ever went to. At winter solistice, we'd arrive in the dark and get out at dusk.

Can't find it again in my overcrowded inbox, but today on someone's blog there were a bunch of good stats on the effect of daylight savings on energy use. In short, with DST there's more energy used in the morning but less at night, with a net usage increase of about half a percent.

Comment: Re:pay money for youtube? (Score 1) 225

by Reziac (#48270931) Attached to: YouTube Considering an Ad-Free, Subscription-Based Version

How about letting individual channels choose if they want to go subscription? Cuz what a subscription model will cut down, drastically in the case of casual-content videos, is the impulse watcher who generates ad revenue whether they really care enough about your video to watch it or not.

Comment: Re:I wish I'd thought of that (Score 1) 221

by Reziac (#48252237) Attached to: Car Thieves and Insurers Vote On Keyless Car Security

It Depends. New plate every year used to be fairly standard practice, but that was a Long Time Ago.

Back in the olden days, Montana used to sell you new plates every year, which is quite the nuisance. This went away in the 1970s (I believe in 1975 since I recall changing the plate on my first car only a couple times), and tho current law says plates shall be replaced every five years, I suspect that's gone by the wayside with the switch to a one-time, permanent registration for vehicles 11 years or older.

At least as of 1984, California sold you one plate (which could be transferred to a new vehicle) and an annual sticker.

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