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Communications

California Bill Would Require Phone Crypto Backdoors 251

Trailrunner7 writes with this except from On The Wire: A week after a New York legislator introduced a bill that would require smartphone vendors to be able to decrypt users' phones on demand from law enforcement, a California bill with the same intent has been introduced in that state's assembly. On Wednesday, California Assemblyman Jim Cooper submitted a bill that has remarkably similar language to the New York measure and would require that device manufacturers and operating system vendors such as Apple, Samsung, and Google be able to decrypt users' devices. The law would apply to phones sold in California beginning Jan. 1, 2017. Of course, "smartphone vendors" wouldn't be able to decrypt voice calls sent using VoIP software that was encrypted outside their domain of influence.
Crime

California Attack Has US Rethinking Strategy On Homegrown Terror (nytimes.com) 676

JoeyRox writes: The recent terror attack in California reflects "an evolution of the terrorist threat that Mr. Obama and federal officials have long dreaded: homegrown, self-radicalized individuals operating undetected before striking one of many soft targets that can never be fully protected in a country as sprawling as the United States." With this new type of terror risk, authorities may begin relying more heavily on citizens reporting suspicious behavior of others. The attack is also expected to renew the debate over privacy versus security for software encryption. President Obama will be addressing the nation tonight to discuss the attack.
United States

US Spends $1bn Over a Decade Trying To Digitize Immigration Forms, Just 1 Is Online (washingtonpost.com) 305

Bruce66423 writes: A government project to digitize immigration forms succeeded in enabling exactly one application to be completed and submitted after 10 years of work because of the botched software and implementation. The Washington Post reports: "This project, run by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, was originally supposed to cost a half-billion dollars and be finished in 2013. Instead, it’s now projected to reach up to $3.1 billion and be done nearly four years from now, putting in jeopardy efforts to overhaul the nation’s immigration policies, handle immigrants already seeking citizenship and detect national security threats, according to documents and interviews with former and current federal officials."
Security

TSA Screeners Can't Detect Weapons (and They Never Could) (arstechnica.com) 349

JustAnotherOldGuy writes: TSA screeners' ability to detect weapons in luggage is "pitiful," according to classified reports on the security administration's ongoing story of failure and fear. "In looking at the number of times people got through with guns or bombs in these covert testing exercises it really was pathetic. When I say that I mean pitiful," said Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), speaking Tuesday during a House Oversight hearing concerning classified reports (PDF) from federal watchdogs (PDF). "Just thinking about the breaches there, it's horrific," he added. A leaked classified report this summer found that as much as 95 percent of contraband, like weapons and explosives, got through during clandestine testings. Lynch's comments were in response to the classified report's findings.
Government

NBC News Reports US Will Require Registration For Consumer Drones (nbcnews.com) 235

Gizmodo and Engadget are both reporting (and both pointing to a report at NBC News) that the Department of Transportation is expected to announce Monday a plan to regulate drone use in the U.S., based on fears of danger to aviation. From the relied-on report at NBC News: The federal government will announce a new plan requiring anyone buying a drone to register the device with the U.S. Department of Transportation, NBC news has learned. ... Under the plan, the government would work with the drone industry to set up a structure for registering the drones, and the regulations could be in place by Christmas. That sounds like an impossible task, if it's to take in all remote-controlled flying devices that might be described as drones. About this time last year, Chris Anderson (ex-Wired editor, and now head of 3D Robotics) estimated that about half a million drones had already been sold in the U.S., and that sounds like an undercount even for then, given the many cheap-and-cheerful options. From suppliers like Banggood, tiny quadcopters can now be had for less than $20, though it's hard to think of them as a danger to aviation.
Biotech

Anti-GMO Activists Win Victory On Hawaiian Island 510

biobricks writes "New York Times reports on how the county council on the Big Island of Hawaii banned GMOs. 'Urged on by Margaret Wille, the ban’s sponsor, who spoke passionately of the need to “act before it’s too late,” the Council declined to form a task force to look into such questions before its November vote. But Mr. Ilagan, 27, sought answers on his own. In the process, he found himself, like so many public and business leaders worldwide, wrestling with a subject in which popular beliefs often do not reflect scientific evidence. At stake is how to grow healthful food most efficiently, at a time when a warming world and a growing population make that goal all the more urgent.'"
United States

Video Did Internet Sales Tax Backers Bribe Congress? (Video) 317

This may be a coincidence, but according to MapLight, Senators who voted last week for the bill allowing states to directly collect taxes on sales via the Internet, AKA The Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013, received 40 times as much campaign donation money (yes, that's four-oh, not just four) from businesses in favor of the bill as those who voted against it received from businesses that were against Internet sales taxes. Was this bribery? Of course not! We're not some piddly fifth-world country. But it's a prime example of how money influences politics here in the good old USA, and it's far from the only one we've seen lately. In this video, MapLight Program Director Jay Costa shares a bunch more with us, along with tips on how to spot this sort of thing and some steps we voters can take to fight against both direct and indirect influence-buying. Note that all this is totally non-partisan; the politicians with the most influence -- whether local, state or federal -- get most of the available special interest money no matter what other agenda(s) they may have. And for those who want to learn more about who is spending their dollars to influence your representatives, Jay also suggests a look at these two money-in-politics resources: FollowTheMoney.org and OpenSecrets.org.
Security

DHS Still Stonewalling On Body Scanning Ruling One Year Later 242

OverTheGeicoE writes "About a year ago, the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on EPIC v. DHS, a lawsuit that sought to end TSA's use of body scanners. The Court found that DHS violated federal law by not seeking public comment before using body scanners as a primary search method. They ordered TSA to take public comment on its body scanning policy but did not require TSA to suspend its use of the scanners during the comment period. Several months later nothing had been done yet. One year later TSA has still done nothing, and even EPIC, the original plaintiff, seems to have given up. Others have apparently picked up the torch, however. Jim Harper, director of information policy studies at the libertarian think tank the Cato Institute, has posted a piece on Ars Technica about TSA's violation of the court order. He also started a petition on Whitehouse.gov asking TSA to comply with the order. An earlier petition ended with a non-response from TSA Administrator John Pistole. Will the latest petition fare any better, even in an election year?"
Government

Massachusetts Plans To Keep Track of Where Your Car Has Been 521

Attila Dimedici writes "Massachusetts wants to establish a database with the information gathered by license plate scanners installed in police cars. The scanners will scan license plates of every car the police vehicle passes and transmit that information (along with the location) to a database that will be made available to various government agencies. The data wil be kept indefinitely."
Government

Man Arrested For Linking To Online Videos 308

SonicSpike writes "In a case against a New York website owner, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is claiming that merely linking to copyrighted material is a crime. DHS, along with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), seized Brian McCarthy's domain, channelsurfing.net, in late January. The site has now been replaced with a government warning: 'This domain has been seized by ICE — Homeland Security Investigations, Special Agent in Charge, New York Office.' The advocacy group Demand Progress has claimed that McCarthy never reproduced copyrighted material, and that his website simply linked to other sites. A criminal complaint obtained by the group seems to acknowledge that agents knew that McCarthy was running a 'linking website.' While the criminal complaint alleges that McCarthy did engage in the 'reproduction and distribution' of copyrighted material, it is never clear that he actually reproduced any of the specified broadcasts." McCarthy was arrested last week. Relatedly, TorrentFreak has posted a list of reasons why these domain name seizures are unconstitutional.
Transportation

TSA Investigates Pilot Who Exposed Security Flaws 394

stewart_maximus writes "The TSA is investigating a TSA deputized pilot who posted videos to YouTube pointing out security flaws. Flaws exposed include ground crew clearing security with just a card swipe while pilots have to go through metal detectors, and a 'medieval-looking rescue ax' being available on the flight deck. Three days after posting the video, 6 government officials arrived at his door to question him and confiscated his federal firearm (and his concealed weapon permit)."
Censorship

DHS Seized Domains Based On Bad Evidence 235

An anonymous reader writes "Back over Thanksgiving, the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement unit (ICE) made a lot of news by seizing over 80 domain names. While many of these involved sites that sold counterfeit products, five of the domains involved copyright issues. Four of them involved hiphop-related blogs — including ones that hiphop stars like Kanye West and others used to promote their own works, and the last one was a meta search engine that simply aggregated other search engines. Weeks went by without the owners of those sites even being told why their domains were seized, but the affidavit for the seizure of those five sites has recently come out, and it's full of all sorts of problems. Not only was it put together by a recent college graduate, who claimed that merely linking to news and blog posts about file sharing constituted evidence of copyright infringement, it listed as evidence of infringement songs that labels specifically sent these blogs to promote. Also, what becomes clear is that the MPAA was instrumental in 'guiding' ICE's rookie agent in going after these sites, as that appeared to be the only outside expertise relied on in determining if these sites should be seized."
Government

Senate Trying To Slip Internet Kill Switch Past Us 461

sanermind writes "Sensing Senators don't have the stomach to try and pass a stand-alone bill in broad daylight that would give the President the power to shut down the Internet in a national emergency, the Senate is considering attaching the Internet Kill Switch bill as a rider to other legislation that would have bi-partisan support."

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