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Government

One Crime Solved Per 1,000 London CCTV Cameras 404

Posted by kdawson
from the ready-for-my-closeup-mister-demille dept.
SpuriousLogic writes "Only one crime was solved for each 1,000 CCTV cameras in London last year, a report into the city's surveillance network has claimed. The internal police report found the million-plus cameras in London rarely help catch criminals. In one month CCTV helped capture just eight out of 269 suspected robbers. David Davis MP, the former shadow home secretary, said: 'It should provoke a long overdue rethink on where the crime prevention budget is being spent.' He added: 'CCTV leads to massive expense and minimum effectiveness. It creates a huge intrusion on privacy, yet provides little or no improvement in security. The Metropolitan Police has been extraordinarily slow to act to deal with the ineffectiveness of CCTV.'"
Government

Mexico Decriminalizes Small-Scale Drug Possession 640

Posted by kdawson
from the never-did-worry-much-about-the-little-things dept.
Professor_Quail notes an AP story that begins, "Mexico enacted a controversial law Thursday decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, cocaine, heroin and other drugs while encouraging free government treatment for drug dependency. The law sets out maximum 'personal use' amounts for drugs, also including LSD and methamphetamine. People detained with those quantities will no longer face criminal prosecution when the law goes into effect Friday." An official in the attorney general's office said, "This is not legalization, this is regulating the issue and giving citizens greater legal certainty... for a practice that was already in place." In 2006, the US criticized a similar bill that had no provisions for mandatory treatment, and the then-president sent it back to Congress for reconsideration.
Privacy

Switzerland's Data Protection Watchdog Wants Street View Disabled 257

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-so-neutral dept.
glow-in-the-dark writes "The Swiss office for Data Protection has asked Google to turn off Street View within the country because it doesn't meet the conditions demanded when permission was given to go ahead with the photography. Google answered privacy concerns with the following points (I'm translating them from German; here's an automated translation): 'Google will publish in advance where it is going to record the images, so you can act accordingly.' Do they want you to hide? Where is the real obligation here? 'Google has made masking the images of people and car license plates obligatory.' I think this is where trouble starts, because their permission to go ahead appears to have been dependent on how well they did this. I have browsed one particular town as an experiment and was quite quickly able to find unmasked faces. This means that either the algorithm they use doesn't work, or that it is done manually and they've fallen behind (in which case they should not have put up the images). 'Although a picture of a home is generally not covered under Data Protection, Google has agreed to remove them if asked. Follow the same process as removing a person.' I think it wouldn't be half as bad if the pictures weren't taken with a high enough resolution to see inside a house. In short, Google has not been given the easy ride it had in other countries regarding Street View. I actually suspect there is more to come."
Graphics

Working With Ogg Theora and the Video Tag 187

Posted by samzenpus
from the fighting-the-good-fight dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Free Software Foundation's Holmes Wilson is just back from Berlin, where he participated in the Ogg Theora book sprint put on by FLOSS Manuals. Here is a broad look at Ogg Theora and how it fits into the push for free formats: where we're winning, what works, and what could be improved."
Communications

Pidgin Adds Google Talk Voice and Video Support (and a Vulnerability) 127

Posted by timothy
from the hey-sometimes-stuff-happens dept.
ottothecow writes "While various attempts at video and voice support have been in the pipeline since long before GAIM became Pidgin, fully functioning support over XMPP is on its way. Lifehacker reports that Pidgin 2.6 adds voice and video support for GChat (and presumably any other XMPP network) for Mac and Linux. Windows still has a few bugs but they are being worked on. Pidgin 2.6.1 is only available as source at the moment (but precompiled versions are available at getdeb)." Less happily, an anonymous reader writes "A remote arbitrary-code-execution vulnerability has been found in Libpurple (used by Pidgin and Adium instant messaging clients, among others), which can be triggered by a remote attacker by sending a specially crafted MSNSLP packet with invalid data to the client through the MSN server. No victim interaction is required, and the attacker is not required to be in the victim's buddy list (under default configuration)."
Networking

Network Adapter Keeps Talking While a PC Is Asleep 188

Posted by timothy
from the would-make-me-feel-better-about-keeping-a-server-on dept.
Al writes "Researchers at Microsoft and the University of California, San Diego have developed a network adapter that lets a computer enter sleep mode without disrupting the network connection. The adapter, dubbed Somniloquy (meaning to talk in one's sleep), consists of a gumstix running embedded Linux, 64MB of RAM and a 2G SD memory card, connected via USB. The adapter keeps the network connection going and the researchers have also developed a simplified IM client and bittorrent client that carry out more complicated tasks autonomously, only waking the computer if, for example, an actualy IM is received or a download is completed."
The Internet

'Awful' Internet Rules Released 106

Posted by timothy
from the do-your-wuerst dept.
maximus1 writes "NetChoice, a trade group that identifies and fights threats aimed at online communities and e-commerce, released iAWFUL, a list of America's 10 worst legislative and regulatory proposals targeted at the Internet. At the top of the list is a Maine law that would require e-commerce sites to get parental approval before collecting minors' personal information. According to the NetChoice site, 'lawmakers approved the measure despite the fact that Web sites have no means to confirm such consent, and would be effectively forced to stop providing valuable services like college information, test prep services, and class rings.' Coming in second on the iAWFUL list is a city ordinance that would hit Internet users with an extra tax on hotel rooms. Scheduled to take effect in September, the new tax is aimed at consumers who use the Internet to bargain hunt for expensive NYC hotel rooms."
Censorship

Flickr Yanks Image of Obama As Joker 869

Posted by timothy
from the such-treatment-is-only-for-the-old-boss dept.
An anonymous reader writes "An interesting article yesterday about the unmasking of the recent creator of the controversial and iconic Obama/Joker image that has been popping up around Los Angeles with the word Socialism under it. The Los Angeles Times has identified the images' creator as Firas Alkhateeb. Even more interesting though is the fact that after getting over 20,000 hits on the image at Flickr, Flickr removed the image from Alkateeb's photostream, citing 'copyright' concerns. The image in question is clearly both an independent derivative work and unquestionably a parody of the President and Time Magazine which would be covered under fair use. It has appeared on many other sites without issue on the Internet." According to the same reader, "Flickr also recently nuked a user's entire photostream over negative comments on President Obama's official photostream."
Windows

+ - Early Windows 7 Trouble Report.->

Submitted by
twitter
twitter writes "Here we go again. Vista 7 is RTM and people have started to use it. With real use comes real problems. Here's what happened.

I was humming along with Windows 7 for most of this past week. And then something happened. My browser crawled to a stop yesterday. Im not sure what changed if anything but it was like someone had secretly snuck into my netbook and swapped the 2GB stick with a 256MB module. The CPU kept hitting 100 percent, so browser tabs were taking 15 seconds or more to render content. Thats a productivity killer for what I do, and after a few hours of torture yesterday, I went back to Windows XP.

It's like Vista all over again."
Link to Original Source

Government

$18M Contract For Transparency Website Released — But Blacked Out 384

Posted by timothy
from the but-don't-worry-government-health-care-will-be-cheap dept.
zokuga writes "The US government recently approved an $18 million contract for Smartronix to build a website where taxpayers could easily track billions in federal stimulus money, as part of President Obama's promise to make government more transparent through the Internet. However, the contract, which was released only through repeated Freedom of Information Act requests, is itself heavily blacked out. ProPublica reports: 'After weeks of prodding by ProPublica and other organizations, the Government Services Agency released copies of the contract and related documents that are so heavily blacked out they are virtually worthless. In all, 25 pages of a 59-page technical proposal — the main document in the package — were redacted completely. Of the remaining pages, 14 had half or more of their content blacked out.' Sections that were heavily or entirely redacted dealt with subjects such as site navigation, user experience, and everything in the pricing table. The entire contract, in all its blacked-out glory, is here."
Education

Open Textbooks Win Over Publishers In CA 216

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the now-put-them-in-a-wiki dept.
Unequivocal writes "Recently California's Governor announced a free digital textbook competition. The results of that competition were announced today. Many traditional publishers submitted textbooks in this digital textbook competition in CA as well as open publishers. An upstart nonprofit organization named CK-12 contributed a number of textbooks (all free and open source material). 'Of the 16 free digital textbooks for high school math and science reviewed, ten meet at least 90 percent of California's standards. Four meet 100 percent of standards.' Three of those recognized as 100% aligned to California standards were from CK-12 and one from H. Jerome Keisler. None of the publisher's submissions were so recognized. CK-12 has a very small staff, so this is a great proof of the power of open textbooks and open educational resources."
Bug

Database Error Costs Social Security Victims $500M 299

Posted by timothy
from the drop-in-the-bucket dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The Washington Posts reports that the Social Security Administration has agreed to pay more than $500 million in back benefits to more than 80,000 recipients whose benefits were unfairly denied after they were flagged by a federal computer program designed to catch serious criminals. At issue is a 1996 law, which contained language later nicknamed the 'fleeing felon' provision, that said fugitives were ineligible to receive federal benefits. As part of its enforcement, the administration began searching computer databases to weed out people who were collecting benefits and had outstanding warrants. The searches captured dozens of criminals, including some wanted for homicide, but they also ensnared countless elderly and disabled people accused of relatively minor offenses such as shoplifting or writing bad checks and in some cases, the victims simply shared a name and a birth date with an offender." (Read more, below.)
Security

Voting Machine Attacks Proven To Be Practical 225

Posted by kdawson
from the back-up-the-dumpster dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Every time a bunch of academics show vulnerabilities in electronic voting machines, critics complain that the attacks aren't realistic, that attackers won't have access to source code, or design documents, or be able to manipulate the hardware, etc. So this time a bunch of computer scientists from UCSD, Michigan, and Princeton offered a rebuttal. They completely own the AVC Advantage using no access to source code or design documents (PDF), and deliver a complete working attack in a plug-in cartridge that could be used by anyone with a few private minutes with the machine. Moreover, they came up with some cool tricks to do this on a machine protected against traditional code injection attacks (the AVC processor will only execute instructions from ROM). The research was presented at this week's USENIX EVT."

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