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Submission + - China Employs "2 Million Microblog Monitors" State Media Say (bbc.co.uk)

dryriver writes: The BBC reports: More than two million people in China are employed by the government to monitor web activity, state media say, providing a rare glimpse into how the state tries to control the internet. The Beijing News says the monitors, described as internet "opinion analysts", are on state and commercial payrolls. China's hundreds of millions of web users increasingly use microblogs to criticise the state or vent anger. Recent research suggested Chinese censors actively target social media. The report by the Beijing News said that these monitors were not required to delete postings. They are "strictly to gather and analyse public opinions on microblog sites and compile reports for decision-makers", it said. It also added details about how some of these monitors work. Tang Xiaotao has been working as a monitor for less than six months, the report says, without revealing where he works. "He sits in front of a PC every day, and opening up an application, he types in key words which are specified by clients. "He then monitors negative opinions related to the clients, and gathers (them) and compiles reports and sends them to the clients," it says. The reports says the software used in the office is even more advanced and supported by thousands of servers. It also monitors websites outside China. China rarely reveals any details concerning the scale and sophistication of its internet police force. It is believed that the two million internet monitors are part of a huge army which the government relies on to control the internet.

Submission + - Dentist Wants To Clone John Lennon Using DNA Extracted From Lennon's Tooth (softpedia.com)

dryriver writes: People fantasizing about a Beatles comeback tour might yet see their dream come true, all thanks to Dr. Michael Zuk. This dentist is the proud owner of one of John Lennon's teeth, and plans to use it to clone the musician. By the looks of it, Dr. Michael Zuk came in possession of the tooth in 2011. At that time, he purchased the molar at an auction organized in the United Kingdom, and paid about $30,000 (€22,424) for it. According to The Inquisitr, the dentist is now working alongside scientists in the United States, who are helping him figure out a way to extract DNA from the tooth without damaging it in the process. This DNA would serve to bring back John Lennon. Apparently, Dr. Michael Zuk hopes that his project will snowball into a scientific and pop-cultural revolution. “To potentially say I had a small part in bringing back one of Rock's greatest stars would be mind-blowing.” “I am nervous and excited at the possibility that we will be able to fully sequence John Lennon's DNA, very soon I hope,” the dentist reportedly commented on the importance of his work.

Submission + - Protests mounts against new surveillance laws (zdnet.com)

An anonymous reader writes: New revelations about Ministerial orders requiring backdoors into online services in New Zealand are fueling nationwide protests against new surveillance powers to be granted to the Government Communications Services Bureau. Speaking at one large protest meeting, Kim Dotcom described the "Five Eyes" X-Keyscore surveillance system as "Google for spies". He told protesters he first noticed he was being spied on when his internet speed slowed by "20 to 30 milliseconds". "As a gamer, I noticed," he said.

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: An Easy Way To Download Android APK Files To A Desktop PC? 3

dryriver writes: There is an Offline version of Wikipedia for Android devices called "Wiki Encyclopedia Offline-Free" (URL: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=in.bitmagic.wiki.offline&hl=en). It promises to place roughly 2 million pages worth of Wikipedia in the palm of your hand, on your Android phone, for offline use. The downside of it? At 3.6 Gb size, it is way too large to download to a phone over 3G. It could take days for that download to finish. So.. big deal, right? Just download the 3.6 gig Android APK file onto a desktop PC over trusty ADSL, and sideload it onto the Android phone over USB cable, right? Except that you can't. Google store refuses to let you download an Android app to a desktop PC. There is a Chrome Browser Extension that, supposedly, can get around this limitation. But Google is blocking that too — Chrome won't even let you install the extension. Other methods I have Googled failed to download any APK files from the Google Store. So I am asking you, my dear Slashdotters: How the hell do you download an APK file from Google Play Store to a (Windows) PC? This is such an obvious thing to do, but Google, apparently, is going out of its way to block this, for business reasons I guess? Any help with this would be most welcome!

Submission + - Julian Assange: Rand Paul Libertarians "Only Hope" For Future of America (infowars.com)

dryriver writes: During a live question and answer conference call held at Deakin University in Melbourne earlier today, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange praised Matt Drudge for breaking establishment media censorship in the United States, while heralding Rand Paul and the libertarian wing of the Republican Party as the “only hope” for the future of America. Asked what he thought of the political commentator, Assange labeled Matt Drudge a 'news media innovator,' noting that he came to prominence by 'publishing information that the establishment press in the United States would not.' 'It is a result of the self-censorship of the establishment press in the United States that gave Matt Drudge such a platform and of course he should be applauded for breaking a lot of that censorship,' said Assange, adding that he agreed with some of Drudge’s political positions and disagreed with others. The Wikileaks founder then addressed a follow-up question about former Congressman Ron Paul and current Senator Rand Paul, remarking, 'I’m a big admirer of Ron Paul and Rand Paul for their very principled positions in the US Congress on a number of issues,' noting that they have been 'the strongest supporters of the fight against the US attack on Wikileaks and on me.'

Submission + - Google: Don't Expect Privacy When Sending Emails To Gmail (theguardian.com) 3

dryriver writes: People sending email to any of Google's 425 million Gmail users have no "reasonable expectation" that their communications are confidential, the internet giant has said in a court filing. Consumer Watchdog, the advocacy group that uncovered the filing, called the revelation a "stunning admission." It comes as Google and its peers are under pressure to explain their role in the National Security Agency's (NSA) mass surveillance of US citizens and foreign nationals. "Google has finally admitted they don't respect privacy," said John Simpson, Consumer Watchdog's privacy project director. "People should take them at their word; if you care about your email correspondents' privacy, don't use Gmail." Google set out its case last month in an attempt to dismiss a class action lawsuit that accuses the tech giant of breaking wire tap laws when it scans emails sent from non-Google accounts in order to target ads to Gmail users. That suit, filed in May, claims Google "unlawfully opens up, reads, and acquires the content of people's private email messages". It quotes Eric Schmidt, Google's executive chairman: "Google policy is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it." The suit claims: "Unbeknown to millions of people, on a daily basis and for years, Google has systematically and intentionally crossed the 'creepy line' to read private email messages containing information you don't want anyone to know, and to acquire, collect, or mine valuable information from that mail." In its motion to dismiss the case, Google said the plaintiffs were making "an attempt to criminalise ordinary business practices" that have been part of Gmail's service since its introduction. Google said "all users of email must necessarily expect that their emails will be subject to automated processing."

Submission + - Israel To Pay Students To Defend It Online (usatoday.com)

dryriver writes: JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel is looking to hire university students to post pro-Israel messages on social media networks — without needing to identify themselves as government-linked, officials said Wednesday. The Israeli prime minister's office said in a statement that students on Israeli university campuses would receive full or partial scholarships to combat anti-Semitism and calls to boycott Israel online. It said students' messages would parallel statements by government officials. "This is a groundbreaking project aimed at strengthening Israeli national diplomacy and adapting it to changes in information consumption," the statement said. An Israeli official said Wednesday that scholarship recipients would be free to decide whether or not to identify themselves as part of the program, which would begin within months.----- Summary: Students would receive scholarships to engage international audiences online to combat anti-Semitism. Students would receive scholarships to engage international audiences online to combat calls to boycott Israel. Students' messages would parallel statements by government spokespeople.

Submission + - What Google Knows About You - Google Dashboard (wsj.com)

dryriver writes: What is Google Dashboard? In short, it is a one-stop shop that links to all the different buckets of your stored data collected by Google Inc.'s services. From your first Gmail account onward, Google has been collecting an amazing amount of information from you, and Dashboard is where you go to find it. Strangely enough, the easiest way to find your Google Dashboard is to go to Google.com and search for "Google Dashboard." There might be a link to it from somewhere in Gmail, but I have never seen it, and it doesn't seem to make itself obvious anywhere. Google created the Dashboard in 2009 so its users could manage all their privacy setting in our place. Once you find your Google Dashboard, you're not going to look away. That's because the reality of how much history you share with Google can be unnerving to confront, especially for heavy Web users.

Submission + - MIT: Future Smartphones Will 'Listen to Everything All the Time' (infowars.com)

dryriver writes: Ubiquitous surveillance to 'detect your moods', 'pinpoint the sources of your stress', and 'present relevant information'. — The development of new smartphone technology that constantly records your private conversations in addition to all ambient background noise in order to 'detect your moods' could mean the NSA might not have to bother with tapping actual phone calls at all in future. A report by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology hails the era of 'technologies that emphasize listening to everything, all the time', ubiquitous surveillance aided by microphones installed on new smartphones, such as Google’s Moto X, that do not run off the main battery and can, 'continually monitor their auditory environment to detect the phone owner’s voice, discern what room or other setting the phone is in, or pick up other clues from background noise.' While the article fails to mention the nightmare privacy implications that this technology would engender, it focuses on the innumerable apparent benefits. The technology could, 'make it possible for software to detect your moods, know when you are talking and not to disturb you, and perhaps someday keep a running record of everything you hear.' It sounds like Big Brother and invasive Minority Report-style advertising rolled into one. Chris Schmandt, director of the speech and mobility group at MIT’s Media Lab, relates how “one of his grad students once recorded two years’ worth of all the sounds he was exposed to—capturing every conversation. While the speech-to-text conversions were rough, they were good enough that he could perform a keyword search and recover the actual recording of a months-old conversation.”

Submission + - Our New News Overlords: RT - Vladimir Putin's Weapon In "The War Of Images" (spiegel.de)

dryriver writes: A photo of Edward Snowden, the whistleblower the United States wants to bring home to face charges, is projected onto the studio wall. Then there is a report on the detention camp at Guantanamo, which has hurt America's reputation. Russia Today uses the source material America supplies to its rivals untiringly and with relish. Even Washington's relatively minor peccadilloes don't escape notice. For instance, the show also includes a story about Gabonese dictator Ali Bongo Ondimba, whom US President Barack Obama supports. Many in the West are also interested in seeing critical coverage of the self-proclaimed top world power. Russia Today is already more successful than all other foreign broadcast stations available in major US cities, such as San Francisco, Chicago and New York. In Washington, 13 times as many people watch the Russian program as those that tune into Deutsche Welle, Germany's public international broadcaster. Two million Britons watch the Kremlin channel regularly. Its online presence is also more successful than those of all its competitors. What's more, in June, Russia Today broke a YouTube record by being the first TV station to get a billion views of its videos. Since 2005, the Russian government has increased the channel's annual budget more than tenfold, from $30 million (€22.6 million) to over $300 million. Russia Today's budget covers the salaries of 2,500 employees and contractors worldwide, 100 in Washington alone. And the channel has no budget cuts to fear now that Putin has issued a decree forbidding his finance minister from taking any such steps.

Submission + - Microsoft Helped The NSA Spy On Its Clients

An anonymous reader writes: From Zerohedge: According to another just released report by the Guardian citing Snowden files, "Microsoft has collaborated closely with US intelligence services to allow users' communications to be intercepted, including helping the National Security Agency to circumvent the company's own encryption, according to top-secret documents obtained by the Guardian."

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: How to drive change against pervasive surveillance?

An anonymous reader writes: Recent revelations about NSA and GCHQ and others confirmed what I've been fearing and warning about since the 90s. Naively I expected I'd welcome this day, but I'm feeling dejected. Telling my friends "I told you so!" is not nearly as satisfying as I thought. But it has re-ignited the desire to do something about it.

So, I'd like to make a difference. To drive change in mindsets, laws and regulations, so that my children don't have to grow up in a Panopticon world where their entire lives will be indiscriminately and indefinitely recorded and retained by governments, corporations and individuals, where they will be guilty by association or breaking secret laws, judged in secret courts based on secret evidence, or their business empire destroyed by a stray words they said thirty years ago; who knows what is considered wildly inappropriate or treasonous in 2040.

The options I have come up with are:
  • Become a politician. Joining the pirate party in my country of residence might be a great option, as they can take active part in writing laws and regulations, and reach a wide audience via interviews in mainstream newspapers.
  • Become an activist. Highest risk, as you are not protected by the same explicit and implicit rules and regulations protecting members of the parliament. Even if you follow the law — which I would — your life is subject to "enhanced" scrutiny and might end up on all kinds of lists making your life a living hell. If you slip up like Julian Assange arguably and allegedly did in Sweden, you will be chained up and fed to the lions.
  • Become a blogger. The blogosphere has a high noise, and there are already many bloggers out there talking about privacy. Worst of all, blogging will likely only reach those with similar disposition, thus you will not be able to make a as much of an impact unless you already have a name — which I don't — or manage to become popular outside the geek community. Just as risky as being an activist.
  • Make it a business. I'm not a programmer or a techie, but perhaps I should seek employment in a trustworthy company producing security-related products. The most obvious choice with less tangible personal input, but potentially real and large real-world impact. Moderate to low risk.

What other options are there?

Submission + - Assange's 365th Day Inside (vice.com)

Daniel_Stuckey writes: Uninterested in facing US justice, Assange said he's prepared to spend five years living there. If he goes out for a walk, he'll be extradited to Sweden to answer rape accusations—after which he has no promise from Sweden to deny further extradition efforts to America, where a grand jury investigation into WikiLeaks awaits.

This also means that London's Metropolitan Police have been devoting their resources to keeping tabs on Assange for a year. Yesterday, a spokesperson explained the updated costs of guarding the embassy over the phone:

"From July 2012 through May 2013, the full cost has been £3.8 million ($5,963,340)," he said. "£700,000 ($1,099,560) of which are additional, or overtime costs."

Julian has a treadmill, a SAD lamp, and a connection to the Internet, through which he's been publishing small leaks and conducting interviews. The indoor lifestyle has taken its toll on Julian, and it led to his contracting a chronic lung condition last fall.

Your Rights Online

Submission + - UK communications law could be used to spy on physical mail (bbc.co.uk)

An anonymous reader writes: The BBC reports that the UK's Draft Communications Bill includes a provision which could be used to force the Royal Mail and other mail carriers to retain data on all physical mail passing through their networks. The law could be used to force carriers to maintain a database of any data written on the outside of an envelope or package which could be accessed by government bodies at will.
Such data could include sender, recipient and type of mail (and, consequentially, the entire contents of a postcard). It would provide a physical analog of the recently proposed internet surveillance laws.
The Home Office claims that it has no current plans to enforce the law.

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