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Government

GCHQ Officials Given Immunity From Hacking Charges 118

Posted by Soulskill
from the government-in-CYA-mode dept.
An anonymous reader writes with news that members of British intelligence agency GCHQ have been granted immunity from prosecution for any laws they might have violated while hacking into citizens' computers or cellphones. The immunity was granted by changes to the Computer Misuse Act that weren't noticed until now, and not discussed or debated when implemented. While different legislation has long been thought to grant permission for illegal activities abroad, civil rights groups were unaware that domestic hacking activities were covered now as well. The legislative changes were passed on March 3rd, 2015, long after domestic spying became a hot-button issue, and almost a year after Privacy International and several ISPs filed complaints challenging it.
Canada

Canadian Prime Minister To Music Lobby: Here's Your Copyright Term Extension 121

Posted by timothy
from the plenty-more-where-that-came-from dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The Canadian government's decision to extend the term of copyright for sound recordings in the budget may have taken most copyright observers by surprise, but not the music industry. The extension will reduce competition, increase costs for consumers, and harm access to Canadian Heritage, but apparently all it took was a letter from the music industry lobby to the Prime Minister of Canada. Michael Geist reports on a letter sent by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to the music lobby on the day the change was announced confirming that industry lobbying convinced him to extend the term of copyright without any public consultation or discussion.
Government

Texas Regulators Crack Down on App-Driven Hauling Service 167

Posted by timothy
from the who-exactly-is-being-protected? dept.
According to the Austin American-Statesman, it's not just ride-sharing companies like Uber drawing attention from regulators, at least in Texas, but also a similar service that's hauling goods rather than people. In a letter demanding that Austin-based Burro cease its phone-coordinated delivery service, Texas Department of Motor Vehicles director of enforcement William P. Harbeson says that "[a]nyone moving household goods in a pick-up truck or other type or size of vehicle for hire is required to register" with the Department, "and show proof of insurance in the amounts required by law." According to the letter, this includes not just professional or even regular haulers, but also people moving a piece of furniture bought at a garage sale for pay; considering the number of people offering that kind of service on Austin's Craigslist, or in the parking lot of home supply stores like Home Depot, it seems like a regulation that will put a dent in the wallet of quite a few people. Burro, for its part, says its providers "are backed by $1M in insurance" — more than can be said for one of the obvious substitutes, which is relying on friends or acquaintances with a roof-rack and some bungie cords.
Privacy

LinkedIn Used To Create Database of 27,000 US Intelligence Personnel 82

Posted by samzenpus
from the running-the-numbers dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A new group, Transparency Toolkit, has mined LinkedIn to reveal and analyze the resumes of over 27,000 people in the U.S. intelligence community. In the process, Transparency Toolkit said it found previously unknown secret codewords and references to surveillance technologies and projects. "'Transparency Toolkit uses open data to watch the watchers and hold the powerful to account,' the group's website says. 'We build free software to collect and analyze open data from a variety of sources. Then we work with investigative journalists and human rights organizations to turn that into useful, actionable knowledge. Currently, our primary focuses are investigating surveillance and human rights abuses.'"
Programming

C Code On GitHub Has the Most "Ugly Hacks" 264

Posted by samzenpus
from the eye-of-the-beholder dept.
itwbennett writes: An analysis of GitHub data shows that C developers are creating the most ugly hacks — or are at least the most willing to admit to it. To answer the question of which programming language produces the most ugly hacks, ITworld's Phil Johnson first used the search feature on GitHub, looking for code files that contained the string 'ugly hack'. In that case, C comes up first by a wide margin, with over 181,000 code files containing that string. The rest of the top ten languages were PHP (79k files), JavaScript (38k), C++ (22k), Python (19k), Text (11k), Makefile (11k), HTML, (10k), Java (7k), and Perl (4k). Even when controlling for the number of repositories, C wins the ugly-hack-athon by a landslide, Johnson found.
AI

AI Experts In High Demand 78

Posted by Soulskill
from the skynet-attempting-to-bootstrap-itself dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The field of artificial intelligence is getting hotter by the moment as Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and other tech companies snap up experts and pour funding into university research. Commercial uses for AI are still limited. Predictive text and Siri, the iPhone's voice-recognition feature, are early manifestations. But AI's potential has exploded as the cost of computing power drops and as the ability to collect and process data soars. Big tech companies like Facebook and Google now vacuum up the huge amount of data that needs to be processed to help machines make "intelligent" decisions. The relationship between tech giants and academia can be difficult to navigate. Some faculty members complain tech companies aren't doing enough in the many collaborative efforts now under way. One big gripe: Companies aren't willing to share the vast data they are able to collect.
Republicans

Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina Announces Bid For White House 553

Posted by Soulskill
from the good-luck-with-that dept.
seven of five writes: According to Reuters, "Former Hewlett-Packard Co Chief Executive Carly Fiorina announced on Monday she is running for president, becoming the only woman in the pack of Republican candidates for the White House in 2016. ... Fiorina registers near the bottom of polls of the dozen or so Republican hopefuls and has never held public office. But she has already attracted warm receptions at events in the early voting state of Iowa where she is positioning herself as a conservative, pro-business Republican highly critical of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Fiorina was forced by HP to resign in 2005 as the tech company struggled to digest Compaq after a $19 billion merger."

As part of her announcement, she said, "I think I'm the best person for the job because I understand how the economy actually works. I understand the world, who's in it, how the world works." I'm sure we'll soon begin hearing from all the HP employees, current and former, who have nothing but love for Carly F.
Crime

In Second Trial, Ex-Goldman Sachs Programmer Convicted of Code Theft 84

Posted by timothy
from the ok-that-information-did-not-want-to-be-free dept.
Ars Technica reports that A former Goldman Sachs programmer—featured in the book Flash Boys—was convicted on Friday for stealing high-speed trading code from the bank. Sergey Aleynikov, 45, was also acquitted on one count of unlawful duplication, according to Reuters. The New York state jury could not come to a verdict on another count of unlawful use of secret scientific material. Sergey Aleynikov was also acquitted of unlawful duplication. This was the second trial for Aleynikov in five years. He could face up to four years in prison.
Stats

Humans Dominating Poker Super Computer 93

Posted by timothy
from the maybe-it's-a-ringer dept.
New submitter IoTdude writes: The Claudico super computer uses an algorithm to account for gargantuan amounts of complexity by representing the number of possible Heads-Up No-limit Texas Hold'em decisions. Claudico also updates its strategy as it goes along, but its basic approach to the game involves getting into every hand by calling bets. And it's not working out so far. Halfway through the competition, the four human pros had a cumulative lead of 626,892 chips. Though much could change in the week remaining, a lead of around 600,000 chips is considered statistically significant.
Science

Scientists Have Paper On Gender Bias Rejected Because They're Both Women 301

Posted by Soulskill
from the social-media-sites-surrender dept.
ferrisoxide.com writes: A paper co-authored by researcher fellow Dr. Fiona Ingleby and evolutionary biologist Dr. Megan Head — on how gender differences affect the experiences that PhD students have when moving into post-doctoral work — was rejected by peer-reviewed PLoS Onebecause they didn't ask a man for help.

A (male) peer reviewer for the journal suggested that the scientists find male co-authors, to prevent "ideologically biased assumptions." The same reviewer also provided his own ironically biased advice, when explaining that women may have fewer articles published because men's papers "are indeed of a better quality, on average," "just as, on average, male doctoral students can probably run a mile race a bit faster."
PLoS One has apologized, saying, "We have formally removed the review from the record, and have sent the manuscript out to a new editor for re-review. We have also asked the Academic Editor who handled the manuscript to step down from the Editorial Board and we have removed the referee from our reviewer database."
Businesses

Disney Replaces Longtime IT Staff With H-1B Workers 636

Posted by samzenpus
from the you-are-no-longer-needed dept.
Lucas123 writes: Disney CEO Bob Iger is one of eight co-chairs of the Partnership for a New American Economy, a leading group advocating for an increase in the H-1B visa cap. Last Friday, the partnership was a sponsor of an H-1B briefing at the U.S. Capitol for congressional staffers. The briefing was closed to the press. One of the briefing documents obtained after the meeting stated, "H-1B workers complement — instead of displace — U.S. Workers." Last October, however, Disney laid off at least 135 IT staff (though employees say it was hundreds more), many of them longtime workers. Disney then replaced them with H-1B contractors that company said could better "focus on future innovation and new capabilities." The fired workers believe the primary motivation behind Disney's action was cost-cutting. "Some of these folks were literally flown in the day before to take over the exact same job I was doing," one former employee said. Disney officials promised new job opportunities as a result of the restructuring, but the former staff interviewed by Computerworld said they knew of few co-workers who had landed one of the new jobs. Use of visa workers in a layoff is a public policy issue, particularly for Disney. Ten U.S. senators are currently seeking a federal investigation into displacement of IT workers by H-1B-using contractors. Kim Berry, president of the Programmer's Guild, said Congress should protect American workers by mandating that positions can only be filled by H-1B workers when no qualified American — at any wage — can be found to fill the position."
Piracy

Pirate Bay Blockade Censors CloudFlare Customers 160

Posted by timothy
from the broad-brush-swung-wildly dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The blockade of the Pirate Bay by UK ISPs is causing trouble for CloudFlare customers. Several websites have been inadvertently blocked by Sky because a Pirate Bay proxy is hosted behind the same IP-addresses. In a response, CloudFlare threatened to disconnect the proxy site from its network. Like any form of censorship web blockades can sometime lead to overblocking, targeting perfectly legitimate websites by mistake. This is also happening in the UK where Sky's blocking technology is inadvertently blocking sites that have nothing to do with piracy.
Music

Legislation Would Force Radio Stations To Pay Royalties 218

Posted by Soulskill
from the scrounging-for-pennies dept.
Major Blud writes: Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) introduced the "Fair Play Fair Pay Act" today that would end regulations that allow terrestrial radio stations to avoid paying royalties to artists and labels. Currently, AM/FM radio stations aren't required to pay royalties to publishers and songwriters. The proposed measure requires stations that earn less than $1 million a year in revenue to pay $500 annually. For nonprofit public, college and other non-commercial broadcasters, the fee would be $100 per year. Religious and talk stations would be exempt from any payments. Larger radio companies like iHeartMedia (858 stations in the U.S.) would have to pay more.

"The current system is antiquated and broken. It pits technologies against each other, and allows certain services to get away with paying little or nothing to artists. For decades, AM/FM radio has used whatever music it wants without paying a cent to the musicians, vocalists, and labels that created it. Satellite radio has paid below market royalties for the music it uses, growing into a multibillion dollar business on the back of an illogical 'grandfathered' royalty standard that is now almost two decades old," said Congressman Nadler.
Youtube

Google To Offer Ad-Free YouTube - At a Price 358

Posted by samzenpus
from the pay-up dept.
First time accepted submitter totalcaos writes YouTube announced today its plans for an ad-free, subscription-based service by way of an email sent out to YouTube Partners. The email details the forthcoming option, which will offer consumers the choice to pay for an "ads-free" version of YouTube for a monthly fee. The additional monetization option requires partners to agree to updated terms on YouTube's Creator Studio Dashboard, which notes that the changes will go into effect on June 15, 2015. We talked about the possibility of an ad-free model back in October.
Encryption

TrueCrypt Audit: No NSA Backdoors 142

Posted by Soulskill
from the assuming-you-can-trust-the-auditors dept.
Mark Wilson writes: A security audit of TrueCrypt has determined that the disk encryption software does not contain any backdoors that could be used by the NSA or other surveillance agencies. A report prepared by the NCC Group (PDF) for the Open Crypto Audit Project found that the encryption tool is not vulnerable to being compromised. However, the software was found to contain a few other security vulnerabilities, including one relating to the use of the Windows API to generate random numbers for master encryption key material. Despite this, TrueCrypt was given a relatively clean bill of health with none of the detected vulnerabilities considered severe enough to lead "to a complete bypass of confidentiality in common usage scenarios."

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