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United States

Raytheon Wins US Civilian Cyber Contract Worth $1 Billion 62

Tokolosh writes: Raytheon is a company well-known in military-industrial and political circles, but not so much for software, networking and cybersecurity. That has not stopped the DHS awarding it a $1 billion, five year contract to help more than 100 civilian agencies manage their computer security. Raytheon said DHS selected it to be the prime contractor and systems integrator for the agency's Network Security Deployment (NSD) division, and its National Cybersecurity Protection System (NCPS). The contract runs for five years, but some orders could be extended for up to an additional 24 months, it said. Dave Wajsgras, president of Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services, said the company had invested over $3.5 billion in recent years to expand its cybersecurity capabilities. He said cybersecurity incidents had increased an average of 66 percent a year worldwide between 2009 and 2014. As you might expect, Raytheon spends heavily on political contributions and lobbying.

Plan To Run Anti-Google Smear Campaign Revealed In MPAA Emails 256

vivaoporto writes: Techdirt reports on a plan to run an anti-Google smear campaign via the Today Show and the WSJ discovered in MPAA emails. Despite the resistance of the Hollywood studios to comply with the subpoenas obtained by Google concerning their relationship with Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood (whose investigation of the company appeared to actually be run by the MPAA and the studios themselves) one of the few emails that Google have been able to get access to so far was revealed this Thursday in a filling. It's an email between the MPAA and two of Jim Hood's top lawyers in the Mississippi AG's office, discussing the big plan to "hurt" Google.

The lawyers from Hood's office flat out admit that they're expecting the MPAA and the major studios to have its media arms run a coordinated propaganda campaign of bogus anti-Google stories. One email reads: "Media: We want to make sure that the media is at the NAAG meeting. We propose working with MPAA (Vans), Comcast, and NewsCorp (Bill Guidera) to see about working with a PR firm to create an attack on Google (and others who are resisting AG efforts to address online piracy). This PR firm can be funded through a nonprofit dedicated to IP issues. The "live buys" should be available for the media to see, followed by a segment the next day on the Today Show (David green can help with this). After the Today Show segment, you want to have a large investor of Google (George can help us determine that) come forward and say that Google needs to change its behavior/demand reform. Next, you want NewsCorp to develop and place an editorial in the WSJ emphasizing that Google's stock will lose value in the face of a sustained attack by AGs and noting some of the possible causes of action we have developed."

As Google notes in its legal filing about this email, the "plan" states that if this effort fails, then the next step will be to file the subpoena (technically a CID or "civil investigatory demand") on Google, written by the MPAA but signed by Hood. This makes it pretty clear that the MPAA, studios and Hood were working hand in hand in all of this and that the subpoena had no legitimate purpose behind it, but rather was the final step in a coordinated media campaign to pressure Google to change the way its search engine works.

Australia Passes Site-Blocking Legislation 57

ausrob writes: Cementing their position as Australia's most backwards and dangerous government in recent memory comes this nasty bit of legislation, riddled with holes (which is nothing new for this decrepit Government): "The legislation allows rights holders to go to a Federal Court judge to get overseas websites, or "online locations", blocked that have the "primary purpose" of facilitating copyright infringement. If a rights holder is successful in their blocking request, Australian internet providers, such as Telstra and Optus, will need to comply with a judge's order by disabling access to the infringing location." Adds reader Gumbercules!! links to another story on the legislation, writing: Aside from the sheer inefficiency of trying to spot piracy by blocking individual sites, there's also the risk that servers which house other, more legitimate sites, will be caught up in the net. Unsurprisingly, the bill does nothing to remedy the fact that Australians pay far more for access to media than other places in the World or that media is often not available or extremely delayed, here.

Who's To Blame For Rules That Block Tesla Sales In Most US States? 141

cartechboy writes The common assumption among Tesla fans seems to be that state auto-dealer lobbyists are working with Republican legislators to enact laws banning direct sales of Tesla's electric cars to retail buyers. Is it true? The New York Times published an article with some data points that assesses the supposition. While the article mainly focuses on the conflict between Uber and the Republican party, some quotes could be easily applied to Tesla. For instance, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Preibus said, "It should be consumers, not government bureaucrats or legislators, that deicde what companies get our business." The author of the article, Josh Barro, wrote that 22 states permit direct sales of automobiles by Tesla to retail buyers, and of those the majority--14 of them-- voted for President Obama. He suggested that Democratic California, Illinois, and New York "have freer markets in auto retailing than Texas," which is presently Republican. When looking at a five-year-old article by Nate Silver that looked at political donations by car dealers, fully 88 percent of those donations went to Republican candidates, and just 12 percent to Democrats. That possibly suggests a propensity among Republican state legislators to support the interests for car dealers over those of electric-car buyers. Is the small bit of evidence enough to make a case? Good background on the current system of dealership sinecure can be found in this short 2009 Competition Advocacy Paper from the U.S. Department of Justice, which delves into the history and effects of the dealers-only system which still prevails.

Michigan Latest State To Ban Direct Tesla Sales 256

An anonymous reader writes As many expected, Michigan Governor Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed a bill that bans Tesla Motors from selling cars directly to buyers online in the state. When asked what Tesla's next step will be, Diarmuid O'Connell, vice president of business development, said it was unclear if the company would file a lawsuit. "We do take at their word the representations from the governor that he supports a robust debate in the upcoming session," O'Connell said. "We've entered an era where you can buy products and services with much greater value than a car by going online."

Conservative Groups Accuse FCC of Helping Net Neutrality Advocates File Comments 283

jfruh writes Conservative groups opposed to net neutrality have a beef with the FCC, claiming the commission helped pro-net neutrality advocates file comments on the subject without similarly helping opponents. In other news out of this camp, it turns out American Commitment, an advocacy group with ties to the Republican billionaire Koch brothers, sent out 2.4 million letters to Congress opposing net neutrality but only collected about 814,000 signatures. The group then generated three letters to Congress for each person signing the petition, one letter to each of the signer's two senators and one to each signer's representative.

Floridian (and Southern) Governmental Regulations Are Unfriendly To Solar Power 306

An anonymous reader writes with a link to a story in the LA Times: "Few places in the country are so warm and bright as Mary Wilkerson's property on the beach near St. Petersburg, Fla., a city once noted in the Guinness Book of World Records for a 768-day stretch of sunny days. But while Florida advertises itself as the Sunshine State, power company executives and regulators have worked successfully to keep most Floridians from using that sunshine to generate their own power. Wilkerson discovered the paradox when she set out to harness sunlight into electricity for the vintage cottages she rents out at Indian Rocks Beach. She would have had an easier time installing solar panels, she found, if she had put the homes on a flatbed and transported them to chilly Massachusetts. While the precise rules vary from state to state, one explanation is the same: opposition from utilities grown nervous by the rapid encroachment of solar firms on their business."
The Military

The Pentagon's $399 Billion Plane To Nowhere 364

schwit1 writes with an update on the U.S. government's troubled F-35 program, the cost of which keeps rising while the planes themselves are grounded. A fire in late June caused officials to halt flights for the entire fleet of $112 million vehicles last week. Despite this, Congress is still anxious to push the program forward, and Foreign Policy explains why: Part of that protection comes from the jaw-dropping amounts of money at stake. The Pentagon intends to spend roughly $399 billion to develop and buy 2,443 of the planes. However, over the course of the aircrafts' lifetimes, operating costs are expected to exceed $1 trillion. Lockheed has carefully hired suppliers and subcontractors in almost every state to ensure that virtually all senators and members of Congress have a stake in keeping the program — and the jobs it has created — in place. "An upfront question with any program now is: How many congressional districts is it in?" said Thomas Christie, a former senior Pentagon acquisitions official. Counting all of its suppliers and subcontractors, parts of the program are spread out across at least 45 states. That's why there's no doubt lawmakers will continue to fund the program even though this is the third time in 17 months that the entire fleet has been grounded due to engine problems."

Silicon Valley's Love-Hate Relationship With President Obama 131

theodp writes: "Covering President Obama's visit to Silicon Valley, the AP reports that the relationship between the White House, Silicon Valley and its money is complicated. Less than a year after David Kirkpatrick asked, "Did Obama Just Destroy the U.S. Internet Industry?", and just two months after Mark Zuckerberg gave the President a call complaining about NSA spying, Silicon Valley execs hosted two high-stakes Democratic Party fundraisers for the President. The White House declined to identify the 20 high-rollers who paid $32,400 per head to sit at the Tech Roundtable. The President also attended an event hosted by Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and Y Combinator president Sam Altman, where the 250 or so guests paid $1,000 to $32,400 a head for bar service that featured wine, beer and cognac. The following day, Obama celebrated solar power at a Mountain View Walmart before jetting out of NASA's Moffett Field."

Australian Law Enforcement Pushes Against Encryption, Advocates Data Retention 88

angry tapir (1463043) writes "Australia is in the middle of a parliamentary inquiry examining telecommunications interception laws. Law enforcement organisations are using this to resurrect the idea of a scheme for mandatory data retention by telcos and ISPs. In addition, an Australian law enforcement body is pushing for rules that would force telcos help with decryption of communications."
The Almighty Buck

The Billionaires Privatizing American Science 279

An anonymous reader writes "Government-funded science is struggling in the United States. With the unstable economy over the past decade and the growing hostility to science in popular rhetoric, basic research money is getting hard to find. Part of the gap is being filled by billionaire philanthropists. Steven Edwards of the American Association for the Advancement of Science says, 'For better or worse, the practice of science in the 21st century is becoming shaped less by national priorities or by peer-review groups and more by the particular preferences of individuals with huge amounts of money.' Vast amounts of research are now driven by names like Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg, David Koch, and Eric Schmidt. While this helps in some ways, it can hurt in others. 'Many of the patrons, they say, are ignoring basic research — the kind that investigates the riddles of nature and has produced centuries of breakthroughs, even whole industries — for a jumble of popular, feel-good fields like environmental studies and space exploration. ... Fundamentally at stake, the critics say, is the social contract that cultivates science for the common good.'"
The Military

Do Hypersonic Missiles Make Defense Systems Obsolete? 365

An anonymous reader writes "The Diplomat's Zachary Keck wonders why the U.S. government is doubling down on missile defense systems even as hypersonic missiles threaten to render them obsolete. Keck notes that hypersonic missiles pose two distinct challenges to current missile defense systems. First, they travel far faster than the missiles the defense systems are designed to intercept. Second, they travel at lower altitudes and possess greater maneuverability than the missiles the current systems have been built to destroy. Nonetheless, the U.S. was planning on spending $2 billion a year on missile defense through 2017, and now the Pentagon is asking for an additional $4.5 billion over the next five years."
The Internet

Top US Lobbyist Wants Broadband Data Caps 568

sl4shd0rk writes "Michael Powell, A former United States FCC chairman, is pushing for 'usage-based internet access' which he says is good for consumers who are 'accustomed to paying for what they use'. Apparently Time Warner and Comcast (maybe others) are already developing plans to set monthly rates based on bandwidth usage. The reasoning on the NCTA website lays out the argument behind Powell's plan."
The Almighty Buck

How Entrepreneurs Overturned California's Retroactive Tax On Startup Founders 105

waderoush writes "Startup founders in California can breathe a little easier today — they won't be getting bills from the state for up to $120 million in back taxes. On Friday California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill prohibiting the state from levying retroactive taxes on founders and other small-business investors who took advantage of a tax break invalidated last year by a state appeals court. California Business Defense, a coalition of entrepreneurs, spent most of 2013 trying to reverse the California Franchise Tax Board's interpretation of the court ruling, under which it planned to hit Californians with new tax bills on the sale of small-business stock going back to 2008 (a story that Slashdot picked up in January). Two bills on the matter reached Governor Brown's desk in September, one fully restoring the investment incentive through 2016, the other partially restoring it. Brown signed AB1412, the bill granting full relief. 'For a bunch of political greenhorns operating in an environment where political partisanship is at an all-time high, we did all right,' writes Brian Overstreet, one of the co-founders of California Business Defense. 'But it should never have been this hard.'"
United Kingdom

UK MPs: Google Blocks Child Abuse Images, It Should Block Piracy Too 348

nk497 writes "If Google can block child abuse images, it can also block piracy sites, according to a report from MPs, who said they were 'unimpressed' by Google's 'derisorily ineffective' efforts to battle online piracy, according to a Commons Select Committee report looking into protecting creative industries. John Whittingdale MP, the chair of the Committee — and also a non-executive director at Audio Network, an online music catalogue — noted that Google manages to remove other illegal content. 'Google and others already work with international law enforcement to block for example child porn from search results and it has provided no coherent, responsible reason why it can't do the same for illegal, pirated content,' he said."

Why did the Roman Empire collapse? What is the Latin for office automation?