writes: At a hearing in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, the FBI endured outright hostility as both technical experts and members of Congress from both parties roundly criticized the law enforcement agency's desire to place so-called back doors into encryption technology.
"Creating a technological backdoor just for good guys is technologically stupid," said Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), a Stanford University computer science graduate. "That's just stupid."Link to Original Source
writes: In December, the White House praised the leadership of Code.org for their efforts to get more computer science into K-12 schools, which were bankrolled by $20 million in philanthropic contributions from the likes of Google, Microsoft, Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, and Mark Zuckerberg. On Monday, it was announced that Infosys Foundation USA will be partnering with Code.org to bring CS education to millions of U.S. students. Infosys Foundation USA Chair Vandana Sikk, who joins execs from Microsoft, Google, and Amazon execs on Code.org's Board, is the spouse of Infosys CEO Vishal Sikk. The announcement from the tax-deductible charity comes as India-based Infosys finds itself scrutinized by U.S. Senators over allegations of H-1B visa program abuses.
writes: U.S. Senator Rand Paul, a Republican presidential hopeful, on Wednesday introduced a resolution to block new regulations on Internet service providers, saying they would "wrap the Internet in red tape."
The "net neutrality" rules, which are slated to take effect in June, are backed by the Obama administration and were passed by the Democratic majority of the Federal Communications Commission in February. AT&T Inc and wireless and cable trade associations are challenging them in court.
Paul's resolution, if adopted, would allow the Senate to fast-track a vote to establish that Congress disapproves of the FCC's new rules and moves to nullify them.Link to Original Source
writes: Bounty programs benefit everyone. Companies like Microsoft get help from security experts, customers gain improved security, and those who discover and report vulnerabilities reap the rewards financially. Or at least that's how things are supposed to work.
Having reported a series of security problems to discount and deal site Groupon, security researcher Brute Logic from XSSposed.org was expecting a pay-out — but the site refuses to stump up the cash. In all, Brute Logic reported more than 30 security issues with Groupon's site, but the company cites its Responsible Disclosure policy as the reason for not handing over the cash.Link to Original Source
writes: The NYT reports that President Obama has offered an emotional apology for the accidental killing of two hostages held by Al Qaeda, one of them American, in a United States government counterterrorism operation in January, saying he takes “full responsibility” for their deaths. “As president and as commander in chief, I take full responsibility for all our counterterrorism operations,” including the one that inadvertently took the lives of the two captives, a grim-faced Obama said in a statement to reporters in the White House briefing room. The White House earlier released an extraordinary statement revealing that intelligence officials had confirmed that Warren Weinstein, an American held by Al Qaeda since 2011, and Giovanni Lo Porto, an Italian held since 2012, died during the operation. Gunmen abducted Warren Weinstein in 2011 from his home in Lahore, Pakistan. They posed as neighbors, offered food and then pistol-whipped the American aid worker and tied up his guards, according to his daughter Alisa Weinstein.
The White House did not explain why it has taken three months to disclose the episode. Obama said that the operation was conducted after hundreds of hours of surveillance had convinced American officials that they were targeting an Al Qaeda compound where no civilians were present, and that “capturing these terrorists was not possible.” The White House said the operation that killed the two hostages “was lawful and conducted consistent with our counterterrorism policies” but nonetheless the government is conducting a “thorough independent review” to determine what happened and how such casualties could be avoided in the future.
writes: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced a bill Tuesday night to extend through 2020 a controversial surveillance authority under the Patriot Act.
The move comes as a bipartisan group of lawmakers in both chambers is preparing legislation to scale back the governmentâ(TM)s spying powers under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/...Link to Original Source
writes: Zeynep Tufekci writes in an op-ed at the NYT that machines can now process regular spoken language and not only recognize human faces, but also read their expressions. Machines can classify personality types, and have started being able to carry out conversations with appropriate emotional tenor. Machines are getting better than humans at figuring out who to hire, who’s in a mood to pay a little more for that sweater, and who needs a coupon to nudge them toward a sale. It turns out that most of what we think of as expertise, knowledge and intuition is being deconstructed and recreated as an algorithmic competency, fueled by big data. "Machines aren’t used because they perform some tasks that much better than humans, but because, in many cases, they do a “good enough” job while also being cheaper, more predictable and easier to control than quirky, pesky humans," writes Tufekci. "Technology in the workplace is as much about power and control as it is about productivity and efficiency."
According to Tufekci technology is being used in many workplaces: to reduce the power of humans, and employers’ dependency on them, whether by replacing, displacing or surveilling them. Optimists insist that we’ve been here before, during the Industrial Revolution, when machinery replaced manual labor, and all we need is a little more education and better skills but Tufekci says that one historical example is no guarantee of future events. "Confronting the threat posed by machines, and the way in which the great data harvest has made them ever more able to compete with human workers, must be about our priorities," concludes Tufekci. "This problem is not us versus the machines, but between us, as humans, and how we value one another."
His neighbors wouldn't let him build a film studio on his land, so George Lucas is retaliating in a way that only the cream of Hollywood could — by building the largest affordable housing development in the area — and footing the entire $200 million bill, no government subsidies or grants.
The complex of affordable housing, funded and designed by Lucas, would sit on 52 acres of land and provide homes to 224 low-income families, and there's very little his fellow Bay Area residents can do about it, because the land is zoned residential.
Lucas dropped plans for a Lucasfilm Ltd studio complex on Lucas Valley Road in 2012 after opposition from neighbors blocked a zoning change, so he's doing something with part of the 1,039 acres of land on his Grady Ranch estate in Marin County, California.
The force is strong with this one.
writes: A suggestion on the Mozilla Dev forum aims to deprecate HTTP in favour of HTTPS. Has it really come to this? Browser devs dictating the protocols we use? Of course, it is all in the name of freedom.
The basic idea is that HTTPS is more secure — it stops government agencies spying on what we do and it stops man-in-the-middle attacks. Hence there is a growing belief that all web traffic should be encrypted and hence the move to deprecate HTTP and phase out browser support for it.
The problem is that to use HTTPS you need to buy a certificate and this isn't cheap. The solution is to make use of a self-signed certificate which provides encryption but not authentication. At the moment this isn't an easy option, but initiatives like the EFF's Let's Encrypt promises a service that will provide free certificates with some automatic domain validation and a database of certificates. This is makes using "lightly validated" certificates a possibility, but at the moment browsers tend to put up warning messages when you encounter a website that has a self-signed certificate. This makes an HTTPS site using a self-signed certificate look more risky than an HTTP site that has no encryption at all!
This is a very complicated situation. It is clear that there are situations were HTTPS is essential and there are many situations were it is largely irrelevant and actually harmful.
Which to us is not a decision that should be left to browser developers.Link to Original Source
An anonymous reader writes: Sony has done a lot of aggressive anti-piracy work in their time, which makes it that much funnier that pirated ebooks were found on their servers from the 2014 hacks that just went on to WikiLeaks. Better yet, the pirated books are educational books about hacking called "Inside Cyber Warfare" and "Hacking the Next Generation" from O'Reilly publishers.Link to Original Source