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Government

Comcast Executives Appear To Share Cozy Relationships With Regulators 63

Posted by timothy
from the how-totally-amazing dept.
v3rgEz (125380) writes A month before Comcast's announcement of a $45B takeover of rival Time-Warner, Comcast's top lobbyist invited the US government's top antitrust regulators to share the company's VIP box at the Sochi Olympics. A Freedom of Information Act request from Muckrock reveals that the regulators reluctantly declined, saying "it sounds like so much fun" but the pesky "rules folks" would frown on it, instead suggesting a more private dinner later.

Comment: Re:The Cloud is Ruining Home Automation (Score 0) 90

by orospakr (#47258631) Attached to: Privacy Worries For 'Smart' Smoke Alarms

An update pipeline, backed by a company with a good development methodology, is the best insurance against long-standing unplugged security holes. Look at all of the terrible, abandoned consumer routers full of security holes, for instance.

That said, before many folks are willing to such companies and their products into our homes, they need to earn our trust.

You *do* have ultimate control. You can elect to not buy the product, go with a competitor, or use an entirely different class of product entirely.

Comment: Property (and Privacy) Rights (Score 1) 90

by orospakr (#47258571) Attached to: Privacy Worries For 'Smart' Smoke Alarms

This is why proper privacy and property rights must properly legally extend to data hosted in cloud services.

The private companies that offer cloud-based services are not what worry me. There are a lot of sound economic reasons (see: the devops movement) for why this kind of product architecture (where a physical product, coupled with always-on connectivity and a remote cloud-hosted service) makes a whole lot of sense. There are a lot of market incentives for these companies to clearly delineate what they will and will not use the data (and sensors) for. Moreover, there can be a large degree of diversity between the various single-function cloud services one uses (even if Nest was recently acquired by Google). People care about their privacy, but they also balance it against the utility these kinds of products offer. I have a Nest Protect, and I'm comfortable trusting it a lot more than a regular standalone. Thus, they *consent* to the introduction of such technology into their lives, with the entirely reasonable expectation of benefit.

Another great example is the Tesla Model S, which is so dependent on cloud-services that it comes with a bundled 3G modem and data plan.

However, governments see the concentrated user data in data-centers on their soil as entirely too delicious to ignore. Not only does the immediately visible claim of increased security ("we could have caught the terrorists!") tend to outweigh the more general argument for individual property and privacy rights in the political sphere, but institutional incentives on the part of powerful government agencies and their contractors to grow their mandate mean that they'll heavily lobby for such intrusions.

I think most of us geeks grew up terrified of the very idea of the Orwellian Telescreen. However, it's not the technology that's evil (many of us have plenty of devices with a camera integrated with a display), but the threat of its use without consent.

Google

Google and Facebook: Unelected Superpowers? 243

Posted by timothy
from the but-if-by-elect-you-mean-choose dept.
theodp (442580) writes "'The government is not the only American power whose motivations need to be rigourously examined,' writes The Telegraph's Katherine Rushton. 'Some 2,400 miles away from Washington, in Silicon Valley, Google is aggressively gaining power with little to keep it in check. It has cosied up to governments around the world so effectively that its chairman, Eric Schmidt, is a White House advisor. In Britain, its executives meet with ministers more than almost any other corporation. Google can't be blamed for this: one of its jobs is to lobby for laws that benefit its shareholders, but it is up to governments to push back. As things stand, Google — and to a lesser extent, Facebook — are in danger of becoming the architects of the law.' Schmidt, by the way, is apparently interested in influencing at least two current hot-button White House issues. Joined by execs from Apple, Oracle, and Facebook, the Google Chairman asserted in a March letter to Secretary of State John Kerry that the proposed Keystone XL pipeline is not in the economic interests of the U.S.; the Obama administration on Friday extended the review period on the pipeline, perhaps until after the Nov. 4 congressional elections. And as a 'Major Contributor' to Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us PAC, Schmidt is also helping to shape public opinion on the White House's call for immigration reform; FWD.us just launched new attack ads (videos) and a petition aimed at immigration reform opponent Rep. Steve King. In Dave Eggers' The Circle, politicians who impede the company execs' agenda are immediately brought down. But that's fiction, right?"
The Almighty Buck

The Billionaires Privatizing American Science 279

Posted by Soulskill
from the easy-funding-in-four-words:-lab-rat-reality-show dept.
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.'"
Bitcoin

WV Senator Calls For Ban On All Unregulated Cryptocurrencies 240

Posted by timothy
from the and-you-can't-trade-with-your-neighbors-either dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a member of the Senate Banking Committee, has called for for heavily regulation of Bitcoin. Reached for comment, his staff confirmed Manchin is seeking a 'ban' that would apply to any cryptocurrency that's both anonymous and unregulated."
United Kingdom

UK Council To Send Obese People 'Motivational' Texts Telling Them To Use Stairs 225

Posted by Soulskill
from the because-it's-hard-to-ignore-the-occasional-text-message dept.
Qedward writes "Stoke-on-Trent City Council is sending texts to obese people in the area to help motivate them to lose weight. Examples of the texts sent include 'aim to eat a variety of fruit and vegetables each day,' 'aim to eat regular meals and keep a check on snacks and drinks' and 'maybe walk to the shops or use the stairs more often.' Over 100,000 people in the region are overweight or obese, the council said, and the texts are for those who are aged at least 18, have a body mass index of 25 or over and who have proactively signed up to receive the motivational messages."
Government

Congressmen Say Clapper Lied To Congress, Ask Obama To Remove Him 383

Posted by timothy
from the put-your-hands-together dept.
Trailrunner7 writes "A group of six Congressmen have asked President Barack Obama to remove James Clapper as director of national intelligence as a result of his misstatements to Congress about the NSA's dragnet data-collection programs. The group, led by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), said that Clapper's role as DNI 'is incompatible with the goal of restoring trust in our security programs.' Clapper is the former head of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and has been DNI since 2010. In their letter to Obama, the group of Congressmen calling for his ouster said that he lied to Congress and should no longer be in office. 'The continued role of James Clapper as Director of National Intelligence is incompatible with the goal of restoring trust in our security programs and ensuring the highest level of transparency. Director Clapper continues to hold his position despite lying to Congress, under oath, about the existence of bulk data collection programs in March 2013. Asking Director Clapper, and other federal intelligence officials who misrepresented programs to Congress and the courts, to report to you on needed reforms and the future role of government surveillance is not a credible solution,' the letter from Issa, Ted Poe, Paul Broun, Doug Collins, Walter Jones and Alan Grayson says." "Misstatement," of course, being the favorite euphemism for "lie."
Canada

Canadian Music Industry Calls For Internet Regulation, Website Blocking 198

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the copyright-trumps-human-rights dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Canadian law professor Michael Geist reports that the Canadian arm of the RIAA is calling for new Internet regulation, including website blocking and search result manipulation. While the Canadian music industry experienced increased digital sales last year (sales declined in the U.S.) and the Ontario government is handing out tens of millions of tax dollars to the industry, the industry now wants the government to step in with website blocking and ordering search companies to change their results to focus on iTunes and other sales sites."
Earth

Doomsday Clock Remains at Five Minutes to Midnight 222

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the hands-that-threaten-doom dept.
Lasrick writes "The Doomsday Clock remains at 5 minutes to midnight. In a letter to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and members of the UN Security Council, the Bulletin announced its decision and how it was made. The decision to move (or to leave in place) the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock is made every year by the Bulletin's Science and Security Board in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 18 Nobel laureates. The Clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world's vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and new technologies emerging in other domains." Reasons for the clock remaining at five minutes include the U.S. and Russian not doing much for disarmament increasing nuclear weapon stockpiles in India and China, stalled efforts to reduce carbon emissions globally, and "killer robots."
Linux Business

Fedora 21 Linux Will Be Nameless 128

Posted by samzenpus
from the john-doe dept.
darthcamaro writes "What follows in the footsteps of Heisenbug, Spherical Cow and Beefy Miracle? Apparently the answer is 'null' as is nothing. Fedora Linux 21 could well have no funky new name as its past predecessors have all had, thanks to a recent vote by the Fedora board to move away from the existing naming practices. Fedora 21 itself will not be out in the first half of 2014 either, instead the plan is now for a release sometime around August. A delayed release however doesn't mean something is wrong as Red Hat's community Linux distro aims to re-invent itself."

Comment: Scope of Responsiblity (Score 1) 1043

by orospakr (#45935763) Attached to: Doctors Say Food Stamp Cuts Could Cause Higher Healthcare Costs

Of course, if government is declared as responsible for nutrition, then then naturally it must also be responsible for the effects thereof.

This is a significant reason why state control must always beget more state control: regulators must make an at least ostensible attempt to correct unintended effects that are the result of a given intervention. The domain of responsibility becomes effectively unbounded.

While devising a complex system by means of patches in ad infinitum can work (see, Linux kernel), but only if that system's usage is constrained by voluntary choice.

Sadly, this means that folks with a given expertise (say, medical), will say things like they do in TFA: the sort-sighted view that governments should generally increase or at least maintain spending in order to avoid the expected bad effects of backing out on a responsibility.

There can be no substitute for individual responsibility.

The Media

Isaac Asimov's 50-Year-Old Prediction For 2014 Is Viral and Wrong 385

Posted by Soulskill
from the so-just-like-everything-else-on-the-internet dept.
Daniel_Stuckey writes "The media is currently praising Isaac Asimov's vision for 2014, which he articulated in a New York Times opinion piece in 1964. The sci-fi writer imagined visiting the 2014 World Fair, and the global culture and economy the exhibits might reflect. NPR called his many predictions, which range from cordless smart telephones, to robots running our leisure society, to machine-cooked 'automeals,' 'right on.' Business Insider called the forecast 'spot on.' The Huffington Post called the projections 'eerily accurate.' The only thing is, they're not. Taken as a whole, Asimov's vision for 2014 is wildly off. It's more that 'Genius predicted the future 50 years ago' makes for a great article hook. Asimov does hit a couple pretty close to home: He got pretty close to guessing the world population (6.5 billion); he anticipated automated cars ('vehicles with 'robot brains'"); and he seems to have described the current smartphone/tablet craze ('sight-sound' telephones that 'can be used not only to see the people you call but also for studying documents and photographs and reading passages from books.') But he also thought we'd have a colony on the moon, be living under a global population control regime, eating at multi-flavored algae bars, and letting machines prepare us personalized meals. Most divergent of all, he believed that increasing automatization of labor would spawn not inequality or joblessness, but spiritual malaise."
GNU is Not Unix

Emacs Needs To Move To GitHub, Says ESR 252

Posted by timothy
from the this-way-to-the-bazaar dept.
hypnosec writes "Eric S. Raymond, co-founder of the Open Source Initiative, has recommended that Emacs should move to another version control system like GitHub, as bzr is dying. In an email, Raymond highlighted the key reasons why he believes that Emacs should move. Raymond said that bzr is moribund; its dev list has flatlined; and most of Canonical's in-house projects have already abandoned bzr and moved to GitHub. ESR believes that bzr's codebase is sufficiently mature to be used as a production tool, but he does mention that continuing to use the revision control system will have 'social and signaling effects damaging to Emacs's prospects.'" Update: 01/06 20:50 GMT by U L : ESR did not suggest Github the proprietary hosting platform for git, but rather git the version control system. Which is actually already available on Savannah (the bazaar repository is automatically synced with the git repository).
Businesses

Apple Fined In Taiwan For iPhone Price Fixing 74

Posted by timothy
from the maximizing-returns dept.
Frankie70 writes "Taiwan's Fair Trade Commission has hit Apple with a small fine and warned the company that it may face a more substantial penalty if it doesn't stop interfering with carriers' iPhone pricing and the prices of the plans carriers sell alongside the iPhone. 'Through the email correspondence between Apple and these three telecom companies we discovered the companies submit their pricing plans to Apple to be approved or confirmed before the products hit the market,' Taiwan's FTC said in a statement."

A modem is a baudy house.

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