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Google Testing Banner Ads On Select Search Results 185

cagraham writes "Google promised in 2005 to never "ever" put banner ads on their search results, but that appears to be changing. The company confirmed to SearchEngineLand that it is running a "small experiment" involving large-scale banners on searches for Southwest Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, and Crate&Barrel, among others. The ads are being shown in less than 5% of searches, and only in the US, for now. Interestingly enough, the Google exec who wrote the no banner ads promise was Marissa Mayer, now CEO of Yahoo."

Obama on Surveillance: "We Can and Must Be More Transparent" 537

Today President Obama held a press conference to address the situation surrounding the NSA's surveillance activities. (Here is the full transcript.) He announced four actions the administration is undertaking to restore the public's confidence in the intelligence community. Obama plans to work with Congress to reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to give greater weight to civil liberties, and to revisit section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, which is the section that allowed bulk collection of phone records. (Of course, "will work with Congress" is a vague term, and Congress isn't known for getting things done lately. Thus, it remains to be seen if anything substantive happens.) Obama is ordering the Dept. of Justice to make public their legal rationale for data collection, and there will be a new NSA official dedicated to transparency efforts. There will also be a new website for citizens to learn about transparency in intelligence agencies. Lastly, a group of outside experts will be convened to review the government's surveillance capabilities. Their job will include figuring out how to maintain the public's trust and prevent abuse, and to consider how the intelligence community's actions will affect foreign policy. In addition to these initiatives, President Obama made his position very clear about several different aspects of this controversy. While acknowledging that "we have significant capabilities," he said, "America is not interested in spying on ordinary people." He added that the people who have raised concerns about privacy and government overreach in a lawful manner are "patriots." This is in stark contrast to his view of leakers like Edward Snowden: "I don't think Mr. Snowden was a patriot." (For his part, Snowden says the recent shut down of encrypted email services is 'inspiring.') When asked about how his opinion of the surveillance programs have changed, he said his perception of them has not evolved since the story broke worldwide. "What you're not seeing is people actually abusing these programs." Obama also endorsed finding technological solutions that will protect privacy regardless of what government agencies want to do.

Google Backs Down On Maps Redirect 240

Dupple writes "A few days ago Google blocked access to its maps on Windows Phone 8, claiming that it 'worked best' on WebKit-based browsers — effectively excluding WP8 users. This, despite Google Maps working fine on desktop versions of IE that use the same rendering engine and users being able to spoof the user agent string on their WP8 devices to gain access. Now it appears that Google has backed down and is now allowing WP8 users access."

U.S. Denies Using Flame Malware To Spy On French President 52

CowboyRobot writes with the (not unexpected) official U.S. denial of using the Flame malware to spy on France. From the article: "That allegation was leveled at the U.S. government by unnamed French officials, according to a Tuesday report in the weekly French newspaper L'Express. It reported that computers belonging to top advisers to then French president Nicolas Sarkozy had been hacked using the Flame cyberespionage malware, which was designed to be used in highly targeted attacks... Napolitano was also asked if it wasn't ironic that while the United States has been sounding alarms over the growing amount of malware that's targeting U.S. government system, it also commissioning the Stuxnet and Flame cyber-espionage malware used against Iran. Napolitano, however, pled official ignorance. 'These programs were never attributed in any way to the U.S. government.'"

Neckties strangle clear thinking. -- Lin Yutang