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United Kingdom

UK Prisons To Crack Down On Inmate Internet and Mobile Phone Use ( 53

An anonymous reader writes: UK prisons will roll out enhanced internet and mobile phone blocking technologies, according to new measures announced yesterday by Chancellor George Osborne in the Autumn Statement. The step, which seeks to stop inmate access to the internet and calls made from mobile devices, will involve part of a £1.3bn investment from the Ministry of Justice to improve the country's Prison Service. Through this strategy, the government hopes to drive "safety improvements" by denying calls and data used on illicit mobile devices. The latest development in blocking technologies promises to be better (paywalled) than earlier systems, which inmates have been able to get around.

London's Deputy Mayor On Ditching Diesel 154

dkatana writes: During an interview in Barcelona last week, at the Smart Cities Congress, London's Deputy Mayor Matthew Pencharz said that he doesn't believe diesel cars belong in cities. He said, "I don't believe that for the urban setting, for light vehicles, diesel is the right thing," He added, "I don't think it is the right thing if you are an urban driver, stopping-starting in traffic all day, not going very far, not zipping along at 50 mph on the motorway. [I think] diesel is not the right technology." He also blamed the European Commission for being too lenient with emission standards and conformity factors. "The conformity factors the Commission [has recently approved] are not as good as we would like, clearly, because we are going to have the same problem again," he said. "The VW scandal has focused attention on a problem we hardly knew about, and it has raised to the top the public policy of failure of dieselization across the European Union, and the UK too, combined with the spectacular failure of the Euro engine standards," he said. "[The scandal] has focused our minds on the fact that we need to accelerate the way out of diesel."

BBC World Service To Provide Radio For North Korea and Eritrea ( 63

Ewan Palmer writes: The BBC World service has announced it will expand to serve the worst countries for press freedom as part of a plan to reach a global audience of 500 million. The British government announced its "single biggest increase in the World Service budget ever committed" and promised to invest more than $128 million by 2017/18 to the service. Along with improvements in countries such as Thailand, Russia and Somalia, they will launch radio services in North Korea and Eritrea who, according to Reporters Without Borders' 2015 World Press Freedom index, are the two worst performing countries in the world when ranked on a number of criteria including media independence, respect for the safety and freedom of journalists, and infrastructural environment in which the media operate.
United Kingdom

UK's Gigaclear Launches 5 Gbps Fiber Broadband Service ( 91

An anonymous reader writes: Broadband service provider Gigaclear announced it will offer 5 Gbps internet service beginning next year. Most homes would be hard-pressed to consume data at this rate today, but these speeds will become necessary when over-the-top television services like Netflix and HBO GO become commonplace, television pixel densities grow to 8K (7680p X 4320p) at 60 to 120 fps, and the IoT connects every other home device to the internet. “We’re offering customers the chance to access absolutely phenomenal broadband speeds,” Gigaclear CEO Matthew Hare said in an official announcement. “To be clear, this is a premium service that gives the fastest Internet speeds in the country to those of our customers who want the best connection that they can get.”
United Kingdom

UK PM Wants To Speed Up Controversial Internet Bill After Paris Attacks ( 167

An anonymous reader writes: Less than three days after the attacks in Paris, UK prime minister David Cameron has suggested that the process of review for the controversial Draft Investigatory Powers Bill should be accelerated. The controversial proposal, which would require British ISPs to retain a subset of a user's internet history for a year and in effect outlaw zero-knowledge encryption in the UK, was intended for parliamentary review and ratification by the end of 2016, but at the weekend ex-terrorist watchdog Lord Carlile was in the vanguard of demands to speed the bill into law by the end of this year, implicitly criticizing ex-NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden for having 'shown terrorists ways to hide their electronic footprints'.
United Kingdom

Bank of England's Andy Haldane Warns Smart Machines Could Take 15M UK Jobs ( 291

New submitter Colin Robotenomics writes In an important new paper based on a speech at the trade union congress in London, Andy Haldane Chief Economist at the Bank of England and Executive Director of Monetary Analysis and Statistics has examined the history of technological unemployment and has given a thorough review of the literature and implications for public policy. The media will likely focus on the number of jobs that can be displaced and not necessarily Haldane's points on new jobs being created – both of which are highly important as is 'skilling-up'. His report reads in part: "...Taking the probabilities of automation, and multiplying them by the numbers employed, gives a broad brush estimate of the number of jobs potentially automatable. For the UK, that would suggest up to 15 million jobs could be at risk of automation. In the US, the corresponding figure would be 80 million jobs."
United Kingdom

Broadband Bills Will Have To Increase To Pay For Snooper's Charter, MPs Warned ( 77

An anonymous reader writes that the UK's Science and Technology Select Committee has been told that ISPs will have huge problems implementing the so-called snooper's charter, and may be forced to raise their prices. The Guardian reports: "Consumers' broadband bills will have to go up if the investigatory powers bill is passed due to the "massive cost" of implementation, MPs have been warned. Internet service providers (ISP) told a Commons select committee that the legislation, commonly known as the snooper's charter, does not properly acknowledge the "sheer quantity" of data generated by a typical internet user, nor the basic difficulty of distinguishing between content and metadata. As a result, the cost of implementing plans to make ISPs store communications data for up to 12 months are likely to be far in excess of the £175m the government has budgeted for the task, said Matthew Hare, the chief executive of ISP Gigaclear."
United Kingdom

UK Gov't Can Demand Backdoors, Give Prison Sentences For Disclosing Them ( 187

An anonymous reader writes with some of the latest news about the draft Investigatory Powers Bill. Ars reports: "Buried in the 300 pages of the draft Investigatory Powers Bill (aka the Snooper's Charter), published on Wednesday, is something called a 'technical capability notice' (Section 189). Despite its neutral-sounding name, this gives the UK's home secretary almost unlimited power to impose 'an obligation on any relevant operators'—any obligation—subject to the requirement that 'the Secretary of State considers it is reasonable to do so.' There is also the proviso that 'it is (and remains) practicable for those relevant operators to comply with those requirements,' which probably rules out breaking end-to-end encryption, but would still allow the home secretary to demand that companies add backdoors to their software and equipment. That's bad enough, but George Danezis, an associate professor in security and privacy engineering at University College London, points out that the Snooper's Charter is actually much, much worse. The Investigatory Powers Bill would also make it a criminal offense, punishable with up to 12 months in prison and/or a fine, for anyone involved to reveal the existence of those backdoors, in any circumstances (Section 190(8).)"

Professor of journalism at City University Heather Brook writes at the Gaurdian: "When the Home Office and intelligence agencies began promoting the idea that the new investigatory powers bill was a “climbdown”, I grew suspicious. If the powerful are forced to compromise they don’t crow about it or send out press releases – or, in the case of intelligence agencies, make off-the-record briefings outlining how they failed to get what they wanted. That could mean only one thing: they had got what they wanted. So why were they trying to fool the press and the public that they had lost? Simply because they had won. I never thought I’d say it, but George Orwell lacked vision. The spies have gone further than he could have imagined, creating in secret and without democratic authorization the ultimate panopticon. Now they hope the British public will make it legitimate."
United Kingdom

The UK Will Police the Dark Web With a New Task Force ( 56

An anonymous reader writes with news that the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), and its top police counterpart, the National Crime Agency have formed a new unit to take on online crime. Motherboard reports: "'An NCA and GCHQ co-located Joint Operations Cell (JOC) opens officially today,' an NCA press release published Friday reads. 'The unit brings together officers from the two agencies to focus initially on tackling online child sexual exploitation.' This unit has been in the works for some time. Back at the end of 2014, UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced the plan for its formation at We Protect Children Online Global Summit. At the time, he said that 'The so-called "dark-net" is increasingly used by paedophiles to view sickening images. I want them to hear loud and clear: we are shining a light on the web's darkest corners; if you are thinking of offending, there will be nowhere for you to hide.' At the summit, it was said that GCHQ's technical skills would be its contribution to the unit. But the JOC won't just focus on child pornography cases. GCHQ Director Robert Hannigan said in the recent release that, on top of child exploitation, 'The Joint Operations Cell will increase our ability to identify and stop serious criminals."
United Kingdom

British Spaceplane Skylon Could Revolutionize Space Travel ( 226

MarkWhittington writes: The problem of lowering the cost of sending people and cargo into low Earth orbit has vexed engineers since the dawn of the space age. Currently, the only way to go into space is on top of multistage rockets which toss off pieces of themselves as they ascend higher into the heavens. The Conversation touted a British project, called Skylon, which many believe will help to address the problem of costly space travel. According to IEEE Spectrum, both BAE Systems and the British government have infused Skylon with $120 million in investment.
United Kingdom

Controversial New UK Internet Powers Bill Makes No Mention of VPNs ( 115

An anonymous reader writes: The Draft Investigatory Powers Bill presented by the UK Home Secretary Theresa May to Parliament today has caused controversy because it proposes new legislation to force UK ISPs to retain an abbreviated version of a user's internet history for a year, and would also oblige vendors such as Apple not to provide consumer-level encryption that the vendor cannot access itself in accordance with a court order. But perhaps the most surprising aspect of DIPA is that Virtual Private Networks are mentioned nowhere in its 299 pages, even though VPNs are a subject of great interest to Europe, Russia, Iran, China and the United States.

App To Hold Police Instantly Accountable In Stop and Search ( 167

An anonymous reader writes: A collective of London-based youth clubs and organizations has released an app called Y-Stop to help encourage those involved in unfair police encounters to instantly record and report their experiences. The idea is to 'encourage police accountability' by making it easier for anyone to have a say about what they think may be unjustified or illegal police action. The app allows its user to immediately send audio and video footage of harassment for secure holding with the charities themselves, or with the police directly. It also enables easier communication with lawyers for assistance and advice.
United Kingdom

Internet Firms To Be Banned From Offering Unbreakable Encryption Under New UK Laws ( 418

Retron writes: Despite statements from the minister for internet safety and security Baroness Shields last week that the UK government would not require software developers to build backdoors into their products, the Telegraph is reporting that the UK Government is going to ban companies from offering 'unbreakable' encryption, effectively requiring a backdoor in products from the likes of Google and Apple. The reasons given are that they don't want the likes of terrorists and paedophiles to communicate in places the Police can't reach. A Home Office spokesman said: “The Government is clear we need to find a way to work with industry as technology develops to ensure that, with clear oversight and a robust legal framework, the police and intelligence agencies can access the content of communications of terrorists and criminals in order to resolve police investigations and prevent criminal acts."
United Kingdom

$600k Fine Over Data Center Death ( 169

judgecorp writes: UK contractors Balfour Beatty and Norland have been fined £380,000 ($580k) after an electrician was electrocuted while working on a data center owned by finance firm Morgan Stanley. The fine follows mounting concern that safety is being compromised because of the need for data centers to remain online non-stop. This leads to pressure for contractors to work on live power supplies.
United Kingdom

UK Government Says App Developers Won't Be Forced To Implement Backdoors ( 86

Mark Wilson writes: The UK government is sending mixed messages about how it views privacy and security. Fears have been mounting since Prime Minister David Cameron wondered aloud 'in our country, do we want to allow a means of communication between people which we cannot read?' — his view obviously being that, no, we don't want to allow such a thing. Following the revelations about the spying activities of the NSA and GCHQ, public attention has been focused more than ever on privacy and encryption, Cameron having also suggested a desire to ban encryption. Today, some fears were allayed when it was announced that the government was not seeking to require software developers to build backdoors into their products. That said, the government said that companies should be able to decrypt 'targeted' data when required, and provide access to it.

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