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+ - Swype Android keyboard makes almost 4000 location requests every day

Submitted by postglock
postglock (917809) writes "Swype is a popular third-party keyboard for Android phones (and also available for Windows phones and other platforms). It's currently the second-most-popular paid keyboard in Google Play (behind SwiftKey), and the 17th highest of all paid apps.

Recently, users have discovered that it's been accessing location data extremely frequently, making almost 4000 requests per day, or 2.5 requests per minute. The developers claim that this is to facilitate implementation of "regional dialects", but cannot explain why such frequent polling is required, or why this still occurs if the regional function is disabled.

Some custom ROMs such as Cyanogenmod can block this tracking, but most users would be unaware that such tracking is even occurring."

+ - Lawmakers of both parties voice doubts about NSA surveillance programs->

Submitted by anontoworld
anontoworld (2975941) writes "Washington Post: Cole said the programs are legal and overseen by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. He also said the programs “achieved the right balance” between protecting Americans’ safety and their privacy.

“Both programs are conducted under laws passed by Congress,” Cole said.

The 11 judges on the secret FISA court that approves surveillance “are far from rubber stamps,” he said. “They don’t sign off until they are satisfied that we have met all statutory and constitutional requirements.”

But some lawmakers were not swayed by Cole’s explanation."

Link to Original Source
Electronic Frontier Foundation

DOJ Often Used Cell Tower Impersonating Devices Without Explicit Warrants 146

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the bending-the-rules dept.
Via the EFF comes news that, during a case involving the use of a Stingray device, the DOJ revealed that it was standard practice to use the devices without explicitly requesting permission in warrants. "When Rigmaiden filed a motion to suppress the Stingray evidence as a warrantless search in violation of the Fourth Amendment, the government responded that this order was a search warrant that authorized the government to use the Stingray. Together with the ACLU of Northern California and the ACLU, we filed an amicus brief in support of Rigmaiden, noting that this 'order' wasn't a search warrant because it was directed towards Verizon, made no mention of an IMSI catcher or Stingray and didn't authorize the government — rather than Verizon — to do anything. Plus to the extent it captured loads of information from other people not suspected of criminal activity it was a 'general warrant,' the precise evil the Fourth Amendment was designed to prevent. ... The emails make clear that U.S. Attorneys in the Northern California were using Stingrays but not informing magistrates of what exactly they were doing. And once the judges got wind of what was actually going on, they were none too pleased:"
Space

+ - California Professors Unveil Proposal to Attack Asteroids With Lasers

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Yesterday's twin events with invading rocks from outer space — the close encounter with asteroid 2012 DA14, and the killer meteorite over Russia that was more than close — have brought the topic of defending mankind against killer asteroids back into the news. The Economist summarizes some of the ideas that have been bandied about, in a story that suggests Paul Simon's seventies hit "Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover": Just push it aside, Clyde. Show it the nuke, Luke. Gravity tug, Doug. The new proposal is an earth orbiting, solar-powered array of laser guns called DE-STAR (Directed Energy Solar Targeting of AsteRoids) from two California-based professors, physicist Philip Lubin (UCSB) and industrial statistician Gary Hughes (Cal Polytechnic State). Lubin and Hughes say their system could be developed and deployed in a range of sizes depending on the size of the target: DE-STAR 2, about the size of the International Space Station (100 meters) could nudge comets and asteroids from their orbits, while DE-STAR 4 (100 times larger than ISS) could evaporate an asteroid 500 meters in diameter (10 times larger than 2012 DA14) in a year. Of course, this assumes that the critters could be spotted early enough for the lasers to do their work."
Spam

+ - Email Domain Protection Effort Gains Traction->

Submitted by
CowboyRobot
CowboyRobot writes "An industry effort to protect corporate brands from email domain spoofing has been adopted by Google, Yahoo, AOL, and Microsoft, as well as major Russian and Chinese email providers in the past year, bringing the trusted email standard Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance (DMARC) to 60 percent of email users worldwide and 80 percent of U.S. consumers. Facebook messaging engineer Michael Adkins says large and small domains from various vertical markets are adopting DMARC. "I've been working on email-related abuse issues for close to 10 years now. The standards, [such as] DKIM, sort of sit there and nothing happens," Adkins says. "But with DMARC, this is the end of a very long road for a lot of people in the industry. We're finally seeing everything click into place""
Link to Original Source

+ - Adobe bows to pressure and cuts Australian prices->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Software giant Adobe has bowed to public pressure and slashed the price of some of its products for Australian customers a day after being ordered to front a parliamentary committee hearing to explain its excessive charges."
Link to Original Source

+ - Feces serve as attraction in Taiwan zoo->

Submitted by Examiner News
Examiner News (2776261) writes "A Taiwanese zoo plans on using animal poop as an "educational tool" for patrons, especially young boys according to a Feb. 10 report by Central News Agency. Officials at the Taipei Zoo will lure more visitors by slicing up excrement which they hope will give people insight into the animals' diet and breeding behavior."
Link to Original Source

+ - NASA Planes Fly Over Bay Area to Measure Air Pollution Level

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "NASA is trying to measure the air pollution by flying a plane at various altitudes. The tests are a part of a larger effort led by the DISCOVER-AQ campaign — a multi-year program launched across the United States in 2011 by NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. DISCOVER-AQ stands for Deriving Information on Surface conditions from Column and Vertically Resolved Observations Relevant to Air Quality. NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., is the lead center for the mission."
Mars

+ - Mars Rover is 10 years old->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "NASA's Opportunity rover landed on Mars the night of Jan. 24, 2004 PST (just after midnight EST on Jan. 25), three weeks after its twin, Spirit, touched down. Spirit stopped operating in 2010, but Opportunity is still going strong, helping scientists better understand the Red Planet's wetter, warmer past."
Link to Original Source

+ - BEST finds surface temperature changes track GHG emissions and volcanoes-> 2

Submitted by riverat1
riverat1 (1048260) writes "The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature studies latest release finds that land surface temperature changes since 1750 are nearly completely explained by increases in greenhouse gases and large volcanic eruptions. They also said that including solar forcing did not significantly improve the fit. Unlike the other major temperature records BEST used nearly all available temperature records instead of just a representative sample. Yet to come is an analysis that includes ocean temperatures."
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