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Feed Techdirt: American Teen Gets 11 Year Sentence For Pro-ISIS Tweets That Taught People How To Use Bitcoin->

Earlier this summer, the DOJ proudly announced that a Virginia teenager, Ali Shukri Amin, had taken a plea deal for "providing material support to ISIL" (the terrorist organization that everyone outside of the US government calls ISIS). This is back in the news now that Amin has been sentenced to 11 years in prison. Let's get this out of the way: ISIS is clearly a horrific and dangerous organization. But does what Amin did really deserve 11 years in prison? The details of the case against him also seem to raise some serious First Amendment questions about what counts as "material support."

First: the one area where Amin's actions do seem fairly questionable are when he helped another Virginia teen travel to Syria, apparently to join ISIS. That part definitely seems like it stepped over the legal line. But, the rest of the charges against him seem... like a teenager using Twitter and other social media to discuss stuff he's interested in. Amin ran a Twitter account called @AmreekiWitness, which had about 4,000 followers. He tweeted pro-ISIS propaganda, but that still seems to be a form of protected speech, last I checked. And, his big "crime" appears to be linking to an article about why ISIS supporters should use Bitcoin.

The following are examples of the defendant's use of Twitter in furtherance of his conspiracy to provide material support to ISIL:

On or about July 7, 2014, using the @AmreekiWitness account, the defendant tweeted a link to an article he authored entitled "Bitcoin wa' Sadaqat al-Jihad" (Bitcoin and the Charity of Jihad). The link transferred the user to the defendant's blog, where the article was posted. The article discussed how to use bitcoins and how jihadists could utilize this currency to fund their efforts. The article explained what bitcoins were, how the bitcoin system worked and suggested using Dark Wallet, a new bitcoin wallet, which keeps the user of bitcoins anonymous. The article included statements on how to set up an anonymous donations system to send money, using bitcoin, to the mujahedeen.

On approximately August 1, 2014, the defendant showed support for ISIL and his desire to help garner financial support for those wanting to commit jihad. Through @AmreekiWitness the defendant discussed methods to provide financial support for those wanting to commit jihad and for those individuals trying to travel overseas.

On approximately August 19, 2014, the defendant showed support for ISIL and desire to support ISIL. The defendant tweeted that the khilafah needed an official website "ASAP," and that ISIL could not continue to release media "in the wild" or use "JustPaste." Through various tweets, the defendant provided information on how to prevent the website from being taken down, by adding security and defenses, and he solicited others via Twitter to assist on the development of the website.
The defendant also operated an Amreeki Witness page on the website ask.fm. The defendant used these accounts extensively as a platform to proselytize his radical Islamic ideology, justify and defend ISIL's violent practices, and to provide advice on topics such as jihadists travel to fight with ISIL, online security measures, and about how to use Bitcoin to finance themselves without creating evidence of crime, among other matters.

The defendant also created the pro-ISIL blog entitled, "Al-Khilafah Aridat." On this blog, the defendant authored a series of highly-technical articles targeted at aspiring jihadists and ISIL supporters detailing the use of security measures in online communications to include use of encryption and anonymity software, tools and techniques, as well as the use of the virtual currency Bitcoin as a means to anonymously fund ISIL.
Tweeting about Bitcoin and saying that ISIS needs a website is a crime? One that deserves over a decade in jail? Obviously, aiding ISIS in any way is incredibly stupid, but it seems like a pretty slippery slope to argue that teaching people how to use Bitcoin or saying that ISIS needs a website rises to the level of "material support for ISIS" by itself. It seems like such a definition could lead to many, many people at risk. If you disagree with US policy for dealing with ISIS and say so -- at what point does it cross over the line? It seems way too easy to twist this into criminalizing dissent, rather than actually supporting a designated terrorist organization.

I'm all for coming up with ways to stop the spread of ISIS, and to prevent further attacks by the group. But jailing an American teenager over his tweets seems... excessive.

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Math

Ten Dropbox Engineers Build BSD-licensed, Lossless 'Pied Piper' Compression Algorithm 70

An anonymous reader writes: In Dropbox's "Hack Week" this year, a team of ten engineers built the fantasy Pied Piper algorithm from HBO's Silicon Valley, achieving 13% lossless compression on Mobile-recorded H.264 videos and 22% on arbitrary JPEG files. Their algorithm can return the compressed files to their bit-exact values. According to FastCompany, "Its ability to compress file sizes could actually have tangible, real-world benefits for Dropbox, whose core business is storing files in the cloud."The code is available on GitHub under a BSD license for people interested in advancing the compression or archiving their movie files.

Submission + - Alleged Rapist's Most Severe Crime Was Using a Computer

An anonymous reader writes: Today in a nationally publicized case, an alleged rapist from a fairly elite boarding school was convicted of a number of related misdemeanors, but the jury did not find him guilty of rape. According to the New York Times, his lone felony conviction was using a computer to lure a minor." In effect, a criminal was convicted of multiple misdemeanors including sexual penetration of a child, but the biggest penalty they face is a felony record and years in jail because they used a computer to contact the child, rather than picking her up at a coffee shop, meeting her at a party, or hiring a fifteen-year-old prostitute. Prosecutors have these "using a computer" charges as an additional quiver in their bow, but should we really be making it a felony to use a computer for non-computer-related crime when there is no underlying felony conviction?

Submission + - Ten Dropbox Engineers Build BSD-licensed Lossless Pied Piper Compression

An anonymous reader writes: In Dropbox's "Hack Week" this year, a team of ten engineers built the fantasy Pied Piper algorithm on HBO's Silicon Valley, achieving 13% lossless compression on Mobile-recorded H.264 videos and 22% on arbitrary JPEG files. Their algorithm can return the compressed files to their bit-exact values.
According to FastCompany, "Its ability to compress file sizes could actually have tangible, real-world benefits for Dropbox, whose core business is storing files in the cloud."
The code is available on github under a BSD license for people interested in advancing the compression or archiving their movie files.

Submission + - US agency to seek consensus on volatile topic of vulnerability disclosures->

alphadogg writes: A U.S. agency hopes to gather security researchers, software vendors and other interested people to reach consensus on the sticky topic of how to disclose cybersecurity vulnerabilities. Beginning in September, the U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will host a series of meetings intended to improve collaboration among security researchers, software vendors and IT system operators on the disclosure of, and response to, vulnerabilities. http://www.ntia.doc.gov/federa...
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Submission + - Jeep Hackers Plotting Next Hack->

ancientribe writes: Famed car hackers Chris Valasek and Charlie Miller are mulling their next big car hack after their "monumental" demonstration of how they could remotely control the accelerator (and other elements) of a Jeep Cherokee on the highway, according to Valasek, who grew up in a town called Ford City. Really.
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Submission + - What solutions do software developers employ to save energy in practice?

ghlp writes: In this research paper, the authors analyzed more than 2,000 commit messages, and their source code modification, in order to understand what are the solutions that open-source developers are using in practice to save energy. The authors found 12 main themes regarding energy-saving commits. More interestingly, they observed that ill-chosen energy saving techniques can impact on the correctness of the application.

Read the full paper at: http://gustavopinto.org/lost+f...

Submission + - Symantec Researchers Find 49 New Modules of Regin Spying Tool->

itwbennett writes: Security researchers from Symantec have identified 49 more modules (bringing the total number found so far to 75) of the sophisticated Regin cyberespionage platform that many believe is used by the U.S. National Security Agency and its close allies. Some of the modules implement basic malware functions, while other modules are much more specialized and built with specific targets in mind. 'One module was designed to monitor network traffic to Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS) web servers, another was observed collecting administration traffic for mobile telephony base station controllers, while another was created specifically for parsing mail from Exchange databases,' the Symantec researchers said in an updated version of their white paper published Thursday.
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Ubuntu

Ubuntu Is the Dominant Cloud OS 111

An anonymous reader writes: According to a new report by Cloud Market, Ubuntu is more than twice as popular on Amazon EC2 as all other operating systems combined. Given that Amazon Web Services has 57% of the public cloud market, Ubuntu is clearly the most popular OS for cloud systems. This is further bolstered by a recent OpenStack survey, which found that more than half of respondents used Ubuntu for cloud-based production environments. Centos was a distant second at 29%, and RHEL came in third at 11%. "In addition to AWS, Ubuntu has been available on HP Cloud, and Microsoft Azure since 2013. It's also now available on Google Cloud Platform, Fujitsu, and Joyent." The article concludes, "People still see Ubuntu as primarily a desktop operating system. It's not — and hasn't been for some time."
NASA

How NASA Defended Its Assembly Facility From Hurricane Katrina 57

An anonymous reader writes: Tomorrow marks the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's arrival in New Orleans. Though that time was filled with tragedy, there were survival stories, and a new article gives an insider's account of how NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility weathered the storm. Michoud was their key fuel tank production location, and if it had been lost, the space program would have gone off the rails. A 17-foot levee and a building with four water pumps capable of moving 62,000 gallons per minute stood between the storm and catastrophe for NASA's launch capabilities. "Water was merely the primary concern of the first 24 hours; Hurricane Katrina left its mark on the facilities even if Michoud was the rare speck of land to escape flooding. Roofs were lost to strong winds, one building even blew out entirely. External Tank 122 took some damage." Members of the "ride out" team spent much of the next month at Michoud, working long days to inspect and repair issues caused by the water. They maintained the facility well enough that it became a base for members of the military doing search and rescue operations. Amazingly, they did it all without any injuries to the team, and NASA didn't miss a single tank shipment.

Submission + - Microsoft Created An Open-Source Browser Using HTML, JavaScript, And CSS

An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft’s new browser, Edge, has a new rendering engine, EdgeHTML. Like Edge, the new rendering engine is only available in Windows 10, but it does more than just power the company’s new browser: It’s also readily available to developers. To show off what EdgeHTML can do, Microsoft has built a browser using predominantly JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. Next, the company released the app on the Windows Store and the sample code on GitHub.
Shark

Boeing Demonstrates Drone-Killing Laser 111

An anonymous reader writes: Boeing has successfully tested a new weapon system that tracks unmanned aircraft and shoots them down with a laser. The system is surprisingly small — it can be transported in a few medium-sized boxes, and two techs can set it up in minutes. The laser needs just a few seconds of continuous [contact] to set a drone aflame, and the tracking gimbal is precise enough to target specific parts of a drone. "Want to zap the tail so it crashes and then you can go retrieve the mostly intact drone and see who is trying to spy on you? Can do. Think it's carrying explosives and you want to completely destroy it? No problem." The laser is controlled with custom targeting software that runs on a laptop, with help from an Xbox 360 controller. Boeing expects the laser system to be ready for sale in the next year or two.

Submission + - Croatian party advocates government adoption of open source->

An anonymous reader writes: Earlier this year, Croatian political party Sustainable Development of Croatia (ORaH) published a new policy that encourages the government to pursue open source solutions, addresses the dangers of vendor lock-in, and insists on open document standards. Best of all, they did it the open source way.

In this article on Opensource.com, Croatian startup founder Josip Almasi highlights some of the policy's implications, as well as why it could matter in the upcoming election.

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Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Which dataplan provider to use when traveling in the USA

An anonymous reader writes: I am visiting USA 3-4 times a year and I need a data service. I also need to keep my cell phone number, so swapping the SIM card in my phone is not an option. I have bought those 19.95$ phones in Best-Buy to get a local number, but those were voice only. So I have been thinking about getting a MiFi hotspot.

I have been looking at pre-paid plans from Verizon(only 700 LTE band for their pre-paid hotspot), AT&T, T-Mobile etc. perhaps to put in a MiFi hotspot or buy a hotspot from a provider, but have no idea which one to use, their reputation, real life coverage etc. It is clear that all data plans in the USA are really expensive, I get 100GB monthly traffic with my Scandinavian provider for the same price as 6-8 GB montly in the US, which I guess could be a problem with our Apple phones as they do not recognize a metered WiFi hotspot. But that is another issue.
I travel all over but most of the time outside the big cities and my experience from roaming with my own phone and the cheap local phone so far tells me that coverage fluctuates wildly depending on the operator.

Submission + - ISRO successfully launches satellite into geostationary orbit

vasanth writes: Indian Space Research Organization (Isro) on Thursday cleared all doubts on its cryogenic capabilities, successfully launching the Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-D6), placing GSAT-6, a 2,117kg communication satellite in orbit.

The GSLV D-6 is the second successful consecutive launch of the GSLV series with indigenous cryogenic upper stage. ISRO had on January 5, 2014 launch GSLV D-5, after a similar attempt failed in 2010.

For the country, ISRO perfecting the cryogenic engine technology is crucial as precious foreign exchange can be saved by launching communication satellites on its own. Currently ISRO flies its heavy communication satellites by European space agency Ariane.

ISRO has already perfected it's Polar Launching Vehicle for launching lighter satellites which has decades of success stories. It has already put 45 foreign satellites of 9 nations into orbit. ISRO is to put 9 satellites in space using PSLV launcher for the United States in 2015-2016.

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