Government

Congress Seeks To Outlaw Cyber Intel Sharing With Russia (onthewire.io) 179

Trailrunner7 shares a report from On the Wire: A group of House Democrats has introduced a bill that would formalize a policy of the United States not sharing cyber intelligence with Russia. The proposed law is a direct response to comments President Donald Trump made earlier this week after he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. After the meeting, Trump said on Twitter that he and Putin had discussed forming an "impenetrable Cyber Security unit" to prevent future attacks, including election hacking. The idea was roundly criticized by security and foreign policy experts and within a few hours Trump walked it back, saying it was just an idea and couldn't actually happen. But some legislators are not taking the idea of information sharing with Russia as a hypothetical. On Wednesday, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.), and Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) introduced the No Cyber Cooperation With Russia Act to ensure that the U.S. doesn't hand over any cybersecurity intelligence on attacks or vulnerabilities to Moscow. Recent attacks such as the NotPetya malware outbreak have been linked to Russia, as have the various attacks surrounding the 2016 presidential election. "When the Russians get their hands on cyber intelligence, they exploit it -- as they did last month with the NotPetya malware attack targeting Ukraine and the West. It is a sad state of affairs when Congress needs to prohibit this type of information sharing with an adversary, but since we apparently do, I am proud to introduce the No Cyber Cooperation with Russia Act with my friends Brendan Boyle and Ruben Gallego. I urge my colleagues across the aisle to join us in sending a clear message that Congress will not stand for this proposal to undermine U.S. national security," Lieu said in a statement.
Cloud

Border Patrol Says It's Barred From Searching Cloud Data On Phones (nbcnews.com) 74

According to a letter obtained by NBC News, U.S. border officers aren't allowed to look at any data stored only in the "cloud" -- including social media data -- when they search U.S. travelers' phones. "The letter (PDF), sent in response to inquiries by Sen. Ron Wyden, (D-Ore.), and verified by Wyden's office, not only states that CBP doesn't search data stored only with remote cloud services, but also -- apparently for the first time -- declares that it doesn't have that authority in the first place." From the report: In April, Wyden and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., introduced legislation to make it illegal for border officers to search or seize cellphones without probable cause. Privacy advocates and former Homeland Security lawyers have said they are alarmed by how many phones are being searched. The CBP letter, which is attributed to Kevin McAleenan, the agency's acting commissioner, is dated June 20, four months after Wyden asked the Department of Homeland Security (PDF), CBP's parent agency, to clarify what he called the "deeply troubling" practice of border agents' pressuring Americans into providing passwords and access to their social media accounts. McAleenan's letter says officers can search a phone without consent and, except in very limited cases, without a warrant or even suspicion -- but only for content that is saved directly to the device, like call histories, text messages, contacts, photos and videos.
Businesses

Insider Trader Arrested After He Googled 'Insider Trading,' Authorities Allege 124

Spy Handler writes: Fei Yan, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and 31-year-old Chinese citizen, was arrested by federal authorities on Wednesday on insider trading charges. Mr. Yan used Google to search for phrases such as "how sec detect unusual trade" and "insider trading with international account." He also allegedly read an article titled "Want to Commit Insider Trading? Here's How Not to Do It," according to the U.S. attorney prosecuting the case. Further reading: Associated Press, CNBC, USA Today
Medicine

Vaccines May Soon Be Mandatory For Children In France (theverge.com) 251

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Last week, the French Health Ministry announced plans to make 11 vaccines mandatory for young children by 2018. French law currently mandates three vaccines -- diphtheria, tetanus, and polio -- for children under the age of two. The government's proposal would expand that list to include eight other vaccines -- including those against Hepatitis B, whooping cough, and measles -- that were previously only recommended. The proposal, which is to be presented to lawmakers by the end of this year, comes amid an ongoing measles outbreak across Europe, which the World Health Organization (WHO) attributed to low immunization rates. Italy passed a similar decree in May, requiring children to receive 10 vaccines as a condition for school enrollment. Germany, while stopping short of a mandate, has moved to tighten its laws on child immunization. But some experts question whether a vaccination mandate will sway public opinion in France, where distrust in vaccines has risen alarmingly in recent years. In a survey published last year, 41 percent of respondents in France disagreed with the statement that vaccines are safe -- the highest rate of distrust among the 67 countries that were surveyed, and more than three times higher than the global average.
Canada

Former Astronaut Julie Payette To Be Canada's Next Governor General (www.cbc.ca) 109

MightyMartian shares a report from CBC.ca: Former astronaut Julie Payette will be the Queen's new representative in Canada, CBC News has confirmed. The 53-year-old Montrealer, who speaks six languages, will be named the 29th governor general, a position that comes with a $290,660 annual salary and an official residence at Rideau Hall. Payette, who is also an accomplished athlete, pianist and choral singer, will succeed outgoing Gov. Gen. David Johnston. A computer engineer with a commercial pilot license, Payette was picked from among 5,330 applicants in 1992 to be one of four new astronauts with the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). She participated in two space flights to the International Space Station and served as the CSA's chief astronaut between 2000 and 2007.

MightyMartian adds: "I defy anyone else to find a head of state who is an astronaut!"

The Almighty Buck

Ask Slashdot: Why Do So Many of You Think Carrying Cash Is 'Dangerous'? 657

An anonymous reader writes: Recently, I asked Slashdot what you thought about paying for things online using plastic, and the security of using plastic in general; thank you all for your many and varied responses, they're all much appreciated and gave me things to consider.

However, I got quite a few responses that puzzled me: People claiming that paying for things with cash, and carrying any amount of cash around at all, was somehow dangerous, that I'd be "robbed," and that I shouldn't carry cash at all, only plastic. I'm Gen-Y; I've walked around my entire life, in all sorts of places, and have never been approached or robbed by anyone, so I'm more than a little puzzled by that.

So now I ask you, Slashdotters: Why do you think carrying cash is so dangerous? Where do you live/spend your time that you worry so much about being robbed? Have you been robbed before, and that's why you feel this way? I'm not going to stop carrying cash in my wallet but I'd like to understand why it is so many of you feel this way -- so please be thorough in your explanations.
Businesses

SoundCloud Has Enough Money To Survive Only 80 Days, Report Claims (techcrunch.com) 57

Last week, SoundCloud announced it is cutting about 40 percent of its staff and closing two offices. Now, a report from TechCrunch claims "the layoffs only saved the company enough money to have runway 'until Q4' -- which begins in just 80 days." From the report: That seems to conflict with the statement Ljung released alongside the layoffs, which noted that, "With more focus and a need to think about the long term, comes tough decisions." The company never mentioned how short its cash would still last. We reached out to Ljung and SoundCloud for this story and PR responded to the request reiterating Ljung blog post. After being presented with the leaked information from the all-hands, SoundCloud PR admitted that, "We are fully funded into Q4," though it says it's in talks with potential investors. But further funding would require faith in SoundCloud that its own staff lacks. When asked about morale of the remaining team, one employee who asked to remain anonymous told TechCrunch "it's pretty shitty. Pretty somber. I know people who didn't get the axe are actually quitting. The people saved from this are jumping ship. The morale is really low."
Businesses

Amazon Is Getting Too Big and the Government Is Talking About It (marketwatch.com) 205

An anonymous reader quotes a report from MarketWatch: Fresh off its biggest Prime Day yet, the Whole Foods Market bid, and a slew of announcements including Amazon Wardrobe, Amazon.com Inc. was the subject of two investor calls Thursday that raised concerns that it is getting too big. In one case, hedge-fund manager Douglas Kass said government intervention could be imminent. "I am shorting Amazon today because I have learned that there are currently early discussions and due diligence being considered in the legislative chambers in Washington DC with regard to possible antitrust opposition to Amazon's business practices, pricing strategy and expansion announcements already made (as well as being aimed at expansion strategies being considered in the future," wrote Kass, head of Seabreeze Partners Management. "My understanding is that certain Democrats in the Senate have instituted the very recent and preliminary investigation of Amazon's possible adverse impact on competition," he said. "But, in the Trump administration we also have a foe against Jeff Bezos, who not only runs Amazon but happens to own an editorially unfriendly (to President Trump) newspaper, The Washington Post."

Kass said he thinks the government "discussions may have just begun and may never result in any serious effort to limit Amazon's growth plans." But he has been writing a series of columns about whether we've reached "peak Amazon," and said in an earlier column that the Whole Foods deal puts "Amazon's vast power under the microscope." "Is Amazon a productive change agent and force for the good of the consumer by virtue of a reduction in product prices? Or is Amazon's disruption of the general retail business a destroyer of jobs, moving previously productively employed workers into the unemployment line?" he asked.

Businesses

PC Shipments Hit the Lowest Level In a Decade (cnbc.com) 202

PC shipments are at the lowest levels since 2007. From a report: Gartner said this week that the PC market declined 4.3 percent during the second quarter. The research company said that shipments were at the "lowest quarter volume since 2007," noting the market dropped for the 11th quarter in a row. The report is in stark contrast to another from IDC in April which said that the PC market grew for the first time in five years. Gartner said HP has the largest global market share with 20.8 percent of the market. HP is trailed by Lenovo which has a 19.9 percent share, with shipments down a substantial 8.4 percent since last year. Dell, Apple and Asus finish out the top five players. In the U.S., Gartner suggests Apple's shipments were down 9.6 percent from last year. The research firm didn't give an explanation for why that might have occurred, though Apple was late to refresh its computers with the latest Intel processors. Upgraded Macs just hit the market last month.
Education

Early 'Coding School' Dev Bootcamp Is Shutting Down (axios.com) 106

Dev Bootcamp, the original "coding bootcamp," is shutting down, the company announced on Wednesday. The company's last cohort of students, who begin the program next week, will graduate in December and receive job search help before the school permanently shuts down. From a report: Why it matters: Early coding bootcamps like Dev Bootcamp launched a boom in alternative education for programing skills, with some of the school's own alumni going on to found their own successful programs, like App Academy. Ultimately, the coding bootcamp craze highlighted not only the need to rethink computer science and programming education in traditional colleges, but also the increasing demand for workers with these technical skills.
AMD

AMD Unveils Ryzen Threadripper 1950X 16-Core and 1920X 12-Core Specs and Pricing (hothardware.com) 85

MojoKid writes: AMD first teased its Ryzen Threadripper series of high-end desktop (HEDT) processors back in mid-May, but is now sharing additional details on the first two products in the family. Both processors are based on the 14nm Zen core, make use of AMD's new Socket TR4 interface, support quad-channel DDR memory, and feature a total of 64 PCIe lanes. In addition, both processors will come from the factory unlocked. Ryzen Threadripper 1920X will have 12 Cores, 24 Threads, and 3.5/4.0 GHz (Base Clock/Precision Boost) clock speeds. Ryzen Threadripper 1950X will have 16 Cores, 32 Threads, and 3.4/4.0 GHz (Base Clock/Precision Boost) clock speeds. Pricing is set at $799 and $999, respectively, with availability in early August, though Dell's Alienware gaming PC division will have systems shipping with the new chip starting this month. AMD also put the new chips up against Intel's Core i7-7900X 10-core CPU in a Cinebench benchmark run in a video demo, and the 12-core Threadripper chip beats Intel's currently available Skylake-X chip handily, while the 16-core Threadripper outpaces it even further.
AI

Artificial Intelligence Has Race, Gender Biases (axios.com) 463

An anonymous reader shares a report: The ACLU has begun to worry that artificial intelligence is discriminatory based on race, gender and age. So it teamed up with computer science researchers to launch a program to promote applications of AI that protect rights and lead to equitable outcomes. MIT Technology Review reports that the initiative is the latest to illustrate general concern that the increasing reliance on algorithms to make decisions in the areas of hiring, criminal justice, and financial services will reinforce racial and gender biases. A computer program used by jurisdictions to help with paroling prisoners that ProPublica found would go easy on white offenders while being unduly harsh to black ones.
Businesses

Luxury Phone-maker Vertu Collapses (bbc.com) 66

A British-based company that made smartphones costing thousands of pounds will be liquidated after a plan to save it failed. From a report: Vertu was known for its high-end, jewel-encrusted handsets, but recently faced financial difficulties. The company's liquidation will result in the loss of nearly 200 jobs. One technology analyst said Vertu would have faced competition from companies offering to customise other smartphones with precious materials. Vertu phones carry hefty price tags -- its Signature range starts at 11,100 pound ($14,350) and one model featuring 18-carat red gold costs 39,100 pound ($50,600). When contacted by the BBC, an external spokesman for the firm said: "Well it's gone into liquidation and I'm not being paid by them any more."
Security

Swedish Security Company Boss Declared 'Bankrupt' After Identity Stolen (bloomberg.com) 41

The man running Sweden's biggest security firm was declared bankrupt this week after his identity was hacked. Though the sub-optimal branding implications were hard to miss, Securitas AB was able to put the whole awkward incident behind it by the end of the day. From a report: Alf Goransson, the company's 59-year-old chief executive officer since 2007, won an appeal of the July 10 bankruptcy decision by the Stockholm District Court, according to a statement late Wednesday. The perpetrator used the CEO's identity to seek a loan of an undisclosed amount, after which a bankruptcy application was filed in his name. The identity theft took place in March. Goransson didn't know he'd been hacked until this week, the company said. The hack attack "has no effect on the company, other than that our CEO has been declared bankrupt," spokeswoman Gisela Lindstrand said. "And that will hopefully only last until later today, depending on how soon they can remove the decision."
AT&T

Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T Want Congress To Make a Net Neutrality Law Because They Will Write It (theverge.com) 170

From a report on The Verge: Companies and organizations that rely on an open internet rallied on Wednesday for a "day of action" on net neutrality, and America's biggest internet service providers have responded with arrogance and contempt for their customers. Comcast's David Cohen called arguments in favor of FCC regulation "scare tactics" and "hysteria." Beyond the dismissive rhetoric, ISPs are coincidentally united today in calling for Congress to act -- and that's because they've paid handsomely to control what Congress does. There's one thing Republicans and Democrats can agree on, and that's taking money from ISPs. The telecommunications industry was the most powerful lobbying force of the 20th century, and that power endures. It's no secret that lobbyists in Washington write many of the laws, and the telecom industry spends a lot of money to make sure lawmakers use them. We've already seen net neutrality legislation written by the ISPs, and it's filled with loopholes. It's not just in Congress -- companies like AT&T have deep influence over local and state broadband laws, and write those policies, too. Some pro-net neutrality advocates are also arguing today that Congress should act, and there are some good reasons for that. Laws can be stickier than the judgements of regulatory agencies, and if you want to make net neutrality the law of the land that's a job for Congress. But there's a reason the ISPs are all saying the same thing, and it's because they're very confident they will defeat the interests of consumers and constituents. They've already done it this year under the Republican-controlled government. Further reading: 10M+ web users saw yesterday's net neutrality protest -- but rules are still getting scrapped.
Businesses

Europe Says Employers Must Warn Job Applicants Before Checking Them Out on Social Media (cnn.com) 221

Europe has a message for employers: Think twice before you check the social media profiles of job applicants. From a report: European officials have issued new guidelines that warn bosses about the legal hazards of scrolling through the social media profiles of potential hires. The rules require employers to issue a disclaimer before they check applicants' online accounts, including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and LinkedIn. If applicants don't see the warning, the company could be in breach of European Union data protection rules. Employers are also barred from compiling social media data as part of the hiring process unless it is "necessary and relevant" for a particular job. The guidelines are part of a lengthy document clarifying data protection laws that apply to employers across 28 EU countries.
Medicine

'Living Drug' That Fights Cancer By Harnessing The Immune System Clears Key Hurdle (npr.org) 73

An anonymous reader shares an NPR report: A new kind of cancer treatment that uses genetically engineered cells from a patient's immune system to attack their cancer easily cleared a crucial hurdle Wednesday. A Food and Drug Administration advisory committee unanimously recommended that the agency approve this "living drug" approach for children and young adults who are fighting a common form of leukemia. The agency doesn't have to follow the committee's recommendation but usually does. The treatment takes cells from a patient's body, modifies the genes, and then reinfuses those modified cells back into the person who has cancer. If the agency approves, it would mark the first time the FDA has approved anything considered to be a "gene therapy product." The treatment is part of one of the most important developments in cancer research in decades -- finding ways to harness the body's own immune system to fight cancer. And while it has generated much hope, there are some concerns about its safety over the long term -- and its cost.
NASA

NASA Finally Admits It Doesn't Have the Funding To Land Humans on Mars (arstechnica.com) 247

For years, NASA has been chalking out and expanding its plans to go to Mars. The agency's Journey to Mars project aims to land humans on the red planet during the 2030s. For years, the agency has been reassuring us that it will be able to make do all those audacious projects within the budget it gets. Until now, that is. From a report: Now, finally, the agency appears to have bended toward reality. During a propulsion meeting of the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics on Wednesday, NASA's chief of human spaceflight acknowledged that the agency doesn't really have the funding it needs to reach Mars with the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft. These vehicles have cost too much to build, and too much to fly, and therefore NASA hasn't been able to begin designing vehicles to land on Mars or ascend from the surface. "I can't put a date on humans on Mars, and the reason really is the other piece is, at the budget levels we described, this roughly 2 percent increase, we don't have the surface systems available for Mars," said NASA's William H. Gerstenmaier, responding to a question about when NASA will send humans to the surface of Mars. "And that entry, descent and landing is a huge challenge for us for Mars." This seems like a fairly common sense statement, but it's something that NASA officials have largely glossed over -- at least in public -- during the agency's promotion of a Journey to Mars.
DRM

EFF Officially Appeals Tim Berners-Lee Decision On DRM In HTML (techdirt.com) 149

Last week, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) decided to officially recommend the use of Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) for protecting copyrighted video on the internet. This will enable web surfers to watch media in a browser that requires Digital Rights Management copy protection without the need for browser-based plugins. "It moves the responsibility for interaction from plugins to the browser," the consortium states at the time. "As such, EME offers a better user experience, bringing greater interoperability, privacy, security, and accessibility to viewing encrypted video on the web." TechDirt shares an update: It's been a foregone conclusion that EME was going to get approved, but there was a smaller fight about whether or not W3C would back a covenant not to sue security and privacy researchers who would be investigating (and sometimes breaking) that encryption. Due to massive pushback from the likes of the MPAA and (unfortunately) Netflix, Tim Berners-Lee rejected this covenant proposal. In response, W3C member EFF has now filed a notice of appeal on the decision. The crux of the appeal is the claimed benefits of EME that Berners-Lee put forth won't actually be benefits without the freedom of security researchers to audit the technology -- and that the wider W3C membership should have been able to vote on the issue. This appeals process has never been used before at the W3C, even though it's officially part of its charter -- so no one's entirely sure what happens next.
Businesses

3 ISPs Have Spent $572 Million To Kill Net Neutrality Since 2008 (dslreports.com) 150

An anonymous reader quotes a report from DSLReports: A study by Maplight indicates that for every one comment submitted to the FCC on net neutrality (and there have been roughly 5 million so far), the telecom industry has spent $100 in lobbying to crush the open internet. The group found that Comcast, AT&T, Verizon and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) have spent $572 million on attempts to influence the FCC and other government agencies since 2008. "The FCC's decision, slated to be announced later this summer, will be a clear indicator of the power of corporate cash in a Trump administration," notes the report. "Public sentiment is on the side of keeping the Obama administration's net neutrality policies, which prevented internet companies from blocking, slowing or giving priority to different websites." Congressional lobbying forms indicate that Comcast alone has spent nearly $4 million on lobbying Congress on net neutrality issues from the end of 2014 through the first quarter of 2017.
NASA

NASA Releases Juno's First Stunning Close-Ups of Jupiter's Giant Storm (theverge.com) 55

NASA's Juno spacecraft has sent back the first photos from its close flyby over Jupiter's famous Great Red Spot. These images offer the closest ever view of the massive storm. The Verge reports: Juno has been orbiting Jupiter for a little over a year on a mission to study the planet's interior, atmosphere, and magnetosphere. Its elliptical orbit around the planet takes the probe close to the surface for a few hours every 53 days. These are called perijove passes -- and on July 10th, Juno completed its seventh. A little after its closest approach, Juno's camera, JunoCam, snapped a few shots of the storm from about 5,000 miles above. Typically, a team of NASA scientists chooses which images a spacecraft collects on its path around a planet. But with Juno, NASA's opened up the process to the public: space fans can weigh in on the photos JunoCam shoots by ranking their favorite points of interest. After the photos are taken, NASA releases the raw images for the public to process. People can crop them, assemble them into collages, and change or enhance the colors. The results are mesmerizing. You can view even more photos here.
Moon

Private Company Plans To Bring Moon Rocks Back To Earth In Three Years (arstechnica.com) 66

mi writes: Moon Express, founded in 2010 to win the Google Lunar XPRIZE, says it is self-funded to begin bringing kilograms of lunar rocks back to Earth within about three years. "We absolutely intend to make these samples available globally for scientific research, and make them available to collectors as well," said Bob Richards, one of the company's founders, in an interview with Ars. From the report: "The privately held company released plans for a single, modular spacecraft that can be combined to form successively larger and more capable vehicles. Ultimately the company plans to establish a lunar outpost in 2020 and set up commercial operations on the Moon."

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