Submission + - Gov exceeds Tap and Trace to obtain VPN traffic in case of Martin Gottesfeld (thenewamerican.com) 2

Danngggg writes: As you may recall from Slashdot last year, alleged Anonymous hacktivist Martin Gottesfeld has been imprisoned without bail since federal agents arrested him on board a Disney Cruise ship in February of 2016 to face hacking charges brought by controversial former U.S. attorney Carmen Ortiz.
Tonight the New American publishes that the government exceeded the parameters of the Tap and Trace to gather details on VPN traffic, which was then used in the search warrant affidavit to secure a search warrant. Is it just commonly accepted now that the FBI can exceed court orders, covertly pay cable companies for unauthorized data, and the prosecutor can use it in court? Have courts abandoned even the facade of propriety?

Submission + - Warning: Microsoft is using Cortana to read your private Skype conversations (betanews.com) 1

BrianFagioli writes: "With Cortana's in-context assistance, it's easier to keep your conversations going by having Cortana suggest useful information based on your chat, like restaurant options or movie reviews. And if you're in a time crunch? Cortana also suggests smart replies, allowing you to respond to any message quickly and easily — without typing a thing," says The Skype Team.

The team further says, "Cortana can also help you organize your day — no need to leave your conversations. Cortana can detect when you're talking about scheduling events or things you have to do and will recommend setting up a reminder, which you will receive on all your devices that have Cortana enabled. So, whether you're talking about weekend plans or an important work appointment, nothing will slip through the cracks."

So, here's the deal, folks. In order for this magical "in-context" technology to work, Cortana is constantly reading your private conversations. If you use Skype on mobile to discuss private matters with your friends or family, Cortana is constantly analyzing what you type. Talking about secret business plans with a colleague? Yup, Microsoft's assistant is reading those too.

Don't misunderstand — I am not saying Microsoft has malicious intent by adding Cortana to Skype. the company could have good intentions. With that said, there is the potential for abuse. Microsoft could use Cortana's analysis to spy on you for things like advertising or worse, and that stinks. Is it really worth the risk to have smart replies and suggested calendar entries? I don't know about you, but I'd rather not have my Skype conversations read by Microsoft.

Submission + - Equifax Made Salary, Work History Available To Anyone With Your SS and DOB (krebsonsecurity.com)

An anonymous reader writes: In May, KrebsOnSecurity broke a story about lax security at a payroll division of big-three credit bureau Equifax that let identity thieves access personal and financial data on an unknown number of Americans. Incredibly, this same division makes it simple to access detailed salary and employment history on a large portion of Americans using little more than someone’s Social Security number and date of birth — both data elements that were stolen in the recent breach at Equifax. At issue is a service provided by Equifax’s TALX division called The Work Number. The service is designed to provide automated employment and income verification for prospective employers, and tens of thousands of companies report employee salary data to it. The Work Number also allows anyone whose employer uses the service to provide proof of their income when purchasing a home or applying for a loan.

The homepage for this Equifax service wants to assure visitors that “Your personal information is protected.” “With your consent your personal data can be retrieved only by credentialed verifiers,” Equifax assures us, referring mainly to banks and other entities that request salary data for purposes of setting credit limits. Sadly, this isn’t anywhere near true because most employers who contribute data to The Work Number — including Fortune 100 firms, government agencies and universities — rely on horribly weak authentication for access to the information.

Submission + - EPA Announces Repeal of Major Obama-Era Carbon Emissions Rule (nytimes.com)

An anonymous reader writes: The Trump administration announced Monday that it would take formal steps to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature policy to curb greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, setting up a bitter fight over the future of America’s efforts to tackle global warming. At an event in eastern Kentucky, Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, said that his predecessors had departed from regulatory norms in crafting the Clean Power Plan, which was finalized in 2015 and would have pushed states to move away from coal in favor of sources of electricity that produce fewer carbon emissions. The repeal proposal, which will be filed in the Federal Register on Tuesday, fulfills a promise President Trump made to eradicate his predecessor’s environmental legacy. Eliminating the Clean Power Plan makes it less likely the United States can fulfill its promise as part of the Paris climate agreement to ratchet down emissions that are warming the planet and contributing to heat waves and sea-level rise. Mr. Trump has vowed to abandon that international accord.

In announcing the repeal, Mr. Pruitt made many of the same arguments that he had made for years to Congress and in lawsuits: that the Obama administration exceeded its legal authority in an effort to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. (Last year, the Supreme Court blocked the rule from taking effect while courts assessed those lawsuits.) A leaked draft of the repeal proposal asserts that the country would save $33 billion by not complying with the regulation and rejects the health benefits the Obama administration had calculated from the original rule.

Submission + - Startup plans to clean up cigarette butts using crows 1

AmiMoJo writes: A startup in the Netherlands has developed the "Crowbar", a bird feeder that takes discarded cigarette butts as payment for dispensing food. A camera recognises cigarette filters and rejects any other objects placed in the Crowbar. The idea isn't entirely original, a gentleman in the US has already built a similar device and trained crows to deposit coins. The hope is that crows will be able to keep cities clean, sort through refuse and perform other tasks for our mutual benefit.

Submission + - Score points by finding stolen cars, with the Automon app of the Dutch police. (telegraaf.nl)

mrwireless writes: Through their 'police of the future' innovation initiative, and inspired by Pokemon Go, the Dutch police is building an app where you can score points by photographing the license plates of stolen cars. When a car is reported stolen the app will notify people in the neighbourhood, and then the game is on!

Privacy activists are worried that this creates a whole new relationship with the police, as a deputization of citizens blurs boundaries, and institutionalizes 'coveillance' — citizens spying on citizens. It could be a slippery slope to situations that more resemble the Stase regime's, which famously used this form of neighborly surveillance as its preferred method of control.

Submission + - Toshiba's new fast-charging battery could triple the range of electric vehicles (newatlas.com)

Big Hairy Ian writes: A key focus of electric vehicle (EV) makers is maximizing the range users can get from each charge, and for that reason new battery technologies are poised to play a huge part in driving their adoption. Toshiba has developed a new fast-charging battery it claims could allow EVs to travel three times as far as they do now, and then be fully recharged again in a matter of minutes.

Toshiba's SCiB (Super Charge ion Battery) has been around in various forms since 2007, with its chief claim to fame an ability to charge to 90 percent of capacity in just five minutes. It also boasts a life-span of 10 years and high levels of safety, and has found its way into a number of notable EVs, including Mitsubishi's i MiEV and Honda's Fit EV.

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