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Encryption

US Efforts To Regulate Encryption Have Been Flawed, Government Report Finds (theguardian.com) 56

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Guardian: U.S. Republican congressional staff said in a report released Wednesday that previous efforts to regulate privacy technology were flawed and that lawmakers need to learn more about technology before trying to regulate it. The 25-page white paper is entitled Going Dark, Going Forward: A Primer on the Encryption Debate and it does not provide any solution to the encryption fight. However, it is notable for its criticism of other lawmakers who have tried to legislate their way out of the encryption debate. It also sets a new starting point for Congress as it mulls whether to legislate on encryption during the Clinton or Trump administration. "Lawmakers need to develop a far deeper understanding of this complex issue before they attempt a legislative fix," the committee staff wrote in their report. The committee calls for more dialogue on the topic and for more interviews with experts, even though they claim to have already held more than 100 such briefings, some of which are classified. The report says in the first line that public interest in encryption has surged once it was revealed that terrorists behind the Paris and San Bernardino attacks "used encrypted communications to evade detection." Congressman Ted Lieu is pushing the federal government to treat ransomware attacks on medical facilities as data breaches and require notifications of patients.
Businesses

Clinton Tech Plan Reads Like Silicon Valley Wish List (usatoday.com) 337

theodp writes from a report via USA Today: "If there was any lingering doubt as to tech's favored presidential candidate," writes USA Today's Jon Swartz, "Hillary Clinton put an end to that Tuesday with a tech plan that reads like a Silicon Valley wish list. It calls for connecting every U.S. household to high-speed internet by 2020, reducing regulatory barriers and supporting Net neutrality rules, [which ban internet providers from blocking or slowing content.] It proposes investments in computer science and engineering education ("engage the private sector and nonprofits to train up to 50,000 computer science teachers in the next decade"), expansion of 5G mobile data, making inexpensive Wi-Fi available at more airports and train stations, and attaching a green card to the diplomas of foreign-born students earning STEM degrees." dcblogs shares with us a report from Computerworld that specifically discusses Clinton's support of green cards for foreign students who earn STEM degrees: As president, Hillary Clinton will support automatic green cards, or permanent residency, for foreign students who earn advanced STEM degrees. Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, wants the U.S. to "staple" green cards on the diplomas of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) masters and PhD graduates "from accredited institutions." Clinton outlined her plan in a broader tech policy agenda released today. Clinton's "staple" idea isn't new. It's what Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential candidate in 2012, supported. It has had bipartisan support in Congress. But the staple idea is controversial. Critics will say this provision will be hard to control, will foster age discrimination, and put pressure on IT wages.
The Courts

President Obama Should Pardon Edward Snowden Before Leaving Office (theverge.com) 377

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Verge: Ever since Edward Snowden set in motion the most powerful public act of whistleblowing in U.S. history, he has been living in exile in Russia from the United States. An article in this week's New York Magazine looks at how Snowden may have a narrow window of opportunity where President Obama could pardon him before he leaves office. Presumably, once he leaves office, the chances of Snowden being pardoned by Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump are miniscule. Obama has said nothing in the past few years to suggest he's interested in pardoning Snowden. Not only would it contradict his national security policy, but it will severely alienate the intelligence community for many years to come. With that said, anyone who values a free and secure internet believes pardoning Snowden would be the right thing to do. The Verge reports: "[Snowden] faces charges under the Espionage Act, which makes no distinction between delivering classified files to journalists and delivering the same files to a foreign power. For the first 80 years of its life, it was used almost entirely to prosecute spies. The president has prosecuted more whistleblowers under the Espionage Act than all president before him combined. His Justice Department has vastly expanded the scope of the law, turning it from a weapon against the nation's enemies to one that's pointed against its own citizens. The result will be less scrutiny of the nation's most powerful agencies, and fewer forces to keep them in check. With Snowden's push for clemency, the president has a chance to complicate that legacy and begin to undo it. It's the last chance we'll have."
Censorship

Google and Facebook May Be Suppressing 'Extremist' Speech With Copyright Scanners (theverge.com) 155

An anonymous reader quotes this article from The Verge: The systems that automatically enforce copyright laws on the internet may be expanding to block unfavorable speech. Reuters reports that Facebook, Google, and other companies are exploring automated removal of extremist content, and could be repurposing copyright takedown methods to identify and suppress it. It's unclear where the lines have been drawn, but the systems are likely targeted at radical messages on social networks from enemies of European powers and the United States. Leaders in the US and Europe have increasingly decried radical extremism on the internet and have attempted to enlist internet companies in a fight to suppress it.

Many of those companies have been receptive to the idea and already have procedures to block violent and hateful content. Neither Facebook and Google would confirm automation of these efforts to Reuters, which relied on two anonymous sources who are "familiar with the process"... The secret identification and automated blocking of extremist speech would raise new, serious questions about the cooperation of private corporations with censorious governmental interests.

Reuters calls it "a major step forward for internet companies that are eager to eradicate violent propaganda from their sites and are under pressure to do so from governments around the world as attacks by extremists proliferate, from Syria to Belgium and the United States." They also report that the move follows pressure from an anti-extremism group "founded by, among others, Frances Townsend, who advised former president George W. Bush on homeland security, and Mark Wallace, who was deputy campaign manager for the Bush 2004 re-election campaign."
Medicine

New Apps Let Women Obtain Birth Control Without Visiting a Doctor 301

HughPickens.com writes: With nearly 40 percent of all pregnancies in the United States unintended, birth control is a critical public health issue. For short-term methods, visiting the doctor for a prescription can be time-consuming and sometimes costly and for some, like teenagers, it can be intimidating or embarrassing. Now Pam Belluck reports at the NYT that a growing assortment of new apps and websites now make it possible to get prescription contraceptives without going to the doctor as public health experts hope the new apps will encourage more women to start, or restart, using contraception and help reduce the country's stubbornly high rate of unintended pregnancies, as well as the rate of abortions. At least six digital ventures, by private companies and nonprofits, including Planned Parenthood, now provide prescriptions written by clinicians after women answer questions about their health online or by video. All prescribe birth control pills, and some prescribe patches, rings and morning-after pills and some ship contraceptives directly to women's doors. "At first I didn't believe it," said Susan Hashem, who wanted to restart birth control pills without missing work for a doctor's appointment. Hashem used an app called Lemonaid and paid $15 for a doctor to review her medical information and send a pill prescription to a local pharmacy. "I thought it was just a setup to get money," Hashem said. But after she answered the health questions one evening, "a doctor actually contacted me after office hours," and the next morning, she picked up three months' worth of pills.
EU

BBC: UK Votes To Leave The European Union (bbc.com) 1585

An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC: The UK has voted by 52% to 48% to leave the European Union after 43 years in a historic referendum, a BBC forecast suggests. London and Scotland voted strongly to stay in the EU but the remain vote has been undermined by poor results in the north of England. Voters in Wales and the English shires have backed Brexit in large numbers. The referendum turnout was 71.8% -- with more than 30 million people voting -- the highest turnout since 1992. London has voted to stay in the EU by around 60% to 40%. However, no other region of England has voted in favor of remaining. Britain would be the first country to leave the EU since its formation -- but a leave vote will not immediately mean Britain ceases to be a member of the 28-nation bloc. That process could take a minimum of two years, with Leave campaigners suggesting during the referendum campaign that it should not be completed until 2020 -- the date of the next scheduled general election. The prime minister will have to decide when to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which would give the UK two years to negotiate its withdrawal. Once Article 50 has been triggered a country can not rejoin without the consent of all member states. British Prime Minister David Cameron is under pressure to resign as a result of the decision. UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage called on him to quit "immediately." One labor source said, "If we vote to leave, Cameron should seriously consider his position." Several pro-Leave Conservatives including Boris Johnson and Michael Gove have signed a letter to Mr. Cameron urging him to stay no matter the decision. Mr. Cameron did say he would trigger Article 50 as soon as possible after a leave vote.

Update 6/24 09:33 GMT: David Cameron has resigned.
Democrats

Clinton's Private Email Was Blocked By Spam Filters, So State IT Turned Them Off (arstechnica.com) 257

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Documents recently obtained by the conservative advocacy group Judicial Watch show that in December 2010, then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her staff were having difficulty communicating with State Department officials by e-mail because spam filters were blocking their messages. To fix the problem, State Department IT turned the filters off -- potentially exposing State's employees to phishing attacks and other malicious e-mails. The mail problems prompted Clinton Chief of Staff Huma Abedin to suggest to Clinton (PDF), "We should talk about putting you on State e-mail or releasing your e-mail address to the department so you are not going to spam." Clinton replied, "Let's get [a] separate address or device but I don't want any risk of the personal [e-mail] being accessible." The mail filter system -- Trend Micro's ScanMail for Exchange 8 -- was apparently causing some messages from Clinton's private server (Clintonemail.com) to not be delivered (PDF). Some were "bounced;" others were accepted by the server but were quarantined and never delivered to the recipient. According to the e-mail thread published yesterday by Judicial Watch, State's IT team turned off both spam and antivirus filters on two "bridgehead" mail relay servers while waiting for a fix from Trend Micro. There was some doubt about whether Trend Micro would address the issue before State performed an upgrade to the latest version of the mail filtering software. A State Department contractor support tech confirmed that two filters needed to be shut off in order to temporarily fix the problem -- a measure that State's IT team took with some trepidation, because the filters had "blocked malicious content in the recent past." It's not clear from the thread that the issue was ever satisfactorily resolved, either with SMEX 8 or SMEX 10.
Facebook

Facebook Offers Political Bias Training In Wake Of Trending Controversy (gizmodo.com) 206

Michael Nunez, reporting for Gizmodo:Facebook is adding political scenarios to its orientation training following concerns, first reported by Gizmodo, that workers were suppressing conservative topics in its Trending news section. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, announced the change during an interview with conservative leader Arthur Brooks, president of the prominent conservative think tank the American Enterprise Institute. Brooks also attended a private meeting between Facebook executives and prominent conservative leaders following the controversy. "We had an ex-contractor on that team who accused us of liberal bias," Sandberg said during the interview. "Frankly, it rang true to some people because there is concern that Silicon Valley companies have a liberal bias. We did a thorough investigation, and we didn't find a liberal bias."
Communications

Senate Rejects FBI Bid For Warrantless Access To Internet Browsing Histories (zdnet.com) 224

Zack Whittaker, reporting for ZDNet:An amendment designed to allow the government warrantless access to internet browsing histories has been narrowly defeated in the Senate. The amendment fell two votes short of the required 60 votes to advance. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) switched his vote at the last minute. He submitted a motion to reconsider the vote following the defeat. A new vote may be set for later on Wednesday. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) introduced the amendment as an add-on to the commerce, justice, and science appropriations bill earlier this week. McCain said in a statement on Monday that the amendment would "track lone wolves" in the wake of the Orlando massacre, in which Omar Mateen, who authorities say radicalized himself online, killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in the Florida city. The amendment, which may be reconsidered in the near future, aims to broaden the rules governing national security letters, which don't require court approval. These letters allow the FBI to demand records associated with Americans' online communications -- so-called electronic communications transactional records.
Democrats

DNC Hacker Releases Clinton Foundation Documents (washingtonexaminer.com) 156

An anonymous reader writes: Following a report that Russian hackers penetrated the DNC's database, a hacker, who identifies himself as "Guccifer 2.0" after a popular Romanian hacker who hacked various American political figures, most notably Hillary Clinton and her private server, has published documents on Tuesday that he says came from the party's digital files. The documents detail Clinton's weaknesses as a candidate, and include a collection of negative press clips about the Clinton Foundation and a list of defenses against attacks on her private email use. Washington Examiner reports: "Another document, titled '2016 Democrats Positions Cheat Sheet,' listed major policy issues and indicated where Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley, Jim Webb, Lincoln Chaffee, Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden -- all former or possible rivals for the Democratic nomination -- stood on each issue." The documents contain information ranging from how the Clinton Foundation and its allies should respond to criticisms of the Clinton Foundation's revenue sources to how Chelsea Clinton wasn't able to answer questions about Clinton Foundation donations and other instances in which Bill Clinton was called a "sexual predator" for his past indiscretions. Even though the cybersecurity breach was blamed on the Russian government, the Kremlin has denied any involvement. The DNC also has yet to confirm or deny the authenticity of the leaked documents.
Government

Invoking Orlando, Senate Republicans Set Up Vote To Expand FBI Spying (reuters.com) 657

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell set up a vote late on Monday to expand the FBI's authority to use a secretive surveillance order without a warrant to include email metadata and some browsing history information. The move, made via an amendment to a criminal justice appropriations bill, is an effort by Senate Republicans to respond to last week's mass shooting in an Orlando nightclub after a series of measures to restrict guns offered by both parties failed on Monday. Privacy advocates denounced the effort, saying it seeks to exploit a mass shooting in order to expand the government's digital spying powers. The amendment would broaden the FBI's authority to use so-called National Security Letters to include electronic communications transaction records such as time stamps of emails and the emails' senders and recipients. NSLs do not require a warrant and are almost always accompanied by a gag order preventing the service provider from sharing the request with a targeted user. The amendment filed Monday would also make permanent a provision of the USA Patriot Act that allows the intelligence community to conduct surveillance on "lone wolf" suspects who do not have confirmed ties to a foreign terrorist group. A vote is expected no later than Wednesday, McConnell's office said. Last week, FBI Director James Comey said he is "highly confident that [the Orlando shooter] was radicalized at least in part through the internet."
IBM

IBM Engineer Builds a Harry Potter Sorting Hat Using 'Watson' AI (thenextweb.com) 111

An anonymous reader writes: As America celebrates Father's Day, The Next Web reports on an IBM engineer who found a way to combine his daughters' interest in the Harry Potter series with an educational home technology project. Together they built a Hogwarts-style sorting hat -- which assigns its wearer into an appropriate residence house at the school of magic -- and it does it using IBM's cognitive computing platform Watson. "The hat uses Watson's Natural Language Classifier and Speech to Text to let the wearer simply talk to the hat, then be sorted according to what he or she says..." reports The Next Web. "Anderson coded the hat to pick up on words that fit the characteristics of each Hogwarts house, with brainy and cleverness going right into Ravenclaw's territory and honesty a recognized Hufflepuff attribute."
The hat's algorithm would place Stephen Hawking and Hillary Clinton into Ravenclaw, according to the article, while Donald Trump "was assigned to Gryffindor for his boldness -- but only with a 48 percent certainty."

The sorting hat talks, drawing its data directly from the IBM Cloud, and if you're interested in building your own, the IBM engineer has shared a tutorial online.
Canada

Political Party's Videoconference System Hacked, Allowed Spying On Demand 32

The political party heading the Quebec parliament "had its internal videoconference system hacked in what seems to be a default password hack," writes Slashdot reader courteaudotbiz , citing reports in a Canadian newspaper. "Quebec Liberals got a lesson in how not to use the internet," joked one Quebec news station, writing that the security flaw "allowed anyone to gain access to strategy meetings and watch any of the party's live video conferences; and at least one person did... According to the source it was as easy as using a commonly used password, that is often the default code that never gets changed."

While the default password has since been changed, it represents the second high-profile Canadian password screw-up, since last week in Winnipeg, "Two 14-year-old high school students managed to hack into a Bank of Montreal ATM at a super market during their lunch break using an operator's manual they found online... They notified a nearby BMO branch manager, who was nice enough to write the pair notes for being absent from school as they showed security personnel how they did it."
Privacy

The NSA Would Be Eliminated Under President Gary Johnson (thehill.com) 412

An anonymous reader writes: Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson says he'd sign an executive order eliminating America's National Security Agency if he wins the 2016 election. And he's also forcefully arguing that domestic surveillance of internet activity and phone calls in the United States is worse than in China. Johnson took issue with an interviewer at The Daily Beast who pointed out that China monitors political dissidents, saying "What do you call the NSA and the satellites that are trained on us and the fact that 110 million Verizon users are having everything we do on our cell phones being data-collected?"

Johnson also wants to abolish the Internal Revenue Service, replacing both income taxes and corporate taxes with a single federal consumption tax, and says he'd be willing to sign legislation eliminating the Department of Education, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Commerce, which he says fuels "crony capitalism". "I'll sign legislation to eliminate any federal agency that they present me with."

Johnson has also said that if he were elected President, he'd pardon Edward Snowden.
Government

Let's Drug Test The Rich Before Approving Tax Deductions, Says US Congresswoman (theguardian.com) 760

Press2ToContinue writes from a report via The Guardian: "The [tax] benefits we give to poor people are so limited compared to what we give to the top 1% [of taxpayers]," Congresswoman Gwen Moore says. "It's a drop in the bucket." Many states implement drug-testing programs to qualify for benefit programs so that states feel they are not wasting the value they dole out. However, seven states who implemented drug testing for tax benefit program recipients spent $1 million on drug testing from the inception of their programs through 2014. But the average rate of drug use among those recipients has been far below the national average -- around 1% overall, compared with 9.4% in the general population -- meaning there's been little cost savings from the drug testing program. Why? "Probably because they can't afford it," says Moore. "We might really save some money by drug-testing folks on Wall Street, who might have a little cocaine before they get their deal done," she said, and proposes a bill requiring tests for returns with itemized deductions of more than $150,000. "We spend $81bn on everything -- everything -- that you could consider a poverty program," she explained. But just by taxing capital gains at a lower rate than other income, a bit of the tax code far more likely to benefit the rich than the poor, "that's a $93bn expenditure. Just capital gains," she added. Why not drug-test the rich to ensure they won't waste their tax benefits? She is "sick and tired of the criminalization of poverty." And, she added: "We're not going to get rid of the federal deficit by cutting poor people off Snap. But if we are going to drug-test people to reduce the deficit, let's start on the other end of the income spectrum."
Security

DNC Hacker Releases Trump Opposition File (gawker.com) 421

An anonymous reader writes: Following the report that Russian hackers penetrated the DNC's database and stole research on Donald Trump, a 200+ page Democratic anti-Trump playbook compiled by the DNC has leaked online. In the book, Trump is called a "bad businessman" and "misogynist in chief." The document was created on December 19th, 2015, and was sent to Gawker by a hacker calling himself "Guccifer 2.0." (Guccifer is a popular Romanian hacker who hacked various American political figures, most notably Hillary Clinton and her private server.) The hacker said in an email to Gawker that the package contains a variety of donor registries and other strategy files, "just a few docs from many thousands I extracted when hacking into DNC's network," adding that he's in possession of "about 100GB of data including financial reports, donors' lists, election programs, action plans against Republicans, personal mails, etc." His motive is to be "a fighter against all those illuminati that captured our world." The "Donald Trump Report," as it's called, appears to be a summary of the Democratic Party's strategy for delegitimizing and undermining Trump's presidential aspirations. There's a section titled "Top Narratives" that describes a seven-pronged attack on Trump's character and record. The hack was first revealed Tuesday by the cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike, linking the hack to Russian intelligence. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange says later this year it will publish enough new information about Hillary Clinton to indict her.
Censorship

Peter Thiel's Lawyer Wants To Silence Reporting On Trump's Hair (gawker.com) 301

An anonymous reader writes: Follow the report that Gawker has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after facing multiple lawsuits funded by tech billionaire Peter Thiel, it's being reported that Thiel's lawyer, Charles J. Harder, is threatening to sue Gawker for reporting on the company that made Donald Trump's hair, claiming copyright prohibits Gawker from republishing his threat. He sent the company a letter on behalf of Edward Ivari, the owner of the company Gawker suggests may be behind Trump's hair. Gawker said it was sent a six-page letter that claims the story "was 'false and defamatory,' invaded Ivari's privacy, intentionally inflicted emotional distress, and committed 'tortious interference' with Ivari's business relations." Gawker reporter Ashley Feinberg suggested in a lengthy Gawker story that Trump secretly underwent Ivari International's $60,000 "microcylinder intervention" treatment, with the company's offices located on the 25th floor of Trump Tower. Gawker called Ivari's claims "ridiculous," and noted that the statements at issue were pulled from his own publicity materials and from public records of a 2001 lawsuit against the company.
Security

Texas Traffic Signs Hacked With Anti-Trump and Anti-Hillary Messages (hackread.com) 98

An anonymous reader writes: Someone is hacking the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) electronic message boards and displaying anti-Trump and anti-Hillary messages. For example, one message read "DONALD TRUMP IS A ... SHAPE SHIFTING LIZARD!" while the other read "HILLARY FOR PRISON." The hacker appears to be a supporter of Bernie Sanders, displaying "BERNIE FOR PRESIDENT" on the message boards. One of the messages read "FREE BARRETT BROWN," an imprisoned U.S. journalist and alleged unofficial spokesperson for Anonymous. Not all the messages have been political, however. In reference to an incident in which Zookeepers shot and killed a rare gorilla after a 3-year-old boy fell into its enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo, a message read "GORILLA DESERVED IT." The reports mention the defacing occurred a couple of weeks ago.
Democrats

Russian Government Hackers Penetrated DNC, Stole Opposition Research On Donald Trump (washingtonpost.com) 160

Russian government hackers penetrated Democratic National Committee's database and stole research on Donald Trump (could be paywalled; alternate source), according to a report on Washington Post. DNC officials and security experts say the hackers were able to read all e-mail and chats in the DNC system. Some of the hackers had been in the DNC system for a year, the report adds. They were expelled from the computer system this past weekend. Russian spies also targeted the computers of Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and several GOP political action committees. From the report: The intrusions are an example of Russia's interest in the U.S. political system and its desire to understand the policies, strengths and weaknesses of a potential future president -- much as American spies gather similar information on foreign candidates and leaders. The depth of the penetration reflects the skill and determination of the United States' top cyber adversary as Russia goes after strategic targets, from the White House and State Department to political campaign organizations.
Democrats

Assange: Wikileaks Will Publish 'Enough Evidence' To Indict Hillary Clinton (rt.com) 742

An anonymous reader writes from a report via RT: Julian Assange says Wikileaks will have "a very big year" as it will publish enough new information about Hillary Clinton to indict her. In an ITV interview about the Democratic presidential candidate, Assange said, "We have emails relating to Hillary Clinton which are pending publication." As it stands, about 32,000 emails from Clinton's private server have been leaked by Wikileaks. Assange has yet to comment on how many new emails will be released or when they will be published. While he thinks there will be enough to indict Clinton, he doesn't think it will happen under Attorney General Loretta Lynch. He does think "the FBI can push for concessions from the new Clinton government in exchange for its lack of indictment." Specifically, Assange revealed the leaked emails show that she overrode the Pentagon's reluctance to overthrow sovereign Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, and that "they predicted the post-war outcome would be what it is, which is ISIS taking over the country." Clinton's email controversy came to light in 2013 after a hacker named Guccifer breached her personal server.

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