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Advertising

Smartphone Surveillance Tech Used To Target Anti-Abortion Ads At Pregnant Women (rewire.news) 251

VoiceOfDoom writes: Rewire reports: "Last year, an enterprising advertising executive based in Boston, Massachusetts, had an idea: Instead of using his sophisticated mobile surveillance techniques to figure out which consumers might be interested in buying shoes, cars, or any of the other products typically advertised online, what if he used the same technology to figure out which women were potentially contemplating abortion, and send them ads on behalf of anti-choice organizations?"

Regardless of one's personal stance on the pro-choice/anti-abortion debate, the unfettered use of tracking and ad-targeting technology which makes this kind of application possible is surely a cause for concern. In Europe, Canada and many other parts of the world, the use of a person's data in this way would be illegal thanks to strict privacy laws. Is it time for the U.S. to consider a similar approach to protect its citizens?
Google has been reportedly tracking users on around 80 percent of all 'Top 1 Million' domains. Facebook is doing something similar. A recent report shows that Facebook uses smartphone microphones to identify the things users are listening to or watching based on the music and TV shows its able to identify. Facebook says the feature must be turned on, and that "it's only active when you're writing a status update."
Republicans

Scott Walker Rents Out Email and Donor Lists To Pay Campaign Debt (wisconsingazette.com) 107

An anonymous reader writes: In an effort to pay off his hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt racked up from his failed presidential run, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is renting out his email and donor lists to other candidates. Wisconsin Gazette reports: "The campaign owed $1.2 million at the end of 2015 and has paid off about $308,000 since then, according to campaign finance records. The bulk of those payments have been made possible by income from Granite Lists, a New Hampshire-based company that rents out Republican donor lists. Granite Lists has paid more than $172,000 to Walker's campaign since it ended in September. In April alone, Granite Lists brought the campaign nearly $50,000, comprising most of the total $70,930 the campaign brought in that month. In addition to flat-rate charges, candidates can set up revenue-sharing agreements, where some of the proceeds they obtain from donors are diverted back to the list owner. Candidates can also pay a flat rate of $10,500 to email Walker's entire 675,000-person email list and $7,000 to email the 225,000 donors and presidential sign-ups, according to Granite Lists website. [Granite Lists] calls Walker's donor file 'one of the hottest donor lists to hit the market in years.'"
Democrats

State Dept. IT Staff Told To Keep Quiet About Clinton's Server (computerworld.com) 366

dcblogs writes this report from Computerworld: Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's decision to use a private email server ran afoul of the government's IT security and record retention requirements, according to a report by the department's inspector general released today. This use of a private email server did not go unnoticed within the Department of State's IT department. Two IT staff members who raised concerns about Clinton's use of a private server were told not to speak of it. Clinton was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013 and during that period she used a private email server in her New York home. This report by the Department of State's Inspector General about Clinton's use of a private server makes clear that rules and regulations were not followed. It says that Clinton would not have received approval for this server had she sought it. According to the current CIO, the report said, "Secretary Clinton had an obligation to discuss using her personal email account to conduct official business with their offices, who in turn would have attempted to provide her with approved and secured means that met her business needs." However, the report notes, according to these officials, The Bureau of Diplomatic Security and IRM (Bureau of Information Resource Management) "did not -- and would not -- approve her exclusive reliance on a personal email account to conduct Department business, because of the restrictions in the FAM [Foreign Affairs Manual] and the security risks in doing so."
Facebook

Facebook Is Tweaking Trending Topics To Counter Charges of Bias (recode.net) 153

An anonymous reader writes: Facebook has said once again in an open letter to Sen. John Thune, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, that its Trending Topics section is free of any political bias or manipulation. But in response to Gizmodo's report that Facebook employees were suppressing conservative news stories, Facebook is revamping how editors find trending stories. "We could not fully exclude the possibility of isolated improper actions or unintentional bias in the implementation of our guidelines or policies," Facebook general Counsel Colin Stretch wrote. Of course, Facebook is going to train the human editors who work on their trending section; they're also going to abandon several automated tools it used to find and categorize trending news in the past. Recode provides some examples, writing, "[Facebook] will no longer use its "1K list," a group of 1,000 websites it used to help verify headlines." Facebook will also get rid of several top publications, including the New York Times and CNN.
The Internet

Hacker Phineas Fisher is Trying To Start a 'Hack Back' Political Movement (vice.com) 123

An anonymous reader writes: The hacker who breached Hacking Team and FinFisher is trying to get more people to "hack back" and fight "the system." For some, thanks to his targeted attacks and sophisticated political views, Phineas Fisher is quickly becoming the most influential hacktivist of the last few years. In response to his most recent hack where he released a 39-minute how-to video showing how to strip data from targeted websites, specifically a website of the Catalan police union, Phineas Fisher told Motherboard, "Everything doesn't have to be big. I wanted to strike a small blow at the system, teach a bit of hacking with the video, and inspire people to take action." Biella Coleman, professor at McGill University in Montreal, believes Phineas Fisher has a good chance of inspiring a new generation of hacktivists and "setting the stage for other hackers to follow in his footsteps." She says he has been better at choosing targets and justifying his actions with more rounded and sophisticated political and ethical views than Anonymous and LulzSec-inspired hackers. Phineas Fisher told Motherboard, "I don't want to be the lone hacker fighting the system. I want to inspire others to take similar action, and try to provide the information so they can learn how."
Education

Judge Orders 'Intentionally Deceptive' DOJ Lawyers To Take Remedial Ethics Class (zerohedge.com) 185

According to the Daily Caller, "The judge overseeing the challenge by 26 states to President Obama's executive action in immigration has ordered all lawyers 'employed at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C. who appears, or seeks to appear, in a court (state or federal) in any of the 26 Plaintiff States annually attend a legal ethics course.'"

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Zero Hedge: In writing the ruling, Hanen quoted from the scene in "Miracle on 34th Street" when the boy is called to testify to Santa's existence and saying that everyone knows not to tell a lie to the court. Hanen went on to say that that the Justice Department lawyers have an even stricter duty: Tell the truth, don't mislead the court, and don't allow it to be mislead by others. "The Government's lawyers failed on all three fronts. The actions of the DHS should have been brought as early as December 19, 2014. The failure of counsel to do that constituted more than mere inadvertent omissions -- it was intentionally deceptive." Judge Hanen wrote in his ruling. Hanen ordered that the classes must be "taught by at least one recognized ethics expert who is unaffiliated with the Justice Department." I wonder if the judge could order the lawyers to jail for contempt of court?
United States

Spy Chief: Foreign Hackers May Be Targeting Presidential Candidates (nbcnews.com) 91

An anonymous reader writes from a report via NBC News: Director of National Intelligence James Clapper warned Wednesday that foreign hackers may be targeting the campaigns of U.S. presidential candidates. The FBI and Homeland Security are working with the campaigns to tighten security and prevent cyber intruders from penetrating their defenses, said Clapper. "We have already had some indications of that, and a combination of DHS, FBI are doing what they can to educate both candidates of potential cyber threats," Clapper said, without specifying which candidates they were advising. "I anticipate as the campaigns intensify we will probably have more of it." A senior U.S. intelligence official told NBC News that they are "most worried about Trump, who has no experience with government computer systems or protocols." Foreign hacking against American political candidates is nothing new, Clapper said. Prior to the 2008 presidential election, Chinese cyber spies had targeted the presidential campaigns of then Sen. Obama and Sen. John McCain in order to read emails and policy papers. The hackers successfully compromised some emails, including private correspondence from McCain, NBC News reported. Also, both Obama's and GOP candidate Mitt Romney's campaigns were hit by Chinese cyber-attacks during the 2012 election. The Office of the DNI clarified Clapper's remarks tweeting: "We're aware that campaigns and related organizations and individuals are targeted by actors with a variety of motivations -- from philosophical differences to espionage -- and capabilities -- from defacements to intrusions. We defer to FBI for specific incidents."
Bitcoin

Fake Hacker Found Guilty Following Gutsy Mitt Romney Extortion Scheme (softpedia.com) 108

An anonymous reader writes: "Michael Mancil Brown, 37, of Franklin, Tennessee, faces up to thirty years in prison, a fine up to $250,000, and orders of restitution to victims, because of a daring stunt he pulled off in 2012 that involved fake hacking the PricewaterhouseCoopers consulting firm, and US presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Back in 2012, Brown had the bright idea to write a letter alleging to have hacked PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) servers and stolen tax documents prior to 2010 for Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann," writes Softpedia. The "hacker" asked for $1 million in Bitcoin, and after publishing details about his fake hack online, he almost received it from a "third-party," but not before the FBI arrested him and then uncovered his lie. Last Friday, Brown was found guilty and then convicted of six counts of wire fraud and six counts of using facilities of interstate commerce to commit extortion.
Security

CIA Watchdog 'Mistakenly' Destroyed Its Only Copy Of A Senate Torture Report (yahoo.com) 209

An anonymous reader writes: According to Yahoo News, the CIA inspector general's office "mistakenly" destroyed its only copy of a mammoth Senate torture report at the same time lawyers for the Justice Department were assuring a federal judge that copies of the document were being preserved. Agency officials described the deletion of the document to Senate investigators as an "inadvertent" foul-up by the inspector general. "CIA inspector general officials deleted an uploaded computer file with the report and then accidentally destroyed a disk that also contained the document, filled with thousands of secret files about the CIA's use of 'enhanced' interrogation methods," reports Yahoo News. The Senate Intelligence Committee and Justice Department knew about the incident last summer, sources said. However, the destruction of a copy of the sensitive report was never made public, nor was it reported to the federal judge at the time who was overseeing a lawsuit seeking access to the still classified document under the Freedom of Information Act. Despite this incident, a CIA spokesperson has said another unopened computer disk with the full report is still locked in a vault at agency headquarters. "I can assure you that the CIA has retained a copy," wrote Dean Boyd, the agency's chief of public affairs, in an email. Feinstein is calling for the CIA inspector general to obtain a new copy of the report to replace the one that disappeared. A 500-page summary was released in 2014, and concluded that the CIA misled Americans on the effectiveness of "enhanced interrogation." Specifically, the interrogations were poorly managed and unreliable.
Crime

Iran Is Arresting Models Who Pose Without Headscarves On Instagram (bbc.com) 375

An anonymous reader writes: The Tehran cybercrimes court said the country has arrested eight people working for online modeling agencies deemed to be "un-Islamic." The women models were arrested for starring in photos on Instagram and elsewhere without wearing their headscarves, which has been required in public since 1979. A total of 170 people have been identified by investigators for being involved in online modeling, including 59 photographers and make-up artists, 58 models and 51 fashion salon managers and designers. The court's prosecutor Javad Babaei announced the the threats on TV, claiming modeling agencies accounted for about 20 percent of posts on Instagram from Iran and that they had been "making and spreading immoral and un-Islamic culture and promiscuity." He added, "We carried out this plan in 2013 with Facebook, and now Instagram is the focus."
Government

The Intercept Releases First Batch Of New Docs Leaked By Snowden (theintercept.com) 55

executioner quotes a report from The Intercept: The Intercept's first SIDtoday release comprises 166 articles, including all articles published between March 31, 2003, when SIDtoday began, and June 30, 2003, plus installments of all article series begun during this period through the end of the year. Major topics include the National Security Agency's role in interrogations, the Iraq War, the war on terror, new leadership in the Signals Intelligence Directorate, and new, popular uses of the internet and of mobile computing devices. You can download this batch directly here, or download the documents via Github.
Education

Anonymous Begins Teaching Hacktivism on IRC (softpedia.com) 52

Softpedia reports that "At the end of April, members of the Anonymous hacker collective announced the launch of the OnionIRC, an internet relay chat network where the group says it aims to teach people about hacking and hacktivism." [Chat logs are available through the @OnionIRC Twitter account.] Classes cover topics like open-source intelligence and how to use nmap and bash, but "The teachers and the main people behind this campaign have been focused more on promoting the principles of hacktivism than anything else...classes on the idea of Anonymous itself, hacktivism in general, and civil disobedience." An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: The group's actual hacking activity has died down in the past years, with less "hacks" and more DDoS attacks, which most of the times are carried out by attention-seeking members. Because of this, the group's older members created the OnionIRC as a way to recruit and train new members.
Meanwhile, Softpedia reports that an Anonymous group is now targeting the mayor of Denver for dismantling homeless shelters, by bringing new attention to unconfirmed rumors that he once visited a prostitute.
Businesses

Wendy's Plans To Automate 6,000 Restaurants With Self-Service Ordering Kiosks (investors.com) 921

An anonymous reader writes: In response to the rising minimum wage, the fast-food chain Wendy's plans to start automating all of its restaurants. The company said it will have self-service ordering kiosks available to its 6,000-plus restaurants in the second half of the year. Wendy's President Todd Penegor said it will be up to franchisees to decide whether or not to adopt the kiosks in their stores, noting that many franchise locations have had to raise prices to offset wage increases. California's decision to gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2022 will impact Wendy's 258 restaurants, all of which are franchise-operated. About 75% of 200-plus Wendy's restaurants are run by franchisees in New York, a state that is also on its way to $15. Penegor said, wage pressures have been manageable both because of falling commodity prices and better operating leverage due to an increase in customer counts. The company is still "working so hard to find efficiencies" so it can deliver "a new QSR experience but at traditional QSR prices." The CEO of Carl's Jr., Andy Puzder, is also looking into replacing many of its workers with machines to save money.
Censorship

Mark Zuckerberg: 'No Evidence' Facebook Staff Suppressed Stories With Conservative Viewpoints (theverge.com) 346

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Mark Zuckerberg has issued a statement in response to the controversy alleging that Facebook staff intentionally prevented stories with a conservative viewpoint from appearing in the site's Trending Topics section. "We take this report very seriously and are conducting a full investigation to ensure our teams upheld the integrity of this product," Zuckerberg writes on Facebook. "We have found no evidence that this report is true. If we find anything against our principles, you have my commitment that we will take additional steps to address it." Zuckerberg says he will invite "leading conservatives and people from across the political spectrum" to discuss the matter in the coming weeks, with the aim of having a "direct conversation about what Facebook stands for and how we can be sure our platform stays as open as possible." Earlier today, more evidence surfaced to support Gawker's two recent reports that claimed editors manipulate the trending news. Facebook published a blog post explaining how Trending Topics on its platform works, insisting there's no discrimination against sources of any political origin.
Social Networks

Internal Docs Show Human Intervention at Almost Every Stage Of Facebook's News Operation (theguardian.com) 215

More evidence has surfaced to support Gawker's two recent reports that claimed editors manipulate the trending news and a few other aspects on Facebook. The Guardian, citing leaked documents it obtained, reports that the topics one sees on Facebook are determined on a number of factors including "engagement, timeliness, Pages you've liked and your location." From the report: But the documents show that the company relies heavily on the intervention of a small editorial team to determine what makes its "trending module" headlines -- the list of news topics that shows up on the side of the browser window on Facebook's desktop version. The company backed away from a pure-algorithm approach in 2014 after criticism that it had not included enough coverage of unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, in users' feeds. The guidelines show human intervention -- and therefore editorial decisions -- at almost every stage of Facebook's trending news operation, a team that at one time was as few as 12 people.Sam Biddle of Gawker, wrote: Never trust what a company tells you, on/off record -- FB straight up lied to Recode last year. He adds: unless they're under oath a company like Facebook has every incentive to lie about how it operates. It's not illegal to lie to a reporter!"

Update: 05/12 20:49 GMT by M : Facebook has published a blog post in which it explains how Trending Topics on its platform works. The company insists that there is no discrimination against sources of any political origin.

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