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Security

Destructive Hacks Strike Saudi Arabia, Posing Challenge to Trump (bloomberg.com) 182

State-sponsored hackers have conducted a series of destructive attacks on Saudi Arabia over the last two weeks, erasing data and wreaking havoc in the computer banks of the agency running the country's airports and hitting five additional targets, according to two people familiar with an investigation into the breach. From a report on Bloomberg: Saudi Arabia said after inquiries from Bloomberg News that "several" government agencies were targeted in attacks that came from outside the kingdom, according to state media. Although a probe by Saudi authorities is still in its early stages, the people said digital evidence suggests the attacks emanated from Iran. That could present President-elect Donald Trump with a major national security challenge as he steps into the Oval Office. The use of offensive cyber weapons by a nation is relatively rare and the scale of the latest attacks could trigger a tit-for-tat cyber war in a region where capabilities have mushroomed ever since an attack on Saudi Aramco in 2012.
Mozilla

Mozilla Puts New Money To Use Fighting For 'Internet Health' (cnet.com) 103

Stephen Shankland, writing for CNET: Mozilla is marshaling public support for political positions, like backing net neutrality, defending encryption and keeping government surveillance from getting out of hand, says Denelle Dixon-Thayer, Mozilla's chief legal and business officer. The organization is funding the efforts with revenue from Firefox searches, which has jumped since 2014 when it switched from a global deal with Google to a set of regional deals. Mozilla brought in $421 million in revenue last year largely through partnerships with Yahoo in the US, Yandex in Russia and Baidu in China, according to tax documents released alongside Mozilla's 2015 annual report on Thursday. Pushing policy work brings new challenges well beyond traditional Mozilla work competing against Google's Chrome browser and Microsoft's Internet Explorer. They include squaring off against the incoming administration of Donald Trump.
Republicans

Twitters Says It Will Ban Trump If He Breaks Hate-Speech Rules (qz.com) 1027

Twitter has made a serious effort as of late to limit hate speech on its social media site, especially after Election Day where "biased graffiti, assaults and other incidents have been reported in the news." The company now faces President-elect Donald Trump, who has used Twitter for the past 18 months as a megaphone for his views and rants, which many would consider as "hate speech." According to the American Bar Association, hate speech is "speech that offends, threatens, or insults groups, based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or other traits." Quartz reports: While Trump's deceptive tweets may not violate Twitter's rules against harassment, threats and "hateful conduct," Twitter is still keeping an eye on his account for more egregious offenses. This week, the company told Slate it would consider banning key government officials, even the president, if its rules against hate speech or other language were violated. "The Twitter Rules prohibit violent threats, harassment, hateful conduct, and multiple account abuse, and we will take action on accounts violating those policies," a spokesperson wrote. Twitter confirmed with Quartz that everyone, including government officials, were subject to the policy: "The Twitter Rules apply to all accounts," a spokesman wrote. Trump may not have crossed that line yet, but he hasn't exactly refrained from making incendiary claims. Most recently, he claimed that Abdul Razak Ali Artan, who allegedly carried out an attack injuring 11 students at Ohio State University, "should not have been in our country." Artan was a legal permanent U.S. resident, whose family had fled Somalia for Pakistan in 2007. He arrived in the States in 2014.
Republicans

Trump Appoints Third Net Neutrality Critic To FCC Advisory Team (dslreports.com) 191

Last week, President-elect Donald Trump appointed two new advisers to his transition team that will oversee his FCC and telecommunications policy agenda. Trump has added a third adviser today who, like the other two advisers, is a staunch opponent of net neutrality regulations. DSLReports adds: The incoming President chose Roslyn Layton, a visiting fellow at the broadband-industry-funded American Enterprise Institute, to help select the new FCC boss and guide the Trump administration on telecom policy. Layton joins Jeffrey Eisenach, a former Verizon consultant and vocal net neutrality critic, and Mark Jamison, a former Sprint lobbyist that has also fought tooth and nail against net neutrality; recently going so far as to argue he doesn't think telecom monopolies exist. Like Eisenach and Jamison, Layton has made a career out of fighting relentlessly against most of the FCC's more consumer-focused efforts, including net neutrality, consumer privacy rules, and increased competition in the residential broadband space. Back in October, Layton posted an article to the AEI blog proclaiming that the FCC's new privacy rules, which give consumers greater control over how their data is collected and sold, were somehow part of a "partisan endgame of corporate favoritism" that weren't necessary and only confused customers. Layton also has made it abundantly clear she supports zero rating, the practice of letting ISPs give their own (or high paying partners') content cap-exemption and therefore a competitive advantage in the market. She has similarly, again like Eisenach and Jamison, supported rolling back the FCC's classification of ISPs as common carriers under Title II, which would kill the existing net neutrality rules and greatly weaken the FCC's ability to protect consumers.
Communications

Reddit To Crack Down On Abuse By Punishing Hundreds of 'Toxic Users' (reuters.com) 226

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Social media website Reddit, known for its commitment to free speech, will crack down on online harassment by banning or suspending users who target others, starting with those who have directed abuse at Chief Executive Steve Huffman. Huffman said in an interview with Reuters that Reddit's content policy prohibits harassment, but that it had not been adequately enforced. "Personal message harassment is the most cut and dry," he said. "Right now we are in an interesting position where my inbox is full of them, it's easy to start with me." As well as combing through Huffman's inbox, Reddit will monitor user reports, add greater filtering capacity, and take a more proactive role in policing its platform rather than relying on community moderators. Reddit said it had identified hundreds of the "most toxic users" and will warn, ban or suspend them. It also plans to increase staff on its "trust and safety" team. On Reddit, a channel supporting the U.S. Republican party's presidential candidate Donald Trump, called r/The_Donald, featured racist and misogynistic comments, fake news and conspiracy theories about his Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton, along with more mainstream expressions of support for Trump. Many of those supporting Trump were very active, voting up the r/The_Donald conversations so that they became prominent across Reddit, which is the 7th-most-visited U.S. internet site, according to web data firm Alexa. Last week, Reddit banned Pizzagate, a community devoted to a conspiracy theory, with no evidence to back it up, that links Clinton to a pedophile ring at a Washington, D.C. pizza parlor, after it posted personal information in violation of Reddit policy. Huffman then used his administrative privileges to redirect abuse he was receiving on a thread on r/The_Donald to the community's moderators -- making it look as if it was intended for them. Huffman said it was a prank, and that many Reddit users, including some Trump supporters, told him they thought it was funny, but it inflamed the situation.
Canada

The Internet Archive Is Building a Canadian Copy To Protect Itself From Trump (theverge.com) 586

The Internet Archive, a digital library nonprofit that preserves billions of webpages for the historical record, is building a backup archive in Canada after the election of Donald Trump. The Verge adds: Today, it began collecting donations for the Internet Archive of Canada, intended to create a copy of the archive outside the United States. "On November 9th in America, we woke up to a new administration promising radical change," writes founder Brewster Kahle. "It was a firm reminder that institutions like ours, built for the long-term, need to design for change. For us, it means keeping our cultural materials safe, private and perpetually accessible. It means preparing for a web that may face greater restrictions. It means serving patrons in a world in which government surveillance is not going away; indeed it looks like it will increase."
Government

EPA Increases Amount of Renewable Fuel To Be Blended Into Gasoline (arstechnica.com) 351

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Last week the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its final renewable fuel standards for 2017, requiring that fuel suppliers blend an additional 1.2 billion gallons of renewable fuel into U.S. gas and diesel from 2016 levels. The rule breaks down the requirements to include quotas for cellulosic biofuels, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, and traditional renewable fuel. Reuters points out that the aggressive new biofuel standards will create a dilemma for an incoming Trump administration, given that his campaign courted both the gas and corn industries. While the EPA under the Obama administration has continually increased so-called renewable fuel standards (RFS), the standards were first adopted by a majority-Republican Congress in 2005 and then bolstered in 2007 with a requirement to incorporate 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel into the fuel supply by 2022, barring "a determination that implementation of the program is causing severe economic or environmental harm," as the EPA writes. Some biofuels are controversial not just for oil and gas suppliers but for some wildlife advocates as well. Collin O'Mara, CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, said in a statement that the corn ethanol industry that most stands to benefit from the EPA's expansion of the renewable fuel standards "is responsible for the destruction of millions of acres of wildlife habitat and degradation of water quality." Still, the EPA contends that biofuels made from corn and other regenerating plants offer reductions in overall fuel emissions, if the processes used to make and transport the fuels are included. "Advanced biofuels" will offer "50 percent lifecycle carbon emissions reductions," and their share of the new standards will grow by 700 million gallons in 2017 from 2016 requirements, the EPA says. Cellulosic biofuel will be increased by 81 million gallons and biomass-based diesel will be increased by 100 million gallons. "Non-advanced or 'conventional' renewable fuel" will be increased to 19.28 billion gallons from 18.11 billion gallons in 2016. Conventional renewable fuel "typically refers to ethanol derived from corn starch and must meet a 20 percent lifecycle GHG [greenhouse gas] reduction threshold," according to EPA guidelines. Other kinds of renewable fuels include sugarcane-based ethanol, cellulosic ethanol derived from the stalks, leaves, and cobs leftover from a corn harvest, and compressed natural gas gleaned from wastewater facilities.
Google

Online Pranksters Mock Trump's $149 Christmas Ornament, Rename Trump Tower on Google Maps (yahoo.com) 524

An anonymous reader quotes a Digital Trends story about a suspicious malfunction on Google Maps: At some point yesterday, Donald Trump's Fifth Avenue home was given a rather unceremonious rechristening, and a search for "Trump Tower" revealed a pin for "Dump Tower" instead. It was rather tricky to find for some, and required zooming in on the building itself at just the right angle (which is perhaps how the culprit got away with the stunt in the first place). At a separate angle, someone else (or perhaps the same person) transliterated the skyscraper's name in Russian Cyrillic, perhaps meant to be a jab at Trump's alleged ties to President Vladimir Putin and company... While the team [at Google Maps] managed to put out this first fire, another quickly arose to take its place (as is often the case on the internet), and later in the day on Saturday, Trump International Hotel and Tower in Columbus Circle was renamed Dump International Hotel and Tower. Meanwhile, another anonymous reader writes: Earlier this week Donald Trump emailed his supporters selling a $149 collectible "Make America Great Again" Christmas ornament finished with 14k gold, to raise money for both his campaign and the Republican party. But Yahoo News reports that it's now getting some suspicious negative (and politically-charged) reviews on its page on Amazon. ("One Star. "It tried to put my nativity figures into an internment camp.") And another reviewer even wrote a satirical story about how their family decided on the ornament for the tree. "During our family meeting we overwhelmingly chose the other ornament but somehow we still ended up with this one. We're not sure what happened."
Government

Will Trump Protect America's IT Workers From H-1B Visa Abuses? (cio.com.au) 399

Monday president-elect Donald Trump sent "the strongest signal yet that the H-1B visa program is going get real scrutiny once he takes office," according to CIO. Slashdot reader OverTheGeicoE summarizes their report: President-elect Donald Trump released a video message outlining his policy plans for his first 100 days in office. At 1 minute, 56 seconds into the message, he states that he will direct the Department of Labor to investigate "all abuses of the visa programs that undercut the American worker." During his presidential campaign, Trump was critical of the H-1B visa program that has been widely criticized for displacing U.S. high-technology workers. "Companies are importing low-wage workers on H-1B visas to take jobs from young college-trained Americans," said Trump at an Ohio rally. At other rallies, Trump invited former IT workers from Disney who had been forced to train their H-1B replacements to speak.
"What he didn't say was that he was going to close the door to skilled immigrants," one tech entrepreneur told CNN Money -- although Trump's selection for attorney general has called the shortage of qualified American tech workers "a hoax".
Government

Lawrence Lessig Calls For The Electoral College to Choose Clinton Over Trump (washingtonpost.com) 1424

Lawrence Lessig's new op-ed in the Washington Post argues against the idea "that the person who lost the popular vote this year must nonetheless become our president." (Paywalled version here, free version here.) Lessig points out that the electoral college results have already been ignored twice in U.S. history -- in 1824 and 1876. The Constitution says nothing about "winner take all." It says nothing to suggest that electors' freedom should be constrained in any way...They were to be citizens exercising judgment, not cogs turning a wheel.
Complaining that the electoral college weights the votes in Wyoming roughly four times as heavily as the votes in Michigan, Lessig argues that the popular vote should be respected, and that the authors of the U.S. Constitution "left the electors free to choose. They should exercise that choice by leaving the election as the people decided it: in Clinton's favor."

Meanwhile, Politico is reporting that six electors, "mostly former Bernie Sanders supporters who hail from Washington state and Colorado," are already urging electors pledged to Clinton and Trump to instead coalesce around "a consensus pick like Mitt Romney or John Kasich." And the ethics lawyers for both President Obama and President Bush both told one liberal site "that if Trump continues to retain ownership over his sprawling business interests by the time the electors meet on December 19, they should reject Trump." Finally, from the original submission:
Even Donald Trump has called the Electoral College a "total sham." Is it time for the Electoral College to reflect the popular vote?
Advertising

Advertising Company AppNexus Bans Breitbart News Over Hate Speech (betanews.com) 434

Mark Wilson quotes a report from BetaNews: Right-wing website Breitbart -- the darling of the so-called alt-right movement (which it defines as being "younger people who are anti-globalists, very nationalist [and] terribly anti-establishment") -- has been blocked by a leading ad exchange. The site, home to Milo Yiannopoulos (also known as @Nero and banned from Twitter) will no longer be permitted to sell ad space via AppNexus. The move comes after an audit by AppNexus found that Breitbart was in violation of its policies on hate speech and incitement to violence. AppNexus's spokesperson Joshua Zeitz told the BBC: "We use a number of third-party standards to determine what is and isn't hate speech, and if we detect a pattern of speech that could incite violence or discrimination against a minority group, we determine that to be non-compliant and we simply won't serve ads against it. I'm not going to put the examples out there because I'm not going to engage in a tit-for-tat on what is compliant." Bloomberg, which was the first publication to report on the news, noted that AppNexus' investors included Microsoft, News Corp and Sir Martin Sorrell's WPP.
Government

Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn Had 'Forbidden' Internet Connection At the Pentagon, Says Report (businessinsider.com) 313

According to The New Yorker, President-elect Donald Trump's national security advisor, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, installed a secret internet connection into his office at the Pentagon even though it was "forbidden." Business Insider reports: The network connection was among other rules the former chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency broke because he found them to be "stupid," including sometimes sneaking out of a CIA station in Iraq without authorization and sharing classified information with NATO allies without approval, according to The New Yorker. While Flynn -- who was recently tapped to be President-elect Donald Trump's national security adviser -- apparently had his own private connection, the New Yorker profile doesn't provide a clear picture as to why. It's likely his Pentagon office already had an authorized, unclassified connection to the internet called NIPRNet, which is separate from classified networks such as SIPRNet and JWICS, a former DIA analyst told Business Insider. All of those networks are monitored in some way. A separate, unknown network would not have had the same -- or possibly any -- level of monitoring. If it were implemented in secret, it would also not have the same protections from hackers that a known connection would have. It's also possible that Flynn's Pentagon office was known as a SCIF, or sensitive compartmented information facility -- a secure facility in which intelligence can be discussed without fear of it being compromised. Network connections in SCIFs are closely controlled, and outside electronics such as mobile phones are not allowed inside.
Open Source

Green Party Calls For Recount, Wants To Push For Open-Source Voting Machines (nbcnewyork.com) 297

The Green party candidate in the U.S. presidential election, Jill Stein, has raised over $5 million in donations to fund a recount in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, which are the states key to Hillary Clinton's loss on November 8th. She is seeking a recount in these three states after computer scientists discovered Clinton averaged 7% worse in counties with e-voting machines vs. counties with only paper or optical scan ballots. An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: On November 23, the Stein/Baraka Green Party Campaign launched an effort to ensure the integrity of our elections," calling for "publicly-owned, open source voting equipment." In approximately 48 hours (as of 1:20pm EST (GMT-5) on Nov-25-2016) $5,026,516.15 has been raised to pay for a recount in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, and [they are] currently collecting towards a recount in Michigan. The Green party also states: "The Green Party Platform calls for 'publicly-owned, open source voting equipment and deploy it across the nation to ensure high national standards, performance, transparency and accountability; use verifiable paper ballots; and institute mandatory automatic random precinct recounts to ensure a high level of accuracy in election results.'" More details can be read on MSNBC news. The Washington Post asks: Why are people giving Jill Stein millions of dollars for an election recount? UPDATE 11/25/16: Washington Examiner is reporting that Green Party officials have filed for a presidential vote recount in Wisconsin.
UPDATE 11/26/16: Hillary Clinton's campaign said Saturday that it will take part in the recount in Wisconsin.
Democrats

Russian Hacker Conspiracy Theory is Weak, But the Case For Paper Ballots is Strong (facebook.com) 286

On Wednesday, J. Alex Halderman, the director of the University of Michigan's Center for Computer Security & Society and a respected voice in computer science and information society, said that the Clinton Campaign should ask for a recount of the vote for the U.S. Presidential election. Later he wrote, "Were this year's deviations from pre-election polls the results of a cyberattack? Probably not. I believe the most likely explanation is that the polls were systematically wrong, rather than that the election was hacked. But I don't believe that either one of these seemingly unlikely explanations is overwhelmingly more likely than the other." The Outline, a new publication by a dozen of respected journalists, has published a post (on Facebook for now, since their website is still in the works), in which former Motherboard's reporter Adrianne Jeffries makes it clear that we still don't have concrete evidence that the vote was tampered with, but why still the case for paper ballots is strong. From the article: Halderman also repeats the erroneous claim that federal agencies have publicly said that senior officials in Russia commissioned attacks on voter registration databases in Arizona and Illinois. In October, federal agencies attributed the Democratic National Committee email hack to Russia, but specifically said they could not attribute the state hacks. Claims to the contrary seem to have spread due to anonymous sourcing and the conflation of Russian hackers with Russian state-sponsored hackers. Unfortunately, the Russia-hacked-us meme is spreading fast on social media and among disaffected Clinton voters. "It's just ignorance," said the cybersecurity consultant Jeffrey Carr, who published his own response to Halderman on Medium. "It's fear and ignorance that's fueling that." The urgency comes from deadlines for recount petitions, which start kicking in on Friday in Wisconsin, Monday in Pennsylvania, and the following Wednesday in Michigan. There is disagreement about how likely it is that the Russian government interfered with election results. There is little disagreement, however, that our voting system could be more robust -- namely, by requiring paper ballot backups for electronic voting and mandating that all results be audited, as they already are in some states including California. Despite the 150,000 signatures collected on a Change.org petition, what happens next really comes down to the Clinton team's decision.
NASA

Trump To Scrap NASA Climate Research In Crackdown On 'Politicized Science' (theguardian.com) 666

dryriver quotes a report from The Guardian: Donald Trump is poised to eliminate all climate change research conducted by NASA as part of a crackdown on "politicized science," his senior adviser on issues relating to the space agency has said. Nasa's Earth science division is set to be stripped of funding in favor of exploration of deep space, with the president-elect having set a goal during the campaign to explore the entire solar system by the end of the century. This would mean the elimination of NASA's world-renowned research into temperature, ice, clouds and other climate phenomena. [NASA's network of satellites provide a wealth of information on climate change, with the Earth science division's budget set to grow to $2 billion (PDF) next year. By comparison, space exploration has been scaled back somewhat, with a proposed budget of $2.8 billion in 2017.] Kevin Trenberth, senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said as Nasa provides the scientific community with new instruments and techniques, the elimination of Earth sciences would be "a major setback if not devastating." "It could put us back into the 'dark ages' of almost the pre-satellite era," he said. "It would be extremely short sighted."

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