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Submission + - A US-born NASA scientist was detained at the border until he unlocked his phone (theverge.com)

mspohr writes: "Bikkannavar says he was detained by US Customs and Border Patrol and pressured to give the CBP agents his phone and access PIN. Since the phone was issued by NASA, it may have contained sensitive material that wasn’t supposed to be shared. Bikkannavar’s phone was returned to him after it was searched by CBP, but he doesn’t know exactly what information officials might have taken from the device.
The officer also presented Bikkannavar with a document titled “Inspection of Electronic Devices” and explained that CBP had authority to search his phone. Bikkannavar did not want to hand over the device, because it was given to him by JPL and is technically NASA property. He even showed the officer the JPL barcode on the back of phone. Nonetheless, CBP asked for the phone and the access PIN. “I was cautiously telling him I wasn’t allowed to give it out, because I didn’t want to seem like I was not cooperating,” says Bikkannavar. “I told him I’m not really allowed to give the passcode; I have to protect access. But he insisted they had the authority to search it.”
Courts have upheld customs agents' power to manually search devices at the border, but any searches made solely on the basis of race or national origin are still illegal. More importantly, travelers are not legally required to unlock their devices, although agents can detain them for significant periods of time if they do not. “In each incident that I’ve seen, the subjects have been shown a Blue Paper that says CBP has legal authority to search phones at the border, which gives them the impression that they’re obligated to unlock the phone, which isn’t true,” Hassan Shibly, chief executive director of CAIR Florida, told The Verge. “They’re not obligated to unlock the phone.”

Submission + - Nanorods Emit and Detect Light, Could Lead to Displays That Communicate via Li-F (ieee.org)

schwit1 writes: Ever since 2015 Consumer Electronics Show, quantum dots have been in a market struggle to displace light-emitting diodes (LEDs) as a backlight source for liquid crystal displays (LCDs).

Now an advance by a team of researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute in South Korea and Dow Chemical may turn the display market on its head by eliminating the need for backlights in LCD devices. They have produced a LED pixel out of nanorods capable of both emitting and detecting light.

Submission + - Prosthetic Arm Control Improved Using Spinal Nerve Signals

CanadianRealist writes: Current prosthetic arms are usually controlled by detecting signals from the user twitching muscles in the shoulder or arm. This allows only a limited number of possible movements, such as grasp and release. Researchers have developed a new technique that interprets signals from motor neurons in the spinal cord, allowing for a greater range of control of an arm. Signals from nerves associated with hand and arm movements were mapped to the corresponding movements. Test subjects were able to move a virtual prosthetic arm with greater freedom than has been achieved with muscle-controlled prosthetics. (A virtual prosthetic arm was used rather than a real one as this work is still in the early stages.)

Submission + - Senators Push Trump Administration for Clarity on Privacy Act Exclusions

Trailrunner7 writes: A group of influential lawmakers, including Sen. Ed Markey and Sen. Ron Wyden, are pressing the Trump administration for answers about how an executive order that includes changes to the Privacy Act will affect non-U.S. persons and whether the administration plans to release immigrants’ private data.

The letter comes from six senators who are concerned about the executive order that President Trump issues two weeks ago that excludes from privacy protections people who aren’t U.S. citizens or permanent residents. The order is mostly about changes to immigration policy, but Trump also included a small section that requires federal government agencies to exclude immigrants from Privacy Act protections.

On Thursday, Markey, Wyden, and four other senators sent a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Jon Kelly, asking a series of 10 questions about how the exclusion would be implemented, what it would cost, and whether the government plans to release the private data of people affected by the order.

“These Privacy Act exclusions could have a devastating impact on immigrant communities, and would be inconsistent with the commitments made when the government collected much of this information,” the senators say in the letter to Kelly.

Submission + - Wikipedia Bans Daily Mail As 'Unreliable' Source (theguardian.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Wikipedia editors have voted to ban the Daily Mail as a source for the website in all but exceptional circumstances after deeming the news group “generally unreliable." The move is highly unusual for the online encyclopaedia, which rarely puts in place a blanket ban on publications and which still allows links to sources such as Kremlin backed news organisation Russia Today, and Fox News, both of which have raised concern among editors. The editors described the arguments for a ban as “centred on the Daily Mail’s reputation for poor fact checking, sensationalism and flat-out fabrication." The Wikimedia Foundation, which runs Wikipedia but does not control its editing processes, said in a statement that volunteer editors on English Wikipedia had discussed the reliability of the Mail since at least early 2015. It said: “Based on the requests for comments section [on the reliable sources noticeboard], volunteer editors on English Wikipedia have come to a consensus that the Daily Mail is ‘generally unreliable and its use as a reference is to be generally prohibited, especially when other more reliable sources exist. This means that the Daily Mail will generally not be referenced as a ‘reliable source’ on English Wikipedia, and volunteer editors are encouraged to change existing citations to the Daily Mail to another source deemed reliable by the community. This is consistent with how Wikipedia editors evaluate and use media outlets in general – with common sense and caution.”

Submission + - Four of Iceland's main volcanoes all preparing for eruption (icelandmonitor.mbl.is)

Applehu Akbar writes: Because Iceland is the one exposed place on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, it has long been a paradise for vulcanologists. At any given time at least one of its 130 volcanoes is doing...something interesting. Now that four of Iceland's largest volcanoes are showing signs of impending eruption, the world may be in for another summer of ash. Katla, Hecla, Bárðarbunga and Grímsvötn have all had major activity in the past, including vast floods from melting glaciers, enough ash to ground aircraft over all of Europe, volumes of sulfur that have induced global nuclear winter for a decade at a time, and clouds of poisonous fluoride gas.

When the mountains of Iceland speak, the whole world listens.

Submission + - Its time to have a talk about Slashdot technology 3

hackwrench writes: On top of not fixing the problems that Slashdot has. the new owners have added an annoying ad that persistently blocks actual usage on every load.
Slashdot also frequently launches users some distance into comments for no explicable reason.
It doesn't do Unicode.
The new interface is horrendous. Fortunately it can be switched off.
Features that used to be free are now subscription-only items.
Let's all hash it out. Not just technological issues but editorial grievances as well. And how many of us are on a moderation ban list for some long forgotten stupid reason?

Submission + - Paypal disguises 13% price hike as 'Policy Update'. (paypal.com) 2

turbotalon writes: In an email sent to users February 7th, Paypal is disguising a 13% rate hike as a 'Policy Update.' Roughly one quarter of the 'policy changes' are rate hikes, yet their emailed summary glosses over the rate hike, focussing instead on a few of the 'policy changes' with one sentence at the end about 'changing some of the fees we charge'.

Additionally, they have added a "non-discouragement clause" for sellers that provides:

"In representations to your customers or in public communications, you agree not to mischaracterize PayPal as a payment method. At all of your points of sale (in whatever form), you agree not to try to dissuade or inhibit your customers from using PayPal; and, if you enable your customers to pay you with PayPal, you agree to treat PayPal’s payment mark at least at par with other payment methods offered."

Reading the full text of the update reveals the following fees are increasing:
  Standard transaction fee
  International currency exchange fees
  In-store transaction fees
  Micro-payment fees
  Cross-border transaction fees

Submission + - Richard Hatch Dies at 71 (tmz.com)

computerman413 writes: TMZ reports that Richard Hatch has passed away at 71 from pancreatic cancer. Hatch played Apollo on the original Battlestar Galactica, and had a recurring role as terrorist Tom Zarek on the reimagined Battlestar Galactica.

Submission + - House Passes Email Privacy Bill

Obfiscator writes: The US House of Representatives passed a bill to require federal agencies to obtain a warrant before being granted access to email communications. From the article: "This Act will fix a constitutional flaw in ECPA, which currently purports to allow the government to compel a provider to disclose email contents in some cases without a warrant, in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The Email Privacy Act ensures that the content of our emails are protected in the same way that the Fourth Amendment protects the items we store in our homes."

The full text of the bill is here, although somewhat hard to read since it's a modification of a previous bill. This appears to be the most relevant part: "a governmental entity may require the disclosure by a provider of electronic communication service of the contents of a wire or electronic communication that is in electronic storage with or otherwise stored, held, or maintained by that service only if the governmental entity obtains a warrant issued using the procedures described in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure."

Submission + - Politics Have Turned Facebook Into a Steaming Cauldron of Hate (backchannel.com) 1

mirandakatz writes: America has never been more divided, and on social media, people are blocking, muting, and unfriending each other left and right. At Backchannel, Jessi Hempel argues that Facebook is the last place we should be having political discussion right now: "We know the “filter bubble” about which Eli Pariser first wrote back in 2011 is part of the problem—it limits the viewpoints we see to those that reflect the opinions we already have. And yet we double down on that bubble, muting and blocking and unfriending people who think differently from us, if they make it into our social streams at all. We hate ourselves a tiny bit for this. And yet, if we do the opposite—engage on social media with people who hold different viewpoints—it almost always goes sideways." If you really want to understand people who don't think the same way as you? Get off of Facebook, and into the real world.

Submission + - How The IRS Can Empty Your Bank Account Without Warning (zerohedge.com) 2

schwit1 writes: Having just filed his 2016 taxes, a Zero Hedge reader submits the following bizarre story.

On January 20, the reader filed his Federal tax return using Tim Geithner's favorite TurboTax software, which the IRS formally accepted three days later, on January 24. One week later, on January 31, the IRS made an automatic deposit into the reader's bank account, who then used the refund to pay down his credit card debt the very next day.

This is when things turned bizarre, because as our readers writes, just two days later, without warning, on orders of the IRS his bank empties out the bank account handing over its contents to the IRS:

"the IRS emptied our bank account February 3, 2017 for erroneous refund with no notice! (please see attached letter).

The only other thing I could think of was that TurboTax did not work correctly and calculated to large of a refund but the letter from the IRS stated it was a "processing error at the Internal Revenue Service". The refund we received was the same as what TurboTax calculated. I researched the IRS manual about erroneous refunds and could not find anything referring to a "R17" code as stated in the letter.

Called them. Our return was fine. The amount of refund was fine. Not an identity theft problem. Error on their side. According to the person I spoke with they are doing this to a large block of filers. They seemed hesitant to give more info.

He then adds that "in our phone conversation they told me that the return was fine and the refund amount was correct, it was not an over refund issue but some kind of IRS internal error and they would reissue the same refund after receiving the money back. It makes absolutely no sense to me but this is what I was told."

So, as our reader summarizes, "no outstanding taxes. Never been audited. Always file on time. Not a small business, just a normal employee W2, not a structuring issue. Only typical deductions and student loan interest. Scrambling to cancel auto payments and trying to figure out how we will pay mortgage and any payment that will not accept credit card.

Submission + - Barnes and Noble recalls 147,000 NOOK Tablet 7 power adapters due to shock risk (betanews.com)

BrianFagioli writes: Want to know something shocking? Like, literally shocking? Barnes and Noble is recalling 147,000 faulty NOOK Tablet 7 power adapters due to shock risk. In other words, owners of this tablet could face an electricity related injury when charging it.

If you own this tablet, it is important that you stop using the charger immediately. While there is no guarantee that you will be injured, it is not worth the risk. Barnes and Noble will replace the power adapter at no charge. To make up for the inconvenience, the company will also give you a free gift.

Submission + - New Malware Threats: Ransomworm Is Coming, Are You Ready?

mikehusky writes: In 2016, there were over 4,000 ransomware attacks every day. This was a 300% increase over 2015, when there were 1,000 attacks every day, and it’s likely to get worse in 2017.

In the first quarter of 2016, cyber criminals used ransomware to steal $209 million from US businesses with an expected $1B for the entire year. Crypto ransomware has grown in popularity since it started with Cryptolocker in 2013, and we can expect to see more clever ransomware as cyber criminals try to make money in 2017. .Source

Submission + - Trump Fires Attorney General (politico.com) 3

Humbubba writes: President Donald Trump fired the nation's acting attorney general Monday night after she refused to defend an executive order he issued last week restricting immigration in the name of national security.

In an act of high political drama just ten days after taking office, Trump replaced Obama administration appointee Sally Yates with the U.S. Attorney in Alexandria, Va., Dana Boente.

"The acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, has betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States. This order was approved as to form and legality by the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel," a White House statement said. "Ms. Yates is an Obama Administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration."

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