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Canada

Police Used Cell Tower Logs To Text 7,500 Possible Crime Witnesses (www.cbc.ca) 153

"Investigators are calling it a 'digital canvass' -- the high-tech equivalent of knocking on thousands of doors for information," reports the CBC, describing how an Ontario police department sent text messages to 7,500 potential witnesses of a homicide using phone numbers from a nearby cell tower's logs. Police obtained the numbers through a court order, and sent two texts -- one in English, and another one in French -- asking recipients to "voluntarily answer a few simple questions..." Slashdot reader itamblyn writes: On one hand, this seems like the natural progression from the traditional approach of canvassing local residents by putting up flyers and knocking on doors. On the other hand, I think one can reasonably ask -- Are we OK with this approach...? Do we want this to happen whenever there is a major crime?
The article adds that the police force "will keep the numbers on file until the killing is solved, officers said at a news conference on Wednesday... Investigators will also consider calling the numbers of people who don't respond voluntarily, but they would be required to obtain another court order to do so."

Submission + - What is a cheap Linux-friendly Net- or Chromebook?

Qbertino writes: I'm looking for a cheap lightweight Net- or Chromebook that is Linux-friendly, i.e. lets me install Linux without any shoddy modern bios getting in my way. Price should be in the 200$/200Euro range. The Lenovo 100S-11 looks really neat, but I just read about installation problems due to the WinTel driven bootloader lock-in and sh*t like that. Are there any alternatives? And if there aren't any, what experience do you guys perhaps have running Linux on a Chromebook using Crouton — the Linux-parallel-to-Chrome-OS Hack that appears to be working quite ok. Is it a feasible alternative to dumping ChromeOS and installing a 100% lightweight Linux or should I expect problems? Any experiences?
Please share your advice below. Many thanks from a fellow slashdotter.

Submission + - Tensions reignite over West Texas nuclear waste storage (fuelfix.com)

mdsolar writes: The years long fight over whether to build a nuclear waste storage facility in West Texas has touched off again over the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s decision to move ahead on the review process.

Earlier this month the federal government’s top-nuclear division wrote a letter to Waste Control Specialists, the Dallas-based company developing the waste facility, informing them that the agency would be beginning its environmental review of the project even though the company’s initial application remained incomplete.

“By starting the EIS process now, the NRC will be able to engage interested members of the public earlier and accord the public additional time to review the WCS license application,” the letter reads.

That prompted four environmental groups to write the NRC Wednesday, arguing it should dismiss the application because Congress never intended for a privately-owned facility to take possession of nuclear waste when it passed the Nuclear Waste Policy Act in 1982.

The facility proposed by Waste Control Specialists would be located in Andrews County, northwest of Midland on the Texas-New Mexico border. It would initially store 5,000 metric tons of spent fuel though has raised the prospect of increasing that volume to 40,000 metric tons – more than half the total waste from nuclear plants in this country.

Submission + - How did one contractor steal 50TB of NSA data? Easily, say former spies (zdnet.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Former employees at the NSA, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that Martin likely stole the files by simply walking out of the front door.

"The security folks there conduct random bag and purse checks on people leaving, but nobody does pocket checks," said one former employee, who spent almost 30 years at the agency in various jobs, before leaving late in the last decade.

"Anything that could fit in a pocket could go out undetected," the employee said.

The second employee said it wouldn't be difficult to steal data — noting that the NSA has "some of the best hackers on earth."

Submission + - How Google Almost Killed ProtonMail (protonmail.com)

An anonymous reader writes: From 2015 through 2016 for nearly a year, results from searching e.g. "secure email" or "encrypted email" would vary little in most popular search engines and commonly yield mention of ProtonMail, typically within the first page. Not in Google, though. The ProtonMail team investigated and could find no cause. After receiving no substantial reply to their inquiries, ProtonMail turned to Twitter in August, where soon after, Google responded after correcting the issue. Yen, author of the ProtonMail article, writes the following in reference to what he calls "Search Risk":

"The danger is that any service such as ProtonMail can easily be suppressed by either search companies, or the governments that control those search companies. This can happen even across national borders. For example, even though Google is an American company, it controls over 90% of European search traffic. In this case, Google directly caused ProtonMail’s growth rate worldwide to be reduced by over 25% for over 10 months."

Submission + - Police use cell tower logs to contact potential witnesses to unsolved murder (www.cbc.ca)

itamblyn writes: It what appears to be the first example of a new approach in investigative policing, Ontario Provincial Police are using cell phone tower logs to reach out to potential witnesses in an unsolved homicide case from 2015.

CBC reports (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/frederick-john-hatch-homicide-cellphone-texts-1.3821821) that police "will be sending texts to about 7,500 people on Thursday to ask for information" to individuals that were, according to the cell phone tower logs, within the tower area near the time of the incident.

While we have heard lots of stories about cell phone tower logs being used in policing before (they are even discussed at length in Season 1 of Serial), I think this is the first case where they have been used to actively contact potential witnesses.

A news release by the police states that the texts will ask the recipient to "voluntarily answer a few simple questions to possibly help the Ontario Provincial Police solve this murder". CBC reports that "Investigators will also consider calling the numbers of people who don't respond voluntarily, but they would be required to obtain another court order to do so."

On one hand, this seems like the natural progression from the traditional approach of canvassing local residents by putting up flyers and knocking on doors. Indeed, the investigators use the term "digital canvas" to describe their plan.

On the other hand, I think one can reasonably ask — Are we OK with this approach? For example, presumably, it would be possible to get a better view of who was in the area by checking credit card transaction logs for all stores within the area. License plate readers and speed cameras might also give information about which vehicles were in the area. There are many levels of tracking that could be used simultaneously as a means of generating lists. The question is, do we want this to happen whenever there is a major crime? A minor one? Maybe this is just how things work now, and it really is no different than walking around, knocking on doors. I figured it was worth a discussion at the very least.

Submission + - Tesla shocks Wall St. with huge earnings surprise and actual profits (bgr.com)

anderzole writes: Tesla on Wednesday posted its earnings report for the quarter gone by and investors will have a lot to cheer about. While analysts on Wall St. were expecting Tesla to post a loss, Tesla during its September quarter actually posted a profit, and an impressive profit at that. When the dust settled, Tesla posted a quarterly profit of $22 million and EPS of $0.71. Revenue for the quarter checked in at $2.3 billion.

Illustrating how impressive Tesla’s performance was this past quarter, Wall St. was anticipating Tesla to post a loss amid $1.9 billion in revenue for the quarter.

Submission + - SPAM: Search Risk – How Google Almost Killed ProtonMail

An anonymous reader writes: Excerpts from article:
"For nearly a year, Google was hiding ProtonMail from search results for queries such as ‘secure email’ and ‘encrypted email’."

"The danger is that any service such as ProtonMail can easily be suppressed by either search companies, or the governments that control those search companies. This can happen even across national borders. For example, even though Google is an American company, it controls over 90% of European search traffic. In this case, Google directly caused ProtonMail’s growth rate worldwide to be reduced by over 25% for over 10 months."

Link to Original Source

Submission + - The sorry state of science the last time the Cubs won the World Series (sciencemag.org)

sciencehabit writes: In 1908, the last time the Chicago Cubs won the World Series, humans were far from ignorant. People already crossed continents and oceans on trains and ships, and they sent and received messages over vast distances using the telegraph. Yet, scientifically, people had only begun to systematically decipher nature's mysteries. Indeed, a quick look at the state of the sciences shows how shockingly far humans have comes since the Cubs last won baseball's championship. Astronomers knew of only one galaxy (our own), DNA was unknown, and the terms "big bang", "black hole", and "antimatter" had not been invented. Science has the full list of what we did--and didn't--know 100 years ago.

Submission + - FCC plans to make DD-WRT illegal to use (cnx-software.com) 2

An anonymous reader writes: Recent FCC rules have made it illegal for users to modify transmit power and other similar functions on personal WiFi access points. This makes loading custom illegal and opens easy backdoors into your network. Could this be the end of wireless?

Submission + - Could the Slashdot community take control of Slashdot? 10

turp182 writes: This is intended to be an idea generation story for how the community itself could purchase and then control Slashdot. If this happened I believe a lot of former users would at least come and take a look, and some of them would participate again.

This is not about improving the site, only about aquiring the site.

First, here's what we know:
1. DHI (Dice) paid $20 million for Slashdot, SourceForce, and Freecode, purchased from Geeknet back in 2012:
    http://techcrunch.com/2012/09/...
2. Slashdot has an Alexa Global Rank of 1,689, obtaining actual traffic numbers require money to see:
    http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/...
3. According to Quantcast, Slashdot has over 250,000 unique monthly views:
    https://www.quantcast.com/slas...
4. Per an Arstechnia article, Slashdot Media (Slashdot and Sourceforge) had 2015Q2 revenues of $1.7 million and have expected full year revenues of $15-$16 million (which doesn't make sense given the quarterly number):
    http://arstechnica.com/informa...

Next, things we don't know:
0. Is Slashdot viable without a corporate owner? (the only question that matters)
1. What would DHI (Dice) sell Slashdot for? Would they split it from Sourceforge?
2. What are the hosting and equipment costs?
3. What are the personnel costs (editors, advertising saleforce, etc.)?
4. What other expenses does the site incur (legal for example)?
5. What is Slashdot's portion of the revenue of Slashdot Media?

These questions would need to be answered in order to valuate the site. Getting that info and performing the valuation would require expensive professional services.

What are possible ways we could proceed?

In my opinion, a non-profit organization would be the best route.

Finally, the hard part: Funding. Here are some ideas.

1. Benefactor(s) — It would be very nice to have people with some wealth that could help.
2. Crowdfunding/Kickstarter — I would contribute to such an effort I think a lot of Slashdotters would contribute. I think this would need to be a part of the funding rather than all of it.
3. Grants and Corporate Donations — Slashdot has a wide and varied membership and audience. We regularly see post from people that work at Google, Apple, and Microsoft. And at universities. We are developers (like me), scientists, experts, and also ordinary (also like me). A revived Slashdot could be a corporate cause in the world of tax deductions for companies.
4. ????
5. Profit!

Oh, the last thing: Is this even a relevant conversation?

I can't say. I think timing is the problem, with generating funds and access to financial information (probably won't get this without the funds) being the most critical barriers. Someone will buy the site, we're inside the top 2,000 global sites per info above.

The best solution, I believe, is to find a large corporate "sponsor" willing to help with the initial purchase and to be the recipient of any crowd sourcing funds to help repay them. The key is the site would have to have autonomy as a separate organization. They could have prime advertising space (so we should focus on IBM...) with the goal would be to repay the sponsor in full over time (no interest please?).

The second best is seeking a combination of "legal pledges" from companies/schools/organizations combined with crowdsourcing. This could get access to the necessary financials.

Also problematic, from a time perspective, a group of people would need to be formed to handle organization (managing fundraising/crowdsourcing) and interations with DHI (Dice). All volunteer for sure.

Is this even a relevant conversation? I say it is, I actually love Slashdot; it offers fun, entertaining, and enlightning conversation (I browse above the sewer), and I find the article selection interesting (this gyrates, but I still check a lot).

And to finish, the most critical question: Is Slashdot financially viable as an independent organization?

Submission + - Facebook told to allow the use of fake names (betanews.com)

Mark Wilson writes: Facebook comes in for a lot of criticism, but one things that managed to rub a lot of people up the wrong way is its real names policy. For some time the social network has required its users to reveal their real name rather than allowing for the adoption of pseudonyms. This has upset many, including musicians and the drag community.

Now a German watchdog has told Facebook that its ban on fake names is not permitted. The Hamburg Data Protection Authority said that the social network could not force users to replace pseudonyms with real names, nor could it ask to see official identification.

The watchdog's order follows a complaint from a German woman who had her Facebook account closed because she used a fake name. She had opted to use a pseudonym to avoided unwanted contact from business associates, but Facebook demanded to see ID and changed her username accordingly. Hamburg Data Protection Authority said this and similar cases were privacy violations.

Encryption

Security Company Tries To Hide Flaws By Threatening Infringement Suit 124

An anonymous reader writes: An RFID-based access control system called IClass is used across the globe to provide physical access controls. This system relies on cryptography to secure communications between a tag and a reader. Since 2010, several academic papers have been released which expose the cryptographic insecurity of the IClass system. Based on these papers, Martin Holst Swende implemented the IClass ciphers in a software library, which he released under the GNU General Public License.

The library is useful to experiment with and determine the security level of an access control system (that you own or have explicit consent to study). However, last Friday, Swende received an email from INSIDE Secure, which notified him of (potential) intellectual property infringement, warning him off distributing the library under threat of "infringement action." Interestingly, it seems this is not the first time HID Global has exerted legal pressure to suppress information.

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