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Submission + - Is Freedom of Political Expression About To Be Curtailed? 1

superwiz writes: Alan Dershowitz, a Constitutional scholar and a Harvard Law professor, made a public prediction that freedom of political expression guaranteed by the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution would come under attack "soon". He made his prediction in 2008 in this speech:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPbr5ak6FaU&t=970.

And he outlined the reason for it quite simple: until recently public speech was only the domain of few privileged individuals. But as it becomes the domain of everyone more and more, the elites have more to gain by suppressing it. His outline starts at

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPbr5ak6FaU&t=1070.

Variety of sources reported today that Sen. McCain (R) joined Sens. Mark Warner(D) and Amy Klobuchar(D) in introducing legislature which would require disclosure of political ad buys on the Internet if the amount spent on the ads was $500 or greater. Ostensibly this law was introduced in response to "Russian interfering in the US election" in the form of a $100,000 ad buy on Facebook.

The language used to justify the legislature is somewhat misleading in that it attempts to paint "social media" as a new type of "media", claiming that it simply tries to bring new media inline with the old media. But it completely ignores the "social" part of the "social media", which makes it more akin to a town square than to the old broadcast media such as radio and TV.

A more cynical point of view is that every law has instances of potential overreach in enforcement. So it is plausible to expect that this law can be used as an instrument to quash or de-anonymize political posts of opponents by future political operatives. The very low threshold requiring deanonymizing ($500) puts a huge burden of proof on any social media company (such as Slashdot) to prove that its comments section does not get hijacked by astro-turfing. The counter argument, of course, is that the law doesn't require reporting sources of free posts. Any law, however, will have as chilling an effect as its worst successful application.

If this law passes, should we expect to see prohibition on AC posts after the 1st time a judge declares that politically-bent comments on Slashdot are no different from paid advertisements? Can Slashdot, or even some of the smaller sites, withstand such legal assaults on its format by well-funded future political campaigns?

Submission + - Blockchain: a new way to control nuclear smuggling (thebulletin.org)

meckdevil writes: Bitcoin's underlying technology, blockchain, has applications that reach far beyond cryptocurrency. Blockchain could be used to store property records, keep financial accounts, support "smart" contracts and—possibly— prevent the illicit trafficking of material and technology related to weapons of mass destruction.

Submission + - Judge shocked to learn NYPD's evidence database has no backup (arstechnica.com)

schwit1 writes: As part of an ongoing legal battle to get the New York City Police Department to track money police have grabbed in cash forfeitures, an attorney for the city told a Manhattan judge on October 17 that part of the reason the NYPD can’t comply with such requests is that the department’s evidence database has no backup. If the database servers that power NYPD’s Property and Evidence Tracking System (PETS)—designed and installed by Capgemini under a $25.5 million contract between 2009 and 2012—were to fail, all data on stored evidence would simply cease to exist.

Courthouse News reported that Manhattan Supreme Court judge Arlene Bluth responded repeatedly to the city’s attorney with the same phrase: “That’s insane.”

Submission + - Could VR trips replace the real thing? (theindychannel.com)

turkeydance writes: "remember it for you, wholesale" anyone?
These virtual field trips are safer and easier to organize than real outings, and they might soon be cheaper, too.
McCauley says traditional field trips have already declined under budget constraints, so schools might be tempted to simply make a switch.

Submission + - Canadian Spy Agency open-sources it's "Assembly Line" malware fighting tool. (www.cbc.ca)

Pig Hogger writes:

Canada's electronic spy agency says it is taking the "unprecedented step" of releasing one of its own cyber defence tools to the public, in a bid to help companies and organizations better defend their computers and networks against malicious threats.
The Communications Security Establishment (CSE) rarely goes into detail about its activities — both offensive and defensive — and much of what is known about the agency's activities have come from leaked documents obtained by U.S. National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden and published in recent years.
But as of late, CSE has acknowledged it needs to do a better job of explaining to Canadians exactly what it does. Today, it is pulling back the curtain on an open-source malware analysis tool called Assemblyline that CSE says is used to protect the Canadian government's sprawling infrastructure each day.
"It's a tool that helps our analysts know what to look at, because it's overwhelming for the number of people we have to be able to protect things," Scott Jones, who heads the agency's IT security efforts, said in an interview with CBC News.

So, would you trust your files to some spookware, no matter how open-source it is?

Submission + - Discovery of 50km cave raises hopes for human colonisation of moon. (theguardian.com)

Zorro writes: The discovery, by Japan’s Seismological and Engineering Explorer (Selene) probe, comes as several countries vie to follow the US in sending manned missions to the moon.

The chasm, 50km (31 miles) long and 100 metres wide, appears to be structurally sound and its rocks may contain ice or water deposits that could be turned into fuel, according to data sent back by the orbiter, nicknamed Kaguya after the moon princess in a Japanese fairy tale.

Submission + - Google Chrome May Add a Permission to Stop In-Browser Cryptocurrency Miners (bleepingcomputer.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Google Chrome engineers are considering adding a special browser permission that will thwart the rising trend of in-browser cryptocurrency miners. Discussions on the topic of in-browser miners have been going on the Chromium project's bug tracker since mid-September when Coinhive, the first such service, launched.

Here's my current thinking," Ojan Vafai, a Chrome engineering working on the Chromium project, wrote in one of the recent bug reports. "If a site is using more than XX% CPU for more than YY seconds, then we put the page into "battery saver mode" where we aggressively throttle tasks and show a toast [notification popup] allowing the user to opt-out of battery saver mode. When a battery saver mode tab is backgrounded, we stop running tasks entirely. I think we'll want measurement to figure out what values to use for XX and YY, but we can start with really egregious things like 100% and 60 seconds. I'm effectively suggesting we add a permission here, but it would have unusual triggering conditions [...]. It only triggers when the page is doing a likely bad thing."

An earlier suggestion had Google create a blacklist and block the mining code at the browser level. That suggestion was shut down as being too impractical and something better left to extensions.

Submission + - Japanese and US robots finally fight, ends in slightly underwhelming draw

AmiMoJo writes: Suidobashi Heavy Industries and MEGABOTS agreed to test their piloted giant robots in combat a few years back, and the content is finally available on YouTube. It ended in a draw, with Japan decisively winning the first bout with a single punch and the US team winning the second thanks to a chainsaw weapon. There have been some complaints that the whole event felt scripted, but it's early days yet. ITMedia has a nice gallery of photos from the event.

Submission + - New "broadp0wn" security vulnerability in Broadcom WIFI chipsets on smartphones (wired.com) 1

Boutzev writes: There is information circulating about a new vulnerability in Broadcom WIFI chipsets, used in smartphones from major vendors (Apple, Samsung). The issue (called "broadp0wn) is apparently remotely exploitable. This is unrelated to the recently released KRACK vulnerability in the WPA2 protocol. From wired.com:

IF YOU HAVEN'T updated your iPhone or Android device lately, do it now. Until very recent patches, a bug in a little-examined Wi-Fi chip would have allowed a hacker to invisibly hack into any one of a billion devices. Yes, billion with a b.
A vulnerability that pervasive is rare, for good reason. Apple and Google pile millions of dollars into securing their mobile operating systems, layering on hurdles for hackers and paying bounties for information about vulnerabilities in their software. But a modern computer or smartphone is a kind of silicon Frankenstein, with components sourced from third-party companies whose code Apple and Google don't entirely control. And when security researcher Nitay Artenstein dug into the Broadcom chip module that helps power every iPhone and most modern Android devices, he found a flaw that had the potential to completely undermine the expensive security of all of them.

Submission + - A Nine-Year Collaboration Has Just Shown How Sugar Influences Cancer Cell Growth (sciencealert.com)

schwit1 writes: There's a long-known relationship between cancer and sugar, but figuring out exactly how it works has proven elusive. Now, thanks to a nine-year research project, scientists have made a breakthrough.

They've narrowed down the mechanism whereby cancer cells metabolise sugar. The focus of the new research was on a metabolic effect that has been understood for over 90 years.

We know that almost all the cells in the human body require energy, and they derive this energy from the sugars in the food we eat. Cancer cells also require sugars to grow. But their glucose intake is a lot higher than that of healthy cells, as is the rate at which they ferment that glucose into lactic acid.

This is known as the Warburg effect, and it may, scientists have hypothesised, have something to do with cancer's rapid growth rate. But it's hard to determine whether the Warburg effect is a symptom or a cause of cancer.

It's been proposed that the growth of cancer cells may be stymied by starving them of sugar, but the problem with that is there's currently no method of cutting off the supply to cancer cells while keeping it open to normal cells.

This is why the biological mechanism behind the increased glucose metabolism is important. It may hold the key to starving cancer cells while keeping healthy cells functioning. We're not there yet, but this research brings us a critical step closer.

Submission + - Researchers able to Track Individuals Through Ad Networks (washington.edu)

phantomfive writes: Researchers were able to track, and use GPS data from the ad network to track a user to their actual location, and trace movements through town. The paper asks: "can third-parties use the purchasing of ads to extract private information about individuals? We find that the answer is yes. For example, in a case study with an archetypal advertising network, we find that — for $1000 USD — we can track the location of individuals who are using apps served by that advertising network."

Submission + - Samsung unveils 'Linux on Galaxy' for DeX - run Fedora and Ubuntu on your Note8? (betanews.com)

BrianFagioli writes: The Galaxy-maker further says, "Linux on Galaxy is made even more powerful because it is DeX-enabled, giving developers the ability to create content on a large screen, powered only by their mobile device. This represents a significant step forward for software developers, who can now set up a fully functional development environment with all the advantages of a desktop setting that is accessible anytime, anywhere. Samsung Linux on Galaxy is still a work in progress."

Here's the deal, folks — there aren't many details on what "Linux on Galaxy" exactly is. Since Galaxy phones use ARM processors, will it be running ARM-compiled distros, or will it emulate x86_64? Maybe the desktop Linux distro will just be a virtual machine running on a server remotely. After all, that is how Samsung makes Windows "run" on DeX today. For now, we don't even know which distros will be supported, although Ubuntu is likely.

Submission + - Flying Insects Have Been Disappearing Over the Past Few Decades, Study Shows (theguardian.com)

An anonymous reader writes: The abundance of flying insects has plunged by three-quarters over the past 25 years, according to a new study that has shocked scientists. Insects are an integral part of life on Earth as both pollinators and prey for other wildlife and it was known that some species such as butterflies were declining. But the newly revealed scale of the losses to all insects has prompted warnings that the world is “on course for ecological Armageddon," with profound impacts on human society. The new data was gathered in nature reserves across Germany but has implications for all landscapes dominated by agriculture, the researchers said. The cause of the huge decline is as yet unclear, although the destruction of wild areas and widespread use of pesticides are the most likely factors and climate change may play a role. The scientists were able to rule out weather and changes to landscape in the reserves as causes, but data on pesticide levels has not been collected. The research, published in the journal Plos One, is based on the work of dozens of amateur entomologists across Germany who began using strictly standardized ways of collecting insects in 1989.

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