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Electronic Frontier Foundation

EFF Sues FBI For Records About Paid Best Buy Geek Squad Informants (eff.org) 147

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is suing the FBI for records "about the extent to which it directs and trains Best Buy employees to conduct warrantless searches of people's devices." The lawsuit stems around an incident in 2011 where a gynecology doctor took his computer for repairs at Best Buy's Geek Squad. The repair technician was a paid FBI informant that found child pornography on the doctor's computer, ultimately resulting in the doctor being charged with possessing child pornography. From the EFF's report: A federal prosecution of a doctor in California revealed that the FBI has been working for several years to cultivate informants in Best Buy's national repair facility in Brooks, Kentucky, including reportedly paying eight Geek Squad employees as informants. According to court records in the prosecution of the doctor, Mark Rettenmaier, the scheme would work as follows: Customers with computer problems would take their devices to the Geek Squad for repair. Once Geek Squad employees had the devices, they would surreptitiously search the unallocated storage space on the devices for evidence of suspected child porn images and then report any hits to the FBI for criminal prosecution. Court records show that some Geek Squad employees received $500 or $1,000 payments from the FBI. At no point did the FBI get warrants based on probable cause before Geek Squad informants conducted these searches. Nor are these cases the result of Best Buy employees happening across potential illegal content on a device and alerting authorities. Rather, the FBI was apparently directing Geek Squad workers to conduct fishing expeditions on people's devices to find evidence of criminal activity. Prosecutors would later argue, as they did in Rettenmaier's case, that because private Geek Squad personnel conducted the searches, there was no Fourth Amendment violation. The judge in Rettenmaier's case appeared to agree with prosecutors, ruling earlier this month that because the doctor consented both orally and in writing to the Geek Squad's search of his device, their search did not amount to a Fourth Amendment violation. The court, however, threw out other evidence against Rettenmaier after ruling that FBI agents misstated key facts in the application for a warrant to search his home and smartphone. We disagree with the court's ruling that Rettenmaier consented to a de-facto government search of his devices when he sought Best Buy's help to repair his computer. But the court's ruling demonstrates that law enforcement agents are potentially exploiting legal ambiguity about when private searches become government action that appears intentionally designed to try to avoid the Fourth Amendment.
Advertising

Microsoft Is Spamming Windows 10 File Explorer With Ads For OneDrive Storage (digitaltrends.com) 281

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Digital Trends: While Microsoft is addressing some other complaints about Windows 10 in the upcoming Creators Update -- such as privacy concerns over the data that's being transmitted and issues regarding how the operating system updates itself -- the company seems intent on retaining Windows 10's advertising functionality. In fact, it has apparently been adding OneDrive commercials to File Explorer, ExtremeTech reports. Basically, you might start seeing a new promotion for OneDrive when you're perusing your file structure in Windows 10. OneDrive is baked into Windows 10 and can't easily be uninstalled, and Microsoft wants to make sure you know that the 5GB of free OneDrive storage can be easily upgraded to significantly more space. Turning off the OneDrive advertising isn't without consequences. You can go to the View menu in File Explorer, then Options, and select "Change folder and search options." In the next window, select the View menu, then scroll down to and uncheck the "Show sync provider notifications" option. Note that while this should disable the OneDrive ads, it will also stop you from seeing potentially important notifications from OneDrive. The report notes that, while these OneDrive ads aren't new, "they seem to be showing up more often for more people."
Transportation

Hyperloop Firm Eyes Indonesia For Ultra-Fast Transport System (cnbc.com) 58

An anonymous reader shares a CNBC report: Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), one of the companies developing the futuristic transport service dreamed up by billionaire Elon Musk, said it was exploring Indonesia as a potential site to put one of its tracks. The so-called "feasibility study" contract is worth $2.5 million and will look into whether a hyperloop system would work initially in the capital Jakarta, and then connecting Java and Sumatra. A hyperloop would work by propelling pods through a large tube at speeds of 750 mph using magnets. It is seen as a solution to long distance travel, but also alleviating congestion in many cities. Jakarta is the world's third-worst city for traffic, according to a study by navigation from TomTom released earlier this year.
Emulation (Games)

Ask Slashdot: What Would Happen If All Software Ran On All Platforms? 383

Slashdot reader dryriver writes: We live in a computing world where the OS you use -- Windows, OS X, Linux, Android, iOS, others -- often determines what software can and cannot be run on a given electronic device. (Let us pretend for a moment that emulators and other options don't exist). What if -- magically -- such a thing as as Universally Compatible Software Application were possible. Software, in other words, that is magically capable of running on any electronic device equipped with enough CPU, GPU and memory capacity to run the software in a usable way.

Example: 3D CAD software that runs on Windows 14, Playstation 7, an Android Smartphone, Nintendo's latest handheld gaming device and an Ubuntu PC in exactly the same way with no compatibility problems whatsoever occurring. What would and would not change in such a computing world?

He also asks an even more important question: will this ever be possible or feasible from a technical standpoint? So leave your best answers in the comments. Will it ever be possible to run all software on all platforms -- and what would happen if we could?
Robotics

Skin deep? Robots To Wear Real Human Tissue (thememo.com) 77

Scientists are already growing muscles, bones, and mini-organs in the lab. But these tissues are generally small and simple. That's why two scientists from Oxford University are proposing that we use humanoid robots to grow engineered tissues instead. From a report: Robots dressed in human flesh would benefit people who need tissue transplants, Oxford University researchers have said this week. At present human cells are grown in stationary environments, but moving humanoids could help them develop in a far more healthier way. Robots could "wear" tissue grafts before transplantation, researchers Pierre-Alexis Mouthuy and Andrew Carr propose in the latest issue of Science Robotics. Today sheets of cells are grown in stagnant tanks, but these "fail to mimic the real mechanical environment for cells," say the scientists. The resulting tissues aren't used to moving, stretching and straining, which make them problematic for use by patients.

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