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The Almighty Buck

Call To "Open Source" AIG Investigation 259

VValdo writes "As you may recall, the citizens of the US shelled out about $85 billion to bail out AIG and its creditors (Goldman Sachs in particular) last year. But as 80% owners of AIG, we still don't know what happened, exactly. That may change. In a new op-ed piece, former prosecutors (including former NY governor Eliot Spitzer) are calling for the US Treasury to force AIG to release its treasure-trove of emails to the public before allowing AIG to 'break free' of our control. As the prosecutors put it, 'By putting the evidence online, the government could establish a new form of "open source" investigation. Once the documents are available for everyone to inspect, a thousand journalistic flowers can bloom, as reporters, victims and angry citizens have a chance to piece together the story.' Good idea?"
The Almighty Buck

Charities Upset Over Chase Facebook Contest 464

ssv03 writes "The New York Times is reporting that Chase Community Giving of Chase Bank recently held a contest on Facebook in which users were encouraged to vote for their favorite charities. At the end of the contest, the 100 charities with the most votes would win $25,000 and advance to the next round to have a chance to win $1 million. Initially, the vote counts for each organization were made public, but two days before voting ended they were hidden, and the final totals have still not been released. While Chase had no official leader board during the voting, several organizations were keeping track of projected winners. Those projections were almost identical to the final results, yet several organizations including Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), Marijuana Policy Project and several anti-abortion groups were not finalists. They had been performing very well (some within the top 20) until the vote counters were removed. Chase Bank has so far refused to discuss the issue with the organizations. SSDP has spoken out in a press release (PDF) and is calling for a boycott."
Cellphones

Cell Phone Searches Require Warrant 161

schleprock63 writes "The Ohio state supreme court has decided that a cell phone found on a suspect cannot be searched without a warrant. The majority based this decision on a federal case that deemed a cell phone not to be a 'closed container,' and therefore not searchable without a warrant. The argument of the majority contended that a cell phone does not contain physical objects and therefore is not a container. One dissenting judge argued that a cell phone is a container that simply contains data. He argued that the other judges were 'needlessly theorizing' about the contents of a cell phone. He compared the data contained within an address book that would be searchable." The article notes that this was apparently the first time the question has come up before any state supreme court.
Image

Scientists Say a Dirty Child Is a Healthy Child 331

Researchers from the School of Medicine at the University of California have shown that the more germs a child is exposed to, the better their immune system in later life. Their study found that keeping a child's skin too clean impaired the skin's ability to heal itself. From the article: "'These germs are actually good for us,' said Professor Richard Gallo, who led the research. Common bacterial species, known as staphylococci, which can cause inflammation when under the skin, are 'good bacteria' when on the surface, where they can reduce inflammation."
Data Storage

NCSU's Fingernail-Size Chip Can Hold 1TB 227

CWmike writes "Engineers from North Carolina State University have created a new fingernail-size chip that can hold 1 trillion bytes (a terabyte) of data. They said their nanostructured Ni-MgO system can store up to 20 high-definition DVDs or 250 million pages of text, 'far exceeding the storage capacities of today's computer memory systems.' Using the process of selective doping, in which an impurity is added to a material whose properties consequently change, the engineers worked at nanoscale and added metal nickel to magnesium oxide, a ceramic. The resulting material contained clusters of nickel atoms no bigger than 10 square nanometers — a pinhead has a diameter of 1 million nanometers. The discovery represents a 90% size reduction compared with today's techniques, and an advancement that could boost computer storage capacity. 'Instead of making a chip that stores 20 gigabytes, you have one that can handle one terabyte, or 50 times more data,' said the team's leader, Jagdish 'Jay' Narayan, director of the National Science Foundation Center for Advanced Materials and Smart Structures at the university."
Security

Cyber Gangs Raise Profile of Commercial Online Bank Security 140

tsu doh nimh writes "The Washington Post's Security Fix blog has published a rapid-fire succession of investigative stories on the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars from companies, schools, and public institutions at the hands of organized cyber thieves and 'money mules,' willing or unwitting people recruited via online job scams. Some businesses are starting to challenge the financial industry's position that they are not responsible for online banking losses from things like keystroke logging malware that attacks customer PCs. Last week, a Maine firm sued its bank, saying the institution's lax approach to so-called multi-factor authentication failed after thieves stole $588,000 from the company, sending the money to dozens of money mules. The same group is thought to have taken $447,000 from a California wrecking company, whose bank also is playing hardball. Most recently, the Post's series outlined a sophisticated online system used by criminals to recruit, track and manage money mules."
Privacy

Facebook Will Shut Down Beacon To Settle Lawsuit 101

alphadogg writes "Facebook has agreed to shut down its much-maligned Beacon advertising system in order to settle a class-action lawsuit. The lawsuit, filed in August of last year, alleged that Facebook and its Beacon affiliates like Blockbuster and Overstock.com violated a series of laws, including the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the Video Privacy Protection Act, the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act and the California Computer Crime Law. The proposed settlement, announced late on Friday, calls not only for Facebook to discontinue Beacon, but also back the creation of an independent foundation devoted to promoting online privacy, safety and security. The money for the foundation will come from a US$9.5 million settlement fund."
Government

FCC To Propose Net Neutrality Rules 110

wiredog writes "From The Washington Post comes news that the FCC is preparing to propose net neutrality rules on Monday. Quoting: '[FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski] will discuss the rules Monday during a keynote speech at The Brookings Institute. He isn't expected to drill into many details, but the proposal will specifically be for an additional guideline on how operators like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast can control what goes on their networks. That additional guideline would prevent the operators from discriminating, or act as gatekeepers, of Web content and services. ... The agency is expected to review what traffic management is reasonable and what practices are discriminatory. The guidelines are known as "principals" at the agency, which some public interest groups have sought to codify so that they would clearly be enforceable.'"
Privacy

New "JUSTICE" Act Could Roll Back Telecom Immunity 263

Asmodae writes to tell us about a bill proposed in Congress that could roll back telecom retroactive immunity along with adding other privacy safeguards. The "Judicious Use of Surveillance Tools in Counter-Terrorism Efforts" (JUSTICE) Act advocates the "least intrusive means" of information collection and imposes many limitations on the process. "One of the most significant aspects of the JUSTICE Act is that it will remove the retroactive immunity grants that were given to the telecom companies that participated in the NSA warrantless surveillance program. The companies that cooperated with the surveillance program likely violated several laws, including section 222 of the Communications Act, which prohibits disclosure of network customer information. The immunity grants have prevented the telecommunications companies that voluntarily participated in this program from being held accountable in court."
Social Networks

Facebook App Exposes Abject Insecurity 205

ewhac writes "Back in June, the American Civil Liberties Union published an article describing Facebook's complete lack of meaningful security on your and your friends' information. The article went virtually unnoticed. Now, a developer has written a Facebook 'Quiz' based on the original article that graphically illustrates all the information a Facebook app can get its grubby little hands on by recursively sweeping through your friends list, pulling all their info and posts, and showing it to you. What's more, apps can get at your information even if you never run the app yourself. Facebook apps run with the access privileges of the user running it, so anything your friend can see, the app they're running can see, too. It is unclear whether the developer of the Facebook app did so 'officially' for the ACLU."
Cellphones

Why AT&T Killed iPhone Google Voice 304

ZuchinniOne writes "The Wall Street Journal has a very interesting article about the likely reasons that AT&T and Apple killed the Google Voice application. 'With Google Voice, you have one Google phone number that callers use to reach you, and you pick up whichever phone — office, home or cellular — rings. You can screen calls, listen in before answering, record calls, read transcripts of your voicemails, and do free conference calls. Domestic calls and texting are free, and international calls to Europe are two cents a minute. In other words, a unified voice system, something a real phone company should have offered years ago.'"
Security

Voting Machine Attacks Proven To Be Practical 225

An anonymous reader writes "Every time a bunch of academics show vulnerabilities in electronic voting machines, critics complain that the attacks aren't realistic, that attackers won't have access to source code, or design documents, or be able to manipulate the hardware, etc. So this time a bunch of computer scientists from UCSD, Michigan, and Princeton offered a rebuttal. They completely own the AVC Advantage using no access to source code or design documents (PDF), and deliver a complete working attack in a plug-in cartridge that could be used by anyone with a few private minutes with the machine. Moreover, they came up with some cool tricks to do this on a machine protected against traditional code injection attacks (the AVC processor will only execute instructions from ROM). The research was presented at this week's USENIX EVT."
Government

FCC Probing Apple, AT&T Rejection of Google Voice 204

suraj.sun writes with an update to the news from a few days ago about Apple pulling Google Voice apps for the iPhone. Their actions have raised the interest of the FCC, which is now beginning an investigation into the matter. "In a letter sent to Apple, the FCC asked the company why it turned down Google Voice for the iPhone and pulled several other Google Voice-related programs from the iPhone's only sanctioned online mart. The FCC also sent similar letters to both AT&T — Apple's exclusive carrier partner in the US — and Google, asking both firms to provide more information on the issue. The FCC's letter asked Apple whether it rejected Google Voice and dumped other applications on its own, or 'in consultation with AT&T,' and if the latter, to describe the conversations the partners had. In other questions, the FCC asked Apple whether AT&T has any role in the approval of iPhone applications, wants the company to explain how Google Voice differs from any other VoIP software that has been approved, and requested a list of all applications that have been rejected and why."

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