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Electronic Frontier Foundation

DOJ Often Used Cell Tower Impersonating Devices Without Explicit Warrants 146

Via the EFF comes news that, during a case involving the use of a Stingray device, the DOJ revealed that it was standard practice to use the devices without explicitly requesting permission in warrants. "When Rigmaiden filed a motion to suppress the Stingray evidence as a warrantless search in violation of the Fourth Amendment, the government responded that this order was a search warrant that authorized the government to use the Stingray. Together with the ACLU of Northern California and the ACLU, we filed an amicus brief in support of Rigmaiden, noting that this 'order' wasn't a search warrant because it was directed towards Verizon, made no mention of an IMSI catcher or Stingray and didn't authorize the government — rather than Verizon — to do anything. Plus to the extent it captured loads of information from other people not suspected of criminal activity it was a 'general warrant,' the precise evil the Fourth Amendment was designed to prevent. ... The emails make clear that U.S. Attorneys in the Northern California were using Stingrays but not informing magistrates of what exactly they were doing. And once the judges got wind of what was actually going on, they were none too pleased:"

Misconfigured Open DNS Resolvers Key To Massive DDoS Attacks 179

msm1267 writes with an excerpt From Threat Post: "While the big traffic numbers and the spat between Spamhaus and illicit webhost Cyberbunker are grabbing big headlines, the underlying and percolating issue at play here has to do with the open DNS resolvers being used to DDoS the spam-fighters from Switzerland. Open resolvers do not authenticate a packet-sender's IP address before a DNS reply is sent back. Therefore, an attacker that is able to spoof a victim's IP address can have a DNS request bombard the victim with a 100-to-1 ratio of traffic coming back to them versus what was requested. DNS amplification attacks such as these have been used lately by hacktivists, extortionists and blacklisted webhosts to great success." Running an open DNS resolver isn't itself always a problem, but it looks like people are enabling neither source address verification nor rate limiting.

Google Pledges Not To Sue Any Open Source Projects Using Their Patents 153

sfcrazy writes "Google has announced the Open Patent Non-Assertion (OPN) Pledge. In the pledge Google says that they will not sue any user, distributor, or developer of Open Source software on specified patents, unless first attacked. Under this pledge, Google is starting off with 10 patents relating to MapReduce, a computing model for processing large data sets first developed at Google. Google says that over time they intend to expand the set of Google's patents covered by the pledge to other technologies." This is in addition to the Open Invention Network, and their general work toward reforming the patent system. The patents covered in the OPN will be free to use in Free/Open Source software for the life of the patent, even if Google should transfer ownership to another party. Read the text of the pledge. It appears that interaction with non-copyleft licenses (MIT/BSD/Apache) is a bit weird: if you create a non-free fork it appears you are no longer covered under the pledge.
The Media

What Does It Actually Cost To Publish a Scientific Paper? 166

ananyo writes "Nature has published an investigation into the real costs of publishing research after delving into the secretive, murky world of science publishing. Few publishers (open access or otherwise-including Nature Publishing Group) would reveal their profit margins, but they've pieced together a picture of how much it really costs to publish a paper by talking to analysts and insiders. Quoting from the piece: '"The costs of research publishing can be much lower than people think," agrees Peter Binfield, co-founder of one of the newest open-access journals, PeerJ, and formerly a publisher at PLoS. But publishers of subscription journals insist that such views are misguided — born of a failure to appreciate the value they add to the papers they publish, and to the research community as a whole. They say that their commercial operations are in fact quite efficient, so that if a switch to open-access publishing led scientists to drive down fees by choosing cheaper journals, it would undermine important values such as editorial quality.' There's also a comment piece by three open access advocates setting out what they think needs to happen next to push forward the movement as well as a piece arguing that 'Objections to the Creative Commons attribution license are straw men raised by parties who want open access to be as closed as possible.'"

Comment Re:Perception is reality (Score 1) 505

You forgot Zune, Kin, and Xbox. Yeah xbox is still a money loser in spite of all the paid hype. It has lost $3 billiion in 10 years and is kept alive only by money from the Windows (OEM) monopoly and the Office (file format) monopoly. It has by far the most hype, so that may be why perception flies in the face of reality.

Comment Re:USDA plant hardiness zones have changed (Score 1) 398

You certainly can grow things up north, but the main problem is that while this sort of thing will expand the northern limits of arable land, that won't come close to compensating for the much more productive land further south that will suffer desertification.

That's a point that many miss. Not all land is equally productive. On some land you can get a high yield with minimal effort. On other land it takes all kinds of effort and chemicals. Unfortunately between urban sprawl and global warming we are losing the former. I've only seen one or two new subdivisions built on boulders or bedrock. I've seen hundreds tearing up rich fields prime for farming. That's not land we can get back. The best use of that land is for growing food.

In addition to the soil, there are factors like light and microclimate. The best farm land was scoped out before the 1900's and if we pave it over, it is gone.

Comment Falkvinge and Engstroem (Score 5, Informative) 853

Rick Falkvinge of the Swedish Pirate Party has a good summary of the attempt to ban porn as well as a call to action. Apparently getting e-mail through to the parliamentarians is not as straight forward as one might wish. Christian EngstrÃm, MEP, also of the Swedish Pirate Party has a good analysis of the attempted ban. Basically it's a grab at control and censorship under another guise.

Comment gerrymandering (Score 1) 183

"And of course this analysis overlooks the most reliable way of rigging an election, and one that is most certainly practiced here: hand-picking the electorate. Who appointed those cardinals in the first place, eh? "

That can be done on a large scale, too. It's known as gerrymandering and is done by both parties. It's especially common for congressional districts. If you look at the national map, you see all kinds of bizarre shapes designed to give one party or the other a majority. They don't follow any natural or geographic boundaries. You end up with all kinds of loops, horseshoes, dumbells, and other weird shapes. The composition of congress would be quite different if the districts were restrcited to existing counties or a plain grid.

Comment Re:The End of Ubuntu? (Score 1) 279

There's not just Mint. You could first try Xubuntu. It's got a better interface than plain Ubuntu and does not (yet) have any of the spyware issues. You can upgrade to xubuntu sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop and then clean off all that is not Xubuntu. Xubuntu gives you XFCE. There is also the KDE route with Kubuntu. That is also missing the spyware, for now.

Comment HTML 2 (Score 2) 173

I'd rather see the format scrapped and replaced with either better man pages or else HTML2. With HTML 2 you can use a text based browser like Lynx, which is more polished and gives you better navigation capabilities. There are also more modules, libraries and packages that can work directly with HTML, so less time is spent trying to reinvent the wheel.

Comment java too (Score 1) 332

You're right, the documentation for python or javascript macros in LibreOffice or are quite poor. Basically it's missing, and for such a sought after feature, this is quite a problem. Also missing are the docs for using java macros. I'm not sure what else LO and OOo can support, there might be more, but even these three are a major advantage that could use publicity.

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