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Government

White House Worried About Discrimination Through Analytics 231

Cludge writes "Describing concerns about the potential for big data methods to inadvertently classify people by race, religion, income or other forms of discrimination, the White House announced it will release a report next week that reviews the adequacy of existing privacy laws and regulations in the era of online data collection. The review, led by Obama's senior counselor, John Podesta, will outline concerns about whether methods used for commercial applications may be inherently vulnerable to inadvertent discrimination. 'He described a program called "Street Bump" in Boston that detected pot-holes using sensors in smartphones of citizens who had downloaded an app. The program inadvertently directed repair crews to wealthier neighborhoods, where people were more likely to carry smartphones and download the app.' 'It's easy to imagine how big data technology, if used to cross legal lines we have been careful to set, could end up reinforcing existing inequities in housing, credit, employment, health and education,' he said."
Stats

Amazon Embodies the Gender Gap in Tech 302

New submitter chpoot writes: "The Guardian reveals the gender breakdown among Amazon's management 'S Team.' At one end of the team of 132 are 12 secretaries. All are female. At the other end are 12 who report directly to Jeff Bezos. All are male. Of the 119 remaining when Bezos and the secretaries are put to one side, 18 are female. Amazon, of course, grew out of book selling. Book selling, publishing, and writing have all a fairly admirable tradition of employing women. In its attempts to overthrow traditional book selling, Amazon seems to have been particularly successful in subverting that part of the tradition."
Australia

Australian Law Enforcement Pushes Against Encryption, Advocates Data Retention 88

angry tapir (1463043) writes "Australia is in the middle of a parliamentary inquiry examining telecommunications interception laws. Law enforcement organisations are using this to resurrect the idea of a scheme for mandatory data retention by telcos and ISPs. In addition, an Australian law enforcement body is pushing for rules that would force telcos help with decryption of communications."
Crime

New 'Google' For the Dark Web Makes Buying Dope and Guns Easy 156

First time accepted submitter turkeydance (1266624) writes "The dark web just got a little less dark with the launch of a new search engine that lets you easily find illicit drugs and other contraband online. Grams, which launched last week and is patterned after Google, is accessible only through the Tor anonymizing browser (the address for Grams is: grams7enufi7jmdl.onion) but fills a niche for anyone seeking quick access to sites selling drugs, guns, stolen credit card numbers, counterfeit cash and fake IDs — sites that previously only could be found by users who knew the exact URL for the site."
Earth

UN Report: Climate Changes Overwhelming 987

iONiUM (530420) writes "'The impacts of global warming are likely to be "severe, pervasive and irreversible", a major report by the UN has warned.' A document was released by the IPCC outlining the current affects on climate change, and they are not good. For specific effects on humans: 'Food security is highlighted as an area of significant concern. Crop yields for maize, rice and wheat are all hit in the period up to 2050, with around a tenth of projections showing losses over 25%.'"
Technology

Jesse Jackson To Take On Silicon Valley's Lack of Diversity 397

New submitter wyattstorch516 writes "San Jose Mecury News reports that Jesse Jackson will lead a delegation to HP's next board meeting to discuss the hiring of technology companies in regard to African-Americans and Latinos. 'About one in 14 tech workers is black or Latino both in the Silicon Valley and nationally. Blacks and Hispanics make up 13.1 and 16.9 percent of the U.S. population, respectively, according to the most recent Census data.' Jackson sent a letter to HP, Apple, Google, Twitter, Facebook, and others about meeting to discuss diversity issues."
Science

Can Science Ever Be "Settled?" 497

StartsWithABang writes "From physics to biology, from health and medicine to environmental and climate science, you'll frequently hear claims that the science is settled. Meanwhile, those who disagree with the conclusions will clamor that science can never be 'settled,' and then the name-calling from 'alarmist' to 'denier' ensues. But can science legitimately ever be considered settled, and if so, what does that mean? We consider gravitation, evolution, the Big Bang, germ theory, and global warming in an effort to find out."
Earth

Find Along Chilean Highway Suggests Ancient Mass Stranding of Whales 63

sciencehabit writes "In 2010, workers widening a remote stretch of highway near the northwestern coast of Chile uncovered a trove of fossils, including the skeletons of at least 30 large baleen whales. The fossils—which may be up to 9 million years old—are the first definitive examples of ancient mass strandings of whales, according to a new study. The work also fingers a possible culprit."
Earth

VA Tech Experiment: Polar Vortex May Decimate D.C. Stinkbugs In 2014 112

barlevg writes "Each fall, a team led by Virginia Tech Professor of Entomology Thomas Kuhar gathers brown marmorated stink bugs from around campus and plops them into ventilated and insulated five-gallon buckets designed to simulate the habitats in which the bugs naturally wait out the winter. While previous lab tests have shown the insects capable of surviving chills of -20 C, last month's polar vortex proved too much for the little guys, with only 5% surviving the sustained cold conditions. This suggests that the DC area's population of stink bugs and other overwintering insects should be much lower come spring than in previous years."
The Internet

Is Google Making the Digital Divide Worse? 259

theodp writes "As Google Fiber forges ahead into new metro areas, Michael Brick reports on worries the fiber project will create a permanent underclass. Building the next generation of information economy infrastructure around current demand, experts say, will deny poor people the physical wiring needed to gain access while the privileged digerati advance at hyperspeed. 'The fiber service deployment means multiplicity of the digital divide, multidimensionality of the digital divide,' says Eun-A Park of the Univ. of New Haven. 'You can see it in Google's trial in Kansas City.' Speed matters, explains Google, 'because a world with universal access and 100 times faster internet could mean 100 times the learning.' Without universal access, as is the case in KC due to pricing that's out of the reach of many of the city's poor, one presumes the outcome could be 100x the learning divide. Another case of the unintended consequences of good intentions?"

Comment Cable companies don't compete (Score 1) 424

"The idea is that switching away from cable TV will simple make consumers more beholden to their internet connections, and removing (i.e. acquiring) the competition will let Comcast raise rates without losing customers."

Cable companies don't compete with each other, they have their own territories. There's nothing stopping them from raising rates without hypothetically losing customers now.

The Internet

Time Warner Deal Is How Comcast Will Fight Cord Cutters 424

An anonymous reader writes "This NY Times articles makes the case that Comcast's planned acquisition of Time Warner Cable is part of a strategy to fight back against the millions of people ditching cable subscriptions. 'The acquisition rests on the assumption that as people cut back on their monthly TV plans, the cable lines coming into their homes won't lose their value.' The idea is that switching away from cable TV will simply make consumers more beholden to their internet connections, and removing (i.e. acquiring) the competition will let Comcast raise rates without losing customers. The article concludes, 'The steady price increases in broadband rates cast a pall over any cord cutter's dreams. It's possible that you might still save money now by cutting off your cable. But if you plan to watch a lot of TV over the Internet, don't expect to save money forever.'"
United Kingdom

11-Year UK Study Reports No Health Danger From Mobile Phone Transmissions 180

Mark.JUK writes "The United Kingdom's 11-years long Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research Programme (MTHR) has today published a comprehensive report that summarizes 31 research projects, which investigated the potential for biological or adverse health effects of mobile phone and wireless signals on humans (e.g. as a cause for various cancers or other disorders). The good news is that the study, which has resulted in nearly 60 papers appearing in peer-reviewed scientific journals, found 'no evidence' of a danger from mobile transmissions in the typically low frequency radio spectrum bands (e.g. 900MHz and 1800MHz etc.)."
Privacy

Ask Slashdot: What Does Edward Snowden Deserve? 822

Nerval's Lobster writes "U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder made government whistleblower Edward Snowden a very peculiar offer last week: plead guilty, and the U.S. government would consider how to handle his criminal case. That seems an inverted way of doing things—in the United States, the discussions (if not the trial) usually come before the guilty plea—but Holder's statement hints yet again at the conundrum facing the government when it comes to Snowden, a former subcontractor for the National Security Agency (NSA) who leaked secrets about that group's intelligence operations to a number of newspapers, most notably The Guardian. It's unlikely that the U.S. government would ever consider giving full clemency to Snowden, but now it seems that various officials are willing to offer something other than locking him in a deep, dark cell and throwing away the key. If Snowden ever risked coming back to the United States (or if he was forced to return, thanks to the Russians kicking him out and no other country willing to give him asylum), and you were Holder and Obama, what sort of deal would you try to strike with everybody's favorite secrets-leaker?"

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