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Submission + - Researchers Connect 91% of Numbers With Names in Metadata Probe

Trailrunner7 writes: One of the key tenets of the argument that the National Security Agency and some lawmakers have constructed to justify the agency’s collection of phone metadata is that the information it’s collecting, such as phone numbers and length of call, can’t be tied to the callers’ names. However, some quick investigation by some researchers at Stanford University who have been collecting information voluntarily from Android users found that they could correlate numbers to names with very little effort.

The Stanford researchers recently started a program called Metaphone that gathers data from volunteers with Android phones. They collect data such as recent phone calls and text messages and social network information. The goal of the project, which is the work of the Stanford Security Lab, is to draw some lines connecting metadata and surveillance. As part of the project, the researchers decided to select a random set of 5,000 numbers from their data and see whether they could connect any of them to subscriber names using just freely available Web tools.

The result: They found names for 27 percent of the numbers using just Google, Yelp, Facebook and Google Places. Using some other online tools, they connected 91 of 100 numbers with names.

Submission + - The UK "Porn" Filter Blocks Kids' Access To Tech, Civil Liberties Websites ( writes: It fell to the UK Tories to actually implement the Nanny State. Too bad Nanny Tory does not want kinds to read up on tech web sites such as, or civil liberties ones such as the EFF or Amnesty International. Read on for a small sample of what the filter blocks, from a blocked-by-default tech writer.

Submission + - How Iron Maiden found its worst music pirates -- then went and played for them (

mattydread23 writes: Iron Maiden, the heavy metal band, was suffering the same kinds of losses to piracy as other classic acts. So the band used data from Musicmetric to see where its biggest fans were — including the biggest pirates of its music. Turns out, some of the biggest fans live in South America, so Maiden booked a bunch of tours there, and made millions. The results helped Iron Maiden LLC become one of six music firms in the UK to outperform the music sector as a whole. Plus, made a lot of heshers happy.

Submission + - NSA Metadata Program Has Stopped Zero Attacks (

Antipater writes: According to a member of the White House panel that recently called for the NSA's metadata-collection program to be curtailed, that program has not stopped any terrorist actions at all. This runs counter to the stories we've heard for months, which claimed as many as fifty prevented attacks.

"Stone declined to comment on the accuracy of public statements by U.S. intelligence officials about the telephone collection program, but said that when they referred to successes they seemed to be mixing the results of domestic metadata collection with the intelligence derived from the separate, and less controversial, NSA program, known as 702, to intercept communications overseas."

Submission + - Child 'training' book triggers backlash

mrspoonsi writes: BBC Reports: A child-raising book that advocates whipping with branches and belts has sold hundreds of thousands of copies to evangelical Christians. But the deaths of three children whose parents appear to have been influenced by the authors' teachings have provoked a growing backlash. The implements can vary. For a child under one year old, a willowy branch or a 1ft (30cm) ruler is recommended. For older children, a larger branch or a belt. But the objective of the "spanking" described in Michael and Debi Pearl's To Train Up a Child is the same — making children surrender completely to their parents' will. Like other people who have witnessed Michael Pearl's advice being put into practice, Hannah says her parents were seduced by the idea of a simple formula that would make their children compliant. "The problem is that [Pearl] tells you you have to break your children," she says. "And to get there you have to be completely ruthless." To Train Up a Child is widely seen as the most extreme of the publications produced by conservative Christians in the US who advocate corporal punishment.

Submission + - New Documentary Chronicles Road Tripping Scientists Promoting Reason

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: Dennis Overbye reports on the NYT that two years ago Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss set off on a barnstorming tour to save the world from religion and promote science. Now their adventure is now the subject of “The Unbelievers,” a documentary out just in time for Christmas, "If you think a road trip with a pair of intellectuals wielding laptops is likely to lack drama, you haven’t been keeping up with the culture wars," writes Overbye. The scientists are mobbed at glamorous sites like the Sydney Opera House. Inside, they sometimes encounter clueless moderators; outside, demonstrators condemning them to hellfire. At one event, a group of male Muslim protesters are confronted by counterprotesters chanting, “Where are your women?” "Travelogue shots, perky editing and some popular rock music, as well as interview bits with such supportive celebrities as Woody Allen, Cameron Diaz, Sarah Silverman and Ricky Gervais, shrewdly enliven the brainy — but accessible — discourse," writes Gary Goldstein in the LA Times, "but mostly the movie is an enjoyably high-minded love fest between two deeply committed intellectuals and the scads of atheists, secularists, free-thinkers, skeptics and activists who make up their rock star-like fan base." The movie ends at the Reason Rally in Washington, billed as the largest convention of atheists in history. Dawkins looks out at the crowd standing in a light rain and pronounces it “the most incredible sight I can remember ever seeing" and declares that too many people have been cowed out of coming out as atheists, secularists or agnostics. “We are far more numerous than anybody realizes."

Submission + - Google's plan to kill the corporate network (

mask.of.sanity writes: Google has revealed details on its Beyond Corp project to scrap the notion of a corporate network and move to a zero-trust model.

The company perhaps unsurprisingly considers the traditional notion of perimeter defences and its respective gadgetry as a dead duck, and has moved to authenticate and authorise its 42,000 staff so they can access Google HQ from anywhere (video).

Google also revealed it was perhaps the biggest Apple shop in the world with 43,000 devices deployed and staff only allowed to use Windows with a supporting business case.

Submission + - Satanists Propose Monument at Oklahoma Statehouse Next to Ten Commandments

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: The Tulsa World reports that in their zeal to tout their faith in the public square, conservatives in Oklahoma may have unwittingly opened the door to a wide range of religious groups, including satanists who are now seeking to put their own statue next to a Ten Commandments monument on the Statehouse steps. The Republican-controlled Legislature in Oklahoma authorized the privately funded Ten Commandments monument in 2009, and it was placed on the Capitol grounds last year despite criticism from legal experts who questioned its constitutionality. But the New York-based Satanic Temple saw an opportunity and notified the state's Capitol Preservation Commission that it wants to donate a monument too. "We believe that all monuments should be in good taste and consistent with community standards," Lucien Greaves wrote in letter to state officials. "Our proposed monument, as an homage to the historic/literary Satan, will certainly abide by these guidelines." Brady Henderson, legal director for ACLU Oklahoma, said if state officials allow one type of religious expression, they must allow alternative forms of expression, although he said a better solution might be to allow none at all on state property. "We would prefer to see Oklahoma's government officials work to faithfully serve our communities and improve the lives of Oklahomans instead of erecting granite monuments to show us all how righteous they are," says Henderson. "But if the Ten Commandments, with its overtly Christian message, is allowed to stay at the Capitol, the Satanic Temple's proposed monument cannot be rejected because of its different religious viewpoint."

Submission + - Physicist Peter Higgs: No University Would Employ Me Today (

An anonymous reader writes: Peter Higgs, the physicist who laid the groundwork for the discovery of the Higgs boson, and winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics, says he doubts any university would give him a job today. Higgs says universities wouldn't consider him productive enough; though the papers he published were important and of high quality, he didn't have the volume necessary for serious consideration in today's competitive employment environment. 'He doubts a similar breakthrough could be achieved in today's academic culture, because of the expectations on academics to collaborate and keep churning out papers. He said: "It's difficult to imagine how I would ever have enough peace and quiet in the present sort of climate to do what I did in 1964." Speaking to the Guardian en route to Stockholm to receive the 2013 Nobel prize for science, Higgs, 84, said he would almost certainly have been sacked had he not been nominated for the Nobel in 1980.' His comments highlight the absurdity of the current system for finding researchers in academia. How many researchers of Higgs' caliber have been turned down for similar reasons?

Submission + - Fearing government surveillance, U.S. journalists are self-censoring

binarstu writes: Suzanne Nossel, writing for, reports that 'a survey of American writers done in October revealed that nearly one in four has self-censored for fear of government surveillance. They fessed up to curbing their research, not accepting certain assignments, even not discussing certain topics on the phone or via e-mail for fear of being targeted. The subjects they are avoiding are no surprise — mostly matters to do with the Middle East, the military and terrorism.' Yet ordinary Americans, for the most part, seem not to care: 'Surveillance so intrusive it is putting certain subjects out of bounds would seem like cause for alarm in a country that prides itself as the world's most free. Americans have long protested the persecution and constraints on journalists and writers living under repressive regimes abroad, yet many seem ready to accept these new encroachments on their freedom at home.'

Submission + - How the NSA Could Be Beating SSL (

msm1267 writes: Noted cryptographer Matthew Green of Johns Hopkins University proposed a number of practical and elaborate scenarios explaining how SSL could be subverted or suborned. He also suggests that there’s no time like the present to get away from RSA keys and consider alternatives such as perfect forward secrecy and even Elliptic Curve Cryptography.

Submission + - Consumer hard drives as reliable as enterprise hardware ( 1

nk497 writes: Consumer hard drives don't fail any more often than enterprise-grade hardware — despite the price difference. That's according to online storage firm Backblaze, which uses a mix of both types of drive. It studied its own hardware, finding consumer hard-drives had a failure rate of 4.2%, while enterprise-grade drives failed at a rate of 4.6%.

CEO Gleb Budman noted: "It turns out that the consumer drive failure rate does go up after three years, but all three of the first three years are pretty good," he notes. "We have no data on enterprise drives older than two years, so we don’t know if they will also have an increase in failure rate. It could be that the vaunted reliability of enterprise drives kicks in after two years, but because we haven’t seen any of that reliability in the first two years, I’m sceptical."

Submission + - Death to the Trapezoid.. Small aggravations and big 'fails'

TheRealHocusLocus writes: Extreme bandwidth is nice, intelligent power management is cool... but folks should be spilling into the streets in thankful praise that the next generation miniature USB connector will fit either way. All told-- just how many intricate miracle devices have been scrapped in their prime — because a tiny USB port was mangled? For millennia untold chimpanzees and people have been poking termite mounds with round sticks. I for one am glad to see round stick technology make its way into consumer electronics. Death to the trapezoid, bring back the rectangle! So... since we're on roll here... how many other tiny annoyances that lead to big fails are out there?

Submission + - Plastic Waste Threatens Marine Diversity (

Rambo Tribble writes: An article in Current Biology (abstract) details the finding that minute particles of plastic waste are affecting marine worms, potentially having grave impacts on marine biodiversity and leading to the accumulation of toxins in marine animals. Unfortunately, policymakers have routinely treated such wastes as benign. The BBC provides more approachable coverage of the findings.

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