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Government

Obama on Surveillance: "We Can and Must Be More Transparent" 537

Today President Obama held a press conference to address the situation surrounding the NSA's surveillance activities. (Here is the full transcript.) He announced four actions the administration is undertaking to restore the public's confidence in the intelligence community. Obama plans to work with Congress to reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to give greater weight to civil liberties, and to revisit section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, which is the section that allowed bulk collection of phone records. (Of course, "will work with Congress" is a vague term, and Congress isn't known for getting things done lately. Thus, it remains to be seen if anything substantive happens.) Obama is ordering the Dept. of Justice to make public their legal rationale for data collection, and there will be a new NSA official dedicated to transparency efforts. There will also be a new website for citizens to learn about transparency in intelligence agencies. Lastly, a group of outside experts will be convened to review the government's surveillance capabilities. Their job will include figuring out how to maintain the public's trust and prevent abuse, and to consider how the intelligence community's actions will affect foreign policy. In addition to these initiatives, President Obama made his position very clear about several different aspects of this controversy. While acknowledging that "we have significant capabilities," he said, "America is not interested in spying on ordinary people." He added that the people who have raised concerns about privacy and government overreach in a lawful manner are "patriots." This is in stark contrast to his view of leakers like Edward Snowden: "I don't think Mr. Snowden was a patriot." (For his part, Snowden says the recent shut down of encrypted email services is 'inspiring.') When asked about how his opinion of the surveillance programs have changed, he said his perception of them has not evolved since the story broke worldwide. "What you're not seeing is people actually abusing these programs." Obama also endorsed finding technological solutions that will protect privacy regardless of what government agencies want to do.
GNOME

GNOME 3.6 To Include Major Revisions 327

supersloshy writes "The launch of the GNOME 3 desktop environment sparked heated debate and criticism. GNOME developers have been listening to the concerns of its users and it is rolling out several significant changes in GNOME 3.6. The message tray, often called hard to use, was made much more visible in addition to being harder to accidentally trigger. The "lock" screen can now optionally control your music player, the system volume, and display notifications so you don't have to type in a password. GNOME will also support different input sources directly instead of requiring an add-on program. Nautilus, the GNOME file browser, is also getting a major face lift with a new, more compact UI, properly working search features, a "move to" and "copy to" option as an alternative to dragging and dropping, and a new "recent files" section. These changes, among many others including improvements to system settings, will be present in GNOME 3.6 when it is released later this month. Any other additions or changes not currently implemented by the GNOME team can be easily applied with only one click at the GNOME Extensions website."
Books

Chinese Writers Sue Apple Over IP Violations 143

hackingbear writes "A group of 22 Chinese authors have filed a claim against Apple, alleging its App Store sells unlicensed copies of their books. The Writers Rights Alliance, founded by Han Han, a young popular Chinese author and the worlds' most popular blogger, who is known for his cynical criticism of the government, petitioned Apple last year to stop electronic distribution of the writers' books and had earlier persuaded Baidu, China's largest search engine, to stop publishing their material on its Baidu Library product."
Cloud

Solaris 11 Released 224

angry tapir writes "Oracle has updated its Unix-based operating system Solaris, adding some features that would make the OS more suitable for running cloud deployments, as well as integrating it more tightly with other Oracle products. While not as widely known for its cloud software, Oracle has been marketing Solaris as a cloud-friendly OS. In Oracle's architecture, users can set up different partitions, called Zones, inside a Solaris implementation, which would allow different workloads to run simultaneously, each within their own environment, on a single machine."
Security

PayPal Denies It Will Block Safari 98

Despite reports that PayPal may drop support for Apple's Safari browser because it lacks anti-phishing features, PayPal now says it ain't so. Though PayPal telegraphed displeasure with Safari last January, they're now unambiguous about their position: "We have absolutely no intention of blocking current versions of any browsers, including Apple's Safari, from our website."
Red Hat Software

Fedora 8 A Serious Threat to Ubuntu 334

Tubs writes "According to MadPenguin.org's latest article, Fedora 8 from Red Hat is a serious threat to Ubuntu. The author writes, "I was never that swept up with past releases of Fedora. There was nothing compelling about it. But for the first time, I cannot help but feel that the Fedora team has been spoon fed an extra helping of Wheaties, which has put them into overdrive with their accessibility efforts."

Indian ISPs Taxed for Generating "Light Energy" 293

CaptKeen writes, "The Hindu is reporting that the Indian Government is trying to tax optical broadband providers (think fiber to the premises) for generating 'light energy.' According to the Commercial Tax Department, optical broadband providers operate on light energy which is 'artificially created and sold to customers for the purpose of data transmission and information.' This classification would make Internet access goods (since you are buying light) as opposed to service — and would be subject to a 12.5% VAT."

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