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Submission Summary: 0 pending, 14 declined, 6 accepted (20 total, 30.00% accepted)

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Submission + - UK Prime Minister seeks to resurrect the zombie of compulsory key escrow

Dr_Barnowl writes: The BBC Reports that UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, has vowed to introduce a "comprehensive piece of legislation" aimed at there being "no piece of communication" .. "which we cannot read", in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris.

The only logical means by which this could occur would be by the introduction of compulsory key escrow, and the banning of forms of encryption which do not use it. While the UK already essentially has a legal means to demand your encryption keys (and imprison you indefinitely if you don't comply), this would fall short if you have a credible reason for not having the key any more (such as using an OTR plugin for your chosen chat program).

The US tried a similar tack with Clipper in the 90s.

As we all know, terrorists with any technical chops are unlikely to be affected, given the vast amount of freely available military-grade crypto now available, and the use of boring old cold war tradecraft.

Ironically, France used to ban the use of strong cryptography but has largely liberalized it's regime since 2011.

Submission + - Eric Schmidt urges regulation of mini-drones

Dr_Barnowl writes: The BBC reports that the CEO of Google thinks that drones should be regulated. Drones are certainly a hot topic, with appearances on both side of the divide in Cory Doctorow's novel Homeland — with the authorities using them to distribute riot gas, and the noble hackers using them to post the video of them doing it. Is Eric really concerned over how the public will use drones against each other, or is he more concerned that they might eat into Google's pie somehow?

Submission + - UK Government - "Pay a £20 fee to acquit yourself of file-sharing (maybe)" (bbc.co.uk)

Dr_Barnowl writes: The BBC reports that the UK government plans to introduce a £20 fee if you wish to appeal against an allegation of copyright infringement, within 20 days of your accusation. Note that this doesn't guarantee acquittal, as only "excuses" covered in the Digital Economy Act will be valid even for consideration. This scheme could be in place as early as 2014, so John Smith, General Secretary of the Musicians' Union says "We urge ISPs to begin building their systems now and to work constructively with rights holders, Ofcom and government to get notice-sending up and running as soon as possible,". What are the thoughts of Slashdot?

Submission + - EU Proposes HFT Transaction Tax (bbc.co.uk)

Dr_Barnowl writes: The BBC reports that the UK opposes a proposed new tax on transactions with at least one end Europe. Why is this "News for Nerds"? The proposal includes tax on derivatives, an instrument the High Frequency Trading stories we've been chowing down on recently. With the proposed tax being 0.1% or 0.01% for derivatives, the story highlights the sheer volumes involved — it's speculated that the tax would earn some €57B a year ($78B), around 80% of it from the City of London. A transaction tax like this is something frequently proposed in Slashdot HFT discussions. The UK says that it will veto the tax "unless it was imposed globally" — should the USA follow suit and impose a similar levy targeted at the trading desks of the NYSE?

Submission + - Blogger humilates town councillors into resigning. (bbc.co.uk)

Dr_Barnowl writes: In an occurence first postulated in sci-fi and lampooned by stick figures, it would see that a blogger has actually been responsible for the mass resignation of elected officials (a British town council), largely by calling them "jackasses" and Nazis.

What's next? The desposition of the president with "your mom" smacktalk?


Submission + - Sony to convert online bookstore to open format

Dr_Barnowl writes: The BBC reports that Sony are to convert their online bookstore to the EPUB format.

While this format still supports DRM, it's supported on a much wider variety of readers. Is this a challenge to Kindle? It's nice to see Sony opening up to the idea of open standards ; even if you still have reservations about buying a Sony device, you might be able to patronise their bookstore sometime soon.
Operating Systems

Submission + - Google to release another open-source OS

Dr_Barnowl writes: The BBC reports that Google are planning to release another operating system : Google Chrome OS.

This is apparently going to consist of the Google Chrome browser, running in "a new windowing system". The browser is the platform, much like it is in the Palm Pre smartphone, part of the intention being to provide a fast boot time.

They are setting their sights first on the growing market for netbooks, with ARM and x86 compatibility planned out of the starting gate.

A "browser OS" would probably do just fine for the majority of users, but I don't think I'm ready to give up my heavy client-side platforms just yet. What will be interesting to see is the Microsoft response to this — they have enjoyed an alleged "96%" share of the netbook market OS recently, so anything designed to eat into that will not be popular in the Redmond boardroom.
PC Games (Games)

Submission + - EA releases license deactivation management tool. (ea.com)

Dr_Barnowl writes: Electronic Arts have posted a link to a SecuROM De-authorization management tool. Once downloaded, the tool will search your drives for EA games infested with the draconian online DRM system, and help you download their respective individual de-activation tools.

This isn't a perfect solution, since it's still possible to run out of activations in the event of hardware failure or other source of data loss, but since the announcement that this particular DRM system will be dropped for The Sims 3 , it would seem that EA has had a minor epiphany about DRM.


Submission + - British IRS loses database of every child in UK. (bbc.co.uk)

Dr_Barnowl writes: News breaking in the UK is that the HM Revenue & Customs (the UK version of the IRS) has lost in the post discs containing the entire Child Benefit database. Every child in the UK is entitled to receive Child Benefit, so this covers some 25M people (out of the UK population of some 60M), 7.25M families, and contains names, addresses, dates of birth, bank account numbers and national insurance number (aka SSN).

The lost data has failed to turn up under a search by HM Customs (famous for rooting contraband out of tight spaces) and the UK police.

This is data loss on an unprecedented scale. Many of the people questioning the Chancellor of the Exchequer at this moment are using the issue to raise questions about the UK government plans for a national ID database.

The data was apparently "password protected". The word "encryption" has also been used, but not in connection to the data, so it could well be something as simple as a passworded ZIP archive. The data was placed onto a couple of optical media and sent to another government office, for audit purposes, via the internal post system provided by a third party courier. This was not the first occurrence of the database being transferred in this way.

While there is no evidence so far that the data is being put to nefarious uses, this will cause total chaos in the UK banking system ; affected accounts are being flagged and mothers across the country will be phoning their bank in a panic.


Submission + - Swedish company trials peer-to-peer cellphones (bbc.co.uk)

Dr_Barnowl writes: TerraNet is trialling a p2p based mobile telephony system. Phones are used to route calls onto other phones, constructing mesh networks of "up to 20km".

The BBC reports the natural tendency of the big telecoms providers to want to squash this. I can see other problems though. The advantages in an environment with sparse cell coverage are obvious, but network effects mean that the number of connections in a heavily populated mesh grow exponentially. What happens to your battery life when your phone becomes a node? And while the company is optimistic that they have a viable technology model from IP licensing, the demand for devices supporting this is going to be proportional to the number of devices that it can connect you to.

On the plus side, it would provide some great experience with mesh networks.


Submission + - "Spam King" Robert Soloway arrested (bbc.co.uk)

Dr_Barnowl writes: The BBC reports in prose and in video that Robert Soloway, an alleged user of zombie spamming networks, has been arrested in Seattle. He will be charged with aggravated identity theft, the first such charge since the relevant law was passed in 2003.

While it's highly encouraging to see spammers brought to book, the spam level has not noticeably decreased since his arrest, testimony to the more prevalent spam output of eastern European and Asian sources.


Submission + - CEO of Sun comments on MS patent posturing.

Dr_Barnowl writes: The CEO of Sun Microsystems blogs that "no amount of fear can stop the rise of [...] free software". While he avoids specifically mentioning a certain software company by name, he links directly to the interview in Fortune that started all this brouhaha.

He makes a special point that Sun "... decided to innovate, not litigate."

You have to wonder who else from the corporate world may pitch in at this point.

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