Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



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Submission + - Publish Georgia's state laws, you'll get sued for copyright and lose 2

Presto Vivace writes: If you publish Georgia’s state laws, you’ll get sued for copyright and lose

Malamud thinks reading the law shouldn't cost anything. So a few years back, he scanned a copy of the state of Georgia's official laws, known as the Official Georgia Code Annotated, or OCGA. Malamud made USB drives with two copies on them, one scanned copy and another encoded in XML format. On May 30, 2013, Malamud sent the USB drives to the Georgia speaker of the House, David Ralson, and the state's legislative counsel, as well as other prominent Georgia lawyers and policymakers. ... ... Now, the case has concluded with US District Judge Richard Story having published an opinion (PDF) that sides with the state of Georgia. The judge disagreed with Malamud's argument that the OCGA can't be copyrighted and also said Malamud's copying of the laws is not fair use. "The Copyright Act itself specifically lists 'annotations' in the works entitled to copyright protection," writes Story. "Defendant admits that annotations in an unofficial code would be copyrightable."

It could have been worse, at least he was not criminally charged liked Aaron Schwartz.

Submission + - House approves bill to force public release of EPA science (ap.org)

schwit1 writes: House Republicans are taking aim at the Environmental Protection Agency, targeting the way officials use science to develop new regulations.

A bill approved Wednesday by the GOP-controlled House would require that data used to support new regulations to protect human health and the environment be released to the public.

Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, said "the days of 'trust me' science are over," adding that the House bill would restore confidence in the EPA's decision-making process.

Connecticut Rep. Elizabeth Esty and other Democrats said the bill would cripple EPA's ability to conduct scientific research based on confidential medical information and risks privacy violations by exposing sensitive patient data.

The bill was approved 228-194 and now goes to the Senate.

Submission + - UW Professor: The Information War Is Real, And We're Losing It (seattletimes.com)

An anonymous reader writes: It started with the Boston marathon bombing, four years ago. University of Washington professor Kate Starbird was sifting through thousands of tweets sent in the aftermath and noticed something strange. Too strange for a university professor to take seriously. “There was a significant volume of social-media traffic that blamed the Navy SEALs for the bombing,” Starbird told me the other day in her office. “It was real tinfoil-hat stuff. So we ignored it.” Same thing after the mass shooting that killed nine at Umpqua Community College in Oregon: a burst of social-media activity calling the massacre a fake, a stage play by “crisis actors” for political purposes. “After every mass shooting, dozens of them, there would be these strange clusters of activity,” Starbird says. “It was so fringe we kind of laughed at it. “That was a terrible mistake. We should have been studying it.” Starbird argues in a new paper, set to be presented at a computational social-science conference in May, that these “strange clusters” of wild conspiracy talk, when mapped, point to an emerging alternative media ecosystem on the web of surprising power and reach. There are dozens of conspiracy-propagating websites such as beforeitsnews.com, nodisinfo.com and veteranstoday.com. Starbird cataloged 81 of them, linked through a huge community of interest connected by shared followers on Twitter, with many of the tweets replicated by automated bots. Starbird is in the UW’s Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering — the study of the ways people and technology interact. Her team analyzed 58 million tweets sent after mass shootings during a 10-month period. They searched for terms such as “false flag” and “crisis actor,” web slang meaning a shooting is not what the government or the traditional media is reporting it to be. Then she analyzed the content of each site to try to answer the question: Just what is this alternative media ecosystem saying? Starbird is publishing her paper as a sort of warning. The information networks we’ve built are almost perfectly designed to exploit psychological vulnerabilities to rumor.

Submission + - Verizon to Force AppFlash Spyware on Android phones

saccade.com writes: Verizon is joining with the creators of a tool called "Evie Launcher" to make a new app search / launcher tool called AppFlash, to be installed on all Verizon phones running Android. The app provides no functionality to users beyond what Google Search does. It does, however, give Verizon a steady stream of metrics on your app usage and searches. A quick glance at the AppFlash privacy policy confirms this is the real purpose behind it:

We collect information about your device and your use of the AppFlash services. This information includes your mobile number, device identifiers, device type and operating system, and information about the AppFlash features and services you use and your interactions with them. We also access information about the list of apps you have on your device. ... AppFlash information may be shared within the Verizon family of companies, including companies like AOL who may use it to help provide more relevant advertising within the AppFlash experiences and in other places, including non-Verizon sites, services and devices.

Submission + - The 265 members of Congress who sold you out to ISPs

Presto Vivace writes: They betrayed you for chump change

Republicans in Congress just voted to reverse a landmark FCC privacy rule that opens the door for ISPs to sell customer data. Lawmakers provided no credible reason for this being in the interest of Americans, except for vague platitudes about “consumer choice” and “free markets,” as if consumers at the mercy of their local internet monopoly are craving to have their web history quietly sold to marketers and any other 3rd party willing to pay. ... The only people who seem to want this are the people who are going to make lots of money from it. (Hint: they work for companies like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T.) Incidentally, these people and their companies routinely give lots of money to members of Congress.

Submission + - The CFPB is asking for public comments on Lending w alternative data:

Presto Vivace writes: Request for Information Regarding Use of Alternative Data and Modeling Techniques in the Credit Process (PDF)

SUMMARY: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or Bureau) seeks information about the use or potential use of alternative data and modeling techniques in the credit process. Alternative data and modeling techniques are ch anging the way that some financial service providers conduct business. These changes hold the promise of pot entially significant benefits for some consumers but also present certain potentially significant risks. The Bureau seeks to learn more about current and future market developments, including existing and emerging consumer benefits and risks, and how these developments could alter the marketplace and the consumer experience. The Bureau also seeks to learn how market participants are or could be mitigating certain risks to consumers, and about consumer preferences, views, and concerns. DATES: Comments must be received on or before May 19, 2017.

Submission + - Slashdot poll: Should Pluto be restored to it's status as a planet?

BarbaraHudson writes: With the issue of Pluto's status as a planet coming up for debate at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Texas, how would you vote?

1. Pluto is a planet
2. Pluto was never a planet
3. Pluto is a dog and I'm boycotting Disney
4. Are you Sirius?
5. Sure, and let's upgrade he earth and moon as a binary planet system
6. Who cares, as long as we can declare war against it to increase defense spending
7. Who cares, there's no oil there
8. Cowboyneal says "I hear there might be oil there. We need more money for NASA".

Submission + - Uber, Volkswagen and Zenefits all used hidden code to break

Presto Vivace writes: What do Uber, Volkswagen and Zenefits have in common? They all used hidden code to break the law.

The world is increasingly dependent on the code that developers create. As such, developers are quickly becoming some of the most powerful people in the world. ... Coding is a superpower. With it, you can bend reality to your will. You can make the world a better place. Or you can destroy it. ... You may be able to fool the regulators, the police, the judges. You may be able to fool the general public. And you may be able to go on doing this indefinitely without being caught. ... But that doesn’t make it right.

Of course the existence of such code is evidence of conspiracy to break the law and would expose the company in question to risk of RICO charges for any jurisdiction with the political will to prosecute such charges.

Submission + - IEEE-USA opposes efforts to expand the H-1B visa program (ieee.org)

Tekla Perry writes: IEEE USA says H-1B visas are a tool used to avoid paying U.S. wages. "For every visa used by Google to hire a talented non-American for $126,000, ten Americans are replaced by outsourcing companies paying their H-1B workers $65,000," says the current IEEE USA president, writing with the past president and president-elect. The outsourcing companies, Infosys, Cognizant, Wipro, and Tata Consultancy in 2014 "used 21,695 visas, or more than 25 percent of all private-sector H-1B visas used that year. Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Uber, for comparison, used only 1,763 visas, or 2 percent," they say. They do support expanding green card programs, stating "America was built by green card holders, not guest workers."

Submission + - Early Apple internal memos found at Seattle thrift shop (blogspot.com)

An anonymous reader writes: "I was at the Seattle Goodwill outlet recently and I noticed the Apple logo on letterhead sticking out from a bin of books, so I started digging. What I found were the 1979-1980 files of Jack MacDonald, manager of system software for the Apple II and /// at the time.

"They tell the story of project "SSAFE" or "Software Security from Apples Friends and Enemies." This was a proposal to bring disk copy protection in-house to sell as a service to outside developers. Inter-office memos, meeting notes and progress reports all give a good idea of what a project life cycle looked like. Different schemes and levels of protection are considered, as well as implementation primarily on the Apple II+ and the upcoming SARA (The Apple ///) and Lisa computers."

Submission + - Study Reveals Bot-On-Bot Editing Wars Raging On Wikipedia's Pages (theguardian.com)

An anonymous reader writes: A new study from computer scientists has found that the online encyclopedia is a battleground where silent wars have raged for years. Since Wikipedia launched in 2001, its millions of articles have been ranged over by software robots, or simply “bots," that are built to mend errors, add links to other pages, and perform other basic housekeeping tasks. In the early days, the bots were so rare they worked in isolation. But over time, the number deployed on the encyclopedia exploded with unexpected consequences. The more the bots came into contact with one another, the more they became locked in combat, undoing each other’s edits and changing the links they had added to other pages. Some conflicts only ended when one or other bot was taken out of action. The findings emerged from a study that looked at bot-on-bot conflict in the first ten years of Wikipedia’s existence. The researchers at Oxford and the Alan Turing Institute in London examined the editing histories of pages in 13 different language editions and recorded when bots undid other bots’ changes. While some conflicts mirrored those found in society, such as the best names to use for contested territories, others were more intriguing. Describing their research in a paper entitled Even Good Bots Fight in the journal Plos One, the scientists reveal that among the most contested articles were pages on former president of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf, the Arabic language, Niels Bohr and Arnold Schwarzenegger. One of the most intense battles played out between Xqbot and Darknessbot which fought over 3,629 different articles between 2009 and 2010. Over the period, Xqbot undid more than 2,000 edits made by Darknessbot, with Darknessbot retaliating by undoing more than 1,700 of Xqbot’s changes. The two clashed over pages on all sorts of topics, from Alexander of Greece and Banqiao district in Taiwan to Aston Villa football club.

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