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Submission + - Twitter Releases National Security Letters (techcrunch.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Today, Twitter joined the ranks of Yahoo, Cloudflare and Google by announcing it had received two national security letters, one in 2015 and one in 2016. The NSLs came with gag orders that prevented Twitter from telling the public or the targeted users about the government’s demands. The FBI recently lifted these gag orders, allowing Twitter to acknowledge the NSLs for the first time. In the newly-published NSLs, the FBI asked Twitter to turn over “the name, address, length of service, and electronic communications transactional records” of two users. Twitter associate general counsel Elizabeth Banker said that the company provided a “very limited set of data” in response to the requests, but did not make clear exactly what kind of data Twitter provided. “Twitter remains unsatisfied with restrictions on our right to speak more freely about national security requests we may receive,” Banker wrote in a blog post. “We would like a meaningful opportunity to challenge government restrictions when ‘classification’ prevents speech on issues of public importance.”

Submission + - Intelligence agency opens $325k automated fingerprint gathering competition (networkworld.com)

coondoggie writes: The idea behind the competition, called the “Nail to Nail (N2N) Fingerprint Challenge” – which offers $325,000 worth of prizes – is to develop a system that allows for more distinguishing data to be collected from fingerprint biometrics but also eliminates the time and cost associated with using human operators, IARPA said. N2N fingerprints capture the entire fingerprint from the edge of one finger nail bed to the other.

Submission + - Police and FAA Are Making It Impossible To Use Drones To Document Protests (vocativ.com)

schwit1 writes: Last November, an aerial drone flown by a member of the resistance camp opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline captured dramatic footage of riot police blasting crowds with water cannons as temperatures dipped below freezing, sending 17 of the camp’s occupants to the hospital with injuries and hypothermia.

The video quickly spread on social media, spurring global news coverage of the fight against the oil pipeline, which saw activists clash with police and security forces in tense standoffs last year. A few weeks later, the Army Corps of Engineers halted construction of the pipeline, which had encroached on Native American sacred lands and threatened water supplies near North Dakota’s Standing Rock reservation.

It was another example of how drones have become a crucial technology, allowing activists and journalists to document protests and hold police accountable for abuses. But as a new era of civil resistance dawns under the Trump administration, at the Standing Rock site and in anti-Trump demonstrations across the country, drone experts say police and government have made it unnecessarily difficult — sometimes impossible — for civilians to deploy drones at large protests.

Just a few days after the video from Standing Rock went viral, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) gave permission to local authorities to effectively ban all civilian drone flights in 4 mile radius above the Oceti Sakowin resistance camp and drill site. The same thing happened two years earlier, during the civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri: Police were granted what is called a Temporary Flight Restriction, or TFR, which legally restricts airspace above a designated area to law enforcement and emergency aircraft. In Ferguson, the explicit goal was to stop news helicopters and drones from observing the Black Lives Matter protests, where cops were firing tear gas and menacing protesters with military vehicles and weapons.

Submission + - At-home brain-zapping treatment for depression may soon be mainstream (ieee.org)

the_newsbeagle writes: This isn't old-school brain zapping: It's not electroshock therapy, in which doctors flood a depressed patient's brain with some 900 milliamps of current to cause a seizure and something like a mood reset. This is tDCS (transcranial direct current stimulation), which would let psychiatrists send their depressed patients home with a brain-zapping headband that sends perhaps 2 milliamps of current through specific portions of their brains. A doctor's prescription might call for the patient to do a 20-minute stimulation session daily for a few weeks, then less frequent maintenance sessions.

While tDCS is being investigated as a treatment for all sorts of neuropsychiatric disorders, many researchers and doctors think depression may be the killer app. A South Korean company called Ybrain thinks its consumer-friendly headband for depression will be the product that makes this treatment mainstream — first in Korea, then in Europe, then in the United States and around the world.

Submission + - What Does Google Do With All The Information It Collects? 1

An anonymous reader writes: About two thirds of websites run Google code (mostly Analytics, AdSense, and +1) that tells Google what you do there and where you came from. (Also Analytics is used by 63% of Fortune 500 companies and 71% of the top 10k websites.) 800 million Android phones are in use (that's 11% of all humans), telling Google pretty much everywhere they go, everything they do, and everyone they talk to. Hundreds of millions of people use Google Maps. Over 400 million people use Gmail, telling Google everything they write and receive by email. Plus untold millions use Google Toolbar. Does Google do anything with this data? And even if they "don't be evil" with it today, is there anything stopping them from "being evil" with it tomorrow? What about 20 years from now when they are a second-rate company and some investment group buys out their assets? Do you block Google code in your browsing habits? Do you run Google code on your websites?

Submission + - Researchers Say Neanderthals created cave art

An anonymous reader writes: Belying their reputation as the dumb cousins of early modern humans, Neanderthals created cave art, an activity regarded as a major cognitive step in the evolution of humankind, scientists reported on Monday in a paper describing the first discovery of artwork by this extinct species. The discovery is "a major contribution to the redefinition of our perception of Neanderthal culture," said prehistorian William Rendu of the French National Centre for Scientific Research, who was not involved in the work. "It is a new and even stronger evidence of the Neanderthal capacity for developing complex symbolic thought" and "abstract expression," abilities long believed exclusive to early modern humans.

Submission + - Searching The Internet For Evidence Of Time Travelers 2

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: Here's an interesting paper by two physicists at Michigan Technological University who have come up with a practical methodology for finding time travelers through the internet. "Time travel has captured the public imagination for much of the past century, but little has been done to actually search for time travelers. Here, three implementations of Internet searches for time travelers are described, all seeking a prescient mention of information not previously available. The first search covered prescient content placed on the Internet, highlighted by a comprehensive search for specific terms in tweets on Twitter. The second search examined prescient inquiries submitted to a search engine, highlighted by a comprehensive search for specific search terms submitted to a popular astronomy web site. The third search involved a request for a direct Internet communication, either by email or tweet, pre-dating to the time of the inquiry. Given practical verifiability concerns, only time travelers from the future were investigated. No time travelers were discovered. Although these negative results do not disprove time travel, given the great reach of the Internet, this search is perhaps the most comprehensive to date." Steven Hawkings' similar search also provided negative results.

Submission + - SD Card Hack Shows Flash Storage Is Programmable: Unreliable Memory (technabob.com) 1

An anonymous reader writes: Ever wonder why SD cards are dirt cheap? At the 2013 Chaos Computer Congress, a hacker going by the moniker Bunnie recently revealed part of the reason: “In reality, all flash memory is riddled with defects — without exception.” But that tidbit is nothing compared to the point of his presentation, in which he and fellow hacker Xobs revealed that SD cards and other flash storage formats contain programmable computers.

Submission + - Scary: Detecting or preventing abusive devices (antipope.org)

Keybounce writes: This isn't "new"; but it's getting scarier.

Small computers that can run a wifi stack are small. Tiny. Getting even cheaper with their power requirements.

This blog post indicates that kettles can — and *DO* — contain computers that want to infect your home network.

With a little thought, there is no clear end in sight. We know that batteries are fairly big compared to the rest of the computer, and there's no reason not to think that the inside of an "AA" battery might be a smaller power cell and a computer.

And it's not just wireless. Heck, any USB device — and this is old now — can be given "free" power to run a wifi. As much as a USB device can do all sorts of things by pretending to be something else, consider what can happen with a USB device that doesn't lie about what it does, just sends information off elsewhere? That USB memory stick you found doesn't have to attack your computer, it just sends copies of what you put on it to someone else over any open wifi it finds — such as your trip to the coffee house.

And where does it end? Right now we have smart inventory control tags — in the future, those can be strong computers. That might either be data gatherers, or outright compromised.

How can this be detected?
How can this be stopped?

As far as I can tell, there's no good way to detect, any "security" has to start with "don't plug anything into your computer" (apparently, not even a cable is safe), and the only hope of "stopping" this would be to have the entire US government's court and law-enforcement system get involved — as in, make this sort of thing illegal.

After all, illegal activities by corporate businesses for private gain always generates appropriate penalties, fines, and jail time for the people involved, right?

So what can end users do? Anything? Nothing?

Submission + - Illinois Law Grounds PETA Drones Meant to Harass Hunters (breitbart.com) 1

schwit1 writes: Illinois passed a new state law that set back the efforts of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), making the use of drones to interfere with hunters and fishermen prohibited.

The law was created in response to PETA’s plan to employ drones called “air angels” to monitor outdoors enthusiasts engaged in hunting and fishing nationwide. Of course, the motivation for many outdoorsman is to get away from technology and be in harmony with nature.

Submission + - What Are the Books that EVERYONE Should Read? 3

dpu writes: Part of my NYR is to encourage reading as a hobby in those around me — especially my friends' children (ages 2 to 22), but my wife and I as well. There is a lot of "classic" literature out there I'm familiar with and will be pimping to the short masses here (Fahrenheit 451, To Kill A Mockingbird, In The Heat of the Night, Huckleberry Finn, Cryptonomicon, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, A Wrinkle In Time, When Rabbit Howls, etc.), but I know many of you are much better read than I am.

What recommendations would you make? What are the books that everyone should read? I don't care if it's been banned by schools, burned by communists, or illuminated by 15th century monks. If you think everyone around you should read it, I'd love to know about it.

Submission + - Chaos Communication Congress : X11/X.Org Security In Bad Shape (phoronix.com)

An anonymous reader writes: A presentation at the Chaos Communication Congress (CCC), riled upon the X11 Server security with being "worse than it looks", "sheer terror", and the presenter having found more than 120 bugs in a few months of security research and not being close to being done in his work. Upstream X.Org developers have begun to call most of his claims valid. The presentation by Ilja van Sprunde is available for streaming.

Submission + - New York Investigators Obtain Fraudulent Ballots 97 Percent of Time (nationalreview.com) 8

cold fjord writes: National Review reports, "New York City’s Department of Investigation (DOI) has just shown how easy it is to commit voter fraud that is almost undetectable. Its undercover agents were able to obtain ballots for city elections a total of 61 times — 39 times using the names of dead people, 14 times using the names of incarcerated felons, and eight times using the names of non-residents. On only two occasions, or about 3 percent of the time, were the agents stopped by polling-place officials. In one of the two cases, an investigator was stopped only because the felon he was trying to vote in the name of was the son of the election official he was dealing with. Ballot security in checking birth dates or signatures was so sloppy that young undercover agents were able to vote using the name of someone three times their age who had died. As the New York Post reports: “A 24-year female was able to access the ballot at a Manhattan poll site in November under the name of a deceased female who was born in 1923 and died in April 25, 2012 — and would have been 89 on Election Day.” All of the agents who got ballots wrote in the names of fictitious candidates so as not to actually influence election outcomes."

Submission + - Unhappy with your government? Start a new one. 11

An anonymous reader writes: Stories like the NSA revelations (among many others) suggest that modern governments may be getting the sense that they exist of their own right and independent of the people who allegedly democratically control them. When faced with trying to "fix" this situation, individuals are daunted by the scope of the task. The institutions of government are huge and difficult to imagine changing. However, apart from changing from the inside or revolting against the system, there is a very different alternative: just set up a new government. Of course current governments frown on that, but there are ways around it. Seasteading advocates creating new nations in newly-created lands (i.e., on the seas). Open source governance advocates setting up new, internet-based communities with their own governance system and allowing those communities to gradually push out the antiquated systems. What's your plan for living in democracy in the coming year?

Submission + - Public Domain Day 2014 (duke.edu)

An anonymous reader writes: What could have been entering the public domain in the US on January 1, 2014? Under the law that existed until 1978.... Works from 1957. The books “On The Road,” “Atlas Shrugged,” "Empire of the Atom," and “The Cat in the Hat,” the films "The Incredible Shrinking Man," “The Bridge on the River Kwai,” and “12 Angry Men,” the article "Theory of Superconductivity," the songs “All Shook Up” and “Great Balls of Fire,” and more.... What is entering the public domain this January 1? Not a single published work. http://web.law.duke.edu/cspd/publicdomainday/2014/pre-1976

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