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Submission + - Smartphone surveillance tech used to target anti-abortion ads at pregnant women

VoiceOfDoom writes: From Rewire

Last year, an enterprising advertising executive based in Boston, Massachusetts, had an idea: Instead of using his sophisticated mobile surveillance techniques to figure out which consumers might be interested in buying shoes, cars, or any of the other products typically advertised online, what if he used the same technology to figure out which women were potentially contemplating abortion, and send them ads on behalf of anti-choice organizations?

Regardless of one's personal stance on the pro-choice/anti-abortion debate, the unfettered use of tracking and ad-targeting technology which makes this kind of application possible is surely a cause for concern. In Europe, Canada and many other parts of the world, the use of a person's data in this way would be illegal thanks to strict privacy laws. Is it time for the US to consider a similar approach to protect its citizens?

Comment Re:Yawn (Score 1) 49

Yeah well, it might be a long-standing practice in the US of A, where people have almost no privacy rights but here in the UK, we* actually respect people's right not to be watched, interfered with, data-mined, manipulated, pimped out and monetised.

This is a really fucking big deal - we only have Google's word that they won't use the data elswhere in their business and they are not a charity so we can't expect them *not* to monetise the insights that are derived from highly confidential data that was disclosed without asking - or even NOTIFYING - the people whose data it is.

We have the RIGHT to privacy - this means that we need to be given the option to CHOOSE to hand over our personal medical secrets to Google, not to have it done in secret by bureaucrats whose track record on confidentiality is pretty fucking terrible.

There are significant cultural differences in attitudes to privacy between the US and the UK and your dismissive attitude seems to indicate that you are either ignorant of these or are so parochial that you don't value cultural viewpoints that don't mirror your own.

*not our Government, obvs. Or our media. Or the idiots who believe what they read in the tabloid press. But still.....

Comment In case you missed it.... (Score 1) 84

...some amusing background on the cookie law

Aside from degrading the web experience for millions of users, costing companies money better spent on accessibiity or security improvements and trashing analytics, it was only a matter of time before someone caught on to the nefarious possibilities of a popup that the user has been conditioned to see (and accept without scrutiny).

This law was one of the bloody stupidest moves in the history of technology and serves only to reinforce the unfortunate attitude that clicking a box can equate to "informed consent". A classic case of confusing the success of a mechanism with the desired outcome.

Comment Re:Okaaay. (Score 4, Interesting) 203

Kinda harsh - I don't think of myself as any kind of snowflake and we're not talking about technical IT knowledge here but understanding of privacy law and how it applies to a pretty unique non-profit health and social care organisation.

No doubt any other data protection expert can come in and suss it all out - just thought it might benefit the organisation if the learning curve for the new bod were a little less steep.....

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: How to turn an email stash into knowledge for my successor

VoiceOfDoom writes: I'm leaving my current position in a few weeks and it looks unlikely that a replacement will be found in time. My job is very specialised and I'm the only person in the organisation who is qualified or experienced in how to do it. I'd like to share as much of my accumulated knowledge with my successor as possible but at the moment, it mostly exists in my email archive which will be deleted after I've been gone for 90 days.
The organisation doesn't have any knowledge management systems so the only way it seems I can pass on this information is by copying all the info into a series of documents, which isn't much fun to do in Outlook. Unless my fellow Slashdotters can suggest a better approach? By the way, there's quite a lot of confidential stuff in there that my successor needs to know but which cannot leave the organisation's existing systems.

Submission + - Physicist Builds Supercomputer From Old PlayStations ( 1

drkim writes: A home-made PlayStation 3 supercomputer is 3,000 times more powerful than any desktop processor, and is being used to study black holes.

Guarav Khanna, a black hole physicist at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in the US, has managed to build a powerful and extremely cheap supercomputer using old PlayStation 3s (PS3s), and he’s used it to publish several papers on black holes.

His research focusses on finding gravitational waves, which are curvatures in space-time that ripple out from a violent astrophysical event, such as two black holes colliding. They were first predicted by Einstein’s theory of general relativity, but no one has been able to observe them.

Comment Been there before; still not legal under UK/EU law (Score 1) 256

This came up a while ago with another police service and was blogged on by one of the UK's foremost data protection experts. The campaign was slapped down by the UK's privacy regulator, the Information Commissioner's Office.

In addition to the unfair implication of guilt; "personal data" (identifiable; relating to a living individual) which fits into the category of "sensitive" (in this case; pertaining to criminal offences, convicted or alleged) is subject to strict conditions for how it can be used. As the police cannot claim that tweeting is "necessary for the prevention or detection of crime"; their processing of this sensitive personal data is in breach of DPA, regardless of whether the allegation of drink driving is correct.

Submission + - Charity promotes covert surveillance app for suicide prevention

VoiceOfDoom writes: Major UK charity The Samaritans have launched an app titled "Samaritans Radar", in an attempt to help Twitter users identify when their friends [sic] are in crisis and in need of support. Unfortunately the privacy implications appear not to have been thought through — installing the app allows it to monitor the Twitter feeds of all of your followers, searching for particular phrases or words which might indicate they are in distress. The app then sends you an email suggesting you contact your follower to offer your help. Opportunities for misuse by online harassers are at the forefront of the concerns that have been raised, but in addition; there is strong evidence to suggest that this use of personal information is in fact illegal; being in contravention of UK Data Protection law.

Submission + - Simple tweak could nearly double the amount you give to charity (

sciencehabit writes: A representative from a charitable organization stops you on the sidewalk and asks for $100 to feed people starving in the developing world. And a large donor has agreed to match your donation. Still, you hesitate, because you wonder how much of that money will be sucked up by the salary of the charity's CEO or the costs of yet more fundraising. "Don't worry," the rep tells you, "all of those overhead costs are paid for by another donor: So 100% of your money will help the hungry." It may seem to be nothing more than an accounting trick—after all, the charity's budget and operation hasn't changed—but you will now be almost twice as likely to donate and willing to give 75% more money, according to a new study. It is yet more evidence that classic economic theory is wrong about how people make decisions.

Submission + - NASA asks Boeing, SpaceX to stop work on next-gen space taxi

BarbaraHudson writes: Due to a challenge by Sierra Nevada, NASA has asked the winners for the next earth-to-orbit launch vehicles to halt work, at least temporarily.

After rewarding Boeing and SpaceX with the contracts to build the spacecrafts NASA is now asking the companies to stop their work on the project.

The move comes after aerospace company Sierra Nevada filed a protest of the decision after losing out on the bid.

Sierra Nevada was competing against Boeing and SpaceX for a share of the $6.8 billion CCP contracts. The contracts will cover all phases of development as well as testing and operational flights. Each contract will cover a minimum of two flights and a maximum of four, with each agency required to have one test flight with a NASA representative on board.

On Sept. 16, NASA announced who the winners were of the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCAP) contracts. Sierra Nevada then filed a protest with the GAO on Sept. 26, and issued a statement saying the protest was asking for: “a further detailed review and evaluation of the submitted proposals and capabilities.”

According to NASA’s Public Affairs Office, this legal protest stops all work currently being done under these contracts. However, officials have not commented on whether-or-not the companies can continue working if they are using private funds.

Sierra Nevada's orbiter resembles a mini space shuttle. That alone (remember the problems with the tiles) should have been enough to disqualify them.

Submission + - US Navy Develops Robot Boat Swarm to Overwhelm Enemies writes: Jeremy Hsu reports that the US Navy has been testing a large-scale swarm of autonomous boats designed to overwhelm enemies. In the test, large ship that the Navy sometimes calls a high-value unit, HVU, is making its way down the river’s thalweg, escorted by 13 small guard boats. Between them, they carry a variety of payloads, loud speakers and flashing lights, a .50-caliber machine gun and a microwave direct energy weapon or heat ray. Detecting the enemy vessel with radar and infrared sensors, they perform a series of maneuvers to encircle the craft, coming close enough to the boat to engage it and near enough to one another to seal off any potential escape or access to the ship they are guarding. They blast warnings via loudspeaker and flash their lights. The HVU is now free to safely move away. Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, chief of the Office of Naval Research (ONR), points out that a maneuver that required 40 people had just dropped down to just one. “Think about it as replicating the functions that a human boat pilot would do. We’ve taken that capability and extended it to multiple [unmanned surface vehicles] operating together within that, we’ve designed team behaviors,” says Robert Brizzolara. The timing of the briefing happens to coincide with the 14-year anniversary of the bombing of the USS Cole off the coast of Yemen that killed 17 sailors. It’s an anniversary that Klunder observes with a unique sense of responsibility. “If we had this capability there on that day. We could have saved that ship. I never want to see the USS Cole happen again.”

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