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Government

Homeland Security Border Agents Can Seize Your Phone (cnn.com) 319

Slashdot reader v3rgEz writes: A Wall Street Journal reporter has shared her experienced of having her phones forcefully taken at the border -- and how the Department of Homeland Security insists that your right to privacy does not exist when re-entering the United States. Indeed, she's not alone: Documents previously released under FOIA show that the DHS has a long-standing policy of warrantless (and even motiveless) seizures at the border, essentially removing any traveler's right to privacy.
"The female officer returned 30 minutes later and said I was free to go," according to the Journal's reporter, adding. "I have no idea why they wanted my phones..."
Crime

Feds Seize KickassTorrents Domains and Arrest Owner In Poland (arstechnica.com) 302

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Federal authorities announced on Wednesday the arrest of the alleged mastermind of KickassTorrents (KAT), the world's largest BitTorrent distribution site. As of this writing, the site is still up. Prosecutors have formally charged Artem Vaulin, 30, of Ukraine, with one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and two counts of criminal copyright infringement. Like The Pirate Bay, KAT does not host individual infringing files but rather provides links to .torrent and .magnet files so that users can download unauthorized copies of TV shows, movies, and more from various BitTorrent users. According to a Department of Justice press release sent to Ars Technica, Vaulin was arrested on Wednesday in Poland. The DOJ will shortly seek his extradition to the United States. "Vaulin is charged with running today's most visited illegal file-sharing website, responsible for unlawfully distributing well over $1 billion of copyrighted materials," Assistant Attorney General Caldwell said in the statement. "In an effort to evade law enforcement, Vaulin allegedly relied on servers located in countries around the world and moved his domains due to repeated seizures and civil lawsuits. His arrest in Poland, however, demonstrates again that cybercriminals can run, but they cannot hide from justice." KickassTorrents added a dark web address last month to make it easier for users to bypass blockades installed by ISPs.
Government

FBI Kept Demanding Email Records Despite DOJ Saying It Needed a Warrant (theintercept.com) 102

An anonymous reader writes: The secret government requests for customer information Yahoo made public Wednesday reveal that the FBI is still demanding email records from companies without a warrant, despite being told by Justice Department lawyers in 2008 that it doesn't have the lawful authority to do so.

That comes as a particular surprise given that FBI Director James Comey has said that one of his top legislative priorities this year is to get the right to acquire precisely such records with those warrantless secret requests, called national security letters, or NSLs. 'We need it very much,' Comey told Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., during a congressional hearing in February.

Power

US Bans Electronic Cigarettes From Checked Baggage Over Fire Risks (foxnews.com) 131

An anonymous reader writes: Earlier this month, the FDA announced it would regulate electronic cigarettes and other new tobacco products. Now, the U.S. Transportation Department announced it is permanently banning passengers and crew members from carrying electronic cigarettes in checked baggage or charging the devices onboard aircraft. They have cited a number of recent incidents that show the devices can catch fire during flight. Passengers can still carry e-cigarettes in their carry-on baggage or on their person, they just can't use the devices on flights. "Fire hazards in flight are particularly dangerous," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. "Banning e-cigarettes from checked bags is a prudent and important safety measure." The new rule covers e-cigarettes, e-cigars, e-pipes, and battery-powered portable electronic smoking devices in general. It does not prohibit passengers from transporting other battery-powered devices for personal use like laptop computers or cellphones.
Security

CIA Watchdog 'Mistakenly' Destroyed Its Only Copy Of A Senate Torture Report (yahoo.com) 209

An anonymous reader writes: According to Yahoo News, the CIA inspector general's office "mistakenly" destroyed its only copy of a mammoth Senate torture report at the same time lawyers for the Justice Department were assuring a federal judge that copies of the document were being preserved. Agency officials described the deletion of the document to Senate investigators as an "inadvertent" foul-up by the inspector general. "CIA inspector general officials deleted an uploaded computer file with the report and then accidentally destroyed a disk that also contained the document, filled with thousands of secret files about the CIA's use of 'enhanced' interrogation methods," reports Yahoo News. The Senate Intelligence Committee and Justice Department knew about the incident last summer, sources said. However, the destruction of a copy of the sensitive report was never made public, nor was it reported to the federal judge at the time who was overseeing a lawsuit seeking access to the still classified document under the Freedom of Information Act. Despite this incident, a CIA spokesperson has said another unopened computer disk with the full report is still locked in a vault at agency headquarters. "I can assure you that the CIA has retained a copy," wrote Dean Boyd, the agency's chief of public affairs, in an email. Feinstein is calling for the CIA inspector general to obtain a new copy of the report to replace the one that disappeared. A 500-page summary was released in 2014, and concluded that the CIA misled Americans on the effectiveness of "enhanced interrogation." Specifically, the interrogations were poorly managed and unreliable.
Government

The NYPD Was Ticketing Legally Parked Cars; Open Data Put an End to It (tumblr.com) 177

Data analyst Ben Wellington claims that that the NYPD has been systematically ticketing legally parked cars for years. Doing so, he says, helps NYPD collect millions of dollars every year. In a blog post, Wellington notes about a change of law in 2008 (PDF) which allowed one in New York City to park their car in front of a sidewalk pedestrian ramp -- provided it's not connected to a crosswalk. Despite this, the NYPD continues to ticket people. To check how many more people are falling for this, Wellington looked into NYC's Open Data portal, and his findings are startling. In front of 575 Ocean Avenue in Brooklyn, which is in the middle of the block, with no crosswalk, over $48,000 in parking fines were issued in the last 2.5 years. He writes: 1705 Canton Avenue in Brooklyn, 273 Tickets, $45,045: Legal. 270-05 76 Avenue in Queens, 256 Tickets ($42,440) Legal. 143-49 Cherry Ave, Queens, 246 Tickets, ($40,590). Legal. A spot in Battery Park, ranked #16 on my list and the top spot in Manhattan, had 116 tickets ($19,140) and turned out to be legal.Wellington wrote to the NYPD about this, and he got the following response: Mr. Wellington's analysis identified errors the department made in issuing parking summonses. It appears to be a misunderstanding by officers on patrol of a recent, abstruse change in the parking rules. We appreciate Mr. Wellington bringing this anomaly to our attention. The department's internal analysis found that patrol officers who are unfamiliar with the change have observed vehicles parked in front of pedestrian ramps and issued a summons in error. When the rule changed in 2009 to allow for certain pedestrian ramps to be blocked by parked vehicles, the department focused training on traffic agents, who write the majority of summonses.
Government

FDA To Regulate E-Cigarettes Like Tobacco (cnn.com) 342

An anonymous reader writes: Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) have been all the rage lately, as many claim they are healthier than traditional tobacco cigarettes. Since they are so relatively new to the market, the government hasn't been able to effectively study them and determine whether or not they should be regulated like traditional cigarettes and smokeless tobacco -- until now. The FDA has released their final rule Thursday, broadening the definition of tobacco products to include e-cigarettes, hookahs, pipe tobacco, premium cigars, little cigars and other products. "Going forward, the FDA will be able to review new tobacco products not yet on the market, help prevent misleading claims by tobacco product manufacturers, evaluate the ingredients of tobacco products and how they are made, and communicate the potential risks of tobacco products," the agency said. The new rule will go into effect immediately. According to CDC data from 2014, e-cigarette use among adults has gone up about 12.6%. People under the age of 18 will no longer be able to buy these products with the new regulations, and the products will be required to be sold in child-resistant packaging. In addition, the government will now be able to have a say in what goes into the products. Previously, there was no law mandating that manufacturers tell you what you are inhaling when trying their products.
Privacy

Seattle Police Raid Tor-Using Privacy Activists (thestranger.com) 306

Frosty Piss writes: Seattle police raided the home of two outspoken privacy activists early on March 30th. Jan Bultmann and David Robinson, a married couple and co-founders of the Seattle Privacy Coalition, were awakened at 6:15 a.m. by a team of six detectives from the Seattle Police Department who had a search warrant to examine their equipment. They claimed to be looking for child pornography, however Bultmann and Robinson believe the raid is because they run a Tor exit node out of their home. They said they operated the node as a service to dissidents in repressive countries, knowing full well that criminals might use it as well, much like any other communication tool. The Seattle Police Department acknowledged that no child porn was found, no assets were seized, and no arrests were made. Seattle's blog The Stranger notes that the FBI has conducted many other Tor raids across the country, and Friday quoted a tweet from the co-founder of Seattle's Center for Open Policing addressing the police. "You knew about the Tor node, but didn't mention it in warrant application. Y'all pulled a fast one on the judge... you knew the uploader could have been literally anyone in the world."
Security

Bill Introduced To Require ID When Purchasing "Burner Phones" (house.gov) 556

insitus quotes a report from Speier.House.Gov: Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) introduced the Closing the Pre-Paid Mobile Device Security Gap Act of 2016, which would require people to present identification when purchasing "burner phones" and other pre-paid mobile devices, as well as requiring merchants to keep records of those purchases. "Burner phones" are pre-paid phones that terrorists, human traffickers, and narcotics dealers often use to avoid scrutiny by law enforcement because they can be purchased without identification and record-keeping requirements. This bill would close that legal gap. "This bill would close one of the most significant gaps in our ability to track and prevent acts of terror, drug trafficking, and modern-day slavery," said Speier. "The 'burner phone' loophole is an egregious gap in our legal framework that allows actors like the 9/11 hijackers and the Times Square bomber to evade law enforcement while they plot to take innocent lives. The Paris attackers also used 'burner phones.' As we've seen so vividly over the past few days, we cannot afford to take those kinds of risks. It's time to close this 'burner phone' loophole for good."
Iphone

Obama: Government Can't Let Smartphones Be 'Black Boxes' (bloomberg.com) 546

JoeyRox writes: President Obama said Friday that smartphones -- like the iPhone the FBI is trying to force Apple to help it hack -- can't be allowed to be "black boxes," inaccessible to the government. He believes technology companies should work with the government on encryption rather than leaving the issue for Congress to decide. He went on to say, "If your argument is strong encryption no matter what, and we can and should create black boxes, that I think does not strike the kind of balance we have lived with for 200, 300 years, and it's fetishizing our phones above every other value." Obama's appearance on Friday at the event known as SXSW, the first by a sitting president, comes as the FBI tries to force Apple to help investigators access an iPhone used by one of the assailants in December's deadly San Bernardino, California, terror attack. "The question we now have to ask is, if technologically it is possible to make an impenetrable device or system, where the encryption is so strong there's no key, there's no door at all, then how do we apprehend the child pornographer? How do we solve or disrupt a terrorist plot?" Obama said. "If in fact you can't crack that at all, government can't get in, then everybody's walking around with a Swiss bank account in their pocket." He said compromise is possible and the technology industry must help design it.
Communications

California Bill Would Require Phone Crypto Backdoors 251

Trailrunner7 writes with this except from On The Wire: A week after a New York legislator introduced a bill that would require smartphone vendors to be able to decrypt users' phones on demand from law enforcement, a California bill with the same intent has been introduced in that state's assembly. On Wednesday, California Assemblyman Jim Cooper submitted a bill that has remarkably similar language to the New York measure and would require that device manufacturers and operating system vendors such as Apple, Samsung, and Google be able to decrypt users' devices. The law would apply to phones sold in California beginning Jan. 1, 2017. Of course, "smartphone vendors" wouldn't be able to decrypt voice calls sent using VoIP software that was encrypted outside their domain of influence.
Crime

California Attack Has US Rethinking Strategy On Homegrown Terror (nytimes.com) 676

JoeyRox writes: The recent terror attack in California reflects "an evolution of the terrorist threat that Mr. Obama and federal officials have long dreaded: homegrown, self-radicalized individuals operating undetected before striking one of many soft targets that can never be fully protected in a country as sprawling as the United States." With this new type of terror risk, authorities may begin relying more heavily on citizens reporting suspicious behavior of others. The attack is also expected to renew the debate over privacy versus security for software encryption. President Obama will be addressing the nation tonight to discuss the attack.
United States

US Spends $1bn Over a Decade Trying To Digitize Immigration Forms, Just 1 Is Online (washingtonpost.com) 305

Bruce66423 writes: A government project to digitize immigration forms succeeded in enabling exactly one application to be completed and submitted after 10 years of work because of the botched software and implementation. The Washington Post reports: "This project, run by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, was originally supposed to cost a half-billion dollars and be finished in 2013. Instead, it’s now projected to reach up to $3.1 billion and be done nearly four years from now, putting in jeopardy efforts to overhaul the nation’s immigration policies, handle immigrants already seeking citizenship and detect national security threats, according to documents and interviews with former and current federal officials."
Security

TSA Screeners Can't Detect Weapons (and They Never Could) (arstechnica.com) 349

JustAnotherOldGuy writes: TSA screeners' ability to detect weapons in luggage is "pitiful," according to classified reports on the security administration's ongoing story of failure and fear. "In looking at the number of times people got through with guns or bombs in these covert testing exercises it really was pathetic. When I say that I mean pitiful," said Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), speaking Tuesday during a House Oversight hearing concerning classified reports (PDF) from federal watchdogs (PDF). "Just thinking about the breaches there, it's horrific," he added. A leaked classified report this summer found that as much as 95 percent of contraband, like weapons and explosives, got through during clandestine testings. Lynch's comments were in response to the classified report's findings.
Government

NBC News Reports US Will Require Registration For Consumer Drones (nbcnews.com) 235

Gizmodo and Engadget are both reporting (and both pointing to a report at NBC News) that the Department of Transportation is expected to announce Monday a plan to regulate drone use in the U.S., based on fears of danger to aviation. From the relied-on report at NBC News: The federal government will announce a new plan requiring anyone buying a drone to register the device with the U.S. Department of Transportation, NBC news has learned. ... Under the plan, the government would work with the drone industry to set up a structure for registering the drones, and the regulations could be in place by Christmas. That sounds like an impossible task, if it's to take in all remote-controlled flying devices that might be described as drones. About this time last year, Chris Anderson (ex-Wired editor, and now head of 3D Robotics) estimated that about half a million drones had already been sold in the U.S., and that sounds like an undercount even for then, given the many cheap-and-cheerful options. From suppliers like Banggood, tiny quadcopters can now be had for less than $20, though it's hard to think of them as a danger to aviation.

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