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Submission + - Governments Turn to Commercial Spyware to Intimidate Dissidents (nytimes.com)

schwit1 writes: In the last five years, Ahmed Mansoor, a human rights activist in the United Arab Emirates, has been jailed and fired from his job, along with having his passport confiscated, his car stolen, his email hacked, his location tracked and his bank account robbed of $140,000. He has also been beaten, twice, in the same week.

Mr. Mansoor’s experience has become a cautionary tale for dissidents, journalists and human rights activists. It used to be that only a handful of countries had access to sophisticated hacking and spying tools. But these days, nearly all kinds of countries, be they small, oil-rich nations like the Emirates, or poor but populous countries like Ethiopia, are buying commercial spyware or hiring and training programmers to develop their own hacking and surveillance tools.

The barriers to join the global surveillance apparatus have never been lower. Dozens of companies, ranging from NSO Group and Cellebrite in Israel to Finfisher in Germany and Hacking Team in Italy, sell digital spy tools to governments.

A number of companies in the United States are training foreign law enforcement and intelligence officials to code their own surveillance tools. In many cases these tools are able to circumvent security measures like encryption. Some countries are using them to watch dissidents. Others are using them to aggressively silence and punish their critics, inside and outside their borders.

Comment Re:Numerous bits of ignorance. (Score 1) 336

Iridium and all other civilian satellite systems (to my knowledge - and clearly I don't know jack about the military and/or espionage satellites) do not cover all the oceans Most don't cover Antartica either. Simply not enough people there to make it worth their effort.

The Atlantic is small, and mostly covered, but large areas of the Pacific Ocean are not covered by satellite phone systems.

Comment Numerous bits of ignorance. (Score 4, Insightful) 336

1) You spend cash, you burn fuel. Trying to combine environmental concerns with this issue is a POOR idea. It's not a major cause of fossil fuel use, there are far better ways to reduce fossils fuels. These are two separate issues - a) fossil fuels and b) finding lost aircraft.

2) Your limited concept of a black box is clearly not the answer. It demonstrates ignorance about many of the issues involved, including weight, time, floating recovery, ejection from sinking aircraft, etc. A far simpler solution is to simply have all planes continuously broadcast their GPS location whenever they go below a certain altitude or descend too quickly. Have them broadcast using a satellite phone system that covers the ENTIRE world - including the oceans, of course. Yes this would require some new satellites - but it is a global problem that the UN could easily solve with money.

Submission + - Prejudice in Computer Algorithms sending people to jail

gurps_npc writes: Algorithms are slowly invading the criminal justice system, as per a Propublica.org report. Basically, in a well intentioned attempt to eliminate variation, they try to predict who is a real danger to society and who is likely to commit more crimes, then use that information to affect bonds and criminal sentences.

But the algorithms are a black box and Probulica's report says they are ineffective at real predictions, and discriminate racially, being far more likely to mistakenly 'predict' that a black person would commit further crimes than a white person.

From the article:
White Labeled Higher Risk, But Didn’t Re-Offend 23.5%
Black Labeled Higher Risk, But Didn’t Re-Offend 44.9%

White Labeled Lower Risk, Yet Did Re-Offend 47.7%
Black Labeled Lower Risk, Yet Did Re-Offend 28.0%

Even after accounting for differential treatment by criminal history (i.e. blacks — and men- tend to get arrested for things that whites — and women — then to get warnings for, giving them a 'worse' criminal history even if they are less criminally inclined), there is STILL bias.

Because it's a black box, Propublica could not identify the actual cause of the bias, but it used a lot of questionable inputs, not just education, work, but also questions about your upbringing.

Comment We need standard TOS (Score 4, Interesting) 85

A government agency should right up a generic TOS, with appropriate safeguards for consumer rights as well as for the corporation. Even include a reasonable requirement for arbitration (one that works both ways - they can't sue you if you can't sue them).

Then we could say that you can only get consent by click if the TOS was approved by the agency. Otherwise, you would need a real, actual ink on paper signature to get consent for TOS.

Nice compromise - corps can still create bullshit TOS, but they need to get you to sign paper to use that.

Comment No. (Score 4, Interesting) 375

I really wanted to say yes, but there are a lot of issues with this concept. It benefits the readers but hurts society at large, (undermining ownership rights, lowering the number of copies floating around for non-owners to discover, use).

The used market is predicated on depreciation preventing people from competing with the original sellers. You buy X brand new for $Y, use it up some, then sell it for $Y - z.

Without depreciation, what you are doing is more similar to renting a book, rather than buying and reselling it. You get full use of it, but it is returned in practically the same state, with only time being gone.

Renting e-books would be a BAD idea - it would hurt the writers tremendously and the general population would no longer own the books, which would leave the population open to giving up ownership rights, something that has high value for society, but low values for the individuals as a whole.

A better question would be to clarify ownership after Death. I bought ebooks, and both they and my account should be inheritable after death.

Submission + - Police Commissioner Bill Bratton Terrified Of Citizens With Cameras

JustAnotherOldGuy writes: NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton recently criticized what he calls an ‘epidemic’ of citizens recording arrests amid the backlash over Harlem cop caught punching man who filmed him. "There is a phenomenon in this country that we need to examine," NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said. “This has become very serious. I would almost describe it an epidemic in this country,” Bratton added. As the NYPD continues to investigate a disturbing video of a Harlem cop pointing a gun at a group of onlookers armed only with smartphones and then punching one of the men recording him, the New York top cop's comments verged on the surreal. Since the advent of cellphone cameras, citizens have recorded an unending series of incidents showing police misconduct and brutality, up to and including murder. As the police are so fond of saying, "If you have nothing to hide, what are you afraid of?" So what is Police Commissioner Bill Bratton afraid of?

Comment Aleady happened -called the 1%. (Score 1) 414

But seriously, this idea is idiotic. It misunderstands the nature of mankind and the nature of work.

First and foremost, work is defined by what we want to do, not what we need to have done. We met our "needs" thousands of years ago. We ben doing what we want since before the Egyptians built the first pyramid.

Second, the stupidest human around is still FAR smarter than any robot with the sole exception of mathematical skills and memory, both of which may fixed with cheap calculators, not expensive robots.

Third, #2 will remain true until robots are created that can demand equal rights and a fair wage. Because those are things that the STUPIDEST and lowest capability humans do.

Four. Yes, robots will replace jobs that require certain physical characteristics (strength, speed, etc). Yes robots will replace jobs that require perfect math and memory. Those already happen. Instead, we will develop NEW jobs that only a human can do, just as we replaced hunter/gathers with farmers/herders, and farmer/herders with industrial jobs, then industrial jobs with tech jobs, etc. etc.

Comment Re:Very smart of them, if tru (Score 5, Insightful) 210

You are violating one of the most important principles of the free market - free exchange of information. Go read Wikipedia, it will explain how free exchange of information is essential to a free market.

What's going on here is that one side has all the information and the other side is blind, depending on Uber to be honest.

Uber has no business learning about the state of your phone battery. It doesn't need it and it's YOUR private, personal confidential information that poor software design let Uber steal. They don't tell you about the desperate need for cash by their drivers because their rent is due and they would accept ANY fair.

Uber is not being 'good', it knows that if they unethically use your private information they have unethically gathered, then it will piss us off enough to pass laws preventing them from gathering it.

The price of everything is the amount a buyer is willing to pay AND a seller is willing to sell when competition keeps prices fair and information is fairly and ethically exchanged.

When you ignore the rules that undermine capitalism, you aren't being capitalistic, you are being a thief. And people like you is why socialism has grown so popular - when you cheat the way you want to, it upsets people and they demand government intervention.

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