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United States

Diebold Admits ATMs Are More Robust Than Voting Machines 230

An anonymous reader points out a story in the Huffington Post about the status of funding for election voting systems. It contains an interesting section in which Chris Riggall, a spokesman for Premier (formerly Diebold) acknowledged that less money is spent making an electronic voting machine than on a typical ATM. The ironically named Riggall also notes that security could indeed be improved, but at a higher price than most election administrators would care to pay. Also quoted in the article is Ed Felten, who has recently found some inconsistencies in New Jersey voting machines. From the Post: "'An ATM is significantly a more expensive device than a voting terminal...' said Riggall. 'Were you to develop something that was as robust as an ATM, both in terms of the physical engineering of it and all aspects, clearly that would be something that the average jurisdiction cannot afford.' Perhaps cost has something to do with the fact that a couple of years ago, every single Diebold AccuVote TS could be opened with a standard key also used for some cabinets and mini-bars and available for purchase over the Internet."
Government

National ID Cards Mandated in the US, If You're Under 50 869

charleste writes "CNN is reporting that the US Homeland Security Department has mandated Real ID for drivers licenses. According to the article, this will not include a 'chip', but a list of options by state. Despite legislation passed in various states and objections by groups such as ACLU, this appears to be a done deal. Without one of the new IDs you will be unable to board a plane after 2014 if you are under 50."
Music

DoJ Sides With RIAA On Damages 469

Alberto G writes "As Jammie Thomas appeals the $222,000 copyright infringement verdict against her, the Department of Justice has weighed in on a central facet of her appeal: whether the $9,250-per-song damages were unconstitutionally excessive and violated the Due Process Clause of the Constitution. The DoJ says that there's nothing wrong with the figure the jury arrived at: '[G]iven the findings of copyright infringement in this case, the damages awarded under the Copyright Act's statutory damages provision did not violate the Due Process Clause; they were not "so severe and oppressive as to be wholly disproportioned to the offense or obviously unreasonable."' The DoJ also appears to buy into the RIAA's argument that making a file available on a P2P network constitutes copyright infringement. 'It's also impossible for the true damages to be calculated, according to the brief, because it's unknown how many other users accessed the files in the KaZaA share in question and committed further acts of copyright infringement.'"
Privacy

FBI May Have Datamined Grocery Stores With Help From Credit Companies 442

An anonymous reader writes "Recent media reports indicate that in 2005-06, the FBI went trawling through grocery store records in order to track down Iranian terror cells. They hoped to locate 'Middle-Eastern terrorists' through the purchase of specific food items. Many of these items, though, are not sold through big-box supermarket chains, and the majority of mom and pop ethnic markets do not have the detailed computer purchase histories that Safeway or Whole Foods have. What the FBI seems to have done is instead put together a list of everyone who shopped at a Middle Eastern food market. All signs point to the credit card companies providing this data, and not the individual stores. If so, this could be the tip of a (potentially illegal) data-mining iceberg."
Security

Schneier On the War On the Unexpected 405

jamie found this essay by Bruce Schneier, The War on the Unexpected. (It originally appeared in Wired but this version has all the links.) "We've opened up a new front on the war on terror. It's an attack on the unique, the unorthodox, the unexpected; it's a war on different. If you act different, you might find yourself investigated, questioned, and even arrested — even if you did nothing wrong, and had no intention of doing anything wrong. The problem is a combination of citizen informants and a CYA attitude among police that results in a knee-jerk escalation of reported threats... After someone reports a 'terrorist threat,' the whole system is biased towards escalation and CYA instead of a more realistic threat assessment... If you ask amateurs to act as front-line security personnel, you shouldn't be surprised when you get amateur security."
Education

Anti-Terrorism and the Death of the Chemistry Set 860

An anonymous reader writes "A recent unfortunate casualty of anti-terrorism laws is the home chemistry set. Once deemed the gift that saved Christmas, most Slashdotters probably remember early childhood experimentation with one of the many pre-packaged chemistry sets that were on the market. Unfortunately the FBI has decided that home chemistry sets are a threat to national security and they are rapidly disappearing from the market entirely. Those that remain are shallow boring versions of the old kits."
The Courts

States Set to Sue the U.S. Over Greenhouse Gases 440

dnormant writes to tell us The New York Times is reporting that more than a dozen states are gearing up to sue the Bush administration for holding up efforts to regulate automobile emissions. "The move comes as New York and other Northeastern states are stepping up their push for tougher regulation of greenhouse gases as part of their continuing opposition to President Bush's policies. On Wednesday, Gov. Eliot Spitzer's administration is to issue regulations requiring power plants to pay for their greenhouse gas emissions, part of a broader plan among 10 Northeastern states, known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, to move beyond federal regulators in Washington and regulate such emissions on their own."
The Courts

FBI Coerced Confession Deemed "Classified" 456

Steve Bergstein is one of several who have blogged about a recent court ruling that reads like most any bestselling crime novel. Apparently, when the court originally posted their decision (complete with backstory) it detailed how a coerced confession was obtained by the FBI from Abdallah Higazy in relation to the 9/11 attacks. The details, however, were later removed and deemed "classified". "As I read the opinion I realized it was a 44 page epic, too long for me to print out. I blogged about the opinion while I read it online and then posted the blog as I ate lunch. Then something strange happened: a few minutes after I posted the blog, the opinion vanished from the Court of Appeals website! [...] The next day, the Court of Appeals reissued the Higazy opinion. With a redaction. The court simply omitted from the revised decision facts about how the FBI agent extracted the false confession from Higazy. For some reason, this information is classified."
United States

Airlines Have to Ask Permission to Fly 72 Hours Early 596

twitter wrote to mention that the TSA (Transport Security Administration) has released a new set of proposed rules that is raising quite a stir among groups ranging from the ACLU to the American Society of Travel Agents. Under the new rules airlines would be required to submit a passenger manifest (including full name, sex, date of birth, and redress number) for all flights departing, arriving, or flying over the United States at least 72 hours prior to departure. Boarding passes will only be issued to those passengers that have been cleared. "Hasbrouck submitted that requiring clearance in order to travel violates the US First Amendment right of assembly, the central claim in John Gilmore's case against the US government over the requirement to show photo ID for domestic travel. [...] ACLU's Barry Steinhardt quoted press reports of 500,000 to 750,000 people on the watch list (of which the no-fly list is a subset). 'If there are that many terrorists in the US, we'd all be dead.' TSA representative Kip Hawley noted that the list has been carefully investigated and halved over the last year. 'Half of grossly bloated is still bloated,' Steinhardt replied."
The Courts

White House Lauds MN RIAA Win, Analysis of Victory 368

cnet-declan writes "The Bush administration's copyright czar says the RIAA's $222,000 recent jury verdict against a Minnesota woman shows copyright law is 'effective' and working as planned. C|Net's coverage has comments from Chris Israel, the U.S. Coordinator for International Intellectual Property Enforcement. Israel is formerly a senior Commerce Department official appointed by President Bush in July 2005 who previously worked for Time Warner's public policy arm (Warner Bros. Records is one of the plaintiffs in the RIAA case). The site also features an interview with Rep. Rick Boucher, no fan of the RIAA, on whether Congress will change the law, an analysis of why U.S. copyright law is broken, and four reasons why the RIAA won."
The Almighty Buck

Canadian Dollar Reaches Parity with US$ 702

boxlight writes in to mark the occasion when the Canadian dollar hit parity with the US dollar for the first time in 31 years. The article notes that Canada has run a budget surplus in each of the last 10 years. "This is actually bad for the profits of Canadian corporations that sell their products to the US for US dollars (Canada sells far more to the US that the US sells to Canada); but it means us Canucks will get cheaper Macs as the Canadian prices get closer to US prices with every new release."

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