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US Judge Throws Out Cell Phone 'Stingray' Evidence For The First Time (reuters.com) 118

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: For the first time, a federal judge has suppressed evidence obtained without a warrant by U.S. law enforcement using a stingray, a surveillance device that can trick suspects' cell phones into revealing their locations. U.S. District Judge William Pauley in Manhattan on Tuesday ruled that defendant Raymond Lambis' rights were violated when the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration used such a device without a warrant to find his Washington Heights apartment. Stingrays, also known as "cell site simulators," mimic cell phone towers in order to force cell phones in the area to transmit "pings" back to the devices, enabling law enforcement to track a suspect's phone and pinpoint its location. The DEA had used a stingray to identify Lambis' apartment as the most likely location of a cell phone identified during a drug-trafficking probe. Pauley said doing so constituted an unreasonable search. The ruling marked the first time a federal judge had suppressed evidence obtained using a stingray, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which like other privacy advocacy groups has criticized law enforcement's use of such devices. "Absent a search warrant, the government may not turn a citizen's cell phone into a tracking device," Pauley wrote. FBI Special Agent Daniel Alfin suggests in a report via Motherboard that decrypting encrypted data fundamentally alters it, therefore contaminating it as forensic evidence.

Comment Re:Man, I'm glad I got out of IT (Score 1) 331

There are some fields, such as banks and embedded work, where code bases stay around for a while. For example, at the bank where I worked, many of our Unix boxes were Solaris and AIX versions from 10+ years ago. Too old for my tastes. But still you worry that the longer you stay there, the more the rest of industry is leaving you behind and you might be stuck in this niche.

Comment Re:false comparison... (Score 1) 771

true surround sound headset / speakers?

We already have that — binaural recordings work with normal stereo headphones. You only have two ears, so you only need two speakers.

There's something called Dolby Headphone, but all that does is mix 5.1 channels down to 2 channels in a fancy way, and it's essentially a software function that if implemented in the phone, can work with any stereo headphones.

Comment Re:too negative (Score 1) 349

Malaria has been around for tens of thousands of years, so it reached a stable plateau. The risk with a new disease is that it could take too long to understand how it's transmitted and how to prevent transmission.

Quarantine isn't a guarantee, as seen by the two health care workers who contracted Ebola in Texas when caring for a patient.

Comment Climate change causing extinction? (Score 3, Informative) 349

The summary is misleading. No article mentions extinctions due to climate change. A huge temperature change would cause migration towards the poles, and may cut food supply and kill some people, but not all.

The article that mentions the 10% figure (The Atlantic article) says that a pandemic is the most likely to cause extinction, eg. the 521AD plague killed 13 to 17% of the world's population. But that didn't make it into the sensational summary.


Google Joins Facebook's Open Compute Project (arstechnica.com) 26

judgecorp writes: Google has elected to open up some of its data center designs, which it has -- until now -- kept to itself. Google has joined the Open Compute Project, which was set up by Facebook to share low-cost, no-frills data center hardware specifications. Google will donate a specification for a rack that it designed for its own data centers. Google's first contribution will be "a new rack specification that includes 48V power distribution and a new form factor to allow OCP racks to fit into our data centers," the company said. "We kicked off the development of 48V rack power distribution in 2010, as we found it was at least 30 percent more energy-efficient and more cost-effective in supporting these higher-performance systems." The company said it hopes to help others "adopt this next generation power architecture, and realize the same power efficiency and cost benefits as Google." Google hasn't submitted a proposed specification to the OCP yet, but the company is working with Facebook to get that done.

Comment Re: Twitter pledge is too weak (Score 1) 49

An irrevocable patent pledge is intended to be precisely that; it's a legal document that is written to carry weight regardless of changes of ownership or management. Whether it will stand in court when tested remains to be seen, but that problem applies also to free content and open source licenses and other legal tools for sharing of information and ideas. KA can be expected to at least do one thing, which is to use the best available legal tools to create a broader framework of reuse consistent with its mission. It should reach out to experts, such as Creative Commons, to determine which tools to use, rather than relying on a weak implementation drafted by Twitter.

KA can also reject the idea of patents entirely. It has enough goodwill globally that any patent lawsuit against it, aside perhaps from highly protected areas such as video codecs, would likely to be suicidal for the entity bringing it, and a fundraising boon for KA.

Comment Re:Either-Or (Score 1) 49

Although Blackboard has filed patent lawsuits against competitors (and was briefly boycotted for it), it at least has issued an irrevocable patent pledge not to sue open source projects. I suspect ignorance, not foul play, on the part of Khan Academy is the cause.

Ironically, nonprofit Khan Academy's Twitter pledge is less permissive than that of the corporate behemoth, since it reserves the right to sue anyone, for any reason, provided company and "inventor" agree. Not sure OIN is a good fit for its needs given its close tie to usage of patents within "Linux systems". Something like CC's model patent license or a simple, broad pledge never to use patents offensively against anyone may be a better fit.

KA's policy error here is likely the result of swimming in the Silicon Valley ideological soup, where Twitter's pledge is considered remarkable. KA has never been an especially awesome organization when it comes to open source citizenry. For example, it uses the "non-commercial use" restriction for its materials, which is widely rejected within open source and free culture circles like Wikimedia, Linux, etc. Hopefully this will change over time as the organization becomes more aware of the policy discussions around these issues, since a lot of its work is otherwise excellent and world-changing.

Comment Twitter pledge is too weak (Score 4, Insightful) 49

As the summary states, Khan follows Twitter's patent pledge. This is a good first step as far as it goes, but it still explicitly allows for offensive litigation if the "inventor" agrees. That's not sufficient. At the very minimum, Khan should adopt a clear, irrevocable policy never to enforce patents against open source projects, like many Patent Commons participants. Ideally it should partner with Creative Commons to work out an even stronger patent license, consistent with its mission. CC has previously developed model patent licenses and I'm sure they'd be happy to help.

If the Khan Academy user who originally posted in Slashdot in response is reading this -- please bring these resources to the attention of management.

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