mrogers writes: "Today is Bill Gates' last day as a full-time employee of Microsoft. After 33 years at the company, the one-time richest man in the world will be retiring at 52 to spend more time guiding the charitable Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. What would you buy him as a retirement gift?"
mrogers writes: "Wired's Threat Level blog and the International Herald Tribune are reporting that a bill granting immunity to telcos accused of facilitating illegal warrantless wiretaps, and extending the government's powers to conduct surveillance without judicial oversight, has passed the House of Representatives by 293 votes to 129. Only one Republican voted against the bill; Democrats were evenly split. The warrantless wiretapping program was first revealed by AT&T whistleblower Mark Klein."
mrogers writes: "The EFF has uncovered a troubling footnote in a newly declassified Bush Administration memo, which asserts that "our Office recently [in 2001] concluded that the Fourth Amendment had no application to domestic military operations." This could mean that the Administration believes the NSA's warrantlesswiretapping and datamining programs are not governed by the Constitution, which would cast Administration claims that the programs did not violate the Fourth Amendment in a whole new light — after all, you can't violate a law that doesn't apply. The claimed immunity would also cover other DoD agencies, such as CIFA, which carry out offline surveillance of political groups within the United States."
mrogers writes: "The EFF has uncovered a troubling footnote in a newly declassified Bush Administration memo, which asserts that "our Office recently [in 2001] concluded that the Fourth Amendment had no application to domestic military operations." This could mean that the Administration believes the NSA's warrantlesswiretapping and datamining programs are not governed by the Constitution, which would cast Administration claims that the programs did not violate the Fourth Amendment in a whole new light — after all, you can't violate a law that doesn't apply. The claimed immunity would also cover other DoD agencies, such as CIFA, which carry out offline surveillance of political groups with in the United States."
mrogers writes: "According to an article in the International Herald Tribune, Cubans are using thumb drives and digital cameras to share videos critical of the regime. 'It passes from flash drive to flash drive,' according to one Cuban hacker. 'This is going to get out of the government's hands because the technology is moving so rapidly.' The internet is tightly controlled in Cuba — home connections are illegal and Havana's one internet cafe is strictly monitored. But some Cubans have found ways around the restrictions, connecting to the outside world through illegal satellite hookups and then distributing information through the 'sneakernet' to stay below the government's radar."
mrogers writes: A journalism student in Afghanistan has been sentenced to death by a Sharia court for downloading and sharing a report criticizing the treatment of women in some Islamic countries. The student was accused of blasphemy and tried without representation. According to Reporters Without Borders, sixty people are currently in jail worldwide for criticizing governments online, fifty of them in China, but this may be the first time someone has been sentenced to death for using the internet. Internet censorship is on the rise worldwide, according to The OpenNet Initiative. The Independent newspaper has organized a petition calling for the student's sentence to be overturned.
mrogers writes: "UK campaigners NO2ID have asked bloggers around the world to help mirror a leaked government document that reveals plans to "coerce" citizens into surrendering their personal information for the National Identity Register. "Various forms of coercion... are an option to stimulate applications in a manageable way," according to the leaked report, which follows a series of massivepersonaldatalosses that have called the government's IT competence seriously into question."
mrogers writes: According to the Financial Times, the US Director of National Intelligence is preparing to launch A-Space, 'an internal communications tool modelled on the popular social networking sites, Facebook and MySpace.' A-Space will go live in December, alongside spook-centric versions of Wikipedia and del.icio.us, in an attempt to encourage cooperation between the United States' sixteen intelligence agencies.
There's no mention of what the A stands for, though — any suggestions?
Here, the global Harry Potter publishing phenomenon has mutated into something altogether Chinese: a combination of remarkable imagination and startling industriousness, all placed in the service of counterfeiting, literary fraud and copyright violation.
Titles like "Harry Potter and the Hiking Dragon" are available alongside digital copies of the genuine article, raising the question of where fan fiction ends and counterfeiting begins. Is this a glimpse of what culture would be like without copyright?
mrogers writes: The FBI requires a warrant to install spyware on a suspect's computer, according to a new appeals court ruling. An earlier ruling had appeared to grant the FBI permission to install spyware under the weaker provisions applied to pen registers, which record the telephone numbers or IP addresses contacted by a suspect. However, yesterday's amendment made it clear that the pen register provisions only apply to equipment installed at the suspect's ISP.
The FBI recently used spyware to determine the source of a hoax bomb threat, as reported here and here.
mrogers writes: Physorg has an intriguing story suggesting that humans may have evolved as running hunters, long before the invention of the first weapons:
Humans... have several adaptations that help us dump the enormous amounts of heat generated by running. These adaptations include our hairlessness, our ability to sweat, and the fact that we breathe through our mouths when we run, which not only allows us to take bigger breaths, but also helps dump heat.
"We can run in conditions that no other animal can run in," Lieberman said.
I for one welcome our new hairless, sweaty, mouth-breathing overlords.
mrogers writes: Reporters Without Borders has published its annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index, which ranks countries according to the level of censorship, legal pressure, intimidation and violence experienced by journalists. Finland, Iceland, Ireland and the Netherlands top the list; North Korea, Turkmenistan, Eritrea and Cuba are at the bottom, and were among the ten most censored countries according to New York's Committee to Protect Journalists.
The UK occupies an unimpressive 27th place in the Press Freedom Index, and the US is 53rd. The ranking criteria can be found here.