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Britain Has Passed the 'Most Extreme Surveillance Law Ever Passed in a Democracy' (zdnet.com) 359

Zack Whittaker, reporting for ZDNet: The UK has just passed a massive expansion in surveillance powers, which critics have called "terrifying" and "dangerous." The new law, dubbed the "snoopers' charter," was introduced by then-home secretary Theresa May in 2012, and took two attempts to get passed into law following breakdowns in the previous coalition government. Four years and a general election later -- May is now prime minister -- the bill was finalized and passed on Wednesday by both parliamentary houses. Civil liberties groups have long criticized the bill, with some arguing that the law will let the UK government "document everything we do online." It's no wonder, because it basically does. The law will force internet providers to record every internet customer's top-level web history in real-time for up to a year, which can be accessed by numerous government departments; force companies to decrypt data on demand -- though the government has never been that clear on exactly how it forces foreign firms to do that that; and even disclose any new security features in products before they launch. Not only that, the law also gives the intelligence agencies the power to hack into computers and devices of citizens (known as equipment interference), although some protected professions -- such as journalists and medical staff -- are layered with marginally better protections. In other words, it's the "most extreme surveillance law ever passed in a democracy," according to Jim Killock, director of the Open Rights Group.

Comment Re:FX Pro on apple.... (Score 4, Interesting) 259

You don't. If you watch the video (click on the "here" link at the end of the summary) he makes it clear that he's comparing time to get to an end result. Not hardware. The complete package. Hardware + software.

He's not comparing hardware and software to get an end result. He's comparing hardware and software to get two different end results (running two different programs, arbitrarily chosen). Hence the comparison does not make any sense whatsoever. Different programs take different time to run on different computers and you can't infer anything from that.

He then goes further on, providing an explanation (that the macbook pro is faster because it is more "optimized") without any proof (he didn't actually indicate what optimization is there on the mac and isn't there on the pc) for a fact that he didn't measure in the first place (that the macbook pro is faster).

This video makes as much sense as buying a 2016 macbook pro.

Comment Re:clarification (Score 1) 208

It is widely known that the USSR invaded Czechoslovakia because they wanted to keep it under their influence. My sentence was meant as a parody of the Soviet propaganda, which justified violations of the sovereignty of the countries of the Eastern block with the alleged threat of a fascist invader from the West. The Berlin wall, for instance, was called something like "anti-fascist protection barrier" from their side.

Comment Re:clarification (Score 2) 208

I didn't say that the methods were the same, I said that the intentions were. Of course living under the protection of the USA was far better than living under the protection of the USSR. But this doesn't change the fact that altruism was the last thought in the mind of political leaders when they partitioned Europe after WW2. As for the feelings of the common people, the average person from the streets of Russia will genuinely think that their troops have to be deployed abroad in order to altruistically defend other countries from fascist aggressions, in the same way as Americans might genuinely think that Europe is made up of lazy people who need to be altruistically defended by US forces which, as a result, have the right not to clean any mess they make in the process.

And let's be honest, the US never spent less on welfare because they needed the money to patrol Greenland. They have done so because welfare programs aren't high on the list of priorities of the American electorate.

Comment Re:Developers of the standard hope.... (Score 2) 135

Not only the device will have to support multiplexing, DRM, power management, protocol negotiation, DRM, compression, encryption, DRM, delivery of power to the external amplyfiers, DRM... it will also have to still support the analog audio option. So the "less power hungry" claim is bullshit.

I'll concede that the "slimmer" claim is realistic, given that two connectors take less space than one. But in a time when phones are getting larger and larger, I don't think this is going to solve anyone's problem.

The claim that devices will be "smarter", instead, can be scary. USB devices can be flaky at times because of the complexity of the protocol. On top on that, I've had some mixed experiences with USB-audio class devices in particular. And if the analog audio option of this new connector isn't mandatory, we'll end up buying earphones that sometimes work, sometimes don't, depending on an invisible capability of the device. Not to mention that application software can prevent the use of the analog outputs for DRM reasons, as it happens today for the video outputs.

Comment Re:How about.... (Score 2) 232

No population of today has much to do with the same population of the 5th century BC, anywhere, but especially so in an area, ranging from Turkey to India, where many country borders were pretty much drawn by colonial forces as recently as some decades ago. Therefore I think that using the narration of ancient history, either accurate or conveniently spun, to deny legitimation for a whole modern population, is silly. This holds true for both the Israeli and the Palestinians. There are two communities living there, today, and I suspect that most of them barely know who their grandparents are, let alone care about where their ancestors were living before Christ, and just want to live a peaceful life in the place where they were born; unfortunately I'm the least qualified person on Earth to suggest them a way to reach this goal.

Comment Re:How about.... (Score 3, Informative) 232

To be fair, the term "Palestine" was already in use back in the ancient Egypt, it wasn't invented by the Romans. Also, the Romans never ethnically cleansed the region of the whole Jewish population: they banned them from residing in Jerusalem (which happened, to put things into context, after the Jews lost multiple wars, that themselves started, and that resulted in the killing of hundreds of thousands of Greek and Roman people living in the region). In fact, many Jews already lived outside of Judaea before the Bar Kochba revolt, and many continued living inside of Judaea after.

(I'm not saying this to deny the facts that the Jews have a history of continued persecution and that the state of Israel has a right to exist and to defend itself.)

Comment Re:What Authority ... (Score 1) 564

Define 'assistance for corporations'.

Having Apple pay a tax rate of 0.005%, and others pay a tax rate of 12.5%; check out the document from the EC.

As long as Ireland applies their rules and rates uniformly

They don't, that's the point.

Is a country that charges less than Belgium's 34% corporate tax rate 'assisting' corporations? Because that would be a race to the bottom: Allowing the sloppiest and most inefficient governments to dictate tax and fiscal policy to the rest of the EU.

That would be very wrong, and unsurprisingly it's not the case.

Ireland doesn't want the money.

Then they may accept a 0.005% tax rate from all the other companies. And probably go bankrupt. Until they do, the difference between what they effectively ask from Apple and what they need to ask from everyone else in order to provide for the needs of their citizens is a measure of the unjust sacrifice that they impose on the rest of the EU members.

Perhaps they want to live within their means and not hve piles of cash sitting around as a magnet for the continent's deadbeats. Its their choice and I believe they have a right to make it.

Ireland is receiving more money from the EU than they give, each year. Portraying them as the source and the rest of the EU as the sink is a complete overturn of reality.

EU

Apple Ordered To Pay Up To $14.5 Billion in EU Tax Crackdown, Cook Refutes EU's Conclusion (bloomberg.com) 564

Apple has been ordered to pay a record sum of 13 billion euros ($14.5 billion) plus interest after the European Commission said Ireland illegally slashed the iPhone maker's tax bill, in a crackdown on fiscal loopholes that also risks inflaming tensions with the United States Treasury. According to the European Union regulator, Apple benefited from selective tax treatment that gave it an unfair advantage over other businesses. In the meanwhile, Apple has refuted such accusations, saying that EU's conclusion has "no basis in fact or law." EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said, "If my effective tax rate would be 0.05 percent falling to 0.005 percent -- I would have felt that maybe I should have a second look at my tax bill." Apple CEO Tim Cook said, "Over the years, we received guidance from Irish tax authorities on how to comply correctly with Irish tax law -- the same kind of guidance available to any company doing business there. In Ireland and in every country where we operate, Apple follows the law and we pay all the taxes we owe."

Comment Re:Removable storage that never gets removed (Score 4, Insightful) 221

I see people complain about this in regards to certain smartphones (looking at you Apple) but I think Apple and you are correct that in 99% of the cases the removable storage adds complexity and cost for a feature that never gets used.

In the case of the iPhone 6S, Apple want from you 749 $ for the 16 GB version and 849 $ for the 64 GB version. Therefore they charge you approximately 2.08 $ per GB. You can buy a cheap UHS class1, 64 GB microSD from Samsung for 21 $ (0.32 $ per GB) or a faster UHS class 3 one from SanDisk for 40 $ (0.63 $ per GB). Moreover, the replaceability of a microSD card means that you don't have to shell more money up front for a bigger device, and you can spend them later if and when the need arises.

So not putting a card slot isn't something that Apple do to reduce the costs for the consumers, they do it to rape their wallets.

Piracy

Judge Dismisses Movie Piracy Case, IP-Address Doesn't Prove Anything (torrentfreak.com) 164

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TorrentFreak: In what's believed to be a first of its kind ruling, a federal court in Oregon has dismissed a direct infringement complaint against an alleged movie pirate from the outset. According to the judge, linking an IP-address to a pirated download is not enough to prove direct copyright infringement. In the Oregon District Court, Magistrate Judge Stacie Beckerman recently recommended dismissal of a complaint filed by the makers of the Adam Sandler movie The Cobbler. According to the Judge both claims of direct and indirect infringement were not sufficient for the case to continue. What's unique in this case, is that the direct infringement claims were dismissed sua sponte, which hasn't happened before. To prove direct infringement copyright holders merely have to make it "plausible" that a defendant, Thomas Gonzales in this case, is indeed the copyright infringer. This is traditionally done by pointing out that the IP-address is directly linked to the defendant's Internet connection, for example. However, according to Judge Beckerman this is not enough. In response to community backlash, Oculus has decided to change its DRM policy (again) to allow HTC Vive games to play on the Oculus Rift virtual-reality system.

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