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United States

Why 6 Republican Senators Think You Don't Need Faster Broadband ( 522

itwbennett writes: Broadband in the United States still lags behind similar service in other industrialized countries, so Congress made broadband expansion a national priority, and it offers subsidies, mostly in rural areas, to help providers expand their offerings,' writes Bill Snyder. And that's where an effort by the big ISPs and a group of senators to change the definition of broadband comes in. Of course, the ISPs want the threshold to be as low as possible so it's easier for them to qualify for government subsidies. In a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, dated January 21, 2016, the senators called the current broadband benchmark of 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream 'arbitrary' and said that users don't need that kind of speed anyway. '[W]e are aware of few applications that require download speeds of 25 Mbps.' the senators wrote, missing the simple fact that many users have multiple connected devices.

Uber's Short-lived Helicopter Service In Utah Grounded ( 81

New submitter captaindomon writes: It may come as no surprise that the Uber helicopter flights which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival were apparently illegal and quickly grounded. "Thanks to the support and partnership we have with Sundance and Park City Municipal Corporation, we were able to come to an agreement," said Summit County spokeswoman Katie Mullaly. "We are glad to have this issue resolved, not only for the safety of all those involved, but also for the wildlife of the area, affected residents and environmental concerns."

US Regulators Find Serious Deficiencies At Theranos Lab ( 66

An anonymous reader writes: 2016 has not started well for blood-testing startup Theranos. Already facing allegations of data manipulation, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have found problems with Theranos' laboratory in Newark, California, putting the company's relationship with the Medicare program in danger. WSJ reports: "It isn't clear exactly what regulators have faulted Theranos for in their latest inspection, which took several months. Adverse findings would be another regulatory setback for one of Silicon Valley's highest-profile startups, valued at about $9 billion in 2014. Theranos already has stopped collecting tiny samples of blood from patients' fingers for all but one of its tests while it waits for the Food and Drug Administration to review the company's applications for wider use of the proprietary vials called 'nanotainers.' In October, the FDA said it had determined that the nanotainers were an 'uncleared medical device.'"
United Kingdom

Big Brother Is Coming To UK Universities ( 75

An anonymous reader writes: An upcoming report by the Higher Education Commission, a UK group of MPs, business and academic professionals, will paint a picture of a higher education system that, thanks to the increasing use of data, may undergo radical change, sometimes with painful ethical considerations. Among their visions: an Amazon-style recommendation service on courses and work experience based on individuals' backgrounds, and similar profiles. Or a system in which students at risk of failure can be identified from their first day so that they receive instant feedback and performance measuring. It is envisioned that the system will include knowing whether they are in lectures, at the gym or in the bar, and in an effort to boost their results, students may also want to share data on their fitness, sleeping patterns, and their academic and semi-academic interactions online.

Pakistan Lifts 3-Year Ban On YouTube, Allows Local Version ( 36

An anonymous reader writes: Pakistan has allowed access to a localized version of the video sharing website YouTube on company assurances that country-specific filters would be added to remove objectionable content. ABC reports: " Pakistan banned YouTube under a court order in September 2012 for carrying a controversial made-in-America movie trailer that sparked deadly protests across the Muslim world. The movie 'Innocence of Muslims' was considered blasphemous and derogatory to Islam for its portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad. Some of the most intense protests erupted in Pakistan, where the role of Islam in society is sacrosanct and anti-American sentiment runs high. Pakistan Telecommunication Authority spokesman Khurram Mehran says all the instructions were given and the website was accessible across the country on Monday."

Belgium's Aging Nuclear Plants Worry Neighbors ( 319

mdsolar writes with news that Belgium's decision to restart a reactor at its Tihange nuclear power plant and its aging Doel plant have some of its European neighbors uneasy. reports: "As the two cooling towers at Belgium's Doel nuclear power belch thick white steam into a wintry sky, people over the border in the Dutch town of Nieuw-Namen are on edge. They are part of a groundswell of concern in the Netherlands, Germany and Luxembourg over the safety of Belgium's seven aging reactors at Doel and at Tihange, further to the south and east. 'I'm happy Holland, Germany and Luxembourg are reacting because they (officials) don't listen to you and me,' butcher Filip van Vlierberge told AFP at his shop in Nieuw-Namen, where people can see the Doel plant. Benedicte, one of his customers, nodded in agreement. Van Vlierberge said he was particularly uneasy with the Belgian government's decision in December to extend the lives of 40-year-old reactors Doel 1 and Doel 2 until 2025 under a deal to preserve jobs and invest in the transition to cleaner energy."

NY Bill Would Force Decryption of Smartphones On Demand ( 353

Trailrunner7 sends word about New York Assemblyman Matthew Titone's bill that forbids the sale of smartphones that can't be cracked by their manufacturers. On the Wire reports: "A bill that is making its way through the New York state assembly would require that smartphone manufacturers build mechanisms into the devices that would allow the companies to decrypt or unlock them on demand from law enforcement. The New York bill is the latest entry in a long-running debate between privacy advocates and security experts on one side and law enforcement agencies and many politicians on the other. The revelations of the last few years about widespread government surveillance, especially that involving cell phones and email systems, has spurred device manufacturers to increase the use of encryption. New Apple iPhones now are encrypted by default, as are some Android devices. Apple, Google, and the other major manufacturers have said that user privacy and security is their main concern. The bill that is now in committee in the New York State Assembly makes no equivocation about what it is designed to do. 'Any smartphone that is manufactured on or after January First, Two Thousand Sixteen, and sold or leased in New York, shall be capable of being decrypted and unlocked by its manufacturer or its operating system provider,' the bill says."

Federal Law Now Says Kids Can Walk To School Alone ( 545

An anonymous reader writes: There's some good news for "free-range" parents and fans of children being allowed to walk places on their own. A recently approved federal education law will allow students to take alternative forms of transportation to and from school with parental permission. Fastcoexist reports: "Relax, parents. Now you can allow your kids to walk, ride a bike, or take a bus to school, without you or your children getting arrested. The recently-signed Every Student Succeeds Act contains a section (858) that protects the rights of kids to walk or go out alone. The act was sponsored by Utah senator Mike Lee, who is a supporter of the Free Range Kids movement, and provides some hope for parents who feel that their kids should be allowed some autonomy to get by own their own." One can only hope that children will be allowed to go to the park on their own soon as well.

North Korea Expands Retaliatory Loudspeaker Propaganda ( 146

jones_supa writes: North Korea has expanded its own loudspeaker broadcasts along the inter-Korean border as a counteraction to South Korea's retaliatory broadcasts critical of the communist nation, sources said Monday. In retaliation for North's nuclear test last Wednesday, South resumed its anti-Pyongyang broadcast campaign two days later, a form of psychological warfare detested by the communist country, where outside information is tightly blocked out. "The North initially operated its own loudspeakers at two locations and has now expanded to several locations," a government source said. "In fact, the anti-South loudspeaker broadcasts appear to be coming from every location where we are broadcasting." The North Korean broadcasts are not clearly audible from the South Korean side of the border, but mostly deal with internal propaganda messages and music promoting its leader Kim Jong-un. "We are not sure if it's an issue of electric power or the performance of the loudspeakers, but the sound is very weak," another government source said.

New Jersey Rejects Request For Dolphin Necropsy Results, Cites "Medical Privacy" ( 228

v3rgEz writes: When a dolphin died in New Jersey's South River last year, Carly Sitrin wanted to know what killed it. So she filed a public record request to the NJ Department of Agriculture in order to get the necropsy results. The DOA finally responded last week with the weird decision to deny the release of the record on grounds of medical privacy. The response reads in part: "We are in receipt of your request for information (#W101407) under the auspices of the State’s Open Public Records Act (O.P.R.A.). Specifically, you requested any and all reports associated with the necropsy of the dolphin that strayed into the South River on August 5, 2015 in Middlesex County, New Jersey. This request is denied as it would release information deemed confidential under O.P.R.A., specifically information related to a medical diagnosis or evaluation. (E.O. 26, McGreevey)"

Dutch Government Backs Strong Encryption, Condemns Backdoors 128

blottsie writes: The Netherlands government issued a strong statement on Monday against weakening encryption for the purposes of law enforcement and intelligence agencies. The move comes as governments in the United Kingdom and China act to legally require companies to give them access to wide swaths of encrypted Internet traffic. U.S. lawmakers are also considering introducing similar legislation.
United Kingdom

Massive Marine Reserve Created In Atlantic ( 81

An anonymous reader writes: The British government has announced that it will create a marine reserve slightly smaller than the UK in the waters off Ascension Island. The South Atlantic reserve totals 234,291 sq km and is being funded with the help of a £300,000 grant from the charitable Bacon Foundation. Charles Clover, Blue Marine Foundation chairman, said: "Ascension has been at the frontiers of science since Charles Darwin went there in the 19th Century, so it is entirely appropriate that it is now at the centre of a great scientific effort to design the Atlantic's largest marine reserve."

Feds: Your Employer Can't Stop You From Recording Conversations At Work ( 139

schwit1 writes with news about a ruling by the National Labor Relations Board about your right to record conversations at work. The Huffington Post reports: "If you're looking to catch your boss breaking labor law, that smartphone in your pocket might be your best friend, thanks to a new ruling from federal officials. On Thursday, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that upscale grocer Whole Foods cannot forbid employees from recording conversations or taking photographs at work without a supervisor's permission. (Local laws, however, could still come into play in certain situations, as several states require the consent of two parties in order for a conversation to be recorded legally.) At the center of the case were stipulations in Whole Foods' 'General Information Guide,' an employee manual laying out worker do's and don'ts. The guide prohibited workers from taking photos or recording conversations inside a store 'unless prior approval is received' from a manager or executive, or 'unless all parties to the conversation give their consent.'"

Drone Registration Is FAA's Way of Getting You To Read Their "EULA" ( 131

szczys writes: There is little to complain about when it comes to the new FAA rules regarding drones (unless perhaps you live in DC). The regulations are basically an End User Licensing Agreement and focus on educating responsible operators. Eight simple rules cover how to avoid doing dangerous things with Unmanned Aerial Systems. The FAA has even left alone the small toy drones, and the certification system for those above 55 lbs remains. The one aspect that is concerning is that of privacy; the drone database will be publicly searchable and contains names and addresses of drone owners. If the DMV keeps license plate data protected, the FAA should do the same.

Brazil's Biggest City Wants To Charge Fees For Uber Rides ( 77

An anonymous reader sends word that Sao Paulo's city hall has proposed levying fees on Uber to operate in the city. Engadget reports: "Many cities try to limit or ban ridesharing services like Uber, but Sao Paulo is trying an uncommon strategy to keep the companies in check: skimming a little off the top. The major Brazilian city has proposed a requirement these services have to buy government credits to cover their distance traveled, with rates changing based on when and where the trip takes place. App makers would also have to support a service that picks up multiple passengers headed in the same direction, although that won't be hard when options like UberPool already exist."

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