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The Internet

Google Exec Says Isis Must Be Locked Out of the Open Web (theguardian.com) 208

An anonymous reader writes with this story about Director of Google Ideas Jared Cohen and his talk with the Royal Institute of International Affairs about stopping terrorists online. Cohen contends that the best way to fight them online is to keep them confined to the dark web. The Guardian reports: "Google's head of ideas, tasked with building tools to fight oppression, has said that to stop Isis being able to publicize itself on the internet requires forcing Isis from the open web. During a talk with the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House, Jared Cohen said that it will not be possible to stop terrorists such as Isis from using Tor and the dark web. The key to stopping the terrorist group from propagating online is therefore to hound them from the traditional web – that which can be indexed by search engines. Cohen said: 'What is new is that they're operating without being pushed back in the same internet we all enjoy. So success looks like Isis being contained to the dark web.'"

Before I Can Fix This Tractor, We Have To Fix Copyright Law (slate.com) 279

Gr8Apes writes: How many people does it take to fix a tractor? When the repair involves a tractor's computer, it actually takes an army of copyright lawyers, dozens of representatives from U.S. government agencies, an official hearing, hundreds of pages of legal briefs, and nearly a year of waiting. Waiting for the Copyright Office to make a decision about whether people like me can repair, modify, or hack their own stuff. why do people need to ask permission to fix a tractor in the first place? It's required under the anti-circumvention section of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Even unlocking your cellphone required an act of Congress to make it legal.

Whatsapp Will Become Free, Companies Can Pay To Reach Users (nytimes.com) 92

speedplane writes: The popular messaging service Whatsapp will soon become free (they previously charged $0.99 per year after the first). The troubling news is that to compensate for the lost revenue, companies will now be able to pay to contact users directly. "[Whatsapp founder] Mr. Koum said that his team was still experimenting with how such services could work, and that many companies were already using the messaging service, particularly in developing countries, to connect with mobile-savvy customers." If this smells like advertising, Whatsapp vehemently disagrees. A portion of their statement reads: "...people might wonder how we plan to keep WhatsApp running without subscription fees and if today's announcement means we're introducing third-party ads. The answer is no."
The Courts

Police Department Charging TV News Network $36,000 For Body Cam Footage (arstechnica.com) 186

An anonymous reader writes with news that the NYPD charged a local television station $36k to view police body camera footage. Ars reports: "As body cams continue to flourish in police departments across the nation, an ongoing debate has ensued about how much, if any, of that footage should be made public under state open-access laws. An overlooked twist to that debate, however, has now become front and center: How much should the public have to pay for the footage if the police agree to release it? News network NY1, a Time Warner Cable News operation, was billed $36,000 by the NYPD for roughly 190 hours of footage it requested under the state's Freedom of Information Law (FOIL). Now the network is suing (PDF) the police department in New York state court, complaining that the price tag is too steep. The network said the bill runs 'counter to both the public policy of openness underlying FOIL, as well as the purported transparency supposedly fostered by the BWC (body worn camera) program itself.'"

Netflix Decides To Crack Down On VPN Users (netflix.com) 249

An anonymous reader writes: Netflix have announced they'll be taking further steps to ensure users are not circumventing geo-restrictions. David Fullagar, Vice President of Content Delivery and Architecture at Netflix says "Some members use proxies or "unblockers" to access titles available outside their territory. To address this, we employ the same or similar measures other firms do. This technology continues to evolve and we are evolving with it. That means in coming weeks, those using proxies and unblockers will only be able to access the service in the country where they currently are. This announcement comes just days after Netflix Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt said that a VPN blocking policy might be impossible to enforce."

Nvidia Blames Apple For Bug That Exposes Browsing In Chrome's Incognito (venturebeat.com) 165

An anonymous reader points out this story at VentureBeat about a bug in Chrome's incognito mode that might be a cause for concern for some Apple users. From the story: "If you use Google Chrome's incognito mode to hide what you browse (ahem, porn), this might pique your interest. University of Toronto engineering student Evan Andersen discovered a bug that affects Nvidia graphics cards, exposing content that you thought would be for your eyes only. And because this only happens on Macs, Nvidia is pointing the finger at Apple."

Netflix Executive Admits a VPN-Blocking Policy Might Be Impossible To Enforce (theglobeandmail.com) 172

An anonymous reader writes: Netflix's chief product officer Neil Hunt has admitted that the company has 'no magic solution' to subscribers who use VPNs to access content not licensed for their geographical region, commenting that 'It's likely to always be a cat-and-mouse game'. Hunt notes that Netflix can only rely on lists of VPN IP addresses, and that these can easily be changed. However since Netflix subscribers pay for the service via geographically linked credit and debit cards, this article wonders if Netflix really believes that hundreds of thousands of their subscribers are permanently in migration or on holiday — and also that venerable old VPN IP addresses — ones so well-known that they are routinely challenged by services such as CloudFlare — never seem to have any trouble connecting to a Netflix account.

New HTTPS Bicycle Attack Reveals Details About Passwords From Encrypted Traffic (softpedia.com) 78

campuscodi writes: Dutch security researcher Guido Vranken has published a paper [PDF] in which he details a new attack on TLS/SSL-encrypted traffic, one that can potentially allow attackers to extract some information from HTTPS data streams. Attackers could extract the length of a password from TLS packets, and then use this information to simplify brute-force attacks. The new HTTPS Bicycle Attack can also be used retroactively on HTTPS traffic logged several years ago. Hello NSA!

18 Million Targeted Voter Records Exposed By Database Error (csoonline.com) 75

itwbennett writes: Last week, a database containing 191 million voter records was exposed because of a misconfigured database that no on wants to claim ownership of. Around the same time, a second, smaller database containing fewer than 57 million records similar to those previously discovered was also found by researcher Chris Vickery. But the second database also includes 18 million records that hold targeted demographic information. And as was the case with the previous voter database, no one wants to claim ownership.

Twitter To Revive Politwoops, Archive of Politicians' Deleted Tweets (reuters.com) 106

An anonymous reader writes: Twitter shut down Politwoops, a network of deleted tweets from politicians, this summer with the statement: "Imagine how nerve-racking – terrifying, even – tweeting would be if it was immutable and irrevocable? No one user is more deserving of that ability than another. Indeed, deleting a tweet is an expression of the user's voice." To the joy of open-government advocates and with the help of government transparency nonprofits, Twitter says it will work to get Politwoops up and running again. "Politwoops is an important tool for holding our public officials, including candidates and elected or appointed public officials, accountable for the statements they make, and we're glad that we've been able to reach an agreement with Twitter to bring it back online both in the U.S. and internationally," said Jenn Topper, communications director for The Sunlight Foundation
The Internet

When Hacking Vigilantism Infringes On Free Speech (betanews.com) 229

An anonymous reader writes: I'm inclined to agree with the suggestion people make that the web is like the Wild West, but that's not to say we have reached the same conclusion for the same reasons. For me, the web — like the Wild West — is not a world filled with danger, but one occupied by vigilantes. As a proponent of free speech, I find this concerning. One of the most highly-lauded of vigilantes is the disparate group marching under the ragged banner of Anonymous.

One of its taglines is 'We Are Anonymous', a phrase that can be uttered by anyone, as there is no membership process — if you say you are part of Anonymous, you are part of Anonymous. The group is not, for the most part, organized. Individuals and factions can fight for or against whatever cause they want, just like real-world vigilante groups. But Anonymous is not alone. There are hacking collectives and other online crusaders who see fit to take the law into their own hands. This is might sound wonderful, but it's not necessarily a good thing. As New World Hackers demonstrate, attacks can target the wrong people and restrict free speech.

The Internet

A Proposal For Dealing With Terrorist Videos On the Internet (vortex.com) 177

Lauren Weinstein writes: Recent claims by some (mostly nontechnical) observers that it would be "simple" for services like YouTube to automatically block "terrorist" videos, in the manner that various major services currently detect child porn images are nonsensical. One major difference is that those still images are detected via data "fingerprinting" techniques that are relatively effective on known still images compared against a known database, but are relatively useless outside the realm of still images, especially for videos of varied origins that are routinely manipulated by uploaders specifically to avoid detection. Two completely different worlds. So are there practical ways to at least help to limit the worst of the violent videos, the ones that most directly portray, promote, and incite terrorism or other violent acts? I believe there are.

Facebook Tweaks Its "Real Names" Policy (thestack.com) 114

An anonymous reader writes: Facebook has announced a US-based trial of minor changes to its controversial process of name verification, apparently in response to last year's controversy over LGBT and transgender users who were penalized for determining their own identity.

The post about the changes reveals that users who report someone else for using a 'fake' name can now provide more background information, and that users who have been asked to confirm their identity by uploading documents, such as a passport or birth certificate, can now also provide additional background information for Facebook to take into account.

This article argues that a frivolous social network should not be allowed to co-opt government-level identity checks simply because it began life in the university arena, and has telescoped the necessary supervision of teenagers transiting to adulthood into a far wider and more diverse network of users.


Interviews: Ask Attorney and Author Mike Godwin a Question 83

Mike Godwin worked as the first staff counsel of the EFF and served as general counsel for the Wikimedia Foundation. He has been a contributing editor of Reason magazine and was elected to the Open Source Initiative board in 2011. Mike is probably best known however for coining the internet adage Godwin's Law. He is currently general counsel and director of innovation policy at the R Street Institute. Mike has given us some of his time to answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question (and one comparison involving Nazis or Hitler) per post.

FBI Admits It Uses Stingrays, Zero-Day Exploits (arstechnica.com) 79

An anonymous reader writes: Amy Hess, the head of the FBI's science and technology division has admitted that the FBI sometimes exploits zero-day vulnerabilities and uses stingrays to catch bad guys. Ars reports: "The admission came in a profile published Tuesday of Amy Hess, the FBI's executive assistant director for science and technology who oversees the bureau's Operational Technology Division. Besides touching on the use of zero-days—that is, attack code that exploits vulnerabilities that remain unpatched, and in most cases are unknown by the company or organization that designs the product—Tuesday's Washington Post article also makes passing mention of another hot-button controversy: the FBI's use of stingrays."

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