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Google

Google: FBI's Plan To Expand Hacking Power a "Monumental" Constitutional Threat 51

Posted by samzenpus
from the lets-see-what-you-got dept.
schwit1 writes with news about Google's reservations to a Justice Department proposal on warrants for electronic data. "Any change in accessing computer data should go through Congress, the search giant said. The search giant submitted public comments earlier this week opposing a Justice Department proposal that would grant judges more leeway in how they can approve search warrants for electronic data. The push to change an arcane federal rule "raises a number of monumental and highly complex constitutional, legal, and geopolitical concerns that should be left to Congress to decide," wrote Richard Salgado, Google's director for law enforcement and information security. The provision, known as Rule 41 of the federal rules of criminal procedure, generally permits judges to grant search warrants only within the bounds of their judicial district. Last year, the Justice Department petitioned a judicial advisory committee to amend the rule to allow judges to approve warrants outside their jurisdictions or in cases where authorities are unsure where a computer is located. Google, in its comments, blasted the desired rule change as overly vague, saying the proposal could authorize remote searches on the data of millions of Americans simultaneously—particularly those who share a network or router—and cautioned it rested on shaky legal footing."
The Internet

HTTP/2 Finalized 171

Posted by Soulskill
from the onward-and-upward dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Mark Nottingham, chair of the IETF HTTP working group, has announced that the HTTP/2 specification is done. It's on its way to the RFC Editor, along with the HPACK specification, where it'll be cleaned up and published. "The new standard brings a number of benefits to one of the Web's core technologies, such as faster page loads, longer-lived connections, more items arriving sooner and server push. HTTP/2 uses the same HTTP APIs that developers are familiar with, but offers a number of new features they can adopt. One notable change is that HTTP requests will be 'cheaper' to make. ... With HTTP/2, a new multiplexing feature allows lots of requests to be delivered at the same time, so the page load isn't blocked." Here's the HTTP/2 FAQ, and we recently talked about some common criticisms of the spec.
Patents

Patent Troll Wins $15.7M From Samsung By Claiming To Own Bluetooth 126

Posted by Soulskill
from the also-invented-the-moon dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A jury has upheld patent claims against Samsung and awarded the patent-holder $15.7 million. "The patents relate to compatibility between different types of modems, and connect to a string of applications going back to 1997. The first version of Bluetooth was invented by Swedish cell phone company Ericsson in 1994." Lawyers for the plaintiff argue that the patents cover all devices that use Bluetooth 2.0 or later, so further cases could extend far beyond Samsung. Of course, the company that won the lawsuit wasn't the one who made the invention, or the one who patented it. The company is Rembrandt IP, "one of the oldest and most successful" patent trolls.
Encryption

Obama Says He's 'A Strong Believer In Strong Encryption' 220

Posted by Soulskill
from the except-when-it-helps-the-terrists dept.
An anonymous reader writes: U.S. President Barack Obama spoke with Re/code recently on a variety of topics relating to technology. The talk included the president's thoughts on encryption, which has been a controversial subject in tech circles lately after government officials (including Obama himself) have publicly complained about default encryption in modern communication tools. In the interview, he says he's a "strong believer in strong encryption," adding, "I lean probably further on side of strong encryption than some in law enforcement." Obama puts it another way, more bluntly: "There's no scenario in which we don't want really strong encryption." However, the president says the public itself is driving concern for leaving law enforcement a way in: "The first time that an attack takes place in which it turns out that we had a lead and we couldn't follow up on it, the public's going to demand answers."
Privacy

Privacy: the 21st Century's Newest Luxury Item 111

Posted by Soulskill
from the lifestyles-of-the-rich-and-anonymous dept.
chicksdaddy writes: There is a report today on the 21st century's newest luxury item: online privacy The Christian Science Monitor writes about the growing market for premium privacy protection tools available to tech-savvy consumers with the desire for online anonymity — and the means to pay for it.

The piece profiles new tools from companies like Abine that deliver everything from self-destructing e-mail messages to the 21st century's equivalent of Kleenex: one-off "throwaway" online identities to keep advertisers, merchants and government snoops at bay. Privacy experts, however, doubt that the new tools will tip the scales of online privacy in favor of consumers and away from governments and advertisers. "Consumers really don't have a fighting chance," says Andrea Matwyshyn of Princeton University. "Technology moves entirely too fast."

She and others see the need for both bigger fixes and the level of Internet infrastructure and law. "As a consumer protection matter, there needs to be a floor," she said. "Just as there are laws protecting renters from substandard housing, or car buyers from 'lemons,' there need to be regulations that create a buffer between consumers and companies."
Government

How Big Telecom Tried To Kill Net Neutrality Before It Was Even a Concept 62

Posted by samzenpus
from the snuffing-it-out dept.
An anonymous reader writes This opinion piece at Ars looks at the telecommunications industry's ability to shape policy and its power over lawmakers. "...as the Baby Bells rolled out their DSL service, they saw the cable industry's more relaxed regulations and total lack of competition and wanted the same treatment from the government. They launched a massive lobbying effort to push the Clinton and Bush administrations, the Federal Communication Commission, and Congress to eliminate the network sharing requirement that had spawned the CLEC market and to deregulate DSL services more broadly. Between 1999 and 2002 the four companies spent a combined $95.6 million on lobbying the federal government, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, which would rank them above such trade group lobbying behemoths as the Chamber of Commerce and the American Medical Association in total lobbying expenditures for the years. The companies also spent millions to lobby the public directly through aggressive advertising and public relations campaigns."
Networking

Li-Fi-like System Pushes 100Gbps Within a Small Room 38

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-big-or-go-home dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Oxford University is [building] a system that takes light from the fiber, amplifies it, and beams it across a room to deliver data at more than 100 gigabits per second. ... The trick, of course, is getting the light beam exactly where it needs to go. An optical fiber makes for a target that's only 8 or 9 micrometers in diameter, after all. The team, which also included researchers from University College, London, accomplished this using so-called holographic beam steering at both the transmitter and receiver ends. These use an array of liquid crystals to create a programmable diffraction grating that reflects the light in the desired direction. ... With a 60-degree field of view, the team was able to transmit six different wavelengths, each at 37.4 Gb/s, for an aggregate bandwidth of 224 Gb/s (abstract). With a 36-degree field of view, they managed only three channels, for 112 Gb/s.
Programming

Should We Really Try To Teach Everyone To Code? 291

Posted by Soulskill
from the going-recursive dept.
theodp writes: Gottfried Sehringer asks Should We Really Try to Teach Everyone to Code? He writes, "While everyone today needs to be an app developer, is learning to code really the answer? Henry Ford said that, 'If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.' I view everyone learning to code as app development's version of a faster horse. What we all really want — and need — is a car. The industry is falling back on code because for most people, it's the only thing they know. If you want to build an application, you have to code it. And if you want to build more apps, then you have to teach more people how to code, right? Instead, shouldn't we be asking whether coding is really the best way to build apps in the first place? Sure, code will always have a place in the world, but is it the language for the masses? Is it what we should be teaching everyone, including our kids?" President Obama thinks so, telling Re/code at Friday's Cyber Security Summit that 'everybody's got to learn to code early' (video). But until domestic girls (including his daughters) and underrepresented groups get with the program(ming), the President explained he's pushing tech immigration reform hard and using executive action to help address tech's "urgent need" for global talent.
Crime

MegaUpload Programmer Pleads Guilty, Gets a Year In Prison 188

Posted by Soulskill
from the first-domino-falls dept.
An anonymous reader writes When MegaUpload was shut down a few years back, seven of the company's employees were indicted by the U.S. We heard a lot about Kim Dotcom's court proceedings, but not much about the others. A few days ago, we received word that programmer Andrus Nomm has been arrested in Virginia. This came as a surprise to everyone involved. MegaUpload attorney Ira Rothken said it was likely Nomm had made a deal with the Feds. Now, we know for sure: Nomm has pleaded guilty to felony copyright infringement and was sentenced to a year and a day in prison. In a statement, the Department of Justice said they will continue to pursue his co-conspirators.
Japan

Cosmic Rays To Reveal the Melted Nuclear Fuel In Fukushima's Reactors 68

Posted by Soulskill
from the using-whatever-tools-are-available dept.
the_newsbeagle writes: Muons, produced when cosmic rays collide with molecules in the atmosphere, are streaming through your body as you read this. The particles pass through most matter unimpeded, however they can interact with heavy elements like uranium and plutonium. That's why engineers at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi power plant are using muon detectors to look for the melted nuclear fuel inside the plant's three melted-down reactors. By determining where muons are being diverted from their paths, the detectors create images of the blobs of fuel. That's necessary because nobody knows exactly where the radioactive gloop ended up during the meltdowns.
Government

Tech Industry In Search of Leadership At White House Cyber Summit 44

Posted by Soulskill
from the innovating-new-ways-to-share-your-data dept.
chicksdaddy writes: President Obama travels to Stanford University on Friday to join Apple CEO Tim Cook in talking about the need for more private-public sector cooperation to fight cyber crime. But technology industry executives attending the White House Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection complain that a major obstacle to cooperation is a lack of legislative action that clarify the rules of the road for private firms when it comes to sharing information about customers with the government and each other.

The controversy over government surveillance has put the ball in the government's court, said Michael Brown, RSA's Global Public Sector Vice President. "They need to articulate what amount of access to private information is 'appropriate and legal' for law enforcement and the government," Brown said. "It's not just about 'when, where, and how.' They also need to clearly articulate 'why' – for example: this is a matter of public safety and this is the only way we can get this information."

Also on the to-do list, say executives: a re-writing of the 80s-era Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and a federal data breach notification law that creates a consistent, national standard. Currently, 48 states have passed such laws, creating a compliance mess for private firms that discover they have leaked customer data.
Businesses

What Intel's $300 Million Diversity Pledge Really Means 254

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-does-it-buy? dept.
itwbennett writes Intel's Rosalind Hudnell is responsible for implementing the company's much-publicized $300 million initiative to bring more women and under-represented minorities into its workforce by 2020. But even with Intel's renewed commitment to diversity, the company's workforce will still be just about 32 percent women in five years, Hudnell estimated. Here's a rough breakdown of how the money will be spent: The funds will be applied over five years to change hiring practices, retool human resources, fund companies run by minorities and women, and promote STEM education in high schools.
Medicine

Low Vaccination Rates At Silicon Valley Daycare Facilities 580

Posted by timothy
from the they-like-contagious-ideas dept.
Vaccination rates across the U.S. don't neatly correlate with religiosity or wealth; Wired reports that one conspicuous pocket of low vaccination rates, according to California's state database of daycare records, is a place where you might not expect it: Silicon Valley — specifically, the daycare centers at some large tech companies. A WIRED investigation shows that some children attending day care facilities affiliated with prominent Silicon Valley companies have not been completely vaccinated against preventable infectious diseases. At least, that’s according to a giant database from the California Department of Public Health, which tracks the vaccination rates at day care facilities and preschools in the state. We selected more than 20 large technology and health companies in the Bay Area and researched their day care offerings. Of 12 day care facilities affiliated with tech companies, six—that’s half—have below-average vaccination rates, according to the state’s data. ... And those six have a level of measles vaccination that does not provide the “herd immunity” critical to the spread of the disease. Now, this data has limitations—most critically, it might not be current. But it also suggests an incursion of anti-science, anti-vaccine thinking in one of the smartest regions on Earth.
Education

WA Pushes Back On Microsoft and Code.org's Call For Girls-First CS Education 288

Posted by timothy
from the when-parity-approache-parody dept.
theodp writes On Tuesday, the State of Washington heard public testimony on House Bill 1813 (video), which takes aim at boy's historical over-representation in K-12 computer classes. To allow them to catch flights, representatives of Microsoft and Microsoft-bankrolled Code.org were permitted to give their testimony before anyone else ("way too many young people, particularly our girls...simply don't have access to the courses at all," lamented Jane Broom, who manages Microsoft's philanthropic portfolio), so it's unclear whether they were headed to the airport when a representative of the WA State Superintendent of Public Instruction voiced the sole dissent against the Bill. "The Superintendent strongly believes in the need to improve our ability to teach STEM, to advance computer science, to make technology more available to all students," explained Chris Vance. "Our problem, and our concern, is with the use of the competitive grant program...just providing these opportunities to a small number of students...that's the whole basic problem...disparity of opportunity...if this is a real priority...fund it fully" (HB 1813, like the White House K-12 CS plan, counts on philanthropy to make up for tax shortfalls). Hey, parents of boys are likely to be happy to see another instance of educators striving to be more inclusive than tech when it comes to encouraging CS participation!
Facebook

Facebook Launches ThreatExchange To Let Companies Share Threat Info 30

Posted by samzenpus
from the protect-ya-neck dept.
An anonymous reader writes Facebook today launched ThreatExchange, described as "an API-based clearinghouse for security threat information." It's really a social platform, which Facebook naturally excels at building, which allows companies to share with each other details about malware and phishing attacks. Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, and Yahoo participated in ThreatExchange and gave feedback as Facebook was developing it. New contributors Bitly and Dropbox have also recently joined, bringing the initial participant list to seven major tech companies.
Power

Converting Sunlight Into Liquid Fuel With a Bionic Leaf 68

Posted by Soulskill
from the who-needs-dead-dinosaurs dept.
hypnosec writes: Artificial leaf techology made waves the moment it was announced by Daniel Nocera back in 2011. His latest research, published in PNAS, involves gathering hydrogen from this artificial leaf, carbon dioxide from another source, and feeding it to Ralstonia eutropha bacteria to create liquid fuel. Once the materials are fed to the bacteria, "An enzyme takes the hydrogen back to protons and electrons, then combines them with carbon dioxide to replicate—making more cells. Next, ... new pathways in the bacterium are metabolically engineered to make isopropanol." Researchers say the same process could be used to make vitamins.
Privacy

FBI Attempts To Prevent Disclosure of Stingray Use By Local Cops 85

Posted by Soulskill
from the annnnnd-we're-back dept.
Ever since the public became aware that law enforcement is making use of StingRay devices — hardware that imitates a cellular tower so that nearby mobile devices connect to it — transparency advocates have been filing Freedom of Information Act requests to see just how these devices are being used. But these advocates have now found that such requests relating to local police are being shunted to the FBI, who then acts to prevent disclosure.

ACLU lawyer Nathan Wessler says, "What is most egregious about this is that, in order for local police to use and purchase stingrays, they have to get approval from the FBI, then the FBI knows that dozens of police departments are using them around the country. And yet when members of the press or the public seek basic information about how people in local communities are being surveilled, the FBI invokes these very serious national security concerns to try to keep that information private."
Security

EU Parliament Blocks Outlook Apps For Members Over Privacy Concerns 24

Posted by timothy
from the network-hygiene dept.
jfruh writes Microsoft last week released Outlook apps for iOS and Android, but one group that won't be getting to use them is members of the European Parliament. They've been advised by their tech staff that the apps are insecure and that they shouldn't download them — and if they have, they should change their Outlook passwords.
Open Source

Measuring the Value of Open Hardware Designs 18

Posted by Soulskill
from the buy-one-get-one-free dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Industry knows open source software has an immense value, but how valuable is an open hardware design? To answer that question, Dr. Joshua Pearce, an associate professor at Michigan Tech University, analyzed three methods to quantify the value of open hardware design in the latest issue of the journal Modern Economy. The methods are summarized in an article at opensource.com.
Education

Will Elementary School Teachers Take the Rap For Tech's Diversity Problem? 493

Posted by timothy
from the would-blame-middle-school-teachers-myself dept.
theodp (442580) writes "Citing a new study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research (free to Federal employees), the NY Times reports on how elementary school teachers' pro-boy biases can discourage girls from math and science. "The pipeline for women to enter math and science occupations narrows at many points between kindergarten and a career choice," writes Claire Cain Miller, "but elementary school seems to be a critical juncture. Reversing bias among teachers could increase the number of women who enter fields like computer science and engineering, which are some of the fastest growing and highest paying. 'It goes a long way to showing it's not the students or the home, but the classroom teacher's behavior that explains part of the differences over time between boys and girls,' said Victor Lavy, an economist at University of Warwick in England and a co-author of the paper." Although the study took place in Israel, Lavy said that similar research had been conducted in several European countries and that he expected the results were applicable in the United States."