Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: Should Commercial Software Prices Be Pegged To a Country's GDP? 181

Here's a bright idea from dryriver Why don't software makers look at the average income level in a given country -- per capita GDP for example -- and adjust their software prices in these countries accordingly? Most software makers in the U.S. and EU currently insist on charging the full U.S. or EU price in much poorer countries. "Rampant piracy" and "low sales" is often the result in these countries. Why not change this by charging lower software prices in less wealthy countries?
This presupposes the continuing existence of closed-source software businesses -- but is there a way to make that pricing more fair? Leave your best suggestions in the comments. should commercial software prices be pegged to a country's GDP?
Books

Amazon, Apple To End Audiobook Exclusivity: EU (marketwatch.com) 16

European Union antitrust regulators on Thursday said they welcomed a move by Amazon.com to end exclusivity obligations for the supply and distribution of audiobooks between the e-commerce giant and Apple. From a report: The European Commission, the EU's antitrust watchdog, said the exclusivity obligations required Apple to source only from Amazon's unit Audible and also required Audible not to supply other music digital platforms besides Apple's iTunes store. The agreement between the two companies, which was struck Jan. 5 2017, will improve competition in downloadable audiobook distribution in Europe, the EU said.
EU

Apple Increases App Store Prices By 25% Following Brexit Vote (theguardian.com) 169

Following the UK's vote to leave the European Union last year, Apple is raising prices on its UK App Store by almost 25 percent to counter the depreciation of the pound. For example, an app that costs $0.99 in the U.S., and used to cost 0.79 British pounds, will now cost 0.99 British pounds. The Guardian reports: Apple announced the price rises in an email to app developers on Tuesday, and told them "when foreign exchange rates or taxation changes, we sometimes need to update prices on the App Store." It says the new prices will roll out over the next seven days, giving customers a short opportunity to beat the price increase. Similar price increases are expected to hit other Apple stores, including the iTunes Store for music and video and the iBooks Store. Britain isn't the only country experiencing price changes. India is seeing price increases due to changes in service taxes, while Turkish prices are also rising due to depreciation of the Turkish Lira. Since the vote to leave the European Union, the value of the pound has fallen by 18.5% against the U.S. dollar. In a statement, Apple said: "Price tiers on the App Store are set internationally on the basis of several factors, including currency exchange rates, business practices, taxes and the cost of doing business. These factors vary from region to region and over time."
Government

President Obama Commutes Chelsea Manning's Sentence (theverge.com) 795

The New York Times is reporting that President Obama has commuted Chelsea Manning's sentence. What this translates to is a reduced sentence for Manning, from 35 years to just over seven years. Since Manning has already served a majority of those years, she is due to be released from federal custody on May 17th. The Verge reports: While serving as an intelligence analyst in Iraq, Manning leaked more than 700,000 documents to Wikileaks, including video of a 2007 airstrike in Baghdad that killed two Reuters employees. In 2013, Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for her role in the leak and has been held at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth for the past three years. Julian Assange, who has long been sought by U.S. and EU authorities for extradition on Swedish rape charges, had previously pledged to surrender himself to U.S. authorities if Manning was pardoned. Born Bradley Manning, Chelsea announced her gender transition the day after the verdict was handed down. "I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female," she said in a statement. "Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible." Obtaining the resulting medical treatments was extremely difficult for Manning, and was the subject of significant and sustained activism. After a lawsuit, Manning was approved for hormone therapy in 2015. In September 2016, she launched a hunger strike, demanding access to gender reassignment surgery; the military complied five days later.
Privacy

Switzerland Agrees To Its Own New Data Sharing Pact With the US (silicon.co.uk) 15

Mickeycaskill quotes a report from Silicon.co.uk: Switzerland has agreed its own new data transfer agreement with the United States, basing the framework on the deal struck by the European Union (EU) following the invalidation of Safe Harbour. The previous arrangement was invalidated because of concerns about U.S. mass surveillance but Switzerland says the new Swiss-U.S. Privacy Shield will allow Swiss companies to transfer customer data without the need for additional contractual guarantees. The Swiss Federal Council, a seven member executive council that is effectively the head of government in Switzerland, claim citizens will benefit from additional protections and the ability to contact an ombudsman about data issues. Although not part of the EU, Switzerland is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA) and has several bilateral agreements with the EU that sees it adopt many of the bigger bloc's policies. The Federal Council says the alignment between the EU and the Swiss transatlantic data sharing partnerships is good news for multinational organizations.
EU

Europe Calls For Mandatory 'Kill Switches' On Robots (cnn.com) 173

To combat the robot revolution, the European Parliament's legal affairs committee has proposed that robots be equipped with emergency "kill switches" to prevent them from causing excessive damage. Legislators have also suggested that robots be insured and even be made to pay taxes. "A growing number of areas of our daily lives are increasingly affected by robotics," said Mady Delvaux, the parliamentarian who authored the proposal. "To ensure that robots are and will remain in the service of humans, we urgently need to create a robust European legal framework." CNNMoney reports: The proposal calls for a new charter on robotics that would give engineers guidance on how to design ethical and safe machines. For example, designers should include "kill switches" so that robots can be turned off in emergencies. They must also make sure that robots can be reprogrammed if their software doesn't work as designed. The proposal states that designers, producers and operators of robots should generally be governed by the "laws of robotics" described by science fiction writer Isaac Asimov. The proposal also says that robots should always be identifiable as mechanical creations. That will help prevent humans from developing emotional attachments. "You always have to tell people that robot is not a human and a robot will never be a human," said Delvaux. "You must never think that a robot is a human and that he loves you." The report cites the example of care robots, saying that people who are physically dependent on them could develop emotional attachments. The proposal calls for a compulsory insurance scheme -- similar to car insurance -- that would require producers and owners to take out insurance to cover the damage caused by their robots. The proposal explores whether sophisticated autonomous robots should be given the status of "electronic persons." This designation would apply in situations where robots make autonomous decisions or interact with humans independently. It would also saddle robots with certain rights and obligations -- for example, robots would be responsible for any damage they cause. If advanced robots start replacing human workers in large numbers, the report recommends the European Commission force their owners to pay taxes or contribute to social security.
Privacy

WhatsApp, Gmail Roped Into Tougher EU Privacy Proposal (reuters.com) 36

Online messaging and email services such as WhatsApp, iMessage and Gmail will face tough new rules on how they can track users under a proposal presented by the European Union executive on Tuesday. From a report: The web players will have to guarantee the confidentiality of their customers' conversations and ask for their consent before tracking them online to serve them personalized ads. The proposal by the European Commission extends some rules that now only apply to telecom operators to web companies offering calls and messages using the internet, known as "Over-The-Top" (OTT) services, seeking to close a perceived regulatory gap between the telecoms industry and mainly U.S. Internet giants such as Facebook, Google and Microsoft.
Transportation

Diesel Cars Produce More Toxic Emissions Than Trucks and Buses, EU Study Says (theverge.com) 154

Modern diesel cars produce more toxic emissions than trucks and buses, according to European researchers. That's because heavy duty vehicles in the EU have much stricter regulations than cars, and so even if they meet lab tests, cars end up producing much more nitrogen oxides (NOx) when driven on actual roads. From a report: The new report, released by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), shows that trucks and buses tested in Germany and Finland emitted about 210mg NOx per kilometer driven, less than half the 500mg/km produced by diesel cars that meet the highest "Euro 6" emission standards.
Privacy

Ultrasound Tracking Could Be Used To Deanonymize Tor Users (bleepingcomputer.com) 207

New submitter x_t0ken_407 quotes a report from BleepingComputer: Ultrasounds emitted by ads or JavaScript code hidden on a page accessed through the Tor Browser can deanonymize Tor users by making nearby phones or computers send identity beacons back to advertisers, data which contains sensitive information that state-sponsored actors can easily obtain via a subpoena. This attack model was brought to light towards the end of 2016 by a team of six researchers, who presented their findings at the Black Hat Europe 2016 security conference in November and the 33rd Chaos Communication Congress held last week. Their research focuses on the science of ultrasound cross-device tracking (uXDT), a new technology that started being deployed in modern-day advertising platforms around 2014. uXDT relies on advertisers hiding ultrasounds in their ads. When the ad plays on a TV or radio, or some ad code runs on a mobile or computer, it emits ultrasounds that get picked up by the microphone of nearby laptops, desktops, tablets or smartphones. These second-stage devices, who silently listen in the background, will interpret these ultrasounds, which contain hidden instructions, telling them to ping back to the advertiser's server with details about that device. Advertisers use uXDT in order to link different devices to the same person and create better advertising profiles so to deliver better-targeted ads in the future. The attack that the research team put together relies on tricking a Tor user into accessing a web page that contains ads that emit ultrasounds or accessing a page that contains hidden JavaScript code that forces the browser to emit the ultrasounds via the HTML5 Audio API.
Transportation

Uber Drivers Deemed To Be Employees By Swiss Insurance Provider (techcrunch.com) 121

An anonymous shares a TechCrunch article: Uber has suffered another setback to its operational model in Europe after a Swiss insurance agency ruled that Uber drivers are employees, not freelance contractors as the company claims -- meaning it must pay social security contributions. This follows a similar ruling by a UK employment tribunal in October which found that the two Uber drivers bringing the claim were employed as workers by Uber, rather than being freelance contractors. Swiss broadcaster SRF says the Suva agency made its decision on the status of Uber drivers in the market on account of their inability to set price or payment type, and because they are threatened with consequences from Uber if they do not fulfill its requirements. The Suva described its decision on the classification as a "clear conclusion." The public sector insurer is involved in determining whether workers are freelance or not as a provider of compulsory on-the-job accident insurance which is required for certain high risk professions.
Businesses

Work Emails After Hours Finally Banned in France (fortune.com) 234

An anonymous reader quotes Fortune: A new French law establishing workers' "right to disconnect" goes into effect today. The law requires companies with more than 50 employees to establish hours when staff should not send or answer emails. The goals of the law include making sure employees are fairly paid for work, and preventing burnout by protecting private time. French legislator Benoit Hamon, speaking to the BBC, described the law as an answer to the travails of employees who "leave the office, but they do not leave their work. They remain attached by a kind of electronic leash -- like a dog."
The BBC reports that France already has a 35-hour work week, while Fortune adds that many European companies have already taken steps to curtail after-work emails. "In 2012, Volkswagen blocked all emails to employees' Blackberries after-hours," and "Daimler took the step of deleting all emails received by employees while on vacation."
Facebook

Germany Considers Fining Facebook $522,000 Per Fake News Item (heatst.com) 333

"The government of Germany is considering imposing a legal regime that would allow fining social networks such as Facebook up to 500,000 euros ($522,000) for each day the platform leaves a 'fake news' story up without deleting it," according to a story shared by schwit1. PC Magazine has more details: The law would reportedly apply to other social networks as well. "If after the relevant checks Facebook does not immediately, within 24 hours, delete the offending post then [it] must reckon with severe penalties of up to 500,000 euros," Germany's parliamentary chief of the Social Democrat party Thomas Oppermann said in an interview with Germany's Der Spiegel magazine, according to a report from Heat Street. Under the law, "official and private complainants" would be able to flag news on Facebook as fake, Heat Street reported. Facebook and other affected social networks would have to create "in-country offices focused on responding to takedown demands," the report says. The bill, slated for consideration next year, is said to have bipartisan support. According to the article, "Lawmakers in the country are reportedly hoping it will prevent Russia from interfering in Germany's elections next year."
EU

Automatic Brakes Stopped Berlin Truck During Christmas Market Attack (dw.com) 164

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Deutsche Welle: The truck that plowed into a Berlin Christmas market, killing 12, came to a halt due an automatic braking system, according to German media reports on Wednesday. The automatic braking system potentially saved the lives of many more people in the recent terrorist attack. An investigation by newspaper "Suddeutsche Zeitung" and broadcasters "NDR" and "WDR" found the Scania R 450 semi-trailer stopped after between 70 and 80 meters (250 feet). The system was reportedly engaged after sensing a collision. Previous reports speculated that the truck had driven erratically and stopped due to the heroic actions of the truck's Polish driver, who lay fatally wounded in the cabin. In 2012 the European Union adopted regulations requiring all new trucks exceeding 3,500 kilograms be fitted with advanced emergency braking systems. The systems initially alert drivers and then take evasive action. The regulation was adopted to reduce the number of rear end collisions by trucks.
EU

Czech Republic Sets Up Counter-Terrorism Unit To Counter Fake News Threat (cnn.com) 119

According to CNN, the Czech Republic is setting up a new counter-terrorism unit to combat the rise of fake news or "foreign disinformation campaigns." The counter-terrorism unit is called "The Center Against Terrorism and Hybrid Threats," and is due to start operating on Sunday, according to an interior ministry statement. CNN reports: The new center is intended to monitor internal security threats, including attacks on soft targets and extremism, as well as "disinformation campaigns related to internal security." Its establishment follows the publication in September of a Czech intelligence service report that identified Russian disinformation and cyber-espionage activities as a potential threat to the Czech Republic, European Union and NATO. The Czech Republic is due to hold a general election next year. According to the Czech Security Information Service (BIS) annual report, Russia in 2015 used "influence and information operations" to try to manipulate public opinion in the Czech Republic in relation to Syria and Ukraine. Russia is involved in conflicts in both these countries. Russia's hybrid warfare operations included "weakening the strength of Czech media" through "covert infiltration of Czech media and the Internet, massive production of Russian propaganda and disinformation controlled by the state," the report said. Other Russian operations included founding puppet organizations, the "covert and open support of populist or extremist subjects," and "disrupting the coherence and readiness of NATO and the EU," the report claimed. "The above-mentioned activities pose a threat to the Czech Republic, EU and NATO not only in relation to the Ukrainian and Syrian conflicts. "The infrastructure created for achieving these goals will not disappear with the end of the two conflicts. It can be used to destabilize or manipulate Czech society or political environment at any time, if Russia wishes to do so." According to the Czech interior ministry, its new unit won't be interrogating anyone, censoring online content or bringing legal proceedings, nor will it "have a button for 'switching off the internet.'" But it will monitor threats, inform the public about "serious cases of disinformation" and promote internal security expertise.
United Kingdom

After Brexit, More Than 100 Firms May Move To Ireland (mirror.co.uk) 442

An anonymous reader quotes The Daily Mirror: Ireland has said it has received more than 100 inquiries from major firms looking to move from the UK because of Brexit. Martin Shanahan, the chief executive of the Industrial Development Agency, said the bulk of the interest came from banks and financial institutions based in the City of London. He told the Guardian newspaper that Dublin was looking to capitalize on Brexit by wooing firms with its low corporation tax rate and status as the only English speaking country in the EU after the UK leaves the trading bloc... A recent report by accountants PwC said up to 100,000 jobs in the UK financial services sector could be lost if the UK cannot strike a deal on passporting.
The New York Times also reports on the European Medicines Agency -- which oversees approval of drugs across Europe (like America's FDA) from London. The agency believes that relocating to a different country could mean losing up to half its employees, which would majorly impact the licensing and monitoring of prescription drugs for the entire European Union.
EU

EU's Highest Court Delivers Blow To UK Snooper's Charter (theguardian.com) 156

"General and indiscriminate retention" of emails and electronic communications by governments is illegal, the EU's highest court has ruled, in a judgment that could trigger challenges against the UK's new Investigatory Powers Act -- the so-called snooper's charter. From a report on The Guardian: Only targeted interception of traffic and location data in order to combat serious crime -- including terrorism -- is justified, according to a long-awaited decision by the European court of justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg. The finding came in response to a legal challenge initially brought by the Brexit secretary, David Davis, when he was a backbench MP, and Tom Watson, Labour's deputy leader, over the legality of GCHQ's bulk interception of call records and online messages. Davis and Watson, who were supported by Liberty, the Law Society, the Open Rights Group and Privacy International, had already won a high court victory on the issue, but the government appealed and the case was referred by appeal judges to the ECJ. The case will now return to the court of appeal to be resolved in terms of UK legislation.
Facebook

EU Accuses Facebook Of Giving Misleading Information During WhatsApp Takeover (reuters.com) 27

The European Commission has charged Facebook with providing misleading information during its takeover of the online messaging service WhatsApp, opening the company to a possible fine of 1 percent of its turnover. From a report on Reuters: The statement of objections sent to Facebook will not have an impact on the approval of the $22 billion merger in 2014, the Commission said in a statement on Tuesday. Facebook becomes the latest Silicon Valley target of EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager, who has demanded Apple pay back $14 billion in taxes to Ireland and hit Google with two market abuse investigations. The issue regards a WhatsApp privacy policy change in August when it said it would share some users' phone numbers with parent company Facebook, triggering investigations by a number of EU data protection authorities. The Commission said Facebook had indicated in its notification of the planned acquisition that it would be unable reliably to match the two companies' user accounts. "In today's Statement of Objections, the Commission takes the preliminary view that, contrary to Facebook's statements and reply during the merger review, the technical possibility of automatically matching Facebook users' IDs with WhatsApp users' IDs already existed in 2014," it said.
EU

Apple Appeals EU Tax Ruling, Says It Was a 'Convenient Target' (reuters.com) 122

Apple has launched a legal challenge to a record $14 billion EU tax demand, arguing that EU regulators ignored tax experts and corporate law and deliberately picked a method to maximize the penalty, senior executives said. From a report on Reuters: Apple's combative stand underlines its anger with the European Commission, which said on Aug. 30 the company's Irish tax deal was illegal state aid and ordered it to repay up to 13 billion euros ($13.8 billion) to Ireland, where Apple has its European headquarters. European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, a former Danish economy minister, said Apple's Irish tax bill implied a tax rate of 0.005 percent in 2014. General Counsel Bruce Sewell and Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri outlined in an interview with Reuters at Apple's global headquarters in Cupertino the company's plans for its appeal against the Commission's ruling at Europe's second highest court. The iPhone and iPad maker was singled out because of its success, Sewell said. "Apple is not an outlier in any sense that matters to the law. Apple is a convenient target because it generates lots of headlines. It allows the commissioner to become Dane of the year for 2016," he said, referring to the title accorded to Vestager by Danish newspaper Berlingske last month.
Botnet

The FBI Is Arresting People Who Rent DDoS Botnets (bleepingcomputer.com) 212

This week the FBI arrested a 26-year-old southern California man for launching a DDoS attack against online chat service Chatango at the end of 2014 and in early 2015 -- part of a new crackdown on the customers of "DDoS-for-hire" services. An anonymous reader writes: Sean Krishanmakoto Sharma, a computer science graduate student at USC, is now facing up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000. Court documents describe a service called Xtreme Stresser as "basically a Linux botnet DDoS tool," and allege that Sharma rented it for an attack on Chatango, an online chat service. "Sharma is now free on a $100,000 bail," reports Bleeping Computer, adding "As part of his bail release agreement, Sharma is banned from accessing certain sites such as HackForums and tools such as VPNs..."

"Sharma's arrest is part of a bigger operation against DDoS-for-Hire services, called Operation Tarpit," the article points out. "Coordinated by Europol, Operation Tarpit took place between December 5 and December 9, and concluded with the arrest of 34 users of DDoS-for-hire services across the globe, in countries such as Australia, Belgium, France, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States." It grew out of an earlier investigation into a U.K.-based DDoS-for-hire service which had 400 customers who ultimately launched 603,499 DDoS attacks on 224,548 targets.

Most of the other suspects arrested were under the age of 20.
Microsoft

LinkedIn Warns 9.5 Million Lynda Users About Database Breach (neowin.net) 35

Less than four weeks after Microsoft formally acquired LinkedIn for $26 billion, there's been a database breach. An anonymous reader writes: LinkedIn is sending emails to 9.5 million users of Lynda.com, its online learning subsidiary, warning the users of a database breach by "an unauthorized third party". The affected database included contact information for at least some of the users. An email to customers says "while we have no evidence that your specific account was accessed or that any data has been made publicly available, we wanted to notify you as a precautionary measure." Ironically, the breach comes less than a month after Russia blocked access to LinkedIn over privacy concerns.
LinkedIn has also reset the passwords for 55,000 Lynda.com accounts (though apparently many of its users don't have accounts with passwords).

Slashdot Top Deals