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Google

Google and Facebook: Unelected Superpowers? 239

Posted by timothy
from the but-if-by-elect-you-mean-choose dept.
theodp (442580) writes "'The government is not the only American power whose motivations need to be rigourously examined,' writes The Telegraph's Katherine Rushton. 'Some 2,400 miles away from Washington, in Silicon Valley, Google is aggressively gaining power with little to keep it in check. It has cosied up to governments around the world so effectively that its chairman, Eric Schmidt, is a White House advisor. In Britain, its executives meet with ministers more than almost any other corporation. Google can't be blamed for this: one of its jobs is to lobby for laws that benefit its shareholders, but it is up to governments to push back. As things stand, Google — and to a lesser extent, Facebook — are in danger of becoming the architects of the law.' Schmidt, by the way, is apparently interested in influencing at least two current hot-button White House issues. Joined by execs from Apple, Oracle, and Facebook, the Google Chairman asserted in a March letter to Secretary of State John Kerry that the proposed Keystone XL pipeline is not in the economic interests of the U.S.; the Obama administration on Friday extended the review period on the pipeline, perhaps until after the Nov. 4 congressional elections. And as a 'Major Contributor' to Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us PAC, Schmidt is also helping to shape public opinion on the White House's call for immigration reform; FWD.us just launched new attack ads (videos) and a petition aimed at immigration reform opponent Rep. Steve King. In Dave Eggers' The Circle, politicians who impede the company execs' agenda are immediately brought down. But that's fiction, right?"
Canada

RCMP Arrest Canadian Teen For Heartbleed Exploit 104

Posted by timothy
from the they-got-their-man dept.
According to PC Mag, a "19-year-old Canadian was arrested on Tuesday for his alleged role in the breach of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) website, the first known arrest for exploiting the Heartbleed bug. Stephen Arthuro Solis-Reyes (pictured) of London, Ontario faces one count of Unauthorized Use of Computer and one count of Mischief in Relation to Data." That exploit led to a deadline extension for some Canadian taxpayers in getting in their returns this year. The Register has the story as well. The Montreal Gazette has some pointed questions about how much the Canadian tax authorities knew about the breach, and when.
Government

Canada Introduces Privacy Reforms That Encourage Warrantless Disclosure of Info 99

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-do-you-want-to-know? dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Earlier this week, the government introduced the Digital Privacy Act (Bill S-4), the latest attempt to update Canada's private sector privacy law. Michael Geist reports that the bill includes a provision that could massively expand warrantless disclosure of personal information. Organizations will be permitted to disclose personal information without consent (and without a court order) to any organization that is investigating a contractual breach or possible violation of any law. This applies both past breaches or violations as well as potential future violations. Moreover, the disclosure occurs in secret without the knowledge of the affected person (who therefore cannot challenge the disclosure since they are not aware it is happening). Consider it a gift to copyright trolls, who won't need the courts to obtain information on thousands of Internet users."
Canada

Canada Halts Online Tax Returns In Wake of Heartbleed 50

Posted by timothy
from the worse-than-a-syrup-heist dept.
alphadogg (971356) writes "Canada Revenue Agency has halted online filing of tax returns by the country's citizens following the disclosure of the Heartbleed security vulnerability that rocked the Internet this week. The country's Minister of National Revenue wrote in a Twitter message on Wednesday that interest and penalties will not be applied to those filing 2013 tax returns after April 30, the last date for filing the returns, for a period equal to the length of the service disruption. The agency has suspended public access to its online services as a preventive measure to protect the information it holds, while it investigates the potential impact on tax payer information, it said."
Government

More On the "Cuban Twitter" Scam 90

Posted by timothy
from the disrupting-the-moral-purity-of-the-cuban-autocracy dept.
We mentioned a few days ago the USAID-funded SMS social network that was connecting Cubans against the wishes of the Cuban government. Now Glen Greenwald's The Intercept has more on this kind of back-channel government intervention via what he characterizes as "the Internet propaganda bucket." Advocatus Diaboli (1627651) writes with an excerpt: "These ideas–discussions of how to exploit the internet, specifically social media, to surreptitiously disseminate viewpoints friendly to western interests and spread false or damaging information about targets–appear repeatedly throughout the archive of materials provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Documents prepared by NSA and its British counterpart GCHQ–and previously published by The Intercept as well as some by NBC News–detailed several of those programs, including a unit devoted in part to "discrediting" the agency's enemies with false information spread online.

The documents in the archive show that the British are particularly aggressive and eager in this regard, and formally shared their methods with their U.S. counterparts. One previously undisclosed top-secret document–prepared by GCHQ for the 2010 annual "SIGDEV" gathering of the "Five Eyes" surveillance alliance comprising the UK, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and the U.S.–explicitly discusses ways to exploit Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other social media as secret platforms for propaganda."
Power

Cheaper Fuel From Self-Destructing Trees 112

Posted by samzenpus
from the larch-powered dept.
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Wood is great for building and heating homes, but it's the bane of biofuels. When converting plants to fuels, engineers must remove a key component of wood, known as lignin, to get to the sugary cellulose that's fermented into alcohols and other energy-rich compounds. That's costly because it normally requires high temperatures and caustic chemicals. Now, researchers in the United States and Canada have modified the lignin in poplar trees to self-destruct under mild processing conditions—a trick that could slash the cost of turning plant biomass into biofuels."
Biotech

Ancient Virus DNA Discovery Could Be a Breakthrough In How Diseases Are Treated 53

Posted by samzenpus
from the oldest-medicine dept.
concertina226 (2447056) writes "Understanding how retroviruses are passed down through our DNA could be the key to helping researchers re-programme normal cells to become stem cells for treating diseases. Researchers from Canada and Singapore have discovered that the ancient viruses which entered our ancestors' genomes thousands of years ago have altered the way our cells behave; the material left by dead viruses in our cells is the answer. 1,000 copies of one particular class of retroviruses, known as the human endogenous retrovirus HERV-H, is still in our genome, and while the HERV-H retrovirus DNA is dead and cannot replicate itself, it continues to send out messages telling the embryonic stem cell how to become other cells in the body, and this is what makes the cells pluripotent."
The Almighty Buck

Adaptation From Flash Boys Offers Inside Look at High-Frequency Trading 246

Posted by samzenpus
from the rigged-game dept.
Lasrick (2629253) writes "This NYT adaptation from the book provides an in-depth and infuriating look at how the stock market is rigged. Brad Katsuyama of the Royal Bank of Canada couldn't understand why stock he was trying to buy would suddenly vanish: 'Before RBC acquired this supposed state-of-the-art electronic-trading firm, Katsuyama's computers worked as he expected them to. Suddenly they didn't. It used to be that when his trading screens showed 10,000 shares of Intel offered at $22 a share, it meant that he could buy 10,000 shares of Intel for $22 a share. He had only to push a button. By the spring of 2007, however, when he pushed the button to complete a trade, the offers would vanish.' The ensuing investigation by Katsuyama led him to design a program that actually slowed down the trades. But Katsuyama's investigation revealed so much about how the system is rigged."
Canada

Canada & Korea Show Trade Treaties Can Skip Copyright Rule Changes 35

Posted by timothy
from the anything-you-don't-put-your-mind-to dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Canada and South Korea announced agreement on a comprehensive trade agreement earlier today. Michael Geist reports that the intellectual property chapter is significant for what it does not include. Unlike many other trade deals — particularly those involving the U.S., European Union, and Australia — the Canada-South Korea deal is content to leave domestic intellectual property rules largely untouched. Instead, the approach is to reaffirm the importance of intellectual property and ensure that both countries meet their international obligations, but not to use trade agreements as a backdoor mechanism to increase IP protections. That means no copyright term extension, no three-strikes and you're out rules, and increase to pharma patents."
Transportation

Drones Used To Smuggle Drugs Into Prison 137

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the prisons-upgraded-with-anti-drone-missles dept.
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Over the weekend, a 28-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of using a small quadcopter drone to smuggle an unknown quantity of illegal drugs into a prison in Melbourne, Australia. While it's certainly not the first time small-fry UAV technology has been used by a mid-level mule to airmail drugs into the clink, it does suggest a growing trend in the highest-tech of prison highs. Here, then, is a brief history of drone-assisted prison drug smuggling In November 2013, guards at Hull jail in Gatineau, Canada, spotted a small drone flying over the prison's walls [beware the autoplaying videos]. An exhaustive search of both Hull's grounds and the immediate vicinity turned up nothing by way of whatever contraband the drone might have been toting around.

Nevertheless, it didn't appear to be one-off incident 'This sort of thing happens often in prisons all across Quebec,' Stephane Lemaire, president of Quebec's correctional officers' union, told the Ottawa Sun. 'Usually the drones are carrying small packages of drugs or other illicit substances.' The problem, Lemaire added, is that 'the drone can be controlled from more than a kilometer away, and the [Hull] prison is surrounded by forest.'"
Privacy

Mass. Legislature Strikes Back: Upskirt Photos Now Officially a Misdemeanor 256

Posted by timothy
from the banned-in-boston dept.
Just a day after a Massachusetts court said that current state law didn't specifically address "upskirt" snapshots (and so left taking them legal in itself, however annoying or invasive), an alert Massachusetts legislature has crafted and passed a bill to fix the glitch, and gotten it signed by the governor as well. As reported by the BBC, "The bill states that anyone who 'photographs, videotapes or electronically surveils' a person's sexual or intimate parts without consent should face a misdemeanor charge. The crime becomes a felony - punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine - if the accused secretly takes indecent photographs of anyone under the age of 18." The New York Daily News points out this bill became a law without so much as a public hearing.
Facebook

Quebec Language Police Target Store Owner's Facebook Page 506

Posted by timothy
from the at-least-they-don't-require-german dept.
New submitter wassomeyob writes "In Canada, the province of Quebec has their Official Language Act of 1974 (aka Bill 22) which makes French their sole official language. It has famously been used to force business owners to modify signage to give French pre-eminance over other languages. Now, the Quebec language police seem to be extending their reach to Facebook. Eva Cooper owns Delilah in the Parc — a shop in Chelsea, Quebec near the Quebec/Ontario border. She received a letter from the language office telling her to translate everything posted on her store's Facebook page into French."
The Military

US War Machine Downsizing? 506

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the how-will-we-defeat-zombie-stalin-now? dept.
mrspoonsi writes "BBC Reports: 'Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has unveiled plans to shrink the U.S. Army to its smallest size since before World War Two. Outlining his budget plan, the Pentagon chief proposed trimming the active-duty Army to between 440,000 and 450,000 personnel — from 520,000 currently. The U.S. currently spends more on defense than the combined total of the next 12 countries, as ranked by defense spending.'"
Cellphones

US Carriers Said To Have Rejected Kill Switch Technology Last Year 197

Posted by samzenpus
from the shut-it-down dept.
alphadogg writes "U.S. cellphone carriers were offered a technology last year that supporters say would dramatically cut incidents of smartphone theft, but the carriers turned it down, according to sources with knowledge of the proposal. The so-called 'kill-switch' software allows consumers to remotely wipe and render their phones useless if stolen. Law enforcement and politicians believe the incentive for stealing a smartphone or tablet would be greatly reduced if the technology became standard, because the devices could quickly be rendered useless. A proposal by Samsung to the five largest U.S. carriers would have made the LoJack software, developed by Canada's Absolute Software, a standard component on many of its Android phones in the U.S. The proposal followed pressure from the offices of the San Francisco District Attorney and the New York Attorney General for the industry to do more to prevent phone theft."
The Courts

Why Copyright Trolling In Canada Doesn't Pay 98

Posted by samzenpus
from the loony-for-loonies dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In the aftermath of the Canadian file sharing decision involving Voltage Pictures that includes an order to disclose thousands of subscriber names, the big question is what comes next. Michael Geist examines the law and economics behind file sharing litigation in Canada and concludes that copyright trolling doesn't pay as the economics of suing thousands of Canadians for downloading a movie for personal purposes is likely to lead to hundreds of thousands in losses for rights holders."
The Courts

Canadian Court Tries to Dampen Copyright Trolls In P2P Lawsuits 60

Posted by timothy
from the good-model-for-us-courts dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Canadian federal court has released its much-anticipated decision in Voltage Pictures v. Does, a case involving demands that TekSavvy, a leading independent ISP, disclose the identities of roughly 2,000 subscribers alleged to have downloaded movies without authorization. Michael Geist notes that the court was sensitive to the copyright troll concern, noting that 'given the issues in play the answers require a delicate balancing of privacy rights versus the rights of copyright holders. This is especially so in the context of modern day technology and users of the Internet.' In order to strike the balance, the court required full court approval of the content of any demand letters and bold warnings that no court had found a recipient liable for any damages."
The Internet

Whatever Happened To the IPv4 Address Crisis? 574

Posted by samzenpus
from the still-working dept.
alphadogg writes "In February 2011, the global Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) allocated the last blocks of IPv4 address space to the five regional Internet registries. At the time, experts warned that within months all available IPv4 addresses in the world would be distributed to ISPs. Soon after that, unless everyone upgraded to IPv6, the world would be facing a crisis that would hamper Internet connectivity for everyone. That crisis would be exacerbated by the skyrocketing demand for IP addresses due to a variety of factors: the Internet of Things (refrigerators needing their own IP address); wearables (watches and glasses demanding connectivity); BYOD (the explosion of mobile devices allowed to connect to the corporate network); and the increase in smartphone use in developing countries. So, here we are three years later and the American Registry for Internet Numbers is still doling out IPv4 addresses in the United States and Canada. Whatever happened to the IPv4 address crisis?"
Canada

Iconic Predator-Prey Study In Peril 84

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the moose-vs-trees-vs-wolves dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Scientists have charted the ebb and flow of moose and wolf populations on Isle Royale in Lake Superior for nearly 50 years. Ice bridges to Canada regularly supplied the genetic stocks for much of that time, but have been rare in recent years leading to inbreeding, dwindling populations and developmental deformity for the wolves that inhabit the island. Now, with the first solid freeze in six years, new wolves could join the mix ... or the remaining island dwellers could leave." If new wolves do not appear, or all of the current wolves leave, the moose would end up destroying the native Fir population. The wildlife service is considering introducing new wolves as part of a genetic rescue, or reintroducing wolves should the population reach zero on its own.
Canada

Massive New Cambrian-Era Fossil Bed Found 108

Posted by Soulskill
from the long-term-storage dept.
jfbilodeau sends word of a massive new trove of fossils located in Canada, which scientists say will rival the acclaimed Burgess Shale fossil bed. The rock formation inside which both fossil sites were found is roughly 505 million years old (abstract). The fossils provide insight into the Cambrian explosion, a time that brought the rapid appearance and diversification of many animal forms. "In just two weeks, the research team collected more than 3,000 fossils representing 55 species. Fifteen of these species are new to science." Paleontologist Jean-Bernard Caron said, "The rate at which we are finding animals — many of which are new — is astonishing, and there is a high possibility that we'll eventually find more species here than at the original Yoho National Park site, and potentially more than from anywhere else in the world." The fossils at the new site are about 100,000 years younger and are better preserved than those at the renowned Burgess shale site.
Canada

Skinny Puppy Wants Compensation For Music Used in US Interrogations 271

Posted by timothy
from the no-need-to-argue-whether-it's-torture dept.
First time accepted submitter time_lords_almanac writes "A Canadian band has sent an invoice to the U.S. Department of Defense after learning that its music was used without permission in 'interrogations' of detainees at Guantanamo Bay. The members of Skinny Puppy, who specialize in electronic music, were originally going to make the invoice the cover of their next album until they discovered they could bring legal action against the department. They were also none to happy to learn the purpose their music was being employed for, let alone illegally. The amount of compensation requested? $666,000, of course."

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