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United States

Larry Lessig Ends Presidential Campaign, Citing Unfair Debate Rules ( 309

An anonymous reader writes: Harvard law professor Larry Lessig is ending his run for the Democratic presidential nomination. Lessig blames the demise of his campaign on party rules that have left him "shut out" of the Democratic debates. "The party won't let me be a candidate," Lessig said in his final campaign video. "I can't ask people to support a campaign that I know can't get before the members of the Democratic Party."

The Rise of Political Doxing ( 176

An anonymous reader writes: Security guru Bruce Schneier predicts a new trend in hacking: political doxing. He points to the recent hack of CIA director Jack Brennan's personal email account and notes that it marks a shift in the purpose of email hacking: "Here, the attacker had a more political motive. He wasn't out to intimidate Brennan; he simply wanted to embarrass him. His personal papers were dumped indiscriminately, fodder for an eager press." Schneier continues, "As people realize what an effective attack this can be, and how an individual can use the tactic to do considerable damage to powerful people and institutions, we're going to see a lot more of it. ... In the end, doxing is a tactic that the powerless can effectively use against the powerful."
United States

US Law Can't Keep Up With Technology -- and Why That's a Good Thing ( 187 writes: In the 1910s, the number of cars in the US exploded from 200,000 to 2.5 million. The newfangled machines scared horses and ran over pedestrians, but by the time government could pass the very first traffic law, it was too late to stop them. Now Kevin Matley writes in Newsweek that thanks to political gridlock in the US, lawmakers respond to innovations with all the speed of continental drift. New technologies spread almost instantly and take hold with almost no legal oversight. According to Matley, this is terrific for tech startups, especially those aimed at demolishing creaky old norms—like taxis, or flight paths over crowded airspace, or money. "Drone aircraft are suddenly filling the sky, and a whole multibillion-dollar industry of drone making and drone services has taken hold," says Matley. "If the FAA had been either farsighted or fast moving, at the first sign of drones it might've outlawed them or confined them to someplace like Oklahoma where they can't get in the way of anything too important. But now the FAA is forced to accommodate drones, not the other way around." Bitcoin is another example of a technology that's too late to stop. "But have you heard the word bitcoin uttered once in any of the presidential debates? Government doesn't even understand bitcoin, and that's been really good for it." Uber and Airbnb show how to execute this outrun-the-government strategy. By the time cities understood what those companies were doing, it was too late to block or seriously limit them.
United States

Real-World Roadblocks To Implementing CISA 31

An anonymous reader writes: The recent approval of CISA (the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act) by the US Congress and Senate is paving the way for broader security collaboration. If and when CISA is ratified into law, the chief obstacles to cybersecurity collaboration within the private sector will remain. CISA promotes sharing – but when dealing with cyber threat data companies are also concerned about other mandates which may govern the information being shared. These include anti-trust, privacy, sectorial directives and data protection regulations that affect many multi-national organizations.

EU Parliament: Citizens' Rights Still Endangered By Mass Surveillance 53

New submitter hughankers writes with this slice of a press release from the European Parliament:: Too little has been done to safeguard citizens' fundamental rights following revelations of electronic mass surveillance, say MEPs in a resolution voted on Thursday. They urge the EU Commission to ensure that all data transfers to the US are subject to an "effective level of protection" and ask EU member states to grant protection to Edward Snowden, as a "human rights defender". Parliament also raises concerns about surveillance laws in several EU countries.

This resolution, approved by 342 votes to 274, with 29 abstentions, takes stock of the (lack of) action taken by the European Commission, other EU institutions and member states on the recommendations set out by Parliament in its resolution of 12 March 2014 on the electronic mass surveillance of EU citizens, drawn up in the wake of Edward Snowden's revelations.

Finland Begins To Shape Basic Income Proposal ( 674

jones_supa writes: The Finnish social insurance institution is to begin drawing up plans for a citizens' basic income model. If eventually deployed after an experimental phase, the model could revolutionize the Finnish social welfare system. Under basic income all citizens would be paid a taxless benefit sum free of charge by the government. The proposal's director Olli Kangas says that the model would see Finns being paid some 800 euros a month in its full form, 550 euros monthly in the model's pilot phase. The full-fledged form of the model would make some earnings-based benefits obsolete, but in the partial pilot format benefits would not be affected, and housing and income support would remain as separate packages. We first mentioned this plan a few months ago, and at the start of the year touched on a program that tied a basic income program with the Fimkrypto cryptocurrency.

Non-Binding Resolution: EU States Should Protect Snowden 210

The New York Times reports that the European Parliament has voted to adopt "a nonbinding but nonetheless forceful resolution" urging the EU's member nations to recognize Edward Snowden as a whistleblower, rather than aid in prosecuting him on behalf of the United States government. From the article: Whether to grant Mr. Snowden asylum remains a decision for the individual European governments, and thus far, none have done so. Still, the resolution was the strongest statement of support seen for Mr. Snowden from the European Parliament. At the same time, the close vote — 285 to 281 — suggested the extent to which some European lawmakers are wary of alienating the United States. ... The resolution calls on European Union members to "drop any criminal charges against Edward Snowden, grant him protection and consequently prevent extradition or rendition by third parties." Also at Wired, USA Today and many others; Snowden himself has tweeted happily about the news.

China Ends One-Child Policy 279

jones_supa writes: China has scrapped its one-child policy, allowing all couples to have two children for the first time since draconian family planning rules were introduced in 1979. The announcement followed a four-day Communist Party summit in Beijing where China's top leaders debated financial reforms and how to maintain growth at a time of heightened concerns over the economy. China will "fully implement a policy of allowing each couple to have two children as an active response to an ageing population," the party said in a statement published by Xinhua.
United Kingdom

UK Government Says App Developers Won't Be Forced To Implement Backdoors ( 86

Mark Wilson writes: The UK government is sending mixed messages about how it views privacy and security. Fears have been mounting since Prime Minister David Cameron wondered aloud 'in our country, do we want to allow a means of communication between people which we cannot read?' — his view obviously being that, no, we don't want to allow such a thing. Following the revelations about the spying activities of the NSA and GCHQ, public attention has been focused more than ever on privacy and encryption, Cameron having also suggested a desire to ban encryption. Today, some fears were allayed when it was announced that the government was not seeking to require software developers to build backdoors into their products. That said, the government said that companies should be able to decrypt 'targeted' data when required, and provide access to it.

Is Buying Cuban Software Legal In the US? The Answer is Hazy ( 75

lpress writes: The Treasury Department recently issued new regulations authorizing "the importation of Cuban-origin mobile applications and the employment of Cuban nationals by persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction to develop such mobile applications." Great, but that is ambiguous, so I asked Treasury some follow-up questions: why is the rule restricted to mobile apps, what is the definition of a mobile app and can the Cuban developer work for a Cuban cooperative or government enterprise or must it be an individual? The answers were mostly "no comment" so the best way to clarify the situation is to try it and see what happens.
The Military

Russian Presence Near Undersea Cables Concerns US ( 273

An anonymous reader writes: The NY Times reports that the presence of Russian ships near important, undersea internet cables is raising concern with U.S. military and intelligence officials. From the article: "The issue goes beyond old Cold War worries that the Russians would tap into the cables — a task American intelligence agencies also mastered decades ago. The alarm today is deeper: The ultimate Russian hack on the United States could involve severing the fiber-optic cables at some of their hardest-to-access locations to halt the instant communications on which the West's governments, economies and citizens have grown dependent.
Just last month, the Russian spy ship Yantar, equipped with two self-propelled deep-sea submersible craft, cruised slowly off the East Coast of the United States on its way to Cuba — where one major cable lands near the American naval station at Guantánamo Bay. It was monitored constantly by American spy satellites, ships and planes. Navy officials said the Yantar and the submersible vehicles it can drop off its decks have the capability to cut cables miles down in the sea. What worries Pentagon planners most is that the Russians appear to be looking for vulnerabilities at much greater depths, where the cables are hard to monitor and breaks are hard to find and repair.


Judge: School's Facebook Post is a Campaign Contribution ( 86

schwit1 writes: A Colorado judge has ruled that a Facebook post by Liberty Common School amounts to an illegal campaign contribution to a Thompson School District board candidate. In August, the Fort Collins charter school shared with its Facebook followers a newspaper article about a parent of a student running for a board seat in the neighboring school district. Liberty Common's principal, former Colorado Congressman Bob Schaffer, then shared the post and called candidate Tomi Grundvig an "excellent education leader" who would provide "sensible stewardship" of Thompson.

The campaign manager for Grundvig's rival filed a complaint, and it had to be settled by the courts. Administrative law judge Matthew E. Norwood called the violation "minor," and ruled that "no government money of any significant amount was spent to make the contribution." He also focused on the post to the school's specific page, not Schaffer's personal page. "The school's action was the giving of a thing of value to the candidate, namely favorable publicity," Norwood wrote.


Sen. Ron Wyden Explains the Fight Ahead Over CISA 23

blottsie writes: Sen. Ron Wyden has led the fight against the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), which the Senate advanced on Thursday in a 84-14 vote. In a new interview with the Daily Dot, Wyden explains why privacy advocates call CISA a "surveillance bill," and discusses why an amendment from Sen. Whitehouse could make CISA more problematic for Internet users' civil liberties.

Reactions Split On What Canada's Liberal Majority Means For Tech Policy Future ( 220

Dangerous_Minds writes: Few could have predicted the Liberal majority win in Canada's recent election. Now that the Canadian government is in a state of transition, some have speculated what the new government will bring to the table when it comes to a policy on technology. Michael Geist is speculating that the people in the new Liberal government may bring about a positive policy change, concluding "All of this points to real change and the chance for a fresh start on Canadian digital policy in the years ahead." Meanwhile, Freezenet has a very different take. Drew Wilson points out that the last time the Liberal government was in power, the party was very combative on digital rights because they were trying to bring in Lawful Access and the Canadian DMCA before Stephen Harper took power. In one very infamous exchange, Sam Bulte lashed out at people like Michael Geist by calling him and his supporters "pro-user zealots". With digital rights not even on the radar during the election outside of Bill C-51 towards the beginning and the Liberals long history on these files, Wilson paints a very bleak future given that the Liberal party now has a majority government and can push through policies unopposed whether controversial or not.

House of Representatives Proposal Aims To Regulate Car Privacy ( 58

itwbennett writes: Even though, as reported today on Slashdot, 'experts from government, industry, and academia say they have no confidence they'll develop a secure system that can protect users from tracking and privacy breaches,' a subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives have 'proposed that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration set up an Automotive Cybersecurity Advisory Council to develop cybersecurity best-practice.' The draft proposal would require vehicle manufacturers to 'develop and implement' a privacy policy outlining their information-gathering practices, and would make vehicle data hacking illegal and subject to a $100,000 penalty for each violation.
United Kingdom

Big Data Attempts To Find Meaning In 40 Years of UK Political Debate ( 44

An anonymous reader writes: International researchers have analyzed 40 years of political speeches from the UK Parliament in an effort to move the study of political theory from social science towards the quantitative analysis offered by Big Data analytics techniques. The group used Python to crunch publicly available data from, comprising 3.7 million individual speeches. A few strange trends emerged in this initial experiment, such as the decline of 'health care' as a trending Parliamentary topic, with 'welfare' consistently on the rise, and the decrease of fervent interest in any particular topic during the more pacific years under Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair.

Clinton Home Servers Had Ports Open ( 470

Jim Efaw writes: Hillary Clinton's home servers had more than just the e-mail ports open directly to the Internet. The Associated Press discovered, by using scanning results from 2012 "widely available online", that the server also had the RDP port open; another machine on her network had the VNC port open, and another one had a web server open even though it didn't appear to be configured for a real site. Clinton previously said that her server featured "numerous safeguards," but hasn't explained what that means. Apparently, requiring a VPN wasn't one of them.

Treat Computer Science As a Science: It's the Law 219

theodp writes: Last week, President Obama signed into law H.R. 1020, the STEM Education Act of 2015, which expands the definition of STEM to include computer science for the purposes of carrying out education activities at the NSF, DOE, NASA, NOAA, NIST, and the EPA. The Bill was introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Rep. Elizabeth Etsy (D-CT). Smith's February press release linked to letters of support from tech billionaire-backed (whose leadership includes Microsoft President Brad Smith), and the Microsoft-backed STEM Education Coalition (whose leadership includes Microsoft Director of Education Policy Allyson Knox).

Bernie Sanders Comes Out Against CISA 211

erier2003 writes: Sen. Bernie Sanders' opposition to the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act in its current form aligns him with privacy advocates and makes him the only presidential candidate to stake out that position, just as cybersecurity issues loom large over the 2016 election, from email server security to the foreign-policy implications of data breaches. The Senate is preparing to vote on CISA, a bill to address gaps in America's cyberdefenses by letting corporations share threat data with the government. But privacy advocates and security experts oppose the bill because customers' personal information could make it into the shared data.