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Businesses

Data Can Help Fix America's Overcrowded Jails, Says White House (cnet.com) 196

An anonymous reader writes from a report via CNET: The White House launched a program called the Data-Driven Justice (DDJ) initiative to help reduce the population of jails. It will allow states to better divert low-level offenders with mental illness out of the criminal justice system and keep low-risk defendants out of jail while they await trial. The DDJ program could help alleviate the cost and congestion facing many of America's local jails, which costs local governments nearly $22 billion a year for minor offenses and low-level non-violent misdemeanors. Every year, 11 million people move through America's local jails. In local jails, 64 percent of people suffer from mental illness, 68 percent have a substance abuse and 44 percent suffer from chronic health problems, according to the White House. Seven states and 60 communities committed to DDJ. The plan is to use data collected on individuals who are often in touch with the police, emergency departments and other services and link them to health, behavioral health and social services within the community. Law enforcement and first responders will also be trained in how to deal with people experiencing mental health issues to better direct them to the proper services. The administration is developing a toolkit that will guide jurisdictions toward the best practices, policies and programs that have been successful in DDJ communities. DDJ will also put in place pre-trial assessment tools to determine whether the individual can safely return to society while awaiting trial without having to post bond. Amazon Web Services is onboard with the project, planning to bring together data scientists, technologists, researchers and private sector collaborators in a Technology and Research Consortium to identify technology solutions and support DDJ communities. A mapping software company, Esri, has pledged half a million dollars worth of software and solutions to the DDJ communities as well. Meanwhile, AWS is providing the cloud-infrastructure, which should help share data between criminal justice and health care practitioners among DDJ communities.
Education

Microsoft President Brad Smith: Computer Science Is Space Race of Today 150

theodp writes: Q. How is K-12 computer science like the Cold War? A. It could use a Sputnik moment, at least that's the gist of an op-ed penned by Senator Jerry Moran (R., KS) and Microsoft President Brad Smith. From the article: "In the wake of the Soviet Union's 1957 Sputnik launch, President Eisenhower confronted the reality that America's educational standards were holding back the country's opportunity to compete on a global technological scale. He responded and called for support of math and science, which resulted in the National Defense Education Act of 1958 and helped send the country to the moon by the end of the next decade. It also created the educational foundation for a new generation of technology, leadership and prosperity. Today we face a similar challenge as the United States competes with nations across the globe in the indispensable field of computer science. To be up to the task, we must do a better job preparing our students for tomorrow's jobs." Smith is also a Board member of tech-bankrolled Code.org, which invoked Sputnik in its 2014 Senate testimony ("learning computer science is this generation's Sputnik moment") as it called for "comprehensive immigration reform efforts that tie H-1B visa fees to a new STEM education fund [...] to support the teaching and learning of more computer science," nicely echoing Microsoft's National Talent Strategy. Tying the lack of K-12 CS education to the need for tech visas is a time-honored tradition of sorts for Microsoft and politicians. As early as 2004, Bill Gates argued that CS education needed its own Sputnik moment, a sentiment shared by Senator Hillary Clinton in 2007 as she and fellow Senators listened to Gates make the case for more H-1B visas as he lamented the lack of CS-savvy U.S. high school students.
Government

Guccifer 2.0 Calls DNC Hack His "Personal Project," Mocks Security Firms (computerworld.com) 108

An anonymous reader writes: The notorious hacker most recently in the news for releasing Clinton Foundation documents has said on Thursday in a blog post that the stolen confidential files from the DNC was his "personal project." Guccifer 2.0, as he identifies himself as, added that security firms and the DNC may be trying to blame the attack on Russia, but "they can prove nothing! All I hear is blah-blah-blah, unfounded theories, and somebody's estimates," he wrote. He claims to be Romanian and says he acted alone, pouring water on the theory that he may be a "smokescreen" to divert attention away from the real culprits, that may have been expert hacking teams based in Russia. "I'd like to reveal a secret to all those cool IT-specialists: All the hackers in the world use almost the same tools," he said. "You can buy them or simply find them on the web." He broke into the network using a little-known vulnerability found in the DNC's software, he added. "The DNC used Windows on their server, so it made my work much easier," he said. "I installed my trojan-like virus on their PCs. I just modified the platform that I bought on the hacking forums for about $1.5k." Guccifer 2.0 also disputed the idea that the DNC breach was an intelligence gathering operation for Russia, saying it was hacktivism.
Democrats

Elizabeth Warren Says Apple, Amazon and Google Are Trying To 'Lock Out' Competition (recode.net) 299

Elizabeth Warren, an American academic and member of the Democratic Party, believes that Google, Apple, and Amazon are trying to use their size to "snuff out competition." In a speech about the perils of "consolidation and concentration" throughout the economy, the Massachusetts senator singled out the three of tech's biggest players. From a report:Warren had different beefs with Google, Apple and Amazon, but the common thread was that she accused each one of using its powerful platform to "lock out smaller guys and newer guys," including some that compete with Google, Apple and Amazon. Google, she said, uses "its dominant search engine to harm rivals of its Google Plus user review feature;" Apple "has placed conditions on its rivals that make it difficult for them to offer competitive streaming services" that compete with Apple Music; and Amazon "uses its position as the dominant bookseller to steer consumers to books published by Amazon to the detriment of other publishers.""Google, Apple and Amazon have created disruptive technologies that changed the world, and ... they deserve to be highly profitable and successful," Warren said. "But the opportunity to compete must remain open for new entrants and smaller competitors that want their chance to change the world again."
Encryption

US Efforts To Regulate Encryption Have Been Flawed, Government Report Finds (theguardian.com) 108

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Guardian: U.S. Republican congressional staff said in a report released Wednesday that previous efforts to regulate privacy technology were flawed and that lawmakers need to learn more about technology before trying to regulate it. The 25-page white paper is entitled Going Dark, Going Forward: A Primer on the Encryption Debate and it does not provide any solution to the encryption fight. However, it is notable for its criticism of other lawmakers who have tried to legislate their way out of the encryption debate. It also sets a new starting point for Congress as it mulls whether to legislate on encryption during the Clinton or Trump administration. "Lawmakers need to develop a far deeper understanding of this complex issue before they attempt a legislative fix," the committee staff wrote in their report. The committee calls for more dialogue on the topic and for more interviews with experts, even though they claim to have already held more than 100 such briefings, some of which are classified. The report says in the first line that public interest in encryption has surged once it was revealed that terrorists behind the Paris and San Bernardino attacks "used encrypted communications to evade detection." Congressman Ted Lieu is pushing the federal government to treat ransomware attacks on medical facilities as data breaches and require notifications of patients.
Businesses

Clinton Tech Plan Reads Like Silicon Valley Wish List (usatoday.com) 351

theodp writes from a report via USA Today: "If there was any lingering doubt as to tech's favored presidential candidate," writes USA Today's Jon Swartz, "Hillary Clinton put an end to that Tuesday with a tech plan that reads like a Silicon Valley wish list. It calls for connecting every U.S. household to high-speed internet by 2020, reducing regulatory barriers and supporting Net neutrality rules, [which ban internet providers from blocking or slowing content.] It proposes investments in computer science and engineering education ("engage the private sector and nonprofits to train up to 50,000 computer science teachers in the next decade"), expansion of 5G mobile data, making inexpensive Wi-Fi available at more airports and train stations, and attaching a green card to the diplomas of foreign-born students earning STEM degrees." dcblogs shares with us a report from Computerworld that specifically discusses Clinton's support of green cards for foreign students who earn STEM degrees: As president, Hillary Clinton will support automatic green cards, or permanent residency, for foreign students who earn advanced STEM degrees. Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, wants the U.S. to "staple" green cards on the diplomas of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) masters and PhD graduates "from accredited institutions." Clinton outlined her plan in a broader tech policy agenda released today. Clinton's "staple" idea isn't new. It's what Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential candidate in 2012, supported. It has had bipartisan support in Congress. But the staple idea is controversial. Critics will say this provision will be hard to control, will foster age discrimination, and put pressure on IT wages.
The Courts

President Obama Should Pardon Edward Snowden Before Leaving Office (theverge.com) 379

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Verge: Ever since Edward Snowden set in motion the most powerful public act of whistleblowing in U.S. history, he has been living in exile in Russia from the United States. An article in this week's New York Magazine looks at how Snowden may have a narrow window of opportunity where President Obama could pardon him before he leaves office. Presumably, once he leaves office, the chances of Snowden being pardoned by Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump are miniscule. Obama has said nothing in the past few years to suggest he's interested in pardoning Snowden. Not only would it contradict his national security policy, but it will severely alienate the intelligence community for many years to come. With that said, anyone who values a free and secure internet believes pardoning Snowden would be the right thing to do. The Verge reports: "[Snowden] faces charges under the Espionage Act, which makes no distinction between delivering classified files to journalists and delivering the same files to a foreign power. For the first 80 years of its life, it was used almost entirely to prosecute spies. The president has prosecuted more whistleblowers under the Espionage Act than all president before him combined. His Justice Department has vastly expanded the scope of the law, turning it from a weapon against the nation's enemies to one that's pointed against its own citizens. The result will be less scrutiny of the nation's most powerful agencies, and fewer forces to keep them in check. With Snowden's push for clemency, the president has a chance to complicate that legacy and begin to undo it. It's the last chance we'll have."
Censorship

Google and Facebook May Be Suppressing 'Extremist' Speech With Copyright Scanners (theverge.com) 156

An anonymous reader quotes this article from The Verge: The systems that automatically enforce copyright laws on the internet may be expanding to block unfavorable speech. Reuters reports that Facebook, Google, and other companies are exploring automated removal of extremist content, and could be repurposing copyright takedown methods to identify and suppress it. It's unclear where the lines have been drawn, but the systems are likely targeted at radical messages on social networks from enemies of European powers and the United States. Leaders in the US and Europe have increasingly decried radical extremism on the internet and have attempted to enlist internet companies in a fight to suppress it.

Many of those companies have been receptive to the idea and already have procedures to block violent and hateful content. Neither Facebook and Google would confirm automation of these efforts to Reuters, which relied on two anonymous sources who are "familiar with the process"... The secret identification and automated blocking of extremist speech would raise new, serious questions about the cooperation of private corporations with censorious governmental interests.

Reuters calls it "a major step forward for internet companies that are eager to eradicate violent propaganda from their sites and are under pressure to do so from governments around the world as attacks by extremists proliferate, from Syria to Belgium and the United States." They also report that the move follows pressure from an anti-extremism group "founded by, among others, Frances Townsend, who advised former president George W. Bush on homeland security, and Mark Wallace, who was deputy campaign manager for the Bush 2004 re-election campaign."
Medicine

New Apps Let Women Obtain Birth Control Without Visiting a Doctor 301

HughPickens.com writes: With nearly 40 percent of all pregnancies in the United States unintended, birth control is a critical public health issue. For short-term methods, visiting the doctor for a prescription can be time-consuming and sometimes costly and for some, like teenagers, it can be intimidating or embarrassing. Now Pam Belluck reports at the NYT that a growing assortment of new apps and websites now make it possible to get prescription contraceptives without going to the doctor as public health experts hope the new apps will encourage more women to start, or restart, using contraception and help reduce the country's stubbornly high rate of unintended pregnancies, as well as the rate of abortions. At least six digital ventures, by private companies and nonprofits, including Planned Parenthood, now provide prescriptions written by clinicians after women answer questions about their health online or by video. All prescribe birth control pills, and some prescribe patches, rings and morning-after pills and some ship contraceptives directly to women's doors. "At first I didn't believe it," said Susan Hashem, who wanted to restart birth control pills without missing work for a doctor's appointment. Hashem used an app called Lemonaid and paid $15 for a doctor to review her medical information and send a pill prescription to a local pharmacy. "I thought it was just a setup to get money," Hashem said. But after she answered the health questions one evening, "a doctor actually contacted me after office hours," and the next morning, she picked up three months' worth of pills.
EU

BBC: UK Votes To Leave The European Union (bbc.com) 1588

An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC: The UK has voted by 52% to 48% to leave the European Union after 43 years in a historic referendum, a BBC forecast suggests. London and Scotland voted strongly to stay in the EU but the remain vote has been undermined by poor results in the north of England. Voters in Wales and the English shires have backed Brexit in large numbers. The referendum turnout was 71.8% -- with more than 30 million people voting -- the highest turnout since 1992. London has voted to stay in the EU by around 60% to 40%. However, no other region of England has voted in favor of remaining. Britain would be the first country to leave the EU since its formation -- but a leave vote will not immediately mean Britain ceases to be a member of the 28-nation bloc. That process could take a minimum of two years, with Leave campaigners suggesting during the referendum campaign that it should not be completed until 2020 -- the date of the next scheduled general election. The prime minister will have to decide when to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which would give the UK two years to negotiate its withdrawal. Once Article 50 has been triggered a country can not rejoin without the consent of all member states. British Prime Minister David Cameron is under pressure to resign as a result of the decision. UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage called on him to quit "immediately." One labor source said, "If we vote to leave, Cameron should seriously consider his position." Several pro-Leave Conservatives including Boris Johnson and Michael Gove have signed a letter to Mr. Cameron urging him to stay no matter the decision. Mr. Cameron did say he would trigger Article 50 as soon as possible after a leave vote.

Update 6/24 09:33 GMT: David Cameron has resigned.
Democrats

Clinton's Private Email Was Blocked By Spam Filters, So State IT Turned Them Off (arstechnica.com) 261

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Documents recently obtained by the conservative advocacy group Judicial Watch show that in December 2010, then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her staff were having difficulty communicating with State Department officials by e-mail because spam filters were blocking their messages. To fix the problem, State Department IT turned the filters off -- potentially exposing State's employees to phishing attacks and other malicious e-mails. The mail problems prompted Clinton Chief of Staff Huma Abedin to suggest to Clinton (PDF), "We should talk about putting you on State e-mail or releasing your e-mail address to the department so you are not going to spam." Clinton replied, "Let's get [a] separate address or device but I don't want any risk of the personal [e-mail] being accessible." The mail filter system -- Trend Micro's ScanMail for Exchange 8 -- was apparently causing some messages from Clinton's private server (Clintonemail.com) to not be delivered (PDF). Some were "bounced;" others were accepted by the server but were quarantined and never delivered to the recipient. According to the e-mail thread published yesterday by Judicial Watch, State's IT team turned off both spam and antivirus filters on two "bridgehead" mail relay servers while waiting for a fix from Trend Micro. There was some doubt about whether Trend Micro would address the issue before State performed an upgrade to the latest version of the mail filtering software. A State Department contractor support tech confirmed that two filters needed to be shut off in order to temporarily fix the problem -- a measure that State's IT team took with some trepidation, because the filters had "blocked malicious content in the recent past." It's not clear from the thread that the issue was ever satisfactorily resolved, either with SMEX 8 or SMEX 10.
Facebook

Facebook Offers Political Bias Training In Wake Of Trending Controversy (gizmodo.com) 206

Michael Nunez, reporting for Gizmodo:Facebook is adding political scenarios to its orientation training following concerns, first reported by Gizmodo, that workers were suppressing conservative topics in its Trending news section. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, announced the change during an interview with conservative leader Arthur Brooks, president of the prominent conservative think tank the American Enterprise Institute. Brooks also attended a private meeting between Facebook executives and prominent conservative leaders following the controversy. "We had an ex-contractor on that team who accused us of liberal bias," Sandberg said during the interview. "Frankly, it rang true to some people because there is concern that Silicon Valley companies have a liberal bias. We did a thorough investigation, and we didn't find a liberal bias."
Communications

Senate Rejects FBI Bid For Warrantless Access To Internet Browsing Histories (zdnet.com) 224

Zack Whittaker, reporting for ZDNet:An amendment designed to allow the government warrantless access to internet browsing histories has been narrowly defeated in the Senate. The amendment fell two votes short of the required 60 votes to advance. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) switched his vote at the last minute. He submitted a motion to reconsider the vote following the defeat. A new vote may be set for later on Wednesday. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) introduced the amendment as an add-on to the commerce, justice, and science appropriations bill earlier this week. McCain said in a statement on Monday that the amendment would "track lone wolves" in the wake of the Orlando massacre, in which Omar Mateen, who authorities say radicalized himself online, killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in the Florida city. The amendment, which may be reconsidered in the near future, aims to broaden the rules governing national security letters, which don't require court approval. These letters allow the FBI to demand records associated with Americans' online communications -- so-called electronic communications transactional records.
Democrats

DNC Hacker Releases Clinton Foundation Documents (washingtonexaminer.com) 156

An anonymous reader writes: Following a report that Russian hackers penetrated the DNC's database, a hacker, who identifies himself as "Guccifer 2.0" after a popular Romanian hacker who hacked various American political figures, most notably Hillary Clinton and her private server, has published documents on Tuesday that he says came from the party's digital files. The documents detail Clinton's weaknesses as a candidate, and include a collection of negative press clips about the Clinton Foundation and a list of defenses against attacks on her private email use. Washington Examiner reports: "Another document, titled '2016 Democrats Positions Cheat Sheet,' listed major policy issues and indicated where Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley, Jim Webb, Lincoln Chaffee, Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden -- all former or possible rivals for the Democratic nomination -- stood on each issue." The documents contain information ranging from how the Clinton Foundation and its allies should respond to criticisms of the Clinton Foundation's revenue sources to how Chelsea Clinton wasn't able to answer questions about Clinton Foundation donations and other instances in which Bill Clinton was called a "sexual predator" for his past indiscretions. Even though the cybersecurity breach was blamed on the Russian government, the Kremlin has denied any involvement. The DNC also has yet to confirm or deny the authenticity of the leaked documents.
Government

Invoking Orlando, Senate Republicans Set Up Vote To Expand FBI Spying (reuters.com) 659

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell set up a vote late on Monday to expand the FBI's authority to use a secretive surveillance order without a warrant to include email metadata and some browsing history information. The move, made via an amendment to a criminal justice appropriations bill, is an effort by Senate Republicans to respond to last week's mass shooting in an Orlando nightclub after a series of measures to restrict guns offered by both parties failed on Monday. Privacy advocates denounced the effort, saying it seeks to exploit a mass shooting in order to expand the government's digital spying powers. The amendment would broaden the FBI's authority to use so-called National Security Letters to include electronic communications transaction records such as time stamps of emails and the emails' senders and recipients. NSLs do not require a warrant and are almost always accompanied by a gag order preventing the service provider from sharing the request with a targeted user. The amendment filed Monday would also make permanent a provision of the USA Patriot Act that allows the intelligence community to conduct surveillance on "lone wolf" suspects who do not have confirmed ties to a foreign terrorist group. A vote is expected no later than Wednesday, McConnell's office said. Last week, FBI Director James Comey said he is "highly confident that [the Orlando shooter] was radicalized at least in part through the internet."

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