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Displays

French Politician Uses Hologram To Hold Meetings In Two Cities At the Same Time (reuters.com) 101

neutrino38 writes: The French presidential election is approaching fast. One of the candidates, Jean-Luc Melenchon, used a hologram to hold two public meetings at once. With a political program that is mostly socialist and very left leaning, some people pointed out that he used private innovation to stand out from the crowd. Reuters notes that this is "not the first politician to employ such technology," adding that "in 2014, then-Turkish prime minister Tayyip Erdogan used a huge hologram of himself to attract wider support, while India's Narendra Modi trounced the opposition with a campaign that included holograms of his speeches in villages across the country." You can watch part of one of Melenchon's virtual meetings here.
Facebook

DC Inauguration Protestors Are Being Hit With Facebook Data Searches (citylab.com) 341

During the protests over the inauguration of Donald Trump, more than 230 protestors were arrested -- many of which were charged with rioting and had their phones seized by Washington, D.C., police. One of the individuals who was arrested received an email from Facebook's "Law Enforcement Response Team," which raises the question: Did D.C. police ask Facebook to reveal information about this arrestee? CityLab reports: In an emailed response to CityLab's request for more information, Rachel Reid, a spokesperson for the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, responded that "MPD does not comment on investigative tactics." The District of Columbia United States Attorney's Office -- the agency leading the prosecution of Inauguration protesters -- has not yet responded to CityLab's inquiry. CityLab also asked Facebook about the email. "We don't comment on individual requests," company spokesperson Jay Nancarrow said. He referred CityLab to the site's law enforcement guidelines page and to its Government Requests Report database, where the public can see how many legal processes it receives from countries worldwide. According to this database, U.S. law enforcement requested information on the accounts of 38,951 users over January to June of 2016, and they received some type of data in 80 percent of cases. Which "legal process" authorities sent to Facebook for information on the protester matters considerably in terms of how much data they can seize for investigation. According to Facebook's legal guidelines, a search warrant, for example, could allow Facebook to give away content data including "messages, photos, videos, timeline posts, and location information." A subpoena or a court order would give authorities less information, but would still include the individual's "name, length of service, credit card information, email address(es), and a recent login/logout IP address(es)."
Government

US House Passes Bill Requiring Warrants To Search Old Emails (reuters.com) 94

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: The U.S. House of Representatives voted on Monday to require law enforcement authorities to obtain a search warrant before seeking old emails from technology companies, a win for privacy advocates fearful the Trump administration may work to expand government surveillance powers. The House passed the measure by a voice vote. But the legislation was expected to encounter resistance in the Senate, where it failed to advance last year amid opposition by a handful of Republican lawmakers after the House passed it unanimously. Currently, agencies such as the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission only need a subpoena to seek such data from a service provider.
Transportation

Microsoft's H-1B Workers Cited In Motion That Successfully Blocked Trump's Travel Ban (geekwire.com) 476

"President Trump's travel ban is on hold," reports WGN. "A federal judge in Seattle blocked the executive order banning travelers from seven predominately Muslim countries." But Slashdot reader theodp noticed that the judge's temporary restraining order might've been responding to something specific: the motion argued Trump's executive order had been harmful because it impacted major tech companies in the state of Washington, including Microsoft. From the motion: Washington's technology industry relies heavily on the H-1B visa program. Nationwide, Washington ranks ninth in the number of applications for high-tech visas. Microsoft, which is headquartered in Washington, employs nearly 5,000 people through the program. Other Washington companies, including Amazon, Expedia, and Starbucks, employ thousands of H-1B visa holders. Loss of highly skilled workers puts Washington companies at a competitive disadvantage with global competitors.
It was in response to the motion from Washington that the judge ultimately ruled that "the States have met their burden of demonstrating that they face immediate and irreparable injury as a result of signing and implementation of the Executive Order," citing its harm on the state's public universities -- and on its tax base. And Attorney General Bob Ferguson told GeekWire that he gave some credit for the judge's ruling to the declarations of support filed by Amazon and Expedia which specifically say that "Microsoft's U.S. workforce is heavily dependent on immigrants and guest workers. At least 76 employees at Microsoft are citizens of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, or Yemen and hold U.S. temporary work visas."
Security

The Netherlands Opts For Manual Vote-Count Amid Cyberattack Fears (independent.co.uk) 117

Bruce66423 writes: Following revelations about the lack of security of the software, the Dutch government has decided to abandon the use of it to count the ballots at the forthcoming election in March. The Independent reports: The decision was taken amidst fears that hackers could influence next month's elections after allegations by the U.S. intelligence agency that Russia hacked into Democrats' emails to help Donald Trump get elected. Russia denies any wrongdoing. Intelligence agencies have warned that three crucial elections in Europe this year in the Netherlands, France and Germany could be vulnerable to manipulation by outside actors. In a letter to the Dutch Parliament, Interior Minister Ronald Plasterk said that 'reports in recent days about vulnerabilities in our systems raise the question of whether the results could be manipulated' and that 'no shadow can be allowed to hang over the result.' In previous elections, the ballots were counted by hand locally but regional and national counts were done electronically. But this year, all ballots will be counted by hand after voters make their choice on 15 March. Dutch media have reported that the counting software may not only be insecure but also outdated. The counting software is reported to be distributed by CD-ROM to regional counting centers, where it is set-up on old computers that are internet connected."
Communications

Hackers Take Over Unsecured Radio Transmitters, Play Anti-Trump Song (arstechnica.com) 99

Ars Technica is reporting that "a certain model of Low Power FM radio transmitter with known vulnerabilities has been targeted in a new wave of radio-station hacks this week." Hackers have taken advantage of an exploit that was known all the way back in April 2016 to take over terrestrial radio stations and broadcast the YG and Nipsey Hussle song "Fuck Donald Trump." From the report: News of the song's unexpected playback on radio stations began emerging shortly after Trump's inauguration on January 20, and the hack has continued to affect LPFM stations -- a type of smaller-radius radio station that began to roll out after the FCC approved the designation in 2000. Over a dozen stations experienced confirmed hacks in recent weeks, with more unconfirmed reports trickling in across the nation. Thus far, the stations' commonality isn't the states of operation or music formats; it's the transmitter. Specifically, hackers have targeted products in the Barix Exstreamer line, which can decode many audio file formats and send them along for LPFM transmission. As Barix told its products' owners in 2016, Exstreamer devices openly connected to the Internet are incredibly vulnerable to having their remote login passwords discovered and systems compromised. The company recommends using full, 24-character passwords and placing any live Internet connections behind firewalls or VPNs. Reports have yet to connect any dots on why the exploit has apparently focused on the YG and Nipsey Hussle song -- though it is fairly popular, having recently finished in the Top 15 of the Village Voice's 2016 Pazz and Jop music critics' poll. Plus, the uncensored lyrics and topical nature are certainly more likely to catch people's attention, especially when played on stations with formats like oldies, classic rock, and Tejano.
Republicans

Reddit Bans Far-Right Groups Altright and Alternativeright (theguardian.com) 899

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Social media site Reddit has banned two of the largest far-right "subreddits" groups it hosts, altright and alternativeright. The subreddits have been used in the organization of America's resurgent neofascist movement but the final straw for Reddit was the two groups' participation in what is known as "doxing": sharing private personal information without permission as a form of online harassment. The subreddits were specifically banned for breaking Reddit's content policy, according to a message posted by the site admins, "specifically, the proliferation of personal and confidential information." Reddit did not make it explicit which content infringed its rules, but it is believed to be attempts to dox the protestor who punched a white nationalist during a TV interview at Donald Trump's inauguration. Speaking to the Daily Beast, one Reddit moderator claimed that the ban was instead a result of its "record monthly traffic" (Reddit moderators, like the creators of individual subreddits, are all volunteers with no official relationship to the site's staff). "It's clear that Reddit banned us because we were becoming very popular and spreading inconvenient truths about who's ruining our country and robbing our children of a future," the moderator said.
Privacy

Secret Rules Make It Pretty Easy For the FBI To Spy On Journalists (theintercept.com) 189

schwit1 shares with us a report on a 11-part series led by The Intercept reporter Cora Currier: Secret FBI rules allow agents to obtain journalists' phone records with approval from two internal officials -- far less oversight than under normal judicial procedures. The classified rules dating from 2013, govern the FBI's use of national security letters, which allow the bureau to obtain information about journalists' calls without going to a judge or informing the news organization being targeted. They have previously been released only in heavily redacted form. Media advocates said the documents show that the FBI imposes few constraints on itself when it bypasses the requirement to go to court and obtain subpoenas or search warrants before accessing journalists' information. The rules stipulate that obtaining a journalist's records with a national security letter requires the signoff of the FBI's general counsel and the executive assistant director of the bureau's National Security Branch, in addition to the regular chain of approval. Generally speaking, there are a variety of FBI officials, including the agents in charge of field offices, who can sign off that an NSL is "relevant" to a national security investigation. There is an extra step under the rules if the NSL targets a journalist in order "to identify confidential news media sources." In that case, the general counsel and the executive assistant director must first consult with the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's National Security Division. But if the NSL is trying to identify a leaker by targeting the records of the potential source, and not the journalist, the Justice Department doesn't need to be involved. The guidelines also specify that the extra oversight layers do not apply if the journalist is believed to be a spy or is part of a news organization "associated with a foreign intelligence service" or "otherwise acting on behalf of a foreign power." Unless, again, the purpose is to identify a leak, in which case the general counsel and executive assistant director must approve the request.
Government

Trump's Next Immigration Move To Affect H-1B Visas; Require Tech Companies To Try To Hire Americans First: Bloomberg (bloomberg.com) 834

AdamnSelene writes: A report in Bloomberg describes a draft executive order that will hit the tech industry hard and potentially change the way those companies recruit workers from abroad. The H-1B, L-1, E-2, and B1 work visa programs would be targeted by requiring companies to prioritize higher-paid immigrant workers over lower-paid workers. In addition, the order will impose statistical reporting requirements on tech companies who sponsor workers under these programs. The order is expected to impact STEM workers from India the most. Penguinisto adds: If (perhaps when) the president follows through, his next move could limit or at least seriously alter the way H-1B visas are distributed, putting U.S. citizens at a higher priority, and possibly restricting H1-B visas tighter. From the article: "If implemented, the reforms could shift the way American companies like Microsoft, Amazon and Apple recruit talent and force wholesale changes at Indian companies such as Infosys and Wipro. Businesses would have to try to hire Americans first and if they recruit foreign workers, priority would be given to the most highly paid. "Our country's immigration policies should be designed and implemented to serve, first and foremost, the U.S. national interest," the draft proposal reads, according to a copy reviewed by Bloomberg. "Visa programs for foreign workers should be administered in a manner that protects the civil rights of American workers and current lawful residents, and that prioritizes the protection of American workers -- our forgotten working people -- and the jobs they hold."
United States

Trump's Executive Order Eliminates Privacy Act Protections For Foreigners (whitehouse.gov) 952

Long-time Slashdot reader Kernel Kurtz writes : January 28 is supposed to be Data Privacy Day, so it seems fitting in an alternative sort of way that U.S. President Trump just signed an executive order that eliminates Privacy Act protections for foreigners. As a non-American, I find it curious that the person who says he wants to bring jobs to America is simply confirming the post-Snowden belief that America is not a safe place to do business.
The Privacy Act has been in place since 1974. But now section 14 of Trump's "Enhancing Public Safety" executive order directs federal agencies to "ensure that their privacy policies exclude persons who are not United States citizens or lawful permanent residents from the protections of the Privacy Act regarding personally identifiable information" to the extent consistent with applicable law.
Businesses

Tesla CEO Elon Musk Joins President Trump's New Manufacturing Council (electrek.co) 137

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Electrek: Tesla CEO Elon Musk was already on President Trump's Strategic and Policy Forum, but the White House announced today that he will also be joining the administration's new manufacturing council, a private sector group that advises the U.S. secretary of commerce. He headed a meeting on Monday at the White House. Musk was present along with several other industry leaders who are now also formally joining the manufacturing council. CNBC reports: "The group of business leaders includes Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk and chief executives of large American companies like Ford, Dow Chemical, General Electric, Boeing and Lockheed Martin. Richard Trumka, president of the labor federation AFL-CIO, will also give advice." As we recently reported, while Musk's mission to accelerate the advent of renewable energy might seem at odd with Trump's plan to unlock fossil fuel reserve, but Musk is betting that job creation is more important to the new President than simply satisfying the oil industry. If Trump wants to be the champion of job creation and Tesla shows that renewables create a lot of jobs, then their interests are aligned. Tesla currently employs over 30,000 people, more than 25,000 of which are in the U.S. The company wants to add over 3,000 manufacturing jobs at its factory in Fremont, California, 1,000 at its solar panel factory in Buffalo, New York, and over to 6,500 at the Gigafactory in Nevada.
Government

Trump's FCC Chairman Pick Ajit Pai Vows To Close Broadband 'Digital Divide' (arstechnica.com) 292

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: On his first full day as Federal Communications Commission Chairman, Republican Ajit Pai yesterday spoke to FCC staff and said one of his top priorities will be bringing broadband to all Americans. "One of the most significant things that I've seen during my time here is that there is a digital divide in this country -- between those who can use cutting-edge communications services and those who do not," Pai said (transcript). "I believe one of our core priorities going forward should be to close that divide -- to do what's necessary to help the private sector build networks, send signals, and distribute information to American consumers, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or anything else. We must work to bring the benefits of the digital age to all Americans." Pai promised to "hear all points of view -- to approach every issue with a literal open door and a figurative open mind," as the FCC "confronts this and many other challenges." Pai didn't offer any specific initiatives for closing the digital divide yesterday, but in September 2016 he outlined a "digital empowerment agenda." The plan included "remov[ing] regulatory barriers to broadband deployment," changes to pole attachment rules, and "dig once" policies that install broadband conduit when roads are dug up during any road and highway construction project. He also proposed setting aside 10 percent of spectrum auction proceeds for deployment of mobile broadband in rural areas. Pai suggested requiring mobile carriers to build out service to 95 percent of the population in areas where they have spectrum licenses; he noted that some licenses only required service for 66 percent or 75 percent of residents, a problem in sparsely populated rural areas. At the same time, he proposed extending initial spectrum license terms from 10 years to 15 years to give the carriers more time to complete the construction. Pai also proposed creating "gigabit opportunity zones" in areas where average household income is below 75 percent of the national median. In these areas, state and local lawmakers would have to "adopt streamlined, broadband deployment-friendly policies," and there would be tax incentives and tax credits for companies building high-speed networks.
Government

USDA Scrambles To Ease Concerns After Researchers Were Ordered To Stop Publishing Publicly Funded Science (popsci.com) 372

Layzej writes: Popular Science reports that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is now barred from communicating with the public. [And early this morning, BuzzFeed revealed that] The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has banned scientists and other employees from sharing the results of its taxpayer-funded research with the broader public. From the report: "The memo outlining these new rules has not been made public, but the ban reportedly includes everything from summaries of scientific papers to USDA-branded tweets. Scientists are still able to publish their findings in peer-reviewed journals, but they are unable to talk about that research without prior consent from their agency. This is not the first time that public science has been hamstrung by a gag order. To this day, the quantity of oil spewed into the ocean during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil spill remains something of a mystery. Many of the scientists who worked on the spill were hired by BP and barred from speaking on it. But gag orders -- while always troublesome -- have usually been limited to one specific issue. Right now, the EPA and USDA have been forbidden to speak about all of their scientific research. It means that many of the kinds of stories we now cover will never see the light of day." UPDATE 1/24/17: The USDA has disavowed the memo sent to employees at its Agricultural Research Service unit. USDA's deputy administrator, Michael Young, clarified that the gag order specifically applies to policy-related statements in press releases and interviews, which need to be vetted with the secretary of agriculture. He told The Washington Post that peer-reviewed scientific papers from the unit should not be blocked, nor should food safety announcements. The Washington Post notes that "the memo's shortness and terse language seems to have exacerbated the confusion: 'Starting immediately and until further notice, ARS will not release any public-facing documents. This includes, but is not limited to, news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds, and social media content,' wrote ARS chief Sharon Drumm in an email to employees."
Government

Ask Slashdot: Can US Citizens Trust Government Data? (msn.com) 460

mmell writes: An editorial in the Washington Post and made publicly available via an MSN news feed has asked the question: "In the Trump administration era of 'alternative facts,' what happens to government data?" Given that Slashdot members (and readers) may represent a somewhat more in-the-know crowd on matters concerning data integrity and trustworthiness, I thought this would be a good place to ask: can we trust (or has anyone ever really trusted) government data? One might think government data would all be cut 'n' dried and not subject to manipulation, but I personally remember when government data back early in the Reagan presidency went from reporting nearly 15% unemployment nationwide to well under 6% by redefining what "unemployed" meant. So . . . has government data ever been trustworthy, and is it still so?
Power

New Wyoming Bill Penalizes Utilities Using Renewable Energy (csmonitor.com) 502

An anonymous reader quotes a Christian Science Monitor report on "a bill that would essentially ban large-scale renewable energy" in Wyoming. The new Wyoming bill would forbid utilities from using solar or wind sources for their electricity by 2019, according to Inside Climate News... The bill would require utilities to use "eligible resources" to meet 95 percent of Wyoming's electricity needs in 2018, and all of its electricity needs in 2019. Those "eligible resources" are defined solely as coal, hydroelectric, natural gas, nuclear, oil, and individual net metering... Utility-scale wind and solar farms are not included in the bill's list of "eligible resources," making it illegal for Wyoming utilities to use them in any way if the legislation passes. The bill calls for a fine of $10 per megawatt-hour of electricity from a renewable source to be slapped on Wyoming utilities that provide power from unapproved sources to in-state customers.
The bill also prohibits utilities from raising rates to cover the cost of those penalties, though utilities wouldn't be penalized if they exported that energy to other states. But one local activist described it as 'talking-point' legislation, and even the bill's sponsor gives it only a 50% chance of passing.

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