The Internet

Pirate Bay Founder: We've Lost the Internet, It's All About Damage Control Now (thenextweb.com) 189

Mar Masson Maack reports via The Next Web: At its inception, the internet was a beautifully idealistic and equal place. But the world sucks and we've continuously made it more and more centralized, taking power away from users and handing it over to big companies. And the worst thing is that we can't fix it -- we can only make it slightly less awful. That was pretty much the core of Pirate Bay's co-founder, Peter Sunde's talk at tech festival Brain Bar Budapest. TNW sat down with the pessimistic activist and controversial figure to discuss how screwed we actually are when it comes to decentralizing the internet.

In Sunde's opinion, people focus too much on what might happen, instead of what is happening. He often gets questions about how a digitally bleak future could look like, but the truth is that we're living it: "Everything has gone wrong. That's the thing, it's not about what will happen in the future it's about what's going on right now. We've centralized all of our data to a guy called Mark Zuckerberg, who's basically the biggest dictator in the world as he wasn't elected by anyone. Trump is basically in control over this data that Zuckerberg has, so I think we're already there. Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong and I don't think there's a way for us to stop it." One of the most important things to realize is that the problem isn't a technological one. "The internet was made to be decentralized," says Sunde, "but we keep centralizing everything on top of the internet."

AT&T

AT&T Uses Forced Arbitration To Overcharge Customers, Senators Say (arstechnica.com) 165

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Five Democratic US senators allege that AT&T's use of forced arbitration clauses has helped the company charge higher prices than the ones it advertises to customers. The senators pointed to a CBS News investigation that described "more than 4,000 complaints against AT&T and [subsidiary] DirecTV related to deals, promotions and overcharging in the past two years." But customers have little recourse because they are forced to settle disputes with AT&T in arbitration, according to Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and Edward Markey (D-Mass.). "Forced arbitration provisions in telecommunications contracts erode Americans' ability to seek justice in the courts by forcing them into a privatized system that is inherently biased in favor of providers and which offers virtually no way to challenge a biased outcome," the senators wrote in a letter yesterday to AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson. "Forced arbitration requires consumers to sign away their constitutional right to hold providers accountable in court just to access modern-day essentials like mobile phone, Internet, and pay-TV services." Forced arbitration provisions such as AT&T's also "include a class action waiver; language which strips consumers of the right to band together with other consumers to challenge a provider's widespread wrongdoing," they wrote.
United Kingdom

Theresa May Loses Overall Majority In UK Parliament (cnn.com) 493

Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain has lost her overall majority in Parliament on Thursday, plunging Britain into a period of renewed political chaos less than two weeks before it is scheduled to begin negotiations over withdrawing from the European Union. While May's Conservative party won the most seats, the party didn't win enough to govern without the support of minority parties. CNN reports: It was devastating result for May, who had called the election three years earlier than required by law, convinced by opinion polls that placed her far ahead of opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. The result also plunges Britain into a period of renewed political chaos, with Brexit talks likely to be delayed and May's personal authority shredded. There was already talk in Conservative circles that she might have to resign, less than a year after taking over from David Cameron, who resigned following the Brexit referendum. The pound fell on currency markets in the wake of the results. After the result was declared in her constituency of Maidenhead, May gave a faltering speech. "At this time more than anything else, this country needs a period of stability," she said, suggesting she would attempt to form a government even if her party loses its majority. Corbyn said the early results showed May had lost her mandate and called for her to resign. Further reading: New York Times
Government

Former FBI Director Admitted He Was the Source Of At Least One Leak To the Press (theoutline.com) 559

Shortly after his dismissal as head of the FBI, James Comey authorized "a close friend" to leak the contents of his memos to the press in order to prompt a special counsel investigation, he said today. From a report: Former FBI Director James Comey testified that he asked a friend, a law professor at Columbia University, to leak details of his dinner with the President to The New York Times, including the claim that the President asked Comey to drop the investigation into former national security advisor Michael Flynn's contacts with Russian officials. Comey kept meticulous memos of all of his interactions with Trump, and he gave that memo to a friend to pass it along to the Times in order to spark a special investigation. "You considered this not a document of the government, but your own personal document that you could share with the media as you want to?" Senator Roy Blunt asked Comey. "Correct," Comey replied. "I understood this to be my recollection recorded of my conversation with the President. As a private citizen, I felt free to share that. I thought it very important to get it out." Edward Snowden tweeted, "It seems the [former] FBI Director agrees: sometimes the only moral decision is to break the rules."
Security

US Spy Chief Reverses Course, Will Not Say How Many Americans Caught in NSA Surveillance (zdnet.com) 146

Zack Whittaker, writing for ZDNet: US Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats has refused to say how many Americans have been caught up in the government's surveillance programs, reversing a confirmation pledge he made earlier this year. Coats said at a hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on the reauthorization of a key foreign surveillance law that it is "infeasible" to provide an estimate of how many Americans' communications have been collected by the National Security Agency. It's a key question that has been raised by senior lawmakers on several occasions of both the Obama and Trump administrations.
Twitter

The Public Is Growing Tired of Trump's Tweets, Says Voter Survey (arstechnica.com) 489

President Donald Trump is the tweeting president. His @realDonaldTrump handle has 31.8 million followers and "35K" tweets. While the president claims to use Twitter to "get the honest and unfiltered message out," many Americans aren't so fond of his favored form of communication. According to a new voter poll (PDF), the public is growing tired of Trump's tweets. Ars Technica reports: A Morning Consult, Politico survey published Wednesday found that 69 percent of voters who took the online survey said they thought Trump tweets too much. That's up from 56 percent from December, months before Trump took office. The survey said that 82 percent of Democrats polled thought Trump tweets too much, up from 75 percent in December. Republicans came in at 53 percent saying the president used Twitter too often, an 11-percent increase from December. Overall, 57 percent of voters who took the survey said Trump's tweets are hurting his presidency. Another 53 percent said his Twitter use undermines U.S. standing in the world. The poll found that 51 percent of all voters said Trump's tweets imperiled national security. What do you think of Trump's tweets? Do you think they are getting old, or do you find them particularly useful?
Facebook

Facebook Unveils New Tools To Help Elected Officials Reach Constituents (techcrunch.com) 52

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Facebook this year has launched a number of features that make it easier for people to reach their government representatives on its social network, including "Town Hall," and related integrations with News Feed, as well as ways to share reps' contact info in your own posts. Today, the company is expanding on these initiatives with those designed for elected officials themselves. The new tools will help officials connect with their constituents, as well as better understand which issues their constituents care about most. Specifically, the social network is rolling out three new features: constituent badges, constituent insights, and district targeting. Constituent badges are a new, opt-in feature that allow Facebook users to identify themselves as a person living in the district the elected official represents. A second feature called Constituent Insights is designed to help elected officials learn which local news stories and content is popular in their district, so they can share their thoughts on those matters. The third new feature -- District Targeting -- is arguably the most notable. This effectively gives elected officials the means of gathering feedback from their constituents through Facebook directly, using either posts or polls that are targeted only towards those who actually live in their particular district. That means the official can post to Facebook to ask for feedback from constituents about an issue, and these posts will only be viewable by those who live in their district.
Mozilla

Americans From Both Political Parties Overwhelmingly Support Net Neutrality, Poll Shows (mozilla.org) 245

Mozilla conducted a survey in which it found that a majority of Americans do not trust the government to protect Internet access. From an article, shared by a reader: A recent public opinion poll carried out by Mozilla and Ipsos revealed overwhelming support across party lines for net neutrality, with over three quarters of Americans (76%) supporting net neutrality. Eighty-one percent of Democrats and 73% of Republicans are in favor of it. Another key finding: Most Americans do not trust the U.S. government to protect access to the Internet. Seventy percent of Americans place no or little trust in the Trump administration or Congress (78%) to do so. Mozilla and Ipsos carried out the poll in late May, on the heels of the FCC's vote to begin dismantling Obama-era net neutrality rules. We polled approximately 1,000 American adults across the U.S., a sample that included 354 Democrats, 344 Republicans, and 224 Independents.
Government

Edward Snowden On Trump Administration's Recent Arrest of an Alleged Journalistic Source (freedom.press) 342

Snowden writes: Winner is accused of serving as a journalistic source for a leading American news outlet about a matter of critical public importance. For this act, she has been charged with violating the Espionage Act -- a World War I era law meant for spies -- which explicitly forbids the jury from hearing why the defendant acted, and bars them from deciding whether the outcome was to the public's benefit. This often-condemned law provides no space to distinguish the extraordinary disclosure of inappropriately classified information in the public interest -- whistleblowing -- from the malicious disclosure of secrets to foreign governments by those motivated by a specific intent to harm to their countrymen. The prosecution of any journalistic source without due consideration by the jury as to the harm or benefit of the journalistic activity is a fundamental threat to the free press. As long as a law like this remains on the books in a country that values fair trials, it must be resisted. No matter one's opinions on the propriety of the charges against her, we should all agree Winner should be released on bail pending trial. Even if you take all the government allegations as true, it's clear she is neither a threat to public safety nor a flight risk. To hold a citizen incommunicado and indefinitely while awaiting trial for the alleged crime of serving as a journalistic source should outrage us all.
Government

Trump Nominates Lawyer To Lead FBI (bbc.com) 368

President Donald Trump announced via Twitter on Wednesday that he has chosen a new FBI director. Trump says he's nominating Christopher A. Wray for the position. He described Wray as "a man of impeccable credentials." From a report: Donald Trump says he is nominating lawyer Christopher A Wray who served under George W Bush. Wray more recently represented the New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, during the investigation into the George Washington Bridge lane-closing case, in which two of Christie's former aides were convicted of plotting to close lanes of the bridge to punish a Democratic mayor who wouldn't endorse the governor. Christie, who has informally advised the president, was not charged in the case.

Wray would succeed James Comey, whom Trump fired last month amid mounting scrutiny of ties between his campaign and Russia. The announcement comes a day ahead of Comey's scheduled appearance before the Senate intelligence committee on Thursday where he is expected to touch on his firing and claims that Trump asked him to soft-pedal the investigation into former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Government

Slashdot Asks: Is Trump's Blocking of Some Twitter Users Unconstitutional? (usatoday.com) 390

An anonymous reader shares an article: Some Twitter users say President Trump should not be able to block them on the social network. The president makes unprecedented use of Twitter, having posted more than 24,000 times on his @realDonaldTrump account to 31.7 million followers. His tweets about domestic and foreign policy -- and media coverage of him and his administration -- has transformed Twitter into a public forum with free speech protections. That's the opinion of two Twitter users, who have the backing of the Knight First Amendment Institute. They are sending a letter today to the White House asking Trump to unblock them on his @realDonaldTrump Twitter account. Both users say they were blocked recently after tweeting messages critical of the President. Holly O'Reilly (@AynRandPaulRyan), whose Twitter account identifies her as a March for Truth organizer, said she was blocked on May 23 after posting a GIF of Pope Francis looking and frowning at Trump captioned "this is pretty much how the whole world sees you." In the letter to Trump and the White House, the Knight First Amendment Institute's attorneys argue that Trump's Twitter account "operates as a 'designated public forum' for First Amendment purposes, and accordingly the viewpoint-based blocking of our clients is unconstitutional." In some other news, Press Secretary Sean Spicer said today "@realDonaldTrump's tweets are official White House statements."
Government

DOJ Charges Federal Contractor With Leaking Classified Info To Media (thehill.com) 241

schwit1 quotes a report from The Hill: The Department of Justice charged 25-year-old government contractor Reality Leigh Winner with sharing top secret material with a media outlet, prosecutors announced in a press release Monday. Court documents filed by the government don't specify which media outlet received the materials allegedly leaked by Winner, but NBC News reported that the material went to the Intercept online news outlet. The Intercept published a top secret NSA report Monday that alleged Russian military intelligence launched a 2016 cyberattack on a voting software company. Details on the report published by The Intercept suggest that it was created on May 5, 2017 -- the same day prosecutors say the materials Winner is charged with sharing were created. A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment on whether Winner is accused of sharing the report published by the Intercept. Last month, Winner allegedly "printed and improperly removed classified intelligence reporting, which contained classified national defense information" before mailing the materials to an unnamed online news outlet a few days later, according to prosecutors.
Privacy

Top-Secret NSA Report Details Russian Hacking Effort Days Before 2016 Election (theintercept.com) 456

Russian hacking groups played a larger role in the 2016 election than anyone realized, according to a highly-classified NSA document published today in The Intercept. The document reveals that a Russian intelligence operation sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials days before the election, which ran through a hack of a U.S. voting software supplier. The Russian cyber espionage operation was functional for months before the 2016 U.S. election. From the report: It states unequivocally in its summary statement that it was Russian military intelligence, specifically the Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate, or GRU, that conducted the cyber attacks described in the document: "Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate actors ... executed cyber espionage operations against a named U.S. company in August 2016, evidently to obtain information on elections-related software and hardware solutions. ... The actors likely used data obtained from that operation to ... launch a voter registration-themed spear-phishing campaign targeting U.S. local government organizations." This NSA summary judgment is sharply at odds with Russian President Vladimir Putin's denial last week that Russia had interfered in foreign elections: "We never engaged in that on a state level, and have no intention of doing so." Putin, who had previously issued blanket denials that any such Russian meddling occurred, for the first time floated the possibility that freelance Russian hackers with "patriotic leanings" may have been responsible. The NSA report, on the contrary, displays no doubt that the cyber assault was carried out by the GRU.
Republicans

Trump Wants To Modernize Air Travel By Turning Over Control To the Big Airlines (theverge.com) 341

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Today, President Donald Trump endorsed a plan to hand over oversight of the nation's airspace to a non-profit corporation that will likely be largely controlled by the major airlines. Republicans argue that privatizing air traffic control will help save money and fast track important technological upgrades. But Democrats and consumer groups criticize that plan as a corporate giveaway that will inevitably harm passengers. The air traffic reform proposal, which fell short in Congress last year, would transfer oversight from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to a government-sanctioned, independent entity that would be made up of appointees from industry stakeholders. The effort picked up steam when the union representing air traffic controllers endorsed the plan, citing years of understaffing by the FAA. Some passengers may balk at the idea of handing over day-to-day management of the nation's highly complex air traffic control system to the same companies that rack up tens of thousands of customer complaints a year, and occasionally physically assault or drag passengers off their planes. But the Trump administration argues this is the only way to modernize a system that still runs on technology that's been around since World War II. The FAA is already years into a technology upgrade known as NextGen, which involves moving from the current system based on radar and voice communications to one based on satellite navigation and digital communications. The FAA wants to use GPS technology to shorten routes, save time and fuel, and reduce traffic delays by increasing capacity.
Government

Congressman Proposes Organizations Should Be Allowed To 'Hack Back' (engadget.com) 189

Engadget reports: Representative Tom Graves, R-Ga., thinks that when anyone gets hacked -- individuals or companies -- they should be able to "fight back" and go "hunt for hackers outside of their own networks." The Active Cyber Defense Certainty ("ACDC") Act is getting closer to being put before lawmakers, and the congressman trying to make "hacking back" easy-breezy-legal believes it would've stopped the WannaCry ransomware. Despite its endlessly lulzy acronym, Graves says he "looks forward to formally introducing ACDC" to the House of Representatives in the next few weeks... The bipartisan ACDC bill would let companies who believe they are under ongoing attack break into the computer of whoever they think is attacking them, for the purposes of stopping the attack or gathering info for law enforcement.
Friday The Hill published a list of objections to the proposed law from the CEO of cybersecurity company Vectra Networks. "To start with, when shooting back, there's the fundamental question of who to shoot... We might be able to retaliate, weeks or months after being attacked, but we certainly could not shoot back in time to stop an attack in progress." And if new retaliatory tools are developed, "How can we be sure that these new weapons won't be stolen and misused? Who can guarantee that they won't be turned against us by our corporate competitors? Would we become victims of our own cyber-arms race?"

Slashdot reader hattable writes, "I would think a proposal like this would land dead in the water, but given some recent, and 'interesting' decisions coming from Congress and White House officials, I am not sure many can predict the momentum."
United States

Putin Now Argues Russia Could've Been Framed For Election Meddling By The CIA (nbcnews.com) 455

In a news magazine show premiering tonight, Megyn Kelly reports that Russian president Vladimir Putin "has denied Russian involvement in the hacking and interference with our U.S. presidential eletion for some time. That changed earlier this week, and the story appears to be evolving yet again." An anonymous reader shared two articles from NBC: "Hackers can be anywhere. They can be in Russia, in Asia...even in America, Latin America," he said. "They can even be hackers, by the way, in the United States who very skillfully and professionally shifted the blame, as we say, onto Russia. Can you imagine something like that? In the midst of a political battle...?" The journalist asked the Russian president about what American intelligence agencies say is evidence that he became personally involved in a covert campaign to harm Hillary Clinton and benefit Donald Trump. "IP addresses can be invented -- a child can do that! Your underage daughter could do that. That is not proof," Putin replied...

Kelly told viewers that Putin -- the former director of Russia's domestic spy agency -- also suggested that the CIA could have been behind the hacking and noted that many people were convinced Russia was responsible for the assassination of President John F. Kennedy... Earlier, at a Friday forum moderated by Kelly, Putin likened the U.S. blaming his country for hacking the presidential election to "blaming the Jews"...

"Echoing remarks President Donald Trump made on the campaign trail, Putin also questioned the need for NATO."
Government

FCC Seeks To Increase ISP Competition In Apartment Buildings (arstechnica.com) 67

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Exclusive deals between broadband providers and landlords have long been a problem for Internet users, despite rules that are supposed to prevent or at least limit such arrangements. The Federal Communications Commission is starting to ask questions about whether it can do more to stop deals that impede broadband competition inside apartment and condominium buildings. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai yesterday released a draft Notice of Inquiry (NOI) that seeks public comment "on ways to facilitate greater consumer choice and to enhance broadband deployment in multiple tenant environments (MTEs)." The commission is scheduled to vote on the NOI at its June 22 meeting, and it would then take public comments before deciding whether to issue new rules or take any other action. The NOI discusses preempting local rules "that may expressly prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting the provision of telecommunications services" in multi-unit buildings. But one San Francisco regulation that could be preempted was designed to boost competition by expanding access to wires inside buildings. It's too early to tell whether the FCC really wants to preempt any state or city rules or what authority the FCC would use to do so. The NOI could also lead to an expansion of FCC rules, as it seeks comment on whether the commission should impose new restrictions on exclusive marketing and bulk billing arrangements between companies and building owners. The NOI further seeks comment on how "revenue sharing agreements and exclusive wiring arrangements between MTE owners and broadband providers may affect broadband competition" and "other contractual provisions and non-contractual practices that may impact the ability of broadband providers to compete in MTEs." The NOI also asks whether the commission should encourage cities and states to adopt model codes that promote competition in multi-unit buildings, and the document asks what practices those model codes should prohibit or mandate.
Government

Trump Misunderstood MIT Climate Research, University Officials Say (reuters.com) 361

MIT officials said U.S. President Donald Trump badly misunderstood their research when he cited it on Thursday to justify withdrawing the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement. From a report: Trump announced during a speech at the White House Rose Garden that he had decided to pull out of the landmark climate deal, in part because it would not reduce global temperatures fast enough to have a significant impact. "Even if the Paris Agreement were implemented in full, with total compliance from all nations, it is estimated it would only produce a two-tenths of one degree Celsius reduction in global temperature by the year 2100," Trump said. "Tiny, tiny amount." That claim was attributed to research conducted by MIT, according to White House documents seen by Reuters. The Cambridge, Massaschusetts-based research university published a study in April 2016 titled "How much of a difference will the Paris Agreement make?" showing that if countries abided by their pledges in the deal, global warming would slow by between 0.6 degree and 1.1 degrees Celsius by 2100. "We certainly do not support the withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris agreement," said Erwan Monier, a lead researcher at the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, and one of the study's authors. "If we don't do anything, we might shoot over 5 degrees or more and that would be catastrophic," said John Reilly, the co-director of the program, adding that MIT's scientists had had no contact with the White House and were not offered a chance to explain their work.
Earth

61 Mayors Commit To Adopt, Honor and Uphold Paris Climate Accord After US Pulls Out (curbed.com) 247

After President Trump announced his intent to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord, 61 mayors across the country have pledged to adopt the historic agreement themselves. The group of mayors, who represent 36 million Americans and some of the largest U.S. cities, outlined a plan to align with the other 194 nations that adopted the accord. From a statement provided by the climate mayors: We will continue to lead. We are increasing investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency. We will buy and create more demand for electric cars and trucks. We will increase our efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, create a clean energy economy, and stand for environmental justice. And if the President wants to break the promises made to our allies enshrined in the historic Paris Agreement, we'll build and strengthen relationships around the world to protect the planet from devastating climate risks. The world cannot wait -- and neither will we.
United States

Trump Announces US Withdrawal From Paris Climate Accord (reuters.com) 1109

It's official. President Donald Trump announced today that the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, following through on a pledge he made during the presidential campaign. Trump said the Paris agreement "front loads costs on American people. In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord but begin negotiations to reenter either the Paris accord or an entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States," the president said. "We are getting out. But we will start to negotiate, and we will see if we can make a deal that's fair. And if we can, that's great." Trump said that the United States will immediately "cease all implementation of the non-binding Paris accord" and what he said were "draconian financial" and other burdens imposed on the country by the accord.

This means that Elon Musk will leave Trump's Business Advisory Council. On Wednesday, Musk said he did "all he could to advise directly to Trump." (Update: Elon Musk is staying true to his words. Following the announcement, Musk tweeted, "Am departing presidential councils. Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world.)

Twenty-five companies, including Adobe, Apple, Facebook, Google, HP, Microsoft, Salesforce, Morgan Stanley, Intel signed on to a letter which was published on the New York Times and Wall Street Journal today arguing in favor of climate pact.

Update: Former president Barack Obama said the U.S. "joins a small handful of nations that reject the future."

Also, the New York Times points out that despite Trump's public statements, the U.S. can't officially leave the Paris climate agreement until 2020.

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