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United States

Homeland Security Unveils New Cyber Security Strategy Amid Threats (reuters.com) 75

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday unveiled a new national strategy for addressing the growing number of cyber security risks as it works to assess them and reduce vulnerabilities. From a report: "The cyber threat landscape is shifting in real-time, and we have reached a historic turning point," DHS chief Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement. "It is clear that our cyber adversaries can now threaten the very fabric of our republic itself." The announcement comes amid concerns about the security of the 2018 U.S. midterm congressional elections and numerous high-profile hacking of U.S. companies.
Businesses

Apple CEO Says He Has Urged Trump To Address Legal Status of Immigrants; Also Told Him That Tariffs Are Wrong Approach To China (bloomberg.com) 381

Apple chief executive Tim Cook told Bloomberg Television that he has criticized Donald Trump's approach to trade with China in a recent White House meeting, while also urging the president to address the legal status of immigrants known as Dreamers. From the interview: Cook said his message to Trump focused on the importance of trade and how cooperation between two countries can boost the economy more than nations acting alone. Cook met with Trump in the Oval Office in late April amid a brewing trade war between the U.S. and China. The Trump administration instituted 25 percent tariffs on at least $50 billion worth of products from China, sparking retaliation. In the interview on "The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations," Cook acknowledged that previous trade policies were flawed but said Trump's move is also problematic. "It's true, undoubtedly true, that not everyone has been advantaged from that -- in either country -- and we've got to work on that," Cook said. "But I felt that tariffs were not the right approach there, and I showed him some more analytical kinds of things to demonstrate why."
Security

Kaspersky Lab Moving Core Infrastructure To Switzerland (securityweek.com) 78

wiredmikey writes: As part of its Global Transparency Initiative, Russia-based Kaspersky Lab today announced that it will adjust its infrastructure to move a number of "core processes" from Russia to Switzerland. The security firm has faced challenges after several governments have banned Kaspersky software over security concerns, despite no hard evidence that Kaspersky has ever colluded with the Russian government. As an extension to its transparency initiative, announced in October 2017, the firm is now going further by making plans for its processes and source code to be independently supervised by a qualified third-party. To this end, it is supporting the creation of a new, non-profit "Transparency Center" able to assume this responsibility not just for itself, but for other partners and members who wish to join. Noticeably, Kaspersky Lab does not link the move specifically to the effects of the U.S. ban, but sees wider issues of global trust emerging.
Google

Google Employees Resign in Protest Against Pentagon Contract (gizmodo.com) 469

Kate Conger, reporting for Gizmodo: It's been nearly three months since many Google employees -- and the public -- learned about the company's decision to provide artificial intelligence to a controversial military pilot program known as Project Maven, which aims to speed up analysis of drone footage by automatically classifying images of objects and people. Now, about a dozen Google employees are resigning in protest over the company's continued involvement in Maven.

The resigning employees' frustrations range from particular ethical concerns over the use of artificial intelligence in drone warfare to broader worries about Google's political decisions -- and the erosion of user trust that could result from these actions. Many of them have written accounts of their decisions to leave the company, and their stories have been gathered and shared in an internal document, the contents of which multiple sources have described to Gizmodo.

Government

North Korea Announces Plans To Dismantle Nuclear Test Site (npr.org) 217

The Associated Press is reporting North Korea has announced plans to dismantle its nuclear test site between May 23 and 25. The dismantling will occur before President Trump is scheduled to meet with Kim Jong-un in Singapore on June 12. NPR reports: Reuters reports that Punggye-ri nuclear test site has been the location of all of North Korea's six known nuclear tests. At the site, there's a system of tunnels under the mountain Mount Mantap. Journalists from the United States, South Korea, China, Russia and Britain will be invited to watch a special ceremony in which all of the tunnels at the testing ground will be destroyed and observation and research facilities and guard units will be taken down. The North Korean government will provide journalists with a charter flight from Beijing to Wosnan, North Korea. From there, a train will take them to the test site in the northeast part of the country.

The AP also reports that at a ruling party meeting last month, North Korea announced the plan to close the nuclear testing ground, along with a commitment to suspend all tests of nuclear devices and ICBMs. At that same meeting, however, North Korea said it has been performing a kind of nuclear test classified as "subcritical." The "subcritical" experiments give scientists an opportunity to test weapons without causing an actual nuclear chain reaction and explosion.

United States

US Congressmen Reveal Thousands of Facebook Ads Bought By Russian Trolls (mercurynews.com) 309

An anonymous reader writes: Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday released about 3,400 Facebook ads purchased by Russian agents around the 2016 presidential election on issues from immigration to gun control, a reminder of the complexity of the manipulation that Facebook is trying to contain ahead of the midterm elections. The ads, which span from mid-2015 to mid-2017, illustrate the extent to which Kremlin-aligned forces sought to stoke social, cultural and political unrest on one of the Web's most powerful platforms. With the help of Facebook's targeting tools, Russia's online army reached at least 146 million people on Facebook and Instagram, its photo-sharing service, with ads and other posts, including events promoting protests around the country...

Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said lawmakers would continue probing Russia's online disinformation efforts. In February, Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating Russia and the 2016 election, indicted individuals tied to the IRA for trying to interfere in the presidential race. "They sought to harness Americans' very real frustrations and anger over sensitive political matters in order to influence American thinking, voting and behavior," Schiff said in a statement. "The only way we can begin to inoculate ourselves against a future attack is to see first-hand the types of messages, themes and imagery the Russians used to divide us...."

The documents released Thursday also reflect that Russian agents continued advertising on Facebook well after the presidential election... They marketed a page called Born Liberal to likely supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., the data show, an ad that had more than 49,000 impressions into 2017. Together, the ads affirmed the fears of some lawmakers, including Republicans, that Russian agents have continued to try to influence U.S. politics even after the 2016 election. Russian agents also had created thousands of accounts on Twitter, and in January, the company revealed that it discovered more than 50,000 automated accounts, or bots, with links to Russia.

Democrats

Senate Democrats Force a Vote To Restore Net Neutrality (theverge.com) 144

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and 32 other Democrats have submitted a new discharge petition under the Congressional Review Act, setting the stage for a full congressional vote to restore net neutrality. Because of the unique CRA process, the petition has the power to force a Senate vote on the resolution, which leaders say is expected next week. The Congressional Review Act allows Congress to roll back regulations within 60 legislative days of introduction, a process that today's resolution would apply to the internet rules introduced by FCC chairman Ajit Pai in December. Pai's rules reversed the 2015 Open Internet Order, which had explicitly banned blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization by internet providers. To successfully undo the Pai order and restore the 2015 rules, today's resolution would need a bare majority in both the Senate and the House, as well as the president's signature.
EU

Trump Withdraws US From Iran Nuclear Deal (nytimes.com) 900

President Trump on Tuesday announced he is withdrawing the United States from the Iran nuclear deal, a historic accord signed in 2015 that aims to limit Tehran's nuclear ability for more than a decade in return for lifting international oil and financial sanctions against the country. "This was a horrible one-sided deal that should never, ever been made," Mr. Trump said at the White House in announcing his decision. "It didn't bring calm, it didn't bring peace, and it never will." The New York Times reports: Mr. Trump's announcement, while long anticipated and widely telegraphed, plunges America's relations with European allies into deep uncertainty. They have committed to staying in the deal, raising the prospect of a diplomatic and economic clash as the United States reimposes stringent sanctions on Iran. It also raises the prospect of increasing tensions with Russia and China, which also are parties to the agreement.

One person familiar with negotiations to keep the accord in place said the talks collapsed over Mr. Trump's insistence that sharp limits be kept on Iran's nuclear fuel production after 2030. The deal currently lifts those limits. As a result, the United States is now preparing to reinstate all sanctions it had waived as part of the nuclear accord -- and impose additional economic penalties as well, according to another person briefed on Mr. Trump's decision.
Despite Trump's decision, President Hassan Rouhani said that Iran would remain committed to a multinational nuclear deal. "If we achieve the deal's goals in cooperation with other members of the deal, it will remain in place. [...] By exiting the deal, America has officially undermined its commitment to an international treaty," Rouhani said in a televised speech. "I have ordered the foreign ministry to negotiate with the European countries, China and Russia in coming weeks. If at the end of this short period we conclude that we can fully benefit from the JCPOA with the cooperation of all countries, the deal would remain," he added.
Advertising

Placing Election Ads On Google Will Require a Government ID (gizmodo.com) 227

Google announced new policies Friday that will require advertisers to prove they are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident when buying election ads. "Under the new guidelines, Google will ask advertisers -- be they individuals, organizations, or political action committees -- to prove they are who they claim to be," reports Gizmodo. "It will also require the ads to include a clear disclosure of who is paying for it." From the report: The change comes after Google and other social media companies revealed their advertising platforms were abused by foreign actors, including the Russian government-backed troll farm Internet Research Agency, during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. It also places Google's policies in line with U.S. laws for traditional media that restrict foreign entities from running election ads. Where Google's effort falls short, at least in its current iteration, is the new policies only cover ads featuring candidates running for office. So-called "issue ads" that advocate a certain point of view on hot-button topics are not covered in Google's policies.
Canada

Tech Conferences Moving North as Trump Policies Turn Off Attendees (financialpost.com) 340

The Collision Conference, one of North America's most influential technology gatherings, tweeted on Tuesday: "We've got some news. It's about Toronto. But we'll let Justin Trudeau tell you about it." What followed was a video in which the prime minister announced that Collision, which typically boasts 25,000 attendees, will be coming to Canada in 2019. From a report: "I'm happy you chose Toronto to host North America's fastest growing tech conference for the next three years, but I have to say, I'm not completely surprised," Trudeau said. "Toronto is a key global tech hub and an example of the diversity that is our strength." And Collision is not alone in coming north. At least two other major technology conferences have recently made the decision to relocate to Canada, lured in part by Toronto's burgeoning tech sector, but also driven by travel restrictions imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump, policies that have left organizers scrambling to accommodate those who can't visit the United States.

In mid-April, Creative Commons, an international non-profit dedicated to the legal sharing of digital content, held their global summit in Toronto for the second year in a row. "The political climate in the U.S., specifically the open hostility from the current administration towards many international communities, and the anxiety from those we work with about how they might be treated was definitely a deciding factor," said Ryan Merkley, CEO of Creative Commons. "What's most unfortunate is that this approach is so inconsistent with the views of the many collaborative communities we work with every day in the U.S."

At Access Now, a non-profit that organizes the RightsCon digital rights conference, Trump's travel ban on seven predominantly Muslim countries hit close to home. "One of our interns at the time was an Iranian citizen with a U.S. green card, and she wasn't able to leave the country to go to Brussels to help us organize the (2017) event," RightsCon director Nick Dagostino said. For years, RightsCon has alternated between San Francisco and a series of global venues, and after last year's event in Brussels, heading back to California would have been the natural choice. But then, people started telling Access Now that if the event happened in the U.S., they wouldn't show up.

Communications

FCC Commissioner Broke the Law By Advocating for Trump, Officials Find (theverge.com) 324

A newly released letter from government officials finds that Republican FCC commissioner Michael O'Reilly broke a federal law preventing officials from advocating for political candidates when he told a crowd that one way to avoid policy changes was to "make sure that President Trump gets reelected." The Verge reports: After he made the comments, the watchdog group American Oversight filed a letter with the Office of Special Counsel, which handles Hatch Act complaints. In response to the group's letter, the Office of Special Counsel said today that O'Rielly did, in fact, violate the Hatch Act. The letter said O'Rielly responded that he was only trying to provide an explanatory answer to how those changes in policy could be stopped, but the office rejected that reasoning. The office said it has sent a warning letter to O'Rielly this time, but will consider other infractions "a willful and knowing violation of the law" that could lead to legal action.
United States

White House Considers Restricting Chinese Researchers Over Espionage Fears (nytimes.com) 179

An anonymous reader shares a report: It sounds like something out of a science fiction movie: In April, China is said to have tested an invisibility cloak that would allow ordinary fighter jets to suddenly vanish from radar screens. This advancement, which could prove to be a critical intelligence breakthrough, is one that American officials fear China may have gained in part from a Chinese researcher who roused suspicions while working on a similar technology at a Duke University laboratory in 2008. The researcher, who was investigated by the F.B.I. but never charged with a crime, ultimately returned to China, became a billionaire and opened a thriving research institute that worked on some projects related to those he studied at Duke.

The Trump administration, concerned about China's growing technological prowess, is considering strict measures to block Chinese citizens from performing sensitive research at American universities and research institutes over fears they may be acquiring intellectual secrets, according to people familiar with the deliberations. The White House is discussing whether to limit the access of Chinese citizens to the United States, including restricting certain types of visas available to them and greatly expanding rules pertaining to Chinese researchers who work on projects with military or intelligence value at American companies and universities. The exact types of projects that would be subject to restrictions are unclear, but the measures could clamp down on collaboration in advanced materials, software and other technologies at the heart of Beijing's plan to dominate cutting-edge technologies like advanced microchips, artificial intelligence and electric cars, known as Made in China 2025.

Communications

Senate Democrats Plan To Force Vote On Net Neutrality (engadget.com) 167

Senator Edward J. Markey tweeted earlier today that Democrats will force a floor vote to restore net neutrality rules on May 9th. "[Democrats] had the signatures in favor of restoring the rules since January, along with a companion House bill (with 80 co-sponsors)," reports Engadget. "Senator Edward J. Markey also introduced a formal Congressional Review Act 'resolution of disapproval' in February." From the report: Of course, this last-ditch attempt to save net neutrality can only help congressional supporters of as they move into mid-term elections. "We're in the homestretch in the fight to save net neutrality," Senator Chuck Schumer said in a statement. "Soon, the American people will know which side their member of Congress is on: fighting for big corporations and ISPs or defending small business owners, entrepreneurs, middle-class families and every-day consumers." Still, even if the Senate passes the Democrat's proposal, notes Politico, it's unlikely it would get through the House or avoid a Trump veto. Also taking place on May 9, net neutrality activists and websites like Etsy, Tumblr, Postmates, Foursquare and Twilio will post "red alerts" to protest the FCC's effort to roll back net neutrality protections.
Government

North Korea's Leader Kim Jong-un Says He'll Give Up Weapons if US Promises Not to Invade (nytimes.com) 406

Several readers have shared a report: North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, told President Moon Jae-in of South Korea when they met that he would abandon his nuclear weapons if the United States would agree to formally end the Korean War and promise that it would not invade his country, a South Korean government spokesman said Sunday. In a faith-building gesture ahead of a summit meeting with President Trump, Mr. Kim also said he would invite experts and journalists from South Korea and the United States to watch the shutdown next month of his country's only known underground nuclear test site.

The comments by Mr. Kim were made on Friday when the leaders of the two Koreas met at Panmunjom, a village on their shared border, the spokesman, Yoon Young-chan, said on Sunday, providing additional details of the meeting. "I know the Americans are inherently disposed against us, but when they talk with us, they will see that I am not the kind of person who would shoot nuclear weapons to the south, over the Pacific or at the United States," Mr. Kim told Mr. Moon, according to Mr. Yoon's account of the meeting. It was another dramatically conciliatory statement by Mr. Kim, whose country threatened to do exactly those things during the height of nuclear tensions last year.

Transportation

Trump Administration Plans To Freeze Obama-Era Fuel Standards (theverge.com) 306

The Trump administration plans to freeze Obama-era fuel-efficiency standards starting in 2021, according to a report from The Washington Post. The report says the Trump administration "would go even further by restricting a state's ability to set its own fuel standards, which would be a strike against California and its strict state-specific emissions rules," reports The Verge. From the report: The proposal has been reportedly drafted by the Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, and the plan right now is to freeze standards for cars and light trucks at levels set for the year 2021 and keep them their for five years. The Obama administration's rules, which involved a partnership with California and car makers, set standards at 50 miles per gallon for cars and light trucks by 2025. Obama also, through the Clean Air Act, granted California a waiver to set its own, higher standards. That way, if automobile manufacturers wanted to maintain a presence in the lucrative California market, they'd have to abide by the new rules. The Trump administration now says a separate law overrules that arrangement, The Washington Post reports.
The Military

Two Koreas Agree To End War This Year, Pursue Denuclearization (bloomberg.com) 368

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in agreed Friday to finally end a seven-decade war this year, and pursue the "complete denuclearization" of the Korean Peninsula. Kim and Moon embraced after signing the deal during a historic meeting on their militarized border, the first time a North Korean leader set foot on the southern side. They announced plans to replace the 1953 armistice that ended hostilities with a peace treaty by year's end. Their statement on a "common goal of realizing, through complete denuclearization, a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula," stopped short of the "complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization" long sought by the U.S. and its allies. The statement didn't elaborate on what the term meant and Kim didn't personally utter the word during remarks Friday. "We have agreed to share a firm determination to open a new era in which all Korean people enjoy prosperity and happiness on a peaceful land without war," Kim told reporters, without taking questions. President Trump hailed the move, declaring "KOREAN WAR TO END!" on Twitter. He has agreed to meet with Kim at a time and place yet to be determined.
Businesses

US Keeps China, Puts Canada on IP Priority Watch List (reuters.com) 183

The Trump administration on Friday labeled 36 countries as inadequately protecting U.S. intellectual property rights, keeping China on a priority watch list and adding Canada over concerns about its border controls and pharmaceutical practices. From a report: The U.S. Trade Representative's annual report on global IP concerns is separate from the "Section 301" report on Chinese technology transfer practices that has led the world's two largest economies to threaten each other with tariffs. The so-called "Special 301 Report on Intellectual Property Rights" calls out China for its "coercive technology transfer practices" and "trade secret theft, rampant online piracy, and counterfeit manufacturing." It was the 14th straight year that China was placed on the "Priority Watch List." U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is due to travel to China next week along with other senior Trump administration officials for talks on U.S. demands for changes in Beijing's trade and intellectual property policies.
Businesses

Trump Meets With Apple's Tim Cook To Talk Trade (reuters.com) 33

New submitter genfail shares a report from Reuters: President Donald Trump met with Apple CEO Tim Cook on Wednesday to discuss trade issues as the technology industry grapples with a U.S. spat over import tariffs with China, a manufacturing hub for the iPhone maker and other companies. Apple, the world's largest technology company, and other hardware makers have deep ties with China, where many of their products are built for export around the world. Cook urged an easing of U.S.-China tensions and called for more open trade after the trade dispute flared last month between the world's two largest economies. Trump announced about $50 billion in planned tariffs on certain Chinese imports, China retaliated with proposed tariffs on some American goods and Trump responded that the United States could counter with $100 billion in additional levies. U.S. and Chinese officials have been working to resolve the dispute.
Businesses

EPA Proposes Limits To Science Used In Rulemaking (reuters.com) 314

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed a rule on Tuesday that would limit the kinds of scientific research it can use in crafting regulations, an apparent concession to big business that has long requested such restrictions. Under the new proposals, the EPA will no longer be able to rely on scientific research that is underpinned by confidential medical and industry data. The measure was billed by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt as a way to boost transparency for the benefit of the industries his agency regulates. But scientists and former EPA officials worry it will hamstring the agency's ability to protect public health by putting key data off limits.

The EPA has for decades relied on scientific research that is rooted in confidential medical and industry data as a basis for its air, water and chemicals rules. While it publishes enormous amounts of research and data to the public, the confidential material is held back. Business interests have argued the practice is tantamount to writing laws behind closed doors and unfairly prevents them from vetting the research underpinning the EPA's often costly regulatory requirements. They argue that if the data cannot be published, the rules should not be adopted. But ex-EPA officials say the practice is vital.

United States

Senate Confirms Trump's Pick for NSA, Cyber Command (politico.com) 58

An anonymous reader shares a report: The Senate Tuesday quietly confirmed President Donald Trump's nominee to lead the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command. U.S. Army Cyber Command chief Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone was unanimously confirmed by voice vote to serve as the "dual-hat" leader of both organizations. The two have shared a leader since the Pentagon established Cyber Command in 2009. He will replace retiring Navy Adm. Mike Rogers after a nearly four-year term. The Senate Intelligence and Armed Services committees both previously approved Nakasone's nomination by voice vote.

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