dotarray writes "The introduction of an R18+ rating for video games into Australia has been designed to bring game classification in line with the current system in place for films and other media. One state, however, would like to widen that gap." This is being billed (by John Rau's office) as a saner approach than eliminating the MA15+ rating entirely.
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Hugh Pickens writes "Michael Scherer writes that the Obama fundraising machine has deployed a new cellular campaign weapon designed 'to trigger the campaign finance equivalent of an impulse buy' during key political moments in the campaign. The tool links two familiar technologies, SMS and one-click purchasing, by sending out an SMS message to cell phones and smart phones of tens of thousands of previous campaign donors giving them a one-click option to give more money. 'Campaign officials hope to be able to return to donors in key moments of emotional excitement,' writes Scherer. One person familiar with the ask says that the response rate has been more than 20 times greater than any text message solicitation Obama has sent out before and and the reason is simple: Even with an iPhone, it remains an arduous hassle to enter all the information that is typically required to buy anything online with a credit card. The trick is that anyone who gives even a few dollars to the Obama campaign is asked if they want to keep their credit cards on file to participate in what the campaign calls 'Quick Donate.' Now donors just need to write '25,' or '10,' and that amount of dollars is immediately drawn from their credit cards. One of the Obama campaign's best fundraising days in 2008, for instance, came right after Sarah Palin's convention speech. Now partisans can 'vent their outrage or enthusiasm by simply typing one number into their phone.'"
First time accepted submitter rover42 writes "Major Chinese sites Sina and Webo 'have been legally punished for permitting the spread of unfounded rumors. Specifically, the report cites unfounded rumors that were spreading like wildfire on Sina Weibo of an attempted coup d'etat happening in Beijing.' The source is the state-run Xinhua." Sadly for the people of China (even if they like it this way), this seems to be in line with the Chinese government's general attitude toward the Internet.
MatthewVD writes "Brazil is on a massive fingerprinting spree, with the goal of collecting biometric information from each of its 190 million citizens and identifying all voters by their biological signatures by 2018. The country already has a fully electronic voting system and now officials are trying to end fraud, which was rampant after the military dictatorship ended. Dissenters complain that recounts could be impossible and this opens the door for new kinds of fraud. Imagine this happening in the U.S."
Fluffeh writes "While it is a bit disappointing that companies might need a law to avoid providing tools that censor free speech to overseas regimes, an updated version of a bill that's been floating around for a few years — the Global Online Freedom Act — has passed out of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights. The version that made it out of committee took out some controversial earlier provisions that had potential criminal penalties for those who failed to report information to the Justice Department. However, the Center for Democracy and Technology has raised some concerns: 'While some companies – such as GNI members Google, Microsoft, Websense, and Yahoo! – have stepped up and acknowledged these responsibilities in an accountable way, other companies have not been so forthright. GOFA, however, is a complex bill. While it presents a number of sensible and innovative mechanisms for mitigating the negative impact of surveillance and censorship technologies, it also raises some difficult questions: can export controls be meaningfully extended in ways that reduce the spread of (to borrow words from Chairman Smith) "weapons of mass surveillance" without diminishing the ability of dissidents to connect and communicate? How can – and should – U.S. companies engage with so-called "Internet-restricting" countries?'"
An anonymous reader writes "The European Parliament's INTA Committee yesterday soundly rejected a proposal to refer the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement to the European Court of Justice for review. ACTA critics viewed the proposal as a delay tactic designed with the hope that public opposition to the agreement would subside in the year or two it would take for a court review. The 21-5 vote against the motion means that the INTA committee will conclude its ACTA review later this spring with a full European Parliament vote expected in June or July. The lack of support for ACTA within the European Parliament is now out in the open with multiple parties indicating they are ready to bury it."
An anonymous reader writes "While trust in science remained stable among people who self-identified as moderates and liberals in the United States between 1974 and 2010, trust in science fell among self-identified conservatives by more than 25 percent during the same period, according to a study by the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. 'Over the last several decades, there's been an effort among those who define themselves as conservatives to clearly identify what it means to be a conservative,' said the study's lead author. 'For whatever reason, this appears to involve opposing science and universities and what is perceived as the "liberal culture." So, self-identified conservatives seem to lump these groups together and rally around the notion that what makes "us" conservatives is that we don't agree with "them."'"
An anonymous reader writes "House Republicans today defeated an amendment introduced yesterday that would have banned employers demanding access to Facebook accounts. While the practice isn't widespread, it has caused a big brouhaha after reports surfaced that some organizations were requiring workers to hand over Facebook passwords as a condition of keeping their current job or getting hired for a new one."
politkal writes "According to the FBI's internal inquiry on counterterrorism training, the FBI taught agents that the Bureau 'has the ability to bend or suspend the law to impinge on the freedoms of others;' that agents should 'never attempt to shake hands with an Asian;' that Arabs were 'prone to outbursts' of a 'Jekyll & Hyde' nature." Even better: "That review, now complete, did not result in a single disciplinary action for any instructor. Nor did it mandate the retraining of any FBI agent exposed to what the Bureau concedes was inappropriate material. Nor did it look at any intelligence reports that might have been influenced by the training."
New submitter lyran74 writes "Saturday's electronic leadership vote for Canada's New Democratic Party was plagued by delays caused by a botnet DDoS attack, coming from over 10,000 machines. Details are still scarce, but Scytl, who provided electronic voting services, will have to build more robust systems in the future in anticipation of such attacks. Party and company officials say an audit proved the systems and integrity of the vote were not compromised."
An anonymous reader writes "After its recent success in the Berlin elections, the German Pirate Party scores 7.4% of votes for the state parliament of Saarland, earning them 4 seats out of 51. While the campaign didn't center around copyright issues and/or ACTA (the party's stance is well-known), it centered around open government, access to education, and participative governing models, effectively ridding the party of its 'one issue' notion."
New submitter politkal excerpts from a report at Reuters: "A Chinese telecommunications equipment company has sold Iran's largest telecom firm a powerful surveillance system capable of monitoring landline, mobile and internet communications, interviews and contract documents show. The system was part of a 98.6 million euro ($130.6 million) contract for networking equipment supplied by Shenzhen, China-based ZTE Corp to the Telecommunication Co of Iran (TCI), according to the documents. Government-controlled TCI has a near monopoly on Iran's landline telephone services and much of Iran's internet traffic is required to flow through its network. ... Human rights groups say they have documented numerous cases in which the Iranian government tracked down and arrested critics by monitoring their telephone calls or internet activities. Iran this month set up a Supreme Council of Cyberspace, headed by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who said it would protect 'against internet evils,' according to Iranian state television."
angry tapir writes "Although earlier reports claimed that a scientific panel recommended South Africa over Australia as the best site for the proposed Square Kilometre Array, the SKA board of directors is still debating which country will host the enormous US$2.1-billion radio telescope. The scientific panel only recommended South Africa by a narrow margin earlier this month."
hackingbear writes "Reports from overseas (in Chinese) [Google translation] and Hong Kong-based Chinese media report that China appears to have unblocked several sensitive political keywords. Using Baidu.com, the country's leading search engine, users within the mainland border find, in Chinese, uncensored web page links and images using keywords like Tiananmen and 'June 4'. (Readers can click on the first one to view the images.) Given that the unblocking of these sensitive keywords comes one week after Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao publicly denounced left-wing leader Bo Xilai's movement of 'striking down the ganster while reviving the red culture' as going down the path of Cultural Revolution, it could signal the silent start of a major political change."
Gunkerty Jeb writes with a selection from Threatpost about upcoming legislation to watch out for: "EFF looked at two bills making their way through Congress: The Cybersecurity Act of 2012 (S. 2105), sponsored by Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) of Connecticut and the Secure IT Act (S. 2151), sponsored by Senator John McCain (R-AZ). The digital rights group claims that the quality of both bills ranges from 'downright terrible' to 'appropriately intentioned.' Each, however, is conceptually similar and flawed, EFF said."