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Privacy

Verizon Subscribers Can Now Opt Out of "Supercookies" 22

Posted by samzenpus
from the don't-track-me-bro dept.
itwbennett writes Verizon said in January that it would allow subscribers to opt out of having a unique identifier placed on their phones that critics have labelled a "supercookie" because it's almost impossible to remove, but it didn't say when. On Tuesday, Verizon said the identifier won't be inserted for customers who opt out of its mobile advertising program: "Verizon Wireless has updated its systems so that we will stop inserting the UIDH after a customer opts out of the relevant mobile advertising program or activates a line that is ineligible for the advertising program, such as as a government or business line," Verizon said in a change to its policies.
Facebook

Report: Facebook Tracks Visitors Who Have Opted Out, Violating EU Law 40

Posted by Soulskill
from the hand-in-cookie-jar dept.
itwbennett writes: In a technical analysis (PDF) of Facebook's tracking practices, researchers found that Facebook tracks everyone who visits its site, including people who don't have an account, and even continues to track users and non-users who have opted out of targeted ads. The problem with these practices is that the cookies are placed without consent, which under EU law is only allowed if there is a strict necessity to do so. Facebook disputes the report: "We have explained in detail the inaccuracies in the earlier draft report (after it was published) directly to the Belgian DPA, who we understand commissioned it, and have offered to meet with them to explain why it is incorrect, but they have declined to meet or engage with us."
The Courts

SCOTUS: GPS Trackers Are a Form of Search and Seizure 110

Posted by Soulskill
from the may-the-fourth-amendment-be-with-you dept.
schwit1 writes: If the government puts a GPS tracker on you, your car, or any of your personal effects, it counts as a search—and is therefore protected by the Fourth Amendment. The Supreme Court clarified and affirmed that law on Monday, when it ruled on Torrey Dale Grady v. North Carolina (PDF), before sending the case back to that state's high court. The Court's short but unanimous opinion helps make sense of how the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable search and seizure, interacts with the expanding technological powers of the U.S. government. "The only theory we discern [...] is that the State's system of nonconsensual satellite-based monitoring does not entail a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. That theory is inconsistent with this Court's precedents."
Australia

Oops: World Leaders' Personal Data Mistakenly Released By Autofill Error 139

Posted by samzenpus
from the sounds-like-a-case-of-the-mondays dept.
mpicpp writes in with this story about a mistake that saw personal details of world leaders accidentally disclosed by the Australian immigration department. "With a single key stroke, the personal information of President Obama and 30 other world leaders was mistakenly released by an official with Australia's immigration office. Passport numbers, dates of birth, and other personal information of the heads of state attending a G-20 summit in Brisbane, Australia, were inadvertently emailed to one of the organizers of January's Asian Cup football tournament, according to The Guardian. The U.K. newspaper obtained the information as a result of an Australia Freedom of Information request. Aside from President Obama, leaders whose data were released include Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Chinese President Xi Jinping and British Prime Minister David Cameron. The sender forgot to check the auto-fill function in the email 'To' field in Microsoft Outlook before hitting send, the BBC reports."
Books

Book Review: Future Crimes 27

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
benrothke writes Technology is neutral and amoral. It's the implementers and users who define its use. In Future Crimes: Everything Is Connected, Everyone Is Vulnerable and What We Can Do About It, author Marc Goodman spends nearly 400 pages describing the dark side of technology, and those who use it for nefarious purposes. He provides a fascinating overview of how every major technology can be used to benefit society, and how it can also be exploited by those on the other side. Keep reading for the rest of Ben's review.
Government

NSA: We Mulled Ending Phone Program Before Edward Snowden Leaks 140

Posted by samzenpus
from the we-meant-to-do-that dept.
Mark Wilson writes Edward Snowden is heralded as both a hero and villain. A privacy vigilante and a traitor. It just depends who you ask. The revelations he made about the NSA's surveillance programs have completely changed the face of online security, and changed the way everyone looks at the internet and privacy. But just before the whistle was blown, it seems that the NSA was considering bringing its telephone data collection program to an end. Intelligence officials were, behind the scenes, questioning whether the benefits of gathering counter-terrorism information justified the colossal costs involved. Then Snowden went public and essentially forced the agency's hand.
Transportation

Why the Final Moments Inside a Cockpit Are Heard But Not Seen 447

Posted by Soulskill
from the keeps-crash-investigators-employed dept.
jones_supa writes: There's no video footage from inside the cockpit of the Germanwings flight that left 150 people dead — nor is such footage recorded from any other commercial airline crash in recent years. Unlike many other vehicles operating with heightened safety concerns, airline cockpits don't come with video surveillance. The reason, in part, is that airline pilots and their unions have argued vigorously against what they see as an invasion of privacy that would not improve aviation safety. The long debate on whether airplane cockpits in the U.S. should be equipped with cameras dates back at least 15 years, when the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) first pushed regulators to require video monitoring following what the agency called "several accidents involving a lack of information regarding crewmember actions and the flight deck environment." The latest NTSB recommendation for a cockpit image system (PDF) came in January 2015. Should video streams captured inside the plane become a standard part of aviation safety measures?
The Courts

Google Loses Ruling In Safari Tracking Case 56

Posted by Soulskill
from the permission-for-lawyers-to-make-money dept.
mpicpp sends this report from CNET: The floodgates are now open for UK users to sue Google over privacy violations tied to tracking cookies. In a landmark ruling, the UK's Court of Appeal has dismissed Google's request to prevent British Web users from suing the company over tracking cookies and privacy violations. The decision was announced Friday, according to the BBC. In spite of default privacy settings and user preferences — including an opt-out of consent to be tracked by cookies — Google's tracking cookies gathered information on Safari browser users for nine months in 2011 and 2012.
Security

Big Vulnerability In Hotel Wi-Fi Router Puts Guests At Risk 40

Posted by samzenpus
from the protect-ya-neck dept.
An anonymous reader writes Guests at hundreds of hotels around the world are susceptible to serious hacks because of routers that many hotel chains depend on for their Wi-Fi networks. Researchers have discovered a vulnerability in the systems, which would allow an attacker to distribute malware to guests, monitor and record data sent over the network, and even possibly gain access to the hotel's reservation and keycard systems. The vulnerability, which was discovered by Justin W. Clarke of the security firm Cylance, gives attackers read-write access to the root file system of the ANTlabs devices. The discovery of the vulnerable systems was particularly interesting to them in light of an active hotel hacking campaign uncovered last year by researchers at Kaspersky Lab. In that campaign, which Kaspersky dubbed DarkHotel.
Australia

Australia Passes Mandatory Data Retention Law 124

Posted by timothy
from the what's-in-the-box dept.
Bismillah writes Opposition from the Green Party and independent members of parliament wasn't enough to stop the ruling conservative Liberal-National coalition from passing Australia's new law that will force telcos and ISPs to store customer metadata for at least two years. Journalists' metadata is not exempted from the retention law, but requires a warrant to access. The metadata of everyone else can be accessed by unspecified government agencies without a warrant however.
Businesses

RadioShack Puts Customer Data Up For Sale In Bankruptcy Auction 262

Posted by samzenpus
from the names-and-numbers dept.
itwbennett writes For years, RadioShack made a habit of collecting customers' contact information at checkout. Now, the bankrupt retailer is putting that data on the auction block. A list of RadioShack assets for sale includes more than 65 million customer names and physical addresses, and 13 million email addresses. Bloomberg reports that the asset sale may include phone numbers and information on shopping habits as well. New York's Attorney General says his office will take 'appropriate action' if the data is handed over.
Transportation

Uber To Turn Into a Big Data Company By Selling Location Data 120

Posted by Soulskill
from the yellow-cabs-looking-slightly-less-unappealing dept.
Presto Vivace sends news that Uber has entered into a partnership with Starwood Hotels that hooks accounts from both companies together. If you're a customer of both, you'll get a small benefit when chartering Uber rides, but the cost is that Uber will share all their data on you with Starwood. The article says, This year, we are going to see the transformation of Uber into a big data company cut from the same cloth as Google, Facebook and Visa – using the wealth of information they know about me and you to deliver new services and generate revenue by selling this data to others. ... Uber can run the same program with airlines, restaurants, nightclubs, bars – every time you go from point A to point B in an Uber, “A”, “B” or both represent a new potential consumer of your data. ... Uber knows the hot nightclubs, best restaurants and most obviously now has as much data about traffic patterns as Waze (which coincidentally trades data with local governments). Combining Uber’s data with the very-personal data that customers are willing to give up in exchange for benefits, means that Uber can, and is, on its way to becoming a Big Data company.
Privacy

Public Records Request Returns 4.6M License Plate Scans From Oakland PD 110

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-know-where-you-drove-last-summer dept.
schwit1 points out a report from Ars Technica on how they used a public records request to acquire an entire License Plate Reader dataset from the Oakland Police Department. The dataset includes 4.6 million total reads from 1.1 million unique plates. They built a custom visualization tool to demonstrate how this data could be abused. "For instance, during a meeting with an Oakland city council member, Ars was able to accurately guess the block where the council member lives after less than a minute of research using his license plate data. Similarly, while "working" at an Oakland bar mere blocks from Oakland police headquarters, we ran a plate from a car parked in the bar's driveway through our tool. The plate had been read 48 times over two years in two small clusters: one near the bar and a much larger cluster 24 blocks north in a residential area—likely the driver's home." Though the Oakland PD has periodically deleted data to free up space — the 4.6 million records were strewn across 18 different Excel spreadsheets with hundreds of thousands of lines each — there is no formal retention limit.
Government

$1B TSA Behavioral Screening Program Slammed As "Junk Science" 224

Posted by timothy
from the little-here-a-little-there dept.
schwit1 writes The Transportation Security Administration has been accused of spending a billion dollars on a passenger-screening program that's based on junk science. The claim arose in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, which has tried unsuccessfully to get the TSA to release documents on its SPOT (Screening Passengers by Observation Techniques) program through the Freedom of Information Act. SPOT, whose techniques were first used in 2003 and formalized in 2007, uses "highly questionable" screening techniques, according to the ACLU complaint, while being "discriminatory, ineffective, pseudo-scientific, and wasteful of taxpayer money." TSA has spent at least $1 billion on SPOT. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported in 2010 that "TSA deployed SPOT nationwide before first determining whether there was a scientifically valid basis for using behavior detection and appearance indicators as a means for reliably identifying passengers as potential threats in airports," according to the ACLU. And in 2013, GAO recommended that the agency spend less money on the program, which uses 3,000 "behavior detection officers" whose jobs is to identify terrorists before they board jetliners.
Security

Cisco SPA300/500 IP Phones Vulnerable To Remote Eavesdropping 45

Posted by samzenpus
from the protect-ya-neck dept.
Bismillah writes Cisco has confirmed that its SPA300 and SPA500 are vulnerable to remote eavesdropping and dialing, and is working on a patch. Meanwhile, the advice is not to have the phones on internet-facing connections. From the article: "Cisco has confirmed the issue reported by Watts, which is a result of wrong authentication settings in the default configuration of firmware version 7.5.5. An attacker can send a specially crafted Extended Markup Language (XML) request to devices which will allow them to both make phone calls remotely, and listen in on audio streams. Successful exploits could be used to conduct further attacks, Cisco warned. Despite the confirmed vulnerability, Cisco said the flaw was unlikely to be used and gave it a low 'harassment' severity rating."
United Kingdom

UK Government Admits Intelligence Services Allowed To Break Into Any System 107

Posted by samzenpus
from the whenever-we-feel-like-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes Recently, Techdirt noted that the FBI may soon have permission to break into computers anywhere on the planet. It will come as no surprise to learn that the U.S.'s partner in crime, the UK, granted similar powers to its own intelligence services some time back. What's more unexpected is that it has now publicly said as much, as Privacy International explains: "The British Government has admitted its intelligence services have the broad power to hack into personal phones, computers, and communications networks, and claims they are legally justified to hack anyone, anywhere in the world, even if the target is not a threat to national security nor suspected of any crime." That important admission was made in what the UK government calls its "Open Response" to court cases started last year against GCHQ.
The Military

Islamic State Doxes US Soldiers, Airmen, Calls On Supporters To Kill Them 336

Posted by samzenpus
from the directions-to-a-murder dept.
An anonymous reader writes in with this story about the latest weapon used by ISIS: doxing. "Middle East terrorist organization Islamic State (ISIS) has called on its followers take the fight to 100 members of the United States military residing in the US. A group calling itself the 'Islamic State Hacking Division' has posted names, addresses, and photographs of soldiers, sailors, and airmen online, asking its 'brothers residing in America' to murder them, according to Reuters. Although the posting purports to come from the 'Hacking Division,' US Department of Defense officials say that none of their systems appear to have been breached by the group. Instead, the personal data was almost certainly culled from publicly available sources, a DoD official told the New York Times on the condition of anonymity."
The Almighty Buck

DuckDuckGo Donates $100,000 Among Four FOSS Projects 36

Posted by samzenpus
from the have-a-little-cash dept.
jones_supa writes As is the search engine company's annual habit, DuckDuckGo has chosen to advance four open source projects by donating to them. The primary focus this year was to support FOSS projects that bring privacy tools to anyone who needs them. $25,000 goes to The Freedom of the Press Foundation to support SecureDrop, which is a whistleblower submission used to securely accept documents from anonymous sources. The Electronic Frontier Foundation was given $25,000 to support PrivacyBadger, which is a browser add-on that stops advertisers and other third-party trackers from secretly tracking your surfing habits. Another $25,000 arrives at GPGTools to support GPG Suite, which is a software package for OS X that encrypts files or messages. Finally, $25,000 was donated to Riseup to support Tails, which is a live operating system that aims at preserving your privacy and anonymity.
IBM

A Sucker Is Optimized Every Minute 110

Posted by timothy
from the straight-to-godwin dept.
theodp writes Now that we have hard data on everything, observes the NY Times' Virginia Heffernan in A Sucker Is Optimized Every Minute, we no longer make decisions from our hearts, guts or principles. "The gut is dead," writes Heffernan. "Long live the data, turned out day and night by our myriad computers and smart devices. Not that we trust the data, as we once trusted our guts. Instead, we 'optimize' it. We optimize for it. We optimize with it." To win Presidential elections. To turn web pages into Googlebait. To sucker people into registering for websites. Of the soon-to-arrive Apple Watch, Heffernan notes: "After time keeping, the watch's chief feature is 'fitness tracking': It clocks and stores physiological data with the aim of getting you to observe and change your habits of sloth and gluttony. Evidently I wasn't the only one whose thoughts turned to 20th-century despotism: The entrepreneur Anil Dash quipped on Twitter, albeit stretching the truth, 'Not since I.B.M. sold mainframes to the Nazis has a high-tech company embraced medical data at this scale.'"
Communications

Taxi Apps Accused of Facilitating Sexual Harassment In Brazil 49

Posted by timothy
from the just-need-you-to-complete-this-form dept.
New submitter André Costa writes The companies responsible for taxi apps Easy Taxi and 99Taxis are being accused of making it too easy for taxi drivers to harass female customers (some news reports — in Portuguese — can be found here, here and here). These apps currently disclose informations such as the client's name, cell phone and address to the driver. One customer that started being harassed through offensive text messages after a ride started an online petition demanding that the companies take effective measures to protect female customers. The petition already collected more than 27,000 signatures, and both Easy Taxi and 99Taxis already announced that they will implement features that will protect clients' privacy. At first, users will be allowed to choose if they want their phone numbers to be disclosed. Within a couple of months, both companies said they will provide VOIP calls, which will eliminate the need to exchange phone numbers.