Showing posts from October, 2013

Victory for tech giants on EU data laws

Last updated: October 25, 2013 7:57 pm Victory for tech giants on EU data laws By James Fontanella-Khan in Brussels Google, Facebook and other US tech giants have won an important victory against EU efforts to restrict the sharing of customer data after UK Prime Minister David Cameron persuaded the bloc to postpone the introduction of tougher privacy rules by at least a year. The climbdown is a blow to advocates of stricter data protection standards, especially as it comes amid an international scandal that has seen the US accused of snooping on EU leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and millions of European citizens. The delay will give US companies – as well as the Obama administration, which has been frantically lobbying for the reforms to be watered down – the opportunity to make their case more forcefully once the attention shifts away from the US spy scandal, said some EU officials and privacy advocates. “It looks like we won,” said an ex

Appellate Court Rules Probable-Cause Warrant Required for GPS Trackers

Court Rules Probable-Cause Warrant Required for GPS Trackers BY KIM ZETTER10.22.131:25 PM An appellate court has finally supplied an answer to an open question left dangling by the Supreme Court in 2012: Do law enforcement agencies need a probable-cause warrant to affix a GPS tracker to a target’s vehicle? The Third Circuit Court of Appeals gave a resounding yes to that question today in a 2 to 1 decision. “Today’s decision is a victory for all Americans because it ensures that the police cannot use powerful tracking technology without court supervision and a good reason to believe it will turn up evidence of wrongdoing,” said ACLU attorney Catherine Crump in a statement. “These protections are important because where people go reveals a great deal about them, from who their friends are, where they visit the doctor and where they choose to worship.” It’s the first appeals court ruling in the wake of United States v. Jones, a Supreme Court case involving a convicted d

How stores use your phone’s WiFi to track your shopping habits

How stores use your phone’s WiFi to track your shopping habits BY BRIAN FUNG October 19 at 11:32 am Here are some of the things the owner of a brick-and-mortar store is in a position to learn about his business these days, as Jules Polonetsky, the director of a Washington think tank, told me recently: The average wait time at the back register is two minutes. Half of your customers have been in your store twice in a week. Ten percent of the people who come in your store never come near a register, meaning they don't buy anything. There are a lot of people not finding what they want. The big promotion on the east side entrance of your store was more successful at bringing people to purchase than the promotion on the west side of your store. Here's the hotspot in your store that draws the most users. The typical user comes in and purchases one thing. Ten percent of your users have been at more than one of your stores. The list of insights is staggeringly specific
October 18, 2013 - 11:00pm Chinese Scientists Invent Lightbulbs That Emit Wi-Fi By Leslie Horn A group of Chinese scientists at Shanghai’s Fudan University have a bright idea: A lightbulb that produces its own Wi-Fi signal. According to Xinhua, the technology is called Li-Fi, and the prototype actually works better than the average connection in China. As many as four computers placed near a Li-Fi bulb can connect to the net, using light frequencies rather than the usual radio waves. The bulb is embedded with a microchip that produces a signal, yielding rates as fast as 150 mbps—far faster than typical connection speeds in China, and about three times faster than the speed I’m getting right now. (Seriously, I just did a speed test.) One of the perks of Li-Fi is that it’s affordable. Have a lightbulb and a Li-Fi kit? Boom—you have internet. Next month, researchers are showing off 10 sample kits at a trade show in China, and the country is moving in a direction that
Your body is the next frontier in cybercrime By Laura Hood October 1, 2013 Laura Hood is a commissioning editor for the digital economy at The Conversation. If you think it’s enough of a chore trying to stop thieves stealing your credit card details and hacking your Facebook, imagine trying to stop them getting into your pancreas. Advances in healthcare mean that in-body devices to treat chronic conditions or even just make you perform better as a human being are not as far away as you might imagine. Some of these innovations already exist. The pacemaker has been around for years and drug delivery implants are already quite advanced. Some are controlled remotely and many more will be in the future, significantly raising the stakes in the battle to protect ourselves from cyber-crime. When TV series Homeland featured a storyline in which terrorists hacked the US vice president’s pacemaker, causing him to have a heart attack, it brought this issue into the public co
Researchers Developing 'Underwater Internet' By Angela Moscaritolo October 16, 2013 04:50pm EST University at Buffalo researchers are developing a deep-sea computer network that may lead to improvements in tsunami detection, offshore oil and natural gas exploration, surveillance, and pollution monitoring. "A submerged wireless network will give us an unprecedented ability to collect and analyze data from our oceans in real time," Tommaso Melodia, UB associate professor of electrical engineering and the project's lead researcher, said in a statement. "Making this information available to anyone with a smartphone or computer, especially when a tsunami or other type of disaster occurs, could help save lives." The framework Melodia and his team are developing would transmit data from existing and planned underwater sensor networks to laptops, smartphones, and other wireless devices in real time. It also would allow the many disparate underwa

Beyond Windows 8.1

Beyond Windows 8.1 By InfoWorld Tech Watch Created 2013-10-17 04:14AM By now you've no doubt read that Windows 8.1 is a must-have upgrade for Windows 8 customers [1], but barely rates a second glance for entrenched Windows 7 or XP users. Sometime in the next few days -- after the servers go through their obligatory meltdown and Microsoft crows about a million or two downloads of dubious pedigree -- you'll likely install it, if you have a Windows 8 machine or VM. Just use the Windows Store app. If you're smart, you'll immediately go in and make the changes necessary to defang the new version [2]: use local accounts; turn off SmartSearch; turn off Automatic Update; rebuild your libraries if need be; set to boot to desktop; disable the Metro hot corners on the desktop; install apps that will keep you out of Metro Hell (VLC media player, one of the PDF viewers, IrfanView); and install a third-party Start menu replacement. That's all pretty much standa

Java's insecurity has doomed it on the desktop

OCTOBER 17, 2013 Java's insecurity has doomed it on the desktop The latest round of patches for Java comes far too late to rescue its damaged reputation as a desktop presence By Serdar Yegulalp | InfoWorldFollow @syegulalp If Java on the desktop isn't dead yet, its latest security update should go a long way toward convincing people it should be. How urgent is this new security update? Urgent enough that Oracle included patches for Java in its October 2013 Critical Patch Update (CPU -- what an acronym), as part of the company's efforts to get security fixes for Java out the door quarterly rather than three times a year. Of the 127 fixes in this update, slightly fewer than half -- 50 -- were fixes for remote-exploit issues in Java. And 12 of those were exploits that could have granted an attacker complete control of the OS. Ouch. What's more, the vast majority of those Java fixes are client-only problems -- meaning exploits that happen exclus

Amazon sued over 20-40 minute, unpaid, daily security searches of workers

Amazon sued over 20-minute, unpaid, daily security searches of workers By Cheryl K. Chumley-The Washington Times Tuesday, October 15, 2013 A Pennsylvania man who works for Internet retail giant Amazon says the company is taking advantage of workers by putting them through daily security checks that last anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes — and eat into unpaid hours, before work, after work and during lunch breaks. He’s kicked off a class-action suit against the company, filed in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas and alleging violations of the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act, NBC reported. Lead plaintiff Neal Heimbach, from Allentown, Pa., has worked in the company’s warehouse in Breinigsville for nearly three years. His complaint is that daily, nearly 100 workers at the facility are forced to undergo security searches without pay — that take place during times when they’re officially off-the-clock, NBC said. Their daily routine, NBC reported: Walk through metal dete

Brazil announces secure email to counter US spying

14 OCTOBER 2013 Brazil announces secure email to counter US spying AFP - Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff announced Sunday that her government was creating a secure email system to try and shield official communications from spying by the United States and other countries. "We need more security on our messages to prevent possible espionage," Rousseff said on Twitter, ordering the Federal Data Processing Service, or SERPRO, to implement a safe email system throughout the federal government. The agency, which falls under Brazil's Finance Ministry, develops secure systems for online tax returns and also creates new passports. The move came after Rousseff publicly condemned spying against Brazilian government agencies attributed to the United States and Canada. "This is the first step toward extending the privacy and inviolability of official posts," Rousseff said. After bringing her complaints against US intelligence agencies to the Un

Broadcasters Ask Supreme Court to Intervene in Aereo Case

Broadcasters Ask Supreme Court to Intervene in Aereo Case By AMOL SHARMA and SHALINI RAMACHANDRAN Updated Oct. 11, 2013 4:56 p.m. ET Major TV broadcasters petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday over Aereo Inc., a streaming-video startup backed by media mogul Barry Diller. The broadcasters argue that Aereo, which streams local TV signals over the Web without their permission, violates their copyrights. The broadcasters, that include Walt Disney Co. DIS's ABC, Comcast Corp.'s  NBC, CBS Corp. and 21st Century Fox, are appealing a ruling earlier this year by the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which denied their request to shut down the fee-based service. The circuit court's decision "is already transforming the industry and threatening the very fundamentals of broadcast television," the broadcasters wrote in the petition. "We will respond, as appropriate, in due course," an Aereo spokeswoman said. Aereo has denied that


GROWING BACKLASH TO GOVERNMENT SURVEILLANCE from AP  12 Oct 2013, 6:58 AM PDT By MARTHA MENDOZA AP National Writer SAN JOSE, Calif. From Silicon Valley to the South Pacific, counterattacks to revelations of widespread National Security Agency surveillance are taking shape, from a surge of new encrypted email programs to technology that sprinkles the Internet with red flag terms to confuse would-be snoops. Policy makers, privacy advocates and political leaders around the world have been outraged at the near weekly disclosures from former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden that expose sweeping U.S. government surveillance programs. "Until this summer, people didn't know anything about the NSA," said Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University co-director Amy Zegart. "Their own secrecy has come back to bite them." Activists are fighting back with high-tech civil disobedience, entrepreneurs want to cash in on
Machines Gauging Your Star Potential Automate HR Hiring By Aki Ito - Oct 10, 2013 9:01 PM PT They can drive cars, win Jeopardy and find your soon-to-be favorite song. Machines are also learning to decipher the most human qualities about you -- and help businesses predict your potential to be their next star employee. A handful of technology companies from Corp. to Evolv Inc. are doing just that, developing video games and online questionnaires that measure personality attributes in a job applicant. Based on patterns of how a company’s best performers responded in these assessments, the software estimates a candidate’s suitability to be everything from a warehouse worker to an investment bank analyst. Welcome to hiring in the age of big data, an ambition marrying automation with analysis in the race to better allocate talent. Having people work at what they do best would make them more productive, bolstering the economy’s capacity to expand, according to Erik Bry

Google to put user photos, comments in online ads

Google to put user photos, comments in online ads By Cecilia Kang, Updated: Friday, October 11, 5:33 PM Google has made a fortune selling ads. Now it’s trying to put its hundreds of millions of users to work as company pitchmen, using the profiles, pictures and recommendations of ordinary people to endorse products and services across the Web. After the policy takes effect Nov. 11, users who review a video on YouTube or a restaurant on could see their name, photo and comments show up in ads on any of the 2 million Web sites that are part of the company’s display advertising network. The controversial practice, announced Friday by Google, is part of an emerging trend on the Internet. Advertisers believe that consumers place enormous value on product endorsements that come from a friend or family member, and growing numbers of Web companies are trying to capture that social advertising in a systematic way. But critics say tactics that further exploit the da

Search battle against Google moves to Brazil

October 11, 2013 9:11 pm Search battle against Google moves to Brazil By Joe Leahy in São Paulo Microsoft has joined a Brazilian group to file a complaint against Google with Brazil’s antitrust authority, opening a new front in its battle against its search engine rival’s global dominance online. The opening of the case in one of the world’s biggest and fastest-growing internet markets is a blow for Google just as it is close to settling a separate but similar antitrust case brought by Microsoft in the Europe Union. Brazil’s antitrust regulator, Cade, said the alleged violations by Google, “if proven, may hinder the entry and development of competitors in the Brazilian online search market, as well as increase Google’s already elevated market power”. Brazil is proving to be a gold mine for large US internet companies. Brazilians are the second most numerous users of Facebook after their counterparts in the US and are among the most avid users of Twitter. Google h

Court: NSA can continue sweeping phone data collection

Court: NSA can continue sweeping phone data collection By Brendan Sasso  - 10/11/13 07:18 PM ET The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has granted the National Security Agency (NSA) permission to continue its collection of records on all U.S. phone calls. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence announced the court's approval in a statement late Friday. The court authorizes the program for only limited time periods and requires that the government submit new requests every several months for re-authorization. The existence of the bulk phone data collection was one of the most controversial revelations from the leaks by Edward Snowden. The NSA uses the program to collect records such as phone numbers, call times and call durations on all U.S. phone calls—but not the contents of any conversations, according to the administration. The NSA collects the records from the phone companies and compiles them in a massive database. NSA analysts are only

‘Dutch sandwich’ grows as Google shifts €8.8bn to Bermuda

October 10, 2013 7:09 pm ‘Dutch sandwich’ grows as Google shifts €8.8bn to Bermuda By Vanessa Houlder Google funnelled €8.8bn of royalty payments to Bermuda last year, a quarter more than in 2011, underlining the rapid expansion of a strategy that has saved the US internet group billions of dollars in tax. By routing royalty payments to Bermuda, Google reduces its overseas tax rate to about 5 per cent, less than half the rate in already low-tax Ireland, where it books most of its international sales. The figures were revealed in the latest filings by one of Google’s Dutch subsidiaries, and means that royalty payments made to Bermuda – where the company holds its non-US intellectual property – have doubled over the past three years. This increase reflects the rapid growth of Google’s global business. The company has been at the centre of the international controversy over corporate tax avoidance because it earns “substantially all” its foreign income in Ireland an