Jimmy Wales and Former NSA Chief Ridicule Government Plans To Ban Encryption

Mickeycaskill writes: Jimmy Wales has said government leaders are "too late" to ban encryption which authorities say is thwarting attempts to protect the public from terrorism and other threats. The Wikipedia founder said any attempt would be "a moronic, very stupid thing to do" and predicted all major web traffic would be encrypted soon. Wikipedia itself has moved towards SSL encryption so all of its users' browsing habits cannot be spied on by intelligence agencies or governments. Indeed, he said the efforts by the likes of the NSA and GCHQ to spy on individuals have actually made it harder to implement mass-surveillance programs because of the public backlash against Edward Snowden's revelations and increased awareness of privacy. Wales also reiterated that his site would never co-operate with the Chinese government on the censorship of Wikipedia. "We've taken a strong stand that access to knowledge is a principle human right," he said. derekmead writes with news that Michael Hayden, the former head of the CIA and the NSA, thinks the US government should stop railing against encryption and should support strong crypto rather than asking for backdoors. The US is "better served by stronger encryption, rather than baking in weaker encryption," he said during a panel on Tuesday.
The Almighty Buck

FAA Proposes $1.9 Million Fine For Unauthorized Drone Use 173

An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has been under pressure to regulate the nascent drone industry. It's obvious they lack a clear idea of how to proceed — but they're trying. Today they announced a proposal to fine SkyPan International a whopping $1.9 million for allegedly conducting 65 unauthorized commercial drone flights over Chicago and New York City. The flights occurred over a period of almost three years, for the purpose of aerial photography. 43 of the flights impinged upon highly restricted airspace, and the FAA says none of them were "without risk." They bluntly allege that SkyPan "operated the aircraft in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger lives or property." SkyPan now has 30 days to respond.

What Non-Geeks Hate About the Big Bang Theory 384

v3rgEz writes: It has been said that there is a lot to dislike about the Big Bang Theory, from the typical geek's point of view: It plays in stereotypes of geekdom for cheap laughs, makes non-sensical gags, and has a laugh track in 2015. But what does the rest of America (well, the part of America not making it the number one show on television) think? FCC complaints recently released accuse the show of everything from animal cruelty to subliminal messaging, demanding that the sitcom be ripped from the airwaves lest it ruin America. The full complaints for your reading pleasure.

Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Deal Is Reached 276

An anonymous reader writes: The NY Times reports that negotiators have finally reached agreement over the Trans-Pacific Partnership from the U.S. and 11 other nations. The TPP has been in development for eight years, and has the potential to dramatically strengthen U.S. economic ties to east Asia. Though the negotiations have been done in secret, the full text of the agreement should be published within a month. Congress (and the legislative houses of the other participating countries) will have 90 days to review it and decide whether to ratify it. The TPP has been criticized in tech circles for how it regards intellectual property and facilitates website blocking, among other issues.

Proponents will also have to answer broader questions about whether it stifles competition, how it treats individuals versus large corporations, as if it creates environmental problems. To give you an idea of how complex it is: "The Office of the United States Trade Representative said the partnership eventually would end more than 18,000 tariffs that the participating countries have placed on United States exports, including autos, machinery, information technology and consumer goods, chemicals and agricultural products ranging from avocados in California to wheat, pork and beef from the Plains states."

Sex, Drugs, and Transportation: How Politicians Tried To Keep Uber Out of Vegas 132

HughPickens.com writes: Johana Bhuiyan has written an interesting article about how the Las Vegas taxi industry used every political maneuver in its arsenal to keep Uber and Lyft off the strip. Vegas is one of the most lucrative transportation markets in the country, with some 41.1 million visitors passing through it annually. The city's taxi industry has raked in a whopping $290 million this year to date (PDF). What made Vegas unique — what made it Uber's biggest challenge yet — was the extent to which local governments were willing to protect the incumbents. According to Bhuiyan, in Las Vegas, Uber and its pugnacious CEO Travis Kalanick really did run into the corrupt taxi cartel bogeymen they'd long claimed to be saving us from, and this cartel would prove to be their most formidable opponent. But when push came to shove and the fight turned ugly, the world's fastest-growing company ran right over its entrenched opposition.

The Decline of 'Big Soda': Is Drinking Soda the New Smoking? 565

HughPickens.com writes: Margot Sanger-Katz reports in the NYT that soda consumption is experiencing a serious and sustained decline as sales of full-calorie soda in the United States have plummeted by more than 25 percent over the past twenty years. Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they are actively trying to avoid the drinks that have been a mainstay of American culture but bottled water is now on track to overtake soda as the largest beverage category in two years. The changing patterns of soda drinking appear to come thanks, in part, to a loud campaign to eradicate sodas. School cafeterias and vending machines no longer contain regular sodas. Many workplaces and government offices have similarly prohibited their sale.

For many public health advocates, soda has become the new tobacco — a toxic product to be banned, taxed and stigmatized. "There will always be soda, but I think the era of it being acceptable for kids to drink soda all day long is passing, slowly," says Marion Nestle. "In some socioeconomic groups, it's over." Soda represents nearly 25% of the U.S. beverage market and its massive scale have guaranteed profit margins for decades. Historically, beverage preferences are set in adolescence, the first time that most people begin choosing and buying a favorite brand. But the declines in soda drinking appear to be sharpest among young Americans. "Kids these days are growing up with all of these other options, and there are some parents who say, 'I really want my kids to drink juice or a bottled water,' " says Gary A. Hemphill. "If kids grow up without carbonated soft drinks, the likelihood that they are going to grow up and, when they are 35, start drinking is very low."

Selected Provisions: TPP, CETA, and TiSA Trade Agreements 43

While proponents suggest that international trade agreements increase economic prosperity, writes reader Dangerous_Minds, it's often hard to find much detail about their details. Here's an exception: Freezenet is offering an update to known provisions of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), and the Trades in Services Agreement (TiSA). Among the findings are provisions permitting a three-strikes law and site blocking, multiple anti-circumvention laws, ISP liability, the search and seizure of personal devices to enforce copyright at the border, and an open door for ISP-level surveillance. Freezenet also offers a brief summary of what was found while admitting that provisions found in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) as it relates to digital rights remains elusive for the time being.

Soon-to-Be US Ed Chief Was Almost FB CEO's Ed Chief 30

theodp writes: Before President Obama announced John B. King as his pick to replace outgoing U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan (who is returning to Chicago, where his kids now attend a $30K-a-year private school), King was Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's pick to lead Zuck's failed $100 million "reform" effort of Newark's Schools. From The Prize: Who's in Charge of America's Schools?: "[Newark Mayor Cory] Booker asked [NJ Governor Chris] Christie to grant him control of the schools by fiat, but the governor demurred, offering him instead a role as unofficial partner in all decisions and policies, beginning with their joint selection of a 'superstar' superintendent to lead the charge. Booker's first choice was John King, then deputy New York State education commissioner, who had led some of the top-performing charter schools in New York City and Boston and who credited public school teachers with inspiring him to persevere after he was orphaned as a young boy in Brooklyn. [Mark] Zuckerberg and [his wife Priscilla] Chan flew King to Palo Alto for a weekend with them and [Facebook executive Sheryl] Sandberg; Christie hosted him at the governor's beach retreat on the Jersey Shore; and Booker led King and his wife, Melissa, on a tour of Newark, with stops at parks and businesses that hadn't existed before his mayoralty. But after much thought, King turned them down. Zuckerberg, Christie, and Booker expected to arrive at their national model within five years. King believed it could take almost that long to change the system's fundamental procedures and to raise expectations across the city for children and schools. "John's view was that no one has achieved what they're trying to achieve: build an urban school district serving high-poverty kids that gets uniformly strong outcomes," said an acquaintance who talked with King about the offer. "You'd have to invest not only a long period of time but tremendous political capital to get it done." King had questions about a five-year plan overseen by politicians who were likely to seek higher office."

DHS Detains Mayor of Stockton, CA, Forces Him To Hand Over His Passwords 394

schwit1 writes: Anthony Silva, the mayor of Stockton, California, recently went to China for a mayor's conference. On his return to San Francisco airport he was detained by Homeland Security, and then had his two laptops and his mobile phone confiscated. They refused to show him any sort of warrant (of course) and then refused to let him leave until he agreed to hand over his password.

EPA Gave Volkswagen a Free Pass On Emissions Ten Years Ago Due To Lack of Budget 203

An anonymous reader writes: A new report suggests that continuing cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency's budget contributed to Volkswagen being able to cheat on its emissions tests. When the test scripts were developed the department — which can still only conduct 'spot tests' on 20% of all qualifying vehicles — was forced to concentrate on heavy machinery and truck manufacturers, which at the time had a far higher incidence of attempting to cheat on vehicle standards tests. Discounting inflation the EPA's 2015 budget is on a par with its 2002 budget (PDF), and has been cut by 21% since 2010.

Xiaomi Investigated For Using Superlatives In Advertising, Now Illegal In China 108

An anonymous reader writes: Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi is under investigation for using superlative messaging on its website, according to a leaked document from the Beijing Ministry of Industry and Commerce. A new Chinese law states that adjectives used to promote products must not mislead consumers. The Xiaomi investigation [Chinese] follows claims made by rival Cong that the company used phrases such as 'the best' and 'the most advanced', in its online campaigns and therefore violated the country's advertising law. (The law against suprelatives doesn't seem to apply to communications by the government, about the government.)

Former Cisco CEO: China, India, UK Will Lead US In Tech Race Without Action 109

Mickeycaskill writes: Former Cisco CEO John Chambers says the US is the only major country without a proper digital agenda and laments the fact none of the prospective candidates for the US Presidential Election have made it an issue. Chambers said China, India, the UK and France were among those to recognize the benefits of the trend but the US had been slow — risking any economic gains and support for startups. "This is the first time that our government has not led a technology transition," he said. "Our government has been remarkably slow. We are the last major developed country in the world without a digital agenda. I think every major country has this as one of their top two priorities and we don't. We won't get GDP increase and we won't be as competitive with our startups. The real surprise to me was how governments around the world, except ours, moved."

Citadel Botnet Operator Gets 4.5 Years In Prison 42

An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. Department of Justice has announced that Dimitry Belorossov, a.k.a. Rainerfox, an operator of the "Citadel" malware, has been sentenced to 4.5 years in prison following a guilty plea. Citadel was a banking trojan capable of stealing financial information. Belorossov and others distributed it through spam emails and malvertising schemes. He operated a 7,000-strong botnet with the malware, and also collaborated to improve it. The U.S. government estimates Citadel was responsible for $500 million in losses worldwide. Belorossov will have to pay over $320,000 in restitution.

Uber Raided By Dutch Authorities, Seen As 'Criminal Organization' 471

An anonymous reader writes: Uber offices in Amsterdam have been raided by Dutch authorities, as reported by several local media sources (Google translation of original in Dutch). This follows intimidatory deterrence practices earlier in The Netherlands, with Uber drivers being fined in the past months, and fresh allegations that the company would act as a "criminal organization" by offering a platform for taxi rides without license (read: without the authorities earning money from the practice). Time for tech companies to consider moving their European offices elsewhere? Uber's lawyers must be incredibly busy. Proposed regulations in London would effectively end the company's service there, while the mayor of Rio de Janeiro said he would ban Uber's operations outright. They're receiving mixed messages from Australia — just a day after running afoul of regulations in New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory is moving to legalize it.

Carly Fiorina: I Supplied HP Servers For NSA Snooping 488

MFingS writes: According to an article at Motherboard, shortly after 9/11, NSA director Michael Hayden requested extra computing power and Carly Fiorina, then CEO of HP, responded by re-routing truckloads of servers to the agency. Fiorina acknowledged providing the servers to the NSA during an interview with Michael Isikoff in which she defended warrantless surveillance (as well as waterboarding) and framed her collaboration with the NSA in patriotic terms. Fiorina's compliance with Hayden's request for HP servers is but one episode in a long-running and close relationship between the GOP presidential hopeful and U.S. intelligence agencies.

Snowden Joins Twitter, Follows NSA 206

wiredmikey writes: Edward Snowden joined Twitter Tuesday, picking up more than a quarter of a million followers on the social network in just over two hours. Snowden followed a single Twitter account: the U.S. National Security Agency, from which he stole electronic documents revealing the agency's secret surveillance programs. "Can you hear me now?" he asked in his first tweet, which was quickly resent by Twitter users tens of thousands of times. In his second, Snowden noted the recent news about the planet Mars and then quipped about the difficulty he had finding asylum after the U.S. government fingered him as the source of the NSA leaks. "And now we have water on Mars!" he wrote. "Do you think they check passports at the border? Asking for a friend."

How the FBI Hacks Around Encryption 91

Advocatus Diaboli writes with this story at The Intercept about how little encryption slows down law enforcement despite claims to the contrary. To hear FBI Director James Comey tell it, strong encryption stops law enforcement dead in its tracks by letting terrorists, kidnappers and rapists communicate in complete secrecy. But that's just not true. In the rare cases in which an investigation may initially appear to be blocked by encryption — and so far, the FBI has yet to identify a single one — the government has a Plan B: it's called hacking.

Hacking — just like kicking down a door and looking through someone's stuff — is a perfectly legal tactic for law enforcement officers, provided they have a warrant. And law enforcement officials have, over the years, learned many ways to install viruses, Trojan horses, and other forms of malicious code onto suspects' devices. Doing so gives them the same access the suspects have to communications — before they've been encrypted, or after they've been unencrypted.

John Harrison: Inventor and Longitude Hero 106

szczys writes: Here's an interesting fact: when at sea you can't establish your longitude without a reliable clock. You can figure out latitude with a sextant, but not longitude. Early clocks used pendulums that don't work on a rocking boat. So in the 1700s the British government offered up £20,000 for a reliable clock that would work at sea. John Harrison designed a really accurate ocean-worthy clock after 31 years of effort and was snubbed for the prize which would be £2.8 Million at today's value. After fighting for the payout for another 36 years he did finally get it at the ripe old age of 80. The methods he used to build this maritime chronometer were core to every wrist and pocket watch through the first third of the 20th Century. One of his timepieces, designated Clock B, was declared by Guinness to be the world's most accurate mechanical clock with a pendulum swinging in free air' more than 250 years after it was designed.

Doctors On Edge As Healthcare Gears Up For 70,000 Ways To Classify Ailments 232

HughPickens.com writes: Melinda Beck reports in the WSJ that doctors, hospitals and insurers are bracing for possible disruptions on October 1 when the U.S. health-care system switches to ICD-10, a massive new set of codes for describing illnesses and injuries that expands the way ailments are described from 14,000 to 70,000. Hospitals and physician practices have spent billions of dollars on training programs, boot camps, apps, flashcards and practice drills to prepare for the conversion, which has been postponed three times since the original date in 2011. With the move to ICD-10, the one code for suturing an artery will become 195 codes, designating every single artery, among other variables, according to OptumInsight, a unit of UnitedHealth Group Inc. A single code for a badly healed fracture could now translate to 2,595 different codes, the firm calculates. Each signals information including what bone was broken, as well as which side of the body it was on.

Propoenents says ICD-10 will help researchers better identify public-health problems, manage diseases and evaluate outcomes, and over time, will create a much more detailed body of data about patients' health—conveying a wealth of information in a single seven-digit code—and pave the way for changes in reimbursement as the nation moves toward value-based payment plans. "A clinician whose practice is filled with diabetic patients with multiple complications ought to get paid more for keeping them healthy than a clinician treating mostly cheerleaders," says Dr. Rogers. "ICD-10 will give us the precision to do that." As the changeover deadline approaches some fear a replay of the Affordable Care Act rollout debacle in 2013 that choked computer networks, delaying bills and claims for several months. Others recollect the end-of-century anxiety of Y2K, the Year 2000 computer bug that failed to materialize. "We're all hoping for the best and expecting the worst," says Sharon Ahearn. "I have built up what I call my war chest. That's to make sure we have enough working capital to see us through six to eight weeks of slow claims."

Europe Agrees To Agree With Everyone Except US What 5G Should Be 164

itwbennett writes: Following agreements signed by the EU with South Korea in June 2014 and with Japan in May 2015, the EU and China "have agreed to agree by the end of the year on a working definition for 5G," reports Peter Sayer. "About the only point of agreement so far is that 5G is what we'll all be building or buying after 4G, so any consensus between the EU and China could be significant," says Sayer.