Canada

Canadian Town Outlaws Online Insults To Police and Officials 86

Posted by Soulskill
from the because-canadians-are-so-rude dept.
Pig Hogger writes: The Canadian town of Granby, Québec, just strengthened its municipal bylaw that prohibits insulting police officers and town officials by extending its "jurisdiction" to online postings. Fines range from $100 to $1,000. The town's mayor said, "In my opinion, if I threaten you via my keyboard, it's as though I am making that threat right in front of you. For me, it's the same thing." Critics worry about the implications for freedom of speech, and wonder why police and officials should get protection an average citizen does not.
Privacy

French Version of 'Patriot Act' Becomes Law 140

Posted by Soulskill
from the privacy-surrenders dept.
Taco Cowboy writes: Thanks to the Charlie Hebdo massacre and other instances of terrorism, the French legislature has voted 438 to 86 in favor of the "Intelligence Service Bill," essentially a French version of the Patriot Act. It awards the French intelligence services sweeping powers to tap and intercept any kind of digital correspondence, including phone conversations, emails, and social media.

The bill decrees that hosting providers and Internet service providers in France must be equipped with a "black box" that can retain all digital communications from customers. "The new law would create a 13-member National Commission to Control Intelligence Techniques, which would be made up of six magistrates from the Council of State and the Court of Appeals, three representatives of the National Assembly, three senators from the upper house of Parliament and a technical expert. ... The only judicial oversight is a provision that allows the commission to lodge a complaint with the Council of State, but lawyers are doubtful that it could be convened on a routine basis." We previously discussed news that ISPs may leave France in protest if the bill was passed. Now we'll know shortly if those ISPs will live up to their word.
Network

The Ambitions and Challenges of Mesh Networks and the Local Internet Movement 46

Posted by Soulskill
from the net-positives-and-net-negatives dept.
Lashdots writes: Two artists in New York are hatching a plan to teach kids about the internet by building their own. They'll be creating a small, decentralized network, similar to a mesh network, to access other computers, and they'll be developing their own simple social network to communicate with other people. It's part of a growing movement to supplement the Internet with resilient, local alternatives. "And yet, while the decentralized, ad hoc network architecture appeals philosophically to tech-savvy users fed up with monopolistic ISPs, nobody’s found a way to make mesh networks work easily and efficiently enough to replace home Internet connections. Built more for resiliency than for speed, each participating router must continuously search for the best paths to far-flung machines. For now, that makes them of limited interest to many ordinary consumers who simply want to check their email and watch movies."
Twitter

Twitter Stops Users From Playing DOS Games Inside Tweets 53

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-fun-allowed dept.
jones_supa writes: Twitter has killed off an interesting trend of playing DOS games in tweets. Last week, users discovered they could use the new "Twitter Cards" embedding feature to bundle full DOS games within tweets. Running DOSBox inside the web browser is possible thanks to an Emscripten port of DOSBox called Em-DOSBox. The games were pulled from Internet Archive's collection of 2,600 classic titles, many of which still lack proper republishing agreements with the copyright holder. So, is embedding games within Twitter Cards, against the social network's terms of service? Either way, Twitter has now blocked such activity, likely after seeing the various news reports and a stream of Street Fighter II, Wolfenstein 3D and Zool cheering up people's timelines.
Communications

VA Tech Student Arrested For Posting Perceived Threat Via Yik Yak 250

Posted by timothy
from the how-to-win-friends-and-influence-people dept.
ememisya writes: I wonder if I posted, "There will be another 12/7 tomorrow, just a warning." around December, would people associate it with Pearl Harbor and I would find myself arrested, or has enough time passed for people to not look at the numbers 12 and 7 and take a knee jerk reaction? A student was arrested for "Harassment by Computer" (a class 1 misdemeanor in the state of Virginia) due to his post on an "anonymous" website [Yik Yak]. Although the post in and of itself doesn't mean anything to most people in the nation, it managed to scare enough people locally for law enforcement agencies to issue a warrant for his arrest. "Moon, a 21-year-old senior majoring in business information technology, is being charged with Harassment by Computer, which is a class one misdemeanor. Tuesday night, April 28, a threat to the Virginia Tech community was posted on the anonymous social media app Yik Yak. Around 11:15 p.m., an unknown user posted 'Another 4.16 moment is going to happen tomorrow. Just a warning (sic).' The Virginia Tech Police Department released a crime alert statement Wednesday morning via email informing students that VTPD was conducting an investigation throughout the night in conjunction with the Blacksburg Police Department."
Facebook

Facebook Wants to Skip the Off-Site Links, Host News Content Directly 51

Posted by timothy
from the a-few-seconds-a-few-seconds-there dept.
The Wall Street Journal, in a report also cited by The Next Web and others, reports that Facebook is to soon begin acting not just as a conduit for news links pasted onto users' timelines (and leading to articles hosted elsewhere) but also as a host for the articles themselves. From the WSJ article: To woo publishers, Facebook is offering to change its traditional revenue-sharing model. In one of the models under consideration, publishers would keep all of the revenue from ads they sell on Facebook-hosted news sites, the people familiar with the matter said. If Facebook sells the advertisement, it would keep roughly 30% of the revenue, as it does in many other cases. Another motivation for Facebook to give up some revenue: It hopes the faster-loading content will encourage users to spend more time on its network. It is unclear what format the ads might take, or if publishers will be able to place or measure the ads they sell within Facebook. It seems likely Facebook would want publishers to use its own advertising-technology products, such as Atlas and LiveRail, as opposed to those offered by rivals such as Google Inc.
AI

Microsoft's AI Judges Age From Snapshots, With Mixed Results 80

Posted by timothy
from the are-humans-all-that-much-better? dept.
mikejuk writes: A Microsoft Research project that lets users upload photos and estimates their age and gender has attracted more attention than expected — not all of it complimentary. The How-Old.net site demonstrates of some of the capabilities of the Face API included in Microsoft's Project Oxford that was announced at Build. It may have been expected to be a source of amusement but instead it backfired when people started to upload their own photos and discovered just how wrong its estimates could be. It demonstrates not only that machine learning has a long way to go before it's good at estimating age, but also that machine learning may not be the most politically correct way to go about answering the question 'How Old Do I look'. It might be better to employ and algorithm that built in all the rules of how to make a polite answer to that request — such as always knock a decade off the age of anyone over 28. Perhaps this particular neural network needs to learn some social skills before pronouncing how old people look. However it is capable of telling some truths — a photo of Barak Obama in 2005 gives an estimated age of 46, close to his real age of 44, but just 9 years later in 2014 the age guessing robot places him at 65. It seems that Mr President aged 20 years in less than 10 years of office.
Patents

Patent Issued Covering Phone Notifications of Delivery Time and Invoice Quantity 60

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-should-patent-the-rubber-stamp dept.
eldavojohn writes: The staggering ingenuity of the U.S. Patent system has again been showcased by the EFF's analysis of recent patents. This week's patent and follow-up patent cover the futuristic innovative idea that when you order something, you can update your order and add additional amounts to your order while it's being processed. But wait, it gets even more innovative! You may one day be able to even to notify when you would like it delivered — on your phone! I know, you're busy wiping all that brain matter off your screen as your head seems to have exploded. Well, it turns out that inventor and patent holder Scott Horstemeyer (aka Eclipse IP, LLC of Delray Beach, FL) found no shortage of targets to go after with his new patents. It appears Tiger Fitness (and every other online retailer) was sending notices to customers about shipments. Did I mention Horstemeyer is a lawyer too? But not just a regular lawyer, a "SUPER lawyer" from the same firm that patented social networking in 2007, sued Uber for using location finding technologies in 2013 and sued Overstock.com as well as a small time shoe seller for using shipping notifications in 2014. A related article at Vox makes this case: "The primary problem with the patent system is, well, the patent system. The system makes it too easy to get broad, vague patents, and the litigation process is tilted too far toward plaintiffs. But because so many big companies make so much money off of this system, few in Congress are willing to consider broader reforms."
Open Source

How an Open Standard API Could Revolutionize Banking 72

Posted by samzenpus
from the cheap-money dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Open bank data will give us the freedom to access all banks in real time and from a single view, automatically calculating the best deals in complete transparency, which will be a significant step forward for social good and give people more control over their finances. Meanwhile, financial tech incubators, accelerators, and startups are creating a more experienced talent pool of developers ready to act upon these newly available assets. From the article: "The United Kingdom government has commissioned a study of the feasibility of UK banks giving customers the ability to share their transactional data with third parties via an open standard API. First mentioned alongside the autumn statement back in December, the chancellor has now outlined plans for a mandatory open banking API standard during the recent budget in March."
Social Networks

Can Riots Be Predicted By Social Media? 141

Posted by timothy
from the not-the-best-ones dept.
sciencehabit writes: The broken glass and burned wreckage are still being cleared in the wake of the riots that convulsed Baltimore's streets on 27 April. The final trigger of the unrest was the funeral of a 25-year-old African-American man who had died in police custody, but observers point to many other root causes, from income inequality to racial discrimination. But for a few researchers who are studying Baltimore's unrest, the question is not the ultimate causes of the riot but its mechanism: How do such riots self-organize and spread? One of those researchers, Dan Braha, a social scientist at the New England Complex Systems Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has been collecting data from Twitter that spans the riot from buildup to aftermath, part of a larger study of social media and social unrest around the world. He spoke to Science about how researchers are helping to predict the riots of the future.
Communications

Apple, IBM To Bring iPads To 5 Million Elderly Japanese 67

Posted by timothy
from the get-them-from-los-angeles-school-kids dept.
itwbennett writes: An initiative between Apple, IBM and Japan Post Holdings could put iPads in the hands of up to 5 million members of Japan's elderly population. The iPads, which will run custom apps from IBM, will supplement Japan Post's Watch Over service where, for a monthly fee, postal employees check on elderly residents and relay information on their well-being to family members.
Government

Tech Credited With Reducing Nigerian Election Death Toll 58

Posted by timothy
from the pat-answers dept.
jfruh writes: Dozens died in the runup to Nigeria's most recent election — a shocking statistic to many Westerners, but a relief in comparison to the much more serious violence that plagued earlier elections. Observers are crediting technology with making the election safer: the use of biometric IDs gave voters more confidence in the results, and social media gave people a chance to blow of anger that might've otherwise results in street brawls.
Bug

Tattoos Found To Interfere With Apple Watch Sensors 399

Posted by timothy
from the clashing-hipsterisms dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A number of early Apple Watch adopters have complained that their tattoos cause interference with many of the new product's key features. According to multiple tattooed sources, inked wrists and hands can disrupt communication with the wearable's sensors installed in the underside of the device leading to malfunction. Owners of Apple Watch have taken to social media to voice their frustration using the hashtag #tattoogate and sharing their disappointment over the newly discovered Apple flaw. One user reported that the Watch's lock system did not disable as it should when the device was placed on a decorated area of skin – forcing those affected to constantly enter their security pins. A further source suggested that notification alerts would fail to 'ping' as they are supposed to, and that heart rate monitoring differed significantly between tattooed and non-tattooed wrist readings.
Earth

Pope Attacked By Climate Change Skeptics 700

Posted by Soulskill
from the infallible-except-when-he-disagrees-with-them dept.
HughPickens.com writes: The Telegraph reports that as the Vatican forges an alliance with the UN to tackle climate change, skeptics accuse Pope Francis of being deeply ill-informed about global warming. The Pope discussed climate change with Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary-General, who then opened a one-day Vatican conference called "The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Development". Organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, SDSN and Religions for Peace, the goal of the conference is to help strengthen the global consensus on the importance of climate change in the context of sustainable development.

But a group of British and American skeptics say the Pope is being fed "mistaken" advice from the UN and that he should stick to speaking out on matters of morality and theology rather than getting involved in the climate change debate. "The Pope has great moral authority but he's not an authority on climate science. He's a learned man but the IPCC has got it wrong," says Jim Lakely of the Heartland Institute, a conservative American pressure group partly funded by billionaire industrialists who question climate change. "The Pope would make a grave mistake if he put his moral authority behind scientists saying that climate change is a threat to the world. Many scientists have concluded that human activity is a minor player. The Earth has been warming since the end of the last Ice Age."

It was the first time the Heartland Institute, which is based in Chicago and has been described by the New York Times as "the primary American organization pushing climate change skepticism," has traveled to Rome to try to influence a pope. "The sideshow envisioned by these organizations will not detract from the deep concern that Pope Francis has for the truth and how it relates to the environment," says Dr. Bernard Brady, Professor and Chair of the Theology Department at the University of St. Thomas. "Pope Francis will probably follow his predecessor, Benedict XVI, recognizing the interrelatedness of climate change with other moral issues and calling for persons, organizations, communities, nations, and indeed the global community, to reconsider established patterns of behavior."
The Courts

Texas Admonishes Judge For Posting Facebook Updates About Her Trials 95

Posted by samzenpus
from the was-that-wrong? dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Michelle Slaughter, a Galveston County judge, says she will appeal a public admonition from state officials that criticized her Facebook posts about cases brought before her court. From the article: "The State Commission on Judicial Conduct ordered Michelle Slaughter, a Galveston County judge, to enroll in a four-hour class on the 'proper and ethical use of social media by judges.' The panel concluded that the judge's posts cast 'reasonable doubt' on her impartiality. At the beginning of a high-profile trial last year in which a father was accused of keeping his nine-year-old son in a six-foot by eight-foot wooden box, the judge instructed jurors not to discuss the case against defendant David Wieseckel with anyone. 'Again, this is by any means of communication. So no texting, e-mailing, talking person to person or on the phone or on Facebook. Any of that is absolutely forbidden,' the judge told jurors. But Slaughter didn't take her own advice, leading to her removal from the case and a mistrial. The defendant eventually was acquitted of unlawful-restraint-of-a-child charges."
Google

Google Insiders Talk About Why Google+ Failed 359

Posted by samzenpus
from the here's-what-happened dept.
An anonymous reader writes in with this story about what happened to Google+ from an employee perspective. "Last month, Google announced that it's changing up its strategy with Google+. In a sense, it's giving up on pitching Google+ as a social network aimed at competing with Facebook. Instead, Google+ will become two separate pieces: Photos and Streams. This didn't come as a surprise — Google+ never really caught on the same way social networks like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn did....Rumors have been swirling for months that Google would change its direction with Google+. Business Insider spoke with a few insiders about what happened to the network that Google believed would change the way people share their lives online. Google+ was really important to Larry Page, too — one person said he was personally involved and wanted to get the whole company behind it. The main problem with Google+, one former Googler says, is the company tried to make it too much like Facebook. Another former Googler agrees, saying the company was 'late to market' and motivated from 'a competitive standpoint.'"
Government

Woman Behind Pakistan's First Hackathon, Sabeen Mahmud, Shot Dead 493

Posted by samzenpus
from the trying-to-silence-the-future dept.
An anonymous reader sends word that Sabeen Mahmud, a prominent Pakistani social and human rights activist, has been shot dead. The progressive activist and organizer who ran Pakistan's first-ever hackathon and led a human rights and a peace-focused nonprofit known as The Second Floor (T2F) was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Karachi. Sabeen Mahmud was leaving the T2F offices with her mother some time after 9pm on Friday evening, reports the Pakistani newspaper Dawn. She was on her way home when she was shot, the paper reports. Her mother also sustained bullet wounds and is currently being treated at a hospital; she is said to be in critical condition.
Facebook

Nepal Earthquake: Facebook To Google, How Tech Is Helping Survivors Reach Out 39

Posted by samzenpus
from the safe-status-update dept.
An anonymous reader writes: In the aftermath of the earthquake that struck Nepal, many social media sites and mobile applications have come up with features that could help locate friends and loved ones. From the Times of India: "Social networking website Facebook, and Google's Person Finder have helped locate the whereabouts of those stranded in quake-hit areas. For instance, members of one Himmatramka family residing in Birgunj in Nepal marked themselves safe on Facebook. 'Our relatives back in India were worried about our safety. So, we marked ourselves safe to inform them,' said Nitesh Himmatramka.
Censorship

Irish Legislator Proposes Law That Would Make Annoying People Online a Crime 114

Posted by Soulskill
from the turn-yourselves-in-at-the-local-pub dept.
An anonymous reader sends this report from TechDirt: Is Ireland looking to pass a law that would "outlaw ebooks and jail people for annoying others?" Well, no, not really, but that's the sort of unintended consequences that follow when laws are updated for the 21st century using little more than a word swap. Ireland has had long-standing laws against harassment via snail mail, telephones and (as of 2007) SMS messages. A 2014 report by the government's somewhat troublingly-named "Internet Content Governance Advisory Group" recommended updating this section of the law to cover email, social media and other internet-related transmissions. ... The broad language -- if read literally -- could make emailing an ebook to someone a criminal offense. Works of fiction are, by definition, false. ... It's the vestigial language from previous iterations of the law -- words meant to target scam artists and aggressive telemarketers -- that is problematic. Simply appending the words "electronic communications" to an old law doesn't address the perceived problem (cyberbullying is cited in the governance group's report). It just creates new problems.
United States

House Bill Slashes Research Critical To Cybersecurity 198

Posted by samzenpus
from the do-more-with-less dept.
dcblogs writes: A U.S. House bill that will set the nation's basic research agenda for the next two years increases funding for computer science, but at the expense of other research areas. The funding bill, sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the chair of the Science, Space and Technology Committee, hikes funding for computer science, but cuts — almost by half — social sciences funding, which includes the study of human behavior. Cybersecurity uses human behavior research because humans are often the weakest security link. Research funding social, behavioral and economic sciences will fall from $272 million to $150 million, a 45% decrease. The bill also takes a big cut out of geosciences research, which includes climate change study, from $1.3 billion to $1.2 billion, an 8% decrease. The insight into human behaviors that comes from the social science research, "is critical to understanding how best to design and implement hardware and software systems that are more secure and easier to use," wrote J. Strother Moore, the Computing Research Association chair and a professor of computer science at the University of Texas.