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Government

Two Quantum Computing Bills Are Coming To Congress (gizmodo.com) 76

Quantum computing has made it to the United States Congress. "Quantum computing is the next technological frontier that will change the world, and we cannot afford to fall behind," said Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) in a statement passed to Gizmodo. "We must act now to address the challenges we face in the development of this technology -- our future depends on it." From the report: The bill introduced by Harris in the Senate focuses on defense, calling for the creation of a consortium of researchers selected by the Chief of Naval Research and the Director of the Army Research Laboratory. The consortium would award grants, assist with research, and facilitate partnerships between the members. Another, yet-to-be-introduced bill, seen in draft form by Gizmodo, calls for a 10-year National Quantum Initiative Program to set goals and priorities for quantum computing in the US; invest in the technology; and partner with academia and industry. An office within the Department of Energy would coordinate the program. Another group would include members from the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Department of Energy, the office of the Director of National Intelligence to coordinate research and education activity between agencies. Furthermore, the draft bill calls for the establishment of up to five Quantum Information Science research centers, as well as two multidisciplinary National Centers for Quantum Research and Education.
Government

Can Washington State Finally Put a Price On Carbon? (wired.com) 146

jwhyche writes: Beth Brunton walks around Seattle with a magenta umbrella. At 75 degrees and there not being a cloud in the sky, it gets peoples attention. What she is attempting to do is get people to sign a petition supporting Initiative 1631, known as the "Protect Washington Act." If this was to pass, Washington state would become the first state to adopt anything like a carbon tax. "The initiative proposes a 'fee on pollution' that would put a $15 charge on each metric ton of carbon dioxide emitted in Washington starting in 2020," reports Wired. "That charge would rise by $2 plus inflation every year until the state meets its climate goals, which include cutting its carbon footprint 36 percent below 2005 levels by 2035. The revenue raised would go toward investing in clean energy; protecting the air, water, and forests; and helping vulnerable communities prepare for wildfires and sea-level rise."

The report mentions Washington's previous attempt at a "carbon tax" initiative, which was ultimately rejected. It would have initially charged businesses $25 per metric ton of emissions before ramping up over time.
Security

WiFi Phishing Attacks Discovered Around Atlanta City Hall (helpnetsecurity.com) 16

As Atlanta continues to fully recover from March's ransomware attack, new evidence discovered today by Coronet reveals hundreds of active Wi-Fi phishing attacks currently ongoing both inside of and in close proximity to Atlanta City Hall. From a report: The research also found attacks currently underway in Georgia's State Capitol Building, which is just a few blocks away. In total, Coronet identified 678 active threats within a 5-mile radius of Atlanta's City Hall. Specifically, Coronet has validated that an undetermined number of attackers are currently deploying advanced phishing techniques, including but not limited to Evil Twins, Captive Portals and ARP poisoning, in what is likely their attempt to gain unauthorized access to user credentials to cloud services that the government relies on for daily business operations and continuity.
Politics

In a Blow To E-Voting Critics, Brazil Suspends Use of All Paper Ballots (arstechnica.com) 120

An anonymous reader shares a report: In a blow to electronic-voting critics, Brazil's Supreme Court has suspended the use of all paper ballots in this year's elections. The ruling means that only electronic ballot boxes will be used, and there will be no voter-verified paper trail that officials can use to check the accuracy of results. In an 8-2 majority, justices on Wednesday sided with government arguments that the paper trails posed a risk to ballot secrecy, Brazil's Folha De S.Paulo newspaper reported on Thursday. In so doing, the justices suspended a requirement that 5 percent of Brazil's ballot boxes this year use paper. That requirement, by Brazil's Supreme Electoral Court, already represented a major weakening of an election reform bill passed in 2015. Speaking in support of Wednesday's decision, Justice Gilmar Mendes equated proponents of voter-verified paper trails to conspiracy theorists. "After the statements made here [by those who defend paper votes], we have to believe that perhaps we did not actually reach the moon," Mendes was quoted as saying. "There are beliefs and even a religion around this theme."
United States

China Hacked a Navy Contractor and Secured a Trove of Highly Sensitive Data on Submarine Warfare (washingtonpost.com) 112

Ellen Nakashima and Paul Sonne, reporting for The Washington Post: Chinese government hackers have compromised the computers of a Navy contractor, stealing massive amounts of highly sensitive data related to undersea warfare -- including secret plans to develop a supersonic anti-ship missile for use on U.S. submarines by 2020, according to American officials. The breaches occurred in January and February, the officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. The hackers targeted a contractor who works for the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, a military organization headquartered in Newport, R.I., that conducts research and development for submarines and underwater weaponry. The officials did not identify the contractor. Taken were 614 gigabytes of material relating to a closely held project known as Sea Dragon, as well as signals and sensor data, submarine radio room information relating to cryptographic systems, and the Navy submarine development unit's electronic warfare library. The Washington Post agreed to withhold certain details about the compromised missile project at the request of the Navy, which argued that their release could harm national security.
The Internet

Google's Free Wifi is Becoming a Way of Life in India (qz.com) 35

Sushma U N, writing for Quartz: American internet search giant Google has completed the rollout of one of the world's biggest public wifi projects in India. On June 07, Google said it now offers free high-speed public wifi at 400 railway stations in Asia's third-largest economy, in partnership with the government-owned Indian Railways and RailTel, which operates a fibre network along the country's massive network of train tracks. The company had announced the initiative back in 2015 during prime minister Narendra Modi's visit to its headquarters in Mountain View, California. The Mumbai Central station in India's financial capital was the first to get the facility in January 2016. Now, over 8 million people use the service, Google said in a blog post. "On average, people consume 350MB of data per session, roughly the size of a half-hour television episode, and over half of the people using Google Station engage in multiple online sessions a day," the company said.
Government

Justice Department Seizes Reporter's Phone, Email Records In Leak Probe (thehill.com) 165

According to The New York Times, the Department of Justice seized a New York Times reporter's phone and email records this year in an effort to probe the leaking of classified information, the first known instance of the DOJ going after a journalist's data under President Trump. The Hill reports: The Times reported Thursday that the DOJ seized years' worth of records from journalist Ali Watkins's time as a reporter at BuzzFeed News and Politico before she joined The Times in 2017 as a federal law enforcement reporter, according to the report Thursday. Watkins was alerted by a prosecutor in February that the DOJ had years of records and subscriber information from telecommunications companies such as Google and Verizon for two email accounts and a phone number belonging to her. Investigators did not receive the content of the records, according to The Times. The newspaper reported that it learned of the letter on Thursday.
Cellphones

French School Students To Be Banned From Using Mobile Phones (theguardian.com) 136

The lower house of parliament in France has passed what it called a "detox" law for a younger generation increasingly addicted to screens. As a result, French school students will be banned from using mobile phones anywhere on school grounds starting in September. The Guardian reports: The new law bans phone-use by children in school playgrounds, at breaktimes and anywhere on school premises. Legislation passed in 2010 already states children should not use phones in class. During a parliamentary debate, lawmakers from Macron's La Republique En Marche party said banning phones in schools meant all children now had a legal "right to disconnect" from digital pressures during their school day. Some in Macron's party had initially sought to go even further, arguing that adults should set an example and the the ban should be extended to all staff in schools, making teachers surrender their phones on arrival each morning. But Macron's education minister, Jean-Michel Blanquer, brushed this aside, saying it wasn't necessary to extend the ban to teachers and staff.
Businesses

The Gig Economy is Actually Smaller Than It Used To Be, Labor Department Says (marketwatch.com) 64

The so-called gig economy is actually slightly smaller than it used to be, according to a new Labor Department report released Thursday that chronicles the jobs market in the age of Uber. From a report: In May 2017, the Labor Department counted 5.9 million people, or 3.8% of workers, in what it calls contingent jobs, which are those that the workers don't expect to last or that workers call temporary. In 2005, the last time the government looked into the issue, there were 4.1% of workers who classified themselves this way. "Taken at face value, the results indicate that the role of non-traditional work arrangements in the U.S. economy has remained largely unchanged during the past 20 years, even as excitement and media coverage of the growth of the 'gig economy' has increased," said Brian Schaitkin, senior economist for The Conference Board.
Businesses

Shady ICO Issuers Are Taking 'Bags of Cash' To Border, US Says (bloomberg.com) 46

A top financial regulator gave a strong warning this week that U.S. scrutiny of initial coin offerings is just getting started. From a report: Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton, speaking at a conference in New York, said companies raising money through digital-token sales shouldn't have any illusions that the government will treat them differently than firms participating in traditional stock offerings. He added that the market deserves close attention because the SEC has already seen examples of fraudsters fleeing the country after persuading U.S. investors to back their ICOs. "I am not going to change the way we approach the offering and trading of securities as a result of the fact that you put it in the form of a token," Clayton said at the Sandler O'Neill Global Exchange and Brokerage Conference. "I'm protecting the integrity of the market. The behavior we see in this is pretty bad. We've got guys with bags of cash headed to the border. That's not our securities market."
Communications

US Says Internet Use Rises as More Low Income People Go Online; Tablets Surpass Desktops In Popularity (reuters.com) 80

Internet use by Americans increased in 2017, fueled by a rise among people with lower incomes, a government report viewed on Wednesday by Reuters found. From a report: The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) also reported that for the first time tablets were more popular than desktop computers, and that more households had a mobile data plan than wired broadband service. The results were to be publicly released later on Wednesday. The survey results demonstrate the growing importance of the internet in everyday communication as the way consumers access content changes. Among Americans living in households with family incomes below $25,000 per year, the survey found internet use increased to 62 percent in 2017 from 57 percent in 2015, while households earning $100,000 or more showed no change at 86 percent. The gain of 13.5 million users was "driven by increased adoption among low-income families, seniors, African Americans, Hispanics, and other groups that have been less likely to go online," the agency said.
Government

US Piles New Charges on Marcus Hutchins (aka MalwareTech) (bleepingcomputer.com) 104

British cyber-security researcher Marcus Hutchins, who has been credited with stopping the spread of WannaCry, is now facing four more charges related to separate malware he is alleged to have created. BleepingComputer reports: According to court documents, the new charges are for allegedly creating another piece of malware and for lying to the FBI. Hutchins had previously been accused of creating and selling the Kronos banking trojan last year. But in a superseding indictment filed this week, U.S. prosecutors claim Hutchins also coded and sold another piece of malware called the UPAS Kit. According to US prosecutors, UPAS Kit "used a form grabber and web injects to intercept and collect personal information from a protected computer," and "allowed for the unauthorized exfiltration of information from protected computers." The U.S. government claims Hutchins sold this second malware strain in July 2012 to a person going by the online pseudonym of Aurora123, who later infected US users. Hutchins expressed disappointment on the development, tweeting, "Spend months and $100k+ fighting this case, then they go and reset the clock by adding even more bullshit charges like 'lying to the FBI.' We require more minerals." In a subsequent tweet, he requested people to help him with the cost of legal proceedings.
Transportation

US Government Probes Airplane Vulnerabilities, Says Airline Hack Is 'Only a Matter of Time' (vice.com) 125

Joseph Cox, writing for Motherboard: U.S. government researchers believe it is only a matter of time before a cybersecurity breach on an airline occurs, according to government documents obtained by Motherboard. The comment was included in a recent presentation talking about efforts to uncover vulnerabilities in widely used commercial aircraft, building on research in which a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) team successfully remotely hacked a Boeing 737.

The documents, which include internal presentations and risk assessments, indicate researchers working on behalf of the DHS may have already conducted another test against an aircraft. They also show what the US government anticipates would happen after an aircraft hack, and how planes still in use have little or no cybersecurity protections in place.

"Potential of catastrophic disaster is inherently greater in an airborne vehicle," a section of a presentation dated this year from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), a Department of Energy government research laboratory, reads. Those particular slides are focused on PNNL's findings around aviation cybersecurity. "A matter of time before a cyber security breach on an airline occurs," the document adds.

United States

President's Most Senior Technology Advisor Says the White House is Quietly Pursuing an Aggressive AI Plan (technologyreview.com) 106

Speaking at a conference held at MIT, Donald Trump's chief technology advisor, Michael Kratsios, said this week that the U.S. government would release any data that might help fuel AI research in the United States, although he didn't specify immediately what kind of data would be released or who would be eligible to receive the information. From a report: Kratsios, who is deputy assistant to the president and deputy US chief technology officer, said the government is looking for ways to open up federal data to AI researchers. "Anything that we can do to unlock government data, we're committed to," Kratsios told MIT Technology Review. "We'd love to hear from any academic that has any insights." Data has been a key factor behind recent advances in artificial intelligence. For example, better voice recognition and image processing have been contingent on the availability of huge quantities of training data. The government has access to large amounts of data, and it's possible that it could be used to train innovative algorithms to do new things. "Anything we can do to figure that out, we will work very hard on," Kratsios added.

The Trump administration has faced criticism for a more laissez-faire approach to artificial intelligence than many other countries have taken. Kratsios argued that the White House is quietly pushing an aggressive policy, pointing to examples of research projects that have received federal funding. When asked about the president's interest in artificial intelligence, Kratsios said, "The White House has prioritized AI, and he obviously runs the White House."

Security

DHS Will Use Facial Recognition To Scan Travelers at the Border (engadget.com) 91

An anonymous reader shares a report: Last year, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) put out a notice, saying it was looking for a facial recognition system that could work with images taken of people inside their cars. The idea was that such a system could be used to scan people entering and leaving the country through the US/Mexico border and match them to government documents like passports and visas. Now, The Verge reports that DHS will be launching a test of a system aiming to do just that. The Vehicle Face System, as it's called, is scheduled for an initial deployment in August and it will be installed at the Anzalduas border crossing. The test will take place over one year and will aim to take images of passengers in every car that enters or leaves the US through the crossing.
Government

FCC Emails Show Agency Spread Lies To Bolster Dubious DDoS Attack Claims: Gizmodo (gizmodo.com) 101

As the FCC was grappling with accusations of a fake cyberattack last spring, it intentionally misled several news organizations, choosing to feed journalists false information, while at the same time discouraging them from challenging the agency's official story, news outlet Gizmodo reported Tuesday. From the report: Internal emails reviewed by Gizmodo lay bare the agency's efforts to counter rife speculation that senior officials manufactured a cyberattack, allegedly to explain away technical problems plaguing the FCC's comment system amid its high-profile collection of public comments on a controversial and since-passed proposal to overturn federal net neutrality rules.

The FCC has been unwilling or unable to produce any evidence an attack occurred -- not to the reporters who've requested and even sued over it, and not to U.S. lawmakers who've demanded to see it. Instead, the agency conducted a quiet campaign to bolster its cyberattack story with the aid of friendly and easily duped reporters, chiefly by spreading word of an earlier cyberattack that its own security staff say never happened.

Privacy

Edward Snowden: 'The People Are Still Powerless, But Now They're Aware' (theguardian.com) 155

Edward Snowden has no regrets five years on from leaking the biggest cache of top-secret documents in history. He is wanted by the US. He is in exile in Russia. But he is satisfied with the way his revelations of mass surveillance have rocked governments, intelligence agencies and major internet companies. From a report Snowden, weighing up the changes, said some privacy campaigners had expressed disappointment with how things have developed, but he did not share it. "People say nothing has changed: that there is still mass surveillance. That is not how you measure change. Look back before 2013 and look at what has happened since. Everything changed."

The most important change, he said, was public awareness. "The government and corporate sector preyed on our ignorance. But now we know. People are aware now. People are still powerless to stop it but we are trying. The revelations made the fight more even."

Earth

Hawaii Passes Law To Make State Carbon Neutral By 2045 (fastcompany.com) 131

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fast Company: In a little less than three decades, Hawaii plans to be carbon neutral -- he most ambitious climate goal in the United States. Governor David Ige signed a bill today committing to make the state fully carbon neutral by 2045, along with a second bill that will use carbon offsets to help fund planting trees throughout Hawaii. A third bill requires new building projects to consider how high sea levels will rise in their engineering decisions. The state is especially vulnerable to climate change -- sea level rise, for example, threatens to cause $19 billion in economic losses -- and that's one of the reasons that the new laws had support.

Transportation is a challenge -- while the state is planning for a future where cars run on renewable electricity, it also relies heavily on planes and ships, which will take longer to move to electric charging, and which Hawaii can't directly control. "Those are global transportation networks that don't have easy substitutes right now," Glenn says. "That's one of the reasons why we really want to pursue the carbon offset program, because we know we're going to continue to be dependent on shipping and aviation, and if they continue to burn carbon to bring us our tourists and our goods and our supplies and our food, then we want to try to have a way to sequester the impact we're causing by importing all this stuff to our islands." The government plans to sell carbon offsets to pay to plant native trees, which can help absorb CO2 from the atmosphere as they grow. The state is also working to become more self-sufficient. The governor aims to double local food production by 2030; right now, around 90% of what residents and tourists eat in Hawaii -- 6 million pounds of food a day -- comes from somewhere else, on planes or ships.

United States

5 Years on, US Government Still Counting Snowden Leak Costs (apnews.com) 172

National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden blew the lid off U.S. government surveillance methods five years ago, but intelligence chiefs complain that revelations from the trove of classified documents he disclosed are still trickling out. From a report: That includes recent reporting on a mass surveillance program run by close U.S. ally Japan and on how the NSA targeted bitcoin users to gather intelligence to combat narcotics and money laundering. The Intercept, an investigative publication with access to Snowden documents, published stories on both subjects. The top U.S. counterintelligence official said journalists have released only about 1 percent taken by the 34-year-old American, now living in exile in Russia, "so we don't see this issue ending anytime soon." "This past year, we had more international, Snowden-related documents and breaches than ever," Bill Evanina, who directs the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, said at a recent conference. "Since 2013, when Snowden left, there have been thousands of articles around the world with really sensitive stuff that's been leaked."
Transportation

Uber Facing Ban In Turkey After Erdogan Backs Taxis (sbs.com.au) 107

An anonymous reader quotes a report from SBS: Uber faces being banned in Turkey after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the ride-hailing app was "finished" on Saturday following an intense lobbying campaign from Istanbul taxi drivers. Erdogan's comments, in a late-night speech Friday in Istanbul, came after the government agreed new rules that are expected to severely complicate Uber's operations in Turkey. Drivers of Istanbul's yellow taxis have over the last months waged an intense campaign to have Uber banned, saying the company is eating into their business without having a proper legal basis for work. "This thing emerged called Uber or Muber or whatever," said Erdogan. "But this issue is now finished. It's over now. Our Prime Minister (Minali Yildirim) made the announcement. We have our system of taxis," he said.

"Yildirim's government last month issue a directive sharply hiking fines and threatened to blacklist companies whose vehicles illegally work as taxis," reports SBS.

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