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Government

To Fight $5.2B In Identity Theft, IRS May Need To Change the Way You File Taxes 212

Posted by Soulskill
from the your-tax-dollars-at-work dept.
coondoggie writes: Based on preliminary analysis, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) estimates it paid $5.2 billion in fraudulent identity theft refunds in filing season 2013 while preventing an additional $24.2 billion (based on what it could detect). As a result, the IRS needs to implement changes (PDF) in a system that apparently can't begin verifying refund information until July, months after the tax deadline. Such changes could impact legitimate taxpayers by delaying refunds, extending tax season and likely adding costs to the IRS.
Canada

Netflix Rejects Canadian Regulator Jurisdiction Over Online Video 148

Posted by timothy
from the on-what-authority dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Last week's very public fight between the CRTC and Netflix escalated on Monday as Netflix refused to comply with Commission's order to supply certain confidential information including subscriber numbers and expenditures on Canadian children's content. While the disclosure concerns revolve around the confidentiality of the data, the far bigger issue is now whether the CRTC has the legal authority to order it to do anything at all. Michael Geist reports that Netflix and Google are ready to challenge it in a case that could head to the Supreme Court of Canada.
The Courts

Anonymous Peer-review Comments May Spark Legal Battle 158

Posted by Soulskill
from the jig-is-up dept.
sciencehabit writes: The power of anonymous comments — and the liability of those who make them — is at the heart of a possible legal battle embroiling PubPeer, an online forum launched in October 2012 for anonymous, postpublication peer review. A researcher who claims that comments on PubPeer caused him to lose a tenured faculty job offer now intends to press legal charges against the person or people behind these posts — provided he can uncover their identities, his lawyer says.
Censorship

DuckDuckGo Now Blocked In China 70

Posted by Soulskill
from the fowl-play-suspected dept.
wabrandsma sends this news from Tech In Asia: Privacy-oriented search engine DuckDuckGo is now blocked in China. On Sunday DuckDuckGo founder and CEO Gabriel Weinberg confirmed to Tech in Asia that the team has noticed the blockage in China on Twitter. DuckDuckGo had been working fine in mainland China since its inception, aside from the occasional 'connection reset' experienced when accessing many overseas websites from within the country. But now the search engine is totally blocked in China. ... [T]he GreatFire index of blocked sites suggest that DuckDuckGo got whacked on September 4. DuckDuckGo joins Google in being censored and blocked in the nation. Google, after years of being throttled by China's Great Firewall since the web giant turned off its mainland China servers in 2010, was finally blocked totally in June this year.
Government

Service Promises To Leak Your Documents If the Government Murders You 95

Posted by samzenpus
from the if-anything-happens-to-me dept.
Jason Koebler writes With all the conspiracy theories surrounding some high-profile deaths in recent years, how can you, theoretical whistleblower with highly sensitive documents, be assured that your information gets leaked if you're murdered in some government conspiracy? A new dark web service says it's got your back. "Dead Man Zero" claims to offer potential whistleblowers a bit more peace of mind by providing a system that will automatically publish and distribute their secrets should they die, get jailed, or get injured.
Privacy

Before Using StingRays, Police Must Sign NDA With FBI 115

Posted by samzenpus
from the the-first-rule-of-tracking-club dept.
v3rgEz writes Advanced cell phone tracking devices known as StingRays allow police nationwide to home in on suspects and to log individuals present at a given location. But before acquiring a StingRay, state and local police must sign a nondisclosure agreement with the FBI, according to documents released via a MuckRock FOIA request. As Shawn Musgrave reports, it's an unusual setup arrangement for two public agencies to swear each other to secrecy, but such maneuvers are becoming more common.
Businesses

Nobody's Neutral In Net Neutrality Debate 129

Posted by samzenpus
from the picking-sides dept.
ygslash writes Michael Wolff at USA Today has a long list of the many stakeholders in the net neutrality debate, and what each has to gain or lose. The net neutrality issue has made its way into the mainstream consciousness, thanks to grassroots activism and some help from John Oliver on HBO. But it's not as simple as just net neutrality idealists versus the cable companies or versus the FCC. One important factor that has raised the stakes in net neutrality is the emergence ("unanticipated" by Wolff, but not by all of us) of the Internet as the primary medium for distribution of video content. And conversely, the emergence of video content in general and Netflix in particular as by far the most significant consumers of Internet bandwidth. So anyone involved in the distribution of video content has a lot to gain or lose by the outcome of the net neutrality struggle.
Piracy

The Raid-Proof Hosting Technology Behind 'The Pirate Bay' 141

Posted by timothy
from the pesky-vikings-and-their-lessons dept.
HughPickens.com writes Ernesto reports at TorrentFreak that despite its massive presence the Pirate Bay doesn't have a giant server park but operates from the cloud, on virtual machines that can be quickly moved if needed. The site uses 21 "virtual machines" (VMs) hosted at different providers, up four machines from two years ago, in part due to the steady increase in traffic. Eight of the VMs are used for serving the web pages, searches take up another six machines, and the site's database currently runs on two VMs. The remaining five virtual machines are used for load balancing, statistics, the proxy site on port 80, torrent storage and for the controller. In total the VMs use 182 GB of RAM and 94 CPU cores. The total storage capacity is 620 GB. One interesting aspect of The Pirate Bay is that all virtual machines are hosted with commercial cloud hosting providers, who have no clue that The Pirate Bay is among their customers. "Moving to the cloud lets TPB move from country to country, crossing borders seamlessly without downtime. All the servers don't even have to be hosted with the same provider, or even on the same continent." All traffic goes through the load balancer, which masks what the other VMs are doing. This also means that none of the IP-addresses of the cloud hosting providers are publicly linked to TPB. For now, the most vulnerable spot appears to be the site's domain. Just last year TPB burnt through five separate domain names due to takedown threats from registrars. But then again, this doesn't appear to be much of a concern for TPB as the operators have dozens of alternative domain names standing by.
Encryption

Wired Profiles John Brooks, the Programmer Behind Ricochet 49

Posted by timothy
from the bouncy-bouncy dept.
wabrandsma writes with this excerpt from Wired: John Brooks, who is just 22 and a self-taught coder who dropped out of school at 13, was always concerned about privacy and civil liberties. Four years ago he began work on a program for encrypted instant messaging that uses Tor hidden services for the protected transmission of communications. The program, which he dubbed Ricochet, began as a hobby. But by the time he finished, he had a full-fledged desktop client that was easy to use, offered anonymity and encryption, and even resolved the issue of metadata—the "to" and "from" headers and IP addresses spy agencies use to identify and track communications—long before the public was aware that the NSA was routinely collecting metadata in bulk for its spy programs. The only problem Brooks had with the program was that few people were interested in using it. Although he'd made Ricochet's code open source, Brooks never had it formally audited for security and did nothing to promote it, so few people even knew about it.

Then the Snowden leaks happened and metadata made headlines. Brooks realized he already had a solution that resolved a problem everyone else was suddenly scrambling to fix. Though ordinary encrypted email and instant messaging protect the contents of communications, metadata allows authorities to map relationships between communicants and subpoena service providers for subscriber information that can help unmask whistleblowers, journalists's sources and others.
Government

Secret Service Critics Pounce After White House Breach 221

Posted by timothy
from the owen-wilson-has-the-president-well-protected dept.
HughPickens.com writes On Friday evening, a man jumped the White House fence, sprinted across the North Lawn toward the residence, and was eventually tackled by agents, but not before he managed to actually enter the building. Now CBS reports that the security breach at the White House is prompting a new round of criticism for the Secret Service, with lawmakers and outside voices saying the incident highlights glaring deficiencies in the agency's protection of the president and the first family. "Because of corner-cutting and an ingrained cultural attitude by management of 'we make do with less,' the Secret Service is not protecting the White House with adequate agents and uniformed officers and is not keeping up to date with the latest devices for detecting intruders and weapons of mass destruction," says Ronald Kessler. "The fact that the Secret Service does not even provide a lock for the front door of the White House demonstrates its arrogance." But the Secret Service must also consider the consequences of overreaction says White House correspondent Major Garrett. "If you have a jumper and he is unarmed and has no bags or backpacks or briefcase, do you unleash a dog and risk having cell phone video shot from Pennsylvania Avenue of an unarmed, mentally ill person being bitten or menaced by an attack dog?" But Kessler says Julia Pierson, the first woman to head the Secret Service, has some explaining to do. "If the intruder were carrying chemical, biological or radiological weapons and President Obama and his family had been in, we would have had a dead president as well as a dead first family."
Facebook

NY Magistrate: Legal Papers Can Be Served Via Facebook 184

Posted by timothy
from the never-friend-a-process-server dept.
New submitter Wylde Stile writes with an interesting case that shows just how pervasive social networking connections have become, including in the eyes of the law. A Staten Island, NY family court support magistrate allowed a Noel Biscoch to serve his ex-wife legal papers via Facebook. Biscoch tried to serve his ex-wife Anna Maria Antigua the old-fashioned way — in person and via postal mail — but his ex-wife had moved with no forwarding address. Antigua maintains an active Facebook account, though, and had even liked some photos on the Biscoch's present wife's Facebook page days before the ruling. The magistrate concluded that the ex-wife could be served through Facebook. If this catches on, I bet a lot of people will end up with legally binding notices caught by spam filters or in their Facebook accounts' "Other" folders.
Democrats

Emails Cast Unflattering Light On Internal Politics of Healthcare.gov Rollout 388

Posted by timothy
from the wanna-be-absolutely-clear dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this report from The Verge linking to and excerpting from a newly released report created for a committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, including portions of eight "damning emails" that offer an unflattering look at the rollout of the Obamacare website. The Government Office of Accountability released a report earlier this week detailing the security flaws in the site, but a report from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform released yesterday is even more damning. Titled, "Behind the Curtain of the HealthCare.gov Rollout," the report fingers the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversaw the development of the site, and its parent Department of Health and Human Services. "Officials at CMS and HHS refused to admit to the public that the website was not on track to launch without significant functionality problems and substantial security risks," the report says. "There is also evidence that the Administration, to this day, is continuing its efforts to shield ongoing problems with the website from public view." Writes the submitter: "The evidence includes emails that show Obamacare officials more interested in keeping their problems from leaking to the press than working to fix them. This is both both a coverup and incompetence."
Education

Is Google's Non-Tax Based Public School Funding Cause For Celebration? 88

Posted by timothy
from the more-the-merrier dept.
theodp (442580) writes "Google's "flash-funding" of teachers' projects via DonorsChoose continues to draw kudos from grateful mayors of the nation's largest cities. The latest comes from Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto (fresh from a Google-paid stay at the Google Zeitgeist resort), who joined Google officials at Taylor Allderdice HS, where Google announced it was 'flash funding' all Pittsburgh area teachers' crowd-funding campaigns on DonorsChoose.org. DonorsChoose reports that Google spent $64,657 to fund projects for 10,924 Pittsburgh kids. While the not-quite-$6-a-student is nice, it does pale by comparison to the $56,742 Google is ponying up to send one L.A. teacher's 34 students to London and Paris and the $35,858 it's spending to take another L.A. teacher's 52 kids to NYC, Gettysburg, and DC. So, is Google's non-tax based public school funding — which includes gender-based funding as well as "begfunding" — cause for celebration?"
Privacy

Proposed Law Would Limit US Search Warrants For Data Stored Abroad 125

Posted by timothy
from the step-in-the-right-direction dept.
An anonymous reader writes On Thursday, a bipartisan law was introduced in the Senate that would limit US law enforcement's ability to obtain user data from US companies with servers physically located abroad. Law enforcement would still be able to gain access to those servers with a US warrant, but the warrant would be limited to data belonging to US citizens. This bill, called the LEADS Act (PDF), addresses concerns by the likes of Microsoft and other tech giants that worry about the impact law enforcement over-reach will have on their global businesses. Critics remain skeptical: "we are concerned about how the provision authorizing long-arm warrants for the accounts of US persons would be administered, and whether we could reasonably expect reciprocity from other nations on such an approach."
Microsoft

Microsoft Kills Off Its Trustworthy Computing Group 99

Posted by timothy
from the but-you-can-totally-trust-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing Group is headed for the axe, and its responsibilities will be taken over either by the company's Cloud & Enterprise Division or its Legal & Corporate Affairs group. Microsoft's disbanding of the group represents a punctuation mark in the industry's decades-long conversation around trusted computing as a concept. The security center of gravity is moving away from enterprise desktops to cloud and mobile and 'things,' so it makes sense for this security leadership role to shift as well. According to a company spokesman, an unspecified number of jobs from the group will be cut. Also today, Microsoft has announced the closure of its Silicon Valley lab. Its research labs in Redmond, New York, and Cambridge (in Massachusetts) will pick up some of the closed lab's operations.
Canada

Canadian Regulator Threatens To Impose New Netflix Regulation 321

Posted by Soulskill
from the play-ball-or-go-away dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Netflix appeared before the Canadian broadcast regulator today, resulting in a remarkably heated exchange, with threats of new regulation. The discussion was very hostile — the CRTC repeatedly ordered Netflix to provide subscriber information and other confidential data. As tempers frayed, the Canadian regulator expressed disappointment over the responses from a company that it said "takes hundreds of millions of dollars out of Canada." The CRTC implicitly threatened to regulate the company by taking away its ability to rely on the new media exception if it did not cooperate with its orders.
Censorship

Putin To Discuss Plans For Disconnecting Russia From the Internet 240

Posted by Soulskill
from the taking-his-e-toys-and-going-home dept.
New submitter GlowingCat writes: Russian President Vladimir Putin and several high-ranking officials will discuss the security of the Russian segment of the Internet at the meeting of the Russian Security Council next week. According to various reports, the officials will make a number of decisions about regulating the use of the Internet in Russia. This includes the ability to cut off the Russian Internet, known as Runet, from the outside world, in case of emergency.
Crime

Science Has a Sexual Assault Problem 458

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-immune dept.
cold fjord writes: Phys.org reports, "The life sciences have come under fire recently with a study published in PLOS ONE that investigated the level of sexual harassment and sexual assault of trainees in academic fieldwork environments. The study found 71% of women and 41% of men respondents experienced sexual harassment, while 26% of women and 6% of men reported experiencing sexual assault. The research team also found that within the hierarchy of academic field sites surveyed, the majority of incidents were perpetrated by peers and supervisors. The New York Times notes, "Most of these women encountered this abuse very early in their careers, as trainees. The travel inherent to scientific fieldwork increases vulnerability as one struggles to work within unfamiliar and unpredictable conditions."
Music

U2 and Apple Collaborate On 'Non-Piratable, Interactive Format For Music' 349

Posted by Soulskill
from the good-luck-with-that dept.
Squiff writes U2 and Apple are apparently collaborating on a new, "interactive format for music," due to launch in "about 18 months." (A direct interview is available at Time, but paywalled.) Bono said the new tech "can't be pirated" and will re-imagine the role of album artwork. Marco Arment has some suitably skeptical commentary: "Full albums are as interesting to most people today as magazines. Single songs and single articles killed their respective larger containers. ... This alleged new format will cost a fortune to produce: people have to take the photos, design the interactions, build the animations, and make the deals with Apple. Bono’s talking point about helping smaller bands is ridiculous ... There's nothing Apple or Bono can do to make people care enough about glorified liner notes. People care about music and convenience, period. As for “music that can’t be pirated”, I ask again, what decade is this? That ship has not only sailed long ago, but has circled the world hundreds of times, sunk, been dragged up, turned into a tourist attraction, went out of business, and been gutted and retrofitted as a more profitable oil tanker."
Transportation

Dealership Commentator: Tesla's Going To Win In Every State 156

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-ahead-and-sell-it dept.
cartechboy writes Unless you've been in a coma for a while you're aware that many dealer associations have been causing headaches for Tesla in multiple states. The reason? They are scared. Tesla's new, different, and shaking up the ridiculously old way of doing things. But the thing is, Tesla keeps winning. Now Ward's commenter Jim Ziegler, president of Ziegler Supersystems in Atlanta, wrote an opinion piece that basically says Tesla's going to prevail in every state against dealer lawsuits. He says Tesla's basically busy defending what are nuisance suits. This leads to the question of whether there will be some sort of sweeping federal action in Tesla's favor.

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