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Businesses

PayPal's 'Policy Update' Includes Price Hikes (paypal.com) 141

"Buying and selling items on the internet is about to get a bit more expensive if you use PayPal to transfer money," reports MLive, noting that some of PayPal's fees will be increasing on March 29. Slashdot reader turbotalon also complains PayPal is disguising news of the price hikes as a "policy update". Roughly one quarter of the "policy changes" are rate hikes, yet their emailed summary glosses over the rate hike, focussing instead on a few of the "policy changes" with one sentence at the end about "changing some of the fees we charge". Additionally, they have added a "non-discouragement clause" for sellers that provides:

"In representations to your customers or in public communications, you agree not to mischaracterize PayPal as a payment method. At all of your points of sale (in whatever form), you agree not to try to dissuade or inhibit your customers from using PayPal; and, if you enable your customers to pay you with PayPal, you agree to treat PayPal's payment mark at least at par with other payment methods offered."

Communications

TeraHertz Transmitter Can Push 100Gbps+ Wireless Speeds Via a Single Channel (ispreview.co.uk) 53

Mark.JUK writes: A team of Japanese scientists working jointly for Hiroshima University and Panasonic have managed to develop a TeraHertz (THz) transmitter that is capable of transmitting digital data at a rate of 105 Gbps (gigabits per second) over a single channel using the frequency range from 290GHz to 315GHz. Previously it was only possible to achieve such speeds by harnessing multiple channels at the same time.

Professor Minoru Fujishima, Hiroshima University, said: "This year, we developed a transmitter with 10 times higher transmission power than the previous version's. This made the per-channel data rate above 100 Gbit/s at 300 GHz possible. We usually talk about wireless data rates in megabits per second or gigabits per second. But we are now approaching terabits per second using a plain simple single communication channel."

AT&T

More Than 20,000 AT&T Workers Are Getting Ready To Protest Nationwide (fortune.com) 73

Aaron Pressman, reporting for Fortune: Some 21,000 workers in AT&T's wireless business have overwhelming voted to authorize a strike just ahead of the expiration of their contract on Saturday. The vote, which was expected, comes after 17,000 additional workers in AT&T's phone, internet, and cable services in Nevada and California also approved a strike authorization last month. They have been working without a contract since April. But despite the strike authorization votes -- a common tactic to increase pressure on management during labor negotiations -- AT&T said it was still seeking to find common ground with its workers. Unlike some of its peers, AT&T has had a long run of labor peace with its workers and their main union, the Communications Workers of America (CWA).
Piracy

Internet Backbone Provider Cogent Blocks Pirate Bay and Other 'Pirate' Sites (torrentfreak.com) 186

Several Pirate Bay users from ISPs all over the world have been unable to access their favorite torrent site for more than a week. Their requests are being stopped in the Internet backbone network of Cogent Communications, which has blackholed the CloudFlare IP-address of The Pirate Bay and many other torrent and streaming sites, reports TorrentFreak. From the article: When the average Internet user types in a domain name, a request is sent through a series of networks before it finally reaches the server of the website. This also applies to The Pirate Bay and other pirate sites such as Primewire, Movie4k, TorrentProject and TorrentButler. However, for more than a week now the US-based backbone provider Cogent has stopped passing on traffic to these sites. The sites in question all use CloudFlare, which assigned them the public IP-addresses 104.31.18.30 and 104.31.19.30. While this can be reached just fine by most people, users attempting to pass requests through Cogent's network are unable to access them.
Communications

RSA: Ban On Booth Babes Has Been No Big Deal (networkworld.com) 233

netbuzz quotes a report from Network World: In March 2015, RSA Conference organizers made news by contractually insisting that vendors pitch their security wares without the help of "booth babes," a first such ban for the technology industry. Next week's event will be third under the new rules. With the use of "booth babes" long a source of contention -- and some would say embarrassment -- implementation of the ban has gone smoothly, according to RSA. "Overall I would say this has been received well by our exhibitors," says Sandra Toms, vice president and curator of the conference. "Several have thanked us for having a policy." If you compare the policy's contract language in 2015 with the language now used by Toms, you'll notice how much it has evolved and how it has been accepted by various stake-holders. Here's an excerpt from the "short Q&A" between Paul McNamara, news editor for Network World, and Toms: Has there been any need to enforce the code or have all exhibitors complied? "Enforce" always makes it sound like armed guards have come into play and dragged someone off the show floor. We share these guidelines with our exhibitors and we're clear that this is a policy that is expected to be acknowledged and complied with. We take our attendee experience seriously and expect our exhibitors to do the same. If we receive a complaint about a particular exhibitor, we will send someone over to the booth and examine the situation. If the attire matches our dress code, then they can proceed and we can explain to the attendee why that form of dress is allowed. If they are clearly in violation, we will ask them to change. This policy is equally applied to both men and women -- from Sumo wrestlers to scantily clad models.
Censorship

Why Has Cameroon Blocked the Internet? (bbc.com) 87

It has been over three weeks since English-speaking parts of Cameroon, a country on the west coast of Africa between Nigeria and Gabon, has had no internet connectivity. Residents believe, according to a BBC report, that the government is behind it. From the report: The two regions affected, South-West and North-West, have seen anti-government protests in recent months. Just a day before services disappeared, the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications issued a statement in which it warned social media users of criminal penalties if they were to "issue or spread information, including by way of electronic communications or information technology systems, without any evidence." There has been no official comment about the internet since then (or any credible reports of technical faults) leading many Cameroonians to conclude that the severing of services is part of government attempts to stifle dissent. In criticising their government, some Cameroonians have also taken aim at the mobile phone companies who provide the services through which many access the internet. These firms may not have been able to prevent the outage, since they all rely on fibre-optic infrastructure provided by a state-owned company, but nor have they been objecting publicly about the interruption to their services.
The Internet

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Makes 375,000 Images Available For Free (fortune.com) 42

The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced Tuesday that more than 375,000 of its "public-domain artworks" are now available for unrestricted use. "We have been working toward the goal of sharing our images with the public for a number of years," said Thomas P. Campbell, director and CEO of the Met, in a statement. "Our comprehensive and diverse museum collection spans 5,000 years of world culture and our core mission is to be open and accessible for all who wish to study and enjoy the works of art in our care." Fortune reports: The image collection covers photographs, paintings, and sculptures, among other works. Images now available for both scholarly and commercial purposes include Emanuel Leutze's famous painting Washington Crossing the Delaware; photographs by Walker Evans, Alfred Steiglitz, and Dorothea Lange; and even some Vincent van Gogh paintings. The Met has teamed up with Creative Commons, Wikimedia, Artstor, Digital Public Library of America, Art Resource, and Pinterest to host and maximize the reach of their enormous collection. There is also a public GitHub repository of the images.
IOS

Dozens of Popular iOS Apps Vulnerable To Intercept of TLS-Protected Data (arstechnica.com) 53

Researchers at Sudo Security Group Inc. discovered seventy-six popular applications in Apple's iOS App Store that had implemented encrypted communications with their back-end services in such a way that user information could be intercepted by a man-in-the-middle attack. According to Ars Technica, the applications could be fooled by a forged certificate sent back by a proxy, allowing their Transport Layer Security to be unencrypted and examined as it is passed over the internet. From their report: The discovery was initially the result of bulk analysis done by Sudo's verify.ly, a service that performs bulk static analysis of application binaries from Apple's App Store. Will Strafach, president of Sudo, verified the applications discovered by the system were vulnerable in the lab, using a network proxy configured with its own Secure Socket Layer certificate. In the post about his findings being published today, Strafach wrote: "During the testing process, I was able to confirm 76 popular iOS applications allow a silent man-in-the-middle attack to be performed on connections which should be protected by TLS (HTTPS), allowing interception and/or manipulation of data in motion. According to Apptopia estimates, there has been a combined total of more than 18,000,000 (Eighteen Million) downloads of app versions which are confirmed to be affected by this vulnerability."

The data exposed by the vulnerability in each of the applications varied in sensitivity. For just less than half -- 33 of the applications -- the risk was relatively low, as most of the data was "partially sensitive analytics data," Strafach said. These apps included a number of third-party "uploader" apps for Snapchat (which exposed Snapchat usernames and passwords) and the Vice News app, among others. In 24 cases, the exposed data included login credentials or session tokens that would allow an attacker to hijack the account associated with the application, though those accounts were not tied to highly sensitive data. However, the remaining 19 applications left sensitive data exposed to attack. In these cases, Strafach "confirmed ability to intercept financial or medical service login credentials and/or session authentication tokens for logged in users."

Earth

Scientists Discover Evidence of a 'Lost Continent' Under the Indian Ocean (earthsky.org) 78

Scientists at Wits University in Johannesburg, South Africa say they've discovered evidence of a "lost continent" beneath the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. According to EarthSky, the evidence of the "lost continent" may be leftover from the breakup of the ancient supercontinent Gondwana, which started to break up around 200 million years ago. The evidence itself "takes the form of ancient zircon minerals found in much-younger rocks." From the report: Geologist Lewis Ashwal of Wit University led a group studying the mineral zircon, found in rocks spewed up by lava during volcanic eruptions. Zircon minerals contain trace amounts of radioactive uranium, which decays to lead and can thus be accurately dated. Ashwal and his colleagues say they've found remnants of this mineral far too old to have originated on the relatively young island of Mauritius. They believe their work shows the existence of an ancient continent, which may have broken off from the island of Madagascar, when Africa, India, Australia and Antarctica split up and formed the Indian Ocean. Ashwal explained in a statement: "Earth is made up of two parts -- continents, which are old, and oceans, which are "young." On the continents you find rocks that are over four billion years old, but you find nothing like that in the oceans, as this is where new rocks are formed. Mauritius is an island, and there is no rock older than 9 million years old on the island. However, by studying the rocks on the island, we have found zircons that are as old as 3 billion years. The fact that we have found zircons of this age proves that there are much older crustal materials under Mauritius that could only have originated from a continent." The study has been published in the journal Nature Communications.
AT&T

FCC Rescinds Claim That AT&T, Verizon Violated Net Neutrality (arstechnica.com) 197

jriding writes: The Federal Communications Commission's new Republican leadership has rescinded a determination that ATT and Verizon Wireless violated net neutrality rules with paid data cap exemptions. The FCC also rescinded several other Wheeler-era reports and actions. The FCC released its report on the data cap exemptions (aka "zero-rating") in the final days of Democrat Tom Wheeler's chairmanship. Because new Chairman Ajit Pai opposed the investigation, the FCC has now formally closed the proceeding. The FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau sent letters to ATT, Verizon, and T-Mobile USA notifying the carriers "that the Bureau has closed this inquiry. Any conclusions, preliminary or otherwise, expressed during the course of the inquiry will have no legal or other meaning or effect going forward." The FCC's Wireline Competition Bureau also sent a letter to Comcast closing an inquiry into the company's Stream TV cable service, which does not count against data caps. The FCC issued an order that "sets aside and rescinds" the Wheeler-era report on zero-rating. All "guidance, determinations, and conclusions" from that report are rescinded, and it will have no legal bearing on FCC proceedings going forward, the order said. ATT and Verizon allow their own video services (DirecTV and Go90, respectively) to stream on their mobile networks without counting against customers' data caps, while charging other video providers for the same data cap exemptions. The FCC under Wheeler determined that ATT and Verizon unreasonably interfered with online video providers' ability to compete against the carriers' video services.
Businesses

US Probes Panasonic Unit For Alleged Bribery Violations (bloomberg.com) 28

A Panasonic inflight entertainment and communications systems subsidiary is under investigation by U.S. authorities for allegedly breaking bribery and securities laws. From a report: Panasonic Avionics Corp. is being probed by the U.S. Department of Justice and Securities and Securities Exchange Commission for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the Osaka-based company said in a statement Thursday. Panasonic said it's cooperating with the agencies, and evaluating the potential financial impact of the probe. The announcement of the probe mars an otherwise positive earnings release for Panasonic, which raised its full-year profit and revenue forecasts. The subsidiary is part of a corporate division that also makes mobile phones, projectors and surveillance cameras with a total of 33,000 employees. The segment had $6.7 billion in sales in the nine months ended Dec. 31, or 14 percent of total revenue.
Network

New York Sues Charter Over Slow Internet Speeds (reuters.com) 69

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: New York filed a lawsuit on Wednesday accusing Charter Communications Inc of short-changing customers who were promised faster internet speeds than it could deliver. The lawsuit in State Supreme Court in Manhattan accused Charter's Spectrum unit, until recently known as Time Warner Cable, of systematically defrauding customers since 2012 by promising and charging for services it knew it could not offer. At least 640,000 subscribers signed up for high-speed plans but got slower speeds, and many subscribers were unable to access promised online content such as Facebook, Netflix, YouTube and various gaming platforms, the complaint said. The lawsuit seeks "full restitution" for customers, as well as hefty civil fines. Among the allegations in the complaint was an accusation that Time Warner Cable leased older-generation modems to 900,000 subscribers knowing that the modems could not achieve faster internet speeds.
EU

EU Announces Deal To End All Wireless Roaming Charges (venturebeat.com) 113

The European Union took a big step toward creating a Digital Single Market today with the announcement of a deal that would end roaming charges for mobile consumers across the continent. From a report on VentureBeat: The plan had originally been announced two years ago when the European Commission unveiled an ambitious plan to create a DSM that would unify the continent's fractured rules around digital content, ecommerce, and mobile communications. However, the plan to end roaming charges across boarders ran into stiff opposition from telecom carriers worried about profits and consumers who were concerned about limits it imposed on data usage. As a result, the proposal appeared dead at one point last year. But negotiators said today they had reached an agreement on technical issues like sharing carrier costs across networks and a gradual phase-out of caps on data usage.
AT&T

Even Sprint Beat AT&T and Verizon in Customer Growth (cnet.com) 78

Customers are turning to Sprint again. From a report on CNET: In fact, they're starting to look to the nation's fourth-largest wireless carrier over stalwarts like AT&T and Verizon Wireless. The company said it added 405,000 net new post-paid subscribers -- people who pay at the end of the month and tend to be more loyal. Of that total, 368,000 were phone customers, Sprint's highest rate of growth in four years. The numbers suggest Sprint is starting to pull itself out of a death spiral, reversing years of losses, customers faced with poor service and a network that lagged behind the competition. Sprint's customer growth came at a time when all the carriers were aggressive with holiday promotions. It's a trend that will likely continue, resulting in more potential deals for consumers. "Sprint is turning the corner," CEO Marcelo Claure said in the company's fiscal third-quarter report on Tuesday.
Youtube

Woman Built House From the Ground Up Using Nothing But YouTube Tutorials (digitaltrends.com) 315

schwit1 quotes a report from Digital Trends: In this generation of self-starters and self-made women and men, do-it-yourself isn't just an option, it's a way of life. And if there's not an app for that, chances are there's a YouTube video for it. That was certainly the case for a woman named Cara Brookins, who is living proof that if you're willing to learn, you absolutely can. In 2008, Brookins was in the midst of a family struggle, having left a husband she called "violent and abusive." Looking to make a fresh start for herself, she took the idea of rebuilding quite literally, perhaps using the physical experience of constructing a house as an extension of her emotional and mental journey. Though she had no previous experience in construction or architecture, Brookins found a series of YouTube tutorials on building a home and got to work. Over the course of nine months, Brookins worked tirelessly with the help of her four children to build a new home for themselves. "I had rented this cabin for a Thanksgiving getaway," the mother of four told CBS News. "And driving there, we passed this house that had been ravaged by a tornado. It was this beautiful dream house and it was sort of wide open. You don't often get the opportunity to see the interior workings of a house, but looking at these 2x4s and these nails, it just looked so simple. I thought, "I could put this wall back up if I really tried. Maybe I should just start from scratch.'"
Bitcoin

Former Fed Employee Fined $5,000 For Installing Bitcoin Software On Server (bloomberg.com) 80

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: A former Federal Reserve employee was sentenced Friday to 12 months probation and a $5,000 fine after pleading guilty in October to installing unauthorized software on a computer server at the U.S. central bank. Nicholas Berthaume, who as a communications analyst had access to computer servers at the Fed's Board of Governors in Washington, installed software that connected to an online bitcoin network in order to earn units of the digital currency, according to a statement Monday from the central bank's Office of Inspector General. Berthaume also "modified certain security safeguards so that he could remotely access the server from home," the statement said. When confronted, he tried to cover up his actions by deleting the software; eventually he was fired and admitted guilt, the office said. His actions didn't result in the loss of any Fed information, and the board has enhanced security since the incident, the internal watchdog said. The story was first reported by The Wall Street Journal (Warning: source may be paywalled).
Beer

Tostitos' Breathalyzer Bags Can Detect If You're Drunk -- Then Call Uber 75

Slashdot reader schwit1 writes that Tostito's corn chips "has developed a special bag, available for a limited time, that can detect if you've had too much to drink." Its all-black packaging measures your breath for traces of alcohol, and if the test reveals you're sober, a green circle appears on the bag. But, Mashable reports... If it decides you've been drinking -- regardless of how much -- an image of a red steering wheel appears on the otherwise stark black bag along with a reminder not to drive and a code for a $10 Uber discount (valid only on Super Bowl Sunday). And if you've had so much to drink that the mere act of hailing an Uber becomes a difficult chore, the bag will even do that for you. The package is equipped with near-field communication technology that will automatically order a ride when tapped with a smartphone.
Iphone

iPhone 7 Ousts Samsung Galaxy Note 4 As 'Device of Choice' For UK Defense Officials (thestack.com) 55

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Stack: Apple is to offer its iPhone 7 as the "device of choice" for the UK military's secure communications. British telecom giant BT is said to be hardening the Apple device in order for it to be able to handle the Ministry of Defense's military communications, including state secrets and highly-sensitive data. While BT has not provided further details on the development, due to security reasons, the telco is reportedly in the process of upgrading the iPhone 7 to support various modes of operation and to add secure apps or "storage containers," as well as military-grade encryption features among other enhancements. The iPhone 7 will now replace Samsung's Galaxy Note 4 smartphone, which was originally selected for the project, as security in the Samsung model was found to be inadequate.
Power

USB-C Power Meter Helps You Spot Counterfeit Accessories Before They Fry Your Gadgets (gizmodo.com) 152

USB Type-C cables are not all created equally. In fact, some USB Type-C cables fail so badly that they will permanently damage your hardware. Benson Leung, an engineer on Google's Pixel team, discovered early last year that there's even more risk to your electronics when you've got a cheap USB-C cable with an older USB connector on the other end that doesn't properly regulate power draw. In an effort to weed out the bad cables from the good, a company called Satechi has released a "Type-C Power Meter" that makes it easy to tell if your USB-C gadgets are at risk of getting fried, or under-powered, by a sketchy accessory. Gizmodo reports: The simple pass-through adapter connects between a USB-C cable and a USB-C device, providing real-time data about the power draw, in either direction, including details about voltage, amps, and the amount of energy that's been transferred since it was first plugged in. The monitor can let you know if an external battery pack is providing the proper amount of power to a smartphone that it claims to, or if your MacBook or Chromebook is receiving sufficient power from a charging cable connected to its USB-C port to actually charge the battery. What the monitor can't do, however, is protect a device if there's a detected problem in the power flow. It's not a surge protector, nor does it have any built-in alarms or warnings because it has no idea what the power requirements are for whatever device you're using it with. You'll have to make sure you're aware of how much power a device is supposed to be drawing, and confirm that it matches what the Type-C Power Meter is reporting, as soon as you plug it in.
Twitter

Twitter Releases National Security Letters (techcrunch.com) 16

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Today, Twitter joined the ranks of Yahoo, Cloudflare and Google by announcing it had received two national security letters, one in 2015 and one in 2016. The NSLs came with gag orders that prevented Twitter from telling the public or the targeted users about the government's demands. The FBI recently lifted these gag orders, allowing Twitter to acknowledge the NSLs for the first time. In the newly-published NSLs, the FBI asked Twitter to turn over "the name, address, length of service, and electronic communications transactional records" of two users. Twitter associate general counsel Elizabeth Banker said that the company provided a "very limited set of data" in response to the requests, but did not make clear exactly what kind of data Twitter provided. "Twitter remains unsatisfied with restrictions on our right to speak more freely about national security requests we may receive," Banker wrote in a blog post. "We would like a meaningful opportunity to challenge government restrictions when 'classification' prevents speech on issues of public importance."

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