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Social Networks

'Social Media ID, Please?' Proposed US Law Greeted With Anger (computerworld.com) 181

The U.S. government announced plans to require some foreign travelers to provide their social media account names when entering the country -- and in June requested comments. Now the plan is being called "ludicrous," an "all-around bad idea," "blatant overreach," "desperate, paranoid heavy-handedness," "preposterous," "appalling," and "un-American," reports Slashdot reader dcblogs: That's just a sampling of the outrage. Some 800 responded to the U.S. request for comments about a proposed rule affecting people traveling from "visa waiver" countries to the U.S., where a visa is not required. This includes most of Europe, Singapore, Chile, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand... In a little twist of irony, some critics said U.S. President Obama's proposal for foreign travelers is so bad, it must have been hatched by Donald Trump.
"Travelers will be asked to provide their Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, and whatever other social ID you can imagine to U.S. authorities," reports Computer World. "It's technically an 'optional' request, but since it's the government asking, critics believe travelers will fear consequences if they ignore it..."
Democrats

US Patients Battle EpiPen Prices And Regulations By Shopping Online (cnn.com) 317

"The incredible increase in the cost of EpiPens, auto-injectors that can stop life-threatening emergencies caused by allergic reactions, has hit home on Capitol Hill," reports CNN. Slashdot reader Applehu Akbar reports that the argument "has now turned into civil war in the US Senate": One senator's daughter relies on Epi-Pen, while another senator's daughter is CEO of Mylan, the single company that is licensed to sell these injectors in the US. On the worldwide market there is no monopoly on these devices... Is it finally time to allow Americans to go online and fill their prescriptions on the world market?
Time reports some patients are ordering cheaper EpiPens from Canada and other countries online, "an act that the FDA says is technically illegal and potentially dangerous." But the FDA also has "a backlog of about 4,000 generic drugs" awaiting FDA approval, reports PRI, noting that in the meantime prices have also increased for drugs treating cancer, hepatitis C, and high cholesterol. In Australia, where the drug costs just $38, one news outlet reports that the U.S. "is the only developed nation on Earth which allows pharmaceutical companies to set their own prices."
Businesses

White House Is Planning To Let More Foreign Entrepreneurs Work In the US (recode.net) 112

Peter Hudson writes from a report via Recode: "After failing to get Congress to pass a 'startup visa' as part of broad immigration reform, the Obama administration is moving ahead with an alternative that would allow overseas entrepreneurs to live in the U.S. for up to five years to help build a company," reports Recode. "Already speaking out in favor of the new rules is PayPal co-founder Max Levchin: 'I believe that the most promising entrepreneurs from around the world should have the same opportunity I had -- the chance to deliver on their potential, here in America.' Levchin moved to the U.S. from the Soviet Union in 1991." There are three conditions that need to be met in order to be eligible to work in the U.S. under the new rule: the foreigner would have to own at least 15 percent of a U.S.-based startup, the foreigner would need to have a central role in the startup's operations, and the startup would need to have "potential for rapid business growth and job creation." The third requirement could be met by having at least $100,000 in government grants or $345,000 invested from U.S. venture investors. "Under [the International Entrepreneur Rule (PDF)] being formally proposed on Friday, the Department of Homeland Security would be empowered to use its existing authority to allow entrepreneurs to legally work in the country for two years, possibly followed by a one-time three-year extension," reports Recode. "While the public will have 45 days to comment, the rules aren't subject to congressional approval."
Facebook

Facebook Says Humans Won't Write Its Trending Topic Descriptions Anymore (recode.net) 76

Following a former Facebook journalist's report that the company's workers routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers from the social network's Trending Topics section, the company has been in damage control mode. First, the company announced it would tweak its Trending Topics section and revamp how editors find trending stories. Specifically, they will train the human editors who work on Facebook's trending section and abandon several automated tools it used to find and categorize trending news in the past. Most recently, Facebook added political scenarios to its orientation training following the concerns. Now, it appears that Facebook will "end its practice of writing editorial descriptions for topics, replacing them with snippets of text pulled from news stories." Kurt Wagner, writing for Recode: It's been more than three months since Gizmodo first published a story claiming Facebook's human editors were suppressing conservative news content on the site's Trending Topics section. Facebook vehemently denied the report, but has been dealing with the story's aftermath ever since. On Friday, Facebook announced another small but notable change to Trending Topics: Human editors will no longer write the short story descriptions that accompany a trending topic on the site. Instead, Facebook is going to use algorithms to "pull excerpts directly from stories." It is not, however, cutting out humans entirely. In fact, Facebook employees will still select which stories ultimately make it into the trending section. An algorithm will surface popular stories, but Facebook editors will weed out the inappropriate or fake ones. "There are still people involved in this process to ensure that the topics that appear in Trending remain high-quality," the company's blog reads.
Democrats

Hillary Clinton Used BleachBit To Wipe Emails (neowin.net) 526

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Neowin: The open-source disk cleaning application, BleachBit, got quite a decent ad pitch from the world of politics after it was revealed lawyers of the presidential hopeful, Hillary Clinton, used the software to wipe her email servers. Clinton is currently in hot water, being accused of using private servers for storing sensitive emails. "[South Carolina Representative, Trey Gowdy, spoke to Fox News about Hillary Clinton's lawyers using BleachBit to wipe the private servers. He said:] 'She and her lawyers had those emails deleted. And they didn't just push the delete button; they had them deleted where even God can't read them. They were using something called BleachBit. You don't use BleachBit for yoga emails or bridesmaids emails. When you're using BleachBit, it is something you really do not want the world to see.'" Two of the main features that are listed on the BleachBit website include "Shred files to hide their contents and prevent data recovery," and "Overwrite free disk space to hide previously deleted files." These two features would make it pretty difficult for anyone trying to recover the deleted emails. Slashdot reader ahziem adds: The IT team for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton used the open source cleaning software BleachBit to wipe systems "so even God couldn't read them," according to South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy on Fox News. His comments on the "drastic cyber-measure" were in response to the question of whether emails on her private Microsoft Exchange Server were simply about "yoga and wedding plans." Perhaps Clinton's team used an open-source application because, unlike proprietary applications, it can be audited, like for backdoors. In response to the Edward Snowden leaks in 2013, privacy expert Bruce Schneier advised in an article in which he stated he also uses BleachBit, "Closed-source software is easier for the NSA to backdoor than open-source software." Ironically, Schneier was writing to a non-governmental audience. Have any Slashdotters had any experience with BleachBit? Specifically, have you used it for erasing "yoga emails" or "bridesmaids emails?"
Facebook

Facebook Knows Your Political Preferences (businessinsider.com) 183

Facebook knows a lot more about its users than they think. For instance, the New York Times reports, the company is categorizing its users as liberal, conservative, or moderate. These details are valuable for advertisers and campaign managers, especially ahead of the election season. From a BusinessInsider report: For some, Facebook is able to come to conclusions about your political leanings easily, if you mention a political party on your page. For those that are less open about politics on social media, Facebook makes assumptions based on pages you like. As The New York Times explained, if you like Ben and Jerry's Facebook page and most of the other people that like that page identify as liberal, Facebook might assume you too are liberal.
Democrats

FBI Finds 14,900 More Documents From Hillary Clinton's Email Server (go.com) 526

An anonymous reader quotes a report from ABC News: The FBI uncovered nearly 15,000 more emails and materials sent to or from Hillary Clinton as part of the agency's investigation into her use of private email at the State Department. The documents were not among the 30,000 work-related emails turned over to the State Department by her attorneys in December 2014. The State Department confirmed it has received "tens of thousands" of personal and work-related email materials -- including the 14,900 emails found by the FBI -- that it will review. At a status hearing Monday before federal Judge Emmett Sullivan, who is overseeing that case, the State Department presented a schedule for how it would release the emails found by the FBI. The first group of 14,900 emails was ordered released, and a status hearing on Sept. 23 "will determine the release of the new emails and documents," Sullivan said. "As we have previously explained, the State Department voluntarily agreed to produce to Judicial Watch any emails sent or received by Secretary Clinton in her official capacity during her tenure as secretary of state which are contained within the material turned over by the FBI and which were not already processed for FOIA by the State Department," said State Department spokesman Mark Toner in a statement issued Monday. "We can confirm that the FBI material includes tens of thousands of non-record (meaning personal) and record materials that will have to be carefully appraised at State," it read. "State has not yet had the opportunity to complete a review of the documents to determine whether they are agency records or if they are duplicative of documents State has already produced through the Freedom of Information Act" said Toner, declining further comment.
Government

Nuclear Waste Accident 2 Years Ago May Cost More Than $2 Billion To Clean Up (arstechnica.com) 20

An anonymous reader writes: The Los Angeles Times is estimating that an explosion that occurred at a New Mexico nuclear waste dumping facility in 2014 could cost upwards of $2 billion to clean up. Construction began on the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico's Carlsbad desert in the 1980s. The site was built to handle transuranic waste from the US' nuclear weapons program. The WIPP had been eyed to receive nuclear waste from commercial power-generating plants as well. According to the LA Times, the 2014 explosion at the WIPP was downplayed by the federal government, with the Department of Energy (DoE) putting out statements indicating that cleanup was progressing quickly. Indeed, a 2015 Recovery Plan insisted that "limited waste disposal operations" would resume in the first quarter of 2016. Instead, two years have passed since the incident without any indication that smaller nuclear waste cleanup programs around the US will be able to deliver their waste to the New Mexico facility any time soon. The 2014 explosion apparently occurred when engineers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory were preparing a drum of plutonium and americium waste -- usually packed with kitty litter (yes, kitty litter) -- and decided to "substitute an organic material for a mineral one."
Businesses

Massachusetts Will Tax Ride-Sharing Companies To Subsidize Taxis (reuters.com) 445

Massachusetts will tax ride-sharing services -- 20 cents for each ride -- with 25% of the money raised going into a special fund for the taxi industry (according to an article shared by schwit1 ). Reuters reports: Ride services are not enthusiastic about the fee. "I don't think we should be in the business of subsidizing potential competitors," said Kirill Evdakov, the chief executive of Fasten, a ride service that launched in Boston last year and also operates in Austin, Texas. Some taxi owners wanted the law to go further, perhaps banning the start-up competitors unless they meet the requirements taxis do, such as regular vehicle inspection by the police...

The fee may raise millions of dollars a year because Lyft and Uber alone have a combined 2.5 million rides per month in Massachusetts... The 5-cent fee will be collected through the end of 2021. Then the taxi subsidy will disappear and the 20 cents will be split by localities and the state for five years. The whole fee will go away at the end of 2026.

Republican Governor Charlie Baker signed the law, which specifically bans ride-sharing services from passing those costs on to their drivers or riders. And the article notes that Taiwan has also hit Uber with a $6.4 million tax bill, while Seattle has passed a new law allowing ride-sharing drivers to unionize.
Government

Group Wants To Shut Down Tor For a Day On September 1 (softpedia.com) 228

An anonymous reader writes: An internal group at the Tor Project is calling for a full 24-hour shutdown of the Tor network to protest the way the Tor Project dealt with the Jake Applebaum sexual misconduct accusations, and because of recent rumors it might be letting former government agents in its ranks. Two Tor members, also node operators, have shut down their servers as well, because of the same reason. They explained their motivations here and here.
"The protesters have made 16 demands," according to the article, six related to related to supposed infiltration of Tor by government agents, and 10 regarding the Appelbaum ruling and investigation -- including "asking all Tor employees that participated in this investigation to leave" and "the persons behind the JacobAppelbaum.net and the @JakeMustDie and @VictimsOfJake Twitter accounts to come forward and their identities made public."
Government

Will Internet Voting Endanger The Secret Ballot? 219

MIT recently identified the states "at the greatest risk of having their voting process hacked". but added this week that "Maintaining the secrecy of ballots returned via the Internet is 'technologically impossible'..." Long-time Slashdot reader Presto Vivace quotes their article: That's according to a new report from Verified Voting, a group that advocates for transparency and accuracy in elections. A cornerstone of democracy, the secret ballot guards against voter coercion. But "because of current technical challenges and the unique challenge of running public elections, it is impossible to maintain the separation of voters' identities from their votes when Internet voting is used," concludes the report, which was written in collaboration with the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the anticorruption advocacy group Common Cause.
32 states are already offering some form of online voting, apparently prompting the creation of Verified Voting's new site, SecretBallotAtRisk.org.
Businesses

How the H-1B Visa Program Impacts America's Tech Workers (computerworld.com) 332

Computerworld is running an emotional report by their national correspondent Patrick Thibodeau -- complete with a dramatic video -- arguing that America's H-1B Visa program "has also become a way for companies to outsource jobs." An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes the article accompanying the video: The vast majority of people who work in IT did everything right: They invested in their education, studied difficult subjects, kept their skills updated... But no job is safe, no future entirely secure -- something IT workers know more than most. Given their role, they are most often the change agents, the people who deploy technologies and bring in automation that can turn workplaces upside down. To survive, they count on being smart, self-reliant and one step ahead...

Over the years, Computerworld reporter Patrick Thibodeau has interviewed scores of IT workers who trained their visa-holding replacements. Though details each time may differ, they all tell the same basic story. There are many issues around high-skilled immigration, but to grasp the issue fully you need to understand how the H-1B program can affect American workers.

Government

Transfer of Internet Governance Will Go Ahead On Oct. 1 (computerworld.com) 155

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Computerworld: The U.S. says it will proceed with its plan to hand over oversight of the internet's domain name system functions to a multistakeholder body on Oct. 1. Computerworld reports: "The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), under contract with the U.S. Department of Commerce, operates the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) which enables the operation of the internet domain name system (DNS). These include responsibility for the coordination of the DNS root, IP addressing and other internet protocol resources. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), an agency within the Commerce Department, said in March 2014 that it planned to let its contract with ICANN expire on Sept. 30, 2015, passing the oversight of the functions to a global governance model. NTIA made it clear that it would not accept a plan from internet stakeholders that would replace its role by that of a government-led or intergovernmental organization or would in any way compromise the openness of the internet. The transfer was delayed to September as the internet community needed more time to finalize the plan for the transition. The new stewardship plan submitted by ICANN was approved by the NTIA in June. NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling said Tuesday that the agency had informed ICANN that 'barring any significant impediment,' NTIA intends to allow the IANA functions contract it has with ICANN to expire as of Oct. 1, said Strickling, who is also assistant secretary for communications and information."
Facebook

Your Political Facebook Posts Aren't Changing How Your Friends Think (qz.com) 399

An anonymous reader writes:It may be hard to resist airing political grievances or appealing to voters on social media during a U.S. presidential race as heated as this one. But no one wants to hear about your politics, least of all on Facebook. Those long rants about how Trump is a bully and a buffoon, Hillary is a crook, and conspiring against Bernie Sanders has doomed America forever aren't changing voters' minds, a new study found. A staggering 94% of Republicans, 92% of Democrats, and 85% of independents on Facebook say they have never been swayed by a political post, according to Rantic, a firm that sells social media followers. The firm surveyed 10,000 Facebook users who self-identified as Republicans, Democrats, or independents. The only thing those opinionated election posts are doing is damaging your friendships. Nearly one-third of Facebook users surveyed said social media is not an appropriate forum for political discussions. And respondents from each political affiliation admitted they've un-friended people on Facebook because of their political posts.
Democrats

DNC Creates 'Cybersecurity Board' Without Any Cybersecurity Experts (techdirt.com) 156

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Techdirt: The Democratic National Committee has created a "cybersecurity advisory board" to improve its cybersecurity and to "prevent future attacks." Politico reports: "'To prevent future attacks and ensure that the DNC's cybersecurity capabilities are best-in-class, I am creating a Cybersecurity Advisory Board composed of distinguished experts in the field,' interim DNC Chairwoman Donna Brazile wrote in a memo. 'The Advisory Board will work closely with me and the entire DNC to ensure that the party is prepared for the grave threats it faces -- today and in the future.' Members include Rand Beers, former Department of Homeland Security acting secretary; Nicole Wong, former deputy chief technology officer of the U.S. and a former technology lawyer for Google and Twitter; Aneesh Chopra, co-founder of Hunch Analytics and former chief technology officer of the U.S.; and Michael Sussmann, a partner in privacy and data security at the law firm Perkins Coie and a former Justice Department cybercrime prosecutor." What's surprising is that none of these members are cybersecurity experts. Techdirt reports: "If the goal of the board was to advise on cybersecurity policy, then the makeup of it is at least slightly more understandable, but that's not goal. It's to actually improve the cybersecurity of the DNC. Even if the goal were just policy, having someone with actual technology experience with cybersecurity would be sensible."
Government

Can We Avoid Government Surveillance By Leaving The Grid? (counterpunch.org) 264

Slashdot reader Nicola Hahn writes: While reporters clamor about the hacking of the Democratic National Committee, NSA whistleblower James Bamford offers an important reminder: American intelligence has been actively breaching email servers in foreign countries like Mexico and Germany for years. According to Bamford documents leaked by former NSA specialist Ed Snowden show that the agency is intent on "tracking virtually everyone connected to the Internet." This includes American citizens. So it might not be surprising that another NSA whistleblower, William Binney, has suggested that certain elements within the American intelligence community may actually be responsible for the DNC hack.

This raises an interesting question: facing down an intelligence service that is in a class by itself, what can the average person do? One researcher responds to this question using an approach that borrows a [strategy] from the movie THX 1138: "The T-H-X account is six percent over budget. The case is to be terminated."

To avoid surveillance, the article suggests "get off the grid entirely... Find alternate channels of communication, places where the coveted home-field advantage doesn't exist... this is about making surveillance expensive." The article also suggests "old school" technologies, for example a quick wireless ad-hoc network in a crowded food court. Any thoughts?
Security

Voting Machines Can Be Easily Compromised, Symantec Demonstrates (cbsnews.com) 217

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes a report from CBS News: For the hackers at Symantec Security Response, Election Day results could be manipulated by an affordable device you can find online. "I can insert it, and then it resets the card, and now I'm able to vote again," said Brian Varner, a principle researcher at Symantec, demonstrating the device...

Symantec Security Response director Kevin Haley said elections can also be hacked by breaking into the machines after the votes are collected. "The results go from that machine into a piece of electronics that takes it to the central counting place," Haley said. "That data is not encrypted and that's vulnerable for manipulation."

40 states are using a voting technology that's at least 10 years old, according to the article. And while one of America's national election official argues that "there are paper trails everywhere," CBS reports that only 60% of states conduct routine audits of their paper trails, while "not all states even have paper records, like in some parts of swing states Virginia and Pennsylvania, which experts say could be devastating."
Democrats

Hacker Publishes Cell Phone Numbers of House Democrats (thehill.com) 82

Another day, another leak. A suspected Russian hacker known as "Guccifer 2.0" has published the phone numbers of House Democrats on his website Friday. The Hill reports: "The document was obtained from the cyberattack on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). The hacker also published DCCC shared passwords to several online databases and news networks. The dump also included the memos on the House race for Florida's 18th district, including opposition research on the Republican contenders, which is being vacated by Democrat Patrick Murphy as he vies for the Senate. The hacker also claimed to have breached House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's computer and published a memo sent to her about a 2015 fundraiser for Morgan Carroll, who is running for a Colorado House seat against Republican Mike Coffman."
Republicans

Cracking The Code On Trump Tweets (time.com) 330

jIyajbe writes: From Electoral-Vote.com: "A theory has been circulating that the Donald Trump tweets that come from an Android device are from the candidate himself, while the ones that come from an iPhone are the work of his staff. David Robinson, a data scientist who works for Stack Overflow, decided to test the theory. His conclusion: It's absolutely correct. Robinson used some very sophisticated algorithms to analyze roughly 1,400 tweets from Trump's timeline, and demonstrated conclusively that the iPhone tweets are substantively different than the Android tweets. The former tend to come later at night, and are vastly more likely to incorporate hashtags, images, and links. The latter tend to come in the morning, and are much more likely to be copied and pasted from other people's tweets. In terms of word choice, the iPhone tweets tend to be more neutral, with their three most-used phrases being 'join,' '#trump2016,' and '#makeamericagreatagain.' The Android tweets tend to be more emotionally charged, with their three most-used phrases being 'badly,' 'crazy,' and 'weak.'" reifman adds: In an excellent forensic text analysis of Trump's tweets with the Twitter API, data geek David Robinson demonstrates Trump authors his angriest, picture-less, hashtag-less Android tweets often in the morning, while staff tweet from an iPhone with pictures, hashtags and greater joy mostly in the middle of the day. Robinson's report was inspired by a tweet by artist Todd Vaziri. As for why Robinson decided to look into Trump's tweets, he told TIME, "For me it's more about finding a really interesting story, a case where people suspect something, but don't have the data to back it up. For me it was much more about putting some quantitive details to this story that has been going around than it was about proving something about Trump's campaign."
Encryption

Tor Promises Not To Build Backdoors Into Its Services (engadget.com) 69

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Engadget: Tor has published what it calls a "Social Contract" comprised of promises to users and the principles the team believes in. Whatever the reason is, its social contract contains one interesting pledge: "We will never implement front doors or back doors into our projects," the team wrote. Tor's ability to keep users anonymous made it the go-to browser of people looking for drugs, illegal firearms, hitmen, child porn and other things you won't find on eBay or YouTube. If there's a browser law enforcement agencies would want a backdoor to, it's Tor, especially since its main source of funding is the U.S. government. That's right -- the famous anonymizing network gets most of its money from a government known for conducting mass surveillance on a global scale. Loudly proclaiming that it will never build a backdoor into its services might not even matter, though. The government already proved once that it's capable of infiltrating the dark web. If you'll recall, the FBI identified 1,500 users of a child porn website called "Playpen" by deploying a Tor hacking tool. It led to numerous court battles that opened up the discussion on the validity of evidence obtained without warrant through malware. "We believe that privacy, the free exchange of ideas, and access to information are essential to free societies. Through our community standards and the code we write, we provide tools that help all people protect and advance these rights," Tor writes in the contract.

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