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Communications

The Speakularity, Where Everything You Say Is Transcribed and Searchable 70

An anonymous reader sends an article from Nautilus about the possible future of speech recognition software. Today, hundreds of millions of people are walking around with devices that can not only record sound, but also do a decent job of turning spoken word into searchable text. The article makes the case that the recording and transcription of normal conversation will become commonplace, sooner or later. Not only would this potentially make a lot more interesting discussion available beyond earshot, but it could also facilitate information retrieval on a personal level.

The article makes an analogy with email — right now, if you communicated with somebody through email a decade ago, you don't have to remember the specifics — as long as you didn't delete it or switch email providers, you can just search and look at exactly what was said. Of course, the power of such technology comes with trade-offs — not only would we be worried about the obvious privacy issues, but many people may feel restricted by always "performing" for the microphones. Some researchers also worry that if we have technology to remember for us, we'll put much less effort into remembering things ourselves.
United Kingdom

UK Health Clinic Accidentally Publishes HIV Status of 800 Patients 65

An anonymous reader writes: A sexual health clinic in London accidentally disclosed the HIV positive status of almost 800 patients. The Guardian reports: "The health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has ordered an inquiry into how the NHS handles confidential medical information after the “completely unacceptable” breach of the privacy of hundreds of HIV patients. The 56 Dean Street clinic in London apologized on Wednesday after sending a newsletter on Tuesday which disclosed the names and email addresses of about 780 recipients. The newsletter is intended for people using its HIV and other sexual health services, and gives details of treatments and support.
Encryption

Turkey Arrests Journalists For Using Encryption 144

An anonymous reader sends news that three employees of Vice News were arrested in Turkey because one of them used an encryption system on his personal computer. That particular type of encryption has been used by the terrorist organization known as the Islamic State, so the men were charged with "engaging in terrorist activity." The head of a local lawyers association said, "I find it ridiculous that they were taken into custody. I don't believe there is any accuracy to what they are charged for. To me, it seems like an attempt by the government to get international journalists away from the area of conflict." The Turkish government denied these claims: "This is an unpleasant incident, but the judiciary is moving forward with the investigation independently and, contrary to claims, the government has no role in the proceedings."
Windows

Microsoft's Telemetry Additions To Windows 7 and 8 Raise Privacy Concerns 229

WheezyJoe writes: ghacks and Ars Technica are providing more detail about Windows 10's telemetry and "privacy invasion" features being backported to Windows 7 and 8. The articles list and explain some of the involved updates by number (e.g., KB3068708, KB3022345, KB3075249, and KB3080149). The Ars article says the Windows firewall can block the traffic just fine, and the service sending the telemetry can be disabled. "Additionally, most or all of the traffic appears to be contingent on participating in the CEIP in the first place. If the CEIP is disabled, it appears that little or no traffic gets sent. This may not always have been the case, however; the notes that accompany the 3080149 update say that the amount of network activity when not part of CEIP has been reduced." The ghacks article explains other ways block the unwanted traffic and uninstall the updates.
Networking

Ask Slashdot: Can Any Wireless Tech Challenge Fiber To the Home? 179

New submitter danielmorrison writes: In Holland, MI (birthplace of Slashdot) we're working toward fiber to the home. A handful of people have asked why not go wireless instead? I know my reasons (speed, privacy, and we have an existing fiber loop) but are any wireless technologies good enough that cities should consider them? If so, what technologies and what cities have had success stories?
Cellphones

Smartphone Malware Planted In Popular Apps Pre-sale 42

An anonymous reader writes with news from The Stack that makes it a little harder to scoff at malware on phones as being largely the fruit of dodgy sideloaded software, game cracks, et cetera. They report that even phones marketed as brand new, from well-known brands like Lenovo and Xiaomi, have been tampered with and "infected prior to sale with intelligent malware disguised in popular apps such as Facebook." (To U.S. buyers, those makers may be slightly obscure as cellphone vendors; the scheme this article addresses involves handsets sold by vendors in Europe and Asia, involving more than 20 different handset types.)
Communications

FBI: Burning Man Testing Ground For Free Speech, Drugs ... and New Spy Gear 184

v3rgEz writes: The 29th annual Burning Man festival kicks off this week in Nevada's Black Rock Desert. Among those paying close attention to the festivities will be the FBI's Special Events Management unit, who have kept files on "burners" since at least 2010. One of the more interesting things in those, files, however, is a lengthy, heavily redacted paragraph detailing that the FBI's Special Events Management Unit gave Las Vegas Police Department some specialized equipment for monitoring the week-long event, as long as LVPD provided follow up reports.
Government

Chris Christie Proposes Tracking Immigrants the Way FedEx Tracks Packages 575

PolygamousRanchKid submits the news that New Jersey governor (and Republican presidential candidate) Chris Christie said yesterday that he would, if elected president, create a system to track foreign visitors the way FedEx tracks packages. The NYT writes: Mr. Christie, who is far back in the pack of candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, said at a campaign event in New Hampshire that he would ask the chief executive of FedEx, Frederick W. Smith, to devise the tracking system."At any moment, FedEx can tell you where that package is. It's on the truck. It's at the station. It's on the airplane," Mr. Christie told the crowd in Laconia, N.H. "Yet we let people come to this country with visas, and the minute they come in, we lose track of them." He added: "We need to have a system that tracks you from the moment you come in." Adds the submitter: "I'm sure foreign tourist will be amused when getting a bar code sticker slapped on their arm."
NASA

In Hawaii, a 6-Person Crew Begins a Year-Long Mars Isolation Experiment 81

The BBC reports that six volunteers have begun a planned year-long stint "without fresh air, fresh food or privacy" in a NASA simulation of what life might be like for a group of Mars colonists. The volunteers are to spend the next 12 months in the dome (11 meters in diameter, 6 meters high), except for space-suited out-of-dome excursions, where they will eat space-style meals, sleep on tiny cots, and keep up a science schedule. The current mission is the fourth (and longest yet) from the Hawai'i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation; you can read more about this mission's crew here.
Privacy

Ashley Madison CEO Steps Down, Reporter Finds Clues To Hacker's Identity 213

Dave Knott writes: Following the recent hacks on the infidelity website Ashley Madison, Noel Biderman has stepped down as CEO of both AshleyMadison.com and its parent company. Avid Life Media Inc., the company that owns the site and many others, announced Biderman's move in a short press release on Friday: "Noel Biderman, in mutual agreement with the company, is stepping down as chief executive officer of Avid Life Media Inc. (ALM) and is no longer with the company. Until the appointment of a new CEO, the company will be led by the existing senior management team." Before the data hack, the company was planning an IPO in London that would have taken in as much as $200 million from investors. According to regulatory filings, the company had $115 million in revenue last year, more than four times the amount it obtained in 2009.

Meanwhile, in related news, Brian Krebs (the reporter who first uncovered the hack) says he has uncovered clues to the possible identity of the hacker. Krebs says he noticed the Twitter account operated by a known hacker recently posted a link to Ashley Madison's stolen proprietary source code before it was made public. Intrigued by the poster's apparent access, he examined the account's posting history and noticed a predilection for the music of Australian hard rock band AC/DC. This jibes with the behavior of the hacker(s), who had displayed threatening messages on the computers of Ashley Madison employees, accompanied by AC/DC song Thunderstruck. In a series of tweets, the owner of the account, one Thadeus Zu, appears to deny that he was behind the hack, and indeed makes several suggestions that the account itself isn't even run by one person, but is instead an amalgam of like-minded digital vigilantes.
The NY Times also reports that people whose details were contained in the leak are beginning to face threats of blackmail.
The Courts

Federal Court Overturns Ruling That NSA Metadata Collection Was Illegal 150

New submitter captnjohnny1618 writes: NPR is reporting that an appeals court has overturned the decision that found the NSA's bulk data collection to be illegal. "Judges for the District of Columbia court of appeals found that the man who brought the case, conservative lawyer Larry Klayman, could not prove that his particular cellphone records had been swept up in NSA dragnets." The article clarifies that due to the recent passage of new laws governing how metadata is collected, this is of less significance than it would have otherwise been: "If you remember, after a fierce battle, both houses of Congress voted in favor of a law that lets phone companies keep that database, but still allows the government to query it for specific data. The three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia still decided to take on the case, because that new program doesn't begin until 180 days after the date that law was enacted (June 2, 2015.)" On top of that, the injunction from the earlier ruling never actually went into effect. Still, it seems like an important ruling to me: a government agency was willfully and directly violating the rights of the Americans (and international citizens as well) and now it's just going to get shrugged off?
Privacy

German Intelligence Traded Citizen Data For NSA Surveillance Software 68

An anonymous reader sends news that Germany's domestic intelligence agency, the BfV, was so impressed with the NSA's surveillance software that they were willing to "share all data relevant to the NSA's mission" in order to get it. "The data in question is regularly part of the approved surveillance measures carried out by the BfV. In contrast, for example, to the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, the BfV does not use a dragnet to collect huge volumes of data from the Internet. Rather, it is only allowed to monitor individual suspects in Germany -- and only after a special parliamentary commission has granted approval. ... Targeted surveillance measures are primarily intended to turn up the content of specific conversations, in the form of emails, telephone exchanges or faxes. But along the way, essentially as a side effect, the BfV also collects mass quantities of so-called metadata. Whether the collection of this data is consistent with the restrictions outlined in Germany's surveillance laws is a question that divides legal experts."
Communications

A "Public Health" Approach To Internet of Things Security 46

New submitter StewBeans writes: Guaranteeing your personal privacy in an era when more and more devices are connecting our daily lives to the Internet is becoming increasingly difficult to do. David Bray, CIO of the FCC, emphasizes the exponential growth we are facing by comparing the Internet we know today to a beachball, and the Internet of Everything future to the Sun. Bray says unless you plan to unplug from the Internet completely, every consumer needs to assume some responsibility for the security and overall health of the Internet of Everything. He says this might look similar to public health on the consumer side — the digital equivalent of hand washing — and involve an open, opt-in model for the rapid detection of abnormal trends across global organizations and networks.
Communications

Docs: Responding To Katrina, FBI Made Cell Phone Surveillance Its Priority 84

v3rgEz writes: There's a lot of lessons that the federal government should have learned in the aftermath of Katrina. Increased domestic surveillance, however, appears to be the one the FBI took to heart, using the natural disaster as a justification for ramping up its use of Stingray cell phone tracking throughout Louisiana after the storm, according to documents released under FOIA to MuckRock.
Privacy

Tech Nightmares That Keep Turing Award Winners Up At Night 82

itwbennett writes: At the Heidelberg Laureate Forum in Germany this week, RSA encryption algorithm co-inventor Leonard Adelman, "Father of the Internet" Vint Cerf, and cryptography innovator Manuel Blum were asked "What about the tech world today keeps you up at night?" And apparently they're not getting a whole lot of sleep these days. Cerf is predicting a digital dark age arising from our dependence on software and our lack of "a regime that will allow us to preserve both the content and the software needed to render it over a very long time." Adelman worries about the evolution of computers into "their own species" — and our relation to them. Blum's worries, by contrast, lean more towards the slow pace at which computers are taking over: "'The fact that we have brains hasn't made the world any safer,' he said. 'Will it be safer with computers? I don't know, but I tend to see it as hopeful.'"
Android

Since-Pulled Cyanogen Update For Oneplus Changes Default Home Page To Bing 86

ourlovecanlastforeve writes: Nestled into GSMArena's report on the Cyanogen OS 12.1 update for Oneplus [ Note: an update that the story reports has since been pulled.] is this tasty bite: "...you'll find out that your Chrome homepage has been changed to Bing." Then it's casually dismissed with "Thankfully though, you can easily get rid of Microsoft's search engine by using Chrome settings." as if this were the most normal thing to have to do after an OTA update. Is this the new normal? Has Microsoft set a new precedent that it's okay to expect users to have to go searching through every setting and proactively monitor network traffic to make sure their data isn't being stolen, modified or otherwise manipulated?
Privacy

How To Keep Microsoft's Nose Out of Your Personal Data In Windows 10 425

MojoKid writes: Amid the privacy concerns and arguably invasive nature of Microsoft's Windows 10 regarding user information, it's no surprise that details on how to minimize leaks as much as possible are often requested by users who have recently made the jump to the new operating system. If you are using Windows 10, or plan to upgrade soon, it's worth bearing in mind a number of privacy-related options that are available, even during the installation/upgrade. If you are already running the OS and forgot to turn them off during installation (or didn't even see them), they can be accessed via the Settings menu on the start menu, and then selecting Privacy from the pop-up menu. Among these menus are a plethora of options regarding what data can be gathered about you. It's worth noting, however, that changing any of these options may disable various OS related services, namely Cortana, as Microsoft's digital assistant has it tendrils buried deep.
Data Storage

Oakland Changes License Plate Reader Policy After Filling 80GB Hard Drive 275

An anonymous reader writes: License plate scanners are a contentious subject, generating lots of debate over what information the government should have, how long they should have it, and what they should do with it. However, it seems policy changes are driven more by practical matters than privacy concerns. Earlier this year, Ars Technica reported that the Oakland Police Department retained millions of records going back to 2010. Now, the department has implemented a six-month retention window, with older data being thrown out. Why the change? They filled up the 80GB hard drive on the Windows XP desktop that hosted the data, and it kept crashing.

Why not just buy a cheap drive with an order of magnitude more storage space? Sgt. Dave Burke said, "We don't just buy stuff from Amazon as you suggested. You have to go to a source, i.e., HP or any reputable source where the city has a contract. And there's a purchase order that has to be submitted, and there has to be money in the budget. Whatever we put on the system, has to be certified. You don't just put anything. I think in the beginning of the program, a desktop was appropriate, but now you start increasing the volume of the camera and vehicles, you have to change, otherwise you're going to drown in the amount of data that's being stored."
Transportation

When Should Cops Be Allowed To Take Control of Self-Driving Cars? 236

HughPickens.com writes: A police officer is directing traffic in the intersection when he sees a self-driving car barreling toward him and the occupant looking down at his smartphone. The officer gestures for the car to stop, and the self-driving vehicle rolls to a halt behind the crosswalk. This seems like a pretty plausible interaction. Human drivers are required to pull over when a police officer gestures for them to do so. It's reasonable to expect that self-driving cars would do the same. But Will Oremus writes that while it's clear that police officers should have some power over the movements of self-driving cars, what's less clear is where to draw the line. Should an officer be able to do the same if he suspects the passenger of a crime? And what if the passenger doesn't want the car to stop—can she override the command, or does the police officer have ultimate control?

According to a RAND Corp. report on the future of technology and law enforcement "the dark side to all of the emerging access and interconnectivity (PDF) is the risk to the public's civil rights, privacy rights, and security." It added, "One can readily imagine abuses that might occur if, for example, capabilities to control automated vehicles and the disclosure of detailed personal information about their occupants were not tightly controlled and secured."
Government

California Bill Would Dramatically Limit Commercial Drones 192

An anonymous reader writes: California's Senate Bill 142 would prohibit drones from flying under 350 feet over any property without express permission from the property's owner. The bill passed the California Assembly easily. Tech advocates have been battling privacy advocates to influence the inevitable regulation of private and commercial drones. Industry groups say this restriction will kill drone delivery services before they even begin. The legislation would also drastically diminish the usefulness of camera-centric drones like the ones being rolled out by GoPro. If passed, the bill could influence how other states regulate drones. The article notes that 156 different drone-related bills have been considered in 46 different states this year alone, and the FAA will issue nationwide rules in September.