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Wikipedia

Wikipedia Bans Daily Mail As 'Unreliable' Source (theguardian.com) 405

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Wikipedia editors have voted to ban the Daily Mail as a source for the website in all but exceptional circumstances after deeming the news group "generally unreliable." The move is highly unusual for the online encyclopaedia, which rarely puts in place a blanket ban on publications and which still allows links to sources such as Kremlin backed news organization Russia Today, and Fox News, both of which have raised concern among editors. The editors described the arguments for a ban as "centered on the Daily Mail's reputation for poor fact checking, sensationalism and flat-out fabrication." The Wikimedia Foundation, which runs Wikipedia but does not control its editing processes, said in a statement that volunteer editors on English Wikipedia had discussed the reliability of the Mail since at least early 2015. It said: "Based on the requests for comments section [on the reliable sources noticeboard], volunteer editors on English Wikipedia have come to a consensus that the Daily Mail is 'generally unreliable and its use as a reference is to be generally prohibited, especially when other more reliable sources exist. This means that the Daily Mail will generally not be referenced as a 'reliable source' on English Wikipedia, and volunteer editors are encouraged to change existing citations to the Daily Mail to another source deemed reliable by the community. This is consistent with how Wikipedia editors evaluate and use media outlets in general -- with common sense and caution."
Crime

Police Arrest Five Men For Selling Kodi Boxes 'Fully Loaded' With Illegal Streaming Apps (bbc.com) 105

Five people have been arrested in early morning raids for selling "fully loaded Kodi boxes," which are set-top boxes modified to stream subscription football matches, television channels and films for free. The Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) said it believed the suspects had made roughly $250,000 selling the devices online. BBC reports: Kodi is free software built by volunteers to bring videos, music, games and photographs together in one easy-to-use application. Some shops sell legal set-top boxes and TV sticks, often called Kodi boxes, preloaded with the software. The developers behind Kodi say their software does not contain any content of its own and is designed to play legally owned media or content "freely available" on the internet. However, the software can be modified with third-party add-ons that provide access to pirated copies of films and TV series, or free access to subscription television channels. The five arrests were made in Bolton, Bootle, Cheadle, Manchester and Rhyl.
E3

E3 Will 'Officially' Open To The Public this Year (engadget.com) 32

E3 has traditionally been a media-only event -- at least in theory. But starting in 2017, you won't even need a WordPress account to get access to the latest and greatest in gaming. From a report: The Entertainment Software Association, which organizes the event, announced on Wednesday that it is reserving 15,000 tickets for the general public to attend the show. Each pass will cost $250 ($150 if you buy it before next Monday, February 13th) but they'll grant you access to the show floor, panel discussions and other stuff from Tuesday to Thursday of E3. The event organizers are also offering a new class of business passes. Aimed at lawyers, analysts and other stuffed shirt types, these passes will get you into the business lounge and grant priority access to the convention center.
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.
Businesses

Story Of a Founder Who Burned Through $21M While His Social App Fling Crashed (businessinsider.com) 232

London-based social media app Fling, which never brought in any revenue, burned through $21 million in less than three years. According to a Business Insider report, the founder splashed out on 1st class flights, Ibiza hotels, and Michelin-star restaurants (Editor's note: The link could ask users to disable their adblockers; alternate source. From the report: In early July 2015, temperatures were rising in the boardroom on the top floor of a 12-story office block in Hammersmith, West London. Marco Nardone, the 28-year-old CEO and founder of social media app Fling, had called an emergency meeting the day after his app was removed from the App Store by Apple for being too similar to the notorious Chatroulette platform. The atmosphere was tense and Nardone was furious, three former employees said, because his COO, Emerson Osmond, had gone behind his back. Specifically, he was angry because Osmond had told Nardone's assistant not to order tents for the office that would allow staff to sleep by their desks and work around the clock to get Fling back onto the App Store, a former employee told Business Insider. Nardone shouted and swore at Osmond before squaring up to him as if he was about to do something more, said two former employees. [...] On the day, Nardone asked staff to work late so they could address the issue. The CEO turned up in the middle of the night with two women that staff had never seen before and took them into a room, according to three former employees.
Government

US Visitors May Have to Hand Over Social Media Passwords: DHS (nbcnews.com) 652

People who want to visit the United States could be asked to hand over their social-media passwords to officials as part of enhanced security checks, the country's top domestic security chief said. From a report on NBC: Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told Congress on Tuesday the measure was one of several being considered to vet refugees and visa applicants from seven Muslim-majority countries. "We want to get on their social media, with passwords: What do you do, what do you say?" he told the House Homeland Security Committee. "If they don't want to cooperate then you don't come in."
Technology

Slashdot Asks: Your Favorite Podcasts? And Why? 268

Are podcasts finally starting to go mainstream? Are they the future of radio? Who knows. Over the weekend, a reader asked us if we listen to podcasts -- and if yes, which ones? I started listening to podcasts five years ago, and I try to listen to one podcast every day. Here are some of the podcasts I have subscribed to (though I rarely manage to listen to all of them, each week): The New York Times' new podcast The Daily, Bloomberg's Decrypted, WSJ's Media Mix, The Information's 411, The Economist's The Week Ahead, The Economist's Babbage, Financial Times' Tech Tonic, NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour, The New Yorker's Radio Hour, The Accidental Tech Podcast, John Gruber's The Talk Show, Slate's Audio Book Club, and Kara Swisher's Recode Decode. What are your favorite podcasts and why? Also, when do you listen to them -- at work /during commute / before bed / weekend or some other time?
Piracy

Movie Industry Wants Irish ISPs To Block Pirate Movie Streaming Portals (torrentfreak.com) 55

The Motion Picture Association is trying to have three popular streaming portals blocked by Irish Internet providers. In a new court case, the movie studios describe movie4k.to, primewire.ag and onwatchseries.to as massive copyright infringement hubs, with each offering thousands of infringing movies. From a TorrentFreak report: RTE reports that the MPA's fresh blocking demands are targeting a total of eight ISPs -- Eir, Sky Ireland, Vodafone Ireland, Virgin Media Ireland, Three Ireland, Digiweb, Imagine Telecommunications and Magnet Networks. Based on yesterday's hearing it appears to be only a matter of time before the three sites will be blocked. None of the ISPs have raised principle objections against a court determination in this case. That said, reports suggest that there are still a few finer details that have to be worked out, which could include issues regarding costs and the technical implementation.
Businesses

The Leap Week: Did Apple Really Have a Record Quarter? (lapcatsoftware.com) 53

An anonymous reader shares a blog post: Apple stated that Q1 FY2017 was an all-time record for quarterly revenue. The media dutifully and mostly uncritically spread this "great" news for Apple. Technically the claim is true, the revenue was an all-time record. True but misleading. Although Apple didn't lie as such, you might say there was a sin of omission, and a definite spin of the facts. Most Apple fiscal quarters are 13 weeks long. Once in a while, however, they need a 14 week quarter. You might call it a "leap quarter". There was a good explanation of this financial practice a few years ago in Slate. Apple's Q1 2017 was a 14 week quarter, for the first time since Q1 2013. John Gruber writes at DaringFireball, "Adjusted for the extra week, Apple actually had another down quarter."
Open Source

How Open Sourcing Made Apache Kafka A Dominant Streaming Platform (techrepublic.com) 48

Open sourced in 2010, the Apache Kafka distributed streaming platform is now used at more than a third of Fortune 500 companies (as well as seven of the world's top 10 banks). An anonymous reader writes: Co-creator Neha Narkhede says "We saw the need for a distributed architecture with microservices that we could scale quickly and robustly. The legacy systems couldn't help us anymore." In a new interview with TechRepublic, Narkhede explains that while working at LinkedIn, "We had the vision of building the entire company's business logic as stream processors that express transformations on streams of data... [T]hough Kafka started off as a very scalable messaging system, it grew to complete our vision of being a distributed streaming platform."

Narkhede became the CTO and co-founder of Confluent, which supports enterprise installations of Kafka, and now says that being open source "helps you build a pipeline for your product and reduce the cost of sales... [T]he developer is the new decision maker. If the product experience is tailored to ensure that the developers are successful and the technology plays a critical role in your business, you have the foundational pieces of building a growing and profitable business around an open-source technology... Kafka is used as the source-of-truth pipeline carrying critical data that businesses rely on for real-time decision-making."

Social Networks

Kaspersky Lab Promises New Backup Tool To Help Unhappy Social Media Users Quit (kaspersky.com) 54

Kaspersky Lab surveyed 16,750 people and concluded that often negative experiences on social experience overpower their positive effects -- and they're doing something about it. JustAnotherOldGuy pointed us to their latest announcement. 59% have felt unhappy when they have seen friends' posts from a party they were not invited to, and 45% revealed that their friends' happy holiday pictures have had a negative influence on them. Furthermore, 37% also admitted that looking at past happy posts of their own can leave them with the feeling that their own past was better than their present life. Previous research has also demonstrated peoples' frustration with social media as 78% admitted that they have considered leaving social networks altogether. The only thing that makes people stay on social media is the fear of losing their digital memories, such as photos, and contacts with their friends.

To help people decide more freely if they want to stay in social media or leave without losing their digital memories, Kaspersky Lab is developing a new app -- FFForget will allow people to back up all of their memories from the social networks they use and keep them in a safe, encrypted memory container and will give people the freedom to leave any network whenever they want, without losing what belongs to them -- their digital lives.

The FFForget app will be released in 2017, but there's already a web page where you can sign up for early access. Kaspersky plans to monetize this by creating both a free version of the app -- limited to one social network -- and a $1.99-per-month version which automatically backs up social content from Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Instagram in real-time with a fancier interface and more powerful encryption.
Security

The Netherlands Opts For Manual Vote-Count Amid Cyberattack Fears (independent.co.uk) 117

Bruce66423 writes: Following revelations about the lack of security of the software, the Dutch government has decided to abandon the use of it to count the ballots at the forthcoming election in March. The Independent reports: The decision was taken amidst fears that hackers could influence next month's elections after allegations by the U.S. intelligence agency that Russia hacked into Democrats' emails to help Donald Trump get elected. Russia denies any wrongdoing. Intelligence agencies have warned that three crucial elections in Europe this year in the Netherlands, France and Germany could be vulnerable to manipulation by outside actors. In a letter to the Dutch Parliament, Interior Minister Ronald Plasterk said that 'reports in recent days about vulnerabilities in our systems raise the question of whether the results could be manipulated' and that 'no shadow can be allowed to hang over the result.' In previous elections, the ballots were counted by hand locally but regional and national counts were done electronically. But this year, all ballots will be counted by hand after voters make their choice on 15 March. Dutch media have reported that the counting software may not only be insecure but also outdated. The counting software is reported to be distributed by CD-ROM to regional counting centers, where it is set-up on old computers that are internet connected."
Republicans

Reddit Bans Far-Right Groups Altright and Alternativeright (theguardian.com) 899

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Social media site Reddit has banned two of the largest far-right "subreddits" groups it hosts, altright and alternativeright. The subreddits have been used in the organization of America's resurgent neofascist movement but the final straw for Reddit was the two groups' participation in what is known as "doxing": sharing private personal information without permission as a form of online harassment. The subreddits were specifically banned for breaking Reddit's content policy, according to a message posted by the site admins, "specifically, the proliferation of personal and confidential information." Reddit did not make it explicit which content infringed its rules, but it is believed to be attempts to dox the protestor who punched a white nationalist during a TV interview at Donald Trump's inauguration. Speaking to the Daily Beast, one Reddit moderator claimed that the ban was instead a result of its "record monthly traffic" (Reddit moderators, like the creators of individual subreddits, are all volunteers with no official relationship to the site's staff). "It's clear that Reddit banned us because we were becoming very popular and spreading inconvenient truths about who's ruining our country and robbing our children of a future," the moderator said.
Windows

Microsoft Gives Windows Device Makers Their 2017 Marching Orders (zdnet.com) 171

Microsoft officials have some fairly specific ideas about what they want their Windows-device-making partners to build in calendar 2017. From a report: Microsoft wants its OEMs and ODMs to make more Windows 10 detachables, convertibles, and ultraslims. They also are advising their partners to make devices and peripherals that highlight the "hero experiences" of Windows 10 involving Cortana, Windows Hello authentication, and Windows Ink. And another wish-list topper: Microsoft is looking for more Windows 10 PCs that can power mixed-reality peripherals and that are ready for gamers and "media fanatics."
Businesses

Valve and Game Publishers Face EU Probe For Geo-Blocking; ASUS Faces Probe For Online Price-Fixing (betanews.com) 74

Valve, the company behind games distribution platform Steam, is being investigated by EU antitrust regulators. Agreements in place between Valve and five game publishers that implement geo-blocking in titles could breach European competition rules. From a BetaNews report: Valve, alongside Bandai Namco, Capcom, Focus Home, Koch Media and ZeniMax, is under investigation to determine whether the practice of restricting access to games and prices based on location is legal. At the same time the European Commission is launching an investigation into ASUS, Denon & Marantz, Philips and Pioneer for price manipulation. The investigation into the four electronics manufacturers centers around the fact that the companies restricted the ability of online retailers to set their own pricing for goods.
Privacy

Secret Rules Make It Pretty Easy For the FBI To Spy On Journalists (theintercept.com) 189

schwit1 shares with us a report on a 11-part series led by The Intercept reporter Cora Currier: Secret FBI rules allow agents to obtain journalists' phone records with approval from two internal officials -- far less oversight than under normal judicial procedures. The classified rules dating from 2013, govern the FBI's use of national security letters, which allow the bureau to obtain information about journalists' calls without going to a judge or informing the news organization being targeted. They have previously been released only in heavily redacted form. Media advocates said the documents show that the FBI imposes few constraints on itself when it bypasses the requirement to go to court and obtain subpoenas or search warrants before accessing journalists' information. The rules stipulate that obtaining a journalist's records with a national security letter requires the signoff of the FBI's general counsel and the executive assistant director of the bureau's National Security Branch, in addition to the regular chain of approval. Generally speaking, there are a variety of FBI officials, including the agents in charge of field offices, who can sign off that an NSL is "relevant" to a national security investigation. There is an extra step under the rules if the NSL targets a journalist in order "to identify confidential news media sources." In that case, the general counsel and the executive assistant director must first consult with the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's National Security Division. But if the NSL is trying to identify a leaker by targeting the records of the potential source, and not the journalist, the Justice Department doesn't need to be involved. The guidelines also specify that the extra oversight layers do not apply if the journalist is believed to be a spy or is part of a news organization "associated with a foreign intelligence service" or "otherwise acting on behalf of a foreign power." Unless, again, the purpose is to identify a leak, in which case the general counsel and executive assistant director must approve the request.
Chrome

Google Quietly Makes 'Optional' Web DRM Mandatory In Chrome (boingboing.net) 95

JustAnotherOldGuy quotes a report from Boing Boing: The World Wide Web Consortium's Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) is a DRM system for web video, being pushed by Netflix, movie studios, and a few broadcasters. It's been hugely controversial within the W3C and outside of it, but one argument that DRM defenders have made throughout the debate is that the DRM is optional, and if you don't like it, you don't have to use it. That's not true any more. Some time in the past few days, Google quietly updated Chrome (and derivative browsers like Chromium) so that Widevine (Google's version of EME) can no longer be disabled; it comes switched on and installed in every Chrome instance. Because of laws like section 1201 of the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (and Canada's Bill C11, and EU implementations of Article 6 of the EUCD), browsers that have DRM in them are risky for security researchers to audit. These laws provide both criminal and civil penalties for those who tamper with DRM, even for legal, legitimate purposes, and courts and companies have interpreted this to mean that companies can punish security researchers who reveal defects in their products. Further reading: Boing Boing and Hacker News.
Government

FDA Confirms Toxicity of Homeopathic Baby Products; Maker Refuses To Recall (arstechnica.com) 309

Last year in November, the Federal Trade Commission issued an enforcement policy statement that requires over-the-counter (OTC) homeopathic drugs and product makers to disclose in their advertisement and labeling that there is no evidence that homeopathic products are effective. At around the same time the FTC issued the statement, the Food and Drug Administration was investigating homeopathic teething gels and tablets, which may have been improperly diluted, thus causing serious harm to infants. The FDA investigated 10 infant deaths and more than 400 reports of seizures, fever, and vomiting and confirmed Friday that belladonna, also known as deadly nightshade, was the prime suspect. When the FDA notified the products' maker, Hyland's, the company would not agree to recall the products. Ars Technica reports: Hyland's has been defensive since the FDA first opened the investigation last September. In an October press release, the company referred to agency's warnings as a source of "confusion" and assured consumers that the products are safe and effective. Still, the company discontinued distribution in the U.S. The National Center for Homeopathy, which has ties with Hyland's, slammed the FDA, calling the agency's warnings "arbitrary and capricious." In an "action alert," the organization went on to suggest that warning was prompted by "groups interested in seeing homeopathy destroyed" and led to "fear mongering" by the media. As before, the FDA is urging parents to avoid the homeopathic teething products and toss any already purchased. The FDA does not evaluate or approve the homeopathic products, which have no proven health benefit. Belladonna is an active ingredient in those products, but is supposed to be heavily diluted. Homeopaths belief that ailments and diseases can be cured by trace amounts or "memories" of toxic substances that mimic or cause similar symptoms. Homeopathy is a pseudoscience that has been squarely debunked, offering no more than a placebo effect. In its announcement Friday, the FDA said it had found inconsistent amounts of belladonna in Hyland's products. Some of the amounts were "far exceeding" what was intended.
Piracy

ISPs Finally Abandon The Copyright Alert System (engadget.com) 113

"Major internet providers are ending a four-year-old system in which consumers received 'copyright alerts' when they viewed peer-to-peer pirated content," reports Variety. An anonymous reader quotes Engadget's update on the Copyright Alert System. It was supposed to spook pirates by having their internet providers send violation notices, with the threat of penalties like throttling. However, it hasn't exactly panned out. ISPs and media groups have dropped the alert system with an admission that it isn't up to the job. While the program was supposedly successful in "educating" the public on legal music and video options, the MPAA states that it just couldn't handle the "hard-core repeat infringer problem" -- there wasn't much to deter bootleggers. The organizations, which include the RIAA, haven't devised an alternative.
"Surprise: it's hard to stop copyright violators just by asking them," reads their article's tagline, which attributes the failure of the system to naive optimism. "It assumed that most pirates didn't even realize they were violating copyright, and just needed to be shown the error of their ways."
Canada

Canadian Police Identify Suspect From Remotely-Accessed Stolen Laptop (cochraneeagle.com) 74

An anonymous reader writes: Last week a security consultant remotely logged into his stolen laptop, and gathered clues from a Facebook profile. Though it didn't provide the suspect's real name, the consultant shared the profile online, and says he's now receiving tips from other crime victims who are scouring through the profile's friends list. And according to a local newspaper, the Canadian police say they've now identified a suspect, although "there is a lot of work that needs to be done before we can lay charges."

But despite this apparent victory, one officer is also warning the public against sharing a suspect's identity on social media, according to the paper, "after the social media post may have wrongly identified a suspect."

"When you get to public shaming, I urge caution..." the police officer tells the newspaper. "As a person that gets stuff stolen, I understand the want to publicly shame someone... Give us all the info, and we will follow up once we have the evidence."

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