Earth

Thanks To the Montreal Protocol, We Avoided Severe Ozone Depletion 45

Posted by samzenpus
from the keeping-away-the-UVs dept.
hypnosec writes: Scientists say the ozone layer is in good shape thanks to the Montreal Protocol, which has helped us avoid severe ozone depletion. Research suggests that the Antarctic ozone hole would have been 40% bigger by now if not for the international treaty. "Our research confirms the importance of the Montreal Protocol and shows that we have already had real benefits. We knew that it would save us from large ozone loss 'in the future', but in fact we are already past the point when things would have become noticeably worse," lead author Professor Martyn Chipperfield, from the School of Earth & Environment at the University of Leeds, said in a press release.
Power

California Is Giving Away Free Solar Panels To Its Poorest Residents 172

Posted by samzenpus
from the you-get-a-panel-and-you-get-a-panel-and-you-get.... dept.
MikeChino writes: Oakland-based non-profit GRID Alternatives is giving away 1,600 free solar panels to California's poorest residents by the year 2016. The initiative was introduced by Senator Kevin de León and launched with funds gathered under the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GCRF), the state's cap-and-trade program. SFGate reports: "Kianté London used the program to put panels on his three-bedroom North Richmond home, which he shares with two sons and a daughter. 'It helps me and my family a great deal to have low-cost energy, because these energy prices are really expensive,' said London, 46, whose solar array was installed this week. 'And I wanted to do my part. It’s clean, green energy.' London had wanted a solar array for years, but couldn’t afford it on his income as a merchant seaman — roughly $70,000 per year. Even leasing programs offered by such companies as SolarCity and Sunrun were too expensive, he said. The new program, in contrast, paid the entire up-front cost of his array."
The Military

The Marshall Islands, Nuclear Testing, and the NPT 44

Posted by samzenpus
from the big-booms dept.
Lasrick writes: Robert Alvarez, a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies and a former senior policy adviser to the Energy Department's secretary and deputy assistant secretary for national security and the environment, details the horrific consequences of nuclear weapons testing in the Marshall Islands and explains the lawsuits the Marshallese have filed against the nuclear weapons states. The lawsuits hope to close the huge loophole those states carved for themselves with the vague wording of Article VI of the NPT (Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty), wording that allows those states to delay, seemingly indefinitely, implementing the disarmament they agreed to when they signed the treaty.
The Courts

Adblock Plus Victorious Again In Court 197

Posted by samzenpus
from the win-again dept.
New submitter Xochil writes: AdBlock Plus has successfully defended itself in court for the second time in five weeks. The Munich Regional Court ruled against media companies ProSiebenSat1 and IP Deutschland. The companies sued Eyeo, the company behind Adblock Plus, asking the court to ban the distribution of the free ad-blocking software, saying it hurts their ad-based business model. An Eyeo release says in part: "We are elated at the decision reached today by the Munich court, which is another win for every internet user. It confirms each individual’s right to block annoying ads, protect their privacy and, by extension, determine his or her own internet experience. This time it also confirms the legitimacy of our Acceptable Ads initiative as a compromise in the often contentious and rarely progressive world of online advertising."
Democrats

Obama Asks Congress To Renew 'Patriot Act' Snooping 347

Posted by Soulskill
from the it-makes-you-safer-because-reasons dept.
mi writes: President Obama has asked the Senate to renew key Patriot Act provisions before their expiration on May 31. This includes surveillance powers that let the government collect Americans' phone records. Obama said, "It's necessary to keep the American people safe and secure." The call came despite recent revelations that the FBI is unable to name a single terror case in which the snooping provisions were of much help. "Obama noted that the controversial bulk phone collections program, which was exposed by National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, is reformed in the House bill, which does away with it over six months and instead gives phone companies the responsibility of maintaining phone records that the government can search." Obama criticized the Senate for not acting on that legislation, saying they have necessitated a renewal of the Patriot Act provisions.
Space

SpaceX Cleared For US Military Launches 59

Posted by Soulskill
from the low-earth-orbit-needs-more-lasers dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. Air Force has given private rocket company SpaceX clearance to launch military satellites into orbit. This disrupts the lock that Boeing and Lockheed Martin have had on military launches for almost a decade. SpaceX will get its first opportunity to bid for such launches in June, when the Air Force posts a contract to launch GPS satellites.
Patents

Supreme Court Rules In Favor of Patent Troll 76

Posted by Soulskill
from the clarence-thomas-speechless-at-the-verdict dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The Supreme Court ruled today (PDF) that Cisco Systems can't skip out of a patent suit against them from patent troll Commil USA. The case reached the Supreme Court because Cisco argued it had a "good faith belief" that the patent they were infringing was invalid. The justices voted 6-2 that such a belief didn't matter if they were indeed infringing. The Supreme Court's opinion is that a company must know of the patent it's infringing, and that their product infringes upon the patent — which, at least, is more than what Commil was pushing.

The case isn't completely over — a $63.7 million verdict in Commil's favor was overturned by an Appeals Court, and now the Supreme Court has sent it back down for re-evaluation after it clarified the rules of infringement. The Appeals Court could still overturn the judgment for some other reason. The good news is that the Supreme Court dedicated a page in their opinion to telling lower courts how to sanction patent trolls and keep them from clogging the courts with ridiculous claims. "[I]t is still necessary and proper to stress that district courts have the authority and responsibility to ensure frivolous cases are dissuaded."
Government

Russian Space Agency Misused $1.8 Billion, May Be Replaced 87

Posted by Soulskill
from the that's-a-lot-of-vodka dept.
An anonymous reader writes: After a pair of high profile launch failures in the past few months, Russian space agency Roscosmos is making headlines again: this time for corruption. A public spending watchdog reported that the organization had misused 92 billion rubles ($1.8 billion) in 2014 alone. Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said their space efforts have been undermined by rampant corruption. "We have uncovered acts of fraud, abuse of authority (and) document forgery. With such a level of moral decay, one should not be surprised at the high accident rate." He also said Roscosmos is to be "abolished," and replaced by a state corporation of the same name by the end of the year. "In its new, corporate identity, Roscosmos will be responsible not only for setting mission goals but managing wages for space industry workers and modernizing production facilities."
Security

IRS: Personal Info of 100,000 Taxpayers Accessed Illegally 82

Posted by Soulskill
from the disincentive-to-pay-your-taxes dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The Associated Press reports that an online service provided by the IRS was used to gather the personal information of more than 100,000 taxpayers. Criminals were able to scrape the "Get Transcript" system to acquire tax return information. They already had a significant amount of information about these taxpayers, though — the system required a security check that included knowledge of a person's social security number, date of birth, and filing status. The system has been shut down while the IRS investigates and implements better security, and they're notifying the taxpayers whose information was accessed.
Transportation

Court Orders UberPop Use To Be Banned In All of Italy 201

Posted by timothy
from the fiat-accompli dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A judicial court in Italy has ordered the UberPop app to cease offering its services [original source, in Italian], as it constitutes "unfair competition" again the taxi sector (taxi licenses in Italy are numbered, each can cost more than $100k to obtain). This sentence should be valid at the national level and comes after an injunction from taxi drivers in Milan, where a Universal Exhibition is incidentally bringing in thousands visitors from all over the world on a daily basis. Sources mention a judicial request to "block" the app, though no one is sure how this sentence has to be enforced and what the fines would be in case of violations.
United Kingdom

British Politicians Delete Negative Wikipedia Descriptions Before Election 117

Posted by timothy
from the war-on-the-ground dept.
EwanPalmer writes: The Wikipedia pages of dozens of UK politicians had references to sex scandals, fraud and opposition to same sex marriage removed in the run up to the UK general election. Dozens of MPs had negative aspects of their online biographies removed or altered prior to the election in a bid to make them more electable. The changes include several instances of MPs' expense claim scandals being removed, as well as details of arrests and the use of 'chauffeur-driven cars.' The edits were made using computers with IP addresses registered from inside Parliament.
Spam

Attackers Use Email Spam To Infect Point-of-Sale Terminals 83

Posted by samzenpus
from the protect-ya-neck dept.
jfruh writes: Point-of-sale software has meant that in many cases where once you'd have seen a cash register, you now see a general-purpose PC running point-of-sale (PoS) software. Unfortunately, those PCs have all the usual vulnerabilities, and when you run software on it that processes credit card payments, they become a tempting target for hackers. One of the latest attacks on PoS software comes in the form of malicious Word macros downloaded from spam emails.
Privacy

Sniffing and Tracking Wearable Tech and Smartphones 53

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-the-better-to-follow-you-with dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Senior researcher Scott Lester at Context Information Security has shown how someone can easily monitor and record Bluetooth Low Energy signals transmitted by many mobile phones, fitness monitors, and iBeacons. The findings have raised concerns about the privacy and confidentiality wearable devices may provide. “Many people wearing fitness devices don’t realize that they are broadcasting constantly and that these broadcasts can often be attributed to a unique device,” said Scott says. “Using cheap hardware or a smartphone, it could be possible to identify and locate a particular device – that may belong to a celebrity, politician or senior business executive – within 100 meters in the open air. This information could be used for social engineering as part of a planned cyber attack or for physical crime by knowing peoples’ movements.” The researchers have even developed an Android app that scans, detects and logs wearable devices.
United Kingdom

Leaked Document Shows Europe Would Fight UK Plans To Block Porn 250

Posted by samzenpus
from the things-that-are-worth-fighting-for dept.
Mark Wilson writes: Before the UK elections earlier in the month, David Cameron spoke about his desire to clean up the internet. Pulling — as he is wont to do — on parental heartstrings, he suggested that access to porn on computers and mobiles should be blocked by default unless users specifically requested access to it. This opt-in system was mentioned again in the run-up to the election as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Sajid Javid assured peopled that the party "will age restrict online porn". But it's not quite that simple. There is the small problem of Europe. A leaked EU Council document shows that plans are afoot to stop Cameron's plans in its tracks — and with the UK on the verge of trying to debate a better deal for itself within Europe, the Prime Minister is not in a particularly strong position for negotiating on the issue. Cameron has a fight on his hands, it seems, if he wants to deliver on his promise that "we need to protect our children from hardcore pornography". Documents seen by The Sunday Times reveal that the EU could make it illegal for ISPs and mobile companies to automatically block access to obscene material. Rather than implementing a default block on pornography, the Council of the European Union believes that users should opt in to web filtering and be able to opt out again at any time; this is precisely the opposite to the way Cameron would like things to work.
Privacy

Hackers Can Track Subway Riders' Movements By Smartphone Accelerometer 69

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-the-better-to-follow-you-with dept.
Patrick O'Neill writes: Tens of millions of daily subway riders around the world can be tracked through their smartphones by a new attack, according to research from China's Nanjing University. The new attack even works underground and doesn't utilize GPS or cell networks. Instead, the attacker steals data from a phone's accelerometer. Because each subway in the world has a unique movement fingerprint, the phone's motion sensor can give away a person's daily movements with up to 92% accuracy.
Privacy

Privacy Behaviors Changed Little After Snowden 113

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-another-speed-bump-in-the-new-cycle dept.
An anonymous reader writes: An article in Communications of the ACM takes a look at how Edward Snowden's revelations about government surveillance have changed privacy behaviors across the world. The results are fairly disappointing. While the news that intelligence agencies were trawling data from everyday citizens sparked an interest in privacy, it was small, and faded quickly. Even through media coverage has continued for a long time after the initial reports, public interest dropped back to earlier levels long ago. The initial interest spike was notably less than for other major news events. Privacy-enhancing behaviors experienced a small surge, but that too failed to impart any long-term momentum. The author notes that the spike in interest "following the removal of privacy-enhancing functions in Facebook, Android, and Gmail" was stronger than the reaction to the government's privacy-eroding actions.
EU

EU Drops Plans For Safer Pesticides After Pressure From US 154

Posted by Soulskill
from the say-it-don't-spray-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The European Union recently published plans to ban 31 pesticides containing chemicals linked to testicular cancer and male infertility. Those potential regulations have now been dropped after a U.S. business delegation said they would adversely affect trade negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. "Just weeks before the regulations were dropped there had been a barrage of lobbying from big European firms such as Dupont, Bayer and BASF over EDCs. The chemical industry association Cefic warned that the endocrines issue 'could become an issue that impairs the forthcoming EU-US trade negotiations.'"
Firefox

Firefox's Optional Tracking Protection Reduces Load Time For News Sites By 44% 205

Posted by Soulskill
from the definition-of-a-win-win dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Former Mozilla software engineer Monica Chew and Computer Science researcher Georgios Kontaxis recently released a paper (PDF) that examines Firefox's optional Tracking Protection feature. The duo found that with Tracking Protection enabled, the Alexa top 200 news sites saw a 67.5 percent reduction in the number of HTTP cookies set. Furthermore, performance benefits included a 44 percent median reduction in page load time and 39 percent reduction in data usage.
Privacy

San Bernardino Sheriff Has Used Stingray Over 300 Times With No Warrant 99

Posted by samzenpus
from the was-that-wrong? dept.
An anonymous reader writes: After a records request by Ars, the sheriff in San Bernardino County (SBSD) sent an example of a template for a "pen register and trap and trace order" application. The county attorneys claim what they sent was a warrant application template, even though it is not. The application cites no legal authority on which to base the request. "This is astonishing because it suggests the absence of legal authorization (because if there were clear legal authorization you can bet the government would be citing it)," Fred Cate, a law professor at Indiana University, told Ars. "Alternatively, it might suggest that the government just doesn't care about legal authorization. Either interpretation is profoundly troubling," he added. Further documents reveal that the agency has used a Stingray 303 times between January 1, 2014 and May 7, 2015.
EU

Greece Is Running Out of Money, Cannot Make June IMF Repayment 737

Posted by samzenpus
from the broker-than-broke dept.
jones_supa writes: Greece, the country which has been in extreme financial trouble and high debt for years, cannot make debt repayments to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) next month, unless it achieves a deal with creditors. 'The four installments for the IMF in June are €1.6 billion ($1.8 billion). This money will not be given and is not there to be given,' Interior Minister Nikos Voutsis told Greek Mega TV's weekend show. Shut out of bond markets and with bailout aid locked, cash-strapped Athens has been scraping state coffers to meet debt obligations and to pay wages and pensions. With its future as a member of the 19-nation eurozone potentially at stake, a second government minister accused its international lenders of subjecting it to slow and calculated torture.