Businesses

Wireless and Drone Execs Praised President Trump as He Pledged To Cut Down Regulations (recode.net) 77

U.S. President Donald Trump offered support for emerging technologies including unmanned aerial vehicles and next-generation wireless networks in a meeting on Thursday with the chiefs of AT&T and General Electric and other business leaders. From a report: For the likes of AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, the public audience with Trump offered an opportunity to continue nudging the U.S. government -- including in a scheduled, private session with the leader of the Federal Communications Commission earlier Thursday -- to cut back on restrictions that make it difficult for AT&T and other telecom giants to grow their footprint and deploy the new technologies, such as 5G wireless. Speaking with Recode later Thursday, Marcelo Claure, the chief executive of Sprint, said that he and others in his industry had emphasized to Trump that the government must help them deploy new tools like small cells -- essentially, mini cell towers that improve wireless connectivity. Trump, for his part, promised Thursday to cut down on "too many years of excessive government regulation" to enable innovators and investments to offer new cutting-edge tools in health care, science, medicine and communication. "We have had regulation that's been so bad, so out of line that it's really hurt our country," he said.
Privacy

California May Restore Broadband Privacy Rules Killed By Congress and Trump (arstechnica.com) 85

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A proposed law in California would require Internet service providers to obtain customers' permission before they use, share, or sell the customers' Web browsing history. The California Broadband Internet Privacy Act, a bill introduced by Assembly member Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park) on Monday, is very similar to an Obama-era privacy rule that was scheduled to take effect across the US until President Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress eliminated it. If Chau's bill becomes law, ISPs in California would have to get subscribers' opt-in consent before using browsing history and other sensitive information in order to serve personalized advertisements. Consumers would have the right to revoke their consent at any time. The opt-in requirement in Chau's bill would apply to "Web browsing history, application usage history, content of communications, and origin and destination Internet Protocol (IP) addresses of all traffic." The requirement would also apply to geolocation data, IP addresses, financial and health information, information pertaining to minors, names and billing information, Social Security numbers, demographic information, and personal details such as physical addresses, e-mail addresses, and phone numbers.
Government

Trump Promises a Federal Technology Overhaul To Save $1 Trillion (technologyreview.com) 376

New submitter threc shares a report from MIT Technology Review: The tech world descended on Washington, D.C. yesterday to attend a tech summit at the White House. According to MIT Technology Review associate editor Jamie Condliffe: "Trump suggested he might relax his stance on immigration as a way to get tech leaders to help his cause. 'You can get the people you want,' he told the assembled CEOs. That sweetener may be a response to a very vocal backlash in the tech world against the administration's recent travel bans. Trump may hope that his business-friendly stance will offer enough allure: if tech giants scratch his back, he may later deign to scratch theirs." The report continues: "'Our goal is to lead a sweeping transformation of the federal government's technology that will deliver dramatically better services for citizens,' said Trump at the start of his meeting with the CEOs, according to the Washington Post. 'We're embracing big change, bold thinking, and outsider perspectives.' The headline announcement from the event was Trump's promise to overhaul creaking government computing infrastructure. According to Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and advisor, there's much to be done: federal agencies have over 6,000 data centers that could be consolidated, for instance, while the 10 oldest networks in use by the government are all at least 39 years old. The upgrade, said Trump, could save the country $1 trillion over the next 10 years."
Government

Tim Cook Told Trump Tech Employees Are 'Nervous' About Immigration (cnbc.com) 325

Behind the scenes at the White House tech CEO meeting, Apple CEO Tim Cook told President Donald Trump that technology employees are "nervous" about the administration's approach to immigration, CNBC reports, citing a source familiar with the exchange. From the report: The source said the president told the CEOs on Monday that the Senate's health-care bill needs "more heart." That would be a second known instance of the president criticizing the GOP plan in private meetings. To that, the source said, Cook replied that the immigration approach by the administration also "needs more heart." Cook cited the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which is under review by the Trump administration. He also said people in tech and their co-workers were nervous about their status, and added that it "would be great" if the president could "send them a signal." Here's what executives of Amazon, Google, and Microsoft said.
Government

198 Million Americans Hit By 'Largest Ever' Voter Records Leak (zdnet.com) 119

Political data gathered on more than 198 million US citizens was exposed this month after a marketing firm contracted by the Republican National Committee stored internal documents on a publicly accessible Amazon server, reports say. From a ZDNet article: It's believed to be the largest ever known exposure of voter information to date. The various databases containing 198 million records on American voters from all political parties were found stored on an open Amazon S3 storage server owned by a Republican data analytics firm, Deep Root Analytics. UpGuard cyber risk analyst Chris Vickery, who found the exposed server, verified the data. Through his responsible disclosure, the server was secured late last week, and prior to publication. This leak shines a spotlight on the Republicans' multi-million dollar effort to better target potential voters by utilizing big data. The move largely a response to the successes of the Barack Obama campaign in 2008, thought to have been the first data-driven campaign. Further reading: Republican Data-Mining Firm Exposed Personal Information for Virtually Every American Voter - The Intercept; The RNC Files: Inside the Largest US Voter Data Leak - Upguard; Data on 198M voters exposed by GOP contractor Data On 198M Voters Exposed By GOP Contractor - The Hill.
Government

Putin Claims Russia Proposed a Cyber War Treaty In 2015 But the Obama Admin Ignored Them (qz.com) 193

An anonymous reader writes: Russian president Vladimir Putin (who denies any Russian part in the hacking) claims the Obama administration ignored a proposal in 2015 that might have avoided all of this. His administration suggested working out a cyber treaty with the US but was ignored by Obama officials, Putin told film director Oliver Stone in Showtime's four-part series broadcast this week. "A year and a half ago, in fall 2015, we made proposal to our American partners that we work through these issues and conclude a treaty on the rules of behavior in this sphere," he said in Stone's documentary The Putin Interviews. "The American side was silent, they didn't reply to us."
Bug

Trump Orders Government To Stop Work On Y2K Bug, 17 Years Later (bloomberg.com) 460

The federal government will finally stop preparing for the Y2K bug, seventeen years after it came and went. Yes, you read that right. Bloomberg reports: The Trump administration announced Thursday that it would eliminate dozens of paperwork requirements for federal agencies, including an obscure rule that requires them to continue providing updates on their preparedness for a bug that afflicted some computers at the turn of the century. As another example, the Pentagon will be freed from a requirement that it file a report every time a small business vendor is paid, a task that consumed some 1,200 man-hours every year. Seven of the more than 50 paperwork requirements the White House eliminated on Thursday dealt with the Y2K bug, according to a memo OMB released. Officials at the agency estimate the changes could save tens of thousands of man-hours across the federal government. The agency didn't provide an estimate of how much time is currently spent on Y2K paperwork, but Linda Springer, an OMB senior adviser, acknowledged that it isn't a lot since those requirements are already often ignored in practice.
Businesses

Apple CEO Tim Cook Shares His Experience Of Working With President Donald Trump (bloomberg.com) 350

In a wide-ranging interview with Bloomberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook talked about his experience of working with Donald Trump. He said: I feel a great responsibility as an American, as a CEO, to try to influence things in areas where we have a level of expertise. I've pushed hard on immigration. We clearly have a very different view on things in that area. I've pushed on climate. We have a different view there. There are clearly areas where we're not nearly on the same page. We're dramatically different. I hope there's some areas where we're not. His focus on jobs is good. So we'll see. Pulling out of the Paris climate accord was very disappointing. I felt a responsibility to do every single thing I could for it not to happen. I think it's the wrong decision. If I see another opening on the Paris thing, I'm going to bring it up again. At the end of the day, I'm not a person who's going to walk away and say, "If you don't do what I want, I leave." I'm not on a council, so I don't have those kind of decisions. But I care deeply about America. I want America to do well. America's more important than bloody politics from my point of view. Let me give you an example of this. Veterans Affairs has struggled in providing health care to veterans. We have an expertise in some of the things at the base level that they're struggling with. So we're going to work with them. I could give a crap about the politics of it. I want to help veterans. My dad's a veteran. My brother served. We have so many military folks in Apple. These folks deserve great health care. So we're going to keep helping.
Communications

A 12-Month Campaign of Fake News To Influence Elections Costs $400K, Says Report (bleepingcomputer.com) 175

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bleeping Computer: A 77-page report released today by cyber-security firm Trend Micro explores the underground landscape of fake news, where anyone can buy influence and create artificial trends to serve personal interests. An examination of Chinese, Russian, Middle Eastern, and English-based underground fake news marketplaces reveals a wide range of services available on these portals. The report explores several websites where customers can purchase services ranging from "discrediting journalists" to "promoting street protests," and from "stuffing online polls" to "manipulating a decisive course of action," such as an election. According to researchers, the typical clients of such services are interested in warping the way others perceive reality. These services are usually used for character assassination, swaying political trends, or creating fake celebrities. Trend Micro has compiled a "fake news" price catalog in its report, which is imbedded in Bleeping Computer's article. Some of the most expensive services include $200,000 for helping to instigate a street protest via fake news articles, $50,000 to discredit a journalist, and $400,000 to influence elections.
Google

Google Searches Show That America Is Full of Racist and Selfish People (vox.com) 709

gollum123 shares a report by Sean Illing via Vox: "Google is a digital truth serum," Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, author of Everybody Lies , told me in a recent interview. "People tell Google things that they don't tell to possibly anybody else, things they might not tell to family members, friends, anonymous surveys, or doctors." Stephens-Davidowitz was working on a PhD in economics at Harvard when he became obsessed with Google Trends, a tool that tracks how frequently searches are made in a given area over a given time period. As a barometer of our national consciousness, Google is as accurate (and predictive) as it gets. In 2016, when the Republican primaries were just beginning, most pundits and pollsters did not believe Trump could win. After all, he had insulted veterans, women, minorities, and countless other constituencies. But Stephens-Davidowitz saw clues in his Google research that suggested Trump was far more serious than many supposed. Searches containing racist epithets and jokes were spiking across the country during Trump's primary run, and not merely in the South but in upstate New York, Western Pennsylvania, Eastern Ohio, rural Illinois, West Virginia, and industrial Michigan.
Government

Russian Cyber Hacks On US Electoral System Far Wider Than Previously Known (bloomberg.com) 520

An anonymous reader shares a Bloomberg article: Russia's cyberattack on the U.S. electoral system before Donald Trump's election was far more widespread than has been publicly revealed, including incursions into voter databases and software systems in almost twice as many states as previously reported. In Illinois, investigators found evidence that cyber intruders tried to delete or alter voter data. The hackers accessed software designed to be used by poll workers on Election Day, and in at least one state accessed a campaign finance database. Details of the wave of attacks, in the summer and fall of 2016, were provided by three people with direct knowledge of the U.S. investigation into the matter. In all, the Russian hackers hit systems in a total of 39 states, one of them said. The scope and sophistication so concerned Obama administration officials that they took an unprecedented step -- complaining directly to Moscow over a modern-day "red phone." In October, two of the people said, the White House contacted the Kremlin on the back channel to offer detailed documents of what it said was Russia's role in election meddling and to warn that the attacks risked setting off a broader conflict.
Government

'COVFEFE Act' Would Make Social Media a Presidential Record (thehill.com) 322

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Hill: Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) introduced legislation Monday to classify presidential social media posts -- including President Trump's much-discussed tweets -- as presidential records. The Communications Over Various Feeds Electronically for Engagement (COVFEFE) Act, which has the same acronym as an infamous Trump Twitter typo last month, would amend the Presidential Records Act to include "social media." Presidential records must be preserved, according to the Presidential Records Act, which would make it potentially illegal for the president to delete tweets. "President Trump's frequent, unfiltered use of his personal Twitter account as a means of official communication is unprecedented. If the President is going to take to social media to make sudden public policy proclamations, we must ensure that these statements are documented and preserved for future reference. Tweets are powerful, and the President must be held accountable for every post," said Quigley in a statement. Most people took the "covfefe" tweet to be a typo, although press secretary Sean Spicer told the media that the term was used intentionally. "The president and a small group of people know exactly what he meant," he said.
United States

Former FBI Director Predicts Russian Hackers Will Interfere With More Elections (nytimes.com) 506

An anonymous reader quotes the New York Times: James B. Comey, the former director of the F.B.I., testified that the Russians had not only intervened in last year's election, but would try to do it again... Russian hackers did not just breach Democratic email accounts; according to Mr. Comey, they orchestrated a "massive effort" targeting hundreds of -- and possibly more than 1,000 -- American government and private organizations since 2015... As F.B.I. director, he supervised counterintelligence investigations into computer break-ins that harvested emails from the State Department and the White House, and that penetrated deep into the computer systems of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Yet President Barack Obama's administration did not want to publicize those intrusions, choosing to handle them diplomatically -- perhaps because at the time they looked more like classic espionage than an effort to manipulate American politics...

Graham Allison, a longtime Russia scholar at Harvard, said, "Russia's cyberintrusion into the recent presidential election signals the beginning of what is almost sure to be an intensified cyberwar in which both they -- and we -- seek to participate in picking the leaders of an adversary." The difference, he added, is that American elections are generally fair, so "we are much more vulnerable to such manipulation than is Russia," where results are often preordained... Similar warnings have been issued by others in the intelligence community, led by James R. Clapper Jr., who has sounded the alarm since retiring in January as director of national intelligence. "I don't think people have their head around the scope of what the Russians are doing," he said recently.

Daniel Fried, a career diplomat who oversaw sanctions imposed on Russia before retiring this year, told the Times that Comey "was spot-on right that Russia is coming after us, but not just the U.S., but the free world in general. And we need to take this seriously."
Earth

The US Can't Leave The Paris Climate Deal Until 2020 (nytimes.com) 403

An anonymous reader quotes the New York Times: Last week, President Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. But it will take more than one speech to pull out: Under the rules of the deal, which the White House says it will follow, the earliest any country can leave is November 4, 2020. That means the United States will remain a party to the accord for nearly all of Mr. Trump's current term... Nov. 4, 2019 is the earliest date that the United States can submit a written notice to the United Nations that it is withdrawing from the Paris deal -- exactly three years after it came into force. As soon as that happens, the United States can leave the accord in exactly one year... If a new president enters the White House on Jan. 20, 2021, he or she could easily submit a written notice to the United Nations that the United States would like to rejoin the Paris accord. Within 30 days, the United States could re-enter the agreement and submit a new pledge for how the country plans to tackle climate change.
The article also acknowledges "a growing coalition of states, cities and companies that are pledging to do as much as they can to meet the United States' climate goals on their own."
Government

Delays In Unlocking Cellphones Seized In Inauguration Day Protests? (buzzfeed.com) 163

Cellphone data may play a key role in prosecuting people arrested at inauguration day protests, according to an article shared by Slashdot reader Mosquito Bites. A U.S. attorney acknowledged that "the government recovered cell phones from more than 100 indicted defendants and other un-indicted arrested" in a filing last March, adding "The government is in the process of extracting data from the Rioter Cell Phones pursuant to lawfully issued search warrants, and expects to be in a position to produce all of the data from the searchers Rioter Cell Phones in the next several weeks."

But 11 weeks later, it's a different story. Prosecutors "have provided defense lawyers with access to hundreds of hours of video footage from January 20, but have yet to turn over data extracted from more than 100 cell phones seized during the arrests, according to lawyers who spoke with BuzzFeed News." In addition, they report that now more than half the 200-plus defendants "are vowing not to cooperate with prosecutors, even in the face of a new set of felony charges that carry stiff maximum prison sentences."
United Kingdom

British PM Seeks Ban On Encryption After Terror Attack (boingboing.net) 339

"British Prime Minister Theresa May has used last Saturday's terrorist attack to again push for a ban on encryption," according to ITWire. Slashdot reader troublemaker_23 shared their article, which quotes this strong rebuttal from Cory Doctorow: Use deliberately compromised cryptography, that has a back door that only the "good guys" are supposed to have the keys to, and you have effectively no security. You might as well skywrite it as encrypt it with pre-broken, sabotaged encryption... Theresa May doesn't understand technology very well, so she doesn't actually know what she's asking for. For Theresa May's proposal to work, she will need to stop Britons from installing software that comes from software creators who are out of her jurisdiction... any politician caught spouting off about back doors is unfit for office anywhere but Hogwarts, which is also the only educational institution whose computer science department believes in 'golden keys' that only let the right sort of people break your encryption.
The Internet

Pirate Bay Founder: We've Lost the Internet, It's All About Damage Control Now (thenextweb.com) 189

Mar Masson Maack reports via The Next Web: At its inception, the internet was a beautifully idealistic and equal place. But the world sucks and we've continuously made it more and more centralized, taking power away from users and handing it over to big companies. And the worst thing is that we can't fix it -- we can only make it slightly less awful. That was pretty much the core of Pirate Bay's co-founder, Peter Sunde's talk at tech festival Brain Bar Budapest. TNW sat down with the pessimistic activist and controversial figure to discuss how screwed we actually are when it comes to decentralizing the internet.

In Sunde's opinion, people focus too much on what might happen, instead of what is happening. He often gets questions about how a digitally bleak future could look like, but the truth is that we're living it: "Everything has gone wrong. That's the thing, it's not about what will happen in the future it's about what's going on right now. We've centralized all of our data to a guy called Mark Zuckerberg, who's basically the biggest dictator in the world as he wasn't elected by anyone. Trump is basically in control over this data that Zuckerberg has, so I think we're already there. Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong and I don't think there's a way for us to stop it." One of the most important things to realize is that the problem isn't a technological one. "The internet was made to be decentralized," says Sunde, "but we keep centralizing everything on top of the internet."

AT&T

AT&T Uses Forced Arbitration To Overcharge Customers, Senators Say (arstechnica.com) 165

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Five Democratic US senators allege that AT&T's use of forced arbitration clauses has helped the company charge higher prices than the ones it advertises to customers. The senators pointed to a CBS News investigation that described "more than 4,000 complaints against AT&T and [subsidiary] DirecTV related to deals, promotions and overcharging in the past two years." But customers have little recourse because they are forced to settle disputes with AT&T in arbitration, according to Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and Edward Markey (D-Mass.). "Forced arbitration provisions in telecommunications contracts erode Americans' ability to seek justice in the courts by forcing them into a privatized system that is inherently biased in favor of providers and which offers virtually no way to challenge a biased outcome," the senators wrote in a letter yesterday to AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson. "Forced arbitration requires consumers to sign away their constitutional right to hold providers accountable in court just to access modern-day essentials like mobile phone, Internet, and pay-TV services." Forced arbitration provisions such as AT&T's also "include a class action waiver; language which strips consumers of the right to band together with other consumers to challenge a provider's widespread wrongdoing," they wrote.
United Kingdom

Theresa May Loses Overall Majority In UK Parliament (cnn.com) 493

Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain has lost her overall majority in Parliament on Thursday, plunging Britain into a period of renewed political chaos less than two weeks before it is scheduled to begin negotiations over withdrawing from the European Union. While May's Conservative party won the most seats, the party didn't win enough to govern without the support of minority parties. CNN reports: It was devastating result for May, who had called the election three years earlier than required by law, convinced by opinion polls that placed her far ahead of opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. The result also plunges Britain into a period of renewed political chaos, with Brexit talks likely to be delayed and May's personal authority shredded. There was already talk in Conservative circles that she might have to resign, less than a year after taking over from David Cameron, who resigned following the Brexit referendum. The pound fell on currency markets in the wake of the results. After the result was declared in her constituency of Maidenhead, May gave a faltering speech. "At this time more than anything else, this country needs a period of stability," she said, suggesting she would attempt to form a government even if her party loses its majority. Corbyn said the early results showed May had lost her mandate and called for her to resign. Further reading: New York Times
Government

Former FBI Director Admitted He Was the Source Of At Least One Leak To the Press (theoutline.com) 559

Shortly after his dismissal as head of the FBI, James Comey authorized "a close friend" to leak the contents of his memos to the press in order to prompt a special counsel investigation, he said today. From a report: Former FBI Director James Comey testified that he asked a friend, a law professor at Columbia University, to leak details of his dinner with the President to The New York Times, including the claim that the President asked Comey to drop the investigation into former national security advisor Michael Flynn's contacts with Russian officials. Comey kept meticulous memos of all of his interactions with Trump, and he gave that memo to a friend to pass it along to the Times in order to spark a special investigation. "You considered this not a document of the government, but your own personal document that you could share with the media as you want to?" Senator Roy Blunt asked Comey. "Correct," Comey replied. "I understood this to be my recollection recorded of my conversation with the President. As a private citizen, I felt free to share that. I thought it very important to get it out." Edward Snowden tweeted, "It seems the [former] FBI Director agrees: sometimes the only moral decision is to break the rules."

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