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Earth

UAE To Build Artificial Mountain To Improve Rainfall (engadget.com) 188

An anonymous reader writes: The United Arab Emirates is in the early stages of developing an artificial mountain that would force air upwards and create clouds that could produce additional rainfall. While the Middle East and Africa continues to get hotter, researchers are further motivated and more desperate for solutions to maximize rainfall. "Building a mountain is not a simple thing," said NCAR scientist and lead researcher Roelof Bruintjes. "We are still busy finalizing assimilation, so we are doing a spread of all kinds of heights, widths and locations [as we simultaneously] look at the local climatology." The specific location has yet to be decided on as the team is still testing out different sites across the UAE. "If [the project] is too expensive for [the government], logically the project won't go through, but this gives them an idea of what kind of alternatives there are for the long-term future." Bruintjes said. "If it goes through, the second phase would be to go to an engineering company and decide whether it is possible or not."
Government

Kim Jong-Un Bans All Weddings, Funerals And Freedom Of Movement In North Korea (independent.co.uk) 193

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Independent: Weddings and funerals have been banned and Pyongyang is in lockdown as preparations for a once-in-a-generation party congress get underway in North Korea. The ruling Worker's Party of Korea, headed by the country's leader, Kim Jong-un, is due to stage the first gathering of its kind for 36 years on Friday. Free movement in and out of the capital has also been forbidden and there has been an increase in inspections and property searches, according to Daily NK, which claims to have sources in the country. The temporary measures are said to be an attempt to minimize the risk of "mishaps" at the event, according to Cheong Joon-hee, a spokesman at South Korea's Unification Ministry. Meanwhile, North Korea has been conducting missile tests left and right, many of which have failed miserably.
Encryption

Without Encryption, Everything Stops, Says Snowden (thehill.com) 139

An anonymous reader writes about Snowden's appearance on a debate with CNN's Fareed Zakaria: Edward Snowden defended the importance of encryption, calling it the "backbone of computer security." He said, "Encryption saves lives. Encryption protects property. Without it, our economy stops. Our government stops. Everything stops. Our intelligence agencies say computer security is a bigger problem than terrorism, than crime, than anything else," he noted. "[...] Lawful access to any device or communication cannot be provided to anybody without fatally compromising the security of everybody."
Government

Gas Delivery Startups Want to Fill Up Your Car Anywhere, But It Might Not Be Legal (bloomberg.com) 407

Eric Newcomer, reporting for Bloomberg: A new crop of startups are trying to make gas stations obsolete. Tap an app, and they'll bring the gas to you, filling up your car while you're at work or at home. Filld, WeFuel, Yoshi, Purple and Booster Fuels have started operating in a few cities including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Palo Alto, Nashville, Tennessee, and Atlanta, Georgia. But officials in some of those cities say that driving around in a pickup truck with hundreds of gallons of gasoline might not be safe. "It is not permitted," said Lt. Jonathan Baxter, a spokesman for the San Francisco fire department, adding that if San Francisco residents see any companies fueling vehicles in the city, they should call the fire department. "We haven't talked to them. I don't know about that. It's news to me," said Nick Alexander, co-founder of Yoshi. "You can never ask for permission because no one will give it," said Chris Aubuchon, the chief executive officer at Filld. The Los Angeles Fire Department said it's drafting a policy around gasoline delivery. "Our current fire code does not allow this process; however, we are exploring a way this could be allowed with some restrictions," said Capt. Daniel Curry, a spokesman for the city's fire department.
Crime

The Government Wants Your Fingerprint To Unlock Phones (dailygazette.com) 220

schwit1 quotes this report from the Daily Gazette: "As the world watched the FBI spar with Apple this winter in an attempt to hack into a San Bernardino shooter's iPhone, federal officials were quietly waging a different encryption battle in a Los Angeles courtroom. There, authorities obtained a search warrant compelling the girlfriend of an alleged Armenian gang member to press her finger against an iPhone that had been seized from a Glendale home. The phone contained Apple's fingerprint identification system for unlocking, and prosecutors wanted access to the data inside it.

It marked a rare time that prosecutors have demanded a person provide a fingerprint to open a computer, but experts expect such cases to become more common as cracking digital security becomes a larger part of law enforcement work. The Glendale case and others like it are forcing courts to address a basic question: How far can the government go to obtain biometric markers such as fingerprints and hair?"

Entertainment

Government Could Ban BBC From Showing Top Shows at Peak Times (theguardian.com) 84

An anonymous reader writes: The BBC is on a collision course with the government over reported efforts to bar it from showing popular shows at peak viewing times. The culture secretary, John Whittingdale, is widely expected to ban the broadcaster from going head-to-head with commercial rivals as part of the BBC charter review. He is due to publish a white paper within weeks that will set out a tougher regime as part of a new royal charter to safeguard the service for another 11 years. ITV has complained about licence fee money being used to wage a ratings battle with it and other channels funded by advertising. A source at the BBC said the public would be deeply concerned if it were forced to move programmes such as Strictly Come Dancing, Doctor Who and Sherlock from prime time weekend slots.In some unrelated news, Clarkson, Hammond, and May are still figuring out the name for their new show.
Government

US Spy Court Didn't Reject a Single Government Surveillance Request In 2015 (zdnet.com) 91

schwit1 shares news from ZDNet's security blog: In more than three decades years, the FISA Court has only rejected 12 requests. A secret court that oversees the US government's surveillance requests accepted every warrant that was submitted last year, according to new figures.The Washington DC.-based Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court received 1,457 requests from the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to intercept phone calls and emails. In long-standing fashion, the court did not reject a single warrant, entirely or in part.

The FBI also issued 48,642 national security letters, a subpoena-like power that compels a company to turn over data on national security grounds without informing the subject of the letter. The memo said the majority of these demands sought data on foreigners, but almost one-in-five were requests for data on Americans.

It'll be interesting to see if the numbers go down any in 2016, since in November the court appointed five new lawyers to push back against government requests. Meanwhile, a new report shows an increase in the number of government requests to Facebook about their users, more than half of which contained a non-disclosure order prohibiting Facebook from notifying those users.
Australia

Australia: VPN Users Aren't Breaching Copyright (abc.net.au) 115

Slashdot reader Zanadou writes: The Australian Government Productivity Commission in a draft report recommended that Australian consumers should be able to legally circumvent geoblocking restrictions that have prevented them from using foreign online streaming services like Netflix, and that the Australian Government needs to send a clear message that it is not an infringement of copyright for consumers to be able evade geoblocking technology. Karen Chester, a commissioner with the Productivity Commission, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that geoblocking restrictions have the opposite effect of encouraging internet piracy. "Making copyright material more accessible and more competitively priced online, and not geoblocking, is the best antidote to copyright infringement."

In probably related news, Australia topped the list of countries who illegally downloaded the Game Of Thrones season six premiere, this week.

In January Netflix's chief product officer admitted that the company has no magic solution to subscribers who use VPNs to circumvent geoblocking.
Transportation

Germany Plans $1.4 Billion In Incentives For Electric Cars (bloomberg.com) 154

An anonymous reader shares a Bloomberg article: German Chancellor Angela Merkel's government reached a deal with automakers to jointly spend 1.2 billion euros ($1.4 billion) on incentives to boost sluggish electric-car sales. Buyers will be able to receive as much as 4,000 euros in rebates to help offset the higher price of an electric vehicle, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said at a press conference in Berlin. Purchasers of hybrid cars will get as much as 3,000 euros off the price. The industry will shoulder 50 percent of the cost. The program is set to start in May, pending approval from the German parliament's budget committee, he said. "The goal is to move forward as quickly as possible on electric vehicles," Schaeuble told reporters, adding that the aim is to begin offering the incentives next month. "With this, we are giving an impetus."
Businesses

US Steel Says China Is Using Cyber Stealth To Steal Its Secrets (npr.org) 106

An anonymous reader writes: U.S. Steel Corp. filed a trade complaint with the International Trade Commission: "The Chinese industry has formed a cartel that sets purchase and sale prices, and controls production and export volumes to target export markets. The Chinese industry has used its government to steal U.S. Steel's closely guarded trade secrets and uses those trade secrets to produce advanced steel products it could not make on its own." The steelmaker based in Pittsburgh argues its Chinese rivals must be investigated and that they will "use every tool available to fight for fair trade." The ITC has 30 days to review the complaint and determine whether or not it's worth investigating. In the meantime, China's Commerce Ministry said the complaints "have no factual basis," urging the ITC to reject U.S. Steel's case. The investigation will likely take a while if the ITC decides to proceed with an investigation, as they'll be dealing with three separate issues: price fixing, false labeling to avoid duties, and theft of trade secrets.
Iphone

FBI Bought $1M iPhone 5C Hack, But Doesn't Know How It Works (theguardian.com) 76

An anonymous reader writes: The FBI has no idea how the hack used in unlocking the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone 5C works, but it paid a sum less than $1m for the mechanism, according to a report. Reuters, citing several U.S. government sources, note that the government intelligence agency didn't pay a value over $1.3m for purchasing the hack from professional hackers, as previously reported by many outlets. The technique can also be used as many times as needed without further payments, the report adds. The FBI director, James Comey, said last week that the agency paid more to get into the iPhone 5C than he will make in the remaining seven years and four months he has in his job, suggesting the hack cost more than $1.3m, based on his annual salary.
Security

GCHQ Has Disclosed Over 20 Vulnerabilities This Year (vice.com) 29

Joseph Cox, reporting for Motherboard: Earlier this week, it emerged that a section of Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the UK's signal intelligence agency, had disclosed a serious vulnerability in Firefox to Mozilla. Now, GCHQ has said it helped fix nearly two dozen individual vulnerabilities in the past few months, including in highly popular pieces of software like iOS. "So far in 2016 GCHQ/CESG has disclosed more than 20 vulnerabilities across a number of software products," a GCHQ spokesperson told Motherboard in an email. CESG, or the National Technical Authority for Information Assurance, is the information security wing of GCHQ. Those issues include a kernel vulnerability in OS X El Captain v10.11.4, the latest version, that would allow arbitrary code execution, and two in iOS 9.3, one of which would have done largely the same thing, and the other could have let an application launch a denial of service attack.
Government

Supreme Court Gives FBI More Hacking Power (theintercept.com) 174

An anonymous reader cites an article on The Intercept (edited and condensed): The Supreme Court on Thursday approved changes that would make it easier for the FBI to hack into computers, many of them belonging to victims of cybercrime. The changes, which will take immediate effect in December unless Congress adopts competing legislation, would allow the FBI go hunting for anyone browsing the Internet anonymously in the U.S. with a single warrant. Previously, under the federal rules on criminal procedures, a magistrate judge couldn't approve a warrant request to search a computer remotely if the investigator didn't know where the computer was -- because it might be outside his or her jurisdiction. The rule change would allow a magistrate judge to issue a warrant to search or seize an electronic device if the target is using anonymity software like Tor."Unbelievable," said Edward Snowden. "FBI sneaks radical expansion of power through courts, avoiding public debate." Ahmed Ghappour, a visiting professor at University of California Hastings Law School, has described it as "possibly the broadest expansion of extraterritorial surveillance power since the FBI's inception."
Communications

The Critical Hole At the Heart Of Our Cell Phone Networks (wired.com) 32

An anonymous reader writes: Kim Zetter from WIRED writes an intriguing report about a vulnerability at the heart of our cell phone networks. It centers around Signaling System No. 7 (SS7), which refers to a data network -- and the protocols or rules that govern how information gets exchanged over it. Zetter writes, "It was designed in the 1970s to track and connect landline calls across different carrier networks, but is now commonly used to calculate cellular billing and send text messages, in addition to routing mobile and landline calls between carriers and regional switching centers. SS7 is part of the telecommunications backbone but is not the network your voice calls go through; it's a separate administrative network with a different function." According to WIRED, the problem is that SS7 is based on trust -- any request a telecom receives is considered legitimate. In addition to telecoms, government agencies, commercial companies and criminal groups can gain access to the network. Most attacks can be defended with readily available technologies, but more involved attacks take longer to defend against. T-Mobile and ATT have vulnerabilities with fixes that have yet to be implemented for example.
China

Obesity 'Explosion' In Young Rural Chinese A Result Of Socioeconomic Changes, Study Warns (bbc.com) 164

An anonymous reader quotes a report from BBC: Obesity has rapidly increased in young rural Chinese, a study has warned, because of socioeconomic changes. Researchers found 17% of boys and 9% of girls under the age of 19 were obese in 2014, up from 1% for each in 1985. The 29-year study, published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, involved nearly 28,000 students in Shandong province. The study said China's rapid socioeconomic and nutritional transition has led to an increase in energy intake and a decrease in physical activity. The data was taken from six government surveys of rural school children in Shandong aged between seven and 18. The percentage of overweight children has also grown from 0.7% to 16.4% for boys and from 1.5% to nearly 14% for girls, the study said. "It is the worst explosion of childhood and adolescent obesity that I have ever seen," Joep Perk from the European Society of Cardiology told AFP news agency.
The Internet

Dissension Grows Inside Anonymous Because Of Political Propaganda (softpedia.com) 132

An anonymous reader writes from a report on Softpedia: Political tensions relating to the U.S. presidential race are creating turmoil inside the Anonymous hacker collective, muddling waters even more in a group that's known for its lack of leadership and a common goal. The most recent Anonymous infighting relates to the actions of the group's most famous news portal known as AnonHQ, who's been showing downright public support for Bernie Sanders, while being extremely busy at bashing Trump, Cruz, and more recently issuing video threats against Clinton. Ever since Anonymous' official news source has started showing public support for Sanders, many of the group's divisions have publicly disavowed it and have even gone so far as launching constant waves of DDoS attacks at what once used to be the hacker's official news portal. Last month, when a former Anonymous member decided to dox himself, he said in interviews that the group had been infiltrated by government agents.
Crime

Child Porn Suspect Jailed Indefinitely For Refusing To Decrypt Hard Drives (arstechnica.com) 789

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A Philadelphia man suspected of possessing child pornography has been in jail for seven months and counting after being found in contempt of a court order demanding that he decrypt two password-protected hard drives. The suspect, a former Philadelphia Police Department sergeant, has not been charged with any child porn crimes. Instead, he remains indefinitely imprisoned in Philadelphia's Federal Detention Center for refusing to unlock two drives encrypted with Apple's FileVault software in a case that once again highlights the extent to which the authorities are going to crack encrypted devices. The man is to remain jailed "until such time that he fully complies" with the decryption order. The government successfully cited a 1789 law known as the All Writs Act to compel (PDF) the suspect to decrypt two hard drives it believes contain child pornography. The All Writs Act was the same law the Justice Department asserted in its legal battle with Apple.
HP

With Carly Fiorina As Running Mate, Cruz's H-1B Stance Now In Question (computerworld.com) 327

dcblogs quotes a report from Computerworld: In 2013, Sen. Ted Cruz emerged as one of the Senate's top H-1B visa supporters, and argued for a 500% visa cap increase. But during his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, Cruz had a conversion. Cruz's presidential platform proposed a $110,000 minimum wage for visa workers, among other restrictions, as a way of ending their use as low-cost labor. The move marked a complete turnabout on the H-1B issue. Cruz's decision Wednesday to add former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina as his running mate if he wins the nomination, may make his newly found H-1B beliefs a hard sell. At HP, Fiorina was a prominent supporter of the offshore outsourcing model, said Ron Hira, an associate professor of public policy at Howard University. "To pump up profits, she was an early adopter of the practice, which given HP's status as a leading Silicon Valley firm, pushed other firms to adopt offshoring," said Hira. As offshoring gained, Fiorina played a leading role in defending globalization. To make her point, in 2004, Fiorina said: "There is no job that is America's God-given right anymore," reported the San Francisco Chronicle.
Government

House Passes Email Privacy Act, Requiring Warrants For Obtaining Emails (techcrunch.com) 61

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: The U.S. House of Representatives has passed H.R. 699, the Email Privacy Act, sending it on to the Senate and from there, hopefully anyhow, to the President. The yeas were swift and unanimous. The bill, which was introduced in the House early last year and quickly found bipartisan support, updates the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act, closing a loophole that allowed emails and other communications to be obtained without a warrant. It's actually a good law, even if it is arriving a couple of decades late. "Under current law, there are more protections for a letter in a filing cabinet than an email on a server," said Congresswoman Suzan Delbene during the debate period. An earlier version of the bill also required that authorities disclose that warrant to the person it affected within 10 days, or 3 if the warrant related to a government entity. That clause was taken out in committee -- something trade groups and some of the Representatives objected to as an unpleasant compromise.
Government

Former Tor Developer Created Malware To Hack Tor Users For The FBI (dailydot.com) 72

Patrick O'Neill writes: Matt Edman is a cybersecurity expert who worked as a part-time employee at Tor Project, the nonprofit that builds Tor software and maintains the network, almost a decade ago. Since then, he's developed potent malware used by law enforcement to unmask Tor users. It's been wielded in multiple investigations by federal law-enforcement and U.S. intelligence agencies in several high-profile cases. The Tor Project has confirmed this report in a statement after being contacted by the Daily Dot, "It has come to out attention that Matt Edman, who worked with the Tor Project until 2009, subsequently was employed by a defense contractor working for the FBI to develop anti-Tor malware." Maybe Tor users will now be less likely to anonymously check Facebook each month...

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