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Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

Wikipedia

Wikipedia's "Complicated" Relationship With Net Neutrality 74

Posted by samzenpus
from the playing-favorites dept.
HughPickens.com writes Brian Fung writes in the Washington Post that Wikipedia has been a little hesitant to weigh in on net neutrality, the idea that all Web traffic should be treated equally by Internet service providers such as Comcast or Time Warner Cable. That's because the folks behind Wikipedia actually see a non-neutral Internet as one way to spread information cheaply to users in developing countries. With Wikipedia Zero, users in places like Pakistan and Malaysia can browse the site without it counting it counting against the data caps on their cellphones or tablets. This preferential treatment for Wikipedia's site helps those who can't afford to pay for pricey data — but it sets the precedent for deals that cut against the net neutrality principle. "We believe in net neutrality in America," says Gayle Karen Young adding that Wikipedia Zero requires a different perspective elsewhere. "Partnering with telecom companies in the near term, it blurs the net neutrality line in those areas. It fulfills our overall mission, though, which is providing free knowledge."

Facebook and Google also operate programs internationally that are exempted from users' data caps — a tactic known somewhat cryptically as "zero rating". Facebook in particular has made "Facebook Zero" not just a sales pitch in developing markets but also part of an Internet.org initiative to expand access "to the two thirds of the world's population that doesn't have it." But a surprising decision in Chile shows what happens when policies of neutrality are applied without nuance. Chile recently put an end to the practice, widespread in developing countries, of big companies "zero-rating" access to their services. "That might seem perverse," says Glyn Moody, "since it means that Chilean mobile users must now pay to access those services, but it is nonetheless exactly what governments that have mandated net neutrality need to do."
Piracy

BT Blocking Private Torrent Sites? 60

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-site-for-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes This weekend both BT and Sky implemented the new changes, making it harder for their subscribers to reach these sites. Interestingly, however, BT appears to have gone above and beyond the court order, limiting access to various other sites as well. Over the past several days TorrentFreak has received reports from several users of private torrent sites who get an 'error blocked' message instead of their favorite sites. These include the popular IPTorrents.com and TorrentDay.com trackers, as well as scene release site Scnsrc.me. IPTorrents and Torrentday are significant targets. Although both sites require prospective users to obtain an invite from a current member (or from the site itself in exchange for cash), they have over a hundred thousand active users. The error displayed when BT subscribers try to access the above URLs is similar to that returned when users to try access sites covered by High Court injunctions.
Bitcoin

Bitcoin Is Not Anonymous After All 107

Posted by samzenpus
from the pulling-back-the-curtain dept.
Taco Cowboy points out a new study that shows it is possible to figure out the IP address of someone who pays for transactions anonymously online using bitcoins. "The Bitcoin system is not managed by a central authority, but relies on a peer-to-peer network on the Internet. Anyone can join the network as a user or provide computing capacity to process the transactions. In the network, the user's identity is hidden behind a cryptographic pseudonym, which can be changed as often as is wanted. Transactions are signed with this pseudonym and broadcast to the public network to verify their authenticity and attribute the Bitcoins to the new owner. In their new study, researchers at the Laboratory of Algorithmics, Cryptology and Security of the University of Luxembourg have shown that Bitcoin does not protect user's IP address and that it can be linked to the user's transactions in real-time. To find this out, a hacker would need only a few computers and about €1500 per month for server and traffic costs. Moreover, the popular anonymization network "Tor" can do little to guarantee Bitcoin user's anonymity, since it can be blocked easily."
Cloud

Clarificiation on the IP Address Security in Dropbox Case 146

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
Bennett Haselton writes A judge rules that a county has to turn over the IP addresses that were used to access a county mayor's Dropbox account, stating that there is no valid security-related reason why the IP addresses should be exempt from a public records request. I think the judge's conclusion about IP addresses was right, but the reasoning was flawed; here is a technically more correct argument that would have led to the same answer. Keep Reading to see what Bennett has to say about the case.
United Kingdom

New Snowden Docs Show GCHQ Paid Telcos For Cable Taps 86

Posted by Soulskill
from the hands-in-the-cookie-jar dept.
Advocatus Diaboli sends word of a new release of documents made available by Edward Snowden. The documents show British intelligence agency GCHQ had a deep partnership with telecommunications company Cable & Wireless (acquired later by Vodafone). The company allowed GCHQ to tap submarine cables around the world, and was paid millions of British pounds as compensation. The relationship was so extensive that a GCHQ employee was assigned to work full time at Cable & Wireless (referred to by the code name “Gerontic” in NSA documents) to manage cable-tap projects in February of 2009. By July of 2009, Cable & Wireless provided access to 29 out of the 63 cables on the list, accounting for nearly 70 percent of the data capacity available to surveillance programs. ... As of July of 2009, relationships with three telecom companies provided access to 592 10-gigabit-per-second pipes on the cables collectively and 69 10-gbps “egress” pipes through which data could be pulled back. The July 2009 documents included a shopping list for additional cable access—GCHQ sought to more than triple its reach, upping access to 1,693 10-gigabit connections and increasing egress capacity to 390. The documents revealed a much shorter list of "cables we do not currently have good access [to]."
The Internet

About 40% of World Population Online, 90% of Offliners In Developing Countries 45

Posted by Soulskill
from the working-to-end-eternal-september dept.
New submitter lx76 writes: The International Telecommunications Union does research on telecommunications in society worldwide, from cellphones to internet use. Since 2009, on a yearly basis, they've released their research findings in a report called the Measuring Information Society Report. This year's report is over 200 pages long, illustrated with abundant graphs and tables (PDF). It's not a light read. But one of the interesting numbers is an index showing the divide in global connectivity. From the report: "Over the past year, the world witnessed continued growth in the uptake of ICT [Information and Communication Technology] and, by end 2014, almost 3 billion people will be using the Internet, up from 2.7 billion at end 2013..... Despite this encouraging progress, there are important digital divides that need to be addressed: 4.3 billion people are still not online, and 90 per cent of them live in the developing world."

The report continues, "As this report finds, ICT performance is better in countries with higher shares of the population living in urban areas, where access to ICT infrastructure, usage and skills is more favorable. Yet it is precisely in poor and rural areas where ICTs can make a particularly significant impact." Projects like Google's Project Loon have their work cut out for them."
United Kingdom

Cameron Accuses Internet Companies Of Giving Terrorists Safe Haven 178

Posted by timothy
from the not-quite-on-the-money dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this snippet from The Guardian: "Internet companies are allowing their networks to be used to plot "murder and mayhem", David Cameron has said in response to the official inquiry into the intelligence agencies' actions ahead of the killing of Lee Rigby. He demanded that internet companies live up to their social responsibilities to report potential terror threats and said there was no reason for such firms to be willing to cooperate with state agencies over child abuse but not over combatting terrorism. His comments to the House of Commons came after the parliamentary intelligence and security committee concluded that the brutal murder of Rigby could have been prevented if an internet company had passed on an online exchange in which one of the killers expressed "in the most graphic terms" his intention to carry out an Islamist jihadi attack.
Government

Bidding In Government Auction of Airwaves Reaches $34 Billion 82

Posted by samzenpus
from the more-money-more-spectrums dept.
An anonymous reader sends word that the 2014 wireless spectrum license auction has surpassed $34 billion. "A government auction of airwaves for use in mobile broadband has blown through presale estimates, becoming the biggest auction in the Federal Communications Commission's history and signaling that wireless companies expect demand for Internet access by smartphones to continue to soar. And it's not over yet. Companies bid more than $34 billion as of Friday afternoon for six blocks of airwaves, totaling 65 megahertz of the electromagnetic spectrum, being sold by the F.C.C. That total is more than three times the $10.5 billion reserve price that the commission put on the sale, the first offering of previously unavailable airwaves in six years."
United States

Blame America For Everything You Hate About "Internet Culture" 371

Posted by samzenpus
from the and-your-cheese-stinks-too dept.
An anonymous reader writes If you hate cat videos, personality quizzes, and endless list stories about a specific school or region, then you should blame the USA according to this story. From the article: "'In France, articles about cats do not work,' Buzzfeed's Scott Lamb told Le Figaro, a leading Parisian paper. Instead, he explained, Buzzfeed's first year in the country has shown it that 'the French love sharing news and politics on social networks – in short, pretty serious stuff.' This is interesting for two reasons: first, as conclusive proof that the French are irredeemable snobs; second, as a crack in the glossy, understudied facade of what we commonly call 'Internet culture.'....American audiences love animals and 'light content,' Lamb said, but readers in other countries have reacted differently. Germans were skeptical of the site's feel-good frivolity, he said, and some Australians were outright 'hostile.' Meanwhile, in France — land of la mode and le Michelin — critics immediately complained, right at Buzzfeed's French launch, that the articles were too fluffy and poorly translated. Instead, Buzzfeed quickly found that readers were more likely to share articles about news, politics and regional identity, particularly in relation to the loved/hated Paris, than they were to share the site's other fare."
Censorship

Great Firewall of China Blocks Edgecast CDN, Thousands of Websites Affected 128

Posted by Soulskill
from the breaking-the-internet-one-thousand-steps-at-a-time dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Starting about a week ago, The Great Firewall of China began blocking the Edgecast CDN. This was spurred by Great Fire's Collateral Freedom project, which used CDNs to get around censorship of individual domains. It left China with either letting go of censorship, or breaking significant chunks of the Internet for their population. China chose to do the latter, and now many websites are no longer functional for Chinese users. I just helped a friend diagnose this problem with his company's site, so it's likely many people are still just starting to discover what's happened and the economic impact is yet to be fully realized. Hopefully pressure on China will reverse the decision.
Communications

Google's Project Loon Can Now Launch Up To 20 Balloons Per Day, Fly 10x Longer 114

Posted by timothy
from the first-they-said-you-were-crazy dept.
An anonymous reader writes Google [Thursday] shared an update from Project Loon, the company's initiative to bring high-speed Internet access to remote areas of the world via hot air balloons. Google says it now has the ability to launch up to 20 of these balloons per day. This is in part possible because the company has improved its autofill equipment to a point where it can fill a balloon in under five minutes. This is a major achievement, given that Google says filling a Project Loon balloon with enough air so that it is ready for flight is the equivalent of inflating 7,000 party balloons.
Android

Indian Brick-and-Mortar Retailers Snub Android One Phones 53

Posted by timothy
from the but-fellas-our-plans-changed dept.
oyenamit writes Online shopping in India is still in its infancy but is growing tremendously to reach the mostly untapped market of 1.2 billion people. Invariably, the conflict between pure online retailers like Amazon and Flipkart and brick and mortar stores was bound to emerge. Unfortunately for Google's Android One, it has been on the receiving end of this friction. Leading brick and mortar retailers in India have refused to sell Android One handsets ever since the US company chose to launch its products exclusively online. The three Android One makers in India — Micromax, Karbonn and Spice — launched their handsets exclusively online in mid-September. When sales did not meet their expectations, they decided to release their products via the brick and mortar store channel. However, smaller retailer and mom-n-pop shops have decided to show their displeasure at having being left out of the launch by deciding not to stock Android One. The Android One phones, announced at the most recent Google I/O, are Google's attempt to bring stock Android (as on Google's Nexus devices) to emerging markets, with competent but not high-end phones.
Television

Aereo Files For Bankruptcy 137

Posted by Soulskill
from the prosecution-is-easier-than-innovation dept.
An anonymous reader writes: After losing its Supreme Court case in June and briefly attempting to transform itself into a cable company, Aereo is now filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy. Their service worked by letting people stream over-the-air television to their internet-connected devices. The content industry pushed back, and though Aereo argued its way through several lower courts, they say, "The U.S. Supreme Court decision effectively changed the laws that had governed Aereo's technology, creating regulatory and legal uncertainty. And while our team has focused its energies on exploring every path forward available to us, without that clarity, the challenges have proven too difficult to overcome."
The Internet

Leaked Documents Show EU Council Presidency Wants To Impair Net Neutrality 76

Posted by Soulskill
from the power-to-the-isps dept.
NotInHere writes: The advocacy group "European Digital Rights" (EDRi) reports on leaked documents proposed by the Presidency of the council of the EU (currently held by Italy), which plans to remove vital parts from the telecommunications package that introduced net neutrality. The changes include removing the definition of "net neutrality" and replacing it with a "reference to the objective of net neutrality," which EDRi says will impair any ability to enforce it.

Also, the proposed changes would allow ISPs to "block, slow down, alter, degrade or discriminate" traffic in order to meet "obligations under a contract with an end-user to deliver a service requiring a specific level of quality to that end-user." EDRi writes that "[w]ith all of the talk of the need for a single digital market in Europe, we would have new barriers and new monopolies."

The council of the EU is one of its two legislative chambers. The EU parliament can now object or propose further changes to prevent the modified telecommunications package from passing.
Privacy

Amnesty International Releases Tool To Combat Government Spyware 94

Posted by timothy
from the doing-the-right-thing dept.
New submitter Gordon_Shure_DOT_com writes Human rights charity Amnesty International has released Detekt, a tool that finds and removes known government spyware programs. Describing the free software as the first of its kind, Amnesty commissioned the tool from prominent German computer security researcher and open source advocate Claudio Guarnieri, aka 'nex'. While acknowledging that the only sure way to prevent government surveillance of huge dragnets of individuals is legislation, Marek Marczynski of Amnesty nevertheless called the tool (downloadable here) a useful countermeasure versus spooks. According to the app's instructions, it operates similarly to popular malware or virus removal suites, though systems must be disconnected from the Internet prior to it scanning.
Software

The Software Big Oil's PR Firm Uses To "Convert Average Citizens" 106

Posted by samzenpus
from the made-just-for-you dept.
merbs writes The CEO of the world's largest PR firm has a policy when it comes to campaigns that focus on the environment. "We do not work with astroturf groups and we have never created a website for a client with the intent to deny climate change," Richard Edelman wrote in a blog post in August. That may actually turn out to be true. Technically. Edelman may not work with astroturf groups. Instead, it appears to prefer to build them itself, from the ground up, using sophisticated proprietary software platform designed to "convert" advocates and then "track" their behavior.
Television

Nielsen Will Start Tracking Netflix and Amazon Video 55

Posted by samzenpus
from the tracking-the-numbers dept.
An anonymous reader writes Nielsen is going to start studying the streaming behavior of online viewers for the first time. Netflix has never released detailed viewership data, but Nielsen says they have developed a way for its rating meters to track shows by identifying their audio. From the article: "Soon Nielsen, the standard-bearer for TV ratings, may change that. The TV ratings company revealed to the Wall Street Journal that it's planning to begin tracking viewership of online video services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video in December by analyzing the audio of shows that are being streamed. The new ratings will come with a lot of caveats—they won't track mobile devices and won't take into account Netflix's large global reach—but they will provide a sense for the first time which Netflix shows are the most popular. And if the rest of the media world latches onto these new ratings as a standard, Netflix won't be able to ignore them."
The Internet

Head of FCC Proposes Increasing Internet School Fund 107

Posted by Soulskill
from the dollars-for-bits dept.
Rambo Tribble writes: The commissioners at the FCC are expected to vote, on December 11, on a proposal by Chairman Tom Wheeler to increase the funding for the nation's largest educational technology subsidy program, E-Rate, by 62 percent. The proposal is intended to be paid for by higher fees on phone service. The increased cost is pegged at $1.92 a year, per telephone line. Support for the proposal, or lack thereof, appears to be falling along partisan lines. To quote Wheeler, however, "Almost two-thirds of American schools cannot appropriately connect their students to the 21st century."
Cloud

Microsoft Azure Outage Across the Globe 167

Posted by Soulskill
from the maybe-you-should-call-it-office364 dept.
hawkinspeter writes: The BBC reports that overnight an outage of Microsoft's Azure cloud computing platform took down many third-party sites that rely on it, in addition to disrupting Microsoft's own products. Office 365 and Xbox Live services were affected.

This happened at a particularly inopportune time, as Microsoft has recently been pushing its Azure services in an effort to catch up with other providers such as Amazon, IBM, and Google. Just a couple of hours previously, Microsoft had screened an Azure advert in the UK during the Scotland v. England soccer match."
(Most services are back online. As of this writing, Application Insights is still struggling, and Europe is having problems with hosted VMs.)
Republicans

Republicans Block Latest Attempt At Curbing NSA Power 441

Posted by Soulskill
from the and-everybody-will-have-forgotten-about-it-in-two-years dept.
Robotron23 writes: The latest attempt at NSA reform has been prevented from passage in the Senate by a margin of 58 to 42. Introduced as a means to stop the NSA collecting bulk phone and e-mail records on a daily basis, the USA Freedom Act has been considered a practical route to curtailment of perceived overreach by security services, 18 months since Edward Snowden went public. Opponents to the bill said it was needless, as Wall Street Journal raised the possibility of terrorists such as ISIS running amok on U.S. soil. Supporting the bill meanwhile were the technology giants Google and Microsoft. Prior to this vote, the bill had already been stripped of privacy protections in aid of gaining White House support. A provision to extend the controversial USA Patriot Act to 2017 was also appended by the House of Representatives.

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