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DJI Will Create No-Fly Zones Around Olympic Venues in South Korea

Posted: 08 Feb 2018 09:49 AM PST

Days ago, South Korean authorities announced that they'd capture any drone that got too close to Olympics event facilities. If you have a DJI-made craft, you won't even be able to get close. The UAV maker is releasing a software patch that creates a no-fly zone around Olympic areas.

For the duration of the games, DJI drones won't be able to fly through areas in the South Korean cities of Pyeongchang, Gangneung, Bongpyeong and Jeongseon.

"Safety is DJI's top priority and we've always taken proactive steps to educate our customers to operate within the law and where appropriate, implement temporary no-fly zones during major events," the company said in a statement, according to TechCrunch. "We believe this feature will reduce the potential for drone operations that could inadvertently create safety or security concerns."

Source: Engadget

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Google's Bug Bounty Programs Paid Out Almost $3M in 2017

Posted: 08 Feb 2018 08:07 AM PST

Bug bounty programs are designed to sic security researchers on software and pay them to find vulnerabilities and report back to the sponsor. In return, the researchers are richly rewarded for their findings. In fact, Google's bug bounty paid out a hefty $2.9 million in bug bounties in 2017.

Rewards can range from $500 to $100,000 or more depending on the type of bug and the amount of time spent. There are a number of programs, including the Vulnerability Research Grants Program and Patch Rewards Program. The former paid out a total of $125,000 to 50 researchers around the world in 2017, while the latter paid a total of $50,000 to improve security in open-source software.

The largest award of the year was $112,500, a nice chunk of change, for tracking down a Pixel phone exploit as part of the Android Security Rewards Program. This is serious money, and bug bounty hunters serve a key role in the software security ecosystem, helping to ferret out some of the worst vulnerabilities before hackers can exploit them.

Source: TechCrunch

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Waymo v. Uber, Day 3

Posted: 08 Feb 2018 06:26 AM PST

Uber is just too underhanded to play the underdog against Waymo

The most remarkable thing about Waymo v. Uber is that so many of the people following the lawsuit are essentially rooting for Google to crush a smaller firm with a lawsuit. It's a tale as old as time: a maverick upstart galls a bigger, more established competitor, and the bigger guy strikes back in the courts. It's practically an American fairy tale, and yet Uber's lawyers are hard-pressed to get this archetypal narrative to stick. Nobody sees Uber as the underdog.

For one thing, through a collision of multiple scandals, Uber has become extraordinarily unpopular, and the discovery process in this lawsuit hasn't done much to alleviate its reputation as an unethical, underhanded company. But the other part is that the supposed maverick upstart hasn't managed to get one over the complacent megacorporation.

Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick says that Google is (and was) in the lead when it comes to self-driving cars.

Charles Verhoeven, lead attorney for Waymo, ended his questioning of Kalanick by asking him about a note that said, "Cheat codes. Find them. Use them."

When Waymo attorney Charles Verhoeven took over again to interrogate him, he returned to cheat codes. "In the context of video games, you know what a cheat code is?"

"Yes," Kalanick replied. "But those codes in those games are put there on purpose by the publisher of the games and they want the players to have them. It's part of the fun of the game."

"That's just the game," he added, before Verhoeven could continue.

Verhoeven tried again, "A cheat code allows you to skip ahead, allows you to skip a level and not do the work."

"No — " Kalanick began to say, before Verhoeven quickly turned to the judge and said, "That's it, your honor." And with that, Travis Kalanick exited the courtroom.

Verhoeven was also able to play the "Greed is Good" scene from the 1987 film Wall Street for the jury because Anthony Levandowski (the engineer accused of stealing trade secrets from Waymo) had sent a link to it to Kalanick.

Previously: Text Messages Between Uber's Travis Kalanick and Anthony Levandowski Released
Waymo's Case Against Uber "Shrinks" After Trade Secret Claim Thrown Out
Uber v. Waymo Trial Delayed Because Uber Withheld Evidence
A Spectator Who Threw A Wrench In The Waymo/Uber Lawsuit
Waymo v. Uber Jury Trial Begins

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EFF Founder and Grateful Dead Songwriter -- John Perry Barlow 1947-2018

Posted: 08 Feb 2018 04:53 AM PST


With a broken heart I have to announce that EFF's founder, visionary, and our ongoing inspiration, John Perry Barlow, passed away quietly in his sleep this morning. We will miss Barlow and his wisdom for decades to come, and he will always be an integral part of EFF.

It is no exaggeration to say that major parts of the Internet we all know and love today exist and thrive because of Barlow's vision and leadership. He always saw the Internet as a fundamental place of freedom, where voices long silenced can find an audience and people can connect with others regardless of physical distance.

Barlow was sometimes held up as a straw man for a kind of naive techno-utopianism that believed that the Internet could solve all of humanity's problems without causing any more. As someone who spent the past 27 years working with him at EFF, I can say that nothing could be further from the truth. Barlow knew that new technology could create and empower evil as much as it could create and empower good. He made a conscious decision to focus on the latter: "I knew it's also true that a good way to invent the future is to predict it. So I predicted Utopia, hoping to give Liberty a running start before the laws of Moore and Metcalfe delivered up what Ed Snowden now correctly calls 'turn-key totalitarianism.'"

Barlow's lasting legacy is that he devoted his life to making the Internet into "a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth . . . a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity."

In the days and weeks to come, we will be talking and writing more about what an extraordinary role Barlow played for the Internet and the world. And as always, we will continue the work to fulfill his dream.

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Fake News Sharing in US is a Right-Wing Thing, Says Oxford University Study

Posted: 08 Feb 2018 03:20 AM PST

Fake News Sharing in US is a Right-Wing Thing, Says Study

A study by researchers at Oxford University concluded that sharing fake and junk news is much more prevalent amongst Trump supporters and other people with hard right-wing tendencies.

From the Guardian:

The study, from the university's "computational propaganda project", looked at the most significant sources of "junk news" shared in the three months leading up to Donald Trump's first State of the Union address this January, and tried to find out who was sharing them and why.

"On Twitter, a network of Trump supporters consumes the largest volume of junk news, and junk news is the largest proportion of news links they share," the researchers concluded. On Facebook, the skew was even greater. There, "extreme hard right pages – distinct from Republican pages – share more junk news than all the other audiences put together.

Polarization, Partisanship and Junk News Consumption over Social Media in the US

What kinds of social media users read junk news? We examine the distribution of the most significant sources of junk news in the three months before President Donald Trump's first State of the Union Address. Drawing on a list of sources that consistently publish political news and information that is extremist, sensationalist, conspiratorial, masked commentary, fake news and other forms of junk news, we find that the distribution of such content is unevenly spread across the ideological spectrum. We demonstrate that (1) on Twitter, a network of Trump supporters shares the widest range of known junk news sources and circulates more junk news than all the other groups put together; (2) on Facebook, extreme hard right pages—distinct from Republican pages—share the widest range of known junk news sources and circulate more junk news than all the other audiences put together; (3) on average, the audiences for junk news on Twitter share a wider range of known junk news sources than audiences on Facebook's public pages.


[Ed. note: page is loading very slowly; try a direct link to the actual report (pdf). --martyb]

Original Submission #1Original Submission #2

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FCC Report Claims the Broken Broadband Market Has Been Magically Fixed by Killing Net Neutrality

Posted: 08 Feb 2018 01:47 AM PST

The FCC has released a new report falsely claiming that the agency's attack on net neutrality is already paying huge dividends when it comes to sector investment and competition.

Unfortunately for the FCC, the data the agency is relying on to "prove" this claim comes from before current FCC boss Ajit Pai even took office and doesn't remotely support that conclusion.

Under the Telecommunications Act, the FCC is required to issue annual reports on the state of broadband competition and deployment in the U.S. market. Should the FCC find that broadband isn't being deployed in a "reasonable and timely fashion," it's required to craft policies that address the problem.

Unfortunately, when the FCC is under the control of revolving door regulators loyal to industry, they have a tendency to massage the data to help suggest things are rosier than they actually are. After all, it's easier to justify apathy to a lack of sector competition if the FCC is able to massage data to suggest the problem doesn't exist.

Story at Motherboard

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Grammarly's Flawed Chrome Extension Exposed Users' Private Documents

Posted: 08 Feb 2018 12:14 AM PST

Grammarly has fixed a security bug in its Chrome extension that inadvertently allowed access to a user's account -- including their private documents and data.

Tavis Ormandy, a security researcher at Google's Project Zero who found the "high severity" vulnerability, said the browser extension exposed authentication tokens to all websites.

That means any website can access a user's documents, history, logs, and other data, the bug report said.

"I'm calling this a high severity bug, because it seems like a pretty severe violation of user expectations," said Ormandy, because "users would not expect that visiting a website gives it permission to access documents or data they've typed into other websites."

In proof-of-concept code, he explained how to trigger the bug in four lines of code.

More than 22 million users have installed the grammar-checking extension.

[...] In a statement, a spokesperson for Grammarly confirmed the bug is fixed.

"At this time, Grammarly has no evidence that any user information was compromised by this issue. We're continuing to monitor actively for any unusual activity," the spokesperson said.

Story at ZDNet

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Ozone Layer May be Thinning Near the Equator

Posted: 07 Feb 2018 10:41 PM PST

The ozone layer may be recovering above Antarctica, but not over the equator:

Thirty years after nations banded together to phase out chemicals that destroy stratospheric ozone, the gaping hole in the earth's ultraviolet (UV) radiation shield above Antarctica is shrinking. But new findings suggest that at mid-latitudes, where most people live, the ozone layer in the lower stratosphere is growing more tenuous--for reasons that scientists are struggling to fathom.

"I don't want people to panic or get overly worried," says William Ball, an atmospheric physicist at the Physikalisch-Meteorologisches Observatorium Davos World Radiation Centre in Switzerland. "But there is something happening in the lower stratosphere that's important to understand."

Several recent studies, including one published last month in Geophysical Research Letters, point to a robust recovery of stratospheric ozone concentrations over Antarctica--the long-awaited payoff after the Montreal Protocol in 1987 mandated a global phase-out of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other ozone-eating compounds.

But recent evidence indicates that the global campaign to mend the ozone layer is far from over. In an analysis published today in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, Ball and colleagues combined satellite data to examine ozone at mid-latitudes, from Earth's surface on up through the troposphere and the stratosphere. They found that from 1998 to 2016, ozone in the lower stratosphere ebbed by 2.2 Dobson units--a measure of ozone thickness--even as concentrations in the upper stratosphere rose by about 0.8 Dobson units. "We saw it at almost every latitude and every altitude below about 25 kilometers," Ball says. "That made us very concerned that perhaps this was something very real that no one looked at before."

Also at the Imperial College London and Newsweek.

Evidence for a continuous decline in lower stratospheric ozone offsetting ozone layer recovery (open, DOI: 10.5194/acp-18-1379-2018) (DX)

Decline in Antarctic Ozone Depletion and Lower Stratospheric Chlorine Determined From Aura Microwave Limb Sounder Observations (DOI: 10.1002/2017GL074830) (DX)

Previously: Ozone Layer Hole at its Smallest Size Since 1988

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Attorney General Sessions Installs "Religious Freedom" Czars in Every US Attorney's Office

Posted: 07 Feb 2018 09:08 PM PST

Submitted via IRC for AndyTheAbsurd

Washington, DC—American Atheists expressed outrage today at the drastic changes implemented by the Trump administration that will further elevate religious beliefs above the law.

Without any substantive public announcement, the administration made changes to the policy manuals for U.S. Attorneys’ offices and Department of Justice (DOJ) litigation offices. These offices are now required to assign a staff member to monitor all litigation and immediately inform high-ranking political appointees at DOJ whenever the offices are subject to a lawsuit involving religious liberty, when religious liberty is used as a defense in litigation, or when the offices file a suit involving religious issues.

These changes also require U.S. Attorneys and litigation offices to seek the approval of the Associate Attorney General—who is a political appointee—before proceeding with any civil suit that may involve religious liberty issues. By doing so, the Trump administration is favoring religious beliefs above all other matters, and is eroding the independence of these offices by allowing a political appointee to overrule the judgment of career DOJ attorneys.

"This is a breathtaking expansion of religious privilege in the DOJ," said American Atheists' legal and policy director Alison Gill. "These policy changes significantly undermine the rule of law and favor religious beliefs at the expense of nondiscrimination and equal protection."

"Requiring the approval of religious political appointees before enforcing the law is something I would expect to see in a theocracy like Iran or Saudi Arabia, but I'm rapidly losing any sense of shock and surprise at the lengths this administration will go to impose the beliefs of religious extremists on all Americans," added David Silverman, president of American Atheists.

This latest attack on religious neutrality comes two weeks after the Trump administration created the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division within the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services. This new division is charged with shielding medical professionals who, because of their own religious objections, refuse to treat patients.

Source: https://www.atheists.org/2018/02/doj-religion-czars/

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FOSDEM 2018 Videos Online

Posted: 07 Feb 2018 07:35 PM PST

The developer conference, FOSDEM 2018, took place in Brussels last weekend on February 3rd and 4th. The videos from FOSDEM presentations are now online. FOSDEM is a two-day event organised by volunteers to promote the widespread use of free and open source software. It has taken place every year starting in 2000 and brings in thousands of free and open source software developers from around Europe and the rest of the world.

Original Submission

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Pornhub and Reddit Purge AI-Generated "Involuntary Pornography" (Updated)

Posted: 07 Feb 2018 06:07 PM PST

The AI porn purge continues:

Pornhub will be deleting "deepfakes" — AI-generated videos that realistically edit new faces onto pornographic actors — under its rules against nonconsensual porn, following in the footsteps of platforms like Discord and Gfycat. "We do not tolerate any nonconsensual content on the site and we remove all said content as soon as we are made aware of it," the company told Motherboard, which first reported on the deepfakes porn phenomenon last year. Pornhub says that nonconsensual content includes "revenge porn, deepfakes, or anything published without a person's consent or permission."

Update: The infamous subreddit itself, /r/deepfakes, has been banned by Reddit. /r/CelebFakes and /r/CelebrityFakes have also been banned for their non-AI porn fakery (they had existed for over 7 years). Other subreddits like /r/fakeapp (technical support for the software) and /r/SFWdeepfakes remain intact. Reported at Motherboard, The Verge, and TechCrunch.

Motherboard also reported on some users (primarily on a new subreddit, /r/deepfakeservice) offering to accept commissions to create deepfakes porn. This is seen as more likely to result in a lawsuit:

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Meta: Unplanned DB Maintainence

Posted: 07 Feb 2018 05:13 PM PST

As you're probably aware we experienced some unplanned downtime today. It has been claimed it was entirely the fault of Russian Hackers. They invaded fluorine and caused the database updating code in rehash to not update the database this last site update. Which is just as well, I suppose, since two of the SQL statements refuse to complete even when run manually. That I'm going to have to chalk up to a misconfigured ndbd on helium and neon.

tl;dr The long and short of it is, we'll be fine until we can get those updates into the database, but it is going to mean more downtime this weekend.


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Google Won't Take Down Pirate VLC With 5M Downloads (Update: They Have Taken it Down)

Posted: 07 Feb 2018 04:37 PM PST

From TorrentFreak:

VideoLAN, the team behind the VLC media player, recently revealed that they turned down several tens of millions of euros to bundle their software with advertising. The same cannot be said of third-party developers cloning VLC for profit, however. An ad-supported clone discovered on Google Play has a staggering five to ten million downloads and breaches VLC's GPL license, yet Google refuses to take it down.

[...] Aside from its incredible functionality, VLC (operated by the VideoLAN non-profit) has won the hearts of Internet users for other key reasons, not least its commitment to being free and open source software. While it's true to say that VLC doesn't cost a penny, the term 'free' actually relates to the General Public License (GPL) under which it's distributed.

[...] Since VLC is extremely popular and just about as 'free' as software can get, people get extremely defensive when they perceive that a third-party is benefiting from the software without adhering to the terms of the generous GPL license. That was the case beginning a few hours ago when veteran Reddit user MartinVanBallin pointed out a piece of software on the Google Play Store.

"They took VLC, put in ads, didn't attribute VLC or follow the open source license, and they're using Media Player Classics icon," MartinVanBallin wrote.

Update: The app is no longer on Google Play.

Original Submission

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Leaked NSA Tools Can Target All Windows Versions from the Past Two Decades

Posted: 07 Feb 2018 03:05 PM PST

Every few years, bugs known to affect all known version of Microsoft Windows turn up calling into question many claims from the lobbying giant regarding their software branch. The Inquirer is one of many sites reporting on recently leaked NSA tools which can target all versions of Windows from the past two decades. Althougth the emphasis in the article titles is on NSA, the exploits only make use of widely known holes in Microsoft systems which Microsoft often tells NSA about long before issuing an attempt at a patch. Their collaboration goes back for years, and even long before it was the first to join the NSA in kicking off the Prism program.

Researcher Sean Dillon from cybersecurity firm RiskSense tweaked the source code of three nicked NSA exploits - EternalSynergy, EternalChampion and EternalRomance - to work against Windows versions dating back as far as Windows 2000.

Windows machines taken over through these exploits are part of a large black market industry where compromised machines are bought, sold, traded, and fought over for the purposes of producing spam, launching distributed denial of service attacks, spreading further malware, ad click spoofing, manipulating polls and games, and many more illegal activities.

Source : https://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/3026129/leaked-nsa-hacking-tools-can-target-all-windows-versions-from-the-past-two-decades

Original Submission

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Sea Hunter, the Navy's (Almost) New Drone Ship

Posted: 07 Feb 2018 01:28 PM PST

Let's use Darpa's fact sheet as our main source - https://www.darpa.mil/program/anti-submarine-warfare-continuous-trail-unmanned-vessel

The Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) is developing an unmanned vessel optimized to robustly track quiet diesel electric submarines. The program is structured around three primary goals:

        Explore the performance potential of a surface platform conceived from concept to field demonstration under the premise that a human is never intended to step aboard at any point in its operating cycle. As a result, a new design paradigm emerges with reduced constraints on conventional naval architecture elements such as layout, accessibility, crew support systems, and reserve buoyancy. The objective is to generate a vessel design that exceeds state-of-the art platform performance to provide propulsive overmatch against diesel electric submarines at a fraction of their size and cost.
        Advance unmanned maritime system autonomy to enable independently deploying systems capable of missions spanning thousands of kilometers of range and months of endurance under a sparse remote supervisory control model. This includes autonomous compliance with maritime laws and conventions for safe navigation, autonomous system management for operational reliability, and autonomous interactions with an intelligent adversary.
        Demonstrate the capability of the ACTUV system to use its unique characteristics to employ non-conventional sensor technologies that achieve robust continuous track of the quietest submarine targets over their entire operating envelope.

While the ACTUV program is focused on demonstrating the ASW tracking capability in this configuration, the core platform and autonomy technologies are broadly extendable to underpin a wide range of missions and configurations for future unmanned naval vessels.

Several photos here, including a single shot of an interior passageway - http://www.businessinsider.com/sea-hunter-us-navy-actuv-darpa-2018-2/#it-can-also-operate-by-itself-over-a-long-distance-without-refueling-this-vessel-can-go-from-california-to-hawaii-and-back-dejaco-said-12

Arguably, the best write up here - https://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/darpa-officially-christens-the-actuv-in-portland/

Official DARPA video on Youtube - https://youtu.be/gvzmxZkAbUM

At the time of submission, wikipedia hasn't been updated to reflect the transfer of the ship from DARPA to the Navy - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_Hunter

Original Submission

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SpaceX Confirms it Lost the Center Core of the Falcon Heavy

Posted: 07 Feb 2018 11:55 AM PST

SpaceX pulled off quite the feat today when it launched the Falcon Heavy rocket. What's more, it landed the two flanking boosters in perfect synchronized formation. But the fate of the core booster was unclear; now it appears that the center booster, which was supposed to land on a drone ship, was lost.

Elon Musk said on a conference call with reporters that the launch "seems to have gone as well as one could have hoped with the exception of center core. The center core obviously didn't land on the drone ship" and he said that "we're looking at the issue."

Source: Engadget

Elon has stated during the post launch Press Conference (aired live by ABC https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cygUnhAGdWc ) that the center core ran out of TEA-TEB ignition fluids. These are used to restart the Merlin 1D engines in flight. The central engine relit, but the outer two failed to reignite. The resultant loss of thrust cause the center core to hit the water at 300mph/500kph and explode. Elon reports two drone ship thrusters on OCISLY were damaged or destroyed.

Source: Reddit.

TEA-TEB is a reference to triethylaluminium-triethylborane.

takyon: Instead of becoming an Earth-Mars cycler, it appears that the car has overshot its intended orbit and will reach far into the asteroid belt:

Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster, which launched on top of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy earlier today, is going farther out into the Solar System than originally planned. The car was supposed to be put on a path around the Sun that would take the vehicle out to the distance of Mars' orbit. But the rocket carrying the car seems to have overshot that trajectory and has put the Tesla in an orbit that extends out into the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. [...] SpaceX CEO Musk tweeted out a map of the Roadster's final orbit after the burn, showing just how far out the car will travel. And it looks like it's going so far into the asteroid belt that it will get relatively close to the orbit of the dwarf planet Ceres.

Previously: Falcon Heavy Maiden Launch Successful (Mostly)

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Former Intel President Launches New Chip Company With Backing From Carlyle Group

Posted: 07 Feb 2018 10:13 AM PST

Submitted via IRC for TheMightyBuzzard

Ampere, a new chip company run by former Intel president Renee James, came out of stealth today with a brand-new highly efficient Arm-based server chip targeted at hyperscale data centers.

The company's first chip is a custom core Armv8-A 64-bit server operating at up to 3.3 GHz with 1TB of memory at a power envelope of 125 watts. Although James was not ready to share pricing, she promised that the chip would offer unsurpassed price/performance that would exceed any high performance computing chip out there.

The company has a couple of other products in the works as well, which it will unveil in the future.

Source: TechCrunch

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