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Another One Bites the Dust: Cisco Discontinues Its $1B Cloud Initiative as AWS, Azure and Others Expand
Posted by News Fetcher on December 15 '16 at 07:23 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's curious-case-of-cloud-services department:
Cisco will abandon its InterCloud cloud-computing offering on March 31 and will move any InterCloud workloads to other, unnamed cloud providers, including "in some cases, public cloud." From a report on GeekWire: Cisco's pull-back from the cloud scene marks the latest example of smaller participants -- many of them hardware-makers -- bailing in the face of huge growth by Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, and to some extent by Google Cloud, IBM and other, smaller public-cloud services. Hewlett-Packard in 2015 abandoned its efforts to be a public-cloud company. Then, Hewlett-Packard Enterprises essentially shut down its much-ballyhooed Helion cloud offering earlier this year. VMware still offers its vCloud Air hybrid-cloud service, though it has agreed to partner with AWS, which it once viewed as its arch-rival for cloud workloads. "We do not expect any material customer issues as a result of this transition," Cisco said in response to a request for comment. "For the last several months, we have been evolving our cloud strategy and our service provider partners are aware of this."

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Iceland Seeking 'Supercritical Steam' For Power Source
Posted by News Fetcher on December 15 '16 at 06:01 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's whole-new-ball-game department:
New submitter FatdogHaiku writes: Already getting over 25% of its electrical power from geothermal sources, Iceland hopes to break new ground using "supercritical steam" from a 5 km deep borehole. Is it just me, or does this sound like the start of a movie where everything that can go wrong does in fact go wrong? It's not like they are new to the tech, but working with geologic sources at 450C to ~600C is a new ball game for anyone. It should be noted that Iceland also uses direct geothermal for most of its space heating. "In this area at Reykjanes, we typically drill to 2km or 3km depth to harness the steam, to run power plants and produce clean, renewable electricity," explained Asgeir Margeirsson, CEO of the Iceland Deep Drilling Project (IDDP). "We want to see if the resources go deeper than that." The "supercritical steam" holds more energy than a liquid or a gas. The team wants to bring it up to the surface to convert into electricity, as they believe it could produce up to 10 times as much energy as the steam from conventional geothermal wells.

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Lack of Penis Bone In Humans Linked To Monogamous Relationships and Quick Sex, Study Says
Posted by News Fetcher on December 15 '16 at 03:12 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's birds-and-the-bees department:
The penis bone can be as long as a finger in a monkey and two feet long in a walrus, but the human male has lost it completely. According to a new report published in Proceedings of the Royal Society, the lack of a penis bone in human males may be a consequence of monogamy and quick sex. The Guardian reports: Known as the baculum to scientists with an interest, the penis bone is a marvel of evolution. It pops up in mammals and primates around the world, but varies so much in terms of length and whether it is present at all, that it is described as the most diverse bone ever to exist. Prompted by the extraordinary differences in penis bone length found in the animal kingdom, scientists set out to reconstruct the evolutionary story of the baculum, by tracing its appearance in mammals and primates throughout history. They found that the penis bone evolved in mammals more than 95 million years ago and was present in the first primates that emerged about 50 million years ago. From that moment on, the baculum became larger in some animals and smaller in others. Kit Opie who ran the study with Matilda Brindle at University College London, said that penis bone length was longer in males that engaged in what he called "prolonged intromission." In plain English, that means that the act of penetration lasts for more than three minutes, a strategy that helps the male impregnate the female while keeping her away from competing males. The penis bone, which attaches at the tip of the penis rather than the base, provides structural support for male animals that engage in prolonged intromission. Humans may have lost their penis bones when monogamy emerged as the dominant reproductive strategy during the time of Homo erectus about 1.9 million years ago, the scientists believe. In monogamous relationships, the male does not need to spend a long time penetrating the female, because she is not likely to be leapt upon by other amorous males. That, at least, is the theory.

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The Pirate Bay, BitTorrent Websites To Be Blocked In Australia, Federal Court Rules
Posted by News Fetcher on December 15 '16 at 12:23 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's copyright-infringing department:
New submitter AnonymousCube writes: The Federal Court has made a ruling that will result in internet access for Australians being censored. Five websites are to be blocked after being deemed to be copyright infringing, most notable of which is The Pirate Bay. Internet service providers are given the choice of how they will implement blocking, but the result will be that when a user visits a blocked site they will be redirected to a warning page telling them the site cannot be accessed. Other sites being blocked are the BitTorrent websites Torrentz, TorrentHound, and IsoHunt, and the streaming service SolarMovie.

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Twitter Cut Out of Trump Tech Meeting Over Failed Emoji Deal, Says Report
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '16 at 08:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's deal-or-no-deal department:
According to Politico, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was "bounced" from Wednesday's meeting between tech executives and President-elect Donald Trump in retribution for refusing during the campaign to allow an emoji version of the hashtag #CrookedHillary. Trump's adviser Sean Spicer denied the report, saying "the conference table was only so big." Politico reports: Twitter was one of the few major U.S. tech companies not represented at Wednesday afternoon's Trump Tower meeting attended by, among others, Apple's Tim Cook, Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg, and Tesla's Elon Musk -- an omission all the more striking because of Trump's heavy dependence on the Twitter platform. Trump's campaign also made a $5 million deal with Twitter before the election, in which the campaign committed "to spending a certain amount on advertising and in exchange receive discounts, perks, and custom solutions," the campaign's director of digital advertising and fund raising, Gary Coby, wrote in a Medium post last month. So the campaign objected when the company refused to allow the anti-Clinton emoji. Coby wrote that Dorsey personally intervened to block the Trump operation from deploying the emoji, which would have shown, in various renderings, small bags of money being given away or stolen. That emoji would have been offered to users as a replacement for the hashtag #CrookedHillary, a preferred Trump insult for his Democratic opponent. Spicer also objected to the company's refusal, telling the Washington Examiner in October that "while Twitter claims to be a venue that promotes the free exchange of ideas, it's clear that it's leadership's left wing ideology literally trumps that." POLITICO's source said Spicer, who's also the Republican National Committee spokesman, was the one who made the call to refuse an invitation to Dorsey or other Twitter executives to Wednesday's meeting.

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Newly Uncovered Site Suggests NSA Exploits For Direct Sale
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '16 at 05:36 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's buy-one-get-one department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: The Shadow Brokers -- a hacker or group of hackers that stole computer exploits from the National Security Agency -- has been quiet for some time. After their auction and crowd-funded approach for selling the exploits met a lukewarm reception, the group seemingly stopped posting new messages in October. But a newly uncovered website, which includes a file apparently signed with The Shadow Brokers' cryptographic key, suggests the group is trying to sell hacking tools directly to buyers one by one, and a cache of files appears to include more information on specific exploits. On Wednesday, someone calling themselves Boceffus Cleetus published a Medium post called "Are the Shadow Brokers selling NSA tools on ZeroNet?" Cleetus, who has an American flag with swastikas as their profile picture, also tweeted the post from a Twitter account created this month. The site includes a long list of supposed items for sale, with names like ENVOYTOMATO, EGGBASKET, and YELLOWSPIRIT. Each is sorted into a type, such as "implant," "trojan," and "exploit," and comes with a price tag between 1 and 100 bitcoins ($780 -- $78,000). Customers can purchase the whole lot for 1000 bitcoins ($780,000). The site also lets visitors download a selection of screenshots and files related to each item. Along with those is a file signed with a PGP key with an identical fingerprint to that linked to the original Shadow Brokers dump of exploits from August. This newly uncovered file was apparently signed on 1 September; a different date to any of The Shadow Brokers' previously signed messages.

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Malvertising Campaign Infects Your Router Instead of Your Browser
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '16 at 05:36 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's connected-devices department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from BleepingComputer: Malicious ads are serving exploit code to infect routers, instead of browsers, in order to insert ads in every site users are visiting. Unlike previous malvertising campaigns that targeted users of old Flash or Internet Explorer versions, this campaign focused on Chrome users, on both desktop and mobile devices. The malicious ads included in this malvertising campaign contain exploit code for 166 router models, which allow attackers to take over the device and insert ads on websites that didn't feature ads, or replace original ads with the attackers' own. Researchers haven't yet managed to determine an exact list of affected router models, but some of the brands targeted by the attackers include Linksys, Netgear, D-Link, Comtrend, Pirelli, and Zyxel. Because the attack is carried out via the user's browser, using strong router passwords or disabling the administration interface is not enough. The only way users can stay safe is if they update their router's firmware to the most recent versions, which most likely includes protection against the vulnerabilities used by this campaign. The "campaign" is called DNSChanger EK and works when attackers buy ads on legitimate websites and insert malicious JavaScript in these ads, "which use a WebRTC request to a Mozilla STUN server to determine the user's local IP address," according to BleepingComputer. "Based on this local IP address, the malicious code can determine if the user is on a local network managed by a small home router, and continue the attack. If this check fails, the attackers just show a random legitimate ad and move on. For the victims the crooks deem valuable, the attack chain continues. These users receive a tainted ad which redirects them to the DNSChanger EK home, where the actual exploitation begins. The next step is for the attackers to send an image file to the user's browser, which contains an AES (encryption algorithm) key embedded inside the photo using the technique of steganography. The malicious ad uses this AES key to decrypt further traffic it receives from the DNSChanger exploit kit. Crooks encrypt their operations to avoid the prying eyes of security researchers."

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Most Businesses Pay Ransomware Demands, IBM Finds
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '16 at 04:12 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's give-into-demands department:
According to an IBM Security report released on December 14, 70 percent of businesses impacted by ransomware end up paying the attackers. The amount varies but a majority of business respondents said they paid tens of thousands of dollars. eWeek reports: The 23-page IBM Security study surveyed 600 business leaders and 1,021 consumers in the U.S. 46 percent of business respondents reported that they had experienced ransomware in their organizations. Of the 46 percent that have been impacted by ransomware, 70 percent admitted that their organization paid the ransom. The amount paid to ransomware attackers varies, but of those business respondents that paid a ransom, 20 percent paid over $40,000, 25 percent paid between $20,000 and $40,000 and 11 percent paid between $10,00 to $20,000. On the consumer side, IBM's study found that the propensity to pay a ransom varies depending on whether or not the victim is a parent. 55 percent of consumers that identified themselves as being parents said they would pay a ransom to recover access to photos that had been encrypted, versus only 39 percent for consumers that don't have children. In an effort to help organizations respond quickly to ransomware threats, IBM's Resilient Incident Response Platform (IRP) is being enhanced with a new Dynamic Playbook for ransomware. Ted Julian, Vice President of Product Management and Co-Founder at Resilient, an IBM Company, explained that the basic idea behind the Dynamic Playbooks is to help provide organizations with an automated workflow or 'playbook' for how to deal with a particular security incident.

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Microsoft Xbox One and Windows 10 Getting Dolby Atmos Surround Sound
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '16 at 04:12 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's three-dimensional-space department:
BrianFagioli quotes a report from BetaNews: When people think of the technology behind video games and movies, they often just focus on the visuals. True, when creating an immersive experience, the video is probably the most important aspect from a technological perspective. With that said, audio quality is very important too. Today, Microsoft announces that both Xbox One And Windows 10 will be getting Dolby Atmos support in future updates. If you aren't familiar, it is a surround sound technology with a focus on immersion. Don't have compatible audio hardware? Don't worry -- the Windows-maker is promising a "virtual" Atmos experience too. Larry Hryb, Xbox Live's Major Nelson said in a statement, "Xbox will be the first game console to feature Dolby Atmos and game developers are excited about using the new capabilities to make their games richer and more engaging. Atmos support for the Blu-ray app on Xbox is already available in Preview and will be released to GA soon -- and we're very excited now to offer Atmos support to games on Xbox One and Windows 10."

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Yahoo Says Hackers Stole Information From Over 1 Billion Accounts
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '16 at 02:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's ones-and-zeros department:
An anonymous reader quotes a breaking report from ABC News: Yahoo says it believes hackers stole data from more than one billion user accounts in August 2013. The Sunnyvale, California, company says it's a different breach from the one it disclosed in September, when it said 500 million accounts were exposed. That new hack revelation raises questions about whether Verizon will try to change the terms of its $4.8 billion proposed acquisition of Yahoo. Yahoo says the information stolen may include names, email addresses, phone numbers, birthdates and security questions and answers. The company says it believes bank-account information and payment-card data were not affected.

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India Just Flew Past Us In the Race To E-Cash
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '16 at 02:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's 21st-century department:
New submitter mirandakatz writes: Since India's prime minister banned 86 percent of the rupee notes in circulation last month, citizens have been waiting in hours-long lines for ATMs. But these circumstances have also created an unexpected progression: a burgeoning cashless economy. At Backchannel, Lauren Razavi explores how India is now beating many Western countries in adopting mobile payments, and how demonetization has triggered a radical shift toward reimagining India's enormous informal economy as a data-driven digital marketplace. From the report: "Before last month, Paytm, a mobile app that allows users to pay for everything from pizza to utility bills, saw steady business -- it was processing between 2.5 and 3 million transactions a day. Now, usage of the app has close to doubled. 6 million transactions a day is common; 5 million is considered a bad day. Rather than being forced to idle away time in excruciatingly long lines, 'people are proactively exploring other ways to settle payments besides cash,' says Deepak Abbot, senior vice president at Paytm. 'Now people are realizing they don't need to really line up, because merchants are starting to accept other forms of payment.' All of this has created a newfound system that practically incentives mobile payment. With so many people queuing up at banks every day -- and a lot of Indian bureaucracy to wade through in order to open a traditional bank account or line of credit -- the appeal of more convenient digital alternatives is easy to understand. According to a report in the Hindu Business Line, as many as 233 million unbanked people in India are skipping plastic and moving straight to digital transactions. 'Cash has lost its credibility and payments are no longer perceived in the same way,' says Upasana Taku, the cofounder of Indian mobile wallet company MobiKwik, which reported a 40 percent increase in downloads and a 7,000 percent increase in bank transfers since demonetization. 'There's chaos at the moment but also relief that India will now be an improved economy,' she says."

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AT&T's DirecTV Now Plagued With Outages and Sports Blackouts
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '16 at 01:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's what-do-you-expect department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Barely two weeks after ATT launched DirecTV Now, the online streaming service's customers have already been hit by multiple outages, unexpected blackouts of live local sports games, and missing channels. There was an outage of about three hours last night and a two-hour outage Friday night, TVPredictions reported today. "DirecTV Now's customers said they couldn't log onto the streaming service, or they were suddenly met with a blank screen if already watching," the report said. The "Error Message 30" article tells customers that they may be suffering from "an intermittent or weak Internet connection," but in this case the problem was on DirecTV's end. "Tuesday evening we experienced an issue that prevented some customers from streaming on DirecTV Now," ATT told Ars today. "The issue has since been resolved and we're seeing normal streaming levels at this time. We thank our customers for their patience." Even when DirecTV Now works, availability of live sports games hasn't lived up to what the company promised. There appear to be technical problems affecting local games, but licensing restrictions may be limiting availability as well. This past Sunday, some DirecTV Now subscribers in cities such as San Francisco, Tampa Bay, and Atlanta could not watch NFL games on local Fox channels due to a technical problem, TVPredictions reported in another article.

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Flash Will Soon Be 'Click-To-Run' in Microsoft Edge
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '16 at 01:31 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's final-nail department:
Microsoft is following in the footsteps of other browser makers such as Apple, Google, and Mozilla, and says that upcoming Edge browser versions will favor HTML5 over Flash by default. From a report on BleepingComputer: "Sites that support HTML5 will default to a clean HTML5 experience," Microsoft said today. "In these cases, Flash will not even be loaded, improving performance, battery life, and security." On sites where Flash is needed, users will be prompted using a popup like the one seen below. Edge will ask users only once, and the browser will remember the user's choice for subsequent visits. Microsoft has already pushed these changes to Edge users on Windows Insiders builds. Regular Windows users will receive this update in the coming weeks.

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Ashley Madison To Pay $1.6M Settlement Related To Data Breach
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '16 at 01:31 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's guilty-as-charged department:
The company behind Ashley Madison, the adultery enabling website, has agreed to pay a $1.6 million settlement related to a major data breach last year that exposed account details of 36 million users. From a PCWorld report: Ashley Madison's operator, Toronto-based Ruby, is making the settlement for failing to protect the account information and for creating fake user profiles to lure in prospective customers, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission said on Wednesday. In July 2015, a hacking group called Impact Team managed to steal the account details and then post them online a month later -- potentially damaging the reputation of the customers using the adultery website. The FTC alleges the Ashley Madison site suffered from lax security, allowing hackers to break in several times between Nov. 2014 and June 2015. The service also retained personal information of users who had paid $19 to delete their data from the site, the FTC said.

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Starting Next Year, Evernote Employees Could Access Your Unencrypted Notes
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '16 at 12:01 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's privacy-woes department:
Mark Wilson, reporting for BetaNews: Evernote has published an update to its Privacy Policy, revealing that as of 23 January 2017, employees will be able to access unencrypted notes. The change is being wheeled in because of the apparent failings of machine learning. Perhaps more worrying is the fact that Evernote says that it is not possible to opt out of having employees possibly accessing your unencrypted notes. The only way to fully protect your privacy is to delete all your notes and close your Evernote account. The update to the Privacy Policy starts off sounding fairly innocuous: "The latest update to the Privacy Policy allows some Evernote employees to exercise oversight of machine learning technologies applied to account content, subject to the limits described below, for the purposes of developing and improving the Evernote service."

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Uber Appeals Against Ruling that Its UK Drivers Are Workers
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '16 at 12:01 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's hmm department:
Uber has launched an appeal against a landmark employment tribunal ruling that its minicab drivers should be classed as workers with access to the minimum wage, sick pay and paid holidays. From a report on The Guardian: The taxi-app company filed papers with the appeal tribunal on Tuesday in an attempt to overturn the October judgment that, if it stands, could affect tens of thousands of workers in the gig economy. The move came as several dozen Uber drivers picketed City Hall on Wednesday holding placards demanding Transport for London, which licences Uber as a private hire operator in the capital, "end sweated labour now." It also mounted a protest at the City of London offices of Salesforce, a US computing company that is a major Uber client. Two Uber drivers, James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam, took Uber to court on behalf of a group 19 others who argued that they were employed by the San Francisco-based company, rather than working for themselves. Uber's business model has been based on treating drivers who log on to its app as self-employed contractors and taking a cut of their fares, which Uber dictates.

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Amazon Delivered Its First Customer Package By Drone
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '16 at 10:45 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's it's-coming department:
Amazon legally delivered its first Prime order in the United Kingdom last week and is preparing to enter a pilot testing period for drone delivery in rural areas in the country in the coming weeks. From a report on USA Today: The test took place within five miles of its Cambridgeshire drone testing facility outside the university town of Cambridge. The test was done with the approval of Britain's Civil Aviation Authority, which Amazon says plans to allow it to deliver to rural areas once it has amassed sufficient safety data. The test of Prime Air, Amazon's would-be service to deliver packages up to five pounds in 30 minutes or less, took place on Dec. 7, Amazon said. It was for an Amazon Fire TV and bag of popcorn and took 13 minutes from the moment the customer clicked "order" to package delivery. So far the trial includes only two customers who live near Amazon's testing facility. The company hopes to add dozens who lives within a few miles in the coming months. There will be no surcharge for 30-minute drone delivery for these customers, the company said. The Seattle-based company has made available a video of the delivery.

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Windows 10 Update Broke DHCP, Knocked Users Off the Internet
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '16 at 10:45 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's windows-updates department:
Microsoft has quietly fixed a software update it released last week, which effectively prevented Windows 10 users from connecting to the Internet or joining a local network. From a report on ArsTechnica: It's unclear exactly which automatic update caused the problem or exactly when it was released -- current (unconfirmed) signs point to KB3201845 released on December 9 -- but whatever it was appeared to break DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol), preventing Windows 10 from automatically acquiring an IP address from the network. There's also little detail on how many people were affected or why, but multiple cases have been confirmed across Europe by many ISPs. A Microsoft spokesperson has meanwhile confirmed that "some customers" had been experiencing "difficulties" getting online, but that's about it for public statements at present. However, a moderator on the company's forums has said the fix was included in a patch released on Tuesday called KB3206632.

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California To Adopt First US Energy-Saving Rules For Computers
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '16 at 09:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's setting-examples department:
California regulators were poised on Wednesday to adopt the nation's first mandatory energy efficiency rules for computers and monitors -- devices that account for 3 percent of home electric bills and 7 percent of commercial power costs in the state. From a report on Reuters: The state Energy Commission said that when fully implemented, the plan will save consumers $373 million a year and conserve as much electricity annually as it takes to power all San Francisco's homes. Final approval of the standards, expected at a meeting in Sacramento of the five-member commission, caps a nearly two-year planning process that had input from environmentalists, industry, scientists and consumer groups. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental group that helped devise the standards, has said the new standards would cut greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel combustion in power generation by 700,000 tons a year. The California standards set a benchmark for a machine's overall energy use and leave manufacturers the flexibility to choose which efficiency measures to use to meet it -- an approach that the NRDC says fosters innovation.

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150 Filmmakers and Photojournalists Call On Nikon, Sony, and Canon To Build in Encryption
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '16 at 09:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's bolstering-security department:
Some of the world's leading photojournalists and filmmakers are calling on the manufacturers of the cameras they use to add encryption to their products, as the number of threats they face from having their devices seized is "literally too high to count." From a ZDNet report: Over 150 documentary makers and reporters signed an open letter by the Freedom of the Press Foundation, asking for camera makers -- including Nikon, Sony, and Canon -- to ensure that their work is protected while often "attempting to uncover wrongdoing in the interests of justice." "Documentary filmmakers and photojournalists work in some of the most dangerous parts of the world, often risking their lives to get footage of newsworthy events to the public," said Trevor Timm, the foundation's executive director. But, he said, "they face a variety of threats from border security guards, local police, intelligence agents, terrorists, and criminals when attempting to safely return their footage so that it can be edited and published." The filmmakers say that camera security has lagged behind the rest of the industry, leaving their work "dangerously vulnerable."

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