By BeauHD from Slashdot's history-in-the-making department
Earlier today, Australia's House of Representatives passed the Assistance and Access Bill. The Anti-Encryption Bill, as it is known as, would allow the nation's police and anti-corruption forces to ask, before forcing, internet companies, telcos, messaging providers, or anyone deemed necessary, to break into whatever content agencies they want access to. "While the Bill can still be blocked by the Senate -- Australian Twitter has been quite vocal over today's proceedings, especially in regards to the [Australian Labor Party's] involvement," reports Gizmodo. ZDNet highlights the key findings from a report from the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS): The threshold for industry assistance is recommended to be lifted to offenses with maximum penalties in excess of three years; Technical Assistance Notices (TANs) and Technical Capability Notices (TCNs) will be subjected to statutory time limits, as well as any extension, renewal, or variation to the notices; the systemic weakness clause to apply to all listing acts and things; and the double-lock mechanism of approval from Attorney-General and Minister of Communications will be needed, with the report saying the Communications Minister will provide "a direct avenue for the concerns of the relevant industry to be considered as part of the approval process."
The report's recommendations also call for a review after 18 months of the Bill coming into effect by the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor; TANs issued by state and territory police forces to be approved by the Australian Federal Police commissioner; companies issued with notices are able to appeal to the Attorney-General to disclose publicly the fact they are issued a TCN; and the committee will review the passed legislation in the new year and report by April 3, 2019, right around when the next election is expected to be called.
< article continued at Slashdot's history-in-the-making department
>Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's depressing-but-probably-accurate department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from MIT Technology Review: The world relies on encryption to protect everything from credit card transactions to databases holding health records and other sensitive information. A new report from the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine says we need to speed up preparations for the time when super-powerful quantum computers can crack conventional cryptographic defenses. The experts who produced the report, which was released today, say widespread adoption of quantum-resistant cryptography "will be a long and difficult process" that "probably cannot be completed in less than 20 years." It's possible that highly capable quantum machines will appear before then, and if hackers get their hands on them, the result could be a security and privacy nightmare.
Today's cyberdefenses rely heavily on the fact that it would take even the most powerful classical supercomputers almost unimaginable amounts of time to unravel the cryptographic algorithms that protect our data, computer networks, and other digital systems. But computers that harness quantum bits, or qubits, promise to deliver exponential leaps in processing power that could break today's best encryption. The report cites an example of encryption that protects the process of swapping identical digital keys between two parties, who use them to decrypt secure messages sent to one another. A powerful quantum computer could crack RSA-1024, a popular algorithmic defense for this process, in less than a day. The U.S., Israel and others are working to develop standards for quantum-proof cryptographic algorithms, but they may not be ready or widely adopted by the time quantum computers arrive. "[I]t will take at least a couple of decades to get quantum-safe cryptography broadly in place," the report says in closing. "If that holds, we're going have to hope it somehow takes even longer before a powerful quantum computer ends up in a malicious hacker's hands."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's porn-crackdown department
On Monday, Tumblr announced that it will permanently ban adult content from its platform on December 17th, alienating a large portion of the site's users who enjoy sharing and consuming NSFW content. Motherboard has surfaced a study conducted in 2017 by two Italian universities and Bell Labs, which found that roughly a quarter of Tumblr users were on the platform largely to consume pornography. From the report: This study was based on the behavior of 130 million users, about half of Tumblr's entire user base. Of that number, "adult content consumers are 22 percent of our sample," the study said. "At the time of the study, roughly 30 million active accounts were consuming adult content, either re-sharing it or following the accounts of those producers," Luca Aiello, one of the study's authors and now a senior research scientist at Nokia Bell Labs told Motherboard in an email. "I expect this audience to experience a noticeable drop in engagement: some of them will just churn out, many of them will likely reduce considerably the time spent on the platform."
< article continued at Slashdot's porn-crackdown department
>Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's medical-milestone department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC: A healthy baby girl has been born using a womb transplanted from a dead person. The 10-hour transplant operation -- and later fertility treatment -- took place in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 2016. The mother, 32, was born without a womb. There have been 39 womb transplants using a live donor, including mothers donating their womb to their daughter, resulting in 11 babies. But the 10 previous transplants from a dead donor have failed or resulted in miscarriage. In this case, reported in The Lancet, the womb donor was a mother of three in her mid-40s who died from bleeding on the brain. The recipient reportedly had Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser syndrome, which affects about one in every 4,500 women and results in the vagina and uterus (womb) failing to form properly. The baby girl was delivered by Caesarean section on December 15, 2017, weighing 6 pounds (2.5kg).Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's another-one-bites-the-dust department
According to 9to5Google, citing a source familiar with the plan, Google will "soon" announce that it will be shutting down its Google Allo messaging app. "This development comes almost 8 months after Anil Sabharwal, Vice President of Chrome, Comms and Photos at Google, said that the company was 'pausing investment' in Google Allo," reports 9to5Google. It also comes less than a week after 9to5Google reported that Google will be shutting down Google Hangouts for consumers sometime in 2020. Google may delay the news about Allo due to the backlash stemming from the article about Hangouts. From the report: Lately, some of the app's remaining users have complained of bugs and broken functionality: there have been messages not being delivered, features like hearting posts randomly disappearing for some, and the latest stable version has been unable to perform Google Drive restores of chats for several weeks. Meanwhile, essentially the entire Allo team was moved to work on Android Messages and spent the last several months porting over much of Allo's features and functionality -- all leading up to the recent beginnings of evidence that the rollout of Google's RCS 'Chat' initiative is gaining traction.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's A-for-effort department
On Wednesday, SpaceX successfully sent a Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station to deliver supplies, but unfortunately it wasn't able to recover the Falcon 9 rocket that launched with it. "The first stage of the Falcon 9 launch vehicle appeared to lose control as it approached Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral," reports CNET. "The live feed from the rocket cut away on the SpaceX webcast, but video from people in the media area at the cape showed the Falcon 9 appearing to regain control before making an unplanned landing in the water rather than ashore at the landing area." From the report: Musk tweeted shortly afterward that cutting the live feed "was a mistake" and shared the full clip of the water landing from the rocket's perspective. The rocket took off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 1:16 p.m. local time, a little more than 48 hours after SpaceX sent another Falcon 9 to space from the West Coast on Monday. Dragon's flight to low-Earth orbit was supposed to happen Tuesday, but the mission was pushed back a day to replace some food being sent to the space station for experimental mice living there.
SpaceX had planned to land the first stage of the brand-new Block 5 Falcon 9 rocket at a landing zone ashore at Cape Canaveral, but as the rocket descended toward the cape, the live feed from the booster's onboard cameras appeared to show the craft going into some sort of uncontrolled spin. Musk tweeted that the problem was that a "grid fin hydraulic pump stalled, so Falcon landed just out to sea." Musk also tweeted that the pump that failed didn't have a backup because "landing is considered ground safety critical, but not mission critical. Given this event, we will likely add a backup pump & lines."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's auto-theft department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CBC.ca: According to Markham automotive security specialist Jeff Bates, owner of Lockdown Security, wireless key fobs have a role to play in many recent car thefts, with thieves intercepting and rerouting their signals -- even from inside homes -- to open and steal cars. According to Bates, many of these thieves are using a method called "relay theft." Key fobs are constantly broadcasting a signal that communicates with a specific vehicle, he said, and when it comes into a close enough range, the vehicle will open and start. The thief will bring a device close to the home's door, close to where most keys are sitting, to boost the fob's signal. They leave another device near the vehicle, which receives the signal and opens the car. Many people don't realize it, Bates said, but the thieves don't need the fob in the car to drive it away. Bates says, if you have a key fob that can wirelessly unlock/start your car, you should not keep it by the front door. "If you do live in a house, try to leave your keys either upstairs or ... as far away from the vehicle as possible," he said. "The other thing that you can do is there are products out there that you can put your key fob into," such as a faraday cage -- a box used to block radio signals -- a key pouch, which works similarly, or even a steel box.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's things-facebook-does department
Newly public documents reveal just how paranoid Facebook was of its potential competitors and shines new light on some of the company's most important acquisitions. From a report: The internal documents, made public as part of a cache of documents released by UK lawmakers, show just how close an eye the social network was keeping on competitors like WhatsApp and Snapchat, both of which became acquisition targets. The documents, which are labeled "highly confidential," show slides from an internal presentation in 2013 that compares Facebook's reach to competing apps, including WhatsApp and Snapchat. While Facebook and Instagram lead in marketshare, it's clear why Facebook may have viewed Snapchat and WhatsApp as potential threats. [...] Facebook's presentation relied on data from Onavo, the virtual private network (VPN) service which Facebook also acquired several months later. Facebook's use of Onavo, which has been likened to "corporate spyware," has itself been controversial.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
An anonymous reader writes: The best job for someone is not always in the area where they live. Often times, the job that will pay them most, and make the best use of their skills means moving to another city, state or country. Though making the choice to move can be difficult emotionally, it is extremely good for economic growth. Productive people make productive economies. Unfortunately for the US economy, people don't move they like they used to. According to recently released data from the US Census, only 10.1% of adults moved homes from August 2017 to August 2018. This is the lowest rate of moving since the government began collected data in 1948. The census tracks moves within counties, within states, or across states, and no matter how you look at it, moving rates are way down from just 15 years ago. For example, from 2002 to 2003, 2.8% of Americans moved across state lines. From 2017 to 2018, it was just 1.5%.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
One of the most galling mysteries in physics is that of the dark matter and dark energy. Scientists believe that together, these could account for up to 95 percent of the total mass in the universe. Now, a researcher at the University of Oxford says a new theory could explain all that "dark phenomena." From a report: The two mysterious dark substances can only be inferred from gravitational effects. Dark matter may be an invisible material, but it exerts a gravitational force on surrounding matter that we can measure. Dark energy is a repulsive force that makes the universe expand at an accelerating rate. The two have always been treated as separate phenomena. But my new study, published in Astronomy and Astrophysics, suggests they may both be part of the same strange concept -- a single, unified "dark fluid" of negative masses.
Negative masses are a hypothetical form of matter that would have a type of negative gravity -- repelling all other material around them. Unlike familiar positive mass matter, if a negative mass was pushed, it would accelerate towards you rather than away from you. Negative masses are not a new idea in cosmology. Just like normal matter, negative mass particles would become more spread out as the universe expands -- meaning that their repulsive force would become weaker over time. However, studies have shown that the force driving the accelerating expansion of the universe is relentlessly constant. This inconsistency has previously led researchers to abandon this idea. If a dark fluid exists, it should not thin out over time.
< article continued at Slashdot's how-about-that department
>Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's priorities department
Earlier this year, many Android users were shocked to discover that Facebook had been collecting a record of their call and SMS history, as revealed by the company's data download tool. Now, internal emails released by the UK Parliament show how the decision was made internally. From a report: According to the emails, developers knew the data was sensitive, but they still pushed to collect it as a way of expanding Facebook's reach. The emails show Facebook's growth team looking to call log data as a way to improve Facebook's algorithms as well as to locate new contacts through the "People You May Know" feature. Notably, the project manager recognized it as "a pretty high-risk thing to do from a PR perspective," but that risk seems to have been overwhelmed by the potential user growth.
Initially, the feature was intended to require users to opt in, typically through an in-app pop-up dialog box. But as developers looked for ways to get users signed up, it became clear that Android's data permissions could be manipulated to automatically enroll users if the new feature was deployed in a certain way.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's Dystopian-Future department
An anonymous reader shares a report: Sitting in front of a Converus EyeDetect station, it's impossible not to think of Blade Runner. In the 1982 sci-fi classic, Harrison Ford's rumpled detective identifies artificial humans using a steam-punk Voight-Kampff device that watches their eyes while they answer surreal questions. EyeDetect's questions are less philosophical, and the penalty for failure is less fatal (Ford's character would whip out a gun and shoot). But the basic idea is the same: By capturing imperceptible changes in a participant's eyes -- measuring things like pupil dilation and reaction time -- the device aims to sort deceptive humanoids from genuine ones.
It claims to be, in short, a next-generation lie detector. Polygraph tests are a $2 billion industry in the US and, despite their inaccuracy, are widely used to screen candidates for government jobs. Released in 2014 by Converus, a Mark Cuban-funded startup, EyeDetect is pitched by its makers as a faster, cheaper, and more accurate alternative to the notoriously unreliable polygraph. By many measures, EyeDetect appears to be the future of lie detection -- and it's already being used by local and federal agencies to screen job applicants.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's where-we-are department
The days of double-digit smartphone growth are over -- and the next decade may start to see smartphone sales decline. A report adds: From roughly 2007 until 2013, the smartphone market grew at an astonishing pace, posting double-digit growth year after year, even during a global recession. They were the good years, the type that would inspire a Scorsese montage: millions and then billions of smartphones going out; billions and then trillions of dollars in rising company valuations; every year new models of phones hitting the market, held up triumphantly at events that were part sales pitch, part tent revival. (To nail the Scorsese effect, imagine "Jumpin' Jack Flash" playing while you think about it.)
But just like every Scorsese movie, the party ends. Smartphone growth began to slow starting in 2013 or 2014. In 2016, it was suddenly in the single digits, and in 2017 global smartphone shipments, for the first time, actually declined -- fewer smartphones were sold than in 2017 than in 2016. Every smartphone manufacturer is now facing a world where, at best, they can hope for single-digit growth in smartphone sales -- and many seem to be preparing for a world where they face declines.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
Russia's Yandex has launched its first ever smartphone as the company seeks to leverage its dominant position in apps and services into hardware sales. Yandex, which runs the most popular search engine in Russia, hopes its Yandex.Phone will bind users closer to its suite of products, from food delivery and taxi hailing apps to marketplace and music streaming platforms, as competition rises for online services. From a report: The Yandex.Phone is a 5.65-inch Android-powered phone that will cost 17,990 rubles ($270) when it goes on sale tomorrow. In terms of specifications, Yandex.Phone is a fairly mid-range device, sporting a Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 processor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of expandable storage, and a 16-megapixel / 5-megapixel dual rear camera.
In place of Google Assistant, which is standard on most Android phones, the company is also pushing its own intelligent assistant, Alice. This isn't the first piece of Yandex hardware to sport Alice since it was unveiled in 2017 -- earlier this year, Yandex launched a $160 smart speaker that also included the virtual assistant. It's not entirely clear what the default apps on the phone will be, but judging by the official photos it seems pretty clear Yandex is positioning its own services at the forefront of the device and favoring its own search engine. That said, Google's apps are also bundled.Read Replies (0)