By timothy from Slashdot's they-deeply-care-about-privacy-violation department
bill_mcgonigle writes with this news from from CNET: "Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D NY) disclosed that NSA analysts eavesdrop on Americans' domestic telephone calls without court orders during a House Judiciary hearing. After clearing with FBI director Robert Mueller that the information was not classified, Nadler revealed that during a closed-door briefing to Congress, the Legislature was informed that the spying organization had implemented and uses this capability. This appears to confirm Edward Snowden's claim that he could, in his position at the NSA, 'wiretap anyone from you or your accountant to a federal judge to even the president.' Declan McCullagh writes, 'Because the same legal standards that apply to phone calls also apply to e-mail messages, text messages, and instant messages, Nadler's disclosure indicates the NSA analysts could also access the contents of Internet communications without going before a court and seeking approval.' The executive branch has defended its general warrants, claiming that 'the president had the constitutional authority, no matter what the law actually says, to order domestic spying without [constitutional] warrants,' while Kurt Opsahl, senior staff attorney at EFF claims such government activity 'epitomizes the problem of secret laws.'"
Note that "listening in" versus "collecting metadata" is a distinction that defenders of government phone spying have been emphasizing. Tracking whom you called and when, goes the story, doesn't impinge on expectations of privacy. Speaking of the metadata collection, though, reader Bruce66423 writes "According to the Washington Post, the Bush administration took 'bulk metadata' from the phone companies under voluntary agreements for more than four years after 9/11 until a court agreed they could have it compulsorily."
Related: First time accepted submitter fsagx writes that Brewster Kahle of the Internet Archive has calculated the cost to store every phone call made in the U.S. over the course of a year: "It's surprisingly inexpensive
. It puts the recent NSA stories (and reports from the Boston bombings about the FBI's ability to listen to past phone conversions) into perspective."Read Replies (0)
By Soulskill from Slashdot's nice-place-to-visit-but-don't-drink-the-soil department
Thorfinn.au sends this quote from Space.com:"The pervading carpet of perchlorate chemicals found on Mars may boost the chances that microbial life exists on the Red Planet — but perchlorates are also perilous to the health of future crews destined to explore that way-off world. Perchlorates are reactive chemicals first detected in arctic Martian soil by NASA's Phoenix lander that plopped down on Mars over five years ago in May 2008. It is likely both of NASA's Viking Mars landers in 1976 measured signatures of perchlorates, in the form of chlorinated hydrocarbons. Other U.S. Mars robots — the Sojourner, Spirit and Opportunity — detected elemental chlorine. Moreover, orbital measurements taken by the Mars Odyssey spacecraft show that chlorine is globally distributed. [Phoenix principal investigator Peter Smith] said microbes on Earth use perchlorate for an energy source. They actually live off highly oxidized chlorine, and in reducing the chlorine down to chloride, they use the energy in that transaction to power themselves. In fact, when there's too much perchlorate in drinking water, microbes are used to clean it up, he said. Furthermore, seasonal flow features seen on Mars may be caused by high concentrations of the brines of perchlorate, which has a strong attraction to water and can drastically lower its freezing point, Smith told SPACE.com. The high levels of perchlorate found on Mars would be toxic to humans, Smith said."Read Replies (0)
By Soulskill from Slashdot's know-when-to-walk-away-know-when-to-run department
wiredmikey writes "Facebook and Microsoft say they received thousands of requests for information from U.S. authorities last year but are prohibited from listing a separate tally for security-related requests or secret court orders related to terror probes. The two companies have come under heightened scrutiny since reports leaked of a vast secret Internet surveillance program U.S. authorities insist targets only foreign terror suspects and is needed to prevent attacks. Facebook said Friday it had received between 9,000 and 10,000 requests for user data affecting 18,000 to 19,000 accounts during the second half of last year and Microsoft said it had received 6,000 to 7,000 requests affecting 31,000 to 32,000 accounts during the same period."
Meanwhile, an article at the Guardian is suggesting the government may have better targets to pursue than Edward Snowden
. "[U.S. director of national intelligence James Clapper] has come out vocally to condemn Snowden as a traitor to the public interest and the country, yet a review of Booz Allen's own history suggests that the government should be investigating his former employer, rather than the whistleblower."Read Replies (0)
By Soulskill from Slashdot's unless-we-decide-to-get-away-from-PRISM department
New submitter afarhan writes "India will pull the plug on its 160-year-old telegram service on 14 July, this year. This will probably be the last telegram ever sent in the world. However, telegrams are still relevant in this vast country. More than 500 million people are still without access to a phone or Internet. For these people, telegram still remains the only digital communication available. 'At their peak in 1985, 60 million telegrams were being sent and received a year in India from 45,000 offices. Today, only 75 offices exist, though they are located in each of India's 671 districts through franchises. And an industry that once employed 12,500 people, today has only 998 workers.' In India, telegram is also considered a legal correspondence."Read Replies (0)
By Soulskill from Slashdot's let-your-project-succeed-or-fail-on-its-own-merit department
An anonymous reader writes "Now that E3 has wound down and the big product announcements are out of the way, its time to take a step back and look at the culture represented by the giant gaming show. 'The presence of scantily clad women hawking games and gizmos seemed in particular contrast to a report released this week by the Entertainment Software Association, which organizes the gaming industry's annual trade show. It found that 45 percent of the entire gaming population is now women, and women make up 46 percent of the most frequent game buyers.' While there are fewer 'booth babes' than in earlier shows (and while some are trying to bring balance by adding 'booth bros'), the conference organizers are happy to let exhibitors make their own policy. By contrast, the Penny Arcade Expo forbids 'booth babes,' a controversial but widely lauded stance. A recent article in Kotaku about this year's E3 notes, 'For every confident cosplayer who might do the job at a con, I am seeing dozens of companies trying to sell me hundreds of women. They are not drawing my attention to the content of their games, or to their tactics or techniques. They are drawing my attention to thigh-high boots, to low-cut shirts, and, frankly, to the hard work of a really expensive bra. So much of what I see here at E3 is aimed directly at the lizard hindbrain of a 13-year-old boy. But you have to be 18 to get into the show, and it's nominally for industry professionals. Perhaps someday we—men and women alike—can all be treated like the grown-ups we theoretically are, and be trusted to judge a game by its content... not its double-D cover.'"Read Replies (0)
By Soulskill from Slashdot's when-in-rome department
schwit1 sends this news from Businesweek:"After 2,000 years, a long-lost secret behind the creation of one of the world's most durable man-made creations ever — Roman concrete — has finally been discovered by an international team of scientists, and it may have a significant impact on how we build cities of the future. Researchers have analyzed 11 harbors in the Mediterranean basin where, in many cases, 2,000-year-old (and sometimes older) headwaters constructed out of Roman concrete stand perfectly intact despite constant pounding by the sea. The most common blend of modern concrete, known as Portland cement, a formulation in use for nearly 200 years, can't come close to matching that track record. In seawater, it has a service life of less than 50 years. After that, it begins to erode. The secret to Roman concrete lies in its unique mineral formulation and production technique. As the researchers explain in a press release outlining their findings, 'The Romans made concrete by mixing lime and volcanic rock. For underwater structures, lime and volcanic ash were mixed to form mortar, and this mortar and volcanic tuff were packed into wooden forms. The seawater instantly triggered a hot chemical reaction. The lime was hydrated — incorporating water molecules into its structure — and reacted with the ash to cement the whole mixture together.'"Read Replies (0)
By Soulskill from Slashdot's shannon-hartley-bernoulli-theorem department
New submitter BrokenHalo writes "Google has revealed that it has 30 balloons floating over New Zealand in a project to bring free Wi-Fi to earthquake-stricken, rural or poor areas. They're calling it Project Loon. '[W]e’ve built a system that uses balloons, carried by the wind at altitudes twice as high as commercial planes, to beam Internet access to the ground at speeds similar to today’s 3G networks or faster. As a result, we hope balloons could become an option for connecting rural, remote, and underserved areas, and for helping with communications after natural disasters.' Eventually, as the balloons move across the stratosphere, consumers in participating countries along the 40th parallel in the Southern Hemisphere could tap into the service. The technology will be trialled in Australia next year, possibly in Tasmania. If the latter happens to be true, then you'll probably hear the telcos' screams in New York."Read Replies (0)