By msmash from Slashdot's dumb-as-a-rock department
American entertainment giant Starz is continuing to remove tweets that link to a TorrentFreak news report about leaked TV-shows. From a report: Last week we posted a news article documenting how several TV-show episodes had leaked online before their official release. Due to the leaks, complete seasons of unreleased TV-shows such as "The Spanish Princess," "Ramy," and "The Red Line," surfaced on pirate sites. In most cases, there were visible signs revealing that the leaks were sourced from promotional screeners. The leaks also hit Starz, as three then-unreleased episodes from its TV series "American Gods" appeared online as well. The American entertainment company was obviously not happy with that, but its response was rather unconventional.
Soon after the news was published, Starz issued a takedown request through The Social Element Agency, requesting Twitter to remove our tweet to our own article. Twitter was quick to comply and removed the tweet that supposedly infringed Starz copyrights. We disagreed. The article in question never linked to any infringing material. It did include a screenshot from a leaked episode, showing the screener watermarks, but those watermarks were central to the story, as we explained in a follow-up piece. The good news is that many legal scholars, journalists, and lawyers agree with our stance. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), for example, responded that Starz has no right to silence TorrentFreak and also shared that opinion on Twitter, where many others chimed in as well. That's when things started to spiral out of control. Starz takedown efforts only encouraged more people to share the original story about the leaks, which is a classic example of the 'Streisand Effect'. However, Starz didn't budge and issued takedown notices against those tweets as well.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's done-deal department
The European Commission, the European Union's executive body, has approved a long-gestating major reform to copyright law, which had already been passed by the European Parliament last month. From a report: The overhaul contains two controversial provisions that will make online platforms liable for illegal uploading of copyright-protected content on their sites, as well as force Google, Facebook and other digital companies to pay publishers for press articles they post online. "With today's agreement, we are making copyright rules fit for the digital age. Europe will now have clear rules that guarantee fair remuneration for creators, strong rights for users and responsibility for platforms," said European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker. According to the French newspaper Le Monde, six countries -- Italy, Finland, Sweden, Luxembourg, Poland and the Netherlands -- voted again the reform.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's recommended-pages department
An anonymous reader quotes a senior investigative researcher at the EFF:
Despite Facebook's repeated warnings that law enforcement is required to use "authentic identities" on the social media platform, cops continue to create fake and impersonator accounts to secretly spy on users. By pretending to be someone else, cops are able to sneak past the privacy walls users put up and bypass legal requirements that might require a warrant to obtain that same information...
EFF is now calling on Facebook to escalate the matter with law enforcement in the United States. Facebook should take the following actions to address the proliferation of fake/impersonator Facebook accounts operated by law enforcement, in addition to suspending the fake accounts.
- As part of its regular transparency reports, Facebook should publish data on the number of fake/impersonator law enforcement accounts identified, what agencies they belonged to, and what action was taken.
- When a fake/impersonator account is identified, Facebook should alert the users and groups that interacted with the account whether directly or indirectly.
The article also suggests updating Facebook's Terms of Service to explicitly prohibit fake/impersonator profiles by law enforcement groups, and updating Facebook pages of law enforcement groups to inform visitors when those groups have a written policy allowing fake/impersonator law enforcement accounts. "These four changes are relatively light lifts that would enhance transparency and establish real consequences for agencies that deliberately violate the rules..."
"Facebook's practice of taking down these individual accounts when they learn about them from the press (or from EFF) is insufficient to deter what we believe is a much larger iceberg beneath the surface."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's power-plays department
An anonymous reader quotes the AP:
Volkswagen is planning to release a fully-electric SUV in China which could compete with Tesla's Model X. The German automaker said Sunday the ID. ROOMZZ will be unveiled at the upcoming Shanghai Auto Show and will be available in 2021. Volkswagen says the zero-emission vehicle can go approximately 450 kilometers (280 miles) before the battery has to be recharged.
Volkswagen also claims it will have "level 4 autonomous driving," Reuters reports, adding that this electric SUV "is the latest move in Volkswagen's aggressive growth strategy in China, where electric cars are given preferential treatment by authorities..." In fact, the company's chief executive says nearly half of VW's engineers are working on products for the China market, though the electric SUV will eventually be shipped to other markets. "We plan to produce more than 22 million electric cars in the next 10 years."
VW's head of e-mobility also tells Reuters that Volkswagen will convert eight of their factories to mass produce electric Volkswagens, and eight more factories to to mass-produce electric cars under a different brand.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's multi-million-dollar-botnet department
Three Romanians ran a complicated online fraud operation -- along with a massive malware botnet -- for nine years, reports ZDNet, netting tens of millions of US dollars, but their crime spree is now over. But now they're all facing long prison sentences.
"The three were arrested in late 2016 after the FBI and Symantec had silently stalked their malware servers for years, patiently waiting for the highly skilled group to make mistakes that would leave enough of a breadcrumb trail to follow back to their real identities."
An anonymous Slashdot reader writes:
The group started from simple eBay scams [involving non-existent cars and even a fake trucking company] to running one of the most widespread keylogger trojans around. They were considered one of the most advanced groups around, using PGP email and OTR encryption when most hackers were defacing sites under the Anonymous moniker, and using multiple proxy layers to protect their infrastructure. The group operated tens of fake websites, including a Yahoo subsidiary clone, conned and stole money from their own money mules, and were of the first groups to deploy Bitcoin crypto-mining malware on desktops, when Bitcoin could still be mined on PCs.
The Bayrob group was led by one of Romania's top IT students, who went to the dark side and helped create a malware operation that took nine years for US authorities and the FBI to track and eventually take down. Before turning hacker, he was the coach of Romania's national computer science team, although he was still a student, and won numerous awards in programming and CS contests.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Sidewalk Labs, the urban innovation arm of Google's parent company Alphabet, plans to build a $1 billion high-tech neighborhood in Toronto. The problem? It is facing an opposition from residents who have called for its demise. As the backlash gains momentum, it could force Sidewalk Labs to abandon or alter its vision. On paper, Sidewalk Labs' idea arguably has some merits: It wishes to "set new standards" for how cities are designed and built. But some are apprehensive of Google's plans, because the company has a knack for assuming more control over things and killing local competition.
Johnathan Nightingale, a former VP of Firefox, has seen such behavior first hand. He draws some parallels: I spent 8 years at Mozilla working on Firefox and for almost all of that time Google was our biggest partner. Our revenue share deal on search drove 90% of Mozilla's income. When I started at Mozilla in 2007, there was no Google Chrome and most folks we spoke with inside were Firefox fans. They were building an empire on the web, we were building the web itself. I think our friends inside Google genuinely believed that. At the individual level, their engineers cared about most of the same things we did. Their product and design folks made many decisions very similarly and we learned from watching each other.
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's nuclear-winter-is-coming department
Slashdot reader Dan Drollette shared this article from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists where a specialist in nuclear security analyzes Game of Thones, citing dragons "as living, fire-breathing metaphors for nuclear weapons."
Despite the fantasy setting, the story teaches a great deal about the inherent dangers that come with managing these game-changing agents, their propensity for accidents, the relative benefits they grant their masters, and the strain these weapons impose upon those wielding them. "Dragons are the nuclear deterrent, and only [Daenerys Targaryen, one of the series' heroines] has them, which in some ways makes her the most powerful person in the world," George R. R. Martin said in 2011. "But is that sufficient? These are the kind of issues I'm trying to explore.
"The United States right now has the ability to destroy the world with our nuclear arsenal, but that doesn't mean we can achieve specific geopolitical goals. Power is more subtle than that. You can have the power to destroy, but it doesn't give you the power to reform, or improve, or build."
It makes for a bleak outlook. Or, as a character repeatedly warns in the first episode: "Winter is coming."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's game-changers department
"Winter is coming for fans of the hit television series Game of Thrones, with the final season set to hit screens around the world after a near two-year hiatus," reports the South China Morning Post. There were 96 million views for a discussion about the show on China's Twitter-like platform Weibo.
"But those watching inside China are also bracing for the chill of censorship."
In recent years, Chinese authorities have ramped up the pressure on the television and film industries to clean up content they deem vulgar or politically incorrect. This has led to some serious censorship of foreign productions. Recent examples include the removal of scenes of smashed heads and bare flesh from the American superhero film Logan, and the apparent manipulation of a scene in Oscar-winner The Shape of Water so that a naked woman is made to appear to be wearing clothes...
In a bid to get around the censorship, many Chinese Game of Thrones fans have turned to virtual private networks and torrent download websites to access unexpurgated versions of their favourite episodes.
Tencent Video holds the exclusive distribution rights for the show in China, leaving one Weibo user to post "I'm begging Father Tencent not to censor too much, thank you."
Another added "This censored version is not interesting. I would pay money to watch the uncut version."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's IDE-ideologies department
Salon writes that Silicon Valley tech workers are "defying their overlords," arguing that recent unionization attempts by Kickstarter employees may be only the beginning:
The workers' Kickstarter campaign is not the first attempt, though, or even the first time rumblings of unionization, have circulated among programmers. In 2018, software engineers at the startup Lanetix announced their intent to unionize -- and were promptly fired by management (It is illegal to fire employees for trying to unionize). The National Labor Relations Board intervened, and ultimately forced Lanetix to pay the 15 fired engineers a total of $775,000. The show of worker power at Lanetix may have paved the way for Kickstarter's workers. Similarly, workers across the video game industry -- generally among the most overworked, underpaid workers within the tech industry -- have been making steps towards unionization. Game Workers Unite, profiled by Salon last year, is building a grassroots movement to organize the ranks of video game makers.
Together, this suggests that a small but visible movement for white-collar software engineers unionizing has been gaining steam in the Valley over the past few years -- suggesting that the people who make up the tech industry, once a bastion of libertarianism, are starting to understand the often subtle ways that their employers exploit them... For decades, libertarianism was part and parcel to the tech industry. Despite a grueling work culture and a high-profile collusion scandal among major tech corporations to suppress software engineers' wages, tech workers were more likely to see themselves as future founders than an exploited underclass -- a point of view encouraged by employers through high wages and generous, often absurd office perks. Recent developments suggest such endearing tactics are no longer working.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's bad-browser-bugs department
Security researcher John Page has revealed a new zero-day exploit that allows remote attackers to exfiltrate Local files using Internet Explorer. "The craziest part: Windows users don't ever even have to open the now-obsolete web browser for malicious actors to use the exploit," reports Mashable. "It just needs to exist on their computer..."
[H]ackers are taking advantage of a vulnerability using .MHT files, which is the file format used by Internet Explorer for its web archives. Current web browsers do not use the .MHT format, so when a PC user attempts to access this file Windows opens IE by default. To initiate the exploit, a user simply needs to open an attachment received by email, messenger, or other file transfer service...
Most worrisome, according to Page, is that Microsoft told him that it would just "consider" a fix in a future update. The security researcher says he contacted Microsoft in March before now going public with the issue. As ZDNet points out, while Internet Explorer usage makes up less than 10 percent of the web browser market, it doesn't particularly matter in this case as the exploit just requires a user to have the browser on their PC.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's reading-by-moonllight department
NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine has congratulated the team which sent the first privately-funded mission into lunar orbit -- even though it crashed into the surface of the moon. Its final photo was taken Thursday just 7.5 kilometers above the surface of the moon.
But Space.com reports that's not the end of the story:
On Saturday Morris Kahn, the billionaire businessman, pilanthropist and SpaceIL president, confirmed that the SpaceIL team is meeting this weekend to begin planning the Beresheet 2.0 mission. "In light of all the support I've got from all over the world, and the wonderful messages of support and encouragement and excitement, I've decided that we're going to actually build a new halalit -- a new spacecraft," Kahn said in a video statement posted on Twitter by SpaceIL. "We're going to put it on the moon, and we're going to complete the mission."
The team behind Beresheet knew all along that the mission's design included risks. In order to keep the spacecraft small enough to piggyback with another spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket, the engineering team had to design the craft without any backup systems. Nevertheless, before its ultimate failure, the spacecraft withstood multiple glitches while in Earth orbit and during the early stages of landing.... NASA knows as well as anyone just how difficult spaceflight can be. The moon's surface is littered with dozens of expired spacecraft, and although many ended their missions smoothly, several made unplanned crash landings, including NASA's own Surveyor 2 and 4 missions during the 1960s.
Somewhere in the spacecraft's wreckage are 25 data disks backing up crucial human knowledge that were meant to last one billion years. The group behind the disk notes that "airplane black boxes survive stronger impacts, and our disc is less breakable... It was probably thrown a few kilometers away -- a 30 million page frisbee on the moon."
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's here-I-come-to-save-the-day department
DevNull127 writes: Research scientist James Heathers is a postdoctoral research associate working on bio-signals and meta-science research at Northeastern University, with a PhD from the University of Sydney. He's also pretending to be a mouse on Twitter. And every tweet consists of the exact same two words...
Heathers retweets articles about scientific studies — usually articles with glossy photos and enticing headlines like "Exercise during pregnancy protects children from obesity, study finds." His tweets add the two crucial missing words. "In mice."
In this case a doctoral student at Washington State University measured a specific protein's level in the offspring of mice that performed 60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every morning during pregnancy — and in regular mice. On the basis of that he recommended "that women — whether or not they are obese or have diabetes — exercise regularly during pregnancy because it benefits their children's metabolic health."
The name of the Twitter feed: JustSaysInMice.
Other mouse-based studies turning up on the Twitter feed:
How Fatty Diets Stop the Brain From Saying 'No' To Food
Reused Cooking Oil Ups Risk of Metastases In Breast Cancer Patients
Keto Diet Not Effective, Causes Blood Sugar Problems In Women
Growth Hormone Acts To Foil Weight Loss: Study
When you read those headlines, just remember to add those two words...
"In mice."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's hiring-liars department
Why are there so many five-star reviews for an iPhone charger on Amazon with a voltage irregularity that can cause permanent damage? "It's sad to imagine how many shoppers spotted this $13.99 charger pack on Amazon's first-page results and fell for the thousands of positive reviews and the algorithmically-generated endorsement from a platform that people trust more than religion," reports The Hustle.
A spot-check confirmed that "10 of the 22 first-page results on Amazon for 'iPhone charger' were products with thousands of 5-star reviews, all unverified and posted within a few days of each other," and they've now investigated "the underbelly of Amazon's fake-review economy" and "how such a product, peddled by a ragtag troupe of e-commerce scammers, managed to game one of the world's premier technology companies."
The fake Amazon review economy is a thriving market, ripe with underground forums, "How To Game The Rankings!" tutorials, and websites with names like (now-defunct) "amazonverifiedreviews.com." But the favored hunting grounds for sellers on the prowl is Amazon's fellow tech behemoth, Facebook. In a recent two-week period, I identified more than 150 private Facebook groups where sellers openly exchange free products (and, in many cases, commissions) for 5-star reviews, sans disclosures. A sampling of 20 groups I analyzed collectively have more than 200,000 members. These groups seem to be in the midst of an online Gold Rush: Most are less than a year old, and in the past 30 days have attracted more than 50,000 new users... One stay-at-home mom from Kentucky told me she makes $200-300 per month leaving positive reviews for things like sleep masks, light bulbs, and AV cables...
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's doing-the-waves department
West Virginia University assistant professor Zachariah Etienne is launching "a global volunteer computing effort" analyzing gravitational waves from colliding black holes, reports Phys.org:
"As our gravitational wave detectors become more sensitive, we're going to need to greatly expand our efforts to understand all of the information encoded in gravitational waves from colliding binary black holes," Etienne said. "We are turning to the general public to help with these efforts, which involve generating unprecedented numbers of self-consistent simulations of these extremely energetic collisions. This will truly be an inclusive effort, and we especially hope to inspire the next generation of scientists in this growing field of gravitational wave astrophysics."
His team -- and the scientific community in general -- needs computing capacity to run the simulations required to cover all possibilities related to the properties and other information contained in gravitational waves. "Each desktop computer will be able to perform a single simulation of colliding black holes," said Etienne. By seeking public involvement through use of vast numbers of personal desktop computers, Etienne and others hope to dramatically increase the throughput of the theoretical gravitational wave predictions needed to extract information from observations of the collisions.
Etienne and his team are building a website with downloadable software based on the same Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing, or BOINC, system used for the SETI@Home project and other scientific applications. The free middleware system is designed to help harness the processing power of thousands of personal computers across the globe. The West Virginia team has named their project BlackHoles@Home and expects to have it up and running later this year.
They have already established a website where the public can begin learning more about the effort.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's moo-moo-here department
A herd of dairy cows in the U.K. "are enjoying the benefits of 5G connectivity before you," reports Reuters:
For the cows, among the 5G-connected gadgets they are wearing is a collar that controls a robotic milking system. When the cow feels ready to be milked it will approach machine gates that will automatically open. The device recognizes the individual to precisely latch on to its teats for milking, while the cow munches on a food reward. At the government-funded Agricultural Engineering Precision Innovation Centre (Agri-EPI Centre) in Shepton Mallet, in southwest England, around 50 of the 180-strong herd is fitted with the 5G smart collars and health-monitoring ear tags.
But -- why?! The Verge explains:
According to Reuters, Cisco is testing infrastructure for the eventual global rollout of 5G that could be used by various industries that are not traditionally in the tech bubble but are still dependent on increasingly sophisticated hardware and software. That includes farming. In this case, Cisco is trying out 5G in three rural locations...
It makes a whole lot of sense when you think about it: farms are large and spread-out spaces, and cows are often shuffled between grazing grounds and areas of the farm where they can be more easily milked and checked on. With the 5G collars, Cisco says farmers can keep tabs on the animals at all times of the day without having to physically trek out to observe the cows up close... The future is wonderful and weird, and farmers have access to it before you and I because without them, we all starve.
"We can connect every cow, we can connect every animal on this farm," Cisco's Nick Chrissos told Reuters, in what may be the strangest boast a Cisco executive has ever uttered in public. "That's what 5G can do for farming -- really unleash the power that we have within this farm, everywhere around the UK and everywhere around the world."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's quitting-times department
An anonymous reader quotes Reuters:
Richard Liu, the founder of Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com Inc, has weighed in on an ongoing debate about the Chinese tech industry's grueling overtime work culture, lamenting that years of growth had increased the number of "slackers" in his firm who are not his "brothers...." Liu, who started the company that would become JD.com in 1998, in the note spoke about how in the firm's earliest days he would set his alarm clock to wake him up every two hours to ensure he could offer his customers 24-hour service -- a step he said was crucial to JD's success...
The '996' work schedule, which refers to a 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. workday, six days a week, has in particular become the target of online debate and protests on some coding platforms, where workers have swapped examples of excessive overtime demands at some firms. Liu said JD did not force its staff to work the "996" or even a "995" overtime schedule. "But every person must have the desire to push oneself to the limit!" he said.
JD disputed reports that the company would be cutting up to 8% of its workforce, but did say "We're getting back to those roots as we seek, develop and reward staff who share the same hunger and values... JD.com is a competitive workplace that rewards initiative and hard work, which is consistent with our entrepreneurial roots."
JD's investors include Walmart and Google.Read Replies (0)