The Washington Post reports that Google has filed a motion challenging the gag orders preventing it from disclosing information about the data requests it receives from government agencies. The motion cites the free speech protections of the First Amendment. "FISA court data requests typically are known only to small numbers of a company’s employees. Discussing the requests openly, either within or beyond the walls of an involved company, can violate federal law." From the filing (PDF): "On June 6, 2013, The Guardian newspaper published a story mischaracterizing the scope and nature of Google's receipt of and compliance with foreign intelligence surveillance requests. ... In light of the intense public interest generated by The Guardian's and Post's erroneous articles, and others that have followed them, Google seeks to increase its transparency with users and the public regarding its receipt of national security requests, if any. ... Google's reputation and business has been harmed by the false or misleading reports in the media, and Google's users are concerned by the allegation. Google must respond to such claims with more than generalities. ... In particular, Google seeks a declaratory judgment that Google as a right under the First Amendment to publish ... two aggregate unclassified numbers: (1) the total number of FISA requests it receives, if any; and (2) the total number of users or accounts encompassed within such requests."
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adeelarshad82 writes "For the fourth year running, PCMag sent drivers out on U.S. roads to test the nation's Fastest Mobile Networks. Using eight identical Samsung phones, the drivers tested out eight separate networks for four major carriers across 30 cities evenly spread across six regions. Using Sensorly's 2013 software, a broad suite of tests were conducted every three minutes: a 'ping' to test network latency, multi-threaded HTTP upload and download tests including separate 'time to first byte' measures, a 4MB single-threaded file download, a 2MB single-threaded file upload, the download of a 1MB Web page with 70 elements, and 100kbps and 500kbps UDP streams designed to simulate streaming media. Nearly 90,000 data cycles later, the data not only revealed the fastest networks (AT&T) and the most consistent (Verizon), but also other interesting points. The tests recorded the fastest download speed (66.11 Mbits/sec) in New Orleans and the best average in Austin (27.25 Mbits/sec), both for AT&T's LTE network. The tests also found T-Mobile's HSPA network to have the worst Average-Time-To-First-Byte, even when compared with AT&T HSPA network. Also according to the tests, Sprint's LTE network didn't even come close to competing with other LTE networks, to the point that in some cities its LTE network speed averaged less than T-Mobile's HSPA network speed."
An anonymous reader writes "Last month, Google revealed that it was planning to finish defining its VP9 video codec on June 17 (today), after which it will start using the next-generation compression technology in Chrome and on YouTube. The company is wasting no time: it has already enabled the free video compression standard by default in the latest Chromium build."
Lucas123 writes "Intel this year plans to sell a set-top box and Internet-based streaming media service that will bundle TV channels for subscribers, but cable, satellite and ISPs are likely to use every tool at their disposal to stop another IP-based competitor, according to experts. They may already be pressuring content providers to charge Intel more or not sell to it. Another scenario could be that cable and ISP providers simply favor their own streaming services with pricing models, or limit bandwidth based on where customers get their streamed content. For example, Comcast could charge more for a third-party streaming service than for its own, or it could throttle bandwidth or place caps on it to limit how much content customer receives from streaming media services as it did with BitTorrent. Meanwhile, Verizon is challenging in a D.C. circuit court the FCC's Open Internet rules that are supposed to ensure there's a level playing field."
ilikenwf writes "Pioneers of the Inevitable has announced on their blog that they will be folding on June 28. Started in 2007, the company went on to create the Songbird Desktop and mobile players, as well as the Songbird.me Facebook app. Their legacy lives on in Nightingale, an open source fork of the Songbird Desktop player that runs on Linux, Windows and Mac. No word yet on whether or not their currently closed source code will be opened up or not, but their contributions to the world of open source software are appreciated, and won't be forgotten."
Bennett Haselton writes "After initial abuse reports failed to shut down some anti-women and pro-rape pages on Facebook, a wider lobbying campaign succeeded in prompting a Facebook policy change. This has been alternately hailed as a vindication of the campaigner's cause, or derided as proof that Facebook can be cowed by humorless feminists. In reality, the success of the campaign was most likely the outcome of a mostly arbitrary and random process that required a lot of luck, just as the initial abuse reports didn't succeed because they didn't have the necessary luck on their side. Neither result should be taken to reflect on the merits of the campaigner's actual points." Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.
cold fjord writes "There are new developments in the ongoing controversy engulfing the NSA as a result of the Snowden leaks. From The Hill: 'Emerging from a hearing with NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander, Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the Intelligence Committee, and Dutch Ruppersberger (Md.), the senior Democrat on the panel, said Edward Snowden simply wasn't in the position to access the content of the communications gathered under National Security Agency programs, as he's claimed. "He was lying," Rogers said. "He clearly has over-inflated his position, he has over-inflated his access and he's even over-inflated what the actual technology of the programs would allow one to do. It's impossible for him to do what he was saying he could do." ... "He's done tremendous damage to the country where he was born and raised and educated," Ruppersberger said. ... "It was clear that he attempted to go places that he was not authorized to go, which should raise questions for everyone," Rogers added.'" U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has also told the E.U. justice commissioner that media reports surrounding PRISM are wrong: "The contention it [PRISM] is not subject to any internal or external oversights is simply not correct. It's subject to an extensive oversight regime from executive, legislative and judicial branches and Congress is made aware of these activities. The courts are aware as we need to get a court order. ... We can't target anyone unless appropriate documented foreign intelligence purpose for the prevention of terrorism or hostile cyber activities." Meanwhile, Bloomberg has gone live with a report (based on unidentified sources, so take it with a grain of salt) saying that private sector cooperation with snooping government agencies extends far beyond the ones listed in the PRISM report. "Thousands of technology, finance and manufacturing companies are working closely with U.S. national security agencies, providing sensitive information and in return receiving benefits that include access to classified intelligence, four people familiar with the process said." Whatever PRISM turns out to be, the NY Times is reporting that at least Yahoo, and probably other tech companies as well, tried to fight participation in it. Other reports suggest Twitter refused to participate, though there's been no official confirmation.
An anonymous reader writes "Today Mozilla announced the Mozilla Science Lab, a project to help modernize scientific practices to make better use of the open web. "Scientists created the web — but the open web still hasn't transformed scientific practice to the same extent we've seen in other areas like media, education and business. For all of the incredible discoveries of the last century, science is still largely rooted in the "analog" age. Credit systems in science are still largely based around "papers," for example, and as a result researchers are often discouraged from sharing, learning, reusing, and adopting the type of open and collaborative learning that the web makes possible.' Hopefully this can be another step in moving away from traditional publishing practices, and encourage a new generation of scientists to make their data available in more useful ways."
taikedz writes "Fiona Fox, chief executive of the Science Media Center, has claimed that leading scientists independently advising the UK government are being actively prevented from speaking to the public and media, especially in times of crisis when scientific evidence is necessary for a fully open and educated public debate, such as the current badger culling policy, and the past volcanic eruptions and ash fallout and their effects. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whom many of these scientists are advising, denies any such practices."
Debian warns on its blog: "The unofficial third party repository Debian Multimedia stopped using the domain debian-multimedia.org some months ago. The domain expired and it is now registered again by someone unknown to Debian. (If we're wrong on this point, please sent us an email so we can take over the domain! This means that the repository is no longer safe to use, and you should remove the related entries from your source.list file.)" Update: 06/14 02:58 GMT by U L : If you're wondering where it went, it moved to deb-multimedia.org, after the DPL (at the time) asked the maintainer to stop using the Debian name.
McGruber writes "According to a report by Rochester, NY CBS affiliate WROC Kodak has ended in-house production of the cellulose acetate base that is the primary component of photographic film. Popular Photography magazine adds that, for more than 100 years, Kodak has made the acetate in house in bulk, providing the structural basis for the company's film. Now, with Kodak in bankruptcy, the company is firing 60 workers and shutting down the acetate machinery. Citing the decline in interest in film photography as a primary cause, Kodak will no longer undertake the time intensive process of acetate production. Thankfully, the company has large stockpiles of the material, and once that runs out they will source it from elsewhere."
trendspotter writes in with the latest news about the 2045 Project. "If Russian billionaire Dmitry Itskov has his way, the human lifespan will soon no longer depend on the limitations of the human body. Itskov, a Russian tycoon and former media mogul, is the founder of the 2045 Project — a venture that seeks to replace flesh-and-blood bodies with robotic avatars, each one uploaded with the contents of a human brain. The goal: to extend human lives by hundreds or thousands of years, if not indefinitely."
An anonymous reader writes "Several UK Internet providers have quietly added a list of new sites to their secretive anti-piracy blocklists. Following in the footsteps of Sky, the first ISP to initiate a proxy blockade, Virgin, BT and several other providers now restrict access to several torrent site proxies. The surprise isn't really that proxies have been added to the blocklist, but that the music industry and ISPs are failing to disclose which sites are being banned."
This is our second video starring Backyard Brains (Motto: "Neuroscience for Everyone!"). The first one was pretty lab-oriented, with a twitching roach leg here and there. This one has more roaches, with most of them crawling on command. Will the DoD see this and decide to make cockroach soldiers? Or roboroach bomb detectors and defusers? Or cockroach drone pilots? Anything's possible these days. But meanwhile, relax and enjoy learning about roboroaches and watching how, with little circuit boards on their little backs, they scurry hither and yon under control of their human masters. WARNING: Excessively squeamish people should not watch this video, but should stick to the transcript.
An anonymous reader writes "While the tech media has gone wild the past few days with the reports of the NSA tracking Verizon cell usage and creating the PRISM system to peer into our online lives, a new study by Pew Research suggests that most U.S. citizens think it's okay. 62 percent of Americans say losing some personal privacy is acceptable as long as its used to fight terrorism, and 56 percent are okay with the NSA tracking phone calls. Online tracking is fair less popular however, with only 45 percent approving of the practice. The data also shows that the youth are far more opposed to curtailing privacy to fight terror, which could mean trouble for politicians planning to continue these programs in the coming years."
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Prachatai.com: "Thailand's Rangers Task Force 45, in response to Army policy, has put its troops to the task of promoting and protecting the monarchy in cyber space, claiming to have posted 1.69 million comments on webboards and social media during a 4-month period of last year ... According to the video clip, the Army Chief has approved the establishment of an army internet network to promote and protect the monarchy by monitoring websites and webboards which have content alluding to the monarchy and countering them by posting comments which worship the institution. ...The unit's military operations personnel provide the troops with information, or what to post, and set them targets for the number of posts they must complete."
Following the confusion surrounding Microsoft's announcement of the Xbox One, the company has now clarified many of the hot-button issues in a set of posts on their official site. First, they confirmed that the console will need to phone home in order to continue playing games. On your primary console, you'd need to connect to the internet and check in once every 24 hours. They also announced that you'll be able to access and play any of your games by logging in on somebody else's console, but the internet connection will be required every hour to keep playing that way. Other media don't require the connection. Microsoft also explained how game licensing will work. On the upside, anyone using your console will be able to play your games, and you can share your games with up to 10 members of your family for free. The downside is the news about used games; Microsoft says they've "designed Xbox One so game publishers can enable you to trade in your games at participating retailers." The key word there is can, which implies that you can't without the publisher's express permission. Finally, the company made a set of statements about how Kinect's audio and video sensors will collect and share your data. "When Xbox One is on and you're simply having a conversation in your living room, your conversation is not being recorded or uploaded." They also say data gathered during normal use won't leave the console without your explicit permission.
savuporo writes "The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Department of Transportation are considering technological solutions for people to stop using their cellphones while driving. Proximity detectors or requiring physical link with the car are the solutions under the scope. From the article: 'NHTSA wants automakers to make it impossible to enter text for messaging and internet browsing while the car is in motion, disable any kind of video functionality and prevent text-based information such as social media content or text messages from being displayed.' Obviously these regulations would need to go beyond cellphones, as laptop, tablet or any other gadget with a 3G data connection or even on a wi-fi hotspot made by your phone would be equally distracting."
ananyo writes "A toy quadcopter can be steered through an obstacle course by thought alone. The aircraft's pilot operates it remotely using a cap of electrodes to detect brainwaves that are translated into commands. Ultimately, the developers of the mind-controlled copter hope to adapt their technology for directing artificial robotic limbs and other medical devices." From the paper (PDF) abstract: "... we report a novel experiment of BCI controlling a robotic quadcopter in three-dimensional (3D) physical space using noninvasive scalp electroencephalogram (EEG) in human subjects. We then quantify the performance of this system using metrics suitable for asynchronous BCI. Lastly, we examine the impact that the operation of a real world device has on subjects’ control in comparison to a 2D virtual cursor task. Approach. ... Individual subjects were able to accurately acquire up to 90.5% of all valid targets presented while traveling at an average straight-line speed of 0.69 m s^(1)." This also appears to be the first time a Brain-Computer Interface was used to operate a flying device in 3D space. Also, there are several additional videos showing people operating the quadcopter.