Government

Democrat Senators Introduce National Data Breach Notification Law (cyberscoop.com) 162

New submitter unarmed8 shares a report from CyberScoop: Three Democratic senators introduced legislation on Thursday requiring companies to notify customers of data breaches within thirty days of their discovery and imposing a five year prison sentence on organizations caught concealing data breaches. The new bill, called the Data Security and Breach Notification Act, was introduced in the wake of reports that Uber paid $100,000 to cover up a 2016 data breach that affected 57 million users. The scope of what kind of data breach falls under this is limited. For instance, if only a last name, address or phone number is breached, the law would not apply. If an organization "reasonably concludes that there is no reasonable risk of identity theft, fraud, or other unlawful conduct," the incident is considered exempt from the legislation.

"We need a strong federal law in place to hold companies truly accountable for failing to safeguard data or inform consumers when that information has been stolen by hackers," Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said in a statement. "Congress can either take action now to pass this long overdue bill or continue to kowtow to special interests who stand in the way of this commonsense proposal. When it comes to doing what's best for consumers, the choice is clear."

Earth

CNN Visualizes Climate Change-Driven Arctic Melt With 360-Degree VR Video (cnn.com) 163

dryriver writes: CNN has put up a slickly produced and somewhat alarming 360-degree browser video experience that allows the viewer to see firsthand what arctic melt looks like in Greenland. The video takes the viewer to the "Ground Zero" of climate change. Throughout the 7-minute long video, the viewer can interactively look around the locations visited. Voice narration and various scientists featured in the video explain what is happening in the Arctic, what causes the melting, and what the potential consequences are for the world.
Verizon

Verizon Will Launch 5G Home Internet Access In 2018 (engadget.com) 115

wyattstorch516 writes: Real competition may finally be on the way for the residential broadband market. Verizon will be the first company to introduce 5G wireless broadband in a select number of cities. This will give residential customers an alternative to cable/fiber offerings. 5G wireless can offer speeds in the range of hundreds of megabits per second. Full technical specifications as well as pricing plans have yet to be determined. The launch is scheduled for the second half of 2018.
Intel

System76 Will Disable Intel Management Engine On Its Linux Laptops (liliputing.com) 148

System76 is rolling out a firmware update for its recent laptops that will disable the Intel Management Engine altogether. The decision comes after a major security vulnerability was discovered that would allow an attacker with local access to execute arbitrary code. Liliputing reports: What's noteworthy in the System76 announcement is that the PC maker isn't just planning to disable Intel ME in computers that ship from now on. The company will send out an update that disables it on existing computers with 6th, 7th, or 8th-gen Intel Core processors. System76 also notes that Intel ME "provides no functionality for System76 laptop customers and is safe to disable." Right now the firmware update will only be available for computers running Ubuntu 16.04 or later or a related operating system with the System76 driver. But the company says it's working on developing a command line tool that should work on laptops running other GNU/Linux-based operating systems. System76 says it will also release an update for its desktop computers... but on those machines the update will patch the security vulnerability rather than disabling Intel ME altogether.
Robotics

Russia Says It Will Ignore Any UN Ban of Killer Robots (ibtimes.com) 132

According a report from Defense One, a United Nations meeting in Geneva earlier this month on lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS) was derailed when Russia said they would not adhere to any prohibitions on killer robots. "The U.N. meeting appeared to be undermined both by Russia's disinterest in it and the framework of the meeting itself," reports International Business Times. "Member nations attempted to come in and define what LAWS' systems would be, and what restrictions could be developed around autonomous war machines, but no progress was made." From the report: In a statement, Russia said that the lack of already developed war machines makes coming up with prohibitions on such machines difficult. "According to the Russian Federation, the lack of working samples of such weapons systems remains the main problem in the discussion on LAWS... this can hardly be considered as an argument for taking preventive prohibitive or restrictive measures against LAWS being a by far more complex and wide class of weapons of which the current understanding of humankind is rather approximate," read the statement.
Businesses

Prepare for the New Paywall Era (theatlantic.com) 263

Alexis C. Madrigal, writing for The Atlantic: If the recent numbers are any indication, there is a bloodbath in digital media this year. Publishers big and small are coming up short on advertising revenue, even if they are long on traffic. [...] In a print newspaper or a broadcast television station, the content and the distribution of that content are integrated. The big tech platforms split this marriage, doing the distribution for most digital content through Google searches and the Facebook News Feed. And they've taken most of the money: They've "captured the value" of the content at the distribution level. Media companies have no real alternative, nor do they have competitive advertising products to the targeting and scale that Facebook and Google can offer. Facebook and Google need content, but it's all fungible. The recap of a huge investigative blockbuster is just as valuable to Google News as an investigative blockbuster itself. The former might have taken months and costs tens of thousands of dollars, the latter a few hours and the cost of a young journalist's time. That's led many people to the conclusion that supporting rigorous journalism requires some sort of direct financial relationship between publications and readers. Right now, the preferred method is the paywall. The New York Times has one. The Washington Post has one. The Financial Times has one. The Wall Street Journal has one. The New Yorker has one. Wired just announced they'd be building one. (Editor's note: CNN is building a paywall, too.) Many of these efforts have been successful. Publications have figured out how to create the right kinds of porosity for their sites, allowing enough people in to drive scale, but extracting more revenue per reader than advertising could provide.
Google

Google Faces Lawsuit For Gathering Personal Data From Millions of iPhone Users (betanews.com) 35

Mark Wilson writes: A group going by the name Google You Owe Us is taking Google to court in the UK, complaining that the company harvested personal data from 5.4 million iPhone users. The group is led by Richard Lloyd, director of consumer group Which?, and it alleges that Google bypassed privacy settings on iPhones between June 2011 and February 2012. The lawsuit seeks compensation for those affected by what is described as a "violation of trust." Google is accused of breaching UK data protection laws, and Lloyd says that this is "one of the biggest fights of my life." Even if the case is successful, the people represented by Google You Owe Us are not expected to receive more than a few hundred pounds each, and this is not an amount that would make much of an impact on Google's coffers.
Bitcoin

Nasdaq Plans To Offer Bitcoin Futures In Early 2018 (engadget.com) 100

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Engadget: Nasdaq is planning to launch contracts for bitcoin futures in the first half of 2018, according to The Wall Street Journal, which will enable investors to predict and put money on the future price of the currency. The Wall Street Journal also reports that broker Cantor Fitzgerald will be launching bitcoin derivatives on its own exchange in the first half of next year as well, making for yet another brokerage to help make bitcoin a more mainstream financial instrument. The relative youth and volatility of the currency still keeps many investors away, of course, but bitcoin is probably here to stay, even if this is just a bubble. New uses for regular folks to spend with the currency continue to rise, like the UK Visa card based on bitcoin and Square's testing of the currency in its payment app.
ISS

Bacteria Found On ISS May Be Alien In Origin, Says Cosmonaut (independent.co.uk) 240

Kekke writes: Lots of buzz around this. Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov took routine samples from the outside of the International Space Station during a spacewalk. These samples were analyzed and found to contain bacteria that must have come from somewhere other than Earth or the ISS itself. "Bacteria that had not been there during the launch of the ISS module were found on the swabs," Mr. Shkaplerov told TASS Russian News Agency. "So they have flown from somewhere in space and settled on the outside hull." He made it clear that "it seems, there is no danger," and that scientists are doing more work to find out what they are. The Independent writes, "Finding bacteria that came from somewhere other than Earth would be one of the biggest breakthroughs in the history of science -- but much more must be done before such a claim is made."
Robotics

375 Million Jobs May Be Automated By 2030, Study Suggests (cnn.com) 236

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNNMoney: The McKinsey Global Institute cautions that as many as 375 million workers will need to switch occupational categories by 2030 due to automation. The work most at risk of automation includes physical jobs in predictable environments, such as operating machinery or preparing fast food. Data collection and processing is also in the crosshairs, with implications for mortgage origination, paralegals, accounts and back-office processing. To remain viable, workers must embrace retraining in different fields. But governments and companies will need to help smooth what could be a rocky transition.

Despite the looming challenges, the report revealed how workers can move forward. While the introduction of the personal computer in the 1980s eliminated some jobs, it created many more roles. Workers who are willing to develop new skills should be able to find new jobs. The authors don't expect automation will displace jobs involving managing people, social interactions or applying expertise. Gardeners, plumbers, child and elder-care workers are among those facing less risk from automation.
The report says that 39 million to 73 million jobs in the U.S. could be destroyed, but about 20 million of those displaced workers can be shifted fairly easily into similar occupations. Globally, up to 800 million workers could be displaced.
Earth

DNA Analysis Finds That Yetis Are Actually Bears (popsci.com) 121

schwit1 shares a report from Popular Science: University of Buffalo biologist Charlotte Lindqvist and her international team in Pakistan and Singapore provided the first strong evidence that presumed yetis are actually bears. They published their results in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B on Tuesday. Icon Film secured nine samples that purported to be genuine yeti artifacts, and Lindqvist gathered 15 samples from known bear populations. By sequencing mitochondria from all these sources, she and her fellow researchers were able to determine that all but one of the yeti artifacts actually came from local bears. That last sample was from a dog. They also figured out that Himalayan brown bears split off from the rest of the regional bear population several thousand years ago, which is why they're so genetically distinct from most other brown bears. Living in geographic isolation for so long has separated them from other Asian brown bears, and even from their relatives on the nearby Tibetan plateau. They even look different. But prior to Lindqvist's work, it wasn't clear just how long Himalayan bears had been on their own. Researchers will need higher-quality samples to figure out the whole picture, but even this small step is major for a species that's hardly been studied.
Education

Physicists Made An Unprecedented 53 Qubit Quantum Simulator (vice.com) 70

Two teams of researchers have published papers [1, 2] in the journal Nature detailing how they were able to create unprecedented quantum simulators consisting of over 50 qubits. The University of Maryland team and National Institute of Standards and Technology team -- the two teams behind one of the two new papers -- were able to create a quantum simulator with 53 qubits. Motherboard reports: Quantum simulators are a special type of quantum computer that uses qubits to simulate complex interactions between particles. Qubits are the informational medium of quantum computers, analogous to a bit in an ordinary computer. Yet rather than existing as a 1 or 0, as is the case in a conventional bit, a qubit can exist in some superposition of both of these states at the same time. For the Maryland experiment, each of the qubits was a laser cooled ytterbium ion. Each ion had the same electrical charge, so they repelled one another when placed in close proximity. The system created by Monroe and his colleagues used an electric field to force the repelled ions into neat rows. At this point, lasers are used to manipulate all the ytterbium qubits into the same initial state. Then another set of lasers is used to manipulate the qubits so that they act like atomic magnets, where each ion has a north and south pole. The qubits either orient themselves with their neighboring ions to form a ferromagnet, where their magnetic fields are aligned, or at random. By changing the strength of the laser beams that are manipulating the qubits, the researchers are able to program them to a desired state (in terms of magnetic alignment).

According to Zhexuan Gong, a physicist at the University of Maryland, the 53 qubits can be used to simulate over a quadrillion different magnetic configurations of the qubits, a number that doubles with each additional qubit added to the array. As these types of quantum simulators keep adding more qubits into the mix, they will be able to simulate ever more complex atomic interactions that are far beyond the capabilities of conventional supercomputers and usher in a new era of physics research. Another team from Harvard and Maryland also released a paper today in which it demonstrated a quantum simulator using 51 qubits.

Bitcoin

Coinbase Ordered To Report 14,355 Users To the IRS (theverge.com) 141

Nearly a year after the case was initially filed, Coinbase has been ordered to turn over identifying records for all users who have bought, sold, sent, or received more than $20,000 through their accounts in a single year. The digital asset broker estimates that 14,355 users meet the government's requirements. The Verge reports: For each account, the company has been asked to provide the IRS with the user's name, birth date, address, and taxpayer ID, along with records of all account activity and any associated account statements. The result is both a definitive link to the user's identity and a comprehensive record of everything they've done with their Coinbase account, including other accounts to which they've sent money. The order is significantly narrower than the IRS's initial request, which asked for records on every single Coinbase user over the same period. That request would also have required all communications between Coinbase and the user, a measure the judge ultimately found unnecessarily comprehensive. The government made no claim of suspicion against individual users, but instead argued that the order was justified based on the discrepancy between Coinbase users and U.S. citizens reporting Bitcoin gains to the IRS.
Facebook

Snapchat Is Becoming the Anti-Facebook (qz.com) 47

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Quartz: Snap announced today (Nov. 29), that it was rolling out a redesign for Snapchat that's intended to separate users' feeds between their friends from the brands that publish content on the app. Founder and CEO Evan Spiegel published an op-ed in Axios this morning about the direction that social media has taken over the last few years, where content from brands and influencers has been given the same weight and placement as content from friends and loved ones in users' feeds. Spiegel also took to YouTube, for the second time in about two years, to explain how the new Snapchat works.

The new structure seems like a positive move. It's sort of solidifying the app, which turned down $3 billion from Facebook in 2013, as the "anti-Facebook." Facebook has muddled the line between content, news about friends, and pure internet garbage to the point where it's become nearly impossible for the average user to know what's important, or even true -- on purpose. Snapchat is reaffirming the value of staying connected to your friends, and enjoying news and entertainment content, but showing that the two activities should not be the same thing. Whether this restructuring will convince more people to start using Snapchat, however, is unclear.

Power

EPA Confirms Tesla's Model 3 Has a Range of 310 Miles (theverge.com) 283

Tesla's Model 3 has a confirmed range of 310 miles, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. "That figure applies to the long-range version of the Model 3, and echoes the vehicle specs released by Tesla back in July," reports The Verge. "It also makes the Model 3 one of the most efficient passenger electric vehicles on the market." From the report: The EPA's range is used as the advertised figure for electric vehicles that are sold in the US. The 310-mile range is an estimate of the number of miles the vehicle should be able to travel in combined city and highway driving from a full charge. That's 131 miles per gallon gasoline equivalent (MPGe) for city driving, 120 MPGe on the highway, and 126 MPGe combined. You'll have to pay more to get that extended range, though. Tesla said it would be selling a standard version of the Model 3, with just 220 miles of range, for $35,000. The long-range version will start at $44,000, the automaker says. Production on the standard version isn't expected to begin until 2018.
Microsoft

Microsoft: We're Razing Our Redmond Campus To Build a Mini City (zdnet.com) 98

Armand Winter shares a report from ZDNet: Microsoft president Brad Smith said the company will spend $150 million in transport infrastructure, public spaces, sports fields and green space. It expects the project will create 2,500 construction and development jobs. Microsoft's renovation budget is modest compared with the $5 billion Apple spent on its new spaceship headquarters in Cupertino, while Microsoft's Washington neighbor and cloud rival, Amazon, will spend $5 billion on a second North American headquarters, which will offer space for 50,000 people. "We are not only creating a world-class work environment to help retain and attract the best and brightest global talent, but also building a campus that our neighbors can enjoy, and that we can build in a fiscally smart way with low environmental impact," said Smith in a blog post.
Earth

Scientists Call For Ban On Glitter, Say It's a Global Hazard That Pollutes Oceans (cnet.com) 121

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNET: Whether you love to add a little sparkle to your skin, or you think glitter truly is the herpes of the craft world (once it's on you, it never comes off), some scientists are now claiming that glitter is a hazard to the environment. Glitter, along with microbeads, are considered to fall under the category of microplastics, which are defined as plastics which are less than five millimeters in length. Microbeads are often found in facial scrubs, toothpaste, soaps, cosmetics and more. These microbeads pass through water filtration systems after usage but don't disintegrate, and often end up being consumed by marine life, causing concern among scientists keeping a close eye on how pollution effects fish.

"I think all glitter should be banned, because it's microplastic," Dr. Trisia Farrelly of New Zealand's Massey University told the Independent. Historically, glitter was made from mica rock particles, glass and even crushed beetles. Modern-day crafting glitter is made primarily from metals, while fine-milled cosmetic glitter is made from polyester, foil and plastics.

Bitcoin

Bitcoin Tumbles From Record High After Exchanges Confirm Outage 130

Fearful of missing out on the frenzy in the Bitcoin world, several people were left disappointed on Wednesday noon after they were unable to buy some cryptocurrency because the websites of Coinbase and Gemini, two of the largest online exchanges for Bitcoin trading in the United States, were either down or taking too long to load, they said. In a statement, Coinbase said it was facing issues handling the overwhelming traffic it has been receiving on its website. Bitcoin surged past $11,000, the highest it has ever been, early Wednesday, though it has since taken a tumble as well, going as low as $9,290.30. Gemini said in a tweet it had resolved the performance issues, though some users continue to report delays on the website. Bitcoin's professional trading platform GDAX and exchanges Kraken and Bitstamp were also facing issues on Wednesday. The issues had been addressed, they said.
Communications

FCC Chairman Keeps Up Assault on Social Media (axios.com) 193

Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is doubling down on his critique of tech companies, asking whether social media is "a net benefit to American society" in remarks at the Media Institute on Wednesday. "Now, I will tell you upfront that I don't have an answer." From a report: What he said: Pai made the case that social media has been key to the politicization of many aspects of American life. "Everything nowadays is political. Everything. ... This view that politics-is-all is often made worse by social media," he said, per his prepared remarks.
Privacy

A Supreme Court Case This Week Could Change US Digital Privacy Standards 74

On November 29th, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Carpenter v. US, a case essentially asking whether or not authorities need a warrant based on probable cause and signed by a judge to see your cellphone location data. For now, they do not. Given the fact that about 95% of Americans have cellphones, this case has major implications. Quartz reports: Mobile-service providers collect "cell site location information" (CSLI) for all phones, ostensibly to use for things like improving their networks. The U.S. government considers these data "routinely collected business records" rather than private information. That means it can demand the records without proving probable cause. That's what happened in the criminal case of Timothy Carpenter, accused of a series of Detroit, Michigan robberies. At Carpenter's trial, prosecutors presented evidence collected by private companies, obtained by the law without probable cause. They used 127 days-worth of cellphone-location data, amounting to almost 13,000 data points, to tell a circumstantial story of Carpenter comings and goings.

In its brief to the high court, filed in September, the justice department argued that when Carpenter signed onto his cell-phone provider's service, he agreed that his call records weren't private information belonging to him, but rather business records belonging to the company. Therefore, he should have "no reasonable expectation of privacy" when it comes to these records, government attorneys wrote. Carpenter argues that the location evidence was obtained illegally. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals denied that claim last year, basing their decision on Supreme Court cases from the 1970s: Smith v. Maryland and US v. Miller . The appeals court concluded that, under what's called the "third-party doctrine," Americans don't have a reasonable expectation of privacy in things like check deposit slips, similar banking records, and dialed telephone numbers.
Businesses

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Criticizes Companies That Oppose His Efforts To Repeal Net Neutrality Rules (recode.net) 349

Tony Romm, writing for Recode: FCC Chairman Ajit Pai thinks everyone from Cher to Twitter has it wrong when they say that his efforts to roll back the U.S. government's existing net neutrality rules will spell the death of the web. Instead, Pai said during an event in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday that tech giants could pose the greatest threat by discriminating against viewpoints on the internet. "They might cloak their advocacy in the public interest," he said, "but the real interest of these internet giants is in using the regulatory process to cement their dominance in the internet economy." The surprising rebuke came as Pai forged ahead with his plan to end the net neutrality protections adopted by the Federal Communications Commission under former President Barack Obama. Those rules subject broadband providers like AT&T, Charter, Comcast and Verizon to utility-style regulation, all in a bid to stop them from blocking access to web pages, slowing down connections or prioritizing some content over others. [...] He didn't spare tech companies from that criticism, either. Companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter -- speaking through their main Washington, D.C.-based trade group, the Internet Association -- have urged Pai to stand down. In response, Pai sought to make an example of Twitter. He specifically raised the fact that the company at one point prevented a Republican congresswoman from promoting a tweet about abortion, only to change its mind amid a public backlash. "Now look: I love Twitter," Pai began. "But let's not kid ourselves; when it comes to a free and open Internet, Twitter is a part of the problem. The company has a viewpoint and uses that viewpoint to discriminate."
Bitcoin

Bitcoin Hits $10,000 Because Ceilings Are Just a Construct, Man (gizmodo.com) 348

An anonymous reader shares a report: On Tuesday, the trading price of the most prominent cryptocurrency hit $10,000 for the first time. And that nice round number will almost certainly have the kind of psychological effect that brings in new traders. Based on analysts' recent predictions, the $10,000 milestone could be the beginning of the end or just the beginning. Some thought that $2,000 would be the point at which we'd see a reversal of Bitcoin's ascent. Others predicted it would top out at $4,000. Then, $4,000 became the floor. These days, analysts with decent reputations have predicted the cryptocurrency's trading price could go as high as $50,000, $100,000, and even $1 million.
Books

Tom Baker Returns To Finish Shelved Doctor Who Episodes Penned By Douglas Adams (theregister.co.uk) 83

Zorro shares a report from The Register: The fourth and finest Doctor, Tom Baker, has reprised the role to finish a Who serial scuppered in 1979 by strike action at the BBC. Shada, penned by Hitchhiker's Guide author Douglas Adams, was supposed to close Doctor Who's 17th season. Location filming in Cambridge and a studio session were completed but the strike nixed further work and the project was later shelved entirely for fear it might affect the Beeb's Christmas-time productions. The remaining parts have been filled in with animation and the voice of 83-year-old Baker, although he also filmed a scene. BBC Worldwide has now released the episodes, which interweave the 1979 footage with the new material to complete the story. "I loved doing Doctor Who, it was life to me," Baker told the BBC of his tenure as the much-loved Time Lord. "I used to dread the end of rehearsal because then real life would impinge on me. Doctor Who... when I was in full flight, then I was happy."
Cellphones

White House Weighs Personal Mobile Phone Ban For Staff (bloomberg.com) 113

The White House is considering banning its employees from using personal mobile phones while at work. While President Trump has been vocal about press leaks since taking office, one official said the potential change is driven by cybersecurity concerns. Bloomberg reports: One official said that there are too many devices connected to the campus wireless network and that personal phones aren't as secure as those issued by the federal government. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly -- whose personal phone was found to be compromised by hackers earlier this year -- is leading the push for a ban, another official said. The White House already takes precautions with personal wireless devices, including by requiring officials to leave phones in cubbies outside of meeting rooms where sensitive or classified information is discussed. Top officials haven't yet decided whether or when to impose the ban, and if it would apply to all staff in the executive office of the president. While some lower-level officials support a ban, others worry it could result in a series of disruptive unintended consequences.
Advertising

Plex's DVR Can Now Automatically Remove Commercials For You (digitaltrends.com) 75

Plex has updated its DVR, adding a new feature to automatically remove commercials. According to Digital Trends, "The feature was added in an update the Plex team pushed out over the weekend. You'll need to manually enable the feature by heading into your Plex DVR settings and finding the option, labeled 'Remove Commercials.'" From the report: You may not want to turn the feature on immediately without looking into reports from other users. The description in the settings warns that while the feature will attempt to automatically locate and remove commercials, this could potentially take a long time and cause high CPU usage. If you're running your Plex server on a powerful computer, this may not be an issue, but if you're running it on an old laptop, you might want to hold off. This new feature also changes your DVR recordings permanently, removing commercials from the files themselves. This shouldn't be a problem as long as the feature works as intended, but if it detects wrong portions of the file as commercials, you could end up missing out on part of your favorite shows.
The Internet

Comcast Hints At Plan For Paid Fast Lanes After Net Neutrality Repeal (arstechnica.com) 308

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: For years, Comcast has been promising that it won't violate the principles of net neutrality, regardless of whether the government imposes any net neutrality rules. That meant that Comcast wouldn't block or throttle lawful Internet traffic and that it wouldn't create fast lanes in order to collect tolls from Web companies that want priority access over the Comcast network. This was one of the ways in which Comcast argued that the Federal Communications Commission should not reclassify broadband providers as common carriers, a designation that forces ISPs to treat customers fairly in other ways. The Title II common carrier classification that makes net neutrality rules enforceable isn't necessary because ISPs won't violate net neutrality principles anyway, Comcast and other ISPs have claimed.

But with Republican Ajit Pai now in charge at the Federal Communications Commission, Comcast's stance has changed. While the company still says it won't block or throttle Internet content, it has dropped its promise about not instituting paid prioritization. Instead, Comcast now vaguely says that it won't "discriminate against lawful content" or impose "anti-competitive paid prioritization." The change in wording suggests that Comcast may offer paid fast lanes to websites or other online services, such as video streaming providers, after Pai's FCC eliminates the net neutrality rules next month.

Education

Computer Science GCSE in Disarray After Tasks Leaked Online (bbc.com) 53

An anonymous reader shares a report: The new computer science GCSE has been thrown into disarray after programming tasks worth a fifth of the total marks were leaked repeatedly online. Exams regulator Ofqual plans to pull this chunk of the qualification from the overall marks as it has been seen by thousands of people. Ofqual said the non-exam assessment may have been leaked by teachers as well as students who had completed the task. The breach affects two year groups. The first will sit the exam in summer 2018. Last year 70,000 students were entered for computer science GCSE. A quick internet search reveals numerous posts about the the non-exam assessment, with questions and potential answers.
Businesses

Reddit, Twitter, and 200 Others Say Ending Net Neutrality Could Ruin Cyber Monday (theverge.com) 88

An anonymous reader shares a report: More than 200 businesses and trade organizations have signed a letter to the FCC asking that the agency reconsider its plan to end net neutrality. The letter is signed by an array of big and recognizable tech and web companies: that includes Airbnb, Automattic (which owns WordPress), Etsy, Foursquare, GitHub, Pinterest, Reddit, Shutterstock, Sonos, Square, Squarespace, Tumblr (certainly to the displeasure of its owner, Verizon), Twitter, and Vimeo, among quite a few others. The letter is being released on Cyber Monday and speaks directly to the internet's constantly growing role in the US economy. "The internet is increasingly where commerce happens," the letter says. It cites figures saying that $3.5 billion in online sales happed last year on Cyber Monday and $3 billion on Black Friday. Throughout all of last year, online purchases accounted for $400 billion in sales.
United States

'Complicit' Is The Word Of The Year In 2017, Dictionary.com Says (npr.org) 68

Dictionary.com has selected "complicit" as its word of the year for 2017, citing the term's renewed relevance in U.S. culture and politics -- and noting that a refusal to be complicit has also been "a grounding force of 2017." From a report: The website defines "complicit" as "choosing to be involved in an illegal or questionable act, especially with others; having complicity." Interest in the word spiked several times this year, Dictionary.com says -- most notably when Ivanka Trump said in April, "I don't know what it means to be complicit."
United States

Justices Ponder Need For Warrant For Cellphone Tower Data (apnews.com) 200

An anonymous reader shares a report: Like almost everyone else in America, thieves tend to carry their cellphones with them to work. When they use their phones on the job, police find it easier to do their jobs. They can get cellphone tower records that help place suspects in the vicinity of crimes, and they do so thousands of times a year. Activists across the political spectrum, media organizations and technology experts are among those arguing that it is altogether too easy for authorities to learn revealing details of Americans' lives merely by examining records kept by Verizon, T-Mobile and other cellphone service companies. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court hears its latest case about privacy in the digital age. At issue is whether police generally need a warrant to review the records. Justices on the left and right have recognized that technology has altered privacy concerns. The court will hear arguments in an appeal by federal prison inmate Timothy Carpenter. He is serving a 116-year sentence after a jury convicted him of armed robberies in the Detroit area and northwestern Ohio.
Bitcoin

Nearly 4 Million Bitcoins Lost Forever, New Study Says (fortune.com) 218

An anonymous reader shares a report: According to new research from Chainalysis, a digital forensics firm that studies the bitcoin blockchain, 3.79 million bitcoins are already gone for good based on a high estimate -- and 2.78 million based on a low one. Those numbers imply 17% to 23% of existing bitcoins, which are today worth around $9,700 each, are lost. While others have speculated about the number of lost bitcoins, the Chainalysis findings are significant because they rely on a detailed empirical analysis of the blockchain, where all bitcoin transactions are recorded.
Businesses

Tim Wu: Why the Courts Will Have to Save Net Neutrality (nytimes.com) 251

Tim Wu, a law professor at Columbia who first coined the term "net neutrality," writes for the New York Times: Allowing such censorship is anathema to the internet's (and America's) founding spirit. And by going this far, the F.C.C. may also have overplayed its legal hand. So drastic is the reversal of policy (if, as expected, the commission approves Mr. Pai's proposal next month), and so weak is the evidence to support the change, that it seems destined to be struck down in court. The problem for Mr. Pai is that government agencies are not free to abruptly reverse longstanding rules on which many have relied without a good reason (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled), such as a change in factual circumstances. A mere change in F.C.C. ideology isn't enough. As the Supreme Court has said, a federal agency must "examine the relevant data and articulate a satisfactory explanation for its action." Given that net neutrality rules have been a huge success by most measures, the justification for killing them would have to be very strong. It isn't. In fact, it's very weak. From what we know so far, Mr. Pai's rationale for eliminating the rules is that cable and phone companies, despite years of healthy profit, need to earn even more money than they already do -- that is, that the current rates of return do not yield adequate investment incentives. More specifically, Mr. Pai claims that industry investments have gone down since 2015, the year the Obama administration last strengthened the net neutrality rules.
Youtube

YouTube's Search Autofill Surfaced Disturbing Child Sex Results (buzzfeed.com) 155

Several users are reporting that they found YouTube autocompleting search queries starting with 'how to have' with disturbing suggestions, including 's*x with your kids' over the weekend. From a report: A YouTube spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that the matter is still under investigation. "Earlier today our teams were alerted to this awful autocomplete result and we worked to quickly remove it," the company said. "We are investigating this matter to determine what was behind the appearance of this autocompletion." We tried the same query on YouTube less than an hour before publication of this story, and we found "how to have s*x in school," and "how to have s*x with kids" were still surfacing in the results.
United States

Petition Calls for Ouster of FCC Chairman Pai (whitehouse.gov) 174

Long-time Slashdot reader speedplane writes: Yes, we've all heard that net neutrality is on its way out, and it seems NPR was able to snag one of the few (the only?) interview's of Ajit Pai on its effect. Sadly, NPR's Rachel Martin stuck to very broad and basic questions, and failed to press Pai on the change of policy. That said, it's worth a listen.
Pai insists that "We saw companies like Facebook, and Amazon and Google become global powerhouses precisely because we had light-touch rules that applied to this Internet. The Internet wasn't broken in 2015 when these heavy-handed regulations were adopted, and once we remove them, I think we'll continue to see the infrastructure investment that will benefit digital consumers and entrepreneurs alike... I've talked to a lot of companies that say, look, we want to be able to invest in these networks, especially in rural and low-income urban areas, but the more heavy-handed the regulations are, the less likely we can build a business case for doing it."

But New York's Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says he's spent six months investigating "a massive scheme to corrupt the FCC's notice and comment process" for net neutrality, adding that "the FCC has refused multiple requests for crucial evidence." (Nine requests over five months were ignored.) And now over 65,000 people have signed a new online petition at WhiteHouse.gov calling for the immediate removal of Ajit Pai as the FCC's chairman, calling him "a threat to our freedoms."

Meanwhile, The Verge has compiled "a list of the lawmakers who voted to betray you," with each listing also including "how much money they received from the telecom industry in their most recent election cycle."
Earth

Could Collapsing Antarctic Glaciers Raise Sea Levels Sooner Than Expected? (salon.com) 418

"We may be headed for an ice apocalypse which could result in the flooding of coastal cities before the end of this century," writes long-time Slashdot reader whoever57. Grist reports on two of the largest and fastest-melting glaciers in Antarctica which "hold human civilization hostage." There's no doubt this ice will melt as the world warms. The vital question is when... Together, they act as a plug holding back enough ice to pour 11 feet of sea-level rise into the world's oceans -- an amount that would submerge every coastal city on the planet... Each new iceberg that breaks away exposes taller and taller cliffs... In the past few years, scientists have identified marine ice-cliff instability as a feedback loop that could kickstart the disintegration of the entire West Antarctic ice sheet this century -- much more quickly than previously thought. Minute-by-minute, huge skyscraper-sized shards of ice cliffs would crumble into the sea, as tall as the Statue of Liberty and as deep underwater as the height of the Empire State Building. The result: a global catastrophe the likes of which we've never seen... When [land-based ice] falls into the ocean, it adds to the overall volume of liquid in the seas. Thus, sea-level rise.... All this could play out in a mere 20 to 50 years -- much too quickly for humanity to adapt...

A lot of this newfound concern is driven by the research of two climatologists: Rob DeConto at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and David Pollard at Penn State University. A study they published last year was the first to incorporate the latest understanding of marine ice-cliff instability into a continent-scale model of Antarctica... Instead of a three-foot increase in ocean levels by the end of the century, six feet was more likely, according to DeConto and Pollard's findings. But if carbon emissions continue to track on something resembling a worst-case scenario, the full 11 feet of ice locked in West Antarctica might be freed up, their study showed.

If sea levels rise by six feet, "around 12 million people in the United States would be displaced, and the world's most vulnerable megacities, like Shanghai, Mumbai, and Ho Chi Minh City, could be wiped off the map."
Intel

Clear Linux Beats CentOS, openSUSE, and Ubuntu in (Enterprise) Benchmark Tests (phoronix.com) 136

An anonymous reader writes: Recently completed Linux distro benchmarks by Phoronix show Intel's Clear Linux is the most powerful on x86 hardware. A six-way, enterprise-focused Linux distro comparison show Clear Linux being the fastest with a Core i9 and Xeon systems, easily beating CentOS, openSUSE, and Ubuntu in a majority of the tests.

When doing an 11-way Linux distro boot test they also found Clear Linux easily booted the fastest followed by the Clear-inspired Solus distribution. Clear Linux does work on AMD hardware and works on Intel CPUs back to Sandy Bridge but leverages its speed from optimized compiler settings, specially built libraries capable of AVX instructions on supported systems, a specially tuned kernel configuration, and other optimizations/patches.

Debian 9.2 and Fedora 27 "ended up being dropped from this article due to data overload," the article concludes, "and those distributions really not offering anything really different in terms of the performance."
Businesses

Amazon: Heat From Data Centers Will Be Used as a Furnace (vox.com) 52

Vox reports on Amazon's recent push for "corporate sustainability": It plans to have 15 rooftop solar systems, with a total capacity of around 41 MW, deployed atop fulfillment centers by the end of this year, with plans to have 50 such systems installed by 2020. Amazon was the lead corporate purchaser of green energy in 2016. That year, it also announced its largest wind energy project to date, the 253 MW Amazon Wind Farm Texas. Overall, the company says, it has "announced or commenced construction on wind and solar projects that will generate a total of 3.6 million megawatt hours (MWh) of renewable energy annually."
But here's the most interesting part. GeekWire reports: Amazon is moving ahead with a unique plan to use heat generated from data centers in the nearby Westin Building to warm some of its new buildings downtown. The system transfers the heat from the data centers via water piped underground to the Amazon buildings. The water is then returned to the Westin Building once it's cooled down to help cool the data centers. The setup will be unusual. "Certainly there are other people using waste heat from server farms but you don't hear a lot about tying it in with buildings across the street from each other," said Seattle City Councilmember Mike O'Brien.
Businesses

Big Tobacco Loses 11-Year Fight, Forced To Broadcast 'Dangers of Smoking' Ads (nbcnews.com) 274

An anonymous reader quotes NBC News: Smoking kills 1,200 people a day. The tobacco companies worked to make them as addictive as possible. There is no such thing as a safer cigarette. Ads with these statements hit the major television networks and newspapers this weekend, but they are not being placed by the American Cancer Society or other health groups. They're being placed by major tobacco companies, under the orders of the federal courts. "The ads will finally run after 11 years of appeals by the tobacco companies aimed at delaying and weakening them," the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights, National African American Tobacco Prevention Network and the Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund said in a joint statement.

"It's a pretty significant moment," the American Cancer Society's Cliff Douglas said. "This is the first time they have had to âfess up and tell the whole truth." The Justice Department started its racketeering lawsuit against the tobacco companies in 1999, seeking to force them to make up for decades of deception. Federal district judge Gladys Kessler ruled in 2006 that they'd have to pay for and place the ads, but the companies kept tying things up with appeals. "Employing the highest paid lawyers in America, the tobacco companies used every tool at their disposal to delay and complicate this litigation to avoid their day of reckoning," Douglas added.

The ads will inform Americans TV viewers that "More people die every year from smoking than from murder, AIDS, suicide, drugs, car crashes, and alcohol, combined," according to one of the ads." Besides $170 billion every year in medical costs -- plus another $156 billion in lost productivity -- roughly one in five deaths in America are smoking-related, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with cigarettes killing 480,000 Americans every year.
The Almighty Buck

Did Elon Musk Create Bitcoin? (cryptocoinsnews.com) 189

An anonymous reader quotes CryptoCoinsNews: It should be no surprise that the elusive hunt for Satoshi, often referred to as the father of Bitcoin, has led to the theory that Elon Musk has been hiding a big secret from all of us. Sahil Gupta, a computer science student at Yale University and former intern at SpaceX, believes just this... Bitcoin was written by someone with mastery of C++, a language Musk has utilized heavily at SpaceX. Musk's 2013 Hyperloop paper also provided insight into his deep understanding of cryptography and economics...

One week before Gupta's Medium post on Musk, another Medium blog was published with a theory that Musk invented Bitcoin for future use on Mars. As radical as this may sounds, the point around Paypal in this article was relevant. Musk has already revolutionized digital currency with his founding role in Paypal, which he sold to eBay in 2002. The author claims Musk is under a non-compete from this deal, leaving him to secrecy about his role in Bitcoin.

Gupta's article cites other clues that suport his theory, including Musk's interest in solving global problems, his unusual silence on the topic of cryptocurrencies, and the fact that "Elon has said publicly he doesn't own any bitcoin, which is consistent with a 'Good Satoshi' who deleted his private keys. This means Satoshi's one million coins (worth about $8 billion) are gone for good." And of course, with a net worth of $19.7 billion, Elon Musk is one of the few people who wouldn't need the money.

UPDATE (11/28/17): On Twitter, Elon Musk has responded, saying the rumors that he created Bitcoin are "not true."
Government

FBI Failed To Notify 70+ US Officials Targeted By Russian Hackers (apnews.com) 94

An anonymous reader quotes the AP: The FBI failed to notify scores of U.S. officials that Russian hackers were trying to break into their personal Gmail accounts despite having evidence for at least a year that the targets were in the Kremlin's crosshairs, The Associated Press has found. Nearly 80 interviews with Americans targeted by Fancy Bear, a Russian government-aligned cyberespionage group, turned up only two cases in which the FBI had provided a heads-up. Even senior policymakers discovered they were targets only when the AP told them, a situation some described as bizarre and dispiriting.

"It's utterly confounding," said Philip Reiner, a former senior director at the National Security Council, who was notified by the AP that he was targeted in 2015. "You've got to tell your people. You've got to protect your people." The FBI declined to answer most questions from AP about how it had responded to the spying campaign... A senior FBI official, who was not authorized to publicly discuss the hacking operation because of its sensitivity, declined to comment on timing but said that the bureau was overwhelmed by the sheer number of attempted hacks... A few more were contacted by the FBI after their emails were published in the torrent of leaks that coursed through last year's electoral contest. But to this day, some leak victims have not heard from the bureau at all.

Here's an interesting statistic from the AP's analysis. "Out of 312 U.S. military and government figures targeted by Fancy Bear, 131 clicked the links sent to them."
Government

Russia and The US Fight Over Who Gets To Extradite A Hacker (cnn.com) 98

An anonymous reader quotes CNN: A young Russian alleged to have masterminded a massive hacking of social networks including LinkedIn and Dropbox is now at the center of an extradition struggle between the United States and Russia. Yevgeniy Nikulin was detained in October 2016, in the Czech Republic capital of Prague, after US authorities issued an international arrest warrant for him. He was on vacation there with his girlfriend. A grand jury indictment filed in 2016 in California charges him with computer intrusion and aggravated identity theft, among other offenses. Nikulin denies all the charges. If convicted of all charges, he could face a maximum sentence of more than 50 years in prison and more than $2 million in fines.

But soon after his arrest, Russian authorities also sought his extradition. The Russian charge referred to the alleged theft from an online money transfer company back in 2009. The amount involved was $3,450... The Foreign Ministry in Moscow said soon afterward it was "actively working with the Czech authorities to prevent the extradition of a Russian citizen to the United States."

Patents

Patent Trolls Are Losing More. Will America's Supreme Court Change That? (nytimes.com) 127

jespada writes: New York Times has an article warning that the Patent Appeal and Trial Board is being challenged on the basis that patents represent real property and that a government agency is not empowered to take real property.
Here's a quotes from the Times article. (Non-paywalled version here): In the five years since it began its work -- a result of the America Invents Act of 2011 -- the Patent Trial and Appeal Board has saved companies more than $2 billion in legal fees alone, according to Joshua Landau, patent counsel at the Computer and Communications Industry Association, offering an expeditious and relatively cheap avenue to challenge patents of doubtful validity. The benefits of stopping bad patents from snaking their way through the economy have been even greater. Companies no longer have to pay ransom so the threat of lawsuits over dubious royalty payments -- filed by aggressive litigants known as trolls -- will go away... But for all the benefits of culling faulty intellectual-property rights, the board is under existential threat. Next week, the Supreme Court will hear a challenge that the patent office's new procedure is unconstitutional...
The Internet

Taking The Profit Out Of Killing 'Net Neutrality' (cringely.com) 257

Robert Cringely has a plan to ensure that internet providers will never profit from the end of net neutrality: We are being depended upon to act like sheep -- Internet browsing sheep, if such exist -- and without a plan that's exactly what we'll be. The key to my plan is that this is a rare instance where consumers are not alone. There are just as many or more huge companies that would prefer to keep Net Neutrality as those that oppose it... Those companies in favor of Net Neutrality obviously include the big streamers like Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, YouTube and a bunch of others. They also includes nearly every big Internet concern including Google, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft. Those are some pretty big friends to have on your side -- our side...

So I suggest we all join ZeroTier (ZT), a thriving networking startup operating in Irvine, California. There are other companies like it but I just think ZeroTier is presently the best. ZeroTier is a very sophisticated Virtual Private Network (VPN) company that has created a Software Defined Network that goes beyond what normal VPNs are capable of. To your computer or almost any other networked device (even your smart phone), ZT looks like an Ethernet port, whether your device has Ethernet or not. Through that virtual Ethernet port you connect to a virtual IPv6 Local Area Network that's as big as the Internet itself, though the only users on this overlay network are ZT members.

The trick is to get all those big companies that are pro-Net Neutrality to join ZT. The most it will cost even Netflix is $750 per month, which is probably less than the company spends on salad bars in their Los Gatos HQ. Embracing ZT doesn't mean rejecting the regular Internet. Netflix can still be reached the old fashion way. I just want them to add a presence on ZT, too... What the ISPs won't like about this plan is that ZT traffic can't be read to determine what rules or pricing to apply. They could throttle it all down, but throttling that much traffic isn't really practical.

Firefox

Firefox Quantum Is 'Better, Faster, Smarter than Chrome', Says Wired (wired.com) 383

Wired's senior staff writer David Pierce says Firefox Quantum "feels like a bunch of power users got together and built a browser that fixed all the little things that annoyed them about other browsers." The new Firefox actually manages to evolve the entire browser experience, recognizing the multi-device, ultra-mobile lives we all lead and building a browser that plays along. It's a browser built with privacy in mind, automatically stopping invisible trackers and making your history available to you and no one else. It's better than Chrome, faster than Chrome, smarter than Chrome. It's my new go-to browser.

The speed thing is real, by the way. Mozilla did a lot of engineering work to allow its browser to take advantage of all the multi-core processing power on modern devices, and it shows... I routinely find myself with 30 or 40 tabs open while I'm researching a story, and at that point Chrome effectively drags my computer into quicksand. So far, I haven't been able to slow Firefox Quantum down at all, no matter how many tabs I use... [But] it's the little things, the things you do with and around the web pages themselves, that make Firefox really work. For instance: If you're looking at a page on your phone and want to load that same page on your laptop, you just tap "Send to Device," pick your laptop, and it opens and loads in the background as if it had always been there. You can save pages to a reading list, or to the great read-it-later service Pocket (which Mozilla owns), both with a single tap...

Mozilla has a huge library of add-ons, and if you use the Foxified extension, you can even run Chrome extensions in Firefox. Best I can tell, there's nothing you can do in Chrome that you can't in Firefox. And Firefox does them all faster.

I've noticed that when you open a new tab in Chrome's mobile version, it forces you to also see news headlines that Google picked out for you. But how about Slashdot's readers? Chrome, Firefox -- or undecided?
The Almighty Buck

Bitcoin and Ethereum Prices Are Surging Again (cnbc.com) 116

An anonymous reader quotes CNBC: Bitcoin is getting a Black Friday boost. The digital currency climbed above $8,700 to a record high Saturday following increased investor interest around the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday and Black Friday shopping. Bitcoin rose more than 6 percent to a record high of $8,725.13, according to CoinDesk, trading around $8,674 midday on Saturday. [Bitcoin passed $8,000 for the first time just six days earlier]. Another digital currency, ethereum, also hit an all-time high of $485.18, according to CoinMarketCap [rising more than 50% from $300 as recently as mid-November]...

The largest bitcoin exchange in the U.S., Coinbase, added about 100,000 accounts between Wednesday and Friday -- just around Thursday's Thanksgiving holiday -- to a total of 13.1 million. That's according to public data available on Coinbase's website and historical records compiled by Alistair Milne, co-founder and chief investment officer of Altana Digital Currency Fund. Coinbase had about 4.9 million users last November, Milne's data showed... The world's largest futures exchange, CME, is planning to list bitcoin futures in the second week of December...another step in establishing bitcoin as a legitimate asset class.

UPDATE (9/26/17): Sunday the price of Bitcoin surged past $9,000 -- just one week after surging past $8,000.
The Media

After Bankrupting Gawker, Peter Thiel Demands a Chance to Buy Them (buzzfeed.com) 149

An anonymous reader quotes BuzzFeed: In a federal bankruptcy court filing on Wednesday, lawyers for venture capitalist Peter Thiel objected to the ongoing sale process of Gawker.com, arguing that the billionaire has been unfairly excluded from bidding for the assets of the defunct news website... Whoever ends up buying the site will also buy its archives, which are still up, and will have the right to do with them what they want, including delete them. In the filing, Thiel's lawyers allege that he was prevented from receiving information in regard to a potential bid for Gawker.com by plan administrator William Holden and his counsel, Gregg Galardi, following a Wall Street Journal story in October that said Holden and Galardi had started to market the website to potential buyers...

The Wall Street Journal reported that Holden has been exploring the sale of Gawker.com since July, and that he recently marketed the site's potential legal claims against Thiel as part of its appeal. The marketing of those claims is at the center of Thiel's complaint, in which his lawyers argue that Holden should not be able to conduct a sale of those claims and ask that the court drop a motion that allows for discovery to move forward. Thiel's representatives also said that they contacted those administrating the sale of Gawker.com last month "to express Mr. Thiel's interest in participating in the sale process," but that they had been rebuffed and then ignored.

Thiel's complaint calls him the "most able and logical purchaser."
Advertising

Google Flagged Its Own Chromebook Ad As Spam On YouTube (theverge.com) 35

AmiMoJo quotes The Verge: It's no secret that YouTube's algorithm for automatically flagging videos can be troublesome -- recent issues have seen content creators getting their videos demonetized for seemingly no reason -- but Google's latest faux pas might hit the company a little closer to home. Google posted an ad for its new Chromebook Pixel that is getting flagged as spam... It's particularly telling about whatever is happening with YouTube's algorithm that even official Google content is getting removed "for violating YouTube's policy on spam, deceptive practices, and scams."
Education

Why Do Employers Require College Degrees That Aren't Necessary? (thestreet.com) 358

Slashdot reader pefisher writes: A lot of us on Slashdot have noticed that potential employers advertise for things they don't need. To the point that sometimes they even ask for things that don't exist. Like asking for ten years of experience in a technology that has only just been introduced. It's frustrating because it makes you wonder "what's this employers real game?"

Do they just want to say they advertised for the position, or are they really so immensely stupid, so disconnected from their own needs, that they think they are actually asking for something they can have...? Here is a Harvard Study that addresses one particular angle of this. It doesn't answer any questions, but it does prove that you aren't crazy. And it quantifies the craziness.

The study's author calls it "degree inflation," and after studying 26 million job postings concluded that employers are now less willing to actually train new people on the job, possibly to save money. "Many companies have fallen into a lazy way of thinking about this," the study's author tells The Street, saying companies are "[looking for] somebody who is just job-ready to just show up." The irony is that college graduates will ultimately be paid a higher salary -- even though for many jobs, the study found that a college degree yields zero improvement in actual performance.

The Street reports that "In a market where companies increasingly rely on computerized systems to cull out early-round applicants, that has led firms to often consider a bachelor's degree indicative of someone who can socialize, run a meeting and generally work well with others." One company tells them that "we removed the requirement to have a computer science degree, and we removed the requirement to have experience in development computer programming. And when we removed those things we found that the pool of potential really good team members drastically expanded."
Government

Bloomberg Op-Ed: The Internet 'Already Lost Its Neutrality' (japantimes.co.jp) 171

An anonymous reader quotes a new Bloomberg opinion piece on net neutrality: The internet will be filled today with denunciations of this move, threats of a dark future in which our access to content will be controlled by a few powerful companies. And sure, that may happen. But in fact, it may already have happened, led not by ISPs, but by the very companies that were fighting so hard for net neutrality... Our experience of the internet is increasingly controlled by a handful of firms, most especially Google and Facebook. The argument for regulating these companies as public utilities is arguably at least as strong as the argument for thus regulating ISPs, and very possibly much stronger; while cable monopolies may have local dominance, none of them has the ability that Google and Facebook have to unilaterally shape what Americans see, hear and read.

In other words, we already live in the walled garden that activists worry about, and the walls are getting higher every day... The fact that these firms were able to cement their power at the moment when regulators were most focused on keeping the internet open tells you just how difficult it is to get that sort of regulation right; while you are looking hard at one danger, an equally large one may be creeping up just outside the range of your peripheral vision.

United States

Bipartisan US Election Group Issues Security Tips (reuters.com) 103

An anonymous reader quotes Reuters: A bipartisan Harvard University project aimed at protecting elections from hacking and propaganda will release its first set of recommendations today on how U.S. elections can be defended from hacking attacks. The 27-page guidebook calls for campaign leaders to emphasize security from the start and insist on practices such as two-factor authentication for access to email and documents and fully encrypted messaging via services including Signal and Wickr. The guidelines are intended to reduce risks in low-budget local races as well as the high-stakes Congressional midterm contests next year.

Though most of the suggestions cost little or nothing to implement and will strike security professionals as common sense, notorious attacks including the leak of the emails of Hillary Clinton's campaign chair, John Podesta, have succeeded because basic security practices were not followed... "We heard from campaigns that there is nothing like this that exists," said Debora Plunkett, a 31-year veteran of the National Security Agency who joined the Belfer Center this year. "We had security experts who understood security and election experts who understood campaigns, and both sides were eager to learn how the other part worked."

The group includes "top security experts" from both Google and Facebook.

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