Archive for the ‘Policy’ Category

This site posted every face from Parler’s Capitol Hill insurrection videos

January 23rd, 2021
This site posted every face from Parler’s Capitol Hill insurrection videos

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Wired)

When hackers exploited a bug in Parler to download all of the right-wing social media platform's contents last week, they were surprised to find that many of the pictures and videos contained geolocation metadata revealing exactly how many of the site's users had taken part in the invasion of the US Capitol building just days before. But the videos uploaded to Parler also contain an equally sensitive bounty of data sitting in plain sight: thousands of images of unmasked faces, many of whom participated in the Capitol riot. Now one website has done the work of cataloging and publishing every one of those faces in a single, easy-to-browse lineup.

Late last week, a website called Faces of the Riot appeared online, showing nothing but a vast grid of more than 6,000 images of faces, each one tagged only with a string of characters associated with the Parler video in which it appeared. The site's creator tells WIRED that he used simple open source machine learning and facial recognition software to detect, extract, and deduplicate every face from the 827 videos that were posted to Parler from inside and outside the Capitol building on January 6, the day when radicalized Trump supporters stormed the building in a riot that resulted in five people's deaths. The creator of Faces of the Riot says his goal is to allow anyone to easily sort through the faces pulled from those videos to identify someone they may know or recognize who took part in the mob, or even to reference the collected faces against FBI wanted posters and send a tip to law enforcement if they spot someone.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in Biz & IT, capitol hill, dc, facial recognition, Gaming & Culture, insurrection, Policy, Washington | Comments (0)

Military intelligence buys location data instead of getting warrants, memo shows

January 22nd, 2021
If your phone knows where you are, the feds can, too.

Enlarge / If your phone knows where you are, the feds can, too. (credit: Luis Alvarez | Getty Images)

The Defense Intelligence Agency, which provides military intelligence to the Department of Defense, confirmed in a memo that it purchases "commercially available" smartphone location data to gather information that would otherwise require use of a search warrant.

The DIA "currently provides funding to another agency that purchases commercially available geolocation metadata aggregated from smartphones," the agency wrote in a memo (PDF) to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), first obtained by the New York Times.

The Supreme Court held in its 2018 Carpenter v. United States ruling that the government needs an actual search warrant to collect an individual's cell-site location data. "When the Government tracks the location of a cell phone it achieves near perfect surveillance, as if it had attached an ankle monitor to the phone’s user," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority in his opinion. "The retrospective quality of the data here gives police access to a category of information otherwise unknowable."

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in data privacy, Fourth Amendment, location data, military intelligence, Policy, Privacy, Search Warrants | Comments (0)

Home alarm tech backdoored security cameras to spy on customers having sex

January 22nd, 2021
Home alarm tech backdoored security cameras to spy on customers having sex

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images / Aurich Lawson)

A home security technician has admitted he repeatedly broke into cameras he installed and viewed customers engaging in sex and other intimate acts.

Telesforo Aviles, a 35-year-old former employee of home and small office security company ADT, said that over a five-year period, he accessed the cameras of roughly 200 customer accounts on more than 9,600 occasions—all without the permission or knowledge of customers. He said he took note of homes with women he found attractive and then viewed their cameras for sexual gratification. He said he watched nude women and couples as they had sex.

Aviles made the admissions Thursday in US District Court for the District of Northern Texas, where he pleaded guilty to one count of computer fraud and one count of invasive visual recording. He faces a maximum of five years in prison.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in Biz & IT, peeping tom, Policy, Privacy, Security Cameras, Tech | Comments (0)

Google: We’ll shut down Australian search before we pay news sites

January 22nd, 2021
Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, criticized the Australian proposal.

Enlarge / Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, criticized the Australian proposal. (credit: Oliver Berg/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Google says it would have "no real choice" but to shut down its search engine in Australia if Australia passes a new law requiring Google to pay news sites to link to their articles. This would "set an untenable precedent for our business and the digital economy," said Google's Mel Silva in Friday testimony before the Australian Senate.

News organizations around the world have been struggling financially over the last decade or two. Many have blamed Internet companies like Google and Facebook that—in their view—have diverted advertising revenue that once went to news organizations. Some in the news industry argue that Google benefits from including news stories in its search results and should compensate news sites for the privilege of doing so.

So last year the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission proposed a new mandatory arbitration process designed to correct a supposed power imbalance between tech giants and Australian news sites. Under the new framework, news sites can demand that tech platforms (initially Google and Facebook) pay them for linking to their stories. Google and Facebook are required to negotiate "in good faith" toward a payment agreement.

Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in australia, google, Policy | Comments (0)

CenturyLink, Frontier missed FCC broadband deadlines in dozens of states

January 22nd, 2021
A CenturyLink service van seen from behind, with several CenturyLink logos visible.

Enlarge / A CenturyLink service van parked in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on May 2, 2019. (credit: Getty Images | Robert Alexander )

CenturyLink and Frontier Communications have again failed to meet broadband-deployment deadlines in dozens of states after taking money from the Federal Communications Commission.

When the FCC awarded Connect America Fund Phase II grants in 2015, CenturyLink accepted $505.7 million in annual support over six years in exchange for deploying broadband with 10Mbps download speeds and 1Mbps upload speeds to 1.17 million homes and businesses in 33 states. Frontier accepted $283.4 million in annual support over six years to deploy service to 659,587 homes and business in 28 states.

The deadline to hit 100 percent of the required deployments passed on December 31, 2020. Both CenturyLink and Frontier informed the FCC that they missed the deadline to finish deployment in numerous states.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in centurylink, FCC, frontier, Policy | Comments (0)

A look at all of Biden’s changes to energy and environmental regulations

January 22nd, 2021
Image of a man seated at a desk with a woman standing behind him.

Enlarge / US President Joe Biden signs an executive order with US Vice President Kamala Harris, left, looking on. (credit: Bloomberg/Getty Images)

The series of executive orders signed by Joe Biden on his first evening in office included a heavy focus on environmental regulations. Some of the high-profile actions had been signaled in advance—we're back in the Paris Agreement! The Keystone pipeline's been put on indefinite hold!

But the suite of executive orders includes a long list that targets plenty of the changes Trump made in energy and environmental policies, many of which will have more subtle but significant effects of how the United States does business. Many of those make major changes, in some cases by eliminating policies adopted during the Trump years, a number of which we covered at the time. So, we've attempted to take a comprehensive look at Biden's actions and their potential impacts.

Laws, rules, and policies

Environmental and energy regulations are set through three main mechanisms. The first is by specific laws, which would require the cooperation of both houses of Congress to change. Next are also more general laws, like the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. These enable regulations to be put in place via a formal rule-making process run by the agencies of the executive branch. This process involves soliciting public feedback, incorporating economic considerations, and so on, a process that typically takes anywhere from eight months to over a year. Finally, the executive branch can set policies to cover details not spelled out by the law or the rule, such as how to handle things like deadlines and enforcement details.

Read 18 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in Biden, clean air act, clean water act, Energy, environment, executive order, Policy, science, Trump | Comments (0)

Parler’s attempt to get back on Amazon Web Services rejected by judge

January 21st, 2021
3D Amazon logo hangs from a convention center ceiling.

Enlarge / Amazon Web Services (AWS) logo displayed during the 4th edition of the Viva Technology show at Parc des Expositions Porte de Versailles on May 17, 2019, in Paris, France. (credit: Chesnot | Getty Images)

A federal judge today rejected Parler's motion for a preliminary injunction against Amazon Web Services (AWS), scuttling the social network's attempt to quickly get back onto Amazon's Web-hosting platform.

Parler, which bills itself as a conservative alternative to Twitter, had asked for a court order requiring Amazon to reinstate its Web-hosting service pending a full trial. But "Parler has fallen far short... of demonstrating, as it must, that it has raised serious questions going to the merits of its claims," and it has failed to prove "that the balance of equities tips in its favor, let alone strongly so; or that the public interests lie in granting the injunction," said the ruling by Judge Barbara Jacobs Rothstein in US District Court for the Western District of Washington.

Parler could still prevail in the case, but it won't be reinstated to Amazon's service in the meantime. Parler accused Amazon of conspiracy in restraint of trade, in violation of the Sherman Act; breach of contract; and tortious interference with business expectancy.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in Amazon Web Services, parler, Policy | Comments (0)

Google agrees to pay French news sites to send them traffic

January 21st, 2021
Google's corporate headquarters.

Enlarge / Google's corporate headquarters. (credit: Alex Tai | SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images)

French news sites have prevailed in negotiations with Google over "neighboring rights," a new legal right granted by the 2019 EU Copyright Directive. An agreement between Google and the French news industry "establishes a framework within which Google will negotiate individual licensing agreements" with individual news organizations, according to Google. Under these deals, French news articles will be featured in a new Google product called News Showcase.

This isn't the outcome Google wanted. For years, European news organizations have tried to force Google to pay them for the privilege of indexing their articles, and for years Google flatly refused to do so. When Spain passed legislation to force Google to pay to link to Spanish News organizations in 2014, Google responded by shutting down Google News in Spain.

Google tried to use that same playbook in France after the passage of the EU copyright directive. France was the first country to transpose the EU directive into its own laws. In 2019, Google announced it was going to stop displaying "snippets" from French news articles in search results. Google believed that showing only news story headlines, not brief excerpts from articles, would bring it into compliance with the new law.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in EU Copyright Directive, google, Policy | Comments (0)

Facebook calls in its Oversight Board to rule on Trump ban

January 21st, 2021
Facebook logo on a street sign outside a wooded campus.

Enlarge / Facebook's Menlo Park, California, headquarters as seen in 2017. (credit: Jason Doiy | Getty Images)

Facebook's Oversight Board is getting its highest-profile case yet, as the company kicks its decision to boot former-President Donald Trump off its platforms to the largely untested "Supreme Court" of social media for review.

Facebook suspended Trump's Facebook and Instagram accounts on January 7 in the immediate aftermath of the insurrectionist riots at the US Capitol. "The shocking events of the last 24 hours clearly demonstrate that President Donald Trump intends to use his remaining time in office to undermine the peaceful and lawful transition of power to his elected successor, Joe Biden," company CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at the time. "We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great. Therefore, we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete."

Although that two-week period is now complete, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg confirmed to Reuters last week that the company expected to continue the bans indefinitely and had "no plans" to let Trump resume posting content to their platforms.

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in content moderation, Donald Trump, Facebook, facebook oversight board, insurrection, OverSight, Policy, Trump | Comments (0)

Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel replaces Ajit Pai, is now acting FCC chairwoman

January 21st, 2021
FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel speaking at a Senate committee hearing in June 2020.

Enlarge / Jessica Rosenworcel answers a question during a Senate Commerce Committee oversight hearing to examine the Federal Communications Commission on June 24, 2020 in Washington, DC. (credit: Getty Images | Jonathan Newton)

President Joe Biden today appointed Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel to be the acting chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission. Rosenworcel became an FCC commissioner in 2012 and served in a Democratic majority during the Obama years and in a Democratic minority during the Trump years.

"I am honored to be designated as the Acting Chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission by President Biden," Rosenworcel said in a statement. "I thank the President for the opportunity to lead an agency with such a vital mission and talented staff. It is a privilege to serve the American people and work on their behalf to expand the reach of communications opportunity in the digital age."

With ex-Chairman Ajit Pai having left the FCC yesterday, there is a 2-2 split between Democrats and Republicans. To form a 3-2 Democratic majority, Biden will have to nominate a new commissioner and secure confirmation from the Senate—which shouldn't be too difficult now that Democrats control the chamber. Biden's decision to promote Rosenworcel from commissioner to acting chairwoman does not require Senate approval.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in Biden, FCC, jessica rosenworcel, Policy | Comments (0)