For years now, the UK government has given lectures on Internet morality whenever and however possible, forcing ISPs there to implement pornography filters that force broadband users to opt out, frequently filter entirely legitimate websites
, and can usually be bypassed by anyone with a modicum of technical know how. With that going so well, conversations are now currently underway in the to extend the porn filters to include government-determined "extremist content."
Given this righteous attempt to legislate morality, it's a bit ironic then that a scandal has broken out in the UK after Patrick Rock, a top aide to Prime Minister David Cameron and a chief architect of the country's porn filters, was arrested for possession of child pornography
. Cameron himself is taking heat for keeping the February 12 firing quiet, and for the fact that Rock appears to have gotten some advanced warning of his arrest:
Downing Street would only say that the police were alerted "immediately" when the matter arose on 12 February and Rock resigned the same day. He was arrested in his west London home in the early hours of 13 February – a "few hours" after Downing Street reported it to police. The responses suggest Rock knew he was accused of a serious potential offence the day before he was arrested.
It would be curious to see if an ordinary citizen would be given that much time to get their affairs in order. Cameron is, of course, the same guy who has blamed absolutely everyone (including Yahoo and Google) for not doing enough to stop child porn.
T-Mobile last week sent out an email promotion
to Blackberry users urging them to upgrade to Apple's iPhone 5S on T-Mobile for no money down. It's really fairly tame fare for T-Mobile, whose CEO John Legere has been taking to Twitter the last few months to almost mercilessly mock competitors (with a special eye on AT&T) while engaging in some overdue industry price disruption.
Two researchers recently discovered a way to send a text message communications using freshly-evaporated vodka. According to Ars Technica
, the scientists used specific concentration levels of the vodka to represent bits 1 and 0, and then transmitted the lyrics of "O Canada" between two points twelve feet apart. A receiving unit was able to read out the message as it detected the concentration of vodka in the air rising or falling over time. While not likely to change your home communications anytime soon, researchers believe the "molecular communication system" could be used as a niche tool in nanotechnology, or in cramped spaces (allowing sewer robots to communicate).
While there's no shortage of studies examining consumer satisfaction, research firm Marchex has added a new wrinkle in analyzing which companies wind up with the most users swearing at them over the phone. According to the firm's latest study
, satellite companies take top honors in being the most curse-inducing, with one out of every 82 calls resulting in users cursing at the company.
The cable industry has historically tried to argue that cord cutters either don't exist or are so lame they aren't relevant
. That same industry, as it faces a very real trend of growing user defections, has now launched a strange new media campaign intended to change the mind of intended cord cutters.
Speaking before a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy yesterday
, Robert Litt, general counsel at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, insisted the NSA has absolutely no idea how often it collects data on American Citizens. What's more, Litt proclaimed it would violate citizen privacy to try and do so.
Yesterday we noted that a glitch in Verizon's website was allowing Verizon Wireless customers the ability to upgrade their handset without losing grandfathered unlimited data
. Verizon has traditionally waged a quiet war on grandfathered unlimited users, restricting many plans, upgrades and other features unless they choose to go to metered plans.
Back in 2009, you'll recall that former Qwest CEO Joe Nacchio headed to prison
to serve a six-year prison sentence for cooking the books and insider trading. You might also recall that Nacchio claimed he was being punished
in part because Qwest (now CenturyLink) was the only US telco to refuse to participate in the government's warrantless wiretapping program.
: This glitch has already been fixed by Verizon. User spike010101
writes in: "Verizon's website is currently allowing customers to select their unlimited plan when going through a device upgrade. I myself have taken it all the way to the checkout area where you enter your credit card details and submit the order, and have a friend who has completely gone through with an order."
The news is curious in that Verizon has been waging war on grandfathered unlimited users for several years now
, using every tactic possible (most specifically device upgrades) to try and push those users on to metered plans. There's some additional discussion about this over at Howard Forums
and at Droid Life
The MPAA, RIAA, AT&T and Verizon have joined forces to "educate" California school children on the details of copyright, ignoring things like "fair use" -- lest it confuse the toddlers. Wired
has a report on the curriculum the coalition is pushing on California schools for grade one
, grade two
, grade five
and grade six
(pdfs), all of which is about as nuanced as you might imagine.
Last month a widespread malware attack on the Tor network used a Firefox exploit to send the personal data of Tor users to an IP address in Reston, Virginia. While it was already believed that this IP address belonged to an FBI subcontractor
working on the FBI's "computer and internet protocol address verifier" (CIPAV) spyware iniatiative, a new Wired report
confirms that the FBI in court has acknowledged they controlled the servers behind that attack on the Tor network.
Things haven't gone particularly well for porn copyright troll Prenda ever since the organization pissed off a Judge
who had started noticing the outfit was engaged in all manner of sleazy behavior operating under the umbrella of a vast maze of shell companies and organizations.
Said sleazy behavior allegedly includes everything ranging from extortion to identity theft, and last week TorrentFreak
revealed that Prenda had taken things one step further: they created a honeyput offering the very files they claim to protect in order to lure people into downloading them, then demanded cash from those users.
There are plenty of things that can cause interference with wireless networks (faulty ATM, lights or signal boosters), and you can now add beer fridges to that list. Using "software robots" to scan network performance logs, The Herald Sun
says that engineers for Australian telco Telstra identified a strange signal that was disrupting cell service "several neighborhoods." After driving around using "Mr Yagi" antennas to seek out the origin of the signal, the engineers wound up at the source: the motor of a beer fridge in one man's beer refrigerator. "We just look at them all and go after the ones that are worst and approach it that way," says Telstra. "There's no particular focus now on beer fridges."
Several news outlets like the Christian Science Monitor
this week proclaimed that the telegraph would finally be dying next month. 144 years after Samuel Morse sent the first telegram in Washington, insists the news outlet, the world's final telegram was to be sent in India on July 14, 2013.
A few weeks back, in response to Google Fiber, AT&T announced a plan for fiber to the press release in Austin
. That is, the company issued a very weaselly-worded statement claiming they were "prepared to build" an "advanced fiber optic infrastructure" technically capable of 1 Gbps if
they saw the precise perks they wanted from regional regulators.
directs our attention to the fact that for the first time, a Comcast user has been sued three different times for one download of an animated film. "Plaintiff’s technical monitoring personnel failed to notice the repeat entries of the identical IP address after sorting and filtering and filed 3 different federal lawsuits," the John Doe writes in his own defense. "This calls into question their accuracy in managing their cases properly." Torrent Freak
and the plaintiff speculate that he was sued three times in the hopes nobody would notice, thereby increasing the chance of getting a subpoena from at least one of the three Judges. Instead, all three cases landed on the desk of one Judge.
While Google's principles may have slid sideways in recent years (their selling out on net neutrality being exhibit A
) the company does appear to be putting up a good fight against the government's use of national security letters (NSLs). We've covered for several years the growing use (or in a significant number of proven cases, the abuse
) of NSLs, which allow the government to obtain personal user records from ISPs (or banks and other companies), then involve a gag order against the company preventing them from ever mention it -- all with no judicial review.
A Berkeley city councilman has proposed a tax on e-mail and each bit as a possible way to help shore up the United States Postal Service's dwindling funds. "There should be something like a bit tax," insisted District 8 Berkeley Supervisor Gordon Wozniak
this week. "I mean a bit tax could be a cent per-gigabit and they would still make, probably, billions of dollars a year. And there should be, also, a very tiny tax on email,” he said.
CBS's existing legal efforts to scuttle Dish's Hopper ad-skipping DVR just got slightly more ridiculous. Back in January CBS shot itself in the public relations foot by injecting itself into CNET's editorial standards
, demanding the news outlet pull a CES award for the device -- and avoid reviewing it -- ever.
A small bug in a line of Facebook code temporarily rendered a huge swath of websites, including CNN, Gawker, The Washington Post, and The Huffington Post -- inaccessible. Users trying to access those sites were redirected to a borked Facebook page
instead of the requested content. In typical spokesperson fashion, a statement issued to the press by Facebook significantly underplayed the scope of a problem. "For a short period of time, there was a bug that redirected people logging in with Facebook from third-party sites to Facebook.com. The issue was quickly resolved, and Login with Facebook is now working as usual."
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