Saturday, May 13, 2006

14 May 1973: Skylab Launched


Image source: Wikipedia

Via Wikipedia.

Skylab was launched May 14, 1973 by a two-stage version of the Saturn V booster (the SL-1 mission). Severe damage was sustained during launch, including the loss of the station's micrometeoroid shield/sun shade and one of its main solar panels. Debris from the lost micrometeoroid shield further complicated matters by pinning the remaining solar panel to the side of the station, preventing its deployment and thus leaving the station with a huge power deficit.

The station underwent extensive repair during a spacewalk by the first crew, which launched on May 25, 1973 (the SL-2 mission) atop a Saturn IB. Two additional missions followed on July 28, 1973 (SL-3) and November 16, 1973 (SL-4) with stay times of 28, 59, and 84 days, respectively. The last Skylab crew returned to Earth on February 8, 1974.

More here.

Verizon to Buy Vodafone Stake for $48B

A Reuters newswire article, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

Mobile phone group Vodafone could sell its stake in its joint venture with Verizon Communications for about $48 billion (25 billion pounds) before the end of the month, according to the Observer newspaper.

The deal for Vodafone's 45 percent stake in U.S.-based Verizon Wireless would total $56 billion, including debt, the newspaper said.

More here.

DOJ Moves to Dismiss AT&T Class Action under Cover of Night

Via The EFF.

Early Saturday morning, in the darkest hours of the night, the Department of Justice made good its threat to file a motion to dismiss our class-action lawsuit against AT&T, contending that AT&T's collaboration with the NSA's massive and illegal program to wiretap and data-mine Americans' communications (which violates the law and the privacy of its customers)--despite being front page news throughout the United States and the subject of government press conferences and Congressional hearings--is a state secret.

The motion was accompanied by declarations by Lieutenant General Keith B. Alexander, Director, National Security Agency and John D. Negroponte, Director of National Intelligence. We will vigorously oppose this motion. Donate to EFF and help stop the illegal spying!

More here.

Quote of the Day: Bruce Schneier

"The NSA would like to remind everyone to call their mothers this Sunday. They need to calibrate their system."

- Bruce Schneier, over on his Schneier on Security blog

Newsweek Poll: Americans Wary of NSA Spying

David Jefferson writes in Newsweek:

Has the Bush administration gone too far in expanding the powers of the President to fight terrorism? Yes, say a majority of Americans, following this week’s revelation that the National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone records of U.S. citizens since the September 11 terrorist attacks.

According to the latest NEWSWEEK poll, 53 percent of Americans think the NSA’s surveillance program “goes too far in invading people’s privacy,” while 41 percent see it as a necessary tool to combat terrorism.

More here.

Yeah, They Watch Us From Space, Too

An AP newswire article, via Wired News, reports that:

A little-known spy agency that analyzes imagery taken from the skies has been spending significantly more time watching U.S. soil.

In an era when other intelligence agencies try to hide those operations, the director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. James Clapper, is proud of that domestic mission.

He said the work the agency did after hurricanes Rita and Katrina was the best he'd seen an intelligence agency do in his 42 years in the spy business.

"This was kind of a direct payback to the taxpayers for the investment made in this agency over the years, even though in its original design it was intended for foreign intelligence purposes," Clapper said in a Thursday interview with The Associated Press.

More here.

Love Your Mother

South of the Iberian Peninsula: A sand storm leaves North Africa and the Canary Islands.
Image source: Pretty Blue Planet

Mother Earth, that is.

Props to Mike Yamamoto for pointing this out.

More .

Gapingvoid: A Loving Blanket of Wi-Fi

Via Enjoy!

Verizon Won't Give Government 'Unfettered' Record Access

It is unclear what Verizon's interpretation of the word 'unfettered' actually is. According to, 'unfettered' is described as:

To set free or keep free from restrictions or bonds.

That can legally be as vague as they need to justify giving call detail records (CDR's) to the NSA simply upon request in the "interest of national security" -- if that is indeed what happened. Until more details come out, we simply won't know.

But if it becomes known that Verizon did indeed give CDR information to the NSA simply upon request, they should be figuratively crucified in the arena of public opinion.

A Reuters newswire article, via eWeek, reports that:

Verizon Communications said Friday it does not and will not provide any government agency unfettered access to customer records.

The telecommunications company said it could not comment on a "highly classified" National Security Agency program that President George W. Bush has referred to, nor could it confirm or deny whether it has had any relationship to the program.

"Verizon does not, and will not, provide any government agency unfettered access to our customer records or provide information to the government under circumstances that would allow a fishing expedition," the company said in a statement.

More here.

(Yet Another) Man Used MySpace To Arrange Sex With Teens


A Naperville man accused of using the popular Web site to introduce himself to a local teen and then trying to arrange a sexual encounter with her, may have had similarly inappropriate contact with two other Naperville youths.

Naperville police Internet Crimes Unit Investigator Rich Wistocki confirmed Thursday night that the suspect, John R. Wentworth, could face additional criminal charges related to teenage girls and the Internet.

"We have up to three (potential victims) total at this time," Wistocki said. All three girls live in Naperville, he said.

More here.

Net Neutrality: The Big Lie of the Week


Don’t be fooled. Web sites like “Hands Off The Internet” are industry front groups — the products of high-priced consultants bought and paid for by the cable and phone industry. Companies like AT&T, Verizon, BellSouth and their trade associations are spending millions every week to mislead and misinform the American public.

Their latest attempt to hoodwink Internet users is a cutesy cartoon at — a clever piece of industry propaganda that is riddled with half-truths and outright lies.

The animation is an example of Stephen Colbert’s “truthiness” in action. Telco giants cloak their real interests behind a populist message that sounds plausible, while undermining the work of genuine public and consumer advocates.

Visit our “Big Lie” page for a quick guide to cutting through the industry spin.

More here.

Qwest's Ex-Chief Is Suddenly Cast as Defender of Privacy

Ken Belson writes in The New York Times:

Joseph P. Nacchio's reputation has been through highs and lows in his long career as an executive at AT&T and Qwest Communications. He was an up-and-coming manager at AT&T, a daring challenger at the upstart Qwest and later, cited as an example of all the excesses of the telecommunications bubble of the 1990's.

Yesterday, Mr. Nacchio's image took another turn. His lawyer, Herbert J. Stern, said that Mr. Nacchio refused to provide the National Security Agency with access to private telephone records of Qwest customers, apparently the lone holdout among the major phone companies.

With that statement, Mr. Nacchio, who is under indictment for insider trading, has been instantly recast as a champion of the Fourth Amendment and a friend of the man on the street.

More here.

NSA Program Further Blurs Line on Privacy

Arshad Mohammed and Terence O'Hara write in The Washington Post:

Phone companies know every number we dial. Grocery stores watch what we buy, search engines track what we look for on the Internet, banks count each penny we deposit or withdraw.

All of that information could become available to the government as it works to thwart terrorist activity.

This week's disclosure that the National Security Agency is amassing phone calling records for millions of Americans highlighted how blurred the notion of consumer privacy has become in the digital age.

It's difficult to know how much personal information may become available to government investigators because no single law governs how companies handle the data they collect about customers. Instead, there is a patchwork of statutes that prescribe varying rules on the privacy of everything from video store rentals and credit reports to medical data and phone logs. Beyond that, companies have privacy policies that are often impenetrable, leaving consumers unsure what rights, if any, they have.

More here.

Thieves Track Down GPS Units in Northern Virginia

Jamie Stockwell writes in The Washington Post:

Thieves once slinked among parked cars mostly in search of stereos they could easily pilfer. As technology progressed, they snatched cellphones and air bags and laptops. Now, police said, satellite-based navigation devices have emerged as the new gadget of choice.

More than 50 dashboard-mounted Global Positioning System receivers have been stolen from parked cars in Alexandria and Arlington County since January, and police are urging motorists to hide the units, which range in price from $200 to nearly $3,000.

More here.

Friday, May 12, 2006

13 May 1913: Igor Sikorsky is First to Pilot a Four-Engine Aircraft


Igor Sikorsky

Via Wikipedia.

Igor Ivanovich Sikorsky (Russian: Игорь Иванович Сикорский, Ukrainian: Ігор Іванович Сікорський) (25 May 1889 – 26 October 1972) pioneer of aviation who designed the first four-engine airplane and the first successful helicopter of the most common configuration.

In 1912 Igor Sikorsky became Chief Engineer in the Russian Baltic Railroad Car Factory in Saint Petersburg. In 1914 he was awarded the Degree in Engineering "Honoris Causa" by St. Petersburg Polytechnic Institute. His S-6-B airplane won a small order from the Russian Army. Other early work included the construction, as chief engineer, of the first four-engine aircraft, the Bolshoi Baltiski, which he called the Grand. He was also the test pilot for its first flight, on 13th May, 1913. Sikorsky's planes were used by Russia as bombers in World War I and he was decorated with the Cross of St. Vladimir.

More here.

Toon: What Does it Take?!?

Click for larger image.

Qwest Praised for Refusing NSA Phone Records Request

Grant Gross writes on NetworkWorld:

A civil liberties group praised telecommunications carrier Qwest for refusing to turn over its customers' phone records to a U.S. spy agency. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) applauded Qwest's decision not to participate in a broad surveillance program, run by the National Security Agency (NSA), even though other large carriers have apparently complied.

In January, the EFF filed a class-action lawsuit against AT&T for its alleged participation in the NSA's "massive and illegal program to wiretap and data-mine Americans' communications."

"In our country, we follow the law," said Rebecca Jeschke, the EFF's media coordinator. "We don't follow orders. Qwest decided it had a responsibility to its customers and also its shareholders to follow the law."

More here.

Reports Said to Confirm Lawsuit Linking AT&T to 'Data Mining'

Pete Carey writes in The Mercury News:

It's not just phone calls, it's e-mail, too, according to a lawsuit that accuses AT&T of turning over vast amounts of domestic phone and Internet traffic to the National Security Agency.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a public-interest "digital rights" group with headquarters in San Francisco, said Thursday's report in USA Today on an alleged massive telephone-monitoring program appears to confirm allegations made in its lawsuit against AT&T. That class-action lawsuit, filed Jan. 31 in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, alleges that the phone company lets the NSA scoop up voluminous phone and e-mail traffic at AT&T telecommunications centers.

AT&T said in a statement that it has "a long history of vigorously protecting customer privacy," but also has ``an obligation to assist law enforcement and other government agencies responsible for protecting the public welfare, whether it be an individual or the security interests of the entire nation."

"We prize the trust our customers place in us,? the statement said. "If and when AT&T is asked to help, we do so strictly within the law and under the most stringent conditions. Beyond that, we don't comment on matters of national security."

Thursday's disclosure that the NSA had collected call logs from AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth caused a furor in Washington. Foundation representative Rebecca Jeske said the newspaper report "confirms a lot of what we alleged in our lawsuit."

More here.

Comodo Anti-Virus: Savior or Devil In Disguise?

Via eMail Battles.

The number two digital certificate vendor, Comodo, expected their new, free, anti-virus engine's release to be greeted with accolades.

Instead, they're drawing fire from critics who claim that the software sneakily installed more than they bargained for. Another case of Sony-style corporate deceit, or a few spoiled endusers looking a gift horse in the mouth?

Email Battles ruminates.

More here.

Vonage USB SoftPhone Kit Leaked

Image source: Gizmodo

Via Gizmodo.

Our Bothan spies sent us some shots of a USB-key based Vonage SoftPhone that will be available in June. This thing consists of the USB key containing the software and a headset. You plug it into any PC—no Mac support, apparently—up comes your home phone and voicemail et al. No pricing yet.

O2 Confirms DSL Aspirations

Ray Le Maistre writes on Light Reading:

Telefónica SA subsidiary O2 plc today confirmed that it has plans to offer fixed-line broadband services in the U.K. in addition to its existing mobile services.

Having released its first quarter KPIs (key performance indicators) this morning, O2's CEO Peter Erskine said it was very possible that O2 would offer combined fixed and mobile services in the U.K. as it has already done in the Czech Republic and Germany. Erskine said customers now wanted a combination of mobile and broadband, and that he would look at all the different ways O2 could enter the DSL services market.

More here.

DoJ Wants to Extend Microsoft Oversight

An AP newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

Citing Microsoft Corp.'s lapses under a landmark antitrust settlement, the Justice Department said Friday it wants to extend by two years its oversight of some of the company's business practices until at least November 2009.

Microsoft has already agreed to the lengthier scrutiny by the department and 17 states under a proposal that still must be approved by a U.S. judge. The company has struggled with a key provision in the 2002 antitrust settlement requiring it to disclose to its competitors sensitive details about some of its software.

More here.

Do You Own The Songs You Bought Online? Well, Sort Of

A Reuters newswire article by Duncan Martell, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

Like millions around the world, you have an iPod, the market-leading digital music player made by Apple Computer Inc. and have spent perhaps a few hundred dollars buying songs from the company's iTunes music store.

But do you really own the tunes? Whether you do, however, depends on how you define ownership.

"Owning implies control and if you bought the tracks on iTunes you don't have complete control," said Rob Enderle, president of market researcher the Enderle Group.

More here.

Why the NSA Phone Database Story Matters

Ryan Singel writes thoroughly on the matter over on 27B Stroke 6:

Watching the sky lighten at 5 a.m. this morning during my cab ride home from the TV studio where I groggily joined a Democracy Now! discussion of the revelation that three of the largest phone companies are turning over their call database to the NSA for a data-mining operation , I realized what I'd failed to get across in that show and during the Open Source show I joined yesterday afternoon.

You can't understand yesterday's news without thinking of it as one more known component of an architecture of surveillance.

Here are some of the known and alleged pieces.

Much, much more here.

Wells Fargo Admits to Data Loss

Ashlee Vance writes on The Register:

At least one poor Hewlett Packard employee compromised by Fidelity's March laptop loss has now been told Wells Fargo lost his personal data, too.

The staffer received a note this week from Wells Fargo, saying the financial institution had lost a computer packed full of sensitive data such as customers' names, addresses, Social Security numbers and Wells Fargo mortgage loan account numbers, according to a document sent to The Register. Wells Fargo has admitted the loss, telling us that it affected a "relatively small percentage of Wells Fargo customers." The company, however, has millions of customers, so it's pretty tough to tell what a "small percentage" means.

More here.

Deleting Online Predators Act: Quit the Fear-Mongering

Rob Hof writes on Businessweek's "The Tech Beat":

From the Don't They Have Better Things to Do? Dept:

The appropriately acronymed DOPA is supposed to protect children from online predators, but the poorly written law seems to be more aimed at protecting incumbent politicians. I'm sure there are predators trolling MySpace and other online social networks, but I can't believe these lawmakers really think this is going to make much difference.

Meanwhile, Congress is asleep at the switch on much more important issues, such as the National Security Agency conducting warrantless eavesdropping and collection of phone records. It's easy to criticize legislators who must contend with parental worries about online safety for their kids. But craven bills like this only distract people from solving real problems.


Ohio University Suffers Security Breaches

Greg Sandoval writes on C|Net News:

Data thieves may have plundered Social Security numbers and other private information--including health records--belonging to students and faculty at Ohio University following three separate computer intrusions at the school.

According to a message posted on the school's Web site, more than 200,000 people may have been victimized, including past and present students as well as school employees.

Administrators also suggested that more thefts may be uncovered as investigators continue to review computer systems campuswide.

More here.

T-Mobile USA, Verizon Wireless Say They Are Not Participating in NSA Phone-Records Project

Heather Forsgren Weaver writes on RCR Wireless News:

T-Mobile USA Inc. and Verizon Wireless said they did not participate in a data-mining operation run by the National Security Agency that collects phone records and looks for trends that would indicate terrorist activities.

The NSA phone-records operation, first reported by USA Today Thursday, comes on the heels of revelations that telecommunications customer call records are being sold over the Internet.

Telcos, especially mobile-phone carriers, spent the winter assuring the public, federal regulators and Capitol Hill that they do protect customer call records and that those who pretext—pretending to be a customer to obtain call records—should be the targets of any reforms.

More here.

FTC Fines Kodak Imaging Over Spam Campaign

Via the FTC.

The Federal Trade Commission has charged two Internet marketers with violating the CAN-SPAM Act by failing to offer an opt-out method or honor consumers’ right to opt out of receiving future marketing mailings within 10 days of making the request. One marketer also failed to include a valid physical postal address, which also is required by the CAN-SPAM Act. Settlements with the marketers prohibit future violations of the Act and provide for civil penalties totaling more than $32,000.

The FTC charged that Kodak Imaging Network, formerly Ofoto, Inc., sent a commercial e-mail message to more than two million recipients that failed to contain an opt-out mechanism, failed to disclose in the e-mail message that consumers have the right to opt-out of receiving further mailings, and failed to include a valid physical postal address, as required by law.

The FTC also charged that sent more that 6,000 e-mail messages to consumers who had previously requested not to receive future commercial e-mail messages from the company. The stipulated final judgment with requires the company to pay $6,500 in civil penalties. The final order also prohibits future violations of the CAN-SPAM Act and includes record-keeping provisions.

More here.

NPR's Fresh Air: Michelle Goldberg's New Book 'Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism'

For what it's worth, Terry Gross had author Michelle Goldberg on her show "Fresh Air" yesterday, and admittedly, the issues that Goldberg discusses in her book are somewhat sobering -- if not downright frightening for a number of reasons.

If you've never heard Fresh Air, it's a great show & Terry Gross is a fantastic interviewer, and I was lucky enough yesterday to leave work a little early yesterday and listen to this on the drive home.

I highly recommend this -- listen to it if you get a few minutes.

Via NPR:

Fresh Air from WHYY, May 11, 2006 · Journalist Michelle Goldberg, a senior writer for the online magazine Salon, and covers the Christian Right. In her new book, Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, she writes that Christian nationalists believe the Bible is literally true -- and they want to see the nation governed by that truth.

Link here.

Australia Approves Jail Cellphone Jamming Trials

James Riley writes on Australian IT:

Under pressure from the NSW government, federal regulators have agreed to trials of a mobile phone 'jamming' system to stamp out use of contraband handsets inside jails.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) yesterday approved limited laboratory tests of a new "low-impact technology" that might be useful in blocking phone signals inside institutions.

But NSW Premier Morris Iemma wants regulators to allow testing to be extended outside of the laboratories to include field trials at Lithgow and Goulburn jails.

Communications Minister Helen Coonan has previously opposed jammers because they interfered with legitimate phone signals outside the facilities, including with emergency services' communications systems.

More here.

FBI Searches House of Ex-CIA Deputy Foggo

Mark Mazzetti writes in The New York Times:

The home and office of Kyle Foggo, who stepped down on Monday as the Central Intelligence Agency's number three official, were searched today by law-enforcement officials as part of an ongoing investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said.

Mr. Foggo had resigned after becoming entangled in a widening investigation that has already brought down former Representative Randy Cunningham, a k a Duke, of San Diego. Investigators say they are examining what could be a larger pattern of bribery and government corruption.

April Langwell, a spokeswoman for the F.B.I.'s San Diego office, said that Mr. Foggo has been under investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the C.I.A.'s Inspector General as well as the F.B.I.

She said that Mr. Foggo's home in Virginia and office at C.I.A. headquarters were searched under the terms of a sealed search warrant.

More here.

Qwest Explains Rejection of NSA Requests

John O'Neil and Eric Lichtblau write in The New York Times:

The telecommunications company Qwest turned down requests by the National Security Agency for private telephone records because it concluded that doing so would violate federal privacy laws, a lawyer for the telephone company's former chief executive said today.

In a statement released this morning, the lawyer said that the former chief executive, Joseph N. Nacchio, made the decision after asking whether "a warrant or other legal process had been secured in support of that request."

Mr. Nacchio learned that no warrant had been granted and that there was a "disinclination on the part of the authorities to use any legal process," said the lawyer, Herbert J. Stern. As a result, the statement said, Mr. Nacchio concluded that "the requests violated the privacy requirements of the Telecommunications Act."

Qwest was the only phone company to turn down requests from the security agency for phone records as part of a program to compile a vast database of numbers and other information on virtually all domestic calls. The program's scope was first described in an article published on Thursday by USA Today that led to an outpouring of demands for information from Congressional Republicans and Democrats. The article said that At&T, BellSouth and Verizon had agreed to provide the information to the security agency.

More here.

As Tech Advances, Privacy Laws Lag

Joseph Menn and James S. Granelli write in The Los Angeles Times:

Never has it been so easy to know so much about so many.

Thursday's disclosure that three of the nation's biggest telephone companies gave customer calling records to the National Security Agency again demonstrates that technology is rewriting the rules of privacy faster than the law can adapt.

And with their powerful database programs tracking a massive amount of personal details of Americans' daily lives, a growing number of companies find themselves sandwiched between the privacy expectations of their customers and the national security demands of the federal government.

"It's so easy to say yes," said technology security expert Bruce Schneier. "The government sings a patriotic song, and you want to do what's right. We all want to band together."

More here.

Diebold Voting Systems Critically Flawed

Robert Lemos writes on SecurityFocus:

The call--from election watchdog a critical vulnerability in Diebold Election Systems' touchscreen voting systems that could allow any person with access to a voting terminal the ability to completely change the system code or ballot file on the system. As a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University and adviser to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on electronic voting, Shamos realized that, at the very least, a workaround for the flaw needed to be in place by Pennsylvania's next election--at the time, less than three weeks away.

"This one is so bad, that we can't do just nothing," Shamos told the state's election officials at the time. "Any losing candidate could challenge the election by saying, 'How do I know that the software on the machine is the software certified by the state?'"

More here.

U.S. FCC Air-Ground Wireless License Auction on Hold

A Reuters newswire article, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Friday suspended until Monday its auction of wireless licenses for Internet access and other communications services aboard commercial airplanes.

Units of Verizon Communications and JetBlue Airways Corp. have been the most well-known bidders in the sale which began on Wednesday. The agency had stopped the sale midday on Thursday with initial plans to resume Friday.

The agency instead suspended bidding until 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT) Monday.

More here.

Hazard a Guess: Fortune 500 or al-Qaeda?

Image source: Defense Tech

In an interesting follow-up to yesterday's story about how traffic analysis can be deceptive in and of itself, this comes to us via Defense Tech.

People working together on projects tend to interact in fairly predictable ways -- whether that project is installing a new computer system, or blowing up a building. So looking only at the links between people won't tell you much about what those folks are up to. At times, the links can be rather deceptive, in fact. Especially if your data set is huge, like the NSA's ginormous database of phone records. Other information is needed, to fill in the gaps.

Here's an example, [above]. Can you tell which cluster is from a Fortune 500 company, and which one is from Al-Qaeda? Network analysis guru Valdis Krebs shows this slide to corporate and government audiences. Their answers are usually pretty scattershot. Take your guesses in the comments section. Valdis will be back later on with the right answer.

More here.

'Anti-MPLS': BT Likes Nortel's New Ethernet Flavor

Ray Le Maistre writes on Light Reading:

BT Group plc has voiced strong support for a controversial new twist on Ethernet technology developed by Nortel Networks Ltd. called Provider Backbone Transport (PBT). PBT is a management platform that strips out some of the management complexity of Ethernet for the delivery of point-to-point Ethernet services.

BT's backing for Nortel's technology comes just as the carrier awaits responses from the vendor community to its major Ethernet equipment Invitation to Tender (ITT), a critical stage in BT's decision-making process about which Ethernet technology it will use in its £10 billion (US$19 billion) next-generation network, the 21CN.

Nortel's approach is to simplify Ethernet by turning off features, such as the Spanning Tree protocol and MAC address flooding, and enabling network operators to manage their Ethernet service delivery by using a set of standards-based management tools.

More here.

Speedus Sues Verizon Wireless Over Patents

A Reuters newswire article, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

Wireless broadband firm Speedus Corp. said on Friday that its unit, CellularVision Technology & Telecommunications, filed lawsuits against Verizon Communications Inc.'s and Vodafone Group Plc's Verizon Wireless venture over wireless technology patents.

The suits involve technologies used by Verizon Wireless to transmit television to wireless users over cellular networks and the simultaneous transmission of analog and digital signals within the same bandwidth, Speedus said.

More here.

Google Click Fraud Settlement Hits Snag

Ed Oswald writes on BetaNews:

Lawyers representing several Internet search advertisers who use Google's AdWords service have filed suit hoping to block a proposed $90 million settlement over allegations of click fraud. The plaintiffs claim that the settlement does not adequately compensate those affected.

On Thursday, they made the decision to file suit in the same Arkansas court that the original settlement was reached. A judge is set to hear arguments in a two-day hearing July 24 to decide on whether to approve the settlement.

More here.

German National Sues Ex-CIA Director Over Detention

An AP newswire article, via MSNBC, reports that:

German national Khaled al-Masri is suing former CIA Director George Tenet, 10 “John Doe” CIA employees and three private aviation companies, contending he was held illegally in Afghanistan for four months in 2004 and tortured as part of the CIA’s “rendition” program for terror suspects.

The American Civil Liberties Union is representing al-Masri, who was detained by the CIA in a case of mistaken identity. The attorneys were to argue the case Friday before a federal judge in Alexandria, Va.

The ACLU and other civil rights groups have criticized the program, in which terror suspects are captured and taken to foreign countries for interrogation. The CIA has never revealed its scope.

More here.

Google Reveals What the World is Searching For

Anand Giridharadas writes in The International Herald Tribune:

Google lifted the veil this week on one of its best-kept secrets: which nations search for what?

Who looks up democracy most avidly? Who seeks out Allah or Christ most faithfully? Who types in "drugs" or "sex" most frequently?

No country's secrets are spared.

Pakistanis look up "Danish Cartoons" more avidly than anyone, according to Google. They also lead the rankings for "sex" - with their neighbor and nuclear rival India seldom far behind.

The site introduced Thursday, Google Trends, measures how often particular phrases are searched for from computers in individual countries and cities. It short-lists the places with the highest absolute number of searches for, say, "cat food." Then it picks the top 10 or so based on which places look up "cat food" much more than they do other things - for instance, "dog food."

More here.

Why ICANN Was Right to Reject The '.xxx' TLD

An editorial.

The internet's domain naming body has rejected a plan for a .xxx domain, a red light district for the internet. It was the right decision, but not for reasons suggested by the religious right in the US. It was right because the plan was flawed.

The Financial Times is reporting that an international row broke out yesterday, over concerns that the California-based board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers – ICANN – bowed to pressure from the Bush administration when announcing its decision on Wednesday.

A spokesman for European Commissioner Viviane Reding called it "a clear case of political interference in ICANN," according to the FT. ICANN Chairman Paul Twomey rejected this accusation as "completely ill-founded and ignorant."

It seems that the UK, Denmark, Sweden, Brazil and Australia had objections, too. And whether politics interfered or not, ICANN made the right decision.

More here.

Silicon Valley Leaders Outraged by Latest NSA Revelation

K. Oanh Ha writes in The Mercury News:

Revelations that the government has collected phone-call records of millions of Americans touched off a political firestorm Thursday in Washington that spread quickly to Silicon Valley, where the news fueled outrage among business and community leaders -- particularly those who make a lot of overseas calls.

Triggering the furor was a USA Today report that at least three companies -- AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth -- turned over call records for millions of their customers to the super-secret National Security Agency, which searches them for patterns to help identify terrorist networks. One source said the goal of the program, put into place shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, is to build a database of every call made within the country.

Critics said the massive collection of phone records violates Americans' privacy and raises disturbing questions about the government's reach into personal lives.

More here.

India: VSNL Buys Into Broadband

Nicole Willing writes on Light Reading:

Having completed the integration of Teleglobe International Holdings Ltd., Indian powerhouse Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (VSNL) is back on the acquisition trail, this time to beef up its domestic broadband operations.

On Monday, VSNL announced it has bought Direct Internet Ltd. (DIL) and its Primus India subsidiary for 750 million rupees (US$16.7 million), and now the carrier has reportedly picked up the Internet business of 7 Star, a cable operator based in Mumbai.

More here.

AT&T, Verizon Readily Break Their Own Rules

David Lazarus writes in The San Francisco Chronicle:

The privacy policies of AT&T and Verizon are very specific about requiring a warrant or subpoena before either company will share customers' data with government officials.

There's no exception for when the government comes calling with nothing more than a vague desire to find terrorists.

AT&T, the company formerly known as SBC, says in its privacy policy that "we must disclose information, when requested, to comply with court orders or subpoenas."

Verizon Communications says in its policy that it discloses people's info when "it is required by law and when we believe that disclosure is necessary to protect our rights and/or to comply with a judicial proceeding, court order or legal process."

More here.

Also, it is noteworthy to point out, as does, that:

AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth want us to trust that they’ll be good stewards of Internet freedom. Meanwhile, they’re selling out ordinary Americans to the National Security Agency.

U.S. Consumers Losing Trust in Online Banking

A ComputerWorld-MacCentral article by Linda Rosencrance, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

U.S. consumers are not as enamored with online banking as they once were and are citing online security as their top concern, according to a report.

“The result is a slowing rate of adoption, with online banking households increasing by only 3.1 percent in the last quarter of 2005 — the lowest increase in three years,” according to Lisa Phillips, senior analyst at eMarketer and the report’s author. “The number of online banking households as a percentage of total online households is pretty stagnant, too. It is expected to grow by just 4 percentage points between 2006 and 2010, from 45.4 million in 2006 to 56.2 million in 2010.”

While that number may seem high, it is actually more conservative than the estimates of other researchers, Phillips said.

More here.

Gapingvoid: It's Not Enough to See the Stars

Via Enjoy!

Politics: Bush's Job Approval Falls to 29% in New Poll

A Reuters newswire article, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

President George W. Bush's job approval rating has hit a new low, with 29 percent of the U.S. public saying he is doing an "excellent or pretty good job," down from 35 percent in April, according to a Harris Interactive poll in The Wall Street Journal Online.

The poll of 1,003 U.S. adults said 71 percent of Americans said Bush was doing an "only fair or poor job," up from 63 percent in April. It said the survey was conducted May 5-8 and had a 3 percent margin of error.

More here.

UK: Appeals Court says Denial of Service is a Crime


A judge made a mistake when he suggested that a teenager using a 'mail-bombing' program to attack his former employer's computer system was not breaching the Computer Misuse Act, according to the Court of Appeals.

David Lennon, who could not be named when he was cleared last November because he was then under 18, must now decide whether to plead guilty or stand trial in the district court. If convicted, he faces a maximum possible sentence of five years in prison and a fine.

After being dismissed from Domestic & General Group, in early 2004, Lennon allegedly used a program called Avalanche that, once activated, automatically sent continuous emails to the insurer's server until the program was manually stopped. The server received over 500,000 emails, the vast majority of which purported to come from a human resources manager within the company.

More here.

The Internet's 'Not-So-Secret' Economy of Crime

A Fortune Magazine article by David Kirkpatrick, via CNN/Money, reports that:

Raze Software offers a product called CC2Bank 1.3, available in freeware form - if you like it, please pay for it. Raze's attractively designed Web site, registered in Belarus, may suggest a shaky command of English -"I shall pleased any estimation in respect of my programs and this page," it reads - but it displays the classic characteristics of web commerce, like visitor statistics, advertising, and links to Web sites of partners.

But CC2Bank's purpose is the management of stolen credit cards. Release 1.3 enables you to type in any credit card number and learn the type of card, name of the issuing bank, the bank's phone number and the country where the card was issued, among other info.

The ad on Raze's site, in Russian, leads to another Belarus address that appears to be a market for stolen products.

More here.

Florida Theater Chain Hit by Computer Virus

Robert McMillan writes on InfoWorld:

Buying tickets online for Tom Cruise's latest movie became a Mission: Impossible for some theater goers last weekend thanks to a computer virus that gummed up ticket-buying in the southeastern U.S.

The virus popped up late Friday afternoon, disabling operations of Muvico Theatres, a small regional chain based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Hackers hit Muvico's Internet servers just as the company was gearing up for its busy weekend period, inconveniencing "thousands of movie-goers," said John Spano, a Muvico spokesman.

The malicious software disabled's showtime-listing and ticket-purchasing features, and then spread to the company's point of sale systems, halting credit card transactions at Muvico's 12 megaplex theatres in Florida, Maryland, and Tennessee.

"If people showed up with a credit card and they did not have cash, then they had to be turned away, because we had no way of selling them a ticket," Spano said.

More here.

Note: At the time of this post, the Muivco web site still has a message on it's website which reads "Purchasing online tickets or accessing showtimes is not available at this time. Website is under maintenance. Please contact your local theater."

Thursday, May 11, 2006

12 May 1949: Berlin Blockade Lifted


Berlin Airlift Monument in Berlin-Tempelhof, displaying the names of the 39 British and 31 U.S.-American pilots who lost their lives during the operation. Similar monuments can be found at the military airfield Wietzenbruch near Celle and at Rhein-Main Air Base.
Image source: Wikipedia

Via The History Channel Online.

On May 12, 1949, an early crisis of the Cold War comes to an end when the Soviet Union lifts its 11-month blockade against West Berlin. The blockade had been broken by a massive U.S.-British airlift of vital supplies to West Berlin's two million citizens.

On May 12, 1949, the Soviets abandoned the blockade, and the first British and American convoys drove though 110 miles of Soviet Germany to reach West Berlin. On May 23, the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) was formally established. On October 7, the German Democratic Republic, a Communist state, was proclaimed in East Germany. The Berlin airlift continued until September 30, in an effort to build up a year's supply of essential goods for West Berlin in the event of another Soviet blockade. Another blockade did not occur, but Cold War tensions over Berlin remained high, culminating in the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961.

More here.

NSA Courtesy Phone

Enjoy. Not.

It's Official: Michelle Malkin is an Idiot

All you have to do is read this, and other retarded Bush administration 'protectionisms' she spouts, to understand.

Enjoy the idiocy.

Toon: Neighborhood Thieves

Click for larger image.

Congress May Slap Restrictions on SSN Use

Anne Broache writes on C|Net News:

Democratic and Republican politicians on Thursday both promised to enact new federal laws by the end of the year that would restrict some commercial uses of Social Security numbers, which are often implicated in identity fraud cases.

"Whether Social Security numbers should be sold by Internet data brokers to anyone willing to pay, indistinguishable from sports scores or stock quotes... to me, that's a no-brainer," Texas Republican Joe Barton, chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, said at a hearing. Such a practice should not be allowed, he said, "period, end of debate."

In both the House and the Senate, there are at least three pieces of pending legislation that propose different approaches to restricting the use and sale of SSNs. Politicians have expressed astonishment at what they see as a rising identity fraud problem, frequently pointing to a 2003 Federal Trade Commission survey that estimated nearly 10 million consumers are hit by such intrusions each year.

More here.

Pissed Off? Give. To The EFF. Now.

I did. Again. $100.

If you haven't given to the EFF, consider doing it NOW.

You can help -- help stop the outrageous infringements on your digital liberies.

Stop the NSA, AT&T, and everyone else trying to steal your liberties on the Internet.

Philadelphia OKs Wireless Internet Project

An AP newswire article by Deborah Yao, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

City Council on Thursday unanimously approved a plan to blanket the city's 135 square miles with a high-speed wireless Internet connection, a measure that mayor is expected to sign soon.

If the system is fully deployed by the third quarter of 2007 as planned, Philadelphia would be the first large city to have its own wireless Internet network. EarthLink Inc. will build, operate and maintain the network under a 10-year contract.

More here.

NSA Database Report Draws Focus on 'Analysis'

An AP newswire article by Brian Bergstein, via ABC News, reports that:

If the National Security Agency is indeed amassing a colossal database of Americans' phone records, one way to use all that information is in "social network analysis," a data-mining method that aims to expose previously invisible connections among people.

Social network analysis has gained prominence in business and intelligence circles under the belief that it can yield extraordinary insights, such as the fact that people in disparate organizations have common acquaintances. Companies can buy social networking software to help determine who has the best connections for a particular sales pitch.

So it did not surprise many security analysts to learn Thursday from USA Today that the NSA is applying the technology to billions of phone records.

More here.

Quote of the Day [3]: Jack Cafferty

"We all hope nothing happens to Arlen Specter, the Republican head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, cause he might be all that stands between us and a full blown dictatorship in this country. He's vowed to question these phone company executives about volunteering to provide the government with my telephone records, and yours, and tens of millions of other Americans."

- CNN's Jack Cafferty (via Crooks and Liars), on today's news that the NSA has also been tracking ALL domestic phone calls for the past few years.

I love Jack Cafferty.

Somehow, he manages to accurately reflect my indignation with this administration.

AlterNet: Reach Out and Track Someone

An AlterNet article by Terry J. Allen reports that:

Cell phone companies can locate you any time you are in range of a tower and your phone is on. Cell phones are designed to work either with global positioning satellites or through "pings" that allow towers to triangulate and pinpoint signals. Any time your phone "sees" a tower, it pings it.

That is what happened last month when a New York City murder highlighted the existence of the built-in capability of phones to locate people even when they aren't making calls.

The case of Imette St. Guillen captivated the New York City media as only the murder of a young, attractive, middle-class, white female can. One piece of evidence leading to the arrest of Darryl Littlejohn, the bouncer at the club where St. Guillen was last seen, was what police called "cell phone records." In fact, it was not an actual call that placed Littlejohn at the crime scene. Instead, according to the New York Daily News, police traced Littlejohn's route the day of the murder by tracking the "pings" of his cell phone, which were "stored" in a tower and "later retrieved from T-Mobile by cops."

More here.

DoJ to Buy New Data-Sharing System

William P. Dizard III writes on

The Justice Department is laying the groundwork for acquisition of the National Data Exchange system, better known as N-DEx, which will form a “card catalog” of criminal incident information from federal, state and local law-enforcement agencies.

Vance Hitch, the department’s CIO, said today that N-DEx would take the form of a performance-based acquisition and form part of Justice’s Law Enforcement Information Sharing Program.

Justice already has a vendor to provide support for the procurement, according to Hitch. Acquisition Solutions Inc. of Arlington, Va., confirmed that it had been hired for the purpose.

More here.

Quote of the Day [2]: David S. Isenberg

"Perhaps Osama is holed up in a mountainous tribal region where even the telephone companies are not controlled by federal authorities? I've got it! Bush can't find Osama because Qwest won't cooperate!"

- David S. Isenberg, on his Another jocular reference to exeplain perhaps why Qwest would not cooperate with the NSA phone system(s) data-mining.

Using DNA to Trace Criminals in Your Family?

Image source: MSNBC / Christine Cox

Gattica déjà vu.

Ker Than writes on LiveScience:

Studies have shown that a person's chances of committing a crime go up if a parent or sibling had previously done so. And a 1999 U.S. Department of Justice survey found that 46 percent of jail inmates had at least one close relative who had been incarcerated.

The U.K. has adopted a policy where almost any run-in with the law, even minor ones, will allow police to collect DNA. In the United States, the rules vary depending on the state. Currently, the U.S. criminal database contains DNA samples of about 3 million people.

Despite the potential usefulness of the technique, experts worry that maintaining a DNA database of criminal relatives could reflect—perhaps even amplify—demographic disparities already present in the criminal justice system.

More here.

Sun Microsystems to Close Newark Campus

An AP newswire article, via, reports that:

Long-struggling Sun Microsystems Inc. will close its campus in Newark [California] and sell it to help cut the company's losses.

The 1.4-million-square-foot complex will go on sale next month and could fetch as much as $200 million.

About 2,300 workers will need to relocate to campuses in Menlo Park and Santa Clara, where the company is based.

More here.

Quote of the Day: John Paczkowski

"So what if the National Security Agency has gathered millions of Americans' phone records to create 'a database of every call ever made' within the nation's borders? They're probably just trying to keep better track of Duke Cunningham's hookers."

- John Paczkowski, over on Good Morning, Silicon Valley, in his ever-so-witty way of commenting on the news that the NSA has been keeping track of all domestic phone calls made in the United States.

Toon: Hayden, CIA, Wiretaps -- Oh, My!

Click for larger image.

FBI 'Sex Tour' Site Lured Predators

Via The Smoking Gun.

In an undercover operation targeting Americans seeking overseas sex tours, the FBI last year set up a web site that purported to offer "exotic excursions" to the Philippines and Thailand, where pedophiles often travel for sex with boys and girls.

Investigators last year established Wicked Adventures Travel and promoted the site in news groups like alt.pedophilia.boys and We've mirrored the FBI's undercover site, so click here to surf through the bureau's online handiwork. In their news group postings, agents with the FBI's Maryland-based Innocent Images Task Force wrote that the firm catered to clients "who want to travel to Exotic destinations accompanied by your specified companion," adding that "we provide you with confidentiality and safety as a top priority."

While not explicitly saying that it arranges sex with minors, the Wicked Adventures site uses meta tags in its html pages to presumably lure prospective clients.

More here.

NSA Phone Sweep a 'Waste of Time', Analyst Says

Via Defense Tech.

It'd be one thing if the NSA's massive sweep of our phone records was actually helping catch terrorists. But what if it's not working at all?

A leading practitioner of the kind of analysis the NSA is supposedly performing in this surveillance program says that "it's a waste of time, a waste of resources. And it lets the real terrorists run free."

More here.

UK: Teenage 'e-Mail Bomber' Heads Back to Court

David Meyer writes on C|Net News:

A teenager faces a retrial over charges that he breached British antihacking laws when he sent millions of messages to a former employer.

David Lennon, who is now 18 and can therefore be named for the first time, is alleged to have used an e-mail-bombing program called Avalanche to send approximately five million messages to his former employers, Domestic & General Group, in early 2004. The flood crashed the company's e-mail server.

The case against him, brought under the Computer Misuse Act, was dismissed in November by District Judge Kenneth Grant at Wimbledon Magistrates Court in London. At the time, Judge Grant said that Section 3 of the act, which concerns unauthorized modification of data, had not been breached, as e-mails sent to a server configured to receive e-mails could not be classified as unauthorized.

But on Thursday, judges at the Royal Courts of Justice in London sent the case back to the Magistrates Court, saying Judge Grant "was not right to state there was no case to answer."

More here.

Bill Puts Law Enforcement First in Data Leak Notification

Anne Broache writes on C|Net News:

A new proposal in Congress would force anyone who possesses electronic personal data to report "major" security breaches to federal authorities before alerting consumers--or face hefty fines and even imprisonment.

The 11-page House of Representatives bill aims to deter identity thieves and dismantle cybercrime operations, such as phishing scams, that swipe personal information. It was introduced this week by House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner and backed by three Republicans and one Democrat.

The Republican-backed bill would require "whoever owns or possesses data in electronic form" that contains personally identifiable information--such as a person's name, Social Security number or date of birth--to inform the U.S. Secret Service or the FBI within two weeks of discovering a "major breach."

More here.

Sunbelt: Spycleaner Bundling WhenU Adware

Image source: Sunbelt Software


Alex Eckelberry writes on the Sunbelt Blog:

Oh boy, here we go again… Spycleaner Platimum is now bundling adware.

More here.

DOJ Drops Wiretap Investigation

This stinks to high heavens.

Does the Bush administration (to include the Department of "Justice") really expect us to swallow this?

An AP newswire article, via Wired News, reports that:

The government has abruptly ended an inquiry into the warrantless eavesdropping program because the National Security Agency refused to grant Justice Department lawyers security clearance.

The Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility, or OPR, sent a fax Wednesday to Democratic Rep. Maurice Hinchey of New York saying it was closing its inquiry because without clearance it could not examine department lawyers' role in the program.

"We have been unable to make any meaningful progress in our investigation because OPR has been denied security clearances for access to information about the NSA program," OPR counsel H. Marshall Jarrett wrote to Hinchey. Hinchey's office shared the letter with The Associated Press.

Jarrett wrote that beginning in January his office has made a series of requests for the necessary clearances. Those requests were denied Tuesday.

"Without these clearances, we cannot investigate this matter and therefore have closed our investigation," Jarrett wrote.

More here.

Chip and PIN Fraud Hits Lloyds TSB

This is the second instance of Chip and PIN fraud I've heard this week -- the first was with Royal Dutch Shell in the UK.

John Leyden writes on The Register:

Lloyds TSB has admitted that flaws in the new Chip and PIN system recently introduced for debits cards in the UK open up the system to fraud. Conventional fraud may be down because of the system but crooks are still able to use cloned debit or credit cards in foreign ATMS.

Instead of authorising debit card transactions by signature Chip and PIN means that customers use a four digit PIN code to give the go-ahead to purchases.

Although cloned cards won't have a forged chip the PIN associated with this microchip is the same as that associated with a magnetic stripe. Foreign ATMs only read this magnetic strip and not the PIN. So providing fraudsters obtain the data on the magnetic strip, along with the associated PIN, they are able to make withdrawals overseas using a conventionally cloned card, something that wouldn't work on a UK high street. Delays in identifying foreign ATM cash withdrawals as potentially fraudulent are compounding the problem.

More here.

Canada: Telus Warns of Phone Scam

Via The Globe and Mail.

Vancouver-based Telus estimates that tens of thousands of consumers and businesses across Canada have recently received fraudulent automated phone calls informing them that they have won a prize. The recorded announcement instructs the listener to press 9, 0, # to claim their prize.

Pressing that sequence of keys on many business switchboards will transfer the incoming call to an outbound line, allowing fraudsters to pick up the line and make expensive overseas long distance calls at the business' expense.

Residential telephone lines are not vulnerable to this phone scam, Telus says. This scam can succeed only if the recipient of the automated call is at a business or commercial switchboard.

More here.

Yahoo! Turns to Washington for Help in China

A Reuters newswire article, via CNN/Money, reports that:

Yahoo said Thursday it was seeking the U.S. government's help in urging China to allow more media freedom, after reports linked information that it gave to Chinese authorities with the jailing of a dissident.

Last month, the Internet media company was cited in a Chinese court decision to jail an Internet writer for 10 years for subversion in 2003 - the fourth such case to surface implicating Yahoo.

Yahoo Chairman and Chief Executive Terry Semel, speaking at an event, said it had no choice but to comply with local laws and did not have the power to change Chinese policy.

More here.

MySpace Bill Prompts Blogger Backlash

Margaret Kane writes on C|Net's Blogma:

A new bill would block off access to a wide variety of web sites, social networking sites and blogs in libraries and schools, in the guise of protecting teens from online predators.

The Deleting Online Predators Act, sponsored by Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, would essentially require most schools and libraries to render those Web sites inaccessible to minors.

While bloggers acknowledged there may be cause for parental concern regarding predators, the general reaction seemed to be that the proposed legislation was overbroad and would likely do little to deter teens from the sites.

More here.

Shocker: Bush Defends Spying After NSA Database Report

Lies, more lies, and damned lies from the Bush administration.


Following a report that the U.S. agency in charge of a domestic spying program is building a database of every phone call made within the country, President Bush told the nation from the White House that all anti-terrorism efforts are within the law.

Facing new concerns in Congress, President Bush did not confirm or deny the report but sought to assure Americans that their privacy is being “fiercely protected.”

“We are not mining or trolling through the personal lives of innocent Americans,” Bush said.

On Capitol Hill, Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he would call phone company executives to appear before the panel “to find out exactly what is going on.”

More here.

Update: One paragraph near the end of this article says it all, folks:

Meanwhile, the Justice Department has abruptly ended an inquiry into the warrantless eavesdropping program because the NSA refused to grant its lawyers the necessary security clearance.

How freeking convenient. I, for one, am appalled.

Om Malik: Clearwire Goes For $400 Million IPO

Om Malik writes on his Next Generation blog:

With all the talk about network neutrality, and the buzz around fixed wireless, WiMAX and wireless broadband, it is no surprise that Clearwire is getting ready to cash in. The company started by wireless zen master Craig McCaw has just filed to go public and is looking to raise as much as $400 million. Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan Securities, Bear Sterns, and Wachovia Capital Markets are the underwriters. The company has raised nearly $360 million so far from backers that include McCaw, Intel Corp., and Bell Canada.

Clearwire’s decision to tap the public markets underscores the fact that setting up big nationwide WiMAX network in the US is going to be very very expensive. In-Stat, estimates that it would take a total of $3 billion to set-up a national WiMAX network in the US. Clearwire was started back in 2003, and uses pre-WiMAX gear developed by its NextNet Wireless arm to provide download speeds of 1.5 Mbps.

More here.

UK: Chris Langham Charged For Internet Child Porn

A Reuters newswire article, via Yahoo! News, reports that:

Award-winning comedy actor Chris Langham has been charged with 15 counts of making indecent images of children, Kent police said on Thursday.

Langham, 57, who won a Bafta television award on Sunday for his role in the BBC comedy "The Thick Of It," was charged on Wednesday night after he returned to police to fulfil bail conditions.

Police said the offences related to "Internet crime."

More here.

Simple Idea Could Solve Tricky RFID Privacy Issue

John Blau writes on InfoWorld:

Sometimes innovative ideas are really simple. Here's one: an RFID chip with a perforated edge that allows consumers to tear off a part of the antenna after purchasing an item and immediately reduce the distance of the signal, thus easing privacy concerns.

The Clipped Tag label is the brainchild of Paul Moskowitz, an inventor and researcher at IBM.

Ultra-high frequency RFID (radio frequency identification) tags are generally readable at distances up to 30 feet (9 meters), but the Clipped Tag innovation reduces that distance to between 1 and 2 inches. "This means that the tag can only be read if the consumer holds the tag up to a reader," Moskowitz said Wednesday. "It puts choice in the hands of the consumer."

More here.