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AT&T Introduces "Sponsored Data" Allowing Services to Bypass 4G Data Caps

betterunixthanunix Re:Clever? (229 comments)

while at the same time giving their customers a bit less

FTFY. Remember the days when AT&T actually gave you unlimited service (back when "unlimited" actually meant "unlimited")? Remember how angry we were when they introduced the data cap?

about 3 months ago
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FBI Edits Mission Statement: Removes Law Enforcement As 'Primary' Purpose

betterunixthanunix Re:Put a fork in it, it's done. (539 comments)

The drug laws were passed to reduce illegal drug trade and use, not voting for the "wrong" political party.

So why were the drugs made illegal in the first place? Maybe you are not aware of the history of the drug war, but before the 20th century recreational drugs were legal -- one could buy cocaine and heroin over the counter.

about 3 months ago
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FBI Edits Mission Statement: Removes Law Enforcement As 'Primary' Purpose

betterunixthanunix Re:Put a fork in it, it's done. (539 comments)

Marijuana is not the only illegal drug. Cocaine has a longer history of being illegal, and the prohibition of cocaine has been a pretext for arresting black men since it was first banned. The arguments for banning cocaine were not merely absurd, but shockingly racist, with claims about "cocaine niggers" being driven to attack white women and talk of how black cocaine users became more accurate with a gun. Southern police forces used cocaine as a pretext for upgrading their guns, claiming that "negro cocaine fiends" could not be stopped with a shot through the heart using standard police calibers.

Not only that, but despite the recent progress on legalizing marijuana, numerous other drugs have been banned -- including several that were simply declared to be illegal by the DEA before Congress even voted on the issue. So do not let yourself be distracted by marijuana any more than by alcohol, tobacco, or caffeine -- the war on drugs is alive and well, and the police are as heavily armed and as violent as ever.

about 3 months ago
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FBI Edits Mission Statement: Removes Law Enforcement As 'Primary' Purpose

betterunixthanunix Re:Put a fork in it, it's done. (539 comments)

  1. It is well known that drug laws have been and continue to be used as tools of political oppression. One need only look at the arguments presented to Congress in the early 20th century during the debate on criminalizing cocaine, opium, and marijuana to see that these laws were intended to target certain unpopular minorities, especially black men. Much of the lobbying for the drug war has come from business interests and, disturbingly, from law enforcement agencies themselves -- literally, the executive branch using the drug war as a way to expand its own power.
  2. Also typical of police states are the systematic denial of civil rights, the broadening of laws to the point where trials are pro forma only, and a vast and powerful police force. The USA exhibits all of the above -- the vast majority of cases never go to trial, defendants who intend to exercise their rights must wait years and are often bankrupted in the process, and it is rare for defendants to face only a single criminal charge. Additionally, laws are passed specifically to give the police and prosecutors greater authority to arrest and imprison people who would otherwise have walked free. Increasingly, paramilitary police teams are deployed at all levels of government to serve routine search-and-arrest warrants -- with the use of such teams being motivated by a focus on the safety of the police and the successful execution of the warrant, rather than on the safety of the public or the protection of civil rights.

In other words, the only reason we have to say that the USA is not a police state is that our police are more tame when compared to infamous governments like the Soviet Union. Sure, the police will face penalties if they cross certain lines when interrogating a suspect and sure, civil rights do occasionally matter to the courts, but at the end of the day we are a police state -- a mild one, perhaps, but a police state nonetheless.

about 3 months ago
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FBI Edits Mission Statement: Removes Law Enforcement As 'Primary' Purpose

betterunixthanunix Re:Put a fork in it, it's done. (539 comments)

What is the nature of this so called "police state"?

Does being the world leader in imprisoning people count? We have more people in prison than China, North Korea, Iran, etc. -- and that is more people in prison period, not merely per capita.

about 3 months ago
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How Much Is Oracle To Blame For Healthcare IT Woes?

betterunixthanunix Bad specs (275 comments)

It is one thing to say that the spec is incomplete, but when the spec is bad there is not much a developer can do. If you are told to make the wrong thing, well, either you make the wrong thing or someone else will be paid to do so. There is only so much a developer can do in that situation.

about 5 months ago
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U.S. Will Not Provide Financing For New International Coal-Fired Power Plants

betterunixthanunix Re:FTFY (329 comments)

Why does a country need coal to become industrialized? This comes to mind:

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/10/kamwamba-windmill/

Obvious recycling alternators from old cars is not a solution that scales well enough to industrialize a nation, but at the same time this was being done by a teenager with only rudimentary knowledge of engineering.

about 6 months ago
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Former DHS Official Blames Privacy Advocates For TSA's Aggressive Procedures

betterunixthanunix Re:blame equality (325 comments)

It seems to me that the problem is the brown-skinned people, Arabic-speaking people, or whatever group that hates us. We hate them because they acted on their hate. They hate that too.

Brown-skinned people do not universally hate America. Arab people do not universally hate America. If that is not clear to you, take a look at the enormous number of brown-skinned and Arab people who have immigrated to this country. Many of those people came here to escape the kind of people who attacked us. Many came here to escape persecution and corruption by their government. What do you think happens when they give up their old lives to come here, then face constant suspicion and harassment by the government?

It is no wonder the CIA has trouble finding Arabic and Farsi speakers. We are shooting ourselves in the foot, and we are doing so for no reason other than a popular belief that Muslims, Seikhs, Hindus, and anyone with brown skin must be connected to terrorists. In other words, outright stupidity.

about 7 months ago
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Former DHS Official Blames Privacy Advocates For TSA's Aggressive Procedures

betterunixthanunix Re:Accountability (325 comments)

How are the incentives in the wrong place? The airlines need security theater; people are already fearful of flying, and fear of being killed by terrorists while flying only makes that worse.

The key is to remember that checkpoints do not keep you safe on an airplane. You can walk through a checkpoint with all kinds of sharp objects -- like all those sharp metal bits in your laptop -- all kinds of explosive chemicals -- like batteries -- and then you can buy more things that are easily turned into weapons on the other side of the checkpoint. We have checkpoints because the government wants to remind people that something is being done, and it works -- people were terrified to hear that the TSA would relax the knife rule to something approaching sensible, and nobody cared about the number of other dangerously sharp things people are allowed to carry through.

If airlines were responsible for security, this would all be simplified. No corrupt contracts for nude scanners, because the airlines cannot afford to dump money on that garbage. No nude scanners means no pointless groping -- the groping was always a punishment reserved for anyone who refused a scan (gotta make sure the machines are used, right?). Too annoying and the airline's profits suffer, as they should (and as long as there is a TSA, nobody should fly unless they have to cross a distance that is beyond driving / train range).

about 7 months ago
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Former DHS Official Blames Privacy Advocates For TSA's Aggressive Procedures

betterunixthanunix Re:blame equality (325 comments)

Racial profiling works

...to accomplish what? The TSA checkpoints are not going to stop competent terrorists. The 9/11 hijackers would have had just as easy a time using some glass shards (from, say, a bottle purchased at a duty free shop) as boxcutters. A laptop has plenty of long, sharp metal pieces in it, perfect for creating a makeshift knife.

That is why this is dumb. If a terrorist wants to blow up a plane, he can kill just as many people (if not more) by blowing up an airport -- maybe while standing on line for security, or at a ticket counter, or at a border checkpoint. If a terrorist wants to hijack a plane, he does not need to carry anything through security, and taking him aside to harass him for an hour will not stop his plot.

Of course, profiling is a great way to appease people who have a problem with brown-skinned people, Arabic-speaking people, or whatever group we decide we hate next. Meanwhile, the same people we are harassing could have been working with us to find the real terrorists -- if they moved here to America, it is probably because they wanted to escape the terrorists in their home country, and could have been allies in fighting those terrorists.

Oh well, there could not be a problem with having only a dozen Arabic speakers working at the CIA, right? It's not like we keep going to war in Arab countries...

about 7 months ago
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Former DHS Official Blames Privacy Advocates For TSA's Aggressive Procedures

betterunixthanunix Blame stupidity (325 comments)

The checkpoints are a waste of time and money that have not stopped a single realistic terrorist plot. Profiling is irrelevant, already performed, and does not improve the effectiveness of the TSA checkpoints. This is a distraction from the real issue: billions of wasted dollars, millions of travelers intimidated into giving up their civil rights, and nothing to show for any of it.

about 7 months ago
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Former DHS Official Blames Privacy Advocates For TSA's Aggressive Procedures

betterunixthanunix Sounds like evil to me (325 comments)

The TSA checkpoints, pat downs, nude scanners, and so forth are a complete waste. No competent terrorist would be deterred by such things -- and "competent" here means "able to do more damage in an airplane than out." It is easy enough to make a makeshift weapon past the checkpoints, and the 9/11 hijackers all used makeshift weapons. I am not even plotting an attack and I can think of a half dozen ways to arm myself on the other side of a TSA checkpoint.

Basically the TSA is cover-your-ass security theater. If there is any kind of attack, nobody wants to be the politicians who voted to remove the TSA from our airports, regardless of whether or not the checkpoints make a difference.

about 7 months ago
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Are the NIST Standard Elliptic Curves Back-doored?

betterunixthanunix Factoring integers versus Discrete Log in EC group (366 comments)

The difference boils down to factoring integers versus computing discrete logarithms in elliptic curve groups. The best publicly known integer factorization algorithm is GNFS which runs in roughly O(2^(n^1/3)), whereas the best publicly known ECDLOG algorithm runs in O(2^(n^1/2)). That is why we need RSA keys that are so much larger than ECC keys.

That, of course, is a theoretical argument. In practice, there are other issues to consider. ECC has a lot of parameters and there are a lot of constraints on the curve you choose; this means there are a lot of things to get wrong. RSA is not technically secure on its own (and the construction used to make it secure is easy to get wrong), but related systems like Blum-Goldwasser (which is based on a related problem, the Quadratic Residuosity Problem) are and they have many fewer parameters. The code for such systems is also simpler, which makes it more straightforward to audit (and harder to hide backdoors).

about 7 months ago
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Schneier: We Need To Relearn How To Accept Risk

betterunixthanunix SWAT? (478 comments)

What catastrophic event do you think SWAT teams and other paramilitary police forces were a response to?

about 8 months ago
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Technologies Like Google's Self-Driving Car: Destroying Jobs?

betterunixthanunix Re:Oh noes! (736 comments)

Ah, well, I offer three solutions then:

  1. Let it play out, hope that capitalism will prevail and that we will be better off in the end.
  2. Make automation beyond some point illegal or create so many regulations as it effectively outlaw such automation (where is Dr. Baltar when we need him?).
  3. Restructure society to deal with the new realities of a world where we just do not need people to work. Let people have food, entertainment, and a comfortable life without forcing them to work for the privilege. For those few jobs that will still require human workers, create special, luxurious living arrangements for which people are required to work.

I think my preferences here should be obvious...

about 8 months ago
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Technologies Like Google's Self-Driving Car: Destroying Jobs?

betterunixthanunix Re:Yes (736 comments)

My reading of it was that the Morlocks were the working class. I guess this is how we know that it was a great novel: there is more than one way to understand the story.

about 8 months ago
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Technologies Like Google's Self-Driving Car: Destroying Jobs?

betterunixthanunix Re:Bingo (736 comments)

All that means is that at some point, when so many problems have been solved that there is almost nothing left for humans to do, society will have to be restructured to cope with it. Maybe capitalism will stop being the way economies are organized. Maybe we will have societies where people can relax all day because there is no need for them to work. Maybe one day the most intelligent people will be offered a chance to live in luxurious accommodations that are not available to the rest of society, in exchange for working -- while everyone else can spend their days relaxing sans luxury.

The other option is for the luddites to win, for the machines to all be smashed and abolished and for us to go back to a time when humans were needed to do things like drive cars and prepare taxes. Call me a cynic but I think it is a toss-up -- I honestly would not put it past our leaders and the general populace to try to force the technological clock to run in reverse.

about 8 months ago

Submissions

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NYC Teachers Forbidden to "Friend" Students

betterunixthanunix betterunixthanunix writes  |  about 2 years ago

betterunixthanunix (980855) writes "The New York City Department of Education has issued rules covering student-teacher interactions on social networking websites. Following numerous inappropriate relationships between students and teachers that began on social networking sites, the rules prohibit teachers from communicating with students using their "personal" accounts, and requires parental consent before students can participate in social networking for educational purposes. The rules also state that teachers have no expectation of privacy online, and that principals and other officials will inspect teachers' profiles. Oddly, the rules do not address communication involving cell phones, which the Department of Education's own investigations have shown to be even more problematic."
Link to Original Source
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FBI compromises another remailer

betterunixthanunix betterunixthanunix writes  |  about 2 years ago

betterunixthanunix writes "Another remailer has been compromised by the FBI, who made a forensic image of the hard disc of a remailer located in Austria. The remailer operator has reissued the remailer keys, but warns that messages previously sent through the remailer could be decrypted. The operator also warns that law enforcement agents had an opportunity to install a back door, and that a complete rebuild of the system will take some time."
Link to Original Source
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US government among the users of MegaUpload who lost access to files

betterunixthanunix betterunixthanunix writes  |  more than 2 years ago

betterunixthanunix (980855) writes "Almost immediately after MegaUpload was shut down, a large number of people complained that they had used MegaUpload for entirely legal file storing and sharing purposes. Apparently, employees of the US government, including the Depart of Justice, were among those users. Kim Dotcom has stated that he is working with the Department of Justice to restore users' access to their files."
Link to Original Source
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Megaupload shut down by US government

betterunixthanunix betterunixthanunix writes  |  more than 2 years ago

betterunixthanunix (980855) writes "Just a day after mass online protests over SOPA and PIPA, the popular firesharing website Megaupload has been shut down by the Department of Justice. Claiming that the site was facilitating widespread copyright infringement and money laundering, the FBI arrested several people involved with the website and shut the website down. The DOJ's press release is available here:

http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2012/January/12-crm-074.html"

Link to Original Source
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Cryptanalysis of full AES

betterunixthanunix betterunixthanunix writes  |  more than 2 years ago

betterunixthanunix (980855) writes "Just presented at the rump session of CRYPTO2011: a key recovery attack on the full AES, for all versions (128, 192, 256 bit keys). The attack involves a novel method of cryptanalysis, and results in a key recovery faster than brute force. Luckily, "faster" in this context is still not nearly fast enough to be practical, and AES remains more secure than triple DES (so don't panic just yet)."
Link to Original Source
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DOJ: We can force you to decrypt that laptop

betterunixthanunix betterunixthanunix writes  |  more than 2 years ago

betterunixthanunix (980855) writes "A mortgage-fraud case may have widespread implications for criminals who use cryptography to hide evidence. The US Department of Justice is pushing for the defendant to be forced to decrypt her hard drive, claiming that if they cannot force such decryptions that law enforcement will be unable to gather important evidence. The defendants lawyer and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have made the claim that forcing such a decryption would be a violation of the defendant's fifth amendment right not to self-incriminate. The prosecutor in the case has insisted that the defendant would not be forced to disclose her passphrase, but only to enter the passphrase into a computer to decrypt the drive."
Link to Original Source
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New FBI Operations Manual Increases Surveillance

betterunixthanunix betterunixthanunix writes  |  more than 2 years ago

betterunixthanunix (980855) writes "The New York Times is reporting that the new FBI operations manual suggests a broad increase in surveillance. Denoted the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide, the manual officially lowers the bar of acceptability when it comes to engaging in surveillance activities, including allowing agents to perform such surveillance on people who are not suspected terrorists without opening an inquiry or officially recording their actions. The new manual also relaxes rules on administering lie detector tests, searching through a person's trash, and the use of teams to follow targeted individuals. It should be noted that these guidelines still fall within the general limits put in place by the attorney general."
Link to Original Source
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U.S. Cracks Down on Online Gambling

betterunixthanunix betterunixthanunix writes  |  about 3 years ago

betterunixthanunix (980855) writes "Several online Poker websites are under investigation by the US government, which has once again hijacked domain names to prevent US citizens from accessing the websites. Questions have been raised about the legality of the action as a whole, not just the specific seizure of domain names, since the action was based on state rather than federal laws. Has the tactic of seizing domain names already become established practice in law enforcement, to the point where it is not even questioned?"
Link to Original Source
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Wikileaks posts mysterious "insurance" file

betterunixthanunix betterunixthanunix writes  |  more than 3 years ago

betterunixthanunix (980855) writes "Wikileaks has posted a mysterious "insurance" file, which has no description but is encrypted with AES256. Cryptome has posted some speculation that this file may have been posted in case something happens to the Wikileaks website, in which case the passphrase would be divulged by Wikileaks staff.

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/07/wikileaks-insurance-file/"
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Limewire sued again

betterunixthanunix betterunixthanunix writes  |  more than 3 years ago

betterunixthanunix (980855) writes "Another lawsuit has been filed against Limewire, this time by the National Music Publishers Association. They claim that Limewire also damaged them, and seek $150000 per infringement, putting the maximum possible damages in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Limewire seems to have become the latest music industry punching bag."
Link to Original Source
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Owner of http://glennbeckrapedandmurderedayounggir

betterunixthanunix betterunixthanunix writes  |  more than 4 years ago

betterunixthanunix writes "The owner claims that Glenn Beck is trying to sidestep the US court system, and that only an "abject imbecile" would assume the website was in any way related to Beck or his trademarks. He also notes that Beck himself has no standing, unless he seriously believes that his audience is composed of morons; even that, though, would not be sufficient for a trademark case."
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Prominent Researcher Held Captive by Kazakhstan

betterunixthanunix betterunixthanunix writes  |  more than 5 years ago

betterunixthanunix writes "Several weeks ago, Professor Victor Skormin, a prominent and renown researcher, went to Kazakhstan to give talks at universities there and to facilitate further collaboration between those schools and schools in the USA. He was paid in cash by the Kazakh schools, which he attempted to carry with him as he boarded his flight. Due to an error in directions, he neglected to declare his currency at the right time, and was accused of currency smuggling; he refused to bribe the Kazakh customs agents who were accusing him, and was forced to endure a trial in Kazakhstan. During this time, he was unable to obtain his medications, and began to suffer from the effects of kidney failure, and his health has continued to deteriorate. He was found guilty by the judge in Kazakhstan, despite the prosecution's witnesses neglecting to attend the trial, and was fined the full sum of the money he was carrying. His domestic employer, Binghamton University, has neglected to provide him with any form of assistance, has actively worked against others who attempted to contact the state department, and has tried to silence discussion of the situation among faculty on campus."
Link to Original Source

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