Selected Provisions: TPP, CETA, and TiSA Trade Agreements 40

While proponents suggest that international trade agreements increase economic prosperity, writes reader Dangerous_Minds, it's often hard to find much detail about their details. Here's an exception: Freezenet is offering an update to known provisions of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), and the Trades in Services Agreement (TiSA). Among the findings are provisions permitting a three-strikes law and site blocking, multiple anti-circumvention laws, ISP liability, the search and seizure of personal devices to enforce copyright at the border, and an open door for ISP-level surveillance. Freezenet also offers a brief summary of what was found while admitting that provisions found in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) as it relates to digital rights remains elusive for the time being.

Artists Create a 1000-Year GIF Loop 99

jovius writes: Finnish artists Juha van Ingen and Janne Särkelä have developed a monumental GIF called AS Long As Possible, which loops once per 1000 years. The 12 gigabyte GIF is made of 48,140,288 numbered frames, that change about every 10 minutes. They plan to start the loop in 2017, when GIF turns 30 years old. "If nurturing a GIF loop even for 100 — let alone 3,000 years — seems an unbelievable task, how much remains of our present digital culture after that time?", van Ingen said. The artists plan to store a mother file somewhere and create many iterations of the loop in various locations — and if one fails, it may be easily synchronized with, and replaced by, another. Maybe they should use FLIF instead.

DARPA Is Looking For Analog Approaches To Cyber Monitoring 41

chicksdaddy writes: Frustrated by adversaries continued success at circumventing or defeating cyber defense and monitoring technologies, DARPA is looking to fund new approaches, including the monitoring of analog emissions from connected devices, including embedded systems, industrial control systems and Internet of Things endpoints, Security Ledger reports.

DARPA is putting $36m to fund the Leveraging the Analog Domain for Security (LADS) Program (PDF). The agency is looking for proposals for "enhanced cyber defense through analysis of involuntary analog emissions," including things like "electromagnetic emissions, acoustic emanations, power fluctuations and thermal output variations." At the root of the program is frustration and a lack of confidence in digital monitoring and protection technologies developed for general purpose computing devices like desktops, laptops and servers.

The information security community's focus on "defense in-depth" approaches to cyber defense are ill suited for embedded systems because of cost, complexity or resource limitations. Even if that were possible, DARPA notes that "attackers have repeatedly demonstrated the ability to pierce protection boundaries, exploiting the fact that any security logic ultimately executes within the same computing unit as the rest of the (compromised) device software and the attacker's code."
The Internet

Video We Asked Doc Searls: Do Ad Blockers Cause Cancer? (Video) 109

A whimsical headline, but not much more of a shark-jumper than some of the talk we've heard lately from ad agencies, online publishers, and others who earn their living from online advertising. Doc Searls recently wrote a piece on his personal blog titled Beyond ad blocking — the biggest boycott in human history. Naturally, we wanted to ask Doc to expand a bit on what he's been writing about ad blocking and advertising in general. So we had a fine conversation about online advertising -- ending with a challenge to the advertising industry, which Doc says should be looking for ways to produce better, more effective, and less annoying ways to sell to us online.

UK Gamers Can Now Get Their Money Back For Publishers' Broken Promises 73

An anonymous reader writes: An amendment to the UK Consumer Rights Act regarding digital-only purchases seems to give British videogamers redress towards publishing houses which deliver buggy code or inveigle consumers to pre-order games based on trailers or betas that demonstrate features, characters or quality not delivered in the RTM release. But the legislation is so loosely worded as to be an invitation to litigation and interpretation, and does not address mis-delivery issues for consumer models such as cloud subscriptions.

Former Cisco CEO: China, India, UK Will Lead US In Tech Race Without Action 109

Mickeycaskill writes: Former Cisco CEO John Chambers says the US is the only major country without a proper digital agenda and laments the fact none of the prospective candidates for the US Presidential Election have made it an issue. Chambers said China, India, the UK and France were among those to recognize the benefits of the trend but the US had been slow — risking any economic gains and support for startups. "This is the first time that our government has not led a technology transition," he said. "Our government has been remarkably slow. We are the last major developed country in the world without a digital agenda. I think every major country has this as one of their top two priorities and we don't. We won't get GDP increase and we won't be as competitive with our startups. The real surprise to me was how governments around the world, except ours, moved."

Retro Roundup: Old Computers Emulated Right In Your Browser 78

An anonymous reader writes: If you ever wanted to program an Altair, an Apple I, or a COSMAC ELF you may think you either have to buy one (expensive now) or load and configure simulation software. However, there's a slew of browser-based emulators for everything from a PDP-11 to Windows 1.0 out there. Some use Java, but many use Javascript and many perform better on a modern PC then they did in their original. If you want to learn some history or just want to finally play with the computers you saw in the magazines 35 years ago, these are great fun and slightly addictive.

(Over-)Measuring the Working Man 165 writes: Tyler Cowen writes in MIT Technology Review that the improved measurement of worker performance through information technology is beginning to allow employers to measure value fairly precisely and as we get better at measuring who produces what, the pay gap between those who make more and those who make less grows. Insofar as workers type at a computer, everything they do is logged, recorded, and measured. Surveillance of workers continues to increase, and statistical analysis of large data sets makes it increasingly easy to evaluate individual productivity, even if the employer has a fairly noisy data set about what is going on in the workplace. Consider journalism. In the "good old days," no one knew how many people were reading an article, or an individual columnist. Today a digital media company knows exactly how many people are reading which articles for how long, and also whether they click through to other links. The result is that many journalists turn out to be not so valuable at all. Their wages fall or they lose their jobs, while the superstar journalists attract more Web traffic and become their own global brands.

According to Cowen, the upside is that measuring value tends to boost productivity, as has been the case since the very beginning of management science. We're simply able to do it much better now, and so employers can assign the most productive workers to the most suitable tasks. The downsides are several. Individuals don't in fact enjoy being evaluated all the time, especially when the results are not always stellar: for most people, one piece of negative feedback outweighs five pieces of positive feedback.

Are Enterprise Architects the "Miltons" of Their Organizations? 131

StewBeans writes: InfoWorld recently pointed out that the "architect" part of enterprise architect is a misnomer, because what they are building can't be a static, unmoving structure or it will fail. Businesses need to remain fluid and flexible as technology and consumer behaviors evolve, so modern enterprise architects must "develop frameworks with constant change as a first principle." The business value of these frameworks, however, is often called into question, and EAs have even been called the "Miltons" (as in Milton from Office Space) of the enterprise. If the field of enterprise architecture is changing to focus more on digital transformation, how does that compete with or compliment IT's role in the enterprise, which is also focused on digital transformation? The enterprise architect of BJ's Wholesale breaks down his responsibilities and addresses some myths about the EA role in this article.
Electronic Frontier Foundation

EFF: DMCA Hinders Exposing More Software Cheats Like Volkswagen's 166

ideonexus writes: Automakers have argued that the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act makes it unlawful for researchers to review the code controlling their vehicles without the manufacturer's permission, making it extremely difficult to expose software cheats like the one Volkswagen used to fake emissions tests. Arguing that this obfuscation of code goes so far as to endanger lives at times, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) maintains that, "When you entrust your health, safety, or privacy to a device, the law shouldn't punish you for trying to understand how that device works and whether it is trustworthy."

Edward Snowden Promotes Global Treaty To Curtail Surveillance 110

An anonymous reader writes: In a video appearance, Edward Snowden said domestic digital spying on ordinary citizens is an international threat that will only be slowed with measures like a proposed international treaty declaring privacy a basic human right. "This is not a problem exclusive to the United States.... This is a global problem that affects all of us. What's happening here happens in France, it happens in the U.K., it happens in every country, every place, to every person," he said.

CIA Details Agency's New Digital and Cyber Espionage Focus 35

coondoggie writes: It's about 10 years late to the party, but come October 1, the Central Intelligence Agency will add a new directorate that will focus on all things cyber and digital espionage. The CIA's Deputy Director, David Cohen, said to a Cornell University audience last week that once the new Directorate of Digital Innovation (DDI) is up and running, "it will be at the center of the Agency's effort to inject digital solutions into every aspect of our work. It will be responsible for accelerating the integration of our digital and cyber capabilities across all our mission areas—human intelligence collection, all-source analysis, open source intelligence, and covert action."

IT Departments Try To Avoid Getting "Ubered" 233

StewBeans writes: Fortune 500 companies and longstanding corporate giants are losing to startups that are born digital because they can't keep up or they refuse to acknowledge the ways that technology is changing both business and consumer preferences. Getting "Ubered" is now one of the biggest threats to traditional IT departments as the growing number of unicorns like Airbnb, Spotify, Square, and others take over the economy and win the hearts and minds of increasingly mobile, always-on consumers. In this article, nine tech leaders from large companies talk about how they have had to change their approach in order to keep pace and avoid getting disrupted by the next big thing around the corner.

South Korea's "Smart Sheriff" Nanny App Puts Children At Risk 54

Starting in April, the South Korean government required that cellphones sold to anyone below the age of 19 be equipped with approved monitoring software that would allow the user's parents to monitor their phone use, report their location, and more. Now, however, researchers have discovered that one of the most popular of the approved apps, called Smart Sheriff, may not actually be very smart to have on one's phone. Researchers from Citizen Lab and Cure53, at the request of the Open Technology Fund, have analyzed the code of Smart Sheriff, and found that it actually endangers, rather than protects, the users. Reports the Associated Press, in a story carried by the Houston Chronicle: Children's phone numbers, birth dates, web browsing history and other personal data were being sent across the Internet unencrypted, making them easy to intercept. Authentication weaknesses meant Smart Sheriff could easily be hijacked, turned off or tricked into sending bogus alerts to parents. Even worse, they found that many weaknesses could be exploited at scale, meaning that thousands or even all of the app's 380,000 users could be compromised at once.

A Wikipedia-Style Tree of Life Emerges 72

The Christian Science Monitor reports on the newly announced Open Tree of Life, a freely accessible unified interface to, and archive, of biological taxonomies. In the current version, data from nearly 500 evolutionary timelines has been assembled into a single, searchable view of all known life forms; From the CSM report: Building the computer code and compiling the data took three years, and involved collaborators from Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History, the Web development firm Interrobang, the University of Michigan, the University of Florida, Duke University, and George Washington University. "Many participants on the project contributed hundreds of hours tracking down and cleaning up thousands of trees from the literature, then selecting 484 of them that were used to generate the draft tree of life," said Cody Hinchliff, a scientist from the University of Idaho, in the announcement.

Nintendo Nixes YouTube Videos of Super Mario Speedruns 151

The Boston Globe reports (based on Kotaku's story earlier this month) that Nintendo is cracking down on YouTube videos which show speedruns of its games -- computer-guided play that skips completely human hands pressing buttons on a controller. Why? The article notes that these play-throughs "require the use of ROMs, digital backup files of the original game that can be freely passed from computer to computer, or downloaded from well-known websites. Therefore, Nintendo reasons — and YouTube is clearly sympathetic to this reasoning — there are copyright issues at play, since players aren’t using the (ancient) original game cartridges, or newer copies sold directly online by Nintendo." Legally justifiable or not, this seems unlikely to build goodwill with some of Nintendo's most nostalgic fans.

Image Doctoring Is Tough To Spot, Even When We're Looking For It 61

An anonymous reader writes with a link to The Stack's look at study that examines the human capacity to detect (or to overlook) manipulation in images. About 400 volunteers looked at images which had been digitally altered by erasing elements, by replicating parts the image, or by pasting in elements from other images. Less than 58 percent of the alterations were detected, even though the volunteers knew that's what they were to look for. The article says "While its conclusion – that we are not very good at identifying doctored photos – is predictable, it's the type of 'fakes' that deceive us which are most interesting." Spoiler: Erasure is much harder to spot than image splicing.

Symantec Subsidiary Thawte Issues Rogue Google Certificates 103

New submitter jack_babylon writes: On September 14th, Symantec's subsidiary certificate authority Thawte accidentally released a "small number" of " "inappropriately issued" security certificates, apparently intended for internal testing only. However, the fact that these were logged in the wild by Google (and, apparently, DigiCert) seems to indicate that they escaped the lab, at least far enough for a false cert to raise the appropriate red flags. This sounds similar to the recent acts of poor judgement that got CNNIC's certs removed entirely from Firefox and Chrome, if more limited in scope and more quickly addressed (through, among other things, termination of some Symantec employees). (And like all reports one hopes go away quietly, these were released in the dead of a Friday night — h/t BoingBoing for noting this news.)

Ahmed Mohamed, His Clock, and the Curious Turn of Events 662

New submitter poity writes: After the news first broke of the 9th grader getting cuffed for scaring school officials with what turned out to be a digital clock, Ahmed Mohamed has experienced a surge of popular support — hailed as a genius and a hero, with college scholarships, internship offers, and even an invitation to the White House by President Obama himself. Now, amid rumors of possible racial discrimination lawsuits against the school and local police, some people have begun to more deeply scrutinize the details of the case, especially on the tech side with regard to the homemade clock in question. Recently, a writer at the creative site Artvoice posted a remarkable analysis of Ahmed's clock project, which raises new questions about the case and the manner in which people and the media alike have reacted. The linked analysis posits that Ahmed's clock started out as another clock, rather than a box of parts, and Ahmed can be said to have repackaged rather than "invented" a wholly new clock, but acknowledges that "none of us were there and knows what happened."

Apple's 16GB IPhone 6S Is a Serious Strategic Mistake 324 writes: Matthew Yglesias writes at Vox that Apple's recent announcement of an entry level iPhone 6S is a serious strategic mistake because it contains just 16GB of storage — an amount that was arguably too low even a couple of years back. According to Yglesias, the user experience of an under-equipped iPhone can be quite bad, and the iPhone 6S comes with features — like the ability to shoot ultra-HD video — that are going to fill up a 16GB phone in the blink of an eye. "It's not too hard to figure out what Apple is up to here," writes Yglesias. "Leaving the entry-level unit at 16GB of storage rather than 32GB drives higher profit margins in two ways. One, it reduces the cost of manufacturing the $649 phone, which increases profit margins on sales of the lowest-end model. Second, and arguably more important, it pushes a lot of people who might be happy with a 32GB phone to shell out $749 for the 64GB model."

But this raises the question of what purpose is served by Apple amassing more money anyhow. Apple pays out large (and growing) sums of cash to existing shareholders in the form of dividends and buybacks, but its enormous cash stockpile keeps remorselessly marching up toward $200 billion. "Killing the 16GB phone and replacing it with a 32GB model at the low end would obtain things money can't buy — satisfied customers, positive press coverage, goodwill, a reputation for true commitment to excellence, and a demonstrated focus on the long term. A company in Apple's enviable position ought to be pushing the envelop forward on what's considered an acceptable baseline for outfitting a modern digital device, not squeezing extra pennies out of customers for no real reason."