Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 25, 2014

How to stream media from your PC to your HDTV over WiFi;  10 things to know about the smartphone kill switch;  Capture Android screencasts with Recordable;  Five questions to answer before paying for a VPN;  Microsoft fixes Exchange Online outage after almost 9 hours; Confirmed: new Android version coming at Google I/O;  European Commission slashes roaming rates by 55%;  Why You Should Be Offended By the Amazon Fire Phone;  120 Sports is the sports network designed for your phone, no TV required;  Easily monitor and secure your computer with GEARS;  How governments devise custom “implants” to bug smartphones;  App clones help spread malware, study reveals;  Cloud Storage Services Compared : Getting the Most Bang for Your Buck;  FAA Bans The Use Of Drones To Deliver Packages;  Half world’s techies are software PIRATES.

EXPOSED: Massive mobile malware network used by cops globally – A probe by Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto and computer security firm Kaspersky Lab has uncovered a massive network of mobile malware for all phone types that is sold by an Italian firm to police forces around the world. The malware, dubbed Remote Control System (RCS), was produced by a company called Hacking Team. It can subvert Android, iOS, Windows Mobile, Symbian and BlackBerry devices. The study found 320 command-and-control (C&C) servers for RCS running in over 40 countries, presumably by law enforcement agencies.

Microsoft: “Bleak future” ahead if government bulk data collection continues – Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith says the government must end “the unfettered collection of bulk data”, adding that law enforcement faces a “bleak future” if reforms are not enacted soon. “By the end of this decade, there will be 50 billion devices connected to the Internet of Things around the world,” he said. “This issue is going to become more important, not less.” He also pointed out the need for authorities to live by the laws that they create, and which they purport to uphold: “I want law enforcement to do its job in an effective way pursuant to the rule of law. If we can’t get to that world, then law enforcement is going to have a bleak future anyway.”

Russian government decides all new PCs will use ARM chips – Intel and AMD have lost out big time this week in the form of around $1.3 billion in new PC and server sales every year. The reason? The Russian government has decided it no longer wants US microchips inside its hardware.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

 

 

 

How to stream media from your PC to your HDTV over WiFi – Your PC is in one room, and your HDTV is in another. Here’s an easy way to stream videos, music, and photos from the hard drive to the big screen.

10 things to know about the smartphone kill switch – Apple already has one, Microsoft and Google say they’ll build one, Minnesota will demand it from next year and it could soon be the law in California and maybe nationwide. The smartphone kill switch appears to be on its way to every handset sold in the U.S. so what’s all the fuss about? Here’s a look at the main points of the technology.

Makulu Linux 6.0 KDE: Guaranteed to make you smile – Makulu Linux is what it is — a big, beautiful, fun Linux distribution for hobbyists, and none of that requires or even implies that it should be consistent or “pure” to whatever desktop version you happen to be using. As I have said before, if you want to have just about the most fun you can have with a Linux distribution, or if you just want to see a distribution packed with way more goodies than you are likely to find in any other single distribution, then give Makulu a try. I will guarantee that it will make you smile, and it will make you say “Wow, look at that!” a lot of times.

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Capture Android screencasts with Recordable – Jack Wallen walks you through the steps of getting quality Android screencasts without having to root your device. There’s never really been an easy way to record screencasts in Android… until now. With the help of an app called Recordable, you can create those screencasts, even without rooting your device.

Five questions to answer before paying for a VPN – Paid VPNs tend to run faster, aren’t ad supported, and don’t have the same bandwidth limits that some free options do. Plus, VPNs are relatively cheaply priced around $5 per month or less—depending on the payment plan you choose. But before you dive in and sign up for a VPN, here are five key questions you should ask your prospective new service provider.

Microsoft fixes Exchange Online outage after almost 9 hours – Microsoft finally fixed an Exchange Online outage that left users without email for almost nine hours Tuesday, prompting many to vent their frustration online.

European Commission slashes roaming rates by 55% – The European Commission has drastically slashed roaming rates in the EU, dropping them by 55-percent effective starting July 1. That’s not the end of the news, however: the Commission has also revealed that it is working on nixing roaming charges altogether.

Coursera app educates you with video lessons for free – The web-based learning environment Coursera has been brought to the mobile platform this month for both iOS and Android. With Coursera, you’ll be able to take advantage of free classes, all set up to improve your life over the course of a few weeks. These classes will educate you in a wide variety of topics – everything from Chemistry to Engineering to “Information, Tech, & Design.”

Confirmed: new Android version coming at Google I/O – We posited yesterday that a new version of Android at I/O was unlikely, considering Google typically likes to announce their new Android stuff in the Fall. In an interview with Business Week, Android chief Sundar Pichai confirmed that he’d be bringing the next Android version to the world. It’s a different strategy, but a smart one.

Yahoo’s Android Home Screen Aviate Hits v2.0 with a New UI and Features – We talked about the Aviate Android home screen back when it entered public beta testing in late 2013, but a lot has happened since then. Yahoo bought the company making Aviate a few months ago, and now Aviate v2.0 is out. Although, it’s called Yahoo Aviate now. The smart “Spaces” are still here, but the UI has gotten a bit of a shakeup.

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Microsoft Has Just Launched Its First Android Smartphone, The Nokia X2 – Yes, you read that right: Microsoft has just made a new Android-based handset. It’s also still using the Nokia name at this point, despite previously saying it didn’t plan to trade on that name for long. (Evidently Microsoft’s marketing minions are still working on cooking up that “go forward” smartphone brand.)

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Maxthon Releases Windows PC Browser Designed To Make Watching Videos Faster – Browser maker Maxthon has released a browser for Windows PC that is designed for watching videos and includes features like the “AdSkipper,” which lets users fast forward through advertisements without slowing their video downloads. In addition to its ad-skipping feature, Maxthon also claims that its video browser has a more efficient approach to memory management and CPU usage, which means that videos play faster and have fewer stops or lags. Videos can also be pulled out of the browser screen and the whimsical (but potentially useful) “boss key” means that hitting “CTRL +” during playback will overlay a “very boring, work-like-looking spreadsheet”over the video you are watching.

Why You Should Be Offended By the Amazon Fire Phone – Amazon’s true interest lies in you being able to buy anything that you scan. It wants to convert everyone with a Fire phone into an Amazon Prime addict. I have no problem with that, because I’m one of them already. But does Amazon really think people will fork over $200 or $650 for something they can do already with the Amazon app on their existing smartphones?

AMD’s new 5GHz chip runs so hot it ships with watercooling – AMD is resurrecting the FX-9590, which originally launched at the end of June last year, but it shipped with a stock air cooling solution. That meant you were limited as to how much you could push the performance of the chip without investing in more heavy duty cooling. This time around, the new FX-9590 won’t have the same issue as AMD is shipping it with the necessary watercooling kit to get all 8 cores humming.

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Panasonic Toughpad is self-heating, works at -20C – There have been moderately rugged tablets and phones in the past, but Panasonic’s new Toughpad puts them to shame. This device is designed from the ground up to be as close to indestructible as a mobile device can get. It can survive drops, water, and even a biting arctic chill that would render most devices inoperable thanks to its built-in heater.

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Chromebook Pixel Buyers Get $150 Credit for Lost Data – When Google unveiled its LTE Chromebook Pixel last year, buyers were promised 100MB of free data per month via Verizon for at least two years. Some users, however, saw that free data disappear after just one year, and Google is now offering a $150 credit to irritated consumers.

120 Sports is the sports network designed for your phone, no TV required – A few of the biggest companies in sports are launching a live-streaming network designed for your devices, not your TV. 120 Sports launches its live original programming Wednesday at 6 p.m. ET, but you won’t find the network bundled in your cable package. It’s a Web platform and iOS app powered by MLB Advanced Media that counts the MLB, NHL, NBA, NASCAR, Silver Chalice, and Time Inc. as equity investors. That means 120 Sports anchors will be able to offer live looks and in-game highlights for the biggest games on TV, as well as integrate Sports Illustrated content into the app. Collegiate conferences are included thanks to a Campus Insiders partnership.

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Security:

The 8 scariest digital security stories of 2014 (so far) – Barely halfway through 2014, the year’s already poised to become the scariest yet for digital security—topping even 2013’s massive Target breach. We’ve seen hacks against big-name retailers like eBay, Michael’s, and Neiman Marcus—plus hotels, online forums, and numerous other websites. The current tally of compromised credit cards from major breaches is closing in on 5 million, and online accounts?—half a billion. As we close in on the halfway point for 2014, here are the 10 biggest security stories so far.

Easily monitor and secure your computer with GEARS: Monitor your installed applications and their status, including protection software and unwanted applications – GEARS helps you keep your device secure by showing you the applications installed and their protection status. You’ll see whether your antivirus is enabled and whether the virus definitions are up-to-date, whether you have encryption software protecting your data, and whether your operating system and browsers are up to date to protect you against known vulnerabilities.

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How governments devise custom “implants” to bug smartphones – Citizen Lab, the University of Toronto group that monitors government surveillance in the digital age, analyzed the recently discovered instance of the fake Qatif Today app in a blog post headlined Police Story: Hacking Team’s Government Surveillance Malware. The account provides a rare glimpse into malware developed by “Hacking Team,” a highly secretive outfit based in Italy that charges governments top dollar for extremely stealthy spyware that’s often referred to as a “lawful intercept” program.

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App clones help spread malware, study reveals – A study from McAfee labs has revealed that numerous clones of popular smartphone applications are helping the spread of malware and have become a major problem for users. It is a no-brainer that users should be careful while installing apps on their mobile devices by verifying the legitimacy of the vendor and checking the permissions granted for the application to function. However, with the rapid expansion of smartphones, some of which already have pre-loaded malware, and their usage by relatively less tech savvy users, hackers have taken advantage by spreading malware through identical apps.

Complex spy software dusts off Glass security concerns – A complex new scheme for stealing passwords via Glass has been floating around, showing how the wearable can be used to detect and store password info. It’s fairly accurate, too, recognizing over 80% of entered codes. Just by watching someone enter their info, a Glass user could potentially have access.

Nearly 80 Percent of Flappy Bird Clones Contained Malware – When the mobile sensation Flappy Bird was pulled from app stores back in February, scores of cheap knockoffs turned up overnight, promising a fix for your high-flying addiction. But it turns out, most of those clones were only out to hurt you. According to a new report from MacAfee, 79 percent of all sampled Flappy Bird clones actually contained malware. The security firm in late March examined 300 Flappy Birds clones, and found that 238 were malicious.

Researchers expect large wave of rootkits targeting 64-bit systems – Rootkits are again on the rise with the number of new samples reaching levels not seen since 2011, a McAfee report said.

Company News:

Google Makes Its Nest At The Center Of The Smart Home – Google is turning the Nest Learning Thermostat into the hub of smart homes. With the “Works with Nest” developer program, announced today, gadgets, cars and universal remotes will all work with the Thermostat, providing automated actions agnostic of the brand. Suddenly the smart home world is much smaller. Nest’s Matt Rogers says the idea behind this system is to build seamless and practical experiences in the home and to sell more Nest gadgets at the same time.

Site24x7 Turns Mobile Devices into Monitoring Locations – Site24x7, the cloud infrastructure monitoring service from ManageEngine, today announced the launch of the Site24x7 Mobile Network Poller App. Available immediately, this industry-first app turns Android mobile devices into carrier-specific monitoring locations. In turn, Site24x7 users can now track the performance and availability of mobile apps, mobile-optimized websites and other online services from the perspective of the mobile users accessing those services via Verizon, AT&T and other wireless carriers’ 3G and 4G networks as well as WiFi. Site24x7 is demonstrating the new Android app at Velocity 2014 being held June 24–26, 2014, in Santa Clara, California. A silver sponsor of the show, Site24x7 is in booth 720.

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Cloud Storage Services Compared : Getting the Most Bang for Your Buck When it Comes to Cloud Storage – When it comes to selecting a cloud storage provider, we understand that there are many options to choose from on the market. In order to make things easier, we decided to compare MediaFire’s storage pricing and plans with our top competitors, including Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud, Microsoft OneDrive, Bitcasa, and the Western Digital MyCloud home storage system. As you can see from our findings below, our results are conclusive. Whether you are looking at signing up for a free account, or a paid plan, MediaFire gives you the most storage on the market for the lowest price.

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Facebook’s Plan To Take On Twitter’s Stream – Twitter’s real-time stream made it the de facto place to discuss world events. But Facebook’s VP Of Media Partnerships believes his company has two big advantages in the battle to be the digital water cooler: audience size and real identity.

Games and Entertainment:

This Advanced Warfare Exoskeleton trailer changes everything – Sledgehammer games are about to change the way Call of Duty functions in our modern flooded-with-FPS gaming universe. General Manager and Co-Founder of Sledgehammer Games Glen Schofield speaks this week in a demonstration trailer of Call of Duty Advanced Warfare, making clear that though this game still has to be believable, it will be a new generation in the franchise.

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OUYA One Year Later: 840 Games, 36K Developers, And A New Console In The Works – Since launch, OUYA has continued to grow its user base, thanks to sales and distribution both in-store and online. The startup has expanded the number of locations in which the console is available. At launch, OUYA was sold in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K., while today it’s also now available in Western Europe and Brazil.

Shovel Knight’s intro level is the best tutorial we’ve ever seen – Shovel Knight comes out in two days, but I’ve had the benefit of playing it since last week. A lot of the game has impressed me. In the sea of retro side-scrolling platformers that is modern-day gaming, it’s one of the most genuine NES callback titles I’ve ever seen. It’s clearly created with care, love, and loyalty to the technical constraints of the system, but it makes everything work incredibly well.

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Watch GTA V as a first-person shooter, looking like Half-Life – If we didn’t know better, we’d guess that this Grand Theft Auto 5 video was created with Valve’s Source engine. Instead, modded XBLToothPik suggests he’s working with a modded Xbox 360 and the original Grand Theft Auto V to create a first-person experience for the game. Not just first-person inside vehicles, first person everywhere, at all times.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

FAA Bans The Use Of Drones To Deliver Packages – The FAA made it plain this week that Amazon, or anyone else for that matter, won’t be able to deliver packages using a drone in the near future. In a document soliciting feedback regarding drone policy — a “Notice of Interpretation with Request for Comment ” — the FAA calls “delivering packages to people for a fee” a non-hobby or recreation-based drone activity. As such, the FAA wants to ban it. A recent court case set the FAA back regarding its wish to ban commercial drone usage in the United States. The agency is appealing that ruling.

Drone pilot watches the watchers: “It’s to try to promote transparency,” drone pilot says of his police filming – A California man who has been arrested several times for recording police from the ground has now taken to the airways, using a drone to watch the watchers. “It’s to try to promote transparency,” 42-year-old Daniel Saulmon told a Los Angeles news broadcast. The Southern California man’s footage is posted at Mistakenbacon.com. Recent recordings show a drunken-driving checkpoint and traffic stops. Titles of his footage include “Torrance Cop is Scared of My Camera,” “Federal Agents Threaten Photographer,” and “DJI Cop Block Drone On KTLA Evening News.”

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Half world’s techies are software PIRATES – survey – Almost half of the world’s enterprise IT managers openly admit to using pirated software at work – at least a survey from a software industry association says so. A report (PDF) from The Software Alliance claims that during 2013, 43 per cent of all software in the world was installed without a licence, up from 42 per cent in the previous study. The survey estimated around $62.7bn worth of unlicensed software had been used last year. The US accounted for $9.7bn of this, with an unlicensed rate of 18 per cent, it claimed.

Who is responsible for ‘Game of Thrones’ piracy? – Some critics have blamed Australian pay TV service Foxtel’s “outdated” business model for record breaking downloads of HBO’s wildly popular show, but is the criticism warranted?

ScenePast reels you in with film sites then and now – Want to know what a street corner from the 1958 movie “Vertigo” looks like today? Take a click through this cool app for movie buffs.

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Burglar logs into Facebook on victim’s computer, forgets to log out – A man broke into a home in St Paul, Minnesota, logged into Facebook on the victim’s computer, forgot to log out, and left his clothes behind. You’ll get no prizes for guessing what happened next.

Curiosity rover takes Mars selfie on first birthday – While the rover itself has technically been in service for far longer than a year, its Mars visit has now lasted one full Martian cycle. That’s a whole cycle around the sun for Mars, also known as a Martian year. To celebrate, the NASA Mars Curiosity rover stretched one of its arms out to take a lovely selfie.

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Something to think about:

“Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not.”

–    Thomas Henry Huxley

Today’s Free Downloads:

Sim Aquarium III – Experience the most realistic coral reef you’ll find without having to purchase an actual aquarium. Sim Aquarium lets you choose among twelve intricately detailed 3D underwater scenes. You can populate your aquarium with up to 100 fish from the selection of 30 highly detailed species of fish with complex swimming behaviors and artificial intelligence. Using your mouse pointer, you can play with your fish pets and touch them by their tails or noses. They will stop to inspect or dart away into safety. You can also feed the fish, but unlike the real fish, they wont turn upside down and float up if you don’t feed them regularly.

Features:

Twelve detailed 3D underwater scenes.

Live desktop wallpaper mode.

Full interaction with the fish and their environment.

30 highly detailed fish species with complex swimming behaviors and appearance.

Realistic anemone tentacles physics and fluid simulation.

Advanced graphic effects like fish iridescence, raytraced light caustics, complex water surface.

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Hola – Install Hola on your PC, phone or tablet to make your Internet faster, save data costs, and view sites that are otherwise censored in your country.

Bypass Internet censorship

Speed up your web browsing

Save on bandwidth costs

Improve your privacy online

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System Explorer – System Explorer is free, awards winning software for exploration and management of System Internals. This small software includes many useful tools which help you Keep Your System Under Control. With System Explorer You get also fast access to File Database which help you to determine unwanted processes or threats. System Explorer is translated into 21 languages and is available for download in installer and portable version.

Features:

Detailed information about Tasks, Processes, Modules,

Startups, IE Addons, Uninstallers, Windows, Services,

Drivers, Connections and Opened Files.

Easy check of suspicious files via VirusTotal, Jotti

service or our File Database.

Easy monitoring of processes activities and System changes.

Usage graphs of important System resources.

Tray Hint with detailed System and Battery status

WMI Browser and System Additional Info

Multilanguage Support

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Could Keith Alexander’s Advice Possibly Be Worth $600K a Month? – Ex-NSA director Keith Alexander has his own consulting company: IronNet Cybersecurity Inc. His advice does not come cheap:

Alexander offered to provide advice to Sifma for $1 million a month, according to two people briefed on the talks. The asking price later dropped to $600,000, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the negotiation was private.

Alexander declined to comment on the details, except to say that his firm will have contracts “in the near future.”

Kenneth Bentsen, Sifma’s president, said at a Bloomberg Government event yesterday in Washington that “cybersecurity is probably our number one priority” now that most regulatory changes imposed after the 2008 credit crisis have been absorbed.

SIFMA is the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association. Think of how much actual security they could buy with that $600K a month. Unless he’s giving them classified information.

Digby:

But don’t worry, everything Alexander knows will only benefit the average American like you and me. There’s no reason to suspect that he is trading his high level of inside knowledge to benefit a bunch of rich people all around the globe. Because patriotism.

Or, as Recode.net said: “For another million, I’ll show you the back door we put in your router.”

Microsoft’s Top Lawyer Calls On Congress To End The NSA’s “Unfettered Bulk Collection Of Data” – Earlier this morning, Microsoft executive vice president and general counsel Brad Smith made the case against pervasive government surveillance, arguing that reform is needed of this nation’s security apparatus.

At a talk this morning, the general counsel couched his larger remarks in the historical context of general warrants, a key source of anger among the colonies that eventually boiled over and led to armed revolt and the formation of the United States, in his estimation.

Smith called on Congress to “close the door on unfettered bulk collection of data” and argued for reform of the “role and nature and proceedings” of the FISA court and for the geographic limiting of warrants issued by the U.S.

Regarding bulk surveillance, citing an NSA document, Smith intimated that Microsoft was the listed ‘Company F,’ that in 2002 declined to comply with the NSA’s request for “email content” in large quantities.

Smith continued, indicating that Microsoft, in the aftermath of the Snowden revelations, “had a hard time reconciling [the many] public reports of government access to large amounts of data, with the relatively small amounts” that the company, and likely others like it, had in fact provided.

The answer, Smith stated, came in a report detailing that the NSA was tapping the data cables of U.S.-based companies abroad. Microsoft had to assume that if Yahoo and Google were targeted — those were the two firms cited — it was likely also a target.

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Snowden defends mega spy blab: ‘Public affairs have to be known by the public’ – Master spy blabbermouth Edward Snowden defended his NSA whistleblowing actions to the Council of Europe today.

He told the human rights’ parliamentary assembly in Strasbourg, via video link from Moscow, that he had a “personal duty to country, government and family” to reveal details about snooping methods employed by the US and British governments.

“Public affairs have to be known by the public,” Snowden said, in justifying his decision to blow the whistle on the National Security Agency. “When citizens are reduced to the status of subjects, where we’re not active participants … that diminishes us as a free people, as a society and as a culture.”

The one-time NSA sysadmin added that he was “willing to pay the price” for leaking that information even if it did damage national security interests.

“I was aware and I did my best to ensure that balance would be enforced,” he told the CoE. He claimed that no specific damage and in fact occurred as a result of his actions. It “may have caused some good,” he argued.

Snowden explained to the committee during his testimony that he had worked with journalists to help ensure that the information would be responsibly reported.

No-fly list removal process unconstitutional, judge rules – The Department of Homeland Security’s method for the public to challenge placement on a no-fly list is unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled [PDF] Tuesday. US District Judge Anna Brown ordered the authorities to revise the process she declared as “wholly ineffective.”

Brown’s ruling stems from a case brought by 13 people on a no-fly list. The judge wrote that the redress process does not provide “a meaningful mechanism for travelers who have been denied boarding to correct erroneous information in the government’s terrorism databases.”

It was the first time a court declared the Traveler Redress Inquiry Program run by the Department of Homeland Security as unconstitutional.

“Our clients will finally get the due process to which they are entitled under the Constitution. This excellent decision also benefits other people wrongly stuck on the no-fly list, with the promise of a way out from a Kafkaesque bureaucracy causing them no end of grief and hardship. We hope this serves as a wake-up call for the government to fix its broken watch list system, which has swept up so many innocent people,” said Hina Shamsi, the national security project director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Australian government to boost spy powers on back of Iraq fears – Attorney-General George Brandis is set to give the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) significant new powers in response to claims up to 150 Australians have joined the conflicts in Iraq and Syria.

Before the last election, the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence and Security reviewed Australia’s telecommunications interception and access legislation in response to law enforcement agencies’ complaints to government that advancements in technology, and the limited record-keeping of customer billing information by telecommunications companies, was making it difficult for them to investigate crime.

The most controversial request was for telecommunications companies to keep call record, IP address information, and other so-called “metadata” for up to two years.

The former Labor government did not act on the recommendations, but the new Coalition government has today indicated it would proceed with one batch of recommendations, bringing on new legislation in the next few weeks.

Brandis said the decision to bring forward the legislation came as Australian intelligence organisations found that up to 150 Australians were believed to have joined ISIL in the conflict in Syria and Iraq, and would be prosecuted for being members of a group listed as a terrorist organisation under Australian law.

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