Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – January 21, 2015

6 Tech Issues Obama’s State of the Union Pledged to Tackle;  5 Surefire Signs That Craigslist Ad is Fake;  NFL Super Bowl XLIX will be live streamed for free;  5 iPhone Apps You Just Can’t Miss This Week;  Doctors Rate the 100 Best Health Apps;  Sharebox3D Lets You Share 3D Printers With Friends, Family;  A Mac tech support handbook;  Field Trip: the Google map app you never knew you wanted;  10 Android Apps Actually Worth Paying For;  The 15 best Chromebook keyboard shortcuts;  How to restore File Explorer to your taskbar;  HealthCare.gov sends personal data to Twitter, Yahoo and Google;  RogueKiller (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

6 Tech Issues Obama’s State of the Union Pledged to Tackle – President Obama’s Tuesday State of the Union address was not as tech-heavy as in years past, but the tech community was not completely left out. Obama spent much of last week discussing tech-related issues, from municipal broadband to international coordination on cyber threats. Here’s what the president said tonight about the open Internet, surveillance, combating hackers, and more.

 Surefire Signs That Craigslist Ad is Fake – If the Internet is like the Wild West, Craigslist is one of its most lawless saloons. How do you know what is fake, and what is real anymore online? Fortunately, when it comes to Craigslist, there are several helpful signs to help you figure it out.

Obama privacy plan has two audiences, and could fail both – If history and initial reaction are any gauge, privacy advancements will have to come from somewhere besides the Oval Office or Congress. Obama’s proposals just don’t present much new from his previous plans. Mark Jaycox, legislative analyst for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, wrote in his blog with regards to a new federal data breach law that “many of these proposals are old ideas from the administration’s May 2011 Cybersecurity legislative proposal and should be viewed skeptically.”

DEA settles fake Facebook profile lawsuit without admitting wrongdoing – The woman, who at the time went under the name Sondra Prince, eventually was sentenced to probation and six months of home confinement. The DEA created a phony Facebook profile in her name and maintained it for at least three months in 2010 in a bid to nab other suspects connected to an alleged drug ring. At one point in the litigation, the government said the counterfeit account was for “legitimate law enforcement purposes.”

Doctors Rate the 100 Best Health Apps – What health apps do doctors actually recommend? That’s what a new report from telehealth platform HealthTap sought to uncover, in categories from weight loss and women’s health to heart health and aerobics. The report used doctors’ recommendations from HealthTap to rank the top 100 health apps, separately for Android and iOS, as well as find the top apps in 30 specific health categories. According to the company, it is the first and only comprehensive ranking of health apps based on the professional recommendations by independent, leading U.S. doctors.

NFL Super Bowl XLIX will be live streamed for free – Cord-cutters will be able to watch this year’s entire Super Bowl via a live stream hosted by NBC. Those in the United States will be able to watch the Super Bowl via web browser on their PC, tablet or mobile phone. Web and tablet streaming will be free to all as a special promotional push to promote NBC’s TV Everywhere service, but in order to enjoy it on a smartphone, devices must be subscribed to Verizon Wireless, which has an exclusive agreement for live streaming NFL games on mobile devices.

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5 iPhone Apps You Just Can’t Miss This Week – It seems like hundreds of new iPhone apps pop up every week, but which ones should you bother trying? We explored the App Store and found five apps actually worth downloading.

Every Khan Academy course is now available on the iPad for the first time – Two technology trends are inescapable: people want to do everything online, and they want to do those things on a mobile device. Education and learning are no exception — online universities and other teaching aids have proliferated in the last decade, and tablets like the iPad have often been lauded as highly useful (albeit expensive) teaching tools. Not-for-profit organization Khan Academy has the first part of that equation down — it was started in 2008 to provide learning tools, videos, and exercises to anyone who wanted them, for free.

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10 Android Apps Actually Worth Paying For – It’s not like apps are that expensive—very rarely do they go north of the $5 mark. And consider that these apps are, in many cases, so much more useful than the software of the PC era that would regularly cost $40 and $50. Really, when you think about it, apps—truly worthwhile apps—are some of the best bargains available. The alternative is barf-inducing mobile ads or sly freemium models that prey on the ignorant. Everybody wins when you are willing to shell out a little for the apps you use every day. Here we present 10 apps available for download in Google Play that are completely worth the tiny cost of entry.

The 15 best Chromebook keyboard shortcuts for faster productivity – Chrome has a few of Windows’s old reliable tricks, and then it has even more. Learn its tricks and fly through your apps and browser tabs like a pro.

How to restore File Explorer to your taskbar – Much as I’m not a fan of Windows 8, I do appreciate the by-default availability of File Explorer right where I can get at it. Ah, but what happens if Explorer goes missing? That happened to me not long ago, for reasons I can’t explain. (My snide explanation: because Windows!) A bit of Web research revealed I’m not alone in experiencing this mysterious disappearance.

A Mac tech support handbook – I’ve put together an essential foundation document for Mac users who may sometimes try to help support friends and family. In this report you’ll learn: The three ‘R’s’; Essential startup keys; Using Disk Utility; 6+ utilities you should install; How to create a bootable USB drive; Recommended kit; Further reading.

Facebook News Feed changes could prevent you from looking foolish – Facebook is more than just a social network. For many, it’s their primary source of news content, making their news feed much more than updates from family and friends. Sometimes, you come across content that appears real, but it’s quickly recognized as a ‘hoax’ story. In their ongoing attempt to end the clickbait, Facebook is now allowing us to report hoax posts. Facebook’s algorithm also takes into account how many delete the post, which will drive the ‘hoax’ down in the distribution rankings.

Field Trip: the Google map app you never knew you wanted – Field Trip has been around now for a while – have you heard of it? It’s a Niantic Labs project at Google, one that aims to bring you automatic suggestions for places to visit near where you’re physically standing at any given moment. While it may be included with the basic build of Android at some time in the future, for now you’re still going to have to download it. Field Trip has gotten a large bump in aesthetic beauty and in ease in use. It’s simple now, and ready to roll on your Android smartphone immediately.

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Mouse Box hides a wireless PC inside a mouse – This is Mouse Box, and as you can tell from the pair of USB 3.0 ports on the front of the render it’s not just another input device. There’s an entire PC hidden beneath that inconspicuous-looking shell. The Mouse Box team has opted for a quad-core ARM processor clocked at 1.4GHz to power the system. 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi connectivity will come as standard, as will 128GB of internal storage.

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Sharebox3D Lets You Share 3D Printers With Friends, Family, Enemies – The folks behind Sharebot, a simple 3D printer, have taken to Indiegogo to introduce Sharebox3D, a system for sharing 3D printers with remote users. The app, which works on smartphones and tablets, allows you to choose a model and print it just as you would print a document on a 2D printer. The app lets you store model files (STLs) and slice them on the fly, turning them into models that a 3D printer can then print. When connected to a compatible printer you can also activate prints and monitor them as they happen via webcam and notifications.

Seek XR thermal smartphone camera brings optical zoom – This past September, Seek Thermal introduced its Seek camera for smartphones, which gives the handsets the ability to look at the world around them based on its heat levels. Keeping in step with its biggest competitor, FLIR ONE, Seek has now introduced a new updated thermal camera called the Seek XR, and with it comes a boost in functionality via the inclusion of optical zoom. This increases the camera’s usefulness for those who, for example, use the camera for spotting wildlife at night rather than just scanning a wall for water pipes.

 

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Pointing up   I can’t image how this tool could be used to invade privacy. I just don’t have the imagination for it, I guess.   Smile

Here’s how much those ‘free’ Windows licenses actually cost – It’s no secret that Microsoft is practically giving Windows 8.1 licenses away to tablet vendors, but now we know exactly how much the company makes.

After death threats, Gamergate target starts group to fight online harassment – Zoe Quinn, a game developer harassed by the Gamergate movement, has co-founded an organization aimed at combatting online abuse and helping victims. The organization offers counseling to victims and proactively warns potential targets of abuse. Crash Override Network, which launched on Friday, also helps victims rebuild their online presence and works with law enforcement and media outlets to reduce attackers’ effectiveness. The group didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Six tips for fitting Word content on a single page – You’ve probably spent a lot of time perfecting the formats you use in your Word documents, so changing those to force content to fit on a single page is often counter-productive. Instead, try these simple tips to force overflowing content onto a single page. Start by applying the tips in order — proceed down the list, only if needed. You’ll seldom use more than one or two of these tips in the same document. Being familiar with the possibilities is the key to getting the right results every time.

Security:

HealthCare.gov sends personal data to Twitter, Yahoo and Google – Information entered into the U.S. government’s health insurance website is being passed to companies such as Twitter, Yahoo and Google, according to a report from the Associated Press. The data includes zip codes, income levels and information about whether people smoke or are pregnant, which users share on HealthCare.gov to get an estimate on the cost of an insurance plan. The AP’s findings were confirmed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which conducted its own tests on Tuesday, said Cooper Quintin, an EFF staff technologist, in a phone interview.

This List Of 2014’s Worst Passwords, Including ‘123456,’ Is Embarrassing – The year 2014, in many respects, was all about digital security. It wasn’t just tech pundits or early adopters who were victimized – Snapchat, Target, and Sony Entertainment all showed us that no one is immune. And don’t get me started on the NSA. It’s our responsibility as internet explorers to protect ourselves. But according to SplashData’s yearly list of the worst passwords on the internet (as compiled by more than 3 million leaked passwords from 2014), we are kind of lazy about the whole “digital security” thing. At least when it comes to properly locking the gates with a strong password. Seriously. Just take a look at the full list:

Pointing up   Give me a break – analyzing password frequency in this manner means zilch. An analysis in which passwords are correlated to the type of account they represent, would have more value. This article is meaningless without this data.

Does it really matter if my password to post on my friendly lunatic fringe newspaper is 12345? What does matter, is the strength and complexity of those passwords used to protect financial and personal data accounts.

Google and more join pledge to protect student data – Both Khan Academy and Google, as well as thirteen others, have joined the growing list of companies pledging to protect students’ privacy. President Obama spoke about the pledge last week, and before doing so several companies including Apple and Microsoft had signed. A total of 75 companies had signed last week, and Google and Amazon were both criticized for not doing so. On Monday, 15 new companies — including Khan Academy and Google — jumped aboard. This follows the administration’s increased push for data security.

This tool makes it easier for thieves to empty bank accounts – Called FraudFox VM, the software is a special version of Windows with a heavily modified version of the Firefox browser that runs on VMware’s Workstation for Windows or VMware Fusion on OSX. It’s for sale on Evolution, the successor to the Silk Road online contraband market, for 1.8 bitcoins, which is about $390. What FraudFox aims to do is make it faster and easier to change a browser’s fingerprint to one that matches that of the victim whose account they’re going to exploit, or simply mix up their own digital crumbs when browsing. It’s not a new tool per se, and more advanced cybercriminals may already know the techniques, but FraudFox consolidates the functions.

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Wireless device in two million cars wide open to hacking – An electronic dongle used to connect to the onboard diagnostic systems of more than two million cars and trucks contains few defenses against hacking, an omission that makes them vulnerable to wireless attacks that take control of a vehicle, according to published reports. US-based Progressive Insurance said it has used the SnapShot device in more than two million vehicles since 2008. The dongle tracks users’ driving to help determine if they qualify for lower rates. According to security researcher Corey Thuen, it performs no validation or signing of firmware updates, has no secure boot mechanism, no cellular communications authentication, and uses no secure communications protocols.

Company News:

Viacom and ESPN fined for using emergency alert tones to advertise movie – Viacom and ESPN must pay $1.4 million to the government as punishment for airing a movie commercial that misused Emergency Alert System (EAS) warning tones. The commercial for the 2013 film Olympus Has Fallen (see video below) used actual emergency alert tones along with messages such as “This is not a test” and “This is not a drill.” The Federal Communications Commission prohibits transmission of actual or simulated EAS tones except during real emergencies or authorized tests.

Dish found not to infringe Fox’s copyright by letting users stream programs – A federal court in California has ruled that Dish Network did not infringe the copyright of Fox Broadcasting by offering users services for skipping ads and streaming live or recorded programming over the Internet to their computers and mobile devices. Referring to a Supreme Court ruling on Aereo, a now defunct service which streamed broadcast television programming to subscribers, Judge Dolly M. Gee of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ruled that Aereo neither owned the copyright to the broadcast works nor held a license from the copyright owners to perform those works publicly.

Microsoft has acquired Equivio – Microsoft has announced its acquisition of Equivio, a known text analysis company. Equivio is widely used by U.S. federal agencies and hundreds of law firms, corporations and other organizations. Furthermore, it is also generally accepted as an important eDiscovery tool which allows Equivio customers to find relevant data from a large database, sort and compile this data, isolate it and help them to efficiently identify the documents they need.

Petition: Time Warner Cable mistreats customers, shouldn’t merge with Comcast – Time Warner Cable (TWC) has mistreated its customers for decades and should face a wide-ranging investigation as part of its proposed merger with Comcast, a new complaint to the Federal Communications Commission says. Telecom analyst Bruce Kushnick of New Networks Institute, who recently petitioned the FCC to investigate Verizon for perjury, is now taking aim at TWC’s billing practices and customer service.

Netflix Beats The Street In Q4 By Adding 4.3M New Streaming Subscribers Worldwide – The company reported fourth-quarter earnings of $1.35 per share on revenues of $1.48 billion during the final three months of the year. That compares to Wall Street’s earnings forecast of 45 cents a share on revenue of $1.48 billion. Revenues were up from $1.18 billion a year ago, while earnings were up from 79 cents per share. For the full year, Netflix reported earnings of $4.32 per share on revenues of $5.5 billion. That compares to $1.85 per share in earnings and revenues of $4.4 billion in fiscal 2013.

Games and Entertainment:

Watch the best of The Hobbit trilogy in this 4-hour recut – A group of merry men bring along a naive hobbit and travel for long spans of time in a quest for treasure. Whether we’re speaking broadly about The Hobbit or cynically about Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit film trilogy is intentionally open for interpretation. In either case, one superfan did the time-crunched world a favor by condensing the three films (An Unexpected Journey, The Desolation of Smaug, and The Battle of Five Armies) into one four-and-a-half-hour supercut. I have a soft spot for fan recuts. But anyway, back to The Hobbit recut. This “good parts” (re)creation has been uploaded the world wide web via torrents (which we’re not linking). Dear anonymous Tolkien editor: kudos and thank you.

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Borderlands is finally coming to PS4 and Xbox One – Today 2K Games announced the new Borderlands: The Handsome Collection, which will bundle Borderlands 2 and the recently launched Pre-Sequel, along with all of their DLC add-ons, into one package for PS4 and Xbox One. The whole thing will cost you $59.99, a pretty nice discount compared to buying everything individually.

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Microsoft dates three exclusive Xbox downloadable games – Microsoft has revealed release dates for three upcoming exclusive downloadable games for its Xbox consoles, with each title slated for release within three months. Following these original games, Microsoft plans to bring a remake of “State of Decay,” a popular open-world zombie action game for the Xbox 360, to Xbox One on April 28. The re-release, officially called the “Year-One Survival Edition,” will come with all the original game’s content as well as both of its expansions. As Microsoft revealed in August, the remake will also improve the game’s visuals, with new animations and a 1080p resolution.

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Plex Arrives On PS4 And PS3 In The U.S And Canada Today – Plex on PlayStation gives you access to all the TVs and movies you have stored on your primary Plex server, and allows you to pick up where you left off on other platforms, as well as see your On Deck queue and of course have a look at ratings, summaries, cast information and more for all your stored media. The one limitation is that at launch, Plex on PlayStation consoles is available only to Plex Pass subscribers, with a rollout to non-paying Plex users planned for later (with a one-time purchase price for the app itself).

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Two Xbox designers are blowing up Kickstarter with Exploding Kittens – A new card game designed by two Xbox folks and Matthew Inman from the Oatmeal is taking Kickstarter by storm. Called Exploding Kittens it raised its funding goal in less that 20 minutes.

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Steam broadcasting is here for everyone; Twitch beware – The latest version of Steam, available to everyone, is bringing the new broadcasting feature to all players. Those wanting to try it out can hit the “check for update” button right now. While the previous version of broadcasting was available in the beta client, the latest update to Steam which was released last night brings broadcasting to everyone. To try it out all you have to do is update Steam, find a friend that’s online and playing something, right click and select “Watch Game”. If your friend accepts you’ll start seeing his or her gameplay.

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Netflix adds The Interview on Jan 24; Pushes original content – Netflix will add controversial Sony Pictures movie The Interview to its virtual shelves on January 24th, it’s confirmed, while the streaming media firm’s first original feature film will debut on August 26th. The Seth Rogen and James Franco movie made a sudden appearance on pay-per-view at Christmas, but will be bundled in with an active Netflix subscription for US and Canadian users from this Saturday, the company announced today.

Off Topic (Sort of):

10 simple gadgets that empower women around the world – An overwhelming amount of data shows empowering women leads to stronger, healthier, smarter communities. Technology is spreading faster than ever and empowering people around the world, but women have much less access to it than men. And simple technology that allows women safer circumstances, more power, and healthier food and water can make all the difference. Here are 10 simple gadgets that transform the way women live and work around the globe.

This striking short video will rekindle your love affair with the moon – It might be only eight minutes long, but a new European Space Agency video takes you all the way from the moon’s “cataclysm” to its future.

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UK’s best-selling newspaper ends 40-year practice of topless Page 3 models – British tabloid The Sun has quietly discontinued one of the most controversial so-called traditions of UK journalism: the Page 3 feature, which has published photos of topless models on the inside page of the “family newspaper” since 1970. Although the newspaper has not acknowledged the change, The Times reported that it understood that last Friday’s edition of The Sun was “the last that will carry an image of a glamour model with bare breasts on that page.” A spokesman for the paper, which has a circulation of just under 2 million and is the UK’s best-selling daily, tweeted that page three would be “in the same place it’s always been — between page 2 and 4.”

Facebook supports 4.5 million jobs worldwide, social network says – A Facebook-commissioned study says the world’s largest social network is making a tsunami-sized splash on the global economy. According to the study, conducted by Deloitte, Facebook added $227 billion to the global economy and helped to support 4.5 million jobs around the world in 2014. Released on Tuesday, the study says that $100 billion of the economic impact affects the US, where Facebook also helped to support more than 1 million jobs. It lists the UK as the second-biggest benefactor of Facebook in 2014, receiving $11 billion in economic impact and 154,000 Facebook-supported jobs.

Something to think about:

“A runners creed: I will win; if I cannot win, I shall be second; if I cannot be second, I shall be third; if I cannot place at all, I shall still do my best.”

–     Ken Doherty

Today’s Free Downloads:

RogueKiller – RogueKiller is an anti-malware program written in C++ and able to detect and remove generic malwares and some advanced threats such as rootkits, rogues, worms…

Based on generic ways to find malwares by their behaviour (heuristics), on classic anti-malware analysis (signature finding) and on undocumented hacks, RogueKiller can find/remove most of the basic malwares (rogues, trojans, …) and some advanced threats like ZeroAccess or TDSS that behave more like rootkits.

Here’s a little summary of what RogueKiller is able to do:

Kill malicious processes

Stop malicious services

Unload malicious DLLs from processes

Find/Kill malicious hidden processes

Find and remove malicious autostart entries, including :

1: Registry keys (RUN/RUNONCE, …)

2: Tasks Scheduler (1.0/2.0)

3: Startup folders

Find and remove registry hijacks, including :

1: Shell / Load entries

2: Extension association hijacks

3: DLL hijacks

4: Many, many others …

Read / Fix DNS Hijacks (DNS Fix button)

Read / Fix Proxy Hijacks (Proxy Fix button)

Read / Fix Hosts Hijacks (Hosts Fix button)

Restore shortcuts / files hidden by rogues of type “Fake HDD“

Read / Fix malicious Master Boot Record (MBR), even hidden behind rootkit

List / Fix SSDT – Shadow SSDT – IRP Hooks (Even with inline hooks)

Find and restore system files patched / faked by a rootkit

MajorGeek says: We don’t really need a review here. If you’re a tech, you know what this tool does and it’s already in your toolbox. For the rest of you, Roguekiller is a popular, effective tool to remove some stubborn malware but be warned; you better know what you’re doing. While a lot of more well-known tools will simply scan and delete for you, this tool will show you everything it finds that is a possible problem. You need to know what to remove and what not to remove.

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Screen shot from a personal system.

In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

Obama’s cyber proposals sound good, but erode information security – The State of the Union address President Obama delivers tonight will include a slate of cyber proposals crafted to sound like timely government protections in an era beset by villainous hackers.

They would in theory help the government and private sector share hack data more effectively; increase penalties for the most troubling forms of hacking; and require better notification of people when their personal data has been stolen.

But if you cut through the spin, it turns out that the steps Obama is proposing would likely erode, rather than strengthen, information security for citizens and computer experts trying to protect them. Consider:

There’s plenty of sharing of data on cyber threats already and no reason to think that the Sony Pictures hack or any of the other major recent cyber attacks could have been averted with more. What Obama is proposing would, by contrast, give companies that have terrible security practices a pass in the form of liability protection from regulatory or civil action based on the information they disclose, while potentially allowing widespread distribution of personal data that should be private.

The increased penalties for hacking Obama is proposing could punish people who have only briefly rubbed shoulders with hackers as full-fledged members of a criminal enterprise, and criminalize “white-hat” hacking.

And Obama’s federal standards for when companies have to report that customers’ data has been stolen would actually overturn tougher standards in many states.

“There’s nothing that he would propose that would do anything to actually improve cybersecurity,” says Chris Soghoian, the principal technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union. “That’s a problem.”

Increased gov spy powers are NOT the way to stay safe against terrorism – As various unsavoury characters scrabble to grab the limelight after the Charlie Hebdo mass murders in Paris, the British government is using the atrocities to justify yet more intrusive snooping powers to use against ordinary people.

The Home Secretary told Parliament that because the French authorities might have used communications data, Brits should roll over and accept her Snoopers’ Charter.

May said:

It is too soon to say for certain, but it is highly probable that communications data were used in the Paris attacks to locate the suspects and establish the links between the two attacks. Quite simply, if we want the police and the security services to protect the public and save lives, they need this capability.

But the Home Sec fails to make a clear case for legalising the domestic spying activities of GCHQ – which, lest we forget, is actively aided and abetted by the ex-Cable & Wireless division of Vodafone.

She doesn’t stop at raising a theoretical question as if it was proven fact. May wants the entire country to believe that it’s impossible to investigate and prosecute crime without the ability to snoop on each and every one of us, without prior suspicion, and to retrospectively rifle through our digital communication history in the hope of finding something to pin on you. Everyone’s guilty of something, after all.

Obama talks cybersecurity, but Federal IT system breaches increasing – President Barack Obama urged Congress and the American public to embrace cyber security legislation during his State of the Union address Tuesday evening. The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, known as CISPA, was unveiled by Obama a week ago and is controversial because it allows companies to share cyber threat information with the Department of Homeland Security—data that might include their customers’ private information.

New research out earlier Tuesday from George Mason University, however, calls into question how effective Obama’s proposal would be. That’s because the federal government’s IT professionals as a whole have “a poor track record in maintaining good cybersecurity and information-sharing practices.” What’s more, the federal bureaucracy “systematically” fails to meet its own federal cybersecurity standards despite billions of dollars in funding.

The RCMP Spent $1.6 Million to Run an Unconstitutional Spying Program – Canada’s federal police continued to snoop on Canadians’ cellphones and computers for at least a month after the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional, new documents prove.

Financial records obtained by VICE through the Access to Information Act show the extent to which the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) used federal legislation to obtain information on Canadians from all major phone companies without warrants. Instead, police paid small fees for each of these requests.

The Supreme Court ruled that practise illegal in its June 13, 2014, decision on R. v. Spencer, writing that police need judicial authorization before making those sorts of requests.

However, the records show Telus and Bell both continued to fork over Canadians’ information even after that decision was handed down.

Illinois law allows schools to demand students’ Facebook passwords – Illinois can’t seem ever to decide whether it’s the home of midwestern niceness or of the most draconian humans this side of Moscow.

One of the state’s newest laws, for example, may have goodness at its heart. However, it may have something else in various of its extremities.

The law, which came into effect on January 1, is designed to curb cyberbullying, but it also could encourage schools to pry into students’ personal lives.

KTVI-TV reported that the law was already making some parents deeply uncomfortable. That’s because one of its stipulations is troubling.

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