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posted by Fnord666 on Friday April 16, @04:44PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

US adds Chinese supercomputing companies to export blacklist:

The US has placed Chinese groups accused of building supercomputers to help the Chinese military on an export blacklist, the first such move by the Biden administration to make it harder for China to obtain US technology.

Three companies and four branches of China's National Supercomputing Center were added to the US government "entity list," which bars American companies from exporting technology to the groups without a license.

The US commerce department said the groups were involved in building supercomputers used by Chinese "military actors" and facilitating programs to develop weapons of mass destruction.

"Supercomputing capabilities are vital for the development of many—perhaps almost all—modern weapons and national security systems, such as nuclear weapons and hypersonic weapons," said Gina Raimondo, the US commerce secretary.

She said the administration would use "the full extent of its authorities to prevent China from leveraging US technologies to support these destabilizing military modernization efforts."

The Chinese entities are Tianjin Phytium Information Technology, Shanghai High-Performance Integrated Circuit Design Center, Sunway Microelectronics, and the National Supercomputing Center branches.

[...] Trump put dozens of Chinese companies on the entity list, including Huawei, the telecoms equipment manufacturer, and Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation.

The Biden administration is reviewing dozens of China-related actions that Donald Trump took in his last year in office, including an order that prohibits Americans from investing in Chinese companies that the Pentagon says help the People's Liberation Army. The US is also talking to allies in Asia and Europe to try to find ways to coordinate export controls.


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Saturday March 13, @07:38PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the best-laid-plans dept.

Tossing vaccine priority list, Biden tells states to open eligibility by May 1:

On the first anniversary of the global COVID-19 pandemic, US President Joe Biden announced that he will direct states to open vaccine eligibility to all American adults no later than May 1, a dramatic acceleration of the national immunization plan that has been sluggish and, at times, chaotic.

"That's much earlier than expected," Biden said in a televised, prime-time address. It doesn't mean every American over age 18 will have their shot by then, Biden cautioned, but you'll be able to get in line.

The announcement means that carefully crafted prioritizations for vaccines will soon no longer apply. The White House COVID-19 Response Team landed on May 1 for the deadline after concluding that national vaccination efforts would be far-enough along by the end of April to make the prioritizations obsolete anyway.

"If we all do our part, this country will be vaccinated soon," Biden said, "our economy will be on the mend, our kids will be back in school, and we'll have proven once again that this country can do anything."

Also at: CNN and c|net.


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Saturday March 06, @02:22PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

FCC approves $50 monthly internet subsidies for low-income households during pandemic:

The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday approved final rules for a new broadband subsidy program that could help struggling families pay for internet service during the pandemic.

The agency's $3.2 billion Emergency Broadband Benefit Program provides eligible low-income households with up to a $50 per month credit on their internet bills through their provider until the end of the pandemic. In tribal areas, eligible households may receive up to $75 per month. The program also provides eligible households up to $100 off of one computer or tablet.

The congressionally created program is aimed at closing the digital divide, which has become painfully apparent over the past year as millions of Americans have been forced to work and learn remotely. Some have also raised concerns that the digital divide could affect access to the vaccine as signups typically happen online.

[...] Last year, Congress passed a coronavirus relief package that contained provisions for the FCC's new program. And the FCC has established a fresh task force this year to improve the data it collects on broadband availability, which could ultimately help the agency better target its efforts to close the gap.

[...] "This is a program that will help those at risk of digital disconnection," Rosenworcel said in a statement. "It will help those sitting in cars in parking lots just to catch a Wi-Fi signal to go online for work. It will help those lingering outside the library with a laptop just to get a wireless signal for remote learning. It will help those who worry about choosing between paying a broadband bill and paying rent or buying groceries."


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Thursday March 04, @03:13AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the legislators-protecting-us-from-bad-things dept.

In Colorado:
Concerning the regulation of digital communications, and, in connection therewith, creating the digital communications division and the digital communications commission
Session: 2021 Regular Session
Subjects: Professions & Occupations
Telecommunications & Information Technology
Bill Summary

The bill creates the digital communications division (division) . . . On an annual basis and for a reasonable fee determined by the commission, the division shall register digital communications platforms . . . such as social media platforms or media-sharing platforms, that conduct business in Colorado . . . A digital communications platform that fails to register with the division commits a class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 for each day that the violation continues.

The division shall investigate and the commission may hold hearings . . .

  • Include practices that promote hate speech; undermine election integrity; disseminate intentional disinformation, conspiracy theories, or fake news; . . . .
  • May include business, political, or social practices that are conducted in a manner that a person aggrieved by the practices can demonstrate are unfair or discriminatory to the aggrieved person. . . . .
  • Practices that target users for purposes of collecting and disseminating users' personal data, including users' sensitive data
  • Profiling users based on their personal data collected
  • Selling or authorizing others to use users' personal data to provide location-based advertising or targeted advertising; or
  • Using facial recognition software and other tracking technology.

The full text of the bill is here.


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Saturday February 06, @09:19AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

The independent review of Australia's main environment law, released last week, provided a sobering but accurate appraisal of a dire situation.

The review was led by Professor Graeme Samuel and involved consultation with scientists, legal experts, industry and conservation organizations. Samuel's report concluded Australia's biodiversity is in decline and the law (the EPBC Act) "is not fit for current or future environmental challenges".

[...] To reverse Australia's appalling track record of protecting biodiversity, four major reforms recommended by Samuel must be implemented as a package.

  1. Setting standards [...]
  2. Greater government accountability [...]
  3. Decent funding [...]
  4. Increase ecological knowledge [...]

[...] Samuel recommends Regional Recovery Plans be adequately funded to help develop some knowledge. But we suggest substantial new environmental capacity is needed, including new ecological research positions, increased environmental monitoring infrastructure, and appropriate funding of recovery plans, to ensure enough knowledge supports decision making.

Samuel's report has provided a path forward that could make a substantial difference to Australia's shocking track record of biodiversity conservation and land stewardship.

But Environment Minister Sussan Ley's response so far suggests the Morrison government plans to cherry pick from Samuel's recommendations, and rush through changes without appropriate safeguards.

If the changes we outlined above aren't implemented as a package, our precious natural heritage will continue to decline.


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Tuesday February 02, @10:21AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the what-could-possibly-go-wrong? dept.

Oregon law to decriminalize all drugs goes into effect, offering addicts rehab instead of prison:

"I lived in the bottom for years," says [Janie] Gullickson, 52. "For me and people like me, I laid there and wallowed in it for a long time."

But if she has to pick the lowest point – one that lasted years, not days, she says – it came shortly after she hit 30 in 1998. At that time, Gullickson had five kids, ages 5 to 11, by four different men. She came home from work one day as a locksmith to find that her ex-husband had taken her two youngest and left the state. Horrified, devastated and convinced that this was the beginning of the end, her life spiraled: She dropped her other son off with his dad, left her two daughters with her mom and soon became an IV meth user.

In prison six years later, Gullickson was contemplating joining an intensive recovery program when a "striking, magnetic gorgeous Black woman walked in the room, held up a mug shot and started talking about being in the very chairs where we were sitting," Gullickson remembers. There was life on the other side of addiction and prison, the woman said. But you have to fight for it. Gullickson believed her.

"I remember thinking, I may not be able to do all that, be what she was, but maybe I could do something different than this," Gullickson says. "That day, I felt the door open to change and healing."

Now Gullickson, executive director of the Mental Health & Addiction Association of Oregon, is determined to give other addicts the same opportunity. That's why she pushed for the passage of Measure 110, first-of-its-kind legislation that decriminalizes the possession of all illegal drugs in Oregon, including heroin, cocaine, meth and oxycodone. Instead of a criminal-justice-based approach, the state will pivot to a health-care-based approach, offering addicts treatment instead of prison time. Those in possession will be fined $100, a citation that will be dropped if they agree to a health assessment.

The law goes into effect Monday and will be implemented over the next decade by the state officials at the Oregon Health Authority.

[...] "I hope that we all become more enlightened across this country that substance abuse is not something that necessitates incarceration, but speaks to other social ills – lack of health care, lack of treatment, things of that nature," says Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J., an outspoken critic of the War on Drugs.

[...] Watson Coleman also points out that it's far more expensive to pay to incarcerate someone than get them treatment. Rehab programs not only empower people, she says, but they also save communities money.

Also at: CNN.


Original Submission

posted by requerdanos on Wednesday January 27, @05:55PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the ok-google-reduce-casualties dept.

US has 'moral imperative' to develop AI weapons, says panel:

The US should not agree to ban the use or development of autonomous weapons powered by artificial intelligence (AI) software, a government-appointed panel has said in a draft report for Congress.

The panel, led by former Google chief executive Eric Schmidt, on Tuesday concluded two days of public discussion about how the world’s biggest military power should consider AI for national security and technological advancement.

Its vice-chairman, Robert Work, a former deputy secretary of defense, said autonomous weapons are expected to make fewer mistakes than humans do in battle, leading to reduced casualties or skirmishes caused by target misidentification.

“It is a moral imperative to at least pursue this hypothesis,” he said.

[...] Mary Wareham, coordinator of the eight-year Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, said the commission’s “focus on the need to compete with similar investments made by China and Russia … only serves to encourage arms races.”

More Info:


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Sunday January 24, @03:34AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

How Law Enforcement Gets Around Your Smartphone's Encryption:

Lawmakers and law enforcement agencies around the world, including in the United States, have increasingly called for backdoors in the encryption schemes that protect your data, arguing that national security is at stake. But new research indicates governments already have methods and tools that, for better or worse, let them access locked smartphones thanks to weaknesses in the security schemes of Android and iOS.

Cryptographers at Johns Hopkins University used publicly available documentation from Apple and Google as well as their own analysis to assess the robustness of Android and iOS encryption. They also studied more than a decade's worth of reports about which of these mobile security features law enforcement and criminals have previously bypassed, or can currently, using special hacking tools. The researchers have dug into the current mobile privacy state of affairs, and provided technical recommendations for how the two major mobile operating systems can continue to improve their protections.

"It just really shocked me, because I came into this project thinking that these phones are really protecting user data well," says Johns Hopkins cryptographer Matthew Green, who oversaw the research. "Now I've come out of the project thinking almost nothing is protected as much as it could be. So why do we need a backdoor for law enforcement when the protections that these phones actually offer are so bad?"

Before you delete all your data and throw your phone out the window, though, it's important to understand the types of privacy and security violations the researchers were specifically looking at. When you lock your phone with a passcode, fingerprint lock, or face recognition lock, it encrypts the contents of the device. Even if someone stole your phone and pulled the data off it, they would only see gibberish. Decoding all the data would require a key that only regenerates when you unlock your phone with a passcode, or face or finger recognition. And smartphones today offer multiple layers of these protections and different encryption keys for different levels of sensitive data. Many keys are tied to unlocking the device, but the most sensitive require additional authentication. The operating system and some special hardware are in charge of managing all of those keys and access levels so that, for the most part, you never even have to think about it.

With all of that in mind, the researchers assumed it would be extremely difficult for an attacker to unearth any of those keys and unlock some amount of data. But that's not what they found.

[...] The main difference between Complete Protection and AFU [(After First Use)] relates to how quick and easy it is for applications to access the keys to decrypt data. When data is in the Complete Protection state, the keys to decrypt it are stored deep within the operating system and encrypted themselves. But once you unlock your device the first time after reboot, lots of encryption keys start getting stored in quick access memory, even while the phone is locked. At this point an attacker could find and exploit certain types of security vulnerabilities in iOS to grab encryption keys that are accessible in memory and decrypt big chunks of data from the phone.

[...] The researchers shared their findings with the Android and iOS teams ahead of publication. An Apple spokesperson told WIRED that the company's security work is focused on protecting users from hackers, thieves, and criminals looking to steal personal information. The types of attacks the researchers are looking at are very costly to develop, the spokesperson pointed out; they require physical access to the target device and only work until Apple patches the vulnerabilities they exploit. Apple also stressed that its goal with iOS is to balance security and convenience.

[...] Similarly, Google stressed that these Android attacks depend on physical access and the existence of the right type of exploitable flaws. "We work to patch these vulnerabilities on a monthly basis and continually harden the platform so that bugs and vulnerabilities do not become exploitable in the first place," a spokesperson said in a statement. "You can expect to see additional hardening in the next release of Android."

[...] As long as mainstream mobile operating systems have these privacy weaknesses, though, it's even more difficult to explain why governments around the world—including the US, UK, Australia, and India—have mounted major calls for tech companies to undermine the encryption in their products.


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday January 20, @10:38PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Statement from the Press Secretary Regarding Executive Grants of Clemency

Anthony Levandowski – President Trump granted a full pardon to Anthony Levandowski. This pardon is strongly supported by James Ramsey, Peter Thiel, Miles Ehrlich, Amy Craig, Michael Ovitz, Palmer Luckey, Ryan Petersen, Ken Goldberg, Mike Jensen, Nate Schimmel, Trae Stephens, Blake Masters, and James Proud, among others. Mr. Levandowski is an American entrepreneur who led Google's efforts to create self-driving technology. Mr. Levandowski pled guilty to a single criminal count arising from civil litigation. Notably, his sentencing judge called him a "brilliant, groundbreaking engineer that our country needs." Mr. Levandowski has paid a significant price for his actions and plans to devote his talents to advance the public good.

Wikipedia entry on pardon within the United States.

See also: Former Google engineer Anthony Levandowski among list of last-minute Trump pardons
Trump's last-minute pardons include Bannon, Lil Wayne and scores of others
Trump Reportedly Abandoned Pardons For Snowden And Assange
Trump declines to pardon Assange, Snowden, or 'Joe Exotic' – here's the 143 people he chose

Previously: Text Messages Between Uber's Travis Kalanick and Anthony Levandowski Released
The Fall of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick
Uber Shutting Down Self-Driving Truck Division
Ex-Uber Engineer Levandowski Pleads Guilty To Trade Secrets Theft
Uber Accuses Levandowski of Fraud, Refuses to Pay $179M Google Judgment
Ex-Googler Levandowski Gets 18 Months in Prison for Trade-Secret Theft


Original Submission   Alternate Submission

posted by requerdanos on Tuesday January 19, @09:22PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Census Bureau director to resign amid criticism over data:

Facing criticism that he was acceding to President Donald Trump's demand to produce citizenship information at the expense of data quality, U.S. Census Bureau director Steven Dillingham said Monday that he planned to resign with the change in presidential administrations.

Dillingham said in a statement that he would resign on Wednesday, the day Trump leaves the White House and President-elect Joseph Biden takes office. Dillingham's term was supposed to be finished at the end of the year.

The Census Bureau director's departure comes as the statistical agency is crunching the numbers for the 2020 census, which will be used to determine how many congressional seats and Electoral College votes each state gets, as well as the distribution of $1.5 trillion in federal spending each year.

In his statement, Dillingham said he had been considering retiring earlier, but he had been persuaded at the time to stick around.

"But I must do now what I think is best," said Dillingham, 68. "Let me make it clear that under other circumstances I would be honored to serve President-Elect Biden just as I served the past five presidents."

[...] During Dillingham's tenure, the Trump administration unsuccessfully tried to put a citizenship question on the 2020 census questionnaire and named a handful of political appointees that statisticians and Democratic lawmakers worried would politicize the once-a-decade head count of every U.S. resident. The president also issued two directives that advocacy groups said were part of efforts to suppress the participation of minorities and immigrants in the 2020 census.


Original Submission