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Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

The Courts

'weev' Conviction Vacated 147

Posted by Soulskill
from the finally-drew-the-get-out-of-jail-free-card dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A few years back, Andrew 'weev' Auernheimer went public with a security vulnerability that made the personal information of 140,000 iPad owners available on AT&T's website. He was later sentenced to 41 months in prison for violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (or because the government didn't understand his actions, depending on your viewpoint). Now, the Third U.S. District Court of Appeals has vacated weev's conviction. Oddly, the reason for the ruling was not based on the merits of the case, but on the venue in which he was tried (PDF). From the ruling: 'Although this appeal raises a number of complex and novel issues that are of great public importance in our increasingly interconnected age, we find it necessary to reach only one that has been fundamental since our country's founding: venue. The proper place of colonial trials was so important to the founding generation that it was listed as a grievance in the Declaration of Independence.'"
Communications

Yahoo DMARC Implementation Breaks Most Mailing Lists 83

Posted by Soulskill
from the we-can-think-this-through-after-it's-pushed-live dept.
pdclarry writes: "On April 8, Yahoo implemented a new DMARC policy that essentially bars any Yahoo user from accessing mailing lists hosted anywhere except on Yahoo and Google. While Yahoo is the initiator, it also affects Comcast, AT&T, Rogers, SBCGlobal, and several other ISPs. Internet Engineering Council expert John R. Levine, a specialist in email infrastructure and spam filtering, said, 'Yahoo breaks every mailing list in the world including the IETF's' on the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) list.

DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance) is a two-year-old proposed standard previously discussed on Slashdot that is intended to curb email abuse, including spoofing and phishing. Unfortunately, as implemented by Yahoo, it claims most mailing list users as collateral damage. Messages posted to mailing lists (including listserv, mailman, majordomo, etc) by Yahoo subscribers are blocked when the list forwards them to other Yahoo (and other participating ISPs) subscribers. List members not using Yahoo or its partners are not affected and will receive posts from Yahoo users. Posts from non-Yahoo users are delivered to Yahoo members. So essentially those suffering the most are Yahoo's (and Comcast's, and AT&T's, etc) own customers. The Hacker News has details about why DMARC has this effect on mailing lists. Their best proposed solution is to ban Yahoo email users from mailing lists and encourage them to switch to other ISPs. Unfortunately, it isn't just Yahoo, although they are getting the most attention."
Communications

WSJ: Prepare To Hang Up the Phone — Forever 449

Posted by Soulskill
from the rotary-phones-won't-breed-in-captivity dept.
retroworks writes: "Telecom giants AT&T and Verizon Communications are lobbying states, one by one, to hang up the plain, old telephone system, what the industry now calls POTS — the copper-wired landline phone system whose reliability and reach made the U.S. a communications powerhouse for more than 100 years. Is landline obsolete, and should be immune from grandparents-era social protection? The article continues, 'Last week, Michigan joined more than 30 other states that have passed or are considering laws that restrict state-government oversight and eliminate "carrier of last resort" mandates, effectively ending the universal-service guarantee that gives every U.S. resident access to local-exchange wireline telephone service, the POTS. (There are no federal regulations guaranteeing Internet access.) ... In Mantoloking, N.J., Verizon wants to replace the landline system, which Hurricane Sandy wiped out, with its wireless Voice Link. That would make it the first entire town to go landline-less, a move that isn't sitting well with all residents."
The Courts

Weev's Attorney Says FBI Is Intercepting His Client's Mail 109

Posted by timothy
from the men-in-the-middle-attack dept.
Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes "The FBI is intercepting the prison correspondence of infamous Internet troll Andrew "weev" Auernheimer, including letters from his defense team, according to his attorney. 'He's sent me between 10 and 20 letters in the last month or two. I've received one,' Tor Ekeland, who had just returned from visiting Auernheimer at the federal corrections institute in Allenwood, PA., told the Daily Dot in a video interview.

Last March, Auernheimer was convicted of accessing a computer without authorization and sentenced to 41 months in prison. As a member of the computer security team Goatse Security, Auernheimer discovered a major security flaw in AT&T's network, which allowed him to download the email addresses of some 114,000 iPad users. Goatse Security reported the flaw to Gawker and provided journalists with the information, who then published it in redacted form."
The Internet

AT&T Exec Calls Netflix "Arrogant" For Expecting Net Neutrality 466

Posted by samzenpus
from the playing-the-game dept.
jayp00001 (267507) writes "'As we all know, there is no free lunch, and there’s also no cost-free delivery of streaming movies. Someone has to pay that cost. Mr. Hastings' arrogant proposition is that everyone else should pay but Netflix. That may be a nice deal if he can get it. But it's not how the Internet, or telecommunication for that matter, has ever worked,' writes AT&T Senior Executive Vice President of Legislative Affairs, James Cicconi. Mr. Cicconi took issue with a blog post from Netflix CEO Reed Hastings on the importance of net neutrality.
United States

Is Weev Still In Jail Because the Government Doesn't Understand What Hacking Is? 246

Posted by samzenpus
from the you-say-tomato-I-say-tomato dept.
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Last March, weev, the notorious internet troll who seems to be equally celebrated and reviled, was convicted of accessing a computer without authorization and identity fraud, and sentenced to serve 41 months in prison.'He had to decrypt and decode, and do all of these things I don't even understand,' Assistant US Attorney Glenn Moramarco argued. Here, on a Wednesday morning in Philadelphia, before a packed courtroom, the federal prosecution argued that a hacker should spend three and a half years in prison for committing a crime it couldn't fully comprehend. Previously, Orin Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University and weev's defense attorney, had argued first and foremost that there was no criminal hacking to speak of. According to Kerr, what weev and Daniel Spitler (who pleaded guilty to avoid jail time) had done while working as an outfit called Goatse Security was entirely legal, even though it embarrassed public officials and some of the country's biggest corporations."
Communications

WSJ: Americans' Phone Bills Are Going Up 273

Posted by timothy
from the at-what-margin-do-you-pivot? dept.
There's been some positive news in the last year (and the last few) for American cellphone customers: certainly there's more visible competition for their business among the largest players in the market. Nonetheless, the Wall Street Journal reports that while more competition may translate into some more attractive service bundles, flexibility in phone options, or smoother customer service, it doesn't actually mean that the customers are on average reaping one of the benefits that competition might be expected to provide: lower price. Instead, the bills for customers on the major wireless providers have actually gone up, if not dramatically, in recent months — which means U.S. cell service remains much more expensive than it is in many other countries. The article could stand a sidebar on MVNOs and other low-cost options, though -- I switched to one of these from AT&T, and now pay just under $40 for one version of the new normal of unlimited talk and text, plus quite limited (1GB) data, but still using AT&T towers. Has your own cost to talk gone up or down?
AT&T

Government Sent 2,000+ National Security Letters To AT&T In 2013 67

Posted by Soulskill
from the going-for-the-high-score dept.
Trailrunner7 writes: "AT&T, in its first transparency report, said it received at least 2,000 National Security Letters and nearly 38,000 requests for location data on its subscribers in 2013. The new report from AT&T is the latest in a growing list of publications from telecom companies, Web providers and cell phone carriers who have been under pressure from privacy advocates and security experts in the wake of the Edward Snowden NSA surveillance revelations. AT&T's report shows a higher number of NSLs and subpoenas in 2013 than its most relevant competitor, Verizon. In January, Verizon's first transparency report showed that the company received between 1,000 and 1,999 NSLs in 2013 and 164,000 subpoenas. AT&T said it got 2,000-2,999 NSLs and 248,343 subpoenas last year. AT&T also received nearly 37,000 court orders and more than 16,000 search warrants."
Communications

FCC Wants To Trial Shift From Analog Phone Networks To Digital 218

Posted by Soulskill
from the but-will-they-support-my-rotary-phone?! dept.
An anonymous reader sends word that the U.S. Federal Communications Commission has given the go-ahead for telecommunications companies to start experimenting with an IP-based telephone protocol. From the article: "The experiments approved by the FCC would not test the new technology - it is already being used - and would not determine law and policy regulating it, FCC staff said. The trials would seek to establish, among other things, how consumers welcome the change and how new technology performs in emergency situations, including in remote locations. 'What we're doing here is a big deal. This is an important moment,' FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said. 'We today invite service providers to propose voluntary experiments for all-IP networks.' The move in part grants the application by AT&T to conduct IP transition tests as companies that offer landline phone services seek to ultimately replace their old copper wires with newer technology like fiber or wireless."
Government

DOJ Announces New Methods For Reporting National Security Requests 117

Posted by Soulskill
from the stand-on-one-foot-and-beg-really-loud dept.
As the NSA metadata collection scandal has developed, a number of technology and communications companies have fought to increase the transparency of the data collection process by publishing reports on how much data government agencies are asking them for. These transparency reports have been limited, however, because most government requests are entwined with a gag order. In a speech two weeks back, President Obama said this would change, and now the Dept. of Justice has announced new, slightly relaxed rules about what information companies can share. According to an email from the U.S. Deputy Attorney General (PDF) to the General Counsel of Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Microsoft, and Yahoo, the companies can publish: how many Criminal Process requests they received, how many National Security Letters they received, how many accounts were affected by NSLs, how many Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act orders were received (both for communications content and 'non-content'), and how many customers were targeted by FISA requests. The companies still aren't allowed to give specific numbers, but they can report them in bands of 1,000 — for example, 0-999, 1,000-1,999, etc. Information requests for old services cannot be disclosed for at least six months. The first information requests for a new service cannot be disclosed for two years. The companies also have the option of lumping all the NSL and FISA requests together — if they do that, they can report in bands of 250 instead of 1,000.
AT&T

AT&T Introduces "Sponsored Data" Allowing Services to Bypass 4G Data Caps 229

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the pay-for-play dept.
sirhan writes with news that AT&T has announced a program that allows companies to pay for their services to bypass mobile data caps. "With the new Sponsored Data service, data charges resulting from eligible uses will be billed directly to the sponsoring company ... Customers will see the service offered as AT&T Sponsored Data, and the usage will appear on their monthly invoice as Sponsored Data. Sponsored Data will be delivered at the same speed and performance as any non-Sponsored Data content." The Verge comments: "If YouTube doesn't hit your data cap but Vimeo does, most people are going to watch YouTube. If Facebook feels threatened by Snapchat and launches Poke with free data, maybe it doesn't get completely ignored and fail. If Apple Maps launched with free data for navigation, maybe we'd all be driving off bridges instead of downloading Google Maps for iOS." Or, think of distributed services: Mediagoblin vs Flickr, pump.io vs twitter, ownCloud vs Google Apps. This is probably a sign that data caps are here to stay, at least for AT&T subscribers (and if it's successful...).
Verizon

Verizon and AT&T Join the 'Transparency Report' Club 37

Posted by timothy
from the not-quite-the-same-as-the-invisible-men dept.
wiredmikey writes "Telecommunications giants Verizon and AT&T both announced (separately) this week that they would join a growing list of tech and telecom sector companies in publishing a 'transparency report' about demands for information from law enforcement agencies. Verizon said the first report would come in early 2014, with updates being published semi-annually. AT&T said it would also release a semiannual report starting in early 2014 with information 'to the extent permitted by laws and regulations.' The transparency reports will include things such as the total number of law enforcement agency requests in criminal cases, subpoenas, court orders and warrants. However, telecom and tech firms are still barred from releasing data on national security requests from the FBI and U.S. intelligence services."
AT&T

Google Fiber In Austin Hits a Snag: Incumbent AT&T 291

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the no-fiber-for-timothy dept.
AcidPenguin9873 writes "Earlier this year, Google announced that it would build its next fiber network in Austin, TX. Construction is slated to start in 2014, but there's a hitch: AT&T owns 20% of the utility poles in Austin. The City of Austin is considering a rules change that would allow Google to pay AT&T to use its utility poles, but AT&T isn't happy about it. The debate appears to hinge on a technicality that specifies what types of companies can attach to the utility poles that AT&T owns. From the news story: 'Google 'would be happy to pay for access (to utility poles) at reasonable rates, just as we did in our initial buildout in Kansas City,' she said, referring to Google Fiber's pilot project in Kansas City...Tracy King, AT&T's vice president for public affairs, said in a written statement that Google "appears to be demanding concessions never provided any other entity before. ... Google has the right to attach to our poles, under federal law, as long as it qualifies as a telecom or cable provider, as they themselves acknowledge. We will work with Google when they become qualified, as we do with all such qualified providers," she said.'"
United States

CIA Pays AT&T Millions To Voluntarily Provide Call Data 107

Posted by samzenpus
from the checking-numbers dept.
First time accepted submitter binarstu writes "The New York Times reports that 'The C.I.A. is paying AT&T more than $10 million a year to assist with overseas counterterrorism investigations by exploiting the company's vast database of phone records, which includes Americans' international calls, according to government officials. The cooperation is conducted under a voluntary contract, not under subpoenas or court orders compelling the company to participate, according to the officials.'"
AT&T

The Next Big Fiber Showdown: Austin 230

Posted by timothy
from the att-dsl-sure-leaves-me-unimpressed dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Google might have big plans to wire America with high-speed broadband, but at least one carrier isn't willing to let Google Fiber have a free run: AT&T has announced that it will deploy a '100 percent fiber' network in Austin, Texas, capable of delivering speeds of up to 1GB per second. That location is auspicious, given how Google's already decided to make Austin the next city to receive Google Fiber. Whereas Google plans on connecting Austin households to its network in mid-2014, however, AT&T promises to start deploying its own high-speed solution in December. But there's a few significant catches. First, AT&T's service will initially roll out to 'tens of thousands of customer locations throughout Austin' (according to a press release), which is a mere fraction of the city's 842,592 residents; second, AT&T has offered no roadmap for expanding beyond that initial base; and third, despite promises that the service will roll out in December, the carrier has yet to choose the initial neighborhoods for its expansion. Could this be a case of a carrier freaking out about a new company's potential to disrupt its longtime business?"
United States

AT&T Maintains Call Database For the DEA Going Back To 1987 141

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-your-calls-are-belong-to-us dept.
Jah-Wren Ryel writes "Forget the NSA — the DEA has been working hand-in-hand with AT&T on a database of records of every call that passes through AT&T's phone switches going back as far as 1987. The government pays AT&T for contractors who sit side-by-side with DEA agents and do phone records searches for them. From the article: 'For at least six years, law enforcement officials working on a counter narcotics program have had routine access, using subpoenas, to an enormous AT&T database that contains the records of decades of Americans’ phone calls — parallel to but covering a far longer time than the National Security Agency’s hotly disputed collection of phone call logs.'"
AT&T

Mobile Virtual Networks Are Booming Again 79

Posted by timothy
from the save-it-for-the-mortgage-payment dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Sue Marek reports at Fierce Wireless that the mobile virtual network operator business is booming again, with new MVNOs launching nearly every week and operators like Sprint and T-Mobile hungry for MVNO partners because MVNOs offer a good economic return and can help them to grow their market share and reach into markets where they might not have visibility. 'It's a good strategic play for us,' says Matt Carter, president of Sprint wholesale and emerging solutions. 'It's another army to help us garner more subscribers on the network.' But unlike the MVNO craze of the 2005-2006 era--highlighted by high-profile failures like ESPN Mobile, Disney Mobile, Amp'd Mobile and Helio, today's high-profile MVNOs like FreedomPop, Republic Wireless, Solavei and Ting offer innovative service plans, marketing techniques and, in some cases, devices that they hope will draw consumers to their offerings. Today's MVNOs can be successful with a seemingly tiny number of customers. For example, Tucows' MVNO Ting, which sells mobile usage by minutes, text messages and megabytes, announced they currently have around 25,000 total customers, and that the business is on track to cross the break-even threshold in the fourth quarter of this year. Virtual carriers now also get the latest phones like the Moto X at launch and don't have to wait for new Android handsets to trickle down."
AT&T

A New Spate of Deaths In the Wireless Industry 247

Posted by timothy
from the tough-line-of-work dept.
onehitwonder writes "The race to build out advanced cellphone networks in the U.S. has contributed to a spike in deaths among tower workers, making this one of the industry's deadliest years and drawing fresh scrutiny from federal regulators, according to The Wall Street Journal. At least 10 workers have died in falls from communication towers so far this year, and three more were seriously injured. The accidents, nine of which were related to cellphone network work, come during one of the biggest building booms in years, as Sprint Corp. and T-Mobile US Inc. ramp up major network upgrades in an attempt to catch up with Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc."
Cellphones

First California AMBER Alert Shows AT&T's Emergency Alerts Are a Mess 380

Posted by Soulskill
from the learn-to-hyperlink dept.
Mark Gibbs writes "AT&T's implementation of the FCC's Emergency Alerts System provides minimally useful information in an untimely fashion with little geolocational relevance. ... Yesterday California got its first AMBER alert and my notification arrived at 10:54pm. It came up as panel over my lock screen and here's what it looked like on my notifications screen: 'Boulevard, CA AMBER Alert UPDATE: LIC/6WCU986 (CA) Blue Nissan Versa 4 door.' The problem with this it that's all there is! You can stab away at the message as much as you like but that's all you get, there's no link to any detail and considering the event it related to occurred over 240 miles away from me near to the Mexican border, the WEA service seems to be poorly implemented. Indeed, many Californians were annoyed and confused by the alert and according to the LA Times 'Some cellphones received only a text message, others buzzed and beeped. Some people got more than one alert.' I got a second copy of the alert at 2:22am and other subscribers reported not receiving any alert until late this morning." It seems to have gone down about as well as New York's.
Google

Google Replaces AT&T At Starbucks 100

Posted by samzenpus
from the new-and-improved dept.
coolnumbr12 writes "A new partnership between Starbucks and Google hopes to improve the lives of freelance writers around the country. Starting in August, Google plans to make Internet speeds at all 7,000 Starbucks locations in the U.S. 10 times faster than the current AT&T-powered service. For people in a city equipped with Google Fiber, Google says the speed in Starbucks could increase as much as 100 times."

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