itwbennett writes "An estimated one in four user applications sent from HealthCare.gov to insurance providers have errors introduced by the website, an official with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said during a press briefing Friday. The errors include missing forms, duplicate forms and incorrect information in the applications, such as wrong information about an applicant's marital status, said Julie Bataille, communications director for HHS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). While the software bugs leading to the errors have largely been fixed, as many as 10 percent of insurance applications may still have errors and consumers who have used HealthCare.gov to buy insurance and have concerns that their applications haven't been processed or have errors should contact their insurers, Bataille said."
Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system
Berin Szoka is president and founder of the tech policy think tank TechFreedom. The group promotes a wide variety of digital rights and privacy issues. Most recently, they have started a petition demanding reforms to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) so that law enforcement will have to get a warrant before accessing emails stored in the cloud. With so much attention paid to the NSA snooping, Berin believes that the over 25-year-old ECPA has been overshadowed and is in dire need of changes. Mr. Szoka has agreed to answer your questions about privacy and government policy online. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
The L.A. Times has a short but compelling article about the state of the art (and coming state of the art) in dedicated networking technology in one of the applications where you'd expect the customers to care most about it: connecting financial trading centers. Milliseconds count, and the traders count milliseconds. From the article, one example: "[New York-based networking company] Strike, whose ranks include academics as well as former U.S. and Israeli military engineers, hoisted a 6-foot white dish on a tower rising 280 feet above the Nasdaq Stock Market's data center in Carteret, N.J., just outside New York City. Through a series of microwave towers, the dish beams market data 734 miles to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange's computer warehouse in Aurora, Ill., in 4.13 milliseconds, or about 95% of the theoretical speed of light, according to the company. Fiber-optic cables, which are made up of long strands of glass, carry data at roughly 65% of light speed."
New submitter TheRealHocusLocus writes "The FCC is drafting rules to formalize the process of transition of 'last-mile' subscriber circuits to digital IP-based data streams. The move is lauded by AT&T Chairman Tom Wheeler who claims that significant resources are spent to maintain 'legacy' POTS service, though some 100 million still use it. POTS, or 'Plain Old Telephone Service,' is the analog standard that allows the use of simple unpowered phone devices on the wire, with the phone company supplying ring and talk voltage. I cannot fault progress, in fact I'm part of the problem: I gave up my dial tone a couple years ago because I needed cell and could not afford to keep both. But what concerns me is, are we poised to dismantle systems that are capable of standing alone to keep communities and regions 'in-touch' with each other, in favor of systems that rely on centralized (and distant) points of failure? Despite its analog limitations POTS switches have enforced the use of hard-coded local exchanges and equipment that will faithfully complete local calls even if its network connections are down. But do these IP phones deliver the same promise? For that matter, is any single local cell tower isolated from its parent network of use to anyone at all? I have had a difficult time finding answers to this question, and would love savvy Slashdot folks to weigh in: In a disaster that isolates the community from outside or partitions the country's connectivity — aside from local Plain Old Telephone Service, how many IP and cell phones would continue to function?"
taikedz writes "A new patent has been filed by Google that tries to analyze your past communications to then construct responses to the overwhelming amount of posts you receive. From the article: 'Essentially, the program analyzes the messages a user makes through social networks, email, text messaging, microblogging, and other systems. Then, the program offers suggestions for responses, where the original messages are displayed, with information about others reactions to the same messages, and then the user can send the suggested messages in response to those users. The more the user utilizes the program and uses the responses, the more the bot can narrow down the types of responses you make.'"
coondoggie writes "The New York State Police have a new weapon to fight the plague of drivers that insist on texting while operating their vehicle: tall SUVs. Most recently reported by the AP, NY has begun operating a fleet of 32 unmarked SUVs that let troopers more easily peer down into a car to see if the driver is texting or not. 'Major Michael Kopy, commander of the state police troop patrolling the corridor between New York City and Albany, quoted a Virginia Tech study that found texting while driving increased the chance of a collision by 23 times and took eyes off the road for five seconds — more than the length of a football field at highway speed. Kopy worries that as teens get their driver's licenses, texting on the road will become more prevalent. "More people are coming of driving age who have had these hand-held devices for many years, and now as they start to drive, they're putting the two together, texting and driving, when they shouldn't."'"
schwit1 writes with a short excerpt from The Cable "The United States and its key intelligence allies are quietly working behind the scenes to kneecap a mounting movement in the United Nations to promote a universal human right to online privacy, according to diplomatic sources and an internal American government document obtained by The Cable. American representatives have made it clear that they won't tolerate such checks on their global surveillance network." A leaked memo containing U.S. suggestions for changes to the ICCPR includes gems like (referring to intercepting communications) "Move 'may threaten' from before 'the foundations of a democratic [society]...' to before 'freedom of expression.' We need to clarify that privacy violations could 'interfere with' freedom of expression and avoid the inaccurate suggestion that all privacy violations are violations of freedom of expression." The U.S. changes are pretty much directed at making dragnet surveillance of non-citizens technically legal.
An anonymous reader writes "Researchers at Fraunhofer FKIE, Germany have presented a paper on covert acoustical communications between laptop computers. In their paper 'On Covert Acoustical Mesh Networks in Air', they describe how acoustical communication can be used to secretly bridge air gaps between computers and connect computers and networks that are thought to be completely isolated from each other. By using ad-hoc routing protocols, they are able to build up a complete mesh network of infected computers that leaks data over multiple hops. A multi-hop acoustical keylogger is also presented where keystrokes are forwarded to an attacker over multiple hops between different office rooms. The fundamental part of the communication system is a piece of software that has originally been developed for acoustic underwater communications. The researchers also provide different countermeasures against malicious participation in a covert acoustical network. The limitations of air gaps have been discussed recently in the context of a highly advanced malware, although reports on this so-called badBIOS malware could not yet be confirmed."
An anonymous reader writes "Singapore and South Korea are playing key roles helping the United States and Australia tap undersea telecommunications links across Asia, according to top secret documents leaked by Edward Snowden. Indonesia and Malaysia have been key targets for Australian and Singaporean intelligence collaboration since much of Indonesia's telecommunications and Internet traffic is routed through Singapore. The NSA has a stranglehold on trans-Pacific communications channels with interception facilities on the West coast of the United States and at Hawaii and Guam, tapping all cable traffic across the Pacific Ocean as well as links between Australia and Japan. Japan had refused to take part."
An anonymous reader writes "I'm currently being targeted by an overseas debt collection scam. My landline rings every 10-15 minutes all day every day. I considered getting a blacklisting device to block the incoming calls, but the call center spoofs a different number on my caller ID each time, and it's gotten to the point where I've just unplugged the phones. I'm already on the Do No Call Registry and have filed a complaint with the FTC. Aside from ditching my landline, changing my number, and/or blowing a whistle into the receiver anytime I actually pick up, are there any real solutions out there? Has anybody had luck with a blacklisting device?"
jones_supa writes "A couple of weeks ago hacker Oona Räisänen told about finding a 16 kbps data stream on FM broadcast frequencies, and her suspicion was that it's being used by the public transit display system in Helsinki, Finland. Now it's time to find out the truth. She had the opportunity to observe a display stuck in the middle of its bootup sequence, displaying a version string. This revealed that the system is called IBus and it's made by the Swedish company Axentia. Sure enough, their website talks about DARC and how it requires no return channel, making it possible to use battery-powered displays in remote areas. Other than that, there are no public specs for the proprietary protocol. So she implemented the five-layer DARC protocol stack in Perl and was left with a stream of fully error-corrected packets on top of Layer 5, separated into hundreds of subchannels. Some of these contained human-readable strings with names of terminal stations. They seemed like an easy starting point for reverse engineering..."
aitikin writes "The Federal Communications Commission is expected to propose allowing passengers to use their cellphones on airplanes. While phone use would still be restricted during takeoff and landing, the proposal would lift an FCC ban on airborne calls and cellular data use by passengers once a flight reaches 10,000 feet. From the article: 'The move would lift a regulatory hurdle, but any use of cellphones on planes would still have to be approved by the airlines, which have said they would approach the issue cautiously due to strong objections from their customers. Airlines would have to install equipment in their planes that would communicate with cellphone towers on the ground.'"
minty3 writes "The team used graphene's mechanical 'stretchability' in order to create a voltage controlled oscillator (VCO) – an electronic component that can generate an FM signal. The VCO was used to send and receive audio signals of 100 megahertz. The team used pure tones and more complex music signals to tune the VCO's output and found that both kinds of signals could be 'faithfully reproduced' by an ordinary radio receiver."
An anonymous reader sends this news from Al-Jazeera: "BP has been accused of hiring internet 'trolls' to purposefully attack, harass, and sometimes threaten people who have been critical of how the oil giant has handled its disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The oil firm hired the international PR company Ogilvy & Mather to run the BP America Facebook page during the oil disaster, which released at least 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf in what is to date the single largest environmental disaster in U.S. history. The page was meant to encourage interaction with BP, but when people posted comments that were critical of how BP was handling the crisis, they were often attacked, bullied, and sometimes directly threatened. ... BP's 'astroturfing' efforts and use of 'trolls' have been reported as pursuing users' personal information, then tracking and posting IP addresses of users, contacting their employers, threatening to contact family members, and using photos of critics' family members to create false Facebook profiles, and even threatening to affect the potential outcome of individual compensation claims against BP."
Jah-Wren Ryel writes "Yes, there's yet another company out there with an inscrutable system making decisions about you that will affect the kinds of services you're offered. Based out of L.A.'s 'Silicon Beach,' Telesign helps companies verify that a mobile number belongs to a user (sending those oh-so-familiar 'verify that you received this code' texts) and takes care of the mobile part of two-factor authenticating or password changes. Among their over 300 clients are nine of the ten largest websites. Now Telesign wants to leverage the data — and billions of phone numbers — it deals with daily to provide a new service: a PhoneID Score, a reputation-based score for every number in the world that looks at the metadata Telesign has on those numbers to weed out the burner phones from the high-quality ones."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "As firefighters emerge from another record wildfire season in the Western United States, Robert Sanders reports at the UC Berkeley News Center that scientists have designed a satellite using state-of-the-art sensors, that could view the Western US almost continuously, snapping pictures of the ground every few seconds searching for small hot spots (12 m2) that could be newly ignited wildfires. Firefighting resources could then be directed to these spots in hopes of preventing the fires from growing out of control and threatening lives and property. "If we had information on the location of fires when they were smaller, then we could take appropriate actions quicker and more easily, including preparing for evacuation," says fire expert Scott Stephens. Fire detection today is much like it was 200 years ago, relying primarily on spotters in fire towers or on the ground and on reports from members of the public. This information is augmented by aerial reconnaissance and lightning detectors that steer firefighters to ground strikes, which are one of the most common wildfire sparks. But satellite technology, remote sensing and computing have advanced to the stage where it's now possible to orbit a geostationary satellite that can reliably distinguish small, but spreading, wildfires with few false alarms. Carl Pennypacker estimates that the satellite, which could be built and operated by the federal government, would cost several hundred million dollars – a fraction of the nation's $2.5 billion yearly firefighting budget. "With a satellite like this, we will have a good chance of seeing something from orbit before it becomes an Oakland fire," says Pennypacker. "It could pay for itself in one firefighting season.""
itwbennett writes "The FCC's new Android app will allow users to measure the speed of their mobile broadband connection, while providing aggregate data to the agency for measuring nationwide mobile broadband network performance. Released as open-source software on Thursday, the free FCC Speed Test App will test network performance for parameters such as upload and download speed, latency and packet loss. An iPhone version of the app is in the works."
An anonymous reader writes "At a press event in Stockholm, Sweden today, Skype confirmed it is evaluating the addition of a typing suppression feature to its desktop clients that will automatically filter the sound of your fingers hitting the keys. Unfortunately, the Microsoft-owned company isn't ready to ship the functionality yet, despite it being available in the company's enterprise-focused Lync tool."
Dega704 sends this story from Ars: "A Senate bill called the 'Consumer Choice in Online Video Act' (PDF) takes aim at many of the tactics Internet service providers can use to overcharge customers and degrade the quality of rival online video services. Submitted yesterday by U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), the 63-page bill provides a comprehensive look at the potential ways in which ISPs can limit consumer choice, and it boots the Federal Communications Commission's power to prevent bad outcomes. 'It shall be unlawful for a designated Internet service provider to engage in unfair methods of competition or unfair or deceptive acts or practices, the purpose or effect of which are to hinder significantly or to prevent an online video distributor from providing video programming to a consumer,' the bill states. A little more specifically, it would be illegal to 'block, degrade, or otherwise impair any content provided by an online video distributor' or 'provide benefits in the transmission of the video content of any company affiliated with the Internet service provider through specialized services or other means.' Those provisions overlap a bit with the FCC's authority under its own net neutrality law, the Open Internet Order, which already prevents the blockage of websites and services. However, Verizon is in court attempting to kill that law, and there is a real possibility that it could be limited in some way. The Consumer Choice in Online Video Act could provide a hedge against that possible outcome."
Jah-Wren Ryel writes "Every smartphone or other device with mobile communications capability (e.g. 3G or LTE) actually runs not one, but two operating systems. Aside from the operating system that we as end-users see (Android, iOS, PalmOS), it also runs a small operating system that manages everything related to radio. So, we have a complete operating system, running on an ARM processor, without any exploit mitigation (or only very little of it), which automatically trusts every instruction, piece of code, or data it receives from the base station you're connected to. What could possibly go wrong?"