Monday, October 26, 2015



Link to TechEye

Wikimedia spy suit tossed because Wikipedia too small

Posted: 26 Oct 2015 02:49 AM PDT

Wikipedia_mini_globe_handheldA US judge threw out a law suit bought by Wikipedia against NSA spying because the online encyclopaedia was too small to fight the government.

In his 30 page ruling, US District Judge T.S. Ellis found that Wikimedia and the other plaintiffs had no standing, and could not prove that they had been spied on.

Judge Elliss found that there is no way to definitively know if Wikimedia, which publishes Wikipedia, one of the largest sites on the Internet, is being watched by the spooks.

According to Ars Technica he was not that impressed with Wikipedia's logic that because it was so big, it must have been a target of NSA survellience.

As he wrote in his memorandum opinion that the statistical analysis on which the argument rests is incomplete and riddled with assumptions.

"The  plaintiffs insist that Wikipedia’s over one trillion annual Internet communications is significant in volume. But plaintiffs provide no context for assessing the significance of this figure. One trillion is plainly a large number, but size is always relative. For example, one trillion dollars are of enormous value, whereas one trillion grains of sand are but a small patch of beach," he wrote.

He added that the plaintiffs have alleged facts that plausibly establish that the NSA uses Upstream surveillance at some number of chokepoints.  But they failed to establish that the NSA is using Upstream surveillance to copy all or substantially all communications passing through those chokepoints. In this regard, plaintiffs can only speculate.

Since the Snowden revelations about NSA spying it has been difficult for legal challenges filed against government surveillance to advance in the courts.  This is mostly because the victim have to prove they were hacked.


Amazon and New York Times in handbag scrap

Posted: 26 Oct 2015 02:48 AM PDT

rampage-black-friday-mainAmazon is having a handbags at dawn duel with the New York Times over a story it ran about how working for the online bookseller is a nightmare.

Two months ago the New York Times penned a yarn about Amazon's workplace culture and  the tough work environment.

Amazon has been hitting back. Jay Carney, Amazon’s SVP of global corporate affairs, swung back at the newspaper and said it failed to adhere to journalistic standards, noting that the article in question relied heavily on anecdotes from former Amazon employees and didn't provide enough context.

Carney specifically refuted the accounts of four employees who were quoted in the Times article. It appeared that he was prepared to get nasty too. For example one of the Times quoted employees, Bo Olson, resigned from Amazon after he was caught trying to defraud vendors.

The executive editor at the Times, Dean Baquet, swung his handbag back a few hours later saying that Carney merely challenged the four employees’ credibility, but did not dispute the article’s overall findings.

Carney didn't try to argue that Amazon is a great place to work, nor did he repudiate the Times's characterization of its workplace as “bruising.” He specifically took aim at a handful of employees who provided anecdotes to the Times under their real names.

Baquet pointed out that Olson denies any allegations of fraud.

Mozilla props up its Open Source projects

Posted: 26 Oct 2015 02:46 AM PDT

rms-meets-open-sauce-detail-1Open saucy browser maker Mozilla is spending a million dollars to make sure that the projects, upon which the company depends on do not collapse.

One of the problems of Open Sauce software is that projects get dumped because they cannot find enough developers interested in maintaining them, or the money to keep them active. This is a problem for a big organisation like Mozilla which needs some projects to be kept going at all costs.

Now the maker of the Firefox browser, Mozilla is launching an award program specifically focused on supporting open source and free software. Its initial allocation for this programme is $1,000,000.

Mozilla has had a grant programme for many years, but now feels it is time to formalize a systematic way to provide a new level of support to this community.

Dubbed the Mozilla Open Source Support programme is designed to “recognise and celebrate” communities which are leading the way with open source projects that contribute to its work and the health of the Web, said Mozilla.

“The cash will not only be used to "give back" to existing projects on which Mozilla depends, but can also be used to support other projects where financial resources from Mozilla can make our entire community more successful.”

The Mozilla Open Source Support programme will also have a component supporting increased attention to the security of open source and free software programs.

The outfit has promised more cash to the project in the future. Initially it will identify up to 10 projects we rely on and can fund in a thoughtful, meaningful way by December 12.

Apple sued over Wi-Fi assist bill shocks

Posted: 26 Oct 2015 02:45 AM PDT

poison-appleFruity cargo cult Apple has been dragged to court for failing to warn its users that its new Wi-Fi assist feature would end up gouging their phone bill.

In the complaint, which aims to be a class action, plaintiffs William Scott Phillips and Suzanne Schmidt Phillips allege that because of costs related to Wi-Fi Assist, the “overall amount in controversy exceeds” $5 million.

Once users update to iOS 9, Wi-Fi Assist is turned on by default. Apple believed that it ensures a smooth Internet experience by switching to mobile data in the event that the user is connected to a weak Wi-Fi signal.

The problem is that it switches over to mobile data when there is enough decent wi-fi available, often when users are in their own homes.

The complaint claims Apple did not properly explain Wi-Fi Assist on its website until only after a “flood of articles” were written about unintended mobile data use. For the plaintiffs, that addition to the website was too little, too late.

“Defendant’s above corrective action, however, still downplays the possible data overcharges a user could incur,” the suit reads. “Reasonable and average consumers use their iPhones for streaming of music, videos, and running various applications — all of which can use significant data. Defendant’s corrective statement does not disclose any basis for its conclusion that an average consumer would not see much increase in cellular usage.”

The suit states that the plaintiffs incurred overuse charges on both of their iPhone 5s units after upgrading to iOS 9. It did not say exactly how much those charges were, but asserts that the plaintiffs and the class were misled about mobile data usage on their devices.

Apple is accused of violating California’s Unfair Competition Law, the state’s False Advertising Law, and of negligent misrepresentation.

The Tame Apple Press is furious of course. Apparently all you have to turn off the wi-fi assist is open the Settings app and choose Cellular, then scroll to the bottom to find the off toggle button. The option is missing on some older Apple devices, including the iPhone 4S, the iPad 2, and the first-generation iPad mini.

Of course you have to know that to turn it off and also many Apple fanboys will never turn off any functionality believing that Apple knows what is good for them.


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