Kieren McCarthy

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Sorry, but those huge walls of terms and conditions you never read are legally binding

You may never read those lengthy terms and conditions attached to every digital download or app but, in America at least, they are legally binding. Sorry. That's the conclusion of a panel of appeal judges earlier this week when shining beacon of corporate responsibility Uber insisted its users had agreed not to sue the company …
Kieren McCarthy, 18 Aug 2017

Microsoft president exits US govt's digital advisory board as tech leaders quit over Trump

Updated Tech leaders today resigned from the US government's digital economy advisory board over President Trump's inability to unequivocally condemn racists. So far, confirmed resignations include executive chairwoman of the Mozilla Foundation Mitchell Baker; president of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) …
Kieren McCarthy, 18 Aug 2017

New NIST draft embeds privacy into US govt security for the first time

A draft of new IT security measures by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has for the first time pulled privacy into its core text as well as expanded its scope to include the internet of things and smart home technology. The proposed "Security and Privacy Controls for Information Systems and …
Kieren McCarthy, 18 Aug 2017
An empty courtroom

Tomorrow, DreamHost will square up to US DoJ to avoid handing over 1.3m IP addresses of anti-Trump site visitors

Efforts by US prosecutors to identify up to 1.3 million people who accessed an anti-Trump protest website is unconstitutional, a court will hear on Friday. Lawyers for DreamHost, which hosts, will argue at 9.30am in a Washington DC courtroom that the demand for visitor records from the website breaks both the …
Kieren McCarthy, 17 Aug 2017

Scrutiny? We've heard of it. Dot-UK supremo Nominet goes dark

The operator of the .uk top-level domain, Nominet, has become the latest internet registry to vote itself into greater secrecy. Earlier this year, the biz emailed its members to let them know that a month earlier the Nominet board had decided that it would no longer publish minutes of its meetings but instead supply an "update …
Kieren McCarthy, 17 Aug 2017

UK govt steams ahead with £5m facial recog system amid furore over innocents' mugshots

The UK Home Office has put out to tender a £4.6m ($5.9m) contract for facial recognition software – despite the fact its biometrics strategy and retention systems remain embroiled in controversy. According to the tender announcement, a company is sought to provide "a combination of biometric algorithm software and associated …
Kieren McCarthy, 17 Aug 2017

A glimpse of life under President Zuckerberg? Facebook CEO's boffins censor awkward Q&A

Money can't buy you love, but it can remove criticism, at least in the hallowed world of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. With the Zuck continuing his Definitely Not Getting Into A Presidential Race tour of the United States, carrying out a bizarre series of secret photo-ops and precision-engineered PR-friendly drop-ins on normal …
Kieren McCarthy, 15 Aug 2017
Screengrab from the Thick of IT - Brit govt satirical comedy show. Cast text furiously while in crisis mode.

Revealed: The secret CEO texts that tell the tale of Uber-Waymo's self-driving tech spat

Analysis Hundreds of unsealed text messages between former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and self-driving engineer Anthony Levandowski have revealed an intriguing insight into the relationship between the two – and raised more questions about whether they conspired against Levandowski's former employer. Released into the public domain as …
Kieren McCarthy, 15 Aug 2017
Colleague high fives in the office. Photo by Shutterstock

Taken a while but finally here's the first proper smart-home gizmo

Comment It's been three years since we, here at El Reg, first started taking the introduction of a new generation of "smart home" devices seriously – and that was mostly focusing on the security implications. As well as stunningly poor security there is a plethora of competing standards. Back in 2014: X10, ZigBee, LightwaveRF, Z-Wave …
Kieren McCarthy, 15 Aug 2017

Sigh. Big Cable execs dominate FCC panel overseeing Big Cable's broadband upgrades

In just the latest example of how far America's telecoms regulator is in the pockets of the cable giants, its panel scrutinizing US broadband rollouts has been heavily stacked with industry executives. The Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC) was announced by FCC chairman Ajit Pai in January, and formally launched [ …
Kieren McCarthy, 14 Aug 2017
Man winces in terror and shock after something unexpectedly horrible happens to him. Photo by Shutterstock

Google and its terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week in full

Comment Right off the bat, let's get this straight: on average, ignorant bigots and well-rounded human beings biologically differ in many ways. These differences aren't just socially constructed; they're universal across human cultures. Bigots that should have been castrated at birth but raised by well-rounded human beings often still …
Kieren McCarthy, 11 Aug 2017

Tech billionaire Khosla loses battle over public beach again – and still grants no access

Sun cofounder and billionaire venture capitalist Vinod Khosla has lost another legal battle over his efforts to shut off public access to a California beach – but still won't be required to let people onto it until a second lawsuit concludes. On Thursday, the California Court of Appeal agreed with the San Mateo Superior Court …
Kieren McCarthy, 11 Aug 2017

Hey America! Your internet is going to be so much better this January

Special report In the last week of January, America's internet is going to get a long-awaited boost. More Americans than ever are going to have access to fast internet as well as a greater choice of providers. What's all the more amazing is that this improvement will come without requiring any extra investment by broadband providers and …
Kieren McCarthy, 10 Aug 2017

Blocking peeps on social media? That's a paddlin' for governors, senators, house reps

More US public officials have been sued for blocking people from their social media pages. Those sued including the governors of Maine, Maryland and Kentucky, while all of Utah's Congressional representatives have been sent letters warning them of legal repercussion if they prevent constituents from accessing their public …
Kieren McCarthy, 10 Aug 2017

So you're thinking about becoming an illegal hacker – what's your business plan?

It's something every aspiring crook needs to consider before they attempt to break into the world of cyber-crime: what's the business plan? Fortunately this week, a couple of pointers have emerged thanks to miscreants who broke into production company HBO, and the ongoing US federal case against Michael Kadar, who allegedly …
Kieren McCarthy, 10 Aug 2017

US border cops must get warrants to search phones, devices – EFF

The controversial topic of electronic device searches at the US border, and whether customs agents should be required to get warrants before sucking data off them, is heading to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. For several years the legal issues surrounding what border agents are entitled to do with your electronic devices …
Kieren McCarthy, 09 Aug 2017

Your top five dreadful people the Google manifesto has pulled out of the woodwork

Comment There are a lot of theories about why human beings can, on occasion, be terrible assholes. Social psychologists have been working on the issue for a while and even have a number of useful terms. "Behavioral contagion" for example describes a strange human trait where people copy the behavior of someone they are in close …
Kieren McCarthy, 09 Aug 2017

Big question of the day: Is it time to lock down .localhost?

A proposal to tightly lock down localhost as a reserved top-level domain name has bubbled up to the surface again at the Internet Engineering Task Force. The hostname localhost is used just about everywhere: it's useful for referring to the computer you're using in front of you, or whatever machine a piece of software is …
Kieren McCarthy, 08 Aug 2017

Dems fightin' words! FCC's net neutrality murder plot torn apart

A group of 11 Congressmen and women have torn into plans to get rid of America's net neutrality rules in a scathing letter [PDF] sent to US broadband watchdog the FCC. The lawmakers – all Democratic members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee – make a range of aggressive claims, including that the entire proposal under …
Kieren McCarthy, 07 Aug 2017

Our day with Larry Page: Embedded with one of the world's richest men

Earlier this week, El Reg received an unexpected phone call from Google HQ inquiring as to whether we'd be interested in a "color piece" about Google cofounder and Alphabet CEO Larry Page. The invitation had nothing to do with criticism of Mr Page over his recent deposition in the ongoing Uber-Waymo lawsuit in which he seemed …
Kieren McCarthy, 05 Aug 2017

Apple pulls massive HomeKit chip U-turn to keep up with Amazon Echo and Google Home

Analysis Apple has made a huge reversal in its HomeKit smart-home technology, in an effort to keep up with Amazon and Google. The iPhone giant has insisted for years that any third parties wishing to create HomeKit-compatible products have to include a special Apple-specified MFi coprocessor (such as this one) in order to authenticate …
Kieren McCarthy, 04 Aug 2017

She's back! Jessica Rosenworcel returns to FCC as America's net neutrality row heats up

America's broadband watchdog, the FCC, is finally back to its full complement of five commissioners following the confirmations of Brendan Carr and Jessica Rosenworcel by the US Senate. The federal regulator, which is caught up in a controversial battle to get rid of net neutrality rules that it approved only a few years ago, …
Kieren McCarthy, 03 Aug 2017

Internet's backroom boffins' big brainwave: Put people first in future

The Internet Engineering Task Force is being asked to formally adopt its informal philosophy that when it comes to new standards and protocols, end users' needs must come first. The "best current practice" drawn up by Internet Architecture Board (IAB) member Mark Nottingham – currently in its fifth draft – states simply that …
Kieren McCarthy, 03 Aug 2017
surprised nerd, image via Shutterstock

Big Internet balks at fresh effort to crack down on sex trafficking

An effort to redefine key legal protections in America, in order to prosecute those aiding child sex traffickers, has hit opposition from internet giants. The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017 [PDF] was proposed on Tuesday by Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) and quickly picked up endorsements from 25 other lawmakers, …
Kieren McCarthy, 02 Aug 2017

FCC: We could tell you our cybersecurity plan… but we'd have to kill you

America's broadband watchdog, the FCC, has continued digging an ever-deeper hole over its claims it was subject to a distributed denial-of-service attack. The latest shovel of BS came in a letter [PDF] to US Congress in which the FCC's chief information officer David Bray said he could not tell Congressmen what the "additional …
Kieren McCarthy, 02 Aug 2017

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