Articles about Federal

Cut cable

Sliced your submarine cable? Fill in this paperwork

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved new rules that will require companies to report outages in submarine cables. Although submarine cables account for 95 per cent of the US' international internet traffic, as well as voice and data, the rules over reporting outages are weak and in most cases are simply …
Kieren McCarthy, 24 Jun 2016

Judge rules FBI can hack any time, any, place, anywhere

A federal district court in Virginia has ruled that the FBI has the right to hack into computers around the world without getting a local warrant, and without any review by courts. The ruling, by US District Judge Henry Morgan, comes during the prosecution of Edward Matish. Matish is one of the 100-plus suspects arrested …
Iain Thomson, 24 Jun 2016

Australia's Defence Department tips AU$12M to seat spies with students

The Department of Defence has tipped A$12 million (£6.1 million, US$9.1 million) into an information security facility to attract new blood by housing signals spooks alongside Australian National University academics. The "unusual" pairing is hoped to attract skilled students into the information security field and the country …
Darren Pauli, 24 Jun 2016
Binoculars

FTC dings InMobi ad network for tracking world+dog

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says that mobile advertising giant InMobi will pay $950K to settle charges that it tracked "hundreds of millions" of people around the world. The US trade body agreed to the fine as part of a settlement deal that will also include InMobi deleting any information it collected on children, …
Shaun Nichols, 22 Jun 2016
Mitch McConnell

US Senate strikes down open-access FBI hacking warrant by just one honest vote

The US Senate has struck down an amendment that would have allowed the FBI to track internet histories and communications without judicial oversight, but a re-vote could be called as soon as today due to Senate rules. The amendment [PDF] to the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act would have …
Iain Thomson, 22 Jun 2016
China keyboard, image via Shutterstock

Shareholders rubber-stamp Ingram Micro $6bn sale to Chinese firm

US-headquartered Ingram Micro edged closer to Chinese ownership last night when shareholders voted overwhelmingly to accept Tianjin Tianhai’s $6bn offer. The mega bid for the world’s largest tech distributor was made in February by the Far East company, a subsidiary of HNA Logistics which is itself a division of conglomerate …
Paul Kunert, 22 Jun 2016

US watchdog lobs balls of red tape at spy-in-the-sky drones

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) have laid out a new set of rules to guide businesses that use small drones for imaging. The Part 107 Rule [PDF] sets out the guidelines for commercial flight of drones weighing less than 55lbs for activities such as shooting photos of an …
Shaun Nichols, 21 Jun 2016
US Flag and money

US House to vote on whether poor people need mobile phones

The US House of Representatives could end the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Lifeline subsidized phone program in a vote today. The bill, HR5525 or the End Taxpayer Funded Cell Phones Act of 2016, threatens to prohibit the FCC paying out subsidies to mobile phone carriers who offer discounted mobile phone service for …
Shaun Nichols, 21 Jun 2016

Cable box unlock block

US Congress has delayed plans by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to open up the cable set-top box, a decision that critics say will cost US consumers $1.6bn a month. The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved a rider in a key budget bill that would require the FCC to carry out additional studies into the plan …
Kieren McCarthy, 17 Jun 2016
Credit card theft

You Acer holes! PC maker leaks payment cards in e-store hack

Acer's insecure customer database spilled people's personal information – including full payment card numbers – into hackers' hands for more than a year. The PC maker has started writing to customers [PDF] warning that their personal records were siphoned off from its online store by crooks between May 12, 2015 and April 28, …
Shaun Nichols, 17 Jun 2016

Official: Microsoft goes to pot, gives weed growers fix they need

Put this in your pipe and smoke it: Microsoft is offering pot growers software tools to help them stay on the right side of America's relaxed laws. Marijuana is legal in Microsoft's home state of Washington, as well as in Oregon, Colorado and Alaska, and is prescribed medicinally (with varying degrees of laxity) in California …
Iain Thomson, 17 Jun 2016

TAFE's troubled TITSUP tech terminated AT BLOODY LAST

The NSW state government has squibbed in its valiant bid to operate the country's most wasteful IT catastrophe, canning part of a miserably-awful SAP-based enrolment system from the TAFE network after spending over $100m dollars on it. The Learning Management and Business Reform (LMBR) network TITSUP (Total Inability To …
Tape over mouth, image via Shutterstock

NBN chairman's rant breached caretaker conventions says public service boss

An op-ed written by nbnTM chairman Ziggy Switkowsky defending the company's handling of leaks breached the “caretaker conventions” that apply during election campaigns. That's according to the secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Martin Parkinson, in a letter published by Fairfax today. Following the …

Net neutrality victory: DC court backs full rules

Analysis Net neutrality rules that make it illegal for ISPs to interfere with data traffic across their networks have been upheld in full by the Washington DC Court of Appeals. The split decision (2-1 in favor) is a big victory, both for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Obama Administration, and a dramatic sign that …
Kieren McCarthy, 14 Jun 2016
milhouse_vs_nelson_648

Imagination: Come back to MIPS, Wi-Fi router makers, we have an FCC ban workaround

A fairly straightforward idea by Imagination Technologies could rescue American geeks' ability to run Openwrt on their routers. The freedom to tinker with Wi-Fi routers has been a hot topic ever since the Federal Communications Commission issued an edict that devices be locked down to protect America's spectrum. Its concern …
Telstra pit by https://www.flickr.com/photos/newtown_grafitti/ cc. 20 attribution generic https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

NBN 'copper guru' ads pulled from Monster.ie

Job ads in Ireland seeking “copper jointers” and “copper gurus” for the National Broadband Network have been pulled from Monster.ie after they were spotted by Australian media. The advertisements were placed by a recruiter, and while they were seeking staff to work on the National Broadband Network, the company in charge of …
drinks cans

In obesity fight, UK’s heavy-handed soda tax beats US' watered-down warning

Soda drinks are under attack in the US and the UK, but the weapons employed on the two fronts are different. In the US, San Francisco enacted a law last year that requires advertisements for soda and sweetened drinks to alert consumers: “WARNING: drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes and tooth …
US Supreme Court

Bin Apple's $500m patent judgment, US DoJ tells Supreme Court

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has recommended that the half-billion-dollar judgment awarded to Apple for iPhone patent infringement be thrown out. In an amicus brief to the US Supreme Court, the DoJ does not formally take sides but does recommend that a federal appeal court ruling that decided Samsung had illegally copied …
Kieren McCarthy, 09 Jun 2016

Oooooklahoma! Where the cops can stop and empty your bank cards – on just a hunch

Police in Oklahoma are deploying an electronic scanner that can drain currency from prepaid credit cards seized at the roadside using civil asset forfeiture laws. The Electronic Recovery and Access to Data (ERAD) handheld scanner was developed at the request of the Department of Homeland Security for use by US border guards. …
Iain Thomson, 08 Jun 2016

Get ready for Google's proprietary Android. It's coming – analyst

Google is preparing to seize control of Android with its own proprietary closed-source version of the mobile operating system, an analyst claims. Technology analyst Richard Windsor says that a highly confidential internal project is underway to rewrite the ART runtime, removing any lingering dependencies from the freely …
Andrew Orlowski, 08 Jun 2016
NASA F-18s working on formation aerodynamics

US military tests massive GPS jamming weapon over California

The US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) is warning aircraft to stay a few hundred miles away from the Naval Air Weapons Station at China Lake, California, because the military is testing a new gizmo that disrupts GPS – and may also mess with flight control systems. gps jamming map Like Bob Marley, the US military is jammin …
Iain Thomson, 07 Jun 2016
Judge with gun

Model's horrific rape case may limit crucial online free speech law

Analysis A terrifying case in which an aspiring model was drugged and raped may result in a limit being placed on a critical piece of online free speech legislation in the US. The unnamed woman was contacted through the website Model Mayhem and offered an audition. That audition turned into a nightmare when two men – Lavont Flanders …
Kieren McCarthy, 06 Jun 2016
Taylor Swift

SWIFT threatens to give insecure banks a slap if they don't shape up

The SWIFT global payments system has announced it plans to suspend banks with weaker cyber defences until they improve their security. The threatened sanction follows a run of attacks on international banks over recent weeks, including the $81m mega-heist at the Bangladeshi Central Bank. These cyber-heists1 relied on hackers …
John Leyden, 03 Jun 2016
head of 50s-style robot

Lights! Camera! Infraction! Filmmakers behind 117 meeellion robocalls to shift DVDs

Three American film companies made 117 million illegal robo-calls to flog DVDs, a court has ruled. A jury in the Utah District Federal Court found the three outfits and their owner guilty of violating the FTC's Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) by making the millions of calls touting DVDs of their movies. Ninety-nine million of …
Shaun Nichols, 02 Jun 2016
Cartoon - Private SNAFU

Oz PM's department red-faced after database leaks in the cc: field

The Australian Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, in an excess of security ineptitude, has mistaken the cc: field for the bcc: field. The inevitable result: a database of names and addresses has leaked. The department, on behalf of the Australian government, was e-mailing women on a register called AppointWomen to tell …

Tech titans demand free speech law to head off President Trump

Donald Trump has already started bringing America together by forging an unlikely alliance between Republicans in Congress and Silicon Valley. Both groups are working on pushing through a bill aimed at protecting free speech online before the end of the Obama Administration, because neither believe a President Trump would …
Kieren McCarthy, 01 Jun 2016

Controversial opinion time: Comcast sucks a tiny bit less this year

Comcast sucks less than last year, but still has a pretty miserable customer rating, according to the annual American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). The organization's new report [PDF] for 2016 shows a remarkable increase in satisfaction with the cable company – up 15 per cent, or eight points. But then it was starting …
Kieren McCarthy, 01 Jun 2016

Yahoo!'s secret! FBI! orders!

Yahoo! today published three redacted National Security Letters (NSLs) it received from the FBI, which demanded information about the web portal's users. As is standard, the NSLs [PDF] contained a gagging clause that prevented Yahoo! from warning its customers of the data slurp. The letters were received in April 2013, August …
Chris Williams, 01 Jun 2016
Professional carbon drone with GPS. Pic via Shutterstock

FAA to test Brit drone-busting kit

The US's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will trial the "world's first fully integrated detect-track-disrupt-defeat Anti-UAV Defence System (AUDS)", developed by a trio of British companies. Blighter Surveillance Systems, Chess Dynamics and Enterprise Control Systems describe AUDS as intended "for countering drones or …
Lester Haines, 01 Jun 2016

Swiss effectively disappear Alps: World's largest tunnel opens

Tunnel nerds, rejoice. The Swiss are today celebrating the opening of the world's largest underground passage to mark its completion 17 years after construction began. The €12bn (£8.5bn) Gotthard base tunnel is 57km (35 miles) long and will overtake Japan's 53.85km Seikan railway tunnel to become the world's largest and …
Kat Hall, 01 Jun 2016

Deloitte coughs up $11m to end claims it ripped off US govt with IT work

Deloitte will pay $11m to settle allegations it overcharged the US government for IT services. The US Department of Justice (DoJ) said on Tuesday it has struck a deal with Deloitte, which was accused of – and we're paraphrasing, here – treating Uncle Sam's General Services Administration (GSA) as a bottomless pit of cash. The …
Shaun Nichols, 31 May 2016

P-TECH education program trial expanded (but not evaluated)

Why is the Liberal party promising money to recreate vocational training on an American model, when Australia used to have a working vocational training system of its own? It'd be easy to blame Malcolm Turnbull, except that P-TECH pilots that began this year were kicked off by his predecessor Tony Abbott. The current leader of …

Darkode Bitcoin bot bandit gets year and a day in US cooler

Darkode bot bandit Rory Stephen Guidry has been sentenced to a year and a day in prison for selling a botnet containing 5000 enslaved machines, and stealing US$80,000 (£72,069, A$111,728) in Bitcoins and 5000 active credit cards. Guildry, 29, or Louisiana was arrested in the massive take-down of defunct English crime board …
Darren Pauli, 30 May 2016

FCC swivels to online privacy, gets bitten in the ass by net neutrality

Analysis When America's comms watchdog the FCC passed its net neutrality rules despite an onslaught of criticism from telcos, the world rejoiced. But, as many of us noted at the time, the Open Internet Order was achieved through an imperfect approach: equating internet providers with phone companies by deciding they are Title II …
Kieren McCarthy, 27 May 2016
hand in chain mail glove cutting meat with sharp knife

Republicans move to gut FCC and crush its net neutrality crusade with paralyzing budget rules

A new budget proposal would effectively bar the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from enforcing its net neutrality provisions. Buried deep within the House Appropriations Committee budget proposal [PDF] is a set of new rules that limit the FCC's ability to use its funds for activities including the regulation of " …
Shaun Nichols, 26 May 2016
Banned

Pas de problème ... Quebec just passed a website blocking law

Canada's second largest province, Quebec, has passed a law that obliges ISPs to block gambling websites. Bill 74 has passed almost without notice (the casino industry being the notable exception) and will see the government agency in charge of lotteries in the province, Loto-Québec, draw up a list of online gambling sites that …
Kieren McCarthy, 26 May 2016

$10bn Oracle v Google copyright jury verdict: Google wins, Java APIs in Android are Fair Use

Google has won the latest round in its long-running battle with Oracle over the use of Java class library APIs in Android. A San Francisco jury today found that Google's reuse of Java's core software interfaces in its own mobile operating system should be considered fair use – meaning Google can avoid paying royalties to …

Hillary Clinton broke law with private email server – top US govt watchdog

A report by the US State Department's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has found presidential wannabe Hillary Clinton did breach record-keeping laws – by using a personal server for work emails. The watchdog added she was not alone in the practice. The 89-page dossier [PDF] found that three senior State Department figures …
Iain Thomson, 26 May 2016
Jam

Florida man, Chinese biz fined $48k, $35m on mobe signal jam raps

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has fined a Florida chap and a Chinese business over cellphone jamming boxes. The watchdog said it will try to extract [PDF] $34.9m from Shenzhen-based retailer CTS Technologies for marketing illegal jammers and, in a separate case, will fine [PDF] a bloke $48,000 for using a …
Shaun Nichols, 26 May 2016
floppies

US nuke arsenal runs on 1970s IBM 'puter waving 8-inch floppies

A US Government Accounting Office (GAO) report has highlighted the parlous state of Uncle Sam's IT infrastructure. As an example, the computer used to coordinate America's nuclear forces is an IBM Series/1 that uses eight‑inch floppy disks capable of storing about 80KB of data each. Meanwhile, the Treasury Department is …
Iain Thomson, 25 May 2016
Internet email sign. Pic: @mattw1lson, Twitter

Apple et al demand email law

Apple, Facebook, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and others have sent a letter to the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley (R‑IA), urging him to pass the Email Privacy Act. The legislation will update the antiquated 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act and close an important privacy loophole where …
Kieren McCarthy, 25 May 2016
stock_ticker_board_648

US watchdog probes Alibaba

The monster Chinese ecommerce site Alibaba is under investigation by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In a filing – with the SEC – the company disclosed the financial regulator was looking into its accounting practices. That investigation includes Alibaba's biggest PR effort: the huge revenue generated on China …
Kieren McCarthy, 25 May 2016
Crypto fingers

IETF spikes government metadata collection with DNS request crypto plan

DNS requests and responses – part of what many countries regard as “metadata” that they want collected for law enforcement – should be encrypted to protect users from surveillance. That's what's put forward in RFC 7858: that DNS requests should traverse transport layer security (TLS) links, so as to protect users' requests …
Jon Callas

Apple hires crypto-wizard Jon Callas to beef up security

Apple has added a security star to its firmament with the hire of Jon Callas to its security team. Callas, who you may remember from cofounding such firms as PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) and Silent Circle, has already been an Apple employee twice before. He worked at Apple in the 1990s and rejoined for a couple of years from 2009 …
Iain Thomson, 24 May 2016
NBN Logo

NBN raid fallout continues, with Conroy formalising privilege claim

The Australian Labor Party's (ALP's) senator Stephen Conroy has formalised his claim of parliamentary privilege over documents seized in last week's Australian Federal Police raid of his office and the homes of two of his staffers. Conroy has sent a letter to the Australian Federal Police (AFP), a procedural step required to …
Privacy image

Committees: Wait! Don't strap on the Privacy Shield yet

The revelations by rogue NSA sysadmin Edward Snowden in 2013 caused indignant EU politicians to open a dialogue with the US government to update the data transfer regime to safeguard personal data. The Privacy Shield is the culmination of those discussions. The US's hands-off approach has always differed from the EU's …
Frank Jennings, 24 May 2016
Hillary Clinton

Guccifer fesses up to Clinton hacks

The US Virginia Eastern District Court has posted a notice for a change of plea hearing set for Wednesday in the case of Marcel Lehel Lazar. Two additional documents were also filed with the court under seal. It is not yet known which of the nine counts Lazar, aka "Guccifer," will be pleading to, or what the terms of the deal …
Shaun Nichols, 23 May 2016
retro cartoon featuring two men fighting against cloud backdrop

US Telecom beats up FCC over investment

Analysis Telco lobbying group US Telecom has fired another broadside at their erstwhile friendly regulator, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), saying the billions telcos make each month isn't enough. This time, in a blog post from its vice president of law and policy, Diane Holland, Big Telco is complaining that the FCC – and …
Kieren McCarthy, 23 May 2016
Edward Snowden and Julian Morrow at Think. Image Darren Pauli / The Register

Snowden: NBN leaker raids a 'misuse' of Australian Federal Police

National Security Agency (NSA) leaker Edward Snowden has opined that last week's National Broadband Network (NBN) raids in Australia last week are a misuse of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) power. Snowden appeared via satellite link in the Australian city of Melbourne last night, live from Russia where he resides under …
Darren Pauli, 23 May 2016
Keystone Cops

NBN leak pits minister against AFP commissioner

The Australian Federal Police's (AFP's) raid on Australian parliamentarians and their staffers over leaked documents on delays to the National Broadband Network (NBN) leaked-documents raid had more fallout over the weekend, with the AFP criticised for allowing an nbnTM staffer to photograph documents seized in Thursday night's …