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Sign outside the National Security Agency HQ

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE: US govt backs mass spying by US govt

The US government's Privacy and Civil Liberty Oversight Board (PCLOB) has dealt a blow to opponents of the NSA's surveillance programs in a new report that reaffirms the controversial Section 702 program. The PCLOB said in its official review of the program that 702 represented a "considerable value" to the government despite …
Shaun Nichols, 3 Jul 2014

Amazon snubs FTC: We'll see you in court over kids' in-app cash blowouts

Amazon has said it won't acquiesce to the Federal Trade Commission's plans to punish it for not preventing kids from running up in-app purchases on mummy and daddy's credit card. The FTC is seeking a punitive fine from Amazon, similar to the one levied on Apple. The agency says Amazon wasn't quick enough to crack down on …
Iain Thomson, 2 Jul 2014
Pierce Brosnan in Tomorrow Never Dies

ISPs haul GCHQ into COURT over dragnet interwebs snooping

Britain's eavesdropping nerve centre GCHQ has been accused of unlawfully accessing the private communications of potentially millions of people – and angry internet service providers are dragging the snooping agency to court. ISPs and organisations from the US, UK, Netherlands, Zimbabwe, Korea and Germany have teamed up with …
Kelly Fiveash, 2 Jul 2014
Sleazy bloke pinches girl's bottom

Lords try shoehorning law against REVENGE SMUT into justice bill

Two peers in the House of Lords have tabled an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill that will add criminal sanctions for so-called "revenge porn". Lib Dem Baroness Olly Grender and Lord Jonathan Marks asked for a clause to be added to the bill, which is currently working its way through Parliament, that would hand …
Google Chocolate Factory

Google policy wonk patronises Brits over EU search biz probe

Google repeatedly batted away questions about whether it favours its search result services over those of its rivals in Europe, during a frustrating exchange on BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning. The ad giant's public policy veep, Rachel Whetstone, who is the wife of Steve Hilton - the brains behind Prime Minister David …
Kelly Fiveash, 2 Jul 2014

Amazon sues former employee who took Google cloud job

Amazon is taking a former employee responsible for managing its cloud partners to court over an alleged breach of contract after he joined Google. The e-tailer claims former AWS strategic partnerships manager Zoltan Szabadi joined Google too soon after leaving. The company alleges that by doing so, Szabadi broke the non-compete …
Gavin Clarke, 2 Jul 2014
NBN Co Customer premises equipment

Fibre to YOUR premises NBN still on table pending telco talks

NBN Co's new roadmap, released yesterday, contained an interesting omission: no mention was made of a product offering domestic users the chance to pay for an optic fibre to be laid to their homes even if they live in an area where fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) will be built. The omission is interesting given Australia's …
Facebook down

Trick-cyclists defend Facebook emoto-furtling experiment

Facebook's “creepy” feed-manipulation experimentation, which has generated an avalanche of outrage among users, isn't without its chums. A growing collection of psychologists and tech pundits is linking arms, standing next to Mark Zuckerburg, and singing “We Shall Overcome” in the direction of mobs carrying metaphorical …

Mystery bidder plunders the whole haul in Silk Road Bitcoin auction

The US Marshals Service says the entire hoard of Bitcoins seized from shuttered online drugs souk Silk Road have gone to a single bidder in an auction held on Friday. The 29,656.51306529 Bitcoins that prosecutors wrested from wallets belonging to Silk Road have an estimated real-world value of around $19m at today's exchange …

EFF sues NSA over snoops 'hoarding' zero-day security bugs

Intelligence agencies are among the most prolific buyers of zero-day computer security flaws that can be used to spy on enemies foreign and domestic, or so it's claimed – and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has launched a lawsuit to find out what exactly they are doing with them. "Since these vulnerabilities potentially …
Iain Thomson, 2 Jul 2014

FTC: T-Mobile USA took '$100s of millions' in bogus txt charges

T-Mobile US has been accused of hitting customers with bogus text-message charges running into hundreds of millions of dollars. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed suit against the carrier, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has opened an investigation. The agencies alleged the company allowed users to be …
Shaun Nichols, 1 Jul 2014

British and European data cops probe Facebook user-manipulation scandal

Exclusive UK and Irish data watchdogs are investigating claims that Facebook failed to seek the consent of its users before allowing researchers to manipulate their emotions via newsfeed meddling. The Register asked the office of the UK's Information Commissioner if it planned to probe Facebook following widespread criticism of its …
Kelly Fiveash, 1 Jul 2014

Viv Reding quits justice commish role - heads for EU parliament

European justice commissioner Viviane Reding resigned from her Brussels' post today, after taking up her recently won seat in the European Parliament. The Luxembourg Christian Social People's Party politico said in a short Facebook post that her MEP mandate had begun on the same day as the "drastic reduction of tariffs of ' …
Kelly Fiveash, 1 Jul 2014

New NSA boss plays down impact of Snowden leaks

Incoming NSA chief Admiral Michael Rogers has played down the impact of the Snowden revelations on the spy agency's work. Former NSA director, General Keith Alexander, described the Snowden leaks as one of the worst breaches in intelligence history. UK spy agency bosses at GCHQ and MI6 told a Parliamentary inquiry back in …
John Leyden, 1 Jul 2014
Tinder screenshots

Dating app Tinder faces sexual harassment suit from ex-exec co-founder

Whitney Wolfe, a former executive and co-founder of dating app Tinder, has sued the company and majority stakeholder IAC Inc for “atrocious sexual harassment and sex discrimination”, which allegedly included being called a “whore” at a company event. Tinder screenshots In a filing at the Superior Court in Los Angeles, Wolfe …
paper cut-out men holding hands in linked semi-circle

HP and shareholders to gang up against 'Brit Bill Gates'

Hewlett-Packard and its disgruntled shareholders have settled three lawsuits related to the $10.7bn acquisition of British search specialist Autonomy. But the Autonomy fight is not over – far from it. Both sides have now agreed to co-operate in "potential litigation" against Autonomy’s former CEO Mike Lynch and members of his …
Gavin Clarke, 1 Jul 2014
Homer Simpson reading on PC

Cambridge Assessment exams CHAOS: Computing students' work may be BINNED

Updated Budding tech teens - who have taken close to 40 hours of Computing GCSE controlled assessments - face the agony of seeing some of their work scrapped by a leading Brit exam board, after it said it was withdrawing tasks for key units amid cheating claims. Awarding body the OCR, which is part of Cambridge Assessment, had posted an …
Kelly Fiveash, 1 Jul 2014
slow_sign

Pension quango's £18.5m project FINALLY goes live... 2 months late

Exclusive An £18.5m project carried out on behalf of the UK's Pension Protection Fund (PPF) has finally gone live - two months late. A comprehensive IT infrastructure overhaul and modernisation of hardware and software was due to be installed and running by 28 February. However, The Register has learned that CGI missed both the February …
Gavin Clarke, 1 Jul 2014
NBN Co logo

NBN Co reveals 1 Gbps business plans in new product roadmap

NBN Co, the entity charged with building and operating Australia's national broadband network (NBN), has released a detailed product roadmap stretching out until 2016. The document (PDF) offers a few interesting insights into the network's progress. One item of special interest is a promised “Enterprise Ethernet Service” that …

New Russian law punishes online 'extremism'

Foreign non-Government organisations, football hooligans and possibly even hacktivists could be jailed for six years for creating or sharing unpalatable content online under new anti-extremism laws signed off by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday. The laws use a loose definition of "extremism" that Russia Today reports …
Darren Pauli, 1 Jul 2014
NBN FTTN cabinet

Keep monopoly or make network expensive, NBN Co warns

Australia doesn't need to revise its telecomms competition policy, says NBN Co – except if the policy is interpreted as allowing infrastructure-based competition to its national network. That's the conundrum the company building Australia's reduced-scope national broadband network has raised in its submission to the competition …
Dogecoin

Bitcoin was illegal in California? Whoops, governor fixes that 165-year-old money law

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed off on a law legitimizing Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for use in the state. The governor rubber-stamped AB 129, enacting what legislators say is a much-needed overhaul of the state codes on currencies. Under the new law, digital currencies and community currencies are protected …
Shaun Nichols, 1 Jul 2014

Western Australia considers ban on R18+ games

The Australian State of Western Australia (WA) is reviving the country's vexed games classification debate, with a new report suggesting the state government should consider banning games currently carrying an R18+ classification. The suggestion is contained in a report from the Joint Standing Committee on the Commissioner for …
Abbott and Costello dressed as policemen

New South Wales' prime plod pushes data retention, again

NSW Police, through its commissioner Andrew Scipione, has offered a clear picture of the world it wants for Australians: a plod on every Internet connection to protect us from terrorists. Scipione made the remarks in a speech to the Trans-Tasman Business Circle, reports of which, such as one from Fairfax Media, suggest he asked …
Street View vehicle in Tramore, County Waterford

Street View Wi-Fi slurp nightmare: US Supremes snub Google's appeal

Google isn't quite done dealing with the fallout of its Street View cars' Wi-Fi snooping scandal. The US Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear the web giant's appeal to dismiss a class-action suit against it. Google will now have to face suit from 18 plaintiffs – Google v Joffe et al – who accuse the ads goliath of illegal …
Shaun Nichols, 30 Jun 2014

Facebook Australia's 'small company' status makes it a small target

There's an old joke about failed CEOs, which runs “how do you create a small company? Give a big one to CEO X”. Facebook has found a new wrinkle: you build a small company merely by getting regulators to agree that it's a small company. Apparently in order to manage its corporate reporting requirements in Australia, that's just …
snowden SXSW

Remaining Snowden docs will be released to avert 'unspecified US war' – ‪Cryptome‬

All the remaining Snowden documents will be released next month, according t‪o‬ whistle-blowing site ‪Cryptome, which said in a tweet that the release of the info by unnamed third parties would be necessary to head off an unnamed "war".‬ ‪Cryptome‬ said it would "aid and abet" the release of "57K to 1.7M" new documents that had …
John Leyden, 30 Jun 2014

Samsung admits its Chinese supply chain STILL has labour-rights and safety problems

Samsung has admitted that its Chinese suppliers are still guilty of legal and safety violations, despite its repeated promises to clean up its factories. In its annual sustainability report, the firm said that this year’s audits had found a number of instances of poor working conditions for people at 100 of its suppliers. The …

Aereo presses pause on 'tiny antenna' TV-streaming service

TV-streaming biz Aereo suspended its services over the weekend, after the Supreme Court ruled last week that its operations breached US broadcasters’ copyrights, but the firm has vowed to fight on. In a letter to users on its website, Aereo chief and founder Chet Kanojia said that the firm was just “pausing services temporarily …
DDoS image

London teen charged over Spamhaus mega-DDoS attacks

An unnamed London teenager has been charged with a series of criminal offences following a series of denial-of-service attacks against internet exchanges and the Spamhaus anti-spam service last year. The 17-year-old male from London was charged on Friday and faces computer misuse, fraud and money-laundering offences at a hearing …
John Leyden, 30 Jun 2014
Sharing image

ENISA, Europol, strike info-sharing deal

Europe's peak information security body will join forces with the continent's criminal intelligence sharing outift in order to beat down on carders and crackers plaguing Europe. Heads of the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) signed a deal with Europol at the Hague last Thursday to give a …
Darren Pauli, 30 Jun 2014

NSW government agencies bend over and take it from telcos

Even though telecommunications contracts are an eternal staple of government contract management, government agencies in the Australian state of New South Wales lack the expertise needed to get the most out of the agreements they sign with carriers. That's the conclusion of a report prepared for the government by the auditor- …

Google chair Eric Schmidt reportedly visits Cuba

Nixon in China it may not be, but Google's chairman Eric Schmidt has reportedly visited Cuba. Cuban blog 14yomedio.com reports that Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt and other senior Googlers dropped in over the weekend to promote “the virtues of an open internet”. Freedom House's 2013 Freedom on the Net 2013 rates Cuba as …
Simon Sharwood, 30 Jun 2014

Qld Health payroll worker charged over fake overtime claims

Not only did Queensland Health's notorious botched IT upgrade cost the state upwards of a billion dollars: it's also alleged that the chaos created an opportunity for a dodgy worker to siphon tens of thousands of dollars from the department. The state's Crime and Misconduct Commission is alleging 46 counts of fraud against an …
NSA parody T-shirt

Surprise! NSA's first ever 'transparency' 'report' is anything but

The US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has published the NSA's first "transparency report", revealing the number of "targets" spied on by the agency. Its definition of the word transparency, however, makes the data somewhat hard to fathom. "Within the Intelligence Community, the term 'target' has multiple …
Iain Thomson, 27 Jun 2014
Airship over NSA datacenter

Who gives a F about privacy? New scorecard rates US pols on spying

Civil-rights groups and other campaigners have built a website that tracks US politicians' voting records on privacy laws. Members of the bipartisan outfit Stand Against Spying say their scorecard database will publish an overview and tracker of how senators and representatives in Congress vote for or against key issues on …
Shaun Nichols, 27 Jun 2014

Indie labels: 5 reasons why we're hauling YouTube before Euro antitrust watchdog

Exclusive Independent music association Impala has disclosed to The Register a little more detail about its complaint to the EU competition authorities on YouTube's new music contracts. The trade group outlined five areas where it believes Google, which owns YouTube, breaches Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European …
Andrew Orlowski, 27 Jun 2014

HP gets 'Playboy model and the ex-CEO' lawsuit kicked out ... AGAIN

A lawsuit against HP over alleged violations of an internal ethics code relating to ex-CEO Mark Hurd’s alleged misbehaviour has been dismissed once again after shareholders failed to make their case. The shareholder plaintiffs alleged securities fraud for the second time, claiming that back in 2006 when HP adopted a “Standards …

Google: Glass goggles are a 'fairly lousy surveillance device'

Google's creepy Glass wearable could breach Britain's Data Protection law, the Information Commissioner's office has warned. The ad giant began flogging the device in Blighty this week for £1,000 a pop. That move prompted the country's data watchdog to outline the "privacy implications of wearable technology" in a blog post …
Kelly Fiveash, 27 Jun 2014
flag.France

French Senate passes anti-Amazon amendment

France's Senate has passed an amendment to the “Lang Law”, a 1981 statute fixing the price of books, to prohibit online booksellers offering discounting and shipping books for free. La Cinquième République and Amazon have been fighting over this issue since 2008. Last year, things flared up again when an amendment to the Lang …
Simon Sharwood, 27 Jun 2014

MPAA, meet the Streisand effect: Picture ass. slaps Reddit with takedown

The Motion Picture Ass. of America has shot itself in the foot by issuing a copyright takedown notice against a corner of Reddit – and promptly turned a virtually unused subredit into a popular forum. The discussion board, /r/FullLengthFilms, is a place for Redditors to post links to films available for streaming or download, …
Iain Thomson, 27 Jun 2014

Germany dumps Verizon for Deutsche Telekom over NSA spying

The German government has said it will cancel its contract with US telecoms provider Verizon, citing spying fears. "The pressures on networks as well as the risks from highly-developed viruses or Trojans are rising," the country's Interior Ministry told Reuters on Thursday. "Furthermore, the ties revealed between foreign …
Neil McAllister, 26 Jun 2014