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Govt control? Hah! It's IMPOSSIBLE to have a successful command economy

Worstall on Wednesday One of the perennials of the great economic debate is those who insist that if we centrally planned how the economy would run, it would all work much better than this messy competition, profit-and-loss and duplication-of-effort system we're stuck with at the moment. And it didn't all start with the Soviets. Back in late- …
Tim Worstall, 13 Aug 2014
CSIRO Parkes radio telescope

CSIRO spells out cash-strapped astronomy future

Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has explained how it plans to trim its astronomy work, after more than AUD$100 million was cut from its budget. With around 17 per cent, or AUD$3.5 million, sliced from its already-slender astronomy budget, the agency has just $AUD17 million to work …
eyeofSauron

Poll: Australians hate government data retention plan

Polling by Essential suggests that Australians aren't behind the government's plan to force the telecommunications industry to retain data about subscribers' online activities. According to the research, only the government's own base of voters is in favour of the data-retention* plan, with 59 per cent of Coalition voters …
Minority Report. Source: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

MPs to gaze upon biometric data industry's ID-gobbling tech

The growing use and slurping of biometric data is to be probed by MPs sitting on the UK's science and technology committee this autumn. An inquiry has been opened following the failure of the Home Office's Iris Recognition Immigration System, which was axed by the Tory-led coalition government in 2012. Politicos on the panel …
Kelly Fiveash, 12 Aug 2014

NIST wants better SCADA security

America's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) wants to take a hand in addressing the SCADA industry's chronic insecurity, by building a test bed for industrial control systems. The Reconfigurable Industrial Control Systems Cybersecurity Testbed is only in its earliest stages. According to this RFI, the …
China's white iPhone

New twist in China Apple hardware ban riddle: THE TRUTH at last?

Chinese officials are denying reports that the state has banned the purchase of Apple hardware for government IT projects. The Middle Kingdom's bureaucrats told Reuters that Apple computers and gadgets are not on its list of approved products – but not because the Communist nation blacklisted Cupertino over security concerns. …
Shaun Nichols, 8 Aug 2014

China cracks down on instant messengers: Users must hand over REAL NAMES

China has tightened rules regulating the use of instant messengers, forcing users to reveal their real names when registering so their identities can be linked to their content. In much the same way as with social networks – although clearly for different reasons – the State Internet Information Office (SIIO) is requiring users …
Sydney Opera House Hackathon logo

Spooks, cops, say Oz metadata push is for consistency, not data grab

The director of Australia's Security and Intelligence Agency (ASIO David Irvine and the deputy commissioner of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) Andrew Colvin have appeared at a joint press conference at which they explained the nation's new metadata retention regime is about consistency of and not a grab for new powers or to …
The chinese characters for China as used in the new .中国  domain

Russia, China could ban western tech if they want to live in the PAST

Russia and China have both, of late, threatened western IT companies with difficult trading conditions or banishment if they can't prove their products are secure. The reason for their ire is, of course, Edward Snowden's many revelations about US intelligence activities. The response to his leaks have been widespread and fierce …

Ecuador follows Bitcoin ban with digi-currency proposal

Ecuador has decided a state-backed digital currency might help it to avoid a financial crisis. Bloomberg reports that the South American nation will implement a fiat digital currency that's to sit beside the US Dollar, its current legal tender. The nation will institute a monetary authority to administer the dollar, the report …
Kung Fu Rider

China rips Apple out of govt IT mail-order catalogue – report

+Comment Apple's most popular products are set to vanish from Chinese officials' boardrooms after the People's Republic reportedly struck them off the official procurement list. Ten gizmos including the iPad, iPad Mini, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro can no longer be purchased for use by the Chinese state bureaucracy, Bloomberg reported …
Jasper Hamill, 6 Aug 2014
cloud_accounting2

Strategy-flinging No 10 civil servant Stephen Kelly turns Sage CEO

A top government civil servant is trading control of the nation’s IT for leadership of Sage Group, the giant accounting software firm that turns over £1.32bn a year. Stephen Kelly is stepping down as UK government chief operating officer to become chief executive of the accounting software firm in November. Kelly will succeed …
Gavin Clarke, 6 Aug 2014
US Military hacking team

US cyber-army's cyber-warriors 'cyber-humiliated by cyber-civvies in cyber-games'

The US military held a series of online war games to pit reservist hackers against its active-duty cyber-warriors – and the results weren't pretty for the latter, we're told. US Military hacking team "Have you tried turning it off and then on again?" "The active-duty team didn’t even know how they’d been attacked. They were …
Iain Thomson, 5 Aug 2014

Evidence during FOI disputes can be provided in SECRET

Public bodies defending a decision to withhold information requested under freedom of information (FOI) laws can submit evidence to an information rights tribunal in secret, the Court of Appeal has ruled. The Court said that tribunal rules allow for closed evidence sessions to be conducted, meaning that neither the FOI requester …
OUT-LAW.COM, 5 Aug 2014
NBN Co logo

Turnbull says NBN 'most reckless commitment of Commonwealth funds in our history'

The Scales Review of NBN Mark II Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN) has found the second version of the network's early planning process was chaotic and that NBN Co, the company created to build the network, was not built on foundations suitable to enable the project's success. Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull …

China: Microsoft, don't shy away from our probe

China's antitrust regulator has confirmed it met Microsoft's lawyers over its investigation into the US firm, warning it to abide by Chinese law and not to interfere with the probe. China's State Administration for Industry and Commerce said in a statement (translated by Google) that it had spoken with deputy general counsel …
Kindle Big Brother

UK.gov wants public sector to rip up data protection law

The British government is in the preliminary stages of designing a controversial system which will share citizens' sensitive personal information across government departments without their consent. Leaked documents show civil servants are planning to mimic the data-sharing systems used by firms like Amazon or Tesco. This could …
Team Register, 4 Aug 2014
Great Wall of China

China: Our approved vendor list – Kaspersky, Symantec AREN'T on it

Updated Security firms Kaspersky Labs and Symantec appear to have both been booted off China’s list of approved vendors for government agencies. This development comes as the country continues to tighten up against foreign tech firms in the wake of the NSA surveillance revelations. The People’s Daily reported first in a tweet that the …
GCHQ road sign

GCHQ names the Hogwarts for Hackers

The UK's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has certified six Masters of Cyber Security degrees. The certifications were issued under the UK's Cyber Security Strategy that, among other things, calls for the nation to “Strengthen postgraduate education to expand the pool of experts with in-depth knowledge of cyber.” …

Users should PAY for their piracy says Turnbull

Australia's government is applying its customary confusion to the copyright debate, with the two ministers most associated with the issue giving divergent messages on how best to solve the country's supposedly-chronic piracy. Late last week, communications minister Malcolm Turnbull – one of the two signatories to the leaked-then …

Defending your digital rights? Then you're a Nazi, says the Open Rights Group

Updated Are you a dad whose photo of his children is being distributed by paedophiles? Or just a photographer or musician whose work is being shared by scammers for profit without your permission? Well, you’d better think twice about using your statutory rights – you might be called a Nazi. This week Britain’s Open Rights Group …

CIA super-spy so sorry spies spied on Senate's torture scrutiny PCs

CIA Director John Brennan has apologized after his staff snooped on computers used by the US Senate during a probe into spies' use of torture. Brennan was speaking at a closed meeting with senators on Thursday. The computers were on a secure network known as RDINet, which was set up by the CIA to store classified documents for …
Iain Thomson, 1 Aug 2014
Files

Twitter: Hey. Remember us? Hello, yes. Govts want to spy on us too!

Twitter has seen government requests for user information climb nearly 50 per cent over the last six months. The company said in its semi-annual transparency report that over the first half of 2014, governments from 54 countries made requests for account information. Eight of those countries were requesting data for the first …
Shaun Nichols, 1 Aug 2014
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Microsoft and pals applaud UK's 'Google Review' copyright move

The rest of Europe should follow the UK’s example and get rid of copyright levies, says an EU trade group representing Microsoft, Apple, Samsung and thousands of others. Earlier this week, the House of Lords approved a new law which introduces a narrow private copying exception allowing consumers to make digital copies of their …
Jennifer Baker, 31 Jul 2014

Has Europe cut the UK adrift on data protection?

Comment In 1805, William Pitt the Younger, on hearing of Napoleon's victory at the Battle of Austerlitz, is reported to have said: "Roll up that map (of Europe) – it will not be wanted these 10 years". Well I have attended two meetings which suggest that the European Union has already rolled up its Data Protection Map of Europe so it …

Russia to SAP, Apple: Hand over source code to prove you're not spies

Russia has asked SAP and Apple to hand over their products' source code so it can be tested for spyware. The nation's Ministry of Communications and Mass Media announced the request on Wednesday. The shrinkwrapped statement sees Communications minister Nikolai Nikiforov citing the revelations from rogue NSA contractor Edward …
Simon Sharwood, 31 Jul 2014
Parliament House Canberra by Flickr user OzMark17 used under CC Share and Share alike licence

Yes, Australia's government SHOULD store comms metadata

Australia's federal government should store metadata collected by the nation's Internet service providers (ISPs), because the government already operates suitable facilities in which to do so. ISPs have suggested that if the government persists with its metadata retention plans they would have to pass the costs of storing data …
Simon Sharwood, 30 Jul 2014

Government's 'Google Review' copyright rules become law

Analysis The dog-ends of the “Google Review” of copyright sailed through the Lords yesterday and will become law on 1 October – creating work for the courts and quite possible, legal headaches for the government. Having given itself the power, last year, to make sweeping changes to copyright by the back door – through secondary …
Andrew Orlowski, 30 Jul 2014

SOULLESS machine-intelligence ROBOT cars to hit Blighty in 2015

Robotic cars are set to prowl the streets of Britain by next January without human supervision – as Westminster prepares new rules to allow autonomous vehicles on the public highways of this sceptr'd isle. Today, driverless cars are only allowed to travel on private roads. New laws will allow them out to motor across the streets …
Jasper Hamill, 30 Jul 2014

British Lords: Euro 'right to be forgotten' ruling 'unreasonable and unworkable'

Peers sitting in the upper house of the British parliament have branded Europe’s court decision on killing links on search indexes – controversially dubbed the “right to be forgotten” ruling – “unworkable, unreasonable and wrong in principle”. The EU subcommittee on Home Affairs, Health and Education said in a report that the …
Angry woman on mobile

FTC: We've put '$100 MEEELLION phone bill fee cram scam' on ice

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is suing six companies that allegedly unfairly crammed $100m in text message charges onto victims' bills. Today, at the regulator's request, a federal court in California granted a temporary restraining order to halt those organizations and freeze their assets. The move comes after the FTC …
Shaun Nichols, 29 Jul 2014
NBN Co Customer premises equipment

NBN Co pricing under spotlight

NBN Co is considering revising its wholesale pricing model, and has approached the industry for comment. According to industry newsletter Communications Day, the usage-based Connectivity Virtual Circuit (CVC) charge, which has been subject to criticism since it was first announced in 2010, may be either overhauled or eliminated …

Senate introduces USA FREEDOM Act to curb NSA spying excesses

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has introduced the USA FREEDOM Act to the US Senate and claims, that, if passed, the legislation will severely curtail the amount of mass surveillance that can be carried out by the NSA and others – provided you're a citizen of the land of the free. "This is a debate about Americans' fundamental …
Iain Thomson, 29 Jul 2014
Houses of Parliament at night-time

Dusty pre-Facebook, pre-Twitter laws will do for social media crimes

Blighty peers have said that the country doesn’t need new laws to cover criminal offences committed on social media, but said public prosecutors need to clarify when revenge porn qualifies for prosecution. The Lords Communication Committee said in a report that the Communications Act from 2003 and the Harassment Act from 1997 …

Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees

The UK's Parliamentary climate change select committee has just issued a written endorsement of the latest, alarmist UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. However, two MPs - the two most scientifically qualified on the committee - have strongly disagreed with this position. The IPCC's latest AR5 report …
Lewis Page, 29 Jul 2014
Columns of coins in the cloud

TV rudeboy and Outsourcery boss Linney joins Gov.UK SME panel

The government has enlisted the boss of an SME yet to win any business via G-Cloud to advise on ways to, er, oil the wheels of commerce for other small traders that have similarly found public sector contract success elusive. Dragons' Den star Piers Linney, joint head at AIM-listed, cloudy infrastructure biz Outsourcery, is the …
Paul Kunert, 29 Jul 2014
alertme review energy meter monitor

Adam Afriyie MP: Smart meters are NOT so smart

Opinion Wouldn’t it be great if you knew how much your gas and electricity were costing you minute by minute by looking at a smartphone app, visiting a website or glancing at a wall display? You’d be in a much stronger position to reduce your energy bills and switch suppliers if you could. Thankfully, this data will soon be accessible …
Adam Afriyie MP, 29 Jul 2014
Google Chocolate Factory

Google Maps community competition falls foul of Indian regulations

Google has found itself in hot water in India, with the country's Central Bureau of Investigation launching a formal investigation into Google Maps for allegedly publishing the location of sensitive military bases. The problem arose because of a community competition held last year - Google's Mapathon 2013 - in which the …
NBN Co Customer premises equipment

NBN Co adds apartments to FTTP rollout

NBN Co – via Telstra Wholesale – has revealed which apartment blocks will be the first to get FTTP under commercial trials of a rollout plan designed to thwart cherry-picking by competitors. The Telstra Wholesale rollout publication (PDF or Excel, here) obliquely identifies suburbs in Sydney (Millers Point and Haymarket), …
Great Wall of China

Microsoft in Chinese burn ENIGMA: Anti-trust agents' 'sudden visit' to offices

Four of Microsoft's offices in China were "visited" by antitrust regulators on Monday, but neither the software and devices giant nor the Chinese government has explained why. "We aim to build products that deliver the features, security and reliability customers expect, and we will address any concerns the government may have …
Neil McAllister, 28 Jul 2014
Angry woman on mobile

In the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave ... you can legally carrier unlock your own phone

Here at Vulture West, we're looking out for porcine aviators: the usually divided US House of Representatives unanimously passed a law allowing people who've bought phones to actually unlock the things from their carriers. It comes just a week after the Senate showed a similarly united stance. "With today's House passage of the …
Iain Thomson, 25 Jul 2014
Photo of a US Passport

Need a US visa, passport? Prepare for misery: Database crash strands thousands

An unspecified glitch in a global database used by the US government to issue passports and travel visas has left countless people around the world unable to travel for the last few days, according to State Department officials. "The Bureau of Consular Affairs has been experiencing technical problems with our passport and visa …
Neil McAllister, 25 Jul 2014