Google

NSA Planned To Hijack Google App Store To Hack Smartphones 87

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-the-better-to-see-you-with dept.
Advocatus Diaboli writes: A newly released top secret document reveals that the NSA planned to hijack Google and Samsung app stores to plant spying software on smartphones. The report on the surveillance project, dubbed "IRRITANT HORN," shows the U.S. and its "Five Eyes" alliance: Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia, were looking at ways to hack smartphones and spy on users. According to The Intercept: "The top-secret document, obtained from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, was published Wednesday by CBC News in collaboration with The Intercept. The document outlines a series of tactics that the NSA and its counterparts in the Five Eyes were working on during workshops held in Australia and Canada between November 2011 and February 2012."
Piracy

Australian ISP Offers Pro-bono Legal Advice To Accused Pirates 65

Posted by timothy
from the they-got-really-skinny-for-the-role-too dept.
New submitter thegarbz writes: As covered previously, after losing a legal battle against Dallas Buyers Club and Voltage Pictures the Federal Court of Australia asked ISP iiNet to hand over details of customers allegedly downloading the movie The Dallas Buyers Club. iiNet has now taken the unprecedented move to offer pro-bono legal advice to all of its customers targeted over piracy claims. "It is important to remember that the Court's findings in this case do not mean that DBC and Voltage's allegations of copyright infringement have been proven," Ben Jenkins, financial controller for iiNet wrote. Also, as part of the ruling the court will review all correspondence sent to alleged copyright infringers in hopes to prevent the practice of speculative invoicing. Unless it can be proven exactly how much and and with how many people a film was shared the maximum damages could also be limited to the lost revenue by the studio, which currently stands at $10AU ($7.90US) based on iTunes pricing.
Encryption

Australian Law Could Criminalize the Teaching of Encryption 203

Posted by Soulskill
from the technophobes-writing-laws dept.
New submitter petherfile writes: According to Daniel Mathews, new laws passed in Australia (but not yet in effect) could criminalize the teaching of encryption. He explains how a ridiculously broad law could effectively make any encryption stronger than 512 bits criminal if your client is not Australian. He says, "In short, the DSGL casts an extremely wide net, potentially catching open source privacy software, information security research and education, and the entire computer security industry in its snare. Most ridiculous, though, are some badly flawed technicalities. As I have argued before, the specifications are so imprecise that they potentially include a little algorithm you learned at primary school called division. If so, then division has become a potential weapon, and your calculator (or smartphone, computer, or any electronic device) is a potential delivery system for it."
The Almighty Buck

World's Rudest Robot Set To Simulate the Fury of Call Center Customers 150

Posted by samzenpus
from the a-thousand-different-kinds-of-angry dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A New Zealand-based company called Touchpoint Group has unveiled the world's angriest robot, which is designed to help train call center employees in the art of dealing with frustrated customers. The project, named Radiant, will involve one of Australia's biggest banks, which is providing researchers with recordings of real-life interactions with customers. Once finished Radiant will simulate hundreds of millions of angry customer interactions, helping companies better understand what triggers heated calls.
Security

'Breaking Bad' Crypto Ransomware Targets Australian Users 38

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-am-the-one-who-hacks dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A new strain of the Trojan.Cryptolocker.S targeting Australia is using the branding of popular TV crime drama 'Breaking Bad' to theme its extortion demands. After encrypting all the files on the victim's computer, the ransomware presents a message that uses a logo and character quotes from the show, in addition to a YouTube video from the game Grand Theft Auto V, thought to be a tribute to Breaking Bad.
Australia

Australia: Your Digital Games (and Movies!) Could Be About to Jump In Price 125

Posted by timothy
from the your-lunch-money-was-jangling dept.
dotarray writes with a snippet of news from Australia about expanded taxation for digital goods. From Player Attack comes the gist: Australians really are about to start paying more for digital services — including Steam games — as Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey has confirmed plans to introduce a 'Netflix tax' in this week's Federal Budget. As mentioned last week, this is not a new tax, but an extension of Australia's current Goods and Services Tax to include digital services, adding 10% to virtual items and services purchased online. Details have not yet been revealed, but potential services include not only Steam games but also Netflix subscriptions and even Uber trips.
Earth

Top Advisor To Australian Gov't Says Climate Change is a UN Conspiracy 525

Posted by Soulskill
from the because-the-UN-is-totally-competent-enough-to-pull-that-off dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Maurice Newman, the top business advisor to conservative Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, today published an opinion piece (paywalled) in which he claims, "It's a well-kept secret, but 95 per cent of the climate models ... have been found ... to be in error." He goes on to write "This is not about facts or logic. It's about a new world order under the control of the UN." While Newman's 'skeptical' views have long been on record, it's unclear when he came to believe in this vast global conspiracy. Last year, the Abbott government removed Australia's Emissions Trading Scheme, and recently gave $4 million in funding to contrarian Bjorn Lomberg, while cutting hundreds of millions of dollars from science across the country.
Space

17-Year-Old Radio Astronomy Mystery Traced Back To Kitchen Microwave 227

Posted by samzenpus
from the give-it-another-30-secs dept.
New submitter Bo'Bob'O writes: The BBC reports that the scientists at the Parkes and Bleien Radio Observatories in New South Wales, Australia, have tracked down earth-based signals that had been eluding observation for 17 years. These signals, which came to be called Perytons "occurred only during office hours and predominantly on weekdays." The source, as it turned out, was located right inside the antenna's tower where impatient scientists had been opening the kitchen microwave door before its cycle had finished. As the linked paper concludes, this, and a worn magnetron caused a condition that allowed the microwaves to emit a burst of frequencies not expected by the scientists, only compounding the original mystery.
Lord of the Rings

Why Scientists Love 'Lord of the Rings' 179

Posted by Soulskill
from the even-the-very-wise-cannot-see-all-the-ends dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Julie Beck writes in The Atlantic that though science and fantasy seem to be polar opposites, a Venn diagram of "scientists" and "Lord of the Rings fans" have a large overlap which could (lovingly!) be labeled "nerds." Several animal species have been named after characters from the books, including wasps, crocodiles, and even a dinosaur named after Sauron, "Given Tolkien's passion for nomenclature, his coinage, over decades, of enormous numbers of euphonious names—not to mention scientists' fondness for Tolkien—it is perhaps inevitable that Tolkien has been accorded formal taxonomic commemoration like no other author," writes Henry Gee. Other disciplines aren't left out of the fun—there's a geologically interesting region in Australia called the "Mordor Alkaline Igneous Complex," a pair of asteroids named "Tolkien" and "Bilbo," and a crater on Mercury also named "Tolkien."

"It has been documented that Middle-Earth caught the attention of students and practitioners of science from the early days of Tolkien fandom. For example, in the 1960s, the Tolkien Society members were said to mainly consist of 'students, teachers, scientists, or psychologists,'" writes Kristine Larsen, an astronomy professor at Central Connecticut State University, in her paper "SAURON, Mount Doom, and Elvish Moths: The Influence of Tolkien on Modern Science." "When you have scientists who are fans of pop culture, they're going to see the science in it," says Larson. "It's just such an intricate universe. It's so geeky. You can delve into it. There's the languages of it, the geography of it, and the lineages. It's very detail oriented, and scientists in general like things that have depth and detail." Larson has also written papers on using Tolkien as a teaching tool, and discusses with her astronomy students, for example, the likelihood that the heavenly body Borgil, which appears in the first book of the trilogy, can be identified as the star Aldebaran. "I use this as a hook to get students interested in science," says Larson. "I'm also interested in recovering all the science that Tolkien quietly wove into Middle Earth because there's science in there that the casual reader has not recognized."
Australia

Australia To Grade Written Essays In National Exam With Cognitive Computing 109

Posted by timothy
from the oh-this-will-work-well dept.
New submitter purnima writes: Australia keeps on giving and giving. Each year school kids in Australia sit The National Assessment Program (NAPLAN) which in part tests literacy. The exam includes a written page-long essay aimed at examining both language aptitude and literacy of students. Of course, human-marking of such essays is costly (twenty teacher-minutes per exam). So some bright spark has proposed that the essays be marked by computer. The government is convinced and the program is slated for the 2017 school year. Aside from the moral issues, is AI ready for this major task?
Australia

Wellness App Author Lied About Cancer Diagnosis 256

Posted by timothy
from the but-this-was-my-whole-health-plan dept.
Freshly Exhumed writes: Wellness advocate Belle Gibson, who translated her high profile as a cancer survivor into publishing success, has admitted her cancer diagnosis was not real. Ms Gibson, 23, who claimed to have healed terminal brain cancer by eating wholefoods, made the admission in an interview with the Australian Women's Weekly. The success of Gibson's book, The Whole Pantry, and her smartphone application, which advocates natural therapies, has been largely dependent on her high-profile as a cancer survivor. Sadly, we've seen this sort of behaviour before. It would seem that Belle Gibson has emulated Dr. Andrew Wakefield in knowingly decieving the public in ways that could possibly be dangerous to the health of believers.
Science

3.46-Billion-Year-Old 'Fossils' Were Not Created By Life Forms 69

Posted by Soulskill
from the stupid-tricksy-fossilses dept.
sciencehabit writes: What are the oldest fossils on Earth? For a long time, a 3.46-billion-year-old rock from Western Australia seemed to hold the record. A 1993 Science paper (abstract) suggested that the Apex chert contained tiny, wormy structures that could have been fossilized cell walls of some of the world's first cyanobacteria. But now there is more evidence that these structures have nothing to do with life. The elongated filaments were instead created by minerals forming in hydrothermal systems, researchers report (abstract). After the minerals were formed, carbon glommed on to the edges, leaving behind an organic signature that looked suspiciously like cell walls.
Australia

2K, Australia's Last AAA Studio, Closes Its Doors 170

Posted by timothy
from the even-with-all-that-regulation dept.
beaverdownunder writes 2K Australia, the Canberra studio that most recently developed Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, is closing its doors. The entire studio is closing, and all staff members will lose their jobs. "All hands are gone," said a source for Kotaku Australia. 2K Canberra was the last major AAA-style studio operating out of Australia. The costs of operating in Australia are apparently to blame for the decision. This raises questions as to the viability of developing major video games in Australia.
Television

In New Zealand, a Legal Battle Looms Over Streaming TV 106

Posted by timothy
from the why-consider-this-pen-your-honor dept.
SpacemanukBEJY.53u writes After a threat from a law firm, two New Zealand ISPs have withdrawn services that let their customers navigate to content sites outside the country that world normally be geo-blocked. Using VPNs or other services to access content restricted by region isn't specifically outlawed in either New Zealand or in neighboring Australia, but it appears the entertainment industry is prepared to go to court to try and argue that such services can violate copyright law. Intellectual property experts said the situation in New Zealand, if it goes to court, could result in the first test case over the legality of skirting regional restrictions.
Australia

3D Printed Guns Might Lead To Law Changes In Australia 245

Posted by samzenpus
from the print-and-shoot dept.
angry tapir writes An inquiry by an Australian Senate committee has recommended the introduction of uniform laws across jurisdictions in the country "regulating the manufacture of 3D printed firearms and firearm parts." Although current laws are in general believed to cover 3D printed guns, there are concerns there may be inconsistencies across different Australian jurisdictions. Although there aren't any high-profile cases of 3D printed weapons being used in crimes in the country, earlier this year a raid in Queensland recovered 3D printed firearm parts.
The Almighty Buck

Google, Apple and Microsoft Squirm As Global Tax Schemes Scrutinized 312

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Google, Apple and Microsoft chiefs were hauled in front of an Australian Senate Committee on Wednesday and forced to answer questions about their tax dodging structures. "Under questioning from Greens Senator Christine Milne, [Google's Maile Carnegie] revealed none of the revenue derived from Google's lucrative advertising business is taxed in Australia, rather it is booked in Singapore where the corporate tax rate is set at 17 per cent, as opposed to Australia's 30 per cent. ... However in the strongest defense yet of the company's complex tax structure, Ms Carnegie attempted to highlight the hypocrisy of criticising global technology companies for using the same approach that Australian mining firms, like Rio Tinto, use when deriving profits from China. 'These are international tax arrangements and what Google is doing in Australia is very very similar to what Australian companies are doing outside of Australia. I am not sitting here today trying to defend whether those practices are right or wrong, they are simply the way the global tax system is currently working and we are trying to operate within that.' Ms. Carnegie said it was up to the government to create a different system, which the company would then abide by."
Piracy

Australian ISPs Must Hand Over Pirates' Info 136

Posted by Soulskill
from the making-more-lawyers-rich dept.
wabrandsma sends this report from the BBC: An Australian court has ordered internet service providers to hand over details of customers accused of illegally downloading a U.S. movie. In a landmark move, the Federal Court told six firms to divulge names and addresses of those who downloaded The Dallas Buyers Club. ... The court said the data could only be used to secure "compensation for the infringements" of copyright. In the case, which was heard in February, the applicants said they had identified 4,726 unique IP addresses from which their film was shared online using BitTorrent, a peer-to-peer file sharing network. They said this had been done without their permission. Once they received the names of account holders, the company would then have to prove copyright infringement had taken place.
Censorship

Turkey Blocks Twitter, YouTube Access Over Image of Slain Prosecutor 66

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-likes-for-you dept.
jaa101 writes ABC (Australia) reports Turkey has blocked access to Twitter and YouTube, over the publication of photographs of an Istanbul prosecutor held at gunpoint by far-left militants hours before he was killed in a shootout last week. From the article: "Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said a prosecutor had sought the block on access to social media sites because some media organisations had acted 'as if they were spreading terrorist propaganda' in sharing the images. 'This has to do with the publishing of the prosecutor's picture. What happened in the aftermath [of the prosecutor's killing] is as grim as the incident itself,' said presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin."
Australia

Oops: World Leaders' Personal Data Mistakenly Released By Autofill Error 140

Posted by samzenpus
from the sounds-like-a-case-of-the-mondays dept.
mpicpp writes in with this story about a mistake that saw personal details of world leaders accidentally disclosed by the Australian immigration department. "With a single key stroke, the personal information of President Obama and 30 other world leaders was mistakenly released by an official with Australia's immigration office. Passport numbers, dates of birth, and other personal information of the heads of state attending a G-20 summit in Brisbane, Australia, were inadvertently emailed to one of the organizers of January's Asian Cup football tournament, according to The Guardian. The U.K. newspaper obtained the information as a result of an Australia Freedom of Information request. Aside from President Obama, leaders whose data were released include Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Chinese President Xi Jinping and British Prime Minister David Cameron. The sender forgot to check the auto-fill function in the email 'To' field in Microsoft Outlook before hitting send, the BBC reports."
Australia

Australian Government Outlines Website-Blocking Scheme 58

Posted by Soulskill
from the failing-to-learn-from-the-mistakes-of-others dept.
angry tapir writes: The Australian government has revealed its (previously mooted) proposed legislation that will allow copyright holders to apply for court orders that will force ISPs to block access to pirate websites. It forms part of a broader Australian crackdown on online copyright infringement, which also includes a warning notice scheme for alleged infringers. They're not the only ones getting on board with website blocking — a judge in Spain ruled that local ISPs must block access to The Pirate Bay.