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Bitcoin

Bitcoin Not Money, Rules Miami Judge In Dismissing Laundering Charges (miamiherald.com) 149

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Miami Herald: Bitcoin does not actually qualify as money, a Miami-Dade judge ruled Monday in throwing out criminal charges against a Miami Beach man charged with illegally selling the virtual currency. The defendant, Michell Espinoza, was charged with illegally selling and laundering $1,500 worth of Bitcoins to undercover detectives who told him they wanted to use the money to buy stolen credit-card numbers. But Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Teresa Mary Pooler ruled that Bitcoin was not backed by any government or bank, and was not "tangible wealth" and "cannot be hidden under a mattress like cash and gold bars." "The court is not an expert in economics, however, it is very clear, even to someone with limited knowledge in the area, the Bitcoin has a long way to go before it the equivalent of money," Pooler wrote in an eight-page order. The judge also wrote that Florida law -- which says someone can be charged with money laundering if they engage in a financial transaction that will "promote" illegal activity -- is way too vague to apply to Bitcoin. "This court is unwilling to punish a man for selling his property to another, when his actions fall under a statute that is so vaguely written that even legal professionals have difficulty finding a singular meaning," she wrote. Espinoza's case is believed to be the first money-laundering prosecution involving Bitcoin.
United Kingdom

Yahoo Ordered to Show How It Recovered 'Deleted' Emails (pcmag.com) 80

An anonymous reader quotes a report from PC Magazine: Just what kind of email retentions powers does Yahoo have? According to a policy guide from the company, Yahoo cannot recover emails that have been deleted from a user's account -- simple as that. If the email is in a user's account, it's fair game, and Yahoo can even give law enforcement the IP address of whatever computer is being used to send said email.

Or, at least, that's what Yahoo has said. A magistrate judge from the Northern District of California has ordered Yahoo to produce documents, as well as a witness for deposition, related to the company's ability to recover seemingly deleted emails in a UK drug case... a UK defendant was convicted -- and is currently serving an extra 20-year prison sentence -- as part of a conspiracy to import drugs into the United Kingdom. He's currently appealing the conviction, in part because the means by which Yahoo recovered the emails in question allegedly violate British law.

The drug smugglers apparently communicated by creating a draft of an email, which was then available to others who logged into that same account.
United Kingdom

UK Cybersecurity Executives Plead Guilty To Hacking A Rival Firm (zdnet.com) 14

An anonymous reader writes: "Five employees from cybersecurity firm Quadsys have admitted to hacking into a rival company's servers to allegedly steal customer data and pricing information," ZDNet is reporting. After a series of hearings, five top-ranking employees "admitted to obtaining unauthorised access to computer materials to facilitate the commission of an offence," including the company's owner, managing director, and account manager. Now they're facing 12 months in prison or fines, as well as additional charges, at their sentencing hearing in September. The headline at ZDNet gloats, "Not only did the Quadsys staff reportedly break into servers, they were caught doing it."
Printer

Police 3D-Printed A Murder Victim's Finger To Unlock His Phone (theverge.com) 97

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Police in Michigan have a new tool for unlocking phones: 3D printing. According to a new report from Flash Forward creator Rose Eveleth, law enforcement officers approached professors at the University of Michigan earlier this year to reproduce a murder victim's fingerprint from a prerecorded scan. Once created, the 3D model would be used to create a false fingerprint, which could be used to unlock the phone. Because the investigation is ongoing, details are limited, and it's unclear whether the technique will be successful. Still, it's similar to techniques researchers have used in the past to re-create working fingerprint molds from scanned images, often in coordination with law enforcement. This may be the first confirmed case of police using the technique to unlock a phone in an active investigation. Apple has recently changed the way iOS manages fingerprint logins. You are now required to input an additional passcode if your phone hasn't been touched for eight hours and the passcode hasn't been entered in the past six days.
The Almighty Buck

How The Internet Helps Sex Workers Keep Customers Honest (qz.com) 146

HughPickens.com writes: Mid-range prostitution is a relatively new market, enabled by technology. Before the internet, it was hard for escorts to find customers: They had to either walk the streets searching for customers, rely on word-of-mouth, or work with agencies. The internet changed all that as Allison Schrager writes at Quartz that if you work at Goldman Sachs in NYC and you want to tie up a woman and then have sex with her, you'll first have to talk to Rita. Rita will "insist on calling your office, speaking to the switchboard operator, and being patched through to your desk. Then she will want to check out your profile on the company website and LinkedIn. She'll demand you send her message from your work email, and require a scan of either your passport or driver's license." Though some escorts rely on sex work-specific sites that maintain "bad date" lists of potentially dangerous clients, others make use of more mainstream sources to gather information about and verify the identities of potential johns. Rita is addressing a problem that every business, both legal and illegal, has. Before the internet, more commerce occurred locally -- customers knew their merchants or service providers and went back to them repeatedly. As technology has expanded our transactional networks, it must also offer new ways of building trust and reputation. "The lesson here is that, while you'd think all the technological options for finding customers would make Rita's job as a madam obsolete, it has actually made her services more critical," says Schrager. "One step ahead of the mainstream economy, Rita's thriving business shows that some jobs won't disappear. They just need to be recast in a way that capitalizes on what made them valuable in the first place."
EU

UK 'Emergency' Bulk Data Slurp Permissible In Pursuit Of 'Serious Crime' (theregister.co.uk) 48

An anonymous reader writes: Bulk collection of data from phone calls and emails by carriers acting under government orders could be permissible in the pursuit of 'serious crime'. That's the preliminary ruling in a case brought by Brexit chief minister David Davis against PM Theresa May before the European Union's highest court. The ruling suggests bulk collection and retention of customer data might not be in breach of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights -- if it's done legally and with safeguards. Davis with Labour Party deputy leader Tom Watson and others brought their case to the European Court of Justice in February.
Crime

Uber's Investigators Admit To Lying While Digging Up Dirt On Legal Foes (theverge.com) 57

Andrew J . Hawkins, writing for The Verge: Ergo, the secretive, CIA-linked firm that was paid by Uber to investigate the plaintiff in one of the ride-hail startup's many lawsuits, has now admitted to lying and illegally recording phone calls during its probe, according to Law360. Lawyers for Ergo owned up to the infractions in oral arguments in court Thursday, drawing a rebuke from the judge overseeing the case. Last December, Spencer Meyer filed a proposed class action lawsuit against Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, alleging a scheme to fix prices in violation of antitrust laws. The same day, Uber hired Ergo to investigate Meyer out of concern he posed a security risk to Kalanick. But Ergo also gathered information on Meyer's lawyer, a move that some critics say went too far. Ergo's lawyer argued that the firm was unaware the investigation was tied to a lawsuit, even while admitting Ergo's investigator "dissembled and used false pretenses in his duties," Law360 said.
Government

Patriot Act Expansion Fails In The House (thehill.com) 93

An anonymous reader write: The "Anti-terrorism Information Sharing Is Strength Act" failed in the U.S. Congress on a vote held earlier this week. "Many libertarians warned of potential privacy violations if the measure went into effect," reported The Hill, "which helped prevent it from reaching the necessary two-thirds majority to pass through the fast-track process under which it was considered." The bill would've expanded the number of crimes which would trigger the expanded investigation powers, including crimes covered by the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. "The Patriot Act should not be casually expanded," warned the House Liberty in a statement, arguing the bill would "permit the government to demand information on any American from any financial institution merely upon reasonable suspicion."
In a related story, a new campaign ad is criticizing Senator Russ Feingold for being the only Senator to vote against the original Patriot Act in October of 2001. Shipped to TV stations Thursday night, its narration begins "Islamic terrorists slaughtering innocents. And when Congress gave law enforcement the tools to keep Americans safe from international terror, only one senator voted no: Russ Feingold." After Friday's attack in Nice, Feingold's opponent attempted to reschedule the ads until a later date, but was unable to stop them from airing on at least three stations.
Government

Jill Stein Pledges To Pardon Snowden and Appoint Him To Her Cabinet (zerohedge.com) 175

Iamthecheese writes: Trump hates him. Clinton misrepresented him. Most mainstream media outlets call him a traitor and worse. But if you vote Stein, Snowden will be in the presidential Cabinet. "The presumptive Green Party presidential nominee Dr. Jill Stein promises to grant NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden -- who many describe as a true American hero -- not just a full pardon, but a promotion to the upper echelons of government should she win the White House," reports Zero Hedge. "[Snowden] has done an incredible service to our country at great cost to himself for having to live away from his family, his friends, his job, his network, to basically live as an expatriate," Stein asserted during a town hall live-streamed to supporters on her Facebook page, US Uncut reported. "I would say not only bring Snowden back, but bring him into my administration as a member of the Cabinet," she continued, "because we need people who are part of our national security administration who are really, very patriotic. If we're really going to protect our American security, we also have to protect our Constitutional rights, and that includes our right to privacy." Her pardons would also extend to CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou and Chelsea Manning. Kiriakou first revealed proof of waterboarding and various other torture tactics employed by the government, while Manning leaked the Afghan War Diary and Iraq War Logs, which included footage of U.S. helicopter airmen deliberately gunning down journalists, to Wikileaks. Reddit co-founder and MIT student, Aaron Swartz, who leaked academic research to the public, would also receive a pardon under her presidency. "[Swartz] was a proponent of free and liberated internet and for sharing our resources on that internet, who was basically hounded into suicide by a very oppressive Department of Justice. So, he -- in my mind -- is another one of these heroes that we need to remember and be very thankful for."
Earth

Do You Have A Living Doppelgänger? (bbc.com) 142

HughPickens.com writes: Folk wisdom has it that everyone has a doppelganger; somewhere out there there's a perfect duplicate of you, with your mother's eyes, your father's nose and that annoying mole you've always meant to have removed. Now BBC reports that last year Teghan Lucas set out to test the hypothesis that everyone has a living double. Armed with a public collection of photographs of U.S. military personnel and the help of colleagues from the University of Adelaide, Lucas painstakingly analyzed the faces of nearly four thousand individuals, measuring the distances between key features such as the eyes and ears. Next she calculated the probability that two peoples' faces would match. What she found was good news for the criminal justice system, but likely to disappoint anyone pining for their long-lost double: the chances of sharing just eight dimensions with someone else are less than one in a trillion. Even with 7.4 billion people on the planet, that's only a one in 135 chance that there's a single pair of doppelgangers. Lucas says this study has provided much-needed evidence that facial anthropometric measurements are as accurate as fingerprints and DNA when it comes to identifying a criminal. "The use of video surveillance systems for security purposes is increasing and as a result, there are more and more instances of criminals leaving their 'faces' at a scene of a crime," says Ms Lucas. "At the same time, criminals are getting smarter and are avoiding leaving DNA or fingerprint traces at a crime scene." But that's not the whole story. The study relied on exact measurements; if your doppelganger's ears are 59mm but yours are 60mm, your likeness wouldn't count. "It depends whether we mean 'lookalike to a human' or 'lookalike to facial recognition software,'" says David Aldous. If fine details aren't important, suddenly the possibility of having a lookalike looks a lot more realistic. It depends on the way faces are stored in the brain: more like a map than an image. To ensure that friends and acquaintances can be recognized in any context, the brain employs an area known as the fusiform gyrus to tie all the pieces together. This holistic 'sum of the parts' perception is thought to make recognizing friends a lot more accurate than it would be if their features were assessed in isolation. Using this type of analysis, and judging by the number of celebrity look-alikes out there, unless you have particularly rare features, you may have literally thousands of doppelgangers. "I think most people have somebody who is a facial lookalike unless they have a truly exceptional and unusual face," says Francois Brunelle has photographed more than 200 pairs of doppelgangers for his I'm Not a Look-Alike project. "I think in the digital age which we are entering, at some point we will know because there will be pictures of almost everyone online.
Crime

Newt Gingrich Says Visiting An ISIS Or Al Qaeda Website Should Be A Felony (techdirt.com) 406

flopsquad writes: Following the July 14th terror attack in Nice, France, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has called for U.S. Muslims to be tested for their belief in Sharia law, and if so, deported: "Western civilization is in a war. We should frankly test every person here who is of a Muslim background and if they believe in Sharia they should be deported," Gingrich said in an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity. While the cleverest few might try to defeat such a test by answering "No," Mr. Gingrich laid out additional steps to shore up the plan: "The first step is you have to ask them the questions. The second step is you have to monitor what they're doing on the internet. The third step is, let me be very clear, you have to monitor the mosques. I mean, if you're not prepared to monitor the mosques, this whole thing is a joke." Gingrich also opined that "Anybody who goes on a website favoring ISIS, or Al-Qaeda, or other terrorist groups, that should be a felony, and they should go to jail. No word on the First and Fourth Amendment implications of his proposals, nor on where Gingrich plans to deport U.S. citizens who fail his Sharia test. Gingrich went on to say: "Any organization which hosts such a website should be engaged in a felon. It should be closed down immediately. Our forces should be used to systematically destroy every internet based source..." Mike Masnick from Techdirt writes: "Merely visiting a website should put you in jail? What if you're a journalist? Or a politician? Or a researcher trying to understand ISIS? That should be a felony? That's not how it works. This also assumes, idiotically, that merely reading a website about ISIS will make people side with ISIS. It's also not, at all, how the law works. Same with the second part about it being a felony to host such content."
Crime

Cybercrime Overtakes Traditional Crime In UK, Says Report (krebsonsecurity.com) 24

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Krebs On Security: A new report from the nation's National Crime Agency (NCA) warns that cybercrime has now surpassed all other forms of crime in the United Kingdom. "Cyber enabled fraud" was found to make up 36 percent of all crime reported, with "computer misuse" accounting for 17 percent. The report calls for stronger law enforcement and business partnership to fight cybercrime. One explanation for the growth of cybercrime reports in the U.K. may be that the Brits are getting better at tracking it. The report notes that the U.K. Office of National Statistics only began including cybercrime for the first time last year in its annual Crime Survey for England and Wales. "The ONS estimated that there were 2.46 million cyber incidents and 2.11 million victims of cybercrime in the U.K. in 2015," the report's authors wrote. "These figures highlight the clear shortfall in established reporting, with only 16,349 cyber dependent and approximately 700,000 cyber-enabled incidents reported to Action Fraud over the same period." The increasing sophistication of organized cybercrime gangs that develop and deploy targeted, complex malicious software may also be to blame for the rise in cybercrime. Dridex and Dyre were specifically mentioned in the report, which are aimed at emptying consumer and business bank accounts in the U.K. and elsewhere.
Bitcoin

'Tor and Bitcoin Hinder Anti-Piracy Efforts' (torrentfreak.com) 103

An anonymous reader writes: A new report published by the European Union Intellectual Property Office identifies a wide range of 'business models' that are used by pirate sites. The organization, which announced a new collaboration with Europol this week, signals Bitcoin and the Tor network as two key threats to ongoing anti-piracy efforts. According to the research, several infringing business models rely on encryption-based technologies. The Tor network and Bitcoin, for example, are repeatedly mentioned as part of this "shadow landscape." "It more and more relies on new encrypted technologies like the TOR browser and the Bitcoin virtual currency, which are employed by infringers of IPR to generate income and hide the proceeds of crime from the authorities," the report reads.
Crime

It Took Nearly Three Hours For France's Terror Alert App To Respond To Nice Attack (theverge.com) 278

Amar Toor, reporting for The Verge: A terror alert app released by the French government last month has come under criticism after taking hours to notify users of Thursday night's attack in Nice. The app, called SAIP was released by the French Interior Ministry on iOS and Android in June, ahead of the Euro 2016 soccer tournament. According to the ministry, the app would provide users with alerts and information within 15 minutes of a terrorist attack being confirmed. But it apparently took much longer to send out alerts following last night's attack in Nice, where a man drove a truck into a crowded seaside promenade during Bastille Day celebrations, killing at least 84 people and leaving 18 others in critical condition. Users who had downloaded the app posted phone screenshots to Twitter last night showing that SAIP sent out its first alert just after 1:30AM local time -- nearly three hours after the attack began. Facebook, by contrast, activated its Safety Check feature shortly after the attack was carried out, and French politicians urged those in the area to check in using that feature, as SAIP remained silent.
Communications

Emirati Man Gets 3-Month Prison Sentence Over Instagram Insult (go.com) 96

An anonymous reader quotes a report from ABC News: A state-owned newspaper in the United Arab Emirates is reporting that an Emirati man has received a three-month prison sentence and a fine after being convicted of insulting his brother on Instagram. The Arabic-language newspaper Al Etihad reported on Thursday that the man's brother became upset after finding his photo on his brother's Instagram account with an expletive as the caption. The newspaper says the unidentified defendant also must pay a 250,000-dirham ($68,000) fine under the sentence from the Khor Fakkan Court of Misdemeanors. The newspaper says the defendant planned to appeal. In other insult-related stories, we asked Slashdotters back in April, "What are some insults no developer wants to hear?" Some of the standout responses include: "Wow this is microsoft quality!" and "It compiled cleanly, so he shipped it."
Businesses

Guccifer 2.0 Drops New Documents (thehill.com) 106

Joe Uchill, reporting for The Hill: Guccifer 2.0, the hacker who breached the Democratic National Committee, has released a cache of purported DNC documents to The Hill in an effort to refocus attention on the hack. The documents include more than 11,000 names matched with some identifying information, files related to two controversial donors and a research file on Sarah Palin. "The press [is] gradually forget[ing] about me, [W]ikileaks is playing for time and [I] have some more docs," he said in electronic chat explaining his rationale. The documents provide some insight into how the DNC handled high-profile donation scandals. But the choice of documents revealed to The Hill also provides insight into the enigmatic Guccifer 2.0. The hacker provided a series of spreadsheets related to Norman Hsu, a Democratic donor jailed in 2009 for running a Ponzi scheme and arranging illegal campaign contributions. The DNC responded by assembling files to gauge the exposure from Hsu to its slate of candidates.
Cellphones

US Judge Throws Out Cell Phone 'Stingray' Evidence For The First Time (reuters.com) 118

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: For the first time, a federal judge has suppressed evidence obtained without a warrant by U.S. law enforcement using a stingray, a surveillance device that can trick suspects' cell phones into revealing their locations. U.S. District Judge William Pauley in Manhattan on Tuesday ruled that defendant Raymond Lambis' rights were violated when the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration used such a device without a warrant to find his Washington Heights apartment. Stingrays, also known as "cell site simulators," mimic cell phone towers in order to force cell phones in the area to transmit "pings" back to the devices, enabling law enforcement to track a suspect's phone and pinpoint its location. The DEA had used a stingray to identify Lambis' apartment as the most likely location of a cell phone identified during a drug-trafficking probe. Pauley said doing so constituted an unreasonable search. The ruling marked the first time a federal judge had suppressed evidence obtained using a stingray, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which like other privacy advocacy groups has criticized law enforcement's use of such devices. "Absent a search warrant, the government may not turn a citizen's cell phone into a tracking device," Pauley wrote. FBI Special Agent Daniel Alfin suggests in a report via Motherboard that decrypting encrypted data fundamentally alters it, therefore contaminating it as forensic evidence.
Databases

FBI Has Collected 430,000 Iris Scans In 'Pilot Program' (theverge.com) 32

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Verge: The Verge has obtained documents that reveal the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department has been collecting iris data from at least 200,000 arrestees over the last two and a half years. The department was collecting an average of 189 iris scans each day in the early months of 2016. The activity is part of a larger pilot program organized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. "Since its launch in 2013, the program has stockpiled iris scans from 434,000 arrestees, an FBI spokesperson confirmed," reports The Verge. Through information-sharing agreements with various other agencies across the country, the new national biometric database stretches the traditional boundaries of a pilot program, and just barely stays out of reach of privacy mandates. The Verge reports: "A 2013 memo signed by representatives from the FBI and California Department of Justice summarizes responsibilities. At that time, according to the memo, the FBI had more than 30,000 images but did not have a way to search through them. The length of the California program was to be kept at one year, and reassessed after, but the documents show the partnership has been renewed every year since. The FBI would not comment on numbers from any particular source. However, 'operations reports' obtained by The Verge through the California Public Records Act requests the catalogue of the program's progress and suggest the state has been a major asset in the construction of the database. A document dated February of this year lists more than a quarter of a million 'enrollments' in the database from the California Department of Justice. In both 2014 and 2015, according to the document, more than 100,000 records were added to the system. Those scans are sent to the FBI by the California Justice Department, which in turn receives them from three counties: Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Riverside. Despite its relatively small population, the documents show San Bernardino County made more than 190,000 enrollments alone since 2014, far outpacing Los Angeles and Riverside counties." The pilot program has no privacy impact assessment "because the pilot was conducted with very limited participation for a limited period of time in order to evaluate iris technology," an FBI representative told The Verge. The vast majority of the 430,000 enrollments were added after that determination was made. The bureau is reportedly in the process of creating a privacy impact assessment but there's no word as to when that will be complete. In June, the Government Accountability Office published a report that says the FBI has access to hundreds of millions of photos.
Encryption

FBI Agent: Decrypting Data 'Fundamentally Alters' Evidence (vice.com) 89

Joseph Cox, reporting for Motherboard: An FBI agent has brought up an interesting question about the nature of digital evidence: Does decrypting encrypted data "fundamentally alter" it, therefore contaminating it as forensic evidence? According to a hearing transcript filed last week, FBI Special Agent Daniel Alfin suggested just that. The hearing was related to the agency's investigation into dark web child pornography site Playpen. In February 2015, the FBI briefly assumed control of Playpen and delivered its users a network investigative technique (NIT) -- or a piece of malware -- in an attempt to identify the site's visitors. [...] According to experts called by the defense in the affected case, the fact that the data was unencrypted means there is a chance that sensitive, identifying information of people who had not been convicted of a crime was being sent over the internet, and could have been manipulated. (Alfin paints this scenario as unlikely, saying that an attacker would have to know the IP address the FBI was using, have some sort of physical access to the suspect's computer to learn his MAC address, and other variables.)
Government

Congress Is Trying To Expand The Patriot Act (rare.us) 174

An anonymous reader writes: The house is scheduled to vote in an hour or so on expanding provisions of the patriot act, allowing massive financial information sharing to include dozens of new offenses ("specified unlawful activities"), including the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The house bill is H.R. 5606. My quick read is that this essentially lets FEDGOV expand massive semi-secret databases of financial transactions without a warrant while protecting banks from liability for helping them. In 5 years from 2002-2007, for example, with a smaller ability this led to 35,000 suspects but there were only 21 search warrants. Call your representative. Rare.us reports: "The proposed bill, H.R. 5606, expands Section 314 of the Patriot Act to cover non-terrorism or money laundering related investigations. Critics claim that the bill is a threat to the privacy of innocent Americans and is being rammed through Congress without debate. Section 314 encourages law enforcement to share information with financial institutions on money laundering and terrorism. It also encourages financial institutions to share information with each other." The report says the House Liberty Caucus, led by Congressman Justin Amash (R-Mich.), opposes the bill, claiming that Treasury Department regulations will compromise the privacy of Americans as it will all but mandate financial institutions to share information with the government. The caucus also opposes the bill because it is being brought to the floor under a suspension of the rules, and is not being considered under "regular order." The bill's sponsor, Congressman Robert Pittenger (R-NC) described HR 5606 as an attempt "to stop the flow of illicit dollars to criminals and terror organizations."

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