2014年3月13日星期四

Mark Zuckerberg 'confused and frustrated' by US spying


http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-26571018



Mark Zuckerberg 'confused and frustrated' by US spying

Mark ZuckerbergMr Zuckerberg said that the internet needed to be made more secure for users

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Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has said he has called President Barack Obama to "express frustration" over US digital surveillance.
The 29-year-old said in a blog post the US government "should be the champion for the internet, not a threat".
His comments come a day after a report the US National Security Agency (NSA) imitated a Facebook server to infect surveillance targets' computers.
The NSA said the report was "inaccurate".
Mr Zuckerberg said in September that the US "blew it" on internet spying.
The tech founder wrote on Thursday "it seems like it will take a very long time for true full reform".
Broken trust?
"When our engineers work tirelessly to improve security, we imagine we're protecting you against criminals, not our own government," he said in his blog post.

How intelligence is gathered

How intelligence is gathered
  • Accessing internet company data
  • 'Tapping' fibre optic cables
  • Eavesdropping on phones
  • Targeted spying
"The US government should be the champion for the internet, not a threat.
"They need to be much more transparent about what they're doing, or otherwise people will believe the worst."
The NSA's activities were leaked by a former contractor for the agency, Edward Snowden, last year.
His leaks have pointed to the NSA collecting phone records, tapping fibre-optic cables that carry global communications and hacking networks.
According to the documents, the agencies had "backdoor" access to the servers of nine major technology companies including Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple.
All the companies named have denied their involvement.
The NSA called the latest claims, that it expanded surveillance by using malware, "inaccurate".
The agency said in a statement: "The NSA uses its technical capabilities only to support lawful and appropriate foreign intelligence operations, all of which must be carried out in strict accordance with its authorities."
White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden confirmed that the president spoke with Mr Zuckerberg on Wednesday evening regarding "recent reports in the press about alleged activities by the US intelligence community.'' She gave no further comment.
'Setting fire'
Since claims emerged that the security services were using social media and technology companies to monitor people, Facebook has teamed up with Google, Apple, Microsoft, Twitter, AOL, LinkedIn and Yahoo to form an alliance called Reform Government Surveillance.
The group has called for "wide-scale changes" to US government snooping.
In his latest blog post, Mr Zuckerberg said that to keep the internet strong, "we need to keep it secure".
Earlier this week, Mr Snowden told a conference that mass surveillance conducted by the US and other governments was "setting fire to the future of the internet".
Earlier this month, European Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes said billions of people around the world do not trust the internet.





McDonald's workers sue over 'wage theft'





http://www.bbc.com/news/business-26567900




McDonald's workers sue over 'wage theft'

Striking workers outside a McDonald's outlet in the USFast food workers in the US have been demanding higher wages

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McDonald's workers in three US states - New York, California and Michigan - have filed cases against the firm alleging it was "stealing" wages.
They allege they were forced to work off the clock and not paid overtime.
Workers in New York said they were not reimbursed the cost of cleaning their uniforms, which they claim pushed their real wages below the minimum limit.
The firm said it was committed to fair treatment of employees and was "reviewing the allegations".
"McDonald's and our independent franchisees are committed to undertaking a comprehensive investigation of the allegations and will take any necessary actions as they apply to our respective organisations," it said in a statement.
Multiple allegations

Start Quote

We've uncovered several unlawful schemes”
Michael RubinAltshuler Berzon LLP
The workers have filed a total of seven class action lawsuits in the three states.
In three California suits, workers claim that McDonald's and its franchise owners "failed to pay them for all time worked, failed to pay proper overtime" and "altered pay records".
The cases in Michigan claim the firm "regularly forces workers to show up for work, but then forces them to wait without pay until enough customers show up, and that it also routinely violates minimum wage laws".
Lawyer Michael Rubin, of Altshuler Berzon LLP, who filed the California suits, said: "We've uncovered several unlawful schemes, but they all share a common purpose - to drive labour costs down by stealing wages from McDonald's workers."
The lawsuits come just as President Barack Obama is expected to announce tougher rules on overtime pay.
Fast food companies have already been under increasing pressure to raise wages, and workers at various outlets, including McDonald's, have held strikes in recent months.
Earlier this month, McDonald's said that growing concerns over income inequality may force it to raise its wages.
It said the public focus on the issue "may intensify" over the coming months.


How safe is your passport?



http://www.bbc.com/travel/feature/20140313-how-safe-is-your-passport


How safe is your passport?


Even as Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370, headed from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, seems to have vanished into thin air, two people listed on the flight manifest remain safe. The two men, an Austrian and an Italian, never boarded – but their passports did.
Interpol has confirmed that the passports, which were reported stolen by their owners, were used by two Iranian citizens, 29-year-old Seyed Mohammed Reza Delavar and 18-year-old Pouria Nourmohammadi. As the search for the missing Malaysian Airlines plane stretches on, the case of the stolen passports has evolved into its own subplot, sparking questions about why – and how – the men were on the plane. Initial speculation that they were terrorists was rejected by Interpol. The night before they left for Kuala Lampur, Nourmohammadi and Delevar stayed with a friend, who later told the the BBC’s Jonathan Head that he believed they were setting off in search of a better life in Europe.
Still, a definitive answer for the stolen passports has yet to be found. While authorities continue to seek information about these two passengers, the travel industry is being forced to contemplate questions of its own.
The passengers carrying stolen passports were identified using Interpol’sStolen and Lost Travel Document database, but only after the plane was reported missing. The database, available to countries and law enforcement agencies, allows officials to screen passports being used to travel internationally against passports reported lost or stolen; Interpol has identified terrorists, murderers and war criminals using the database.
Yet according to Interpol, the option, which has been available since 2002, is significantly underused. “Approximately four out of every 10 international passengers are not being screened” against the database, Interpol reports, and fewer than 20 of 190 member countries routinely checked passports against the database in 2013.
Some nations use the database more than others. Interpol names the US, UK and UAE as the three most active countries when it comes to screening passports. In 2013, the US searched the database more than 238 million times, the UK more than 140 million times and the UAE more than 104 million times.
In the face of international attention, Interpol Secretary General Ronald K Noble said that if countries were failing to fully screen international passengers with the database, Interpol “must look to work with private industry in addressing this security gap”.
At an 11 March press conference in Lyon, France, Interpol announced that has launched a programme that will put security in the hands of the travel industry. Two airlines, Qatar Airways and Air Arabia, will  have limited access to the Stolen and Lost Travel Document database. The program, called I-Checkit, is intended to allow security checks to start as soon as a potential flyer books a ticket by extending access to the database to airlines, hotels and banks.
Whether this is a reasonable model for the travel industry remains to be seen. Perry Flint, a spokesman for the Geneva-based International Air Transport Association, said, “While all airlines visually screen travel documents presented by their passengers...they are limited in what they can do.” He added, “Border control and security are the responsibility of States.”
Since 2002, the Interpol database has gathered 40 million instances of lost or stolen passports – an average of more than 3 million passports reported lost or stolen each year. According to the World Tourism Organisation, there were one billion international tourists in 2013.
Frequent travellers also have many anecdotes about how common – and frightening – it is to misplace a passport. Lauren Manuel, a South Africantravel blogger living in Malaysia, once found herself in a foreign country sans passport. Manuel and her husband had been living in Thailand and had travelled to Penang, Malaysia to get their visas renewed. “We were stupid enough to have our hands full whilst paying the cab driver and grabbed all our belongings in a rush,” she said. “We were meant to hand our passports into a company who gets visas renewed for travellers in Thailand, so when we reached the office and couldn't find our passports, we flew into a blind panic.” If stolen, their passports could have been used for anything from identity theft to insurance to rent a scooter. Even if they were simply lost, Manuel and her husband still worried about being deported from the country.

They immediately contacted local police. After three stressful hours being hustled between local police stations, they were reunited with their passports. “In that moment, we both nearly collapsed from sheer relief and realised we had been saved. Someone had picked them on the street and handed them in,” Manuel said.
Fortunately, travellers like Manuel should soon benefit from the advancement of anti-fraud passport technology. By 2012, more than 100 countries had implemented biometric passports, or ePassports, according to the International Civil Aviation Organisation, a UN agency that develops standards and recommended practices for international flights.
Stewart Verdery, former US Homeland Security assistant secretary for policy, explained that ePassports are more difficult to forge because they use an implanted chip that contains biographical information and a biometric – a digital facial image or a fingerprint. This biometric information allows border agents to do a “one-to-one match, and a one-to-many match”, he said, comparing faces or fingerprints to databases that confirm identity and track criminal information. Individual countries or agencies are responsible for maintaining and checking their own databases.
As organisations continue to work on the procedures necessary for helping travellers keep their passports – and identities – safe, those on the road need to continue to follow practical tips: making photocopies of important travel documents, keeping close track of them and reporting a theft or loss immediately.





2014年2月13日星期四

Vultures: Nature’s rubbish collectors who never strike




http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140210-vultures-halting-killer-diseases

POWER OF NATURE

Vultures: Nature’s rubbish collectors who never strike

Vultures are often derided for being ugly and smelly, but these incredibly efficient scavengers help humanity by eating dead animals. And India has recently found just how crucial this role is to our well-being.
They are nature’s most opportunistic scavengers, soaring effortlessly in the air on the lookout for their next meal. Mankind has often treated these birds with disgust, but recently it’s been revealed how much we owe them.
Vultures feed on the carcasses of dead animals, helping lessen the chance of disease outbreaks – a fact that was starkly revealed in India over the last few decades. Widespread use of a drug to treat livestock ended up poisoning the birds. “We think we’ve lost somewhere around 40 million birds in the space of two decades, it’s probably the biggest population crash that has ever happened,” says Jemima Parry-Jones, director of the International Centre for Birds of Prey.
In this film, Parry Jones, Dr Ananya Mukherjee of the Saving Asian Vultures from Extinction (Save), Dr M Sanjayan of The Nature Conservancy and environmental economist Pavan Sukhdev reveal what happened next. Without the vultures, carcasses rotted, creating a breeding ground for diseases and leaving a terrible stench. Feral dogs thrived, bringing with them a rise in rabies; India now has the highest number of rabies cases in the world.
Now livestock are being treated with a drug that doesn’t harm vultures, in the hope that the population will recover so that they can return to their vitally important role. As Parry-Jones says: “People tend to think they’re ugly, dirty and smelly, and they’re far from it and they’re absolutely crucial to the environment. They’re the only dustmen in the world who’ve never gone on strike.”
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Myth of the ‘real-life Robocop’



http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140213-myth-of-the-real-life-robocop

SCIENCE/FICTION






Myth of the ‘real-life Robocop’

(MGM/Columbia)
Myth of the ‘real-life Robocop’
Reports that the ultimate crime enforcer may be on our streets soon is largely news hype, says Quentin Cooper. We’re more likely to see Robosnoop, not Robocop.


In the new reboot he’s called the “future of American justice”. In the far superior 1987 original he’s the “future of law enforcement”*. But is Robocop the future of anything?
Both versions of the movie explore how the war against crime might be turned by a man-machine cyborg, programmed to “serve the public trust, protect the innocent, uphold the law”. Even in 1987 this idea of robotically-enhanced policing wasn’t new, at least in fiction –I’m particularly fond of the late 1970s US sitcom Holmes & Yoyo, in which a cop with a habit of leaving his partners in hospital pairs up with an android specially programmed for police work. Since then other TV shows have embraced this premise including Future Cop, Mann & Machine, and most recently ongoing Fox series Almost Human, where in the year 2048 every cop is paired with an android. 
Given our fondness both for police dramas and for stories where humans work alongside humanoid machines (Data in Star Trek, David in AI, David in Prometheus, plus many others not brought to you by the letter D) it’s easy to see why television and movie executives keep going back to the same premise. And they’re not the only ones.

Will we ever see Robocops roaming our streets? (MGM/Columbia)

Go a-Googling and you’ll find many, many references to “real-life Robocops” and articles about how police forces and defence agencies are already following in his clanking metal footsteps. This is largely journalistic hyperbole. To the best of my knowledge there is no current research on melding man and circuitry to create cyborg cops. And no-one even has plans to put armed robots on the beat, primed to laser anyone caught littering. What is advancing at a breathtaking pace, though, is the increasing use of automation and autonomy in policing and surveillance. Less Robocop, more Robosnoop.
Several robotics companies already offer a range of “law enforcement machines” – non-humanoid devices often deployed for surveillance in dangerous situations such as getting up close with suspected bombs. That’s the robot as merely a tool, but there are plans to give machines a greater role in policing.
In December, California startup Knightscope unveiled the prototype of their K5 Autonomous Data Machine. An R2-D2 lookalike, it’s designed to combine sensory readings – not just sound and vision but touch and smell – with known social and financial data on its surroundings in order to “predict and prevent crime in your community”. Which puts it almost in the “pre-crime” territory of Spielberg’s Minority Report. If nothing else it’s five feet tall, so that should deter some potential wrong-doers.
Getting even closer to Robocop is the work going on at Florida University International, assessing the viability of hooking up disabled police officers (and soldiers) to “telebots”, so they can control them as they go on patrol.
Again, there’s a long way to go before this kind of technology is close to being deployed. But other advances are already on the street. Or – at least – looking down on the street from above. Although unmanned aircraft have been around for almost a century, it’s only since the original Robocop came out that we’ve become very familiar with the use of drones around the world. Some are purely for remote monitoring using cameras and sensors, others are heavily armed hunter-killers. The unsubtly named Reaper (more formally the MQ-9 Reaper from General Atomics) is already a veteran of numerous combat missions in Afghanistan, Iraq and beyond.
Drones being deployed in warzones and other hotspots are still a long way from the policing-by-machine depicted in Robocop. But wait. Following considerable pressure from the multi-billion-dollar Unmanned Aerial Systems industry, the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) now have aCongressionally-approved mandate to integrate civilian drones into American airspace, with the FAA themselves estimating there could be “30,000 drones operating by 2020”.
While proponents have flagged up many positive uses – from being a cheaper, quieter alternative to police helicopters right down to them helping get packages and pizza delivered – there are numerous concerns about drone proliferation. Not just the obvious ones about privacy and civil rights, but also safety and security – Reapers and other drones already have a reputation for being accident prone, and there’s also the risk of them more deliberately going out of control through hacking.

If plans go ahead, US authorities estimate there could be 30,000 drones like the MQ-9 Reaper patrolling the skies by 2020 (Getty Images)

If there’s one thing science-fiction warns us about, it’s the potential for anything more sophisticated than a calculator to malfunction with homicidal consequences. So be very wary of computers and robots that are meant to protect us, especially if you’ve given them weaponry. From Skynet in Terminator to the Agents in The Matrix to the Cylons of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica, it’s always the same: smart becomes sentient, sentient becomes belligerent and the machines’ logical conclusion is to wipe out humanity. Or at least enslave us.
That doesn’t mean having ever more drones in our skies or even other more advanced autonomous system will inevitably lead to the Robocalypse. It means that before it’s too late and our skies are full of flying eyes, we need to make decisions about what we stand to lose as well as gain from all this electronic eternal vigilance.
As the original Robocop says: “Your move, creep”. 
*Yes, in the original movie it is the ED-209 robot that is originally described as the “future of law enforcement”. But it was also the film’s tagline, and the trailer ended with “Robocop: the future of law enforcement”.
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Why I want a microchip implant




http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140209-why-i-want-a-microchip-implant




BEYOND HUMAN

Why I want a microchip implant

Medical history
This chip, manufactured in the early 2000s by a company called VeriChip, stores personal medical information. (Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty)
With a chip under your skin, you can do everything from unlocking doors to starting motorbikes, says Frank Swain, who has been trying to get his own implant.
A few years ago, I perched on the edge of my bed in a tiny flat, breathing in a cloud of acetone fumes, using a scalpel to pick at the corner of an electronic travel card. More than 10 million Londoners use these Oyster cards to ride the city’s public transport network. I had decided to dissect mine. After letting the card sit in pink nail polish remover for a week, the plastic had softened enough that I could peel apart the layers. Buried inside was a tiny microchip attached to a fine copper wire: the radio frequency identification (RFID) chip.
My goal was to bury the chip under my skin, so that the machine barriers at the entrance to the Underground would fly open with a wave of my hand, as if I was some kind of technological wizard. But although I had the chip and an ex-Royal Marines medic willing to do the surgery, I failed to get my hands on the high-grade silicone I’d need to coat the chip to prevent my body reacting against it. Since then, people have used thetechnique I helped popularise to put liberated Oyster chips in bracelets, rings, magic wands, even fruit, but the prize for first London transport cyborg is still up for grabs.
The person who does will find themselves inducted into the community of “grinders” – hobbyists who modify their own body with technological improvements.  Just as you might find petrol heads poring over an engine, or hackers tinkering away at software code, grinders dream up ways to tweak their own bodies. One of the most popular upgrades is to implant a microchip under the skin, usually in the soft webbing between the thumb and forefinger.
Many people now have chips implanted in the fleshy part between thumb and index finger. (Amal Graafstra/Dangerous Things)
Take Amal Graafstra, a self-described “adventure technologist” and founder of biohacking company Dangerous Things in Seattle, Washington. He is a double implantee – he has a microchip in each hand.
In his right hand is a re-writable chip, the same kind used in Oyster travel cards, which can be used to store small amounts of data. By pressing his hand to his phone, information can be downloaded from his body or uploaded into it. The left contains a simple identity number that can be scanned to unlock his front door, log into his computer or even start a motorbike (see video, below).
This month at the Transhuman Visions conference in San Francisco, Graafstra set up an “implantation station” offering attendees the chance to be chipped at $50 a time. Using a large needle designed for microchipping pets, Graafstra injected a glass-coated RFID tag the size of a rice grain into each volunteer. By the end of the day Graafstra had created 15 new cyborgs.
For other people, though, the idea of implanting themselves with microchips may conjure up spectres of surveillance and totalitarian control. “Every Hollywood movie has told them that implants are for tracking people,” says Graafsta. “People don’t get that it's the same exact technology as the card in your wallet. When someone uses a credit card, wireless or not, they are tracked because several other corporations know who they are, when they purchased, how much they spent, and where they spent it.”
Yet if that’s true, what’s the point of implanting it? Graafstra and his fellow cyborgs could just as easily use a chip inside plastic wallet to store data, and a key to open his front door or start a motorbike. “Yes, basically you've taken an RFID access card normally stored in a pants pocket and moved it to a skin pocket,” admits Graafstra. Still, there are some advantages: one benefit is that you’ll never lose the chip, and it makes physical theft impossible – at least unless a thief is prepared for some gruesome surgery.
Graafsta also points out that embedding the chip under the skin reduces the distance that it can be read with a scanner, making it more secure.  When it’s in your arm or hand, there’s less chance someone can surreptitiously scan your details, by sweeping a card reader nearby.
Sub-skin capsule with chip that can be read by scanners (Amal Graafstra/Dangerous Things)
Ultimately, implanted microchips offer a way to make your physical body machine-readable. Currently, there is no single standard of communicating with the machines that underpin society – from building access panels to ATMs – but an endless diversity of identification systems: magnetic strips, passwords, PIN numbers, security questions, and dongles. All of these are attempts to bridge the divide between your digital and physical identity, and if you forget or lose them, you are suddenly cut off from your bank account, your gym, your ride home, your proof of ID, and more. An implanted chip, by contrast, could act as our universal identity token for navigating the machine-regulated world.
Yet to work, such a chip would need to be truly universal and account for potential obsolescence. My own flirtation with implanted technology came to an end when I moved away from London, making an Oyster-equipped hand pointless. Even with a return to London on the cards, I’m thinking twice about returning to my project, since Oyster cards are being phased out.
Such a development may actually be a cause for optimism for implant enthusiasts, however, because instead of Oyster cards, London's transport authority is allowing people to ride the subways and buses using bank cards. It marks the beginnings of a slow move toward a world where everything will be accessed from a single RFID microchip. If that day comes, I can’t think of a safer place to keep it than inside my own body.
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