Drones Banned From Flying While Obama Visits London

People love drones, from their ability to race around the skies to capturing the most picture perfect moments you just don’t feel safe taking yourself. Sadly if you were looking at grabbing a quick picture of President Obama during his visit to London in a couple of week’s you will have to shelve your drone thanks to plans to ban drones from flying around London during the president’s visit.

The bulletin was released by the National Air Traffic Service (NATS) and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and will restrict all types of aircraft on Thursday, April 21st (The Queens birthday) and Sunday, April 24th. The restrictions will be in place on all aircraft, including drones like the one that crashed at the muses content, banning any craft from flying below 762 metres (2,500 feet).

The restrictions are in place over three separate areas, with each area having specific times and dates, with the most restrictive being in Area 2 who find a lack of air traffic all the way from 8PM on the 21st till 9.30AM on the 24th.

With this becoming a common measure for high-profile events, you should be weary of flying your drones when big events are happening as you can often end up with large fines and a ban on using any type of drone.

Obama to Appoint Execs From Uber, Mastercard & Microsoft to Cybersecurity Panel

Cybersecurity is a big issue this year, with people becoming more and more aware of the steps that both governments and companies are making to gain access to or stop others accessing their data. After its recent attempt to get Apple to help bypass the security features on an iPhone, the FBI rather embarrassingly revealed that government systems had been accessed by an unknown party since 2011. In a move to help combat cybersecurity issues, President Obama intends to appoint executives from several major technology companies to a new cybersecurity panel to help act on these matters.

As part of a $19 billion proposal, the Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity will see people who are described by President Obama as being “dedicated individuals [who will] bring a wealth of experience and talent to this important role, and I look forward to receiving the Commission’s recommendations.”.

Among the names appear the likes of General Keith Alexander, director of the NSA from 2005 till 2014; Ubers Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan; the CEO of MasterCard Ajay Banga and corporate vice president of Microsoft Research, Peter Lee. With these being just a few of the names listed, the list seems to be focused on gathering the support of those who have experience within the industry, and while the released statement may be an announcement of his intent, any of the members on the list could provide valuable insight into cybersecurity.

Obama Weighs In On Apple Vs FBI

Recently the news has been flooded by the events of Apple and the FBI, both of whom are arguing in regards to encryption and companies being made to remove or bypass security features on government orders. Each side has arguments that are fair and it doesn’t look like the discussions will end anytime soon as each side makes point after point, for now though it would seem that President Obama weighs in with the FBI.

Answering a question in his keynote speech at the South by Southwest conference, President Obama started with “I can’t comment on that specific case” only to then follow-up by reminding people that law enforcement agencies can obtain a warrant then “rifle through your underwear to see if there’s evidence of wrongdoing”.

Obama carried on by saying that “we don’t want [the] government looking through phones willy-nilly”, a core concept at the heart of the Apple FBI argument, but re-enforced that we are looking at future where we will need “strong encryption” but in some cases, we may need to bypass that encryption. Raising the question around what would happen if we created technology that was so strongly encrypted, how would we catch people who are acting illegally.

Obama seems to be a fan of the master key scenario, in which a special key (or series of keys) could be used to gain access through robust encryption. In order to reduce the risk in this scenario though he would have the key “accessible by the smallest number of people possible for a subset of issues that we agree are important.”

Obama did accept that “how we design [such a system] is not something I have the expertise to do”, effectively stating that he wants to get support and backing from the companies that use this technology to help negotiate an acceptable answer for all to this solution.

Hacker Who Leaked Bush’s Emails To Be Extradited

In this day and age, security and technology are constantly at odds. With the ability to chat with people all over the world with the press of a button, sometimes storing that information can be troublesome. A year and a half ago the U.S. found this out when it was discovered that former president George W Bush’s emails, now it would seem the hacker responsible is to be extradited.

Marcel Lehel Lazăr reportedly broke into the email account of several family members of George W Bush, gaining access to everything from family photos to self-portraits painted by the former president himself. The hack contained emails regarding family matters such as a funeral for his father, former president George H. W. Bush.

Lazăr, a former cab driver, is being charged with cyberstalking, obstruction of justice, aggravated identity theft, wire fraud and unauthorised access to a protected computer. Under Romanian Law, he can be extradited for up to 18 months to face the charges. With a former conviction in 2014 for hacking into accounts of Romanian officials, the past looks to have repeated itself again with his latest act.

With no names mentioned in the case, it lists one of the victims as a “family member of two former US presidents who was the true owner of an AOL account known to the grand jury”. With so few families having two former presidents in their midst, I think it’s safe to say that this case revolves around the Bush family.

Computer Science Now a Core Subject in Chicago Schools

Chicago has a history of making large moves with the latest technology. From installing cables to help avoid power cuts to trains with no drivers, Chicago doesn’t want to stop there and has now become the first state that recognises Computer Science as a core subject.

Computer science is a debated subject, with pressure from governments and companies to help boost people’s knowledge of the technology they use every single day. Chicago public schools will now consider the classes as a core requirement, meaning that the 107 schools in the state which currently teach the course will be only the start.

In order to make sure the Computer Science course is there to help, the school district is working with not just companies but also Code.org, the group behind the hour of code initiative. With President Obama putting aside around $4 billion to help fund computer science courses across the U.S., and personally learning to write some code, Computer Science is quickly becoming more than an idea for schools.

With governments and companies like Apple running classes, it is quickly becoming clear that the need for people to understand not just how to use computers, but how they work and what they do is growing as we use more technology on an everyday basis. Combine that with schools opening up eSports courses to help promote teamwork and logical thinking, sometimes you almost wish you were back in school.

Donald Trump Claims he Will Make Apple Start Building Computers in The US

Donald Trump is a divisive figure who seems to thrive on controversy. Whenever he voices any sort of xenophobic or racist remarks, his popularity increases. While there’s an ongoing discussion in the UK about banning Trump, you cannot overlook his ability to resonate with certain voters in the USA. The majority of Trump’s rhetoric revolves around making America great through nationalistic, patriotic speeches and decrying the current state of the USA. During a talk at Liberty University today, Trump made outlandish claims about Apple’s workforce and promised to bring employment back to US citizens:

“We have such amazing people in this country: smart, sharp, energetic, they’re amazing,”

“I was saying make America great again, and I actually think we can say now, and I really believe this, we’re gonna get things coming… we’re gonna get Apple to start building their damn computers and things in this country, instead of in other countries.”

Clearly, this is pure fantasy as bringing a huge amount of manufacturing jobs back to the US isn’t financially feasible. Apple is well aware they can acquire labour in the Asian market at a reduced rate, and maximize profits. While it’s possible for some jobs at the company to be created in the USA, Apple isn’t obliged to offer jobs to a specific nation. In all honesty, this is another political tool being used by Trump to try and emphasize his pro-American ideology. Whatever the case, Trump has become a laughing stock in many countries and his views are mocked all over social media platforms. This is exemplified by various internet memes and brief Vine clips.

Apple has rightfully received criticism for its tax avoidance and could face a hefty charge by the European Commission. On the other hand, the idea that someone running for president can suddenly bring the US workforce back to a company driven by profit is absurd.

Image courtesy of The Atlantic.

Imagining The World If Powerful Leaders Were Transformers

Well, erm, yes, as you do, have you ever wanted to see famous political leaders being depicted as Transformers? Now you can after a talented artist and satirist by the name of Gunduz Agayev has bought an updated 2015 incarnation of his “Transformers” series back to the public eye.

First up below is the former research scientist and current Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel who looks quite calm and authoritative, well for a transformer anyway.  Germany as a country has had quite a difficult year, from a faltering economy to the current refugee situation, I think the illustration captures the demeanour of the German Chancellor over the past year.

Next up below is what appears to be a cross between a transformer and Robocop in the form of current president Barrack Obama, this illustration perfectly captures the relentless attacks by Donald Trump over the course of 2015 as the US gears for this years (2016) presidential election, who would have thought Republication Trump could still have a chance of running for the White House. The illustration also conveys a sense that President Obama is attempting to be Robocop for the entire world after attempting to push through laws that impact more than just the US.

Below is the next illustration and it perfectly captures and also satirizes the current president of Russia Vladimir Putin, his 2015 has been somewhat gung-ho and has included verbal threats against numerous countries as well as air strikes in Syria etc.

Last but not least is the current Queen of the UK Elizabeth II, who looks quite cheerful as a red London bus transformer, it pretty much sums up 2015 for the Queen when you consider her personality never really deviates when greeting people in the public eye.

These pieces of artwork are memorable, unique and convey key characteristics while making a statement, they also have more significance rather than being just a series of over the top images.

FitBit Has A Surprising And High Profile New Fan

FItBit’s range of smart fitness products has catapulted the company onto bigger and better avenues over the last year or so, the new breed of small, light yet powerful wearable pieces of tech has captured the imagination. It now looks as if the company has another fan that is rather more powerful than your average consumer.

That consumer in question is 44th US president and a fan of tech Mr Barrack Obama who was seen sporting what looks to be a FitBit Surge while being interviewed by comic legend Jerry Seinfeld. Below is a snap that was taken of Mr Obama wearing the device, it seems the president has been looking forward to test driving the watch since last year. There has also been a humorous take concerning Mr Obama’s preference for FitBit considering both Apple and Samsung smart watches have a recording function built-in which might be slightly dodgy for the president.

According to research that was conducted by IDC, FitBit is the world’s highest selling wearable device and leads Apple. It conveys the paradox that many government officials find themselves in, on one hand they attempt to clamp down and pursue tech companies over surveillance and various laws, yet they also use the gadgets that have been created by that industry.

Image courtesy of kaiserkiwi

The Intercept Leaks Huge Cache of Documents on the USA Drone Strike Program

Leaks of classified information have been part of the fabric of social interactions and also modern-day communications that includes the Internet, from hacked celeb pics to the now infamous Edward Snowdon cache of documents that detailed the extensive surveillance states and operations around the world. This leak is no different, yet if genuine, (I have to put this caveat in just in case someone is lying here and it comes back to bite me firmly on the posterior), is a huge trove of secret documents which have been published by The Intercept, detailing the Obama administration’s secretive and controversial drone-based assassination program.

If you’re not familiar with this program then let me elaborate, The US military and figures including the Obama administration have implemented a program that sort to track and kill high-value enemy targets throughout Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia. Now onto the documents which have been classed as being leaked by an anonymous whistleblower, this information covers an extensive array of subjects which includes kill chains, operations and also the standard intelligence flaws.

Skimming through this information reveals some extremely sensitive documents, for example “One top-secret document shows how the terror watchlist appears in the terminals of personnel conducting drone operations, linking unique codes associated with cellphone SIM cards and handsets to specific individuals in order to geolocate them”.

Another document reveals a case of a British citizen, Bilal el-Berjawi, who was stripped of his citizenship before being killed in a U.S drone strike in 2012. “British and American intelligence had Berjawi under surveillance for several years as he travelled back and forth between the U.K. and East Africa yet did not capture him. Instead, the U.S. hunted him down” and eventually used a drone strike to kill him in Somalia.

The “Kill Chain” sounds like a title to a film, yet this purported leak is very compelling, interesting, informative and also fascinating. It details the steps required to authorize a drone strike on a target in Yemen and the people who it passes through. It also shows that according to a Pentagon study, president Obama signed off on a 60 day authorizations to kill suspected terrorists, but he did not sign off on individual strikes.

According to the documents, there are two steps. Step 1 is choosing the target and step 2 is taking a strike. Step 1 starts from a JSOC task force before going through officials including Leon Panetta who is the Secretary of Defence, a principals committee which includes Hillary Clinton all the way to President Obama. Step 2, in the case of strikes in Yemen, ranges from a JSOC task force all the way to the president of Yemen.

Well yes, this is indeed big, am I surprised? No, the US is addicted to the Find Fix Finish mantra which has made drone strikes popular for the administration. The cache is extensive and it is far too much information to detail here, otherwise this article would be 5000 words long, and few want that.

It will be fascinating to see further developments in the coming days, weeks and also months.

Thank you theintercept for providing us with this information.

Jeb Bush Promises to Trash Net Neutrality Laws if Elected

Republican US Presidential candidate Jeb Bush, who announced his candidacy on Facebook at the end of last year, has vowed to “repeal or reform the most onerous Obama rules and regulations,” with net neutrality high on that list.

“The Federal Communications Commission’s Net Neutrality rule classifies all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as ‘public utilities,’ subjecting them to antiquated ‘common carrier’ regulation,” a post from Bush’s team, entitled “The Regulatory Crisis in Washington”, reads.

“Rather than enhancing consumer welfare, these rules prohibit one group of companies (ISPs) from charging another group of companies (content companies) the full cost for using their services,” the post continues, veiling Bush’s business-serving libertarian ideals behind advocacy for the common man.

Bush adds that broadband providers “like KWISP (475 customers in rural Illinois) and Wisper ISP (8,000 customers near St. Louis, Missouri)—have declared under penalty of perjury that the Net Neutrality rule has caused them to cut back on investments to upgrade and expand their networks,” failing to acknowledge that a number of ISPs, in the face of pending net neutrality laws, threatened to stop upgrading networks in order to hold the FCC to ransom. ISPs don’t like net neutrality as it prevents them from monetising the internet, one of the things consumers need protection from.

Thank you Ars Technica for providing us with this information.

Nintendo Names New President

Nintendo loves ‘new’. Following New Super Mario Bros. Wii U and New Nintendo 3DS XL, the company has announced the New Nintendo President. Following the sad death of Satoru Iwata, Nintendo has appointed Tatsumi Kimishima as its new President.

Kimishima is a figure unknown to many gamers, and for good reason – he’s the first Nintendo President to have a background purely in business, rather than game creation, since Hiroshi Yamauchi moved the company into the video game market during the Eighties. The man is Nintendo through and through, though, and has successfully held management positions at different levels throughout the company for over 13 years, when he moved from his role as President of Pokémon USA Inc. to become President of Nintendo of America in 2002.

Nintendo has also announced new roles for stalwarts Shigeru Miyamoto and Genyo Takeda, who have become Creative Fellow and Technology Fellow, respectively. According to Nintendo’s announcement, a “Fellow” is an “individual selected from among the Representative Directors who has advanced knowledge and extensive experience, and holds the role of providing advice and guidance regarding organizational operations in a specialized area.”

Shinya Takahashi, Nintendo’s former Head of Software Planning & Development, has become the General Manager of Entertainment Planning & Development as the company prepares to move into mobile gaming in partnership with DeNA, while planning its next assault on the home gaming market with its NX console.

Thank you Forbes and WIRED for providing us with this information.

John McAfee is Running For President to Stop the “Cyberwar”

Professional kook John McAfee, famous for developing McAfee antivirus and notorious for his run-ins with the law, announced yesterday that he is running for US President as a third-party candidate under the banner of the newly-formed Cyber Party. McAfee, who was accurately described by the Prime Minister of Belize as “extremely paranoid, even bonkers”, has no revealed exactly why he feels the need to control the United States of America: to prevent a cyberwar that has already begun.

In an op-ed piece for Digital Trends, McAfee discussed his motivations for proposing his Presidential candidacy, which suggest that he views the position of President as a kind of firewall made flesh:

“Our country is not prepared for a cyberwar that has already begun. We haven’t seen anything yet. It is not ready to protect the precious assets of technology that we depend on as a people. We fail at that at an alarming rate. It is not ready to protect our infrastructure, which sits on a precipice of threats. I can change that. I will change that, and it has to happen.

The Cyber Party is the spark we need to awaken the people from their deep slumber. Demand more from your government. Demand honesty. Demand freedom.”

Hopefully, if and when he replaces rhetoric with policy, we’ll truly understand what McAfee wants for America, beyond buzzword demands for “honesty” and “freedom”. If not, at least it should be a fun ride.

https://youtu.be/sMz6GV3b1ys

Thank you Digital Trends for providing us with this information.

John McAfee is Running for President

At last, someone is set to provide competition worthy of Donald Trump. That’s right: billionaire-turned-fugitive John McAfee is running for President of the United States of America. McAfee – developer of the world’s first anti-virus program, long since sold off – has filed the paperwork to run as a third-party candidate under the banner of the newly-formed Cyber Party. He promises an official announcement on Wednesday, 6pm Eastern time.

McAfee’s chequered past is sure to resonate with American voters: he fled from Belize after local police wanted to speak to him in relation to the suspicious death of his neighbour, American ex-pat Gregory Vlant Faiull. Prior to that, the Gang Suppression Unit Belizean Police Department raided McAfee’s property. He was arrested, but not charged, for manufacturing unlicensed drugs and possession of a firearm.

McAfee – described by Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize, as “extremely paranoid, even bonkers” – revelled in his role as a fugitive, blogging about the latest disguises he employed to evade law enforcement. After a month on the run, McAfee was arrested for illegally entering Guatemala. He stalled his eventual deportation to the US by faking two heart attacks. While the Belizean government stopped chasing McAfee as a person of interest in the Faull murder case, it did seize and sell off his assets.

Only last month, McAfee was arrested in Tennessee for driving under the influence of alcohol and possession of a handgun under the influence. An effort to “Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism,” no doubt. His debates with Trump are sure to be a hoot.

Thank you NBC News for providing us with this information.

Nintendo President Satoru Iwata Passes Away Aged 55

Today is a tragic day for gamers, developers, publishers and anyone else involved in the gaming industry as we mourn the loss of Satoru Iwata at the age of 55. Taken far too early, Iwata had struggled with a bile duct growth and taken time off from public appearances to undergo surgery. Despite initial impressions being positive, the surgery wasn’t successful and Iwata sadly, never recovered. A statement from Nintendo confirmed the terrible news and reads:

“Nintendo Co., Ltd. deeply regrets to announce that President Satoru Iwata passed away on July 11, 2015 due to a bile duct growth.” 

Iwata was a pioneer who brought fun to millions of homes and performed his executive role in such an endearing, non-corporate way. He joined Nintendo in the 1980s and helped create iconic games such as Earthbound and some of the later Kirby titles. Furthermore, he was at the helm during the hugely successful Wii and 3DS years. While the Wii was a commercial hit, it didn’t offer many enriching games but had a number of phenomenal exceptions. My personal highlights were Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story. Additionally, the 3DS library is exemplary and contains a wealth of exclusives making it a dream system for JRPG aficionados.

It wasn’t always a rip-roaring success though as Iwata’s management of the Gamecube, and Wii U came under fire due to weak sales versus the competition. This also applied to the lack of 3rd party support on the Wii U. For all the Wii U’s flaws, the games it has are fantastic and Super Mario 3D is one of my favourites of all time! In a similar fashion, the Gamecube featured classics like The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, The Legend of Zelda: Windwaker, Super Mario Sunshine and Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes.

One of my dearest memories harks back to Iwata’s “Heart of a Gamer” keynote at GDC 2005 which was nothing short of inspiring. He eloquently said,

“On my business card I’m a corporate president, in my mind I’m a game developer, but in my heart I’m a gamer”

He was never afraid to be self-depreciating and look silly just to bring joy and happiness throughout the world. This is why the Nintendo Direct programs he presented became so popular.

Iwata is impossible to replace, but also impossible to forget. We will always remember you and everything you did to progress this medium into such a successful form of entertainment.

R.I.P Mr. Iwata, we will miss you and your infectious charm.

Despite the Rumours ECS Are Here To Stay!

In the last few hours, we have received numerous emails and read countless stories regarding the pull-out from the DIY motherboard market by technology giant ECS (ELITEGROUP). Reports originated from DIGITIMES under the subject “ECS to quit own-brand DIY motherboard business”.

Before we published such a story, we contacted ECS directly to confirm this story was in fact true and we were given this response from the president of ECS, Sunny Yang.

“We feel regret to learn the untrue report from DIGITIMES pertaining to “ECS to quit own-brand DIY motherboard business, say Taiwan makers” on Jun. 24, 2015. We like to formally clarify that ECS would never give up any opportunity to work on own-brand DIY motherboard as what we always commit to our valuable customers.

We all learn the knee competition in motherboard industry.  To receive the challenge, ECS has made all the efforts to manage our own brand motherboard and create more service and value to our channel customers for years. We would continue to put more resources to provide cutting edge products and marketing events as what we just announced at Taipei Computex in early June and, therefore, enhance our brand value and your confidence level.

ECS has been cooperating with you for many years, we treasure this relationship. We will also do our best to serve your needs through our global structures. We believe, through our close cooperation, a mutually beneficial result can be achieved in a long-term relationship.”

It’s a good thing that ECS has announced this, most of our current computer technology wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for ECS. Are you happy they’re sticking around?

Russian Hackers Read Obama’s Email

According to the New York Times, Russian hackers may have gotten access to Obama’s White House email. While the White House itself has been silent on the issue, the emails were likely accessed during a hack related to the recent power outage. Sources with knowledge of the previous hack noted that Russians, likely connected to the Kremlin, were the perpetrators of the hack, a claim echoed again. Email at the White House was disrupted for about a month while the last vestiges of the hack were purged.

Despite being able to read Obama’s email, the hack is not as grievous as it could have been as it only breached the unclassified network. This means only unclassified emails sent to and from the system were accessed. Officials were quick to stress that no classified system was breached nor was classified information lost. The New York Times’s source suggests that the hack originated with a breach of the State Department’s unclassified network and found its way to the White House. That hack was so widespread, that to quote the New York Times:

“The disruptions were so severe during the Iranian nuclear negotiations in Vienna in November, officials needed to distribute personal email accounts, to one another and to some reporters, to maintain contact.”

Since the hack, Obama has reduced the frequency of his emails. Obama has been known for fighting against the Secret Service to keep access to his BlackBerry and email, unlike his predecessor, Geoge W. Bush, who completely eschewed email.  Given the recent revelations that the Pentagon unclassified networks were also hacked, it raises the issue as to how much these systems can be trusted and whether or not they are more of a liability than an asset.

Thank you New York Times for the information

Intelligence Agencies Point to Russian Involvement in Recent White House Hacking

The recent White House power outage has turned into being something more than that. CNN reports that US officials have admitted that the White House’s network has been hacked in the process, but the affected computers were part of a non-classified network serving the executive office.

Still, the attackers were able to access sensitive information, such as the president’s real-time daily schedule. CNN also reports that the attackers used an account on the State Department network to phish their way into the White House.

“We’re constantly updating our security measures on our unclassified system but we’re frankly told to act as if we need not put information that’s sensitive on that system. In other words, if you’re going to do something classified, you have to do it on one email system, one phone system.” Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security adviser, told CNN.

The Secret Service and Intelligence Agencies are already investigating the matter, but it looks like clues point to Russia being behind the attack, or at least the hackers originate from the aforementioned country.

The attackers are said to have covered their tracks by routing their activity through a lot of servers throughout the world.

Thank you Endgadget for providing us with this information

WhiteHouse.gov SSL Certificate Expires – Chrome Issues Embarrassing Warning

Apparently you couldn’t trust the White House yesterday. Well, while some may say that everyday, you really shouldn’t have yesterday, according to Google that is.

In an embarrassing blunder, the US government-owned site forgot to update its SSL certificate, resulting in insecure connections to the site, as well as the above warning message showing up on Chrome. It couldn’t have came at a worse time than yesterday, considering President Obama was speaking at the Cybersecurity Summit at Stanford University.

That summit was attended by a number of industry figures, including Apple’s Tim Cook, who spoke at the event. You can watch it in its entirety below.

Source: The Verge

22 People Vetted Mitt Romney’s Tweets During 2012 Election

We all know how social media has become the go to form of marketing for many organisations, including politics of course. But we also know how this can go completely wrong, when something goes out that shouldn’t have for instance.

There are many examples of this, with a most recent one being the case of the British Labour politician who felt compelled to resign over her Tweet mocking a white van and England flag outside someone’s property. A simple quip that cost that politician her job. So it’s no surprise that in the race for the White House, some politicians feel compelled to ensure nothing goes wrong. In Mitt Romney’s case, that meant a team of 22 people approving every single tweet that was posted to his account during the 2012 election.

In a paper called Seizing the Moment, by Daniel Kreiss, an assistant professor at UNC Chapel Hill, analysis of both Obama and Romney’s social media accounts revealed that every single tweet posted from Romney’s personal account had to be vetted by all of those people.

“Romney’s digital team had to go through an extensive vetting process for all of its public communications, meaning that the temporal workflow of the campaign did not match the speed of social media,”.

It’s no surprise that this had a negative effect on his Twitter output. Social media is often all about being spontaneous, something traditional media outlets are not.

Source: The Verge

No More FCC Labels on Your Devices

Today President Obama signed into US law the E-Label Act, an act introduced by two Senators earlier in 2015, ending the mandatory requirement for physical FCC labels on devices.

The law allows manufacturers to include the FCC labels in their software rather than having to etch them onto the device’s exterior. It’s said that this will save manufactures money, which can then be passed on to consumers.

This isn’t entirely new, as the FCC already loosened its rules on labelling earlier this year, but today’s ruling brings the changes into law. The labels will be included in software like as can be seen above, on an iPhone 6 Plus.

Still, a lot won’t change, most devices will still have the labels of the European Commission on them, that’s if they don’t change their status on the subject too.

Regardless, we all know who’ll be happy whatever happens, even if it is just one more tiny logo he can remove from his designs – Apple’s Jony Ive.

Source: MacRumors

Symantec Uncovers Tricky ‘Regin’ Malware

Anti-Virus company Symantec has identified a heavy malware threat named ‘Regin’. It’s said by PC World that this nasty piece of work was likely developed by a nation state and used by these criminals to spy on governments, infrastructure operators, businesses, researching and individuals as far back as 2008.

Symantec released a statement on Sunday alongside a technical paper about the malware. Said to span across 10 countries including Russia, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Ireland, India, Afghanistan, Iran, Belgium, Austria and Pakistan, Symantec had the following to say: “Regin displays a degree of technical competence rarely seen”. It’s interesting to note that England, Australia and USA are not included on this list.

Worried for your own safety? You probably shouldn’t be. Up until this news has been uncovered and spread across the globe, you hadn’t been effected by it personally, so why would you now? We’re not trying to partake in any ‘big news’ fear mongering, don’t worry. However, if you’re the president of one of the countries listed above, then maybe you should take a knee and listen. A very select target audience, I know.

It’s reported that the first incarnation of Regin was used to spy on multiple organizations from 2008 to 2011, seeing it withdrawn and re-injected late into 2013. Symantec also claim that nearly half of the systems with Regin installed have been identified to involve private individuals and small businesses.

Symantec claims that Regin is a back-door Trojan that is “customizable with an extensive range of capabilities depending on the target” and “it provides its controllers with a powerful framework for mass surveillance.” Alongside stating that “its authors have gone to great lengths to cover its tracks.”

We’ll continue to report as the story develops.

Image courtesy of Techtimes

President Obama Still Uses a BlackBerry

CNN reports that US President Barack Obama still uses his trusty old BlackBerry.

Surprising, considering he’s probably one of the few people left who actually does use a BlackBerry these days. Supposedly, the Secret Service and the NSA spent a great deal of time working on Obama’s BlackBerry, to make it secure enough for the president to be able to get his email fix without worrying about his communications being intercepted. The news that he still has one came after he yelled to reporters outside the White House that he forgot something before boarding Marine One, the Presidential helicopter.

“Do you guys ever forget something?” the President asked the group.

With a grin on his face Obama reached under his jacket to reveal the forgotten item. “Blackberry!”

Looking at BlackBerry’s financial situation, even having the leader of the free world as a a proud user probably isn’t enough to make things better.

Source: CNN

Obama Chimes in on Net Neutrality

US President Barack Obama has come out in support of net neutrality by suggesting that the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) reclassifies the internet as a utility.

“To put these protections in place, I’m asking the FCC to reclassify internet service under Title II of a law known as the Telecommunications Act,” Obama said in a statement. He added, “In plain English, I’m asking [the FCC] to recognize that for most Americans, the internet has become an essential part of everyday communication and everyday life.” The changes would mean that internet service would need to be treated in the same way as water or gas, meaning that ISPs would act as the ‘dumb pipe’ providing unfettered internet access, without any control as to what they sell and without being able to favour certain companies or services to benefit their business.

Obama outlined 4 major points in his statement, saying that ISPs would be restricted from blocking sites delivering legal content, they’d be banned from intentionally slowing down or speeding up certain sites or services and perhaps most importantly, they wouldn’t be able to offer paid-for ‘fast lane’ provisions for certain companies willing to pay for them at the detriment of other internet traffic. Interestingly, Obama also asks that these rules be applied to mobile internet providers as well. This would be significant in itself, as mobile providers have not at all been subject to the same restrictions as wired providers.

Source: The Verge

Angry Birds On NSA’s ‘Most Wanted’, Privacy Snoops Revealed

Latest news puts NSA and British counterpart GCHQ in the spotlight for spying on people using mobile games, such as the popular Angry Birds mobile game. It is reported that the agencies have used this tactic since 2007, as recent information from NSA’s former contractor Edward Snowden reveals. The scope of the ‘snooping’ is to determine key factors about a person, such as age, sex, location, and other sensitive information. The documents were published by three news organisations, namely New York Times, The Guardian and ProPublica.

“The data pouring onto communication networks from the new generation of iPhone and Android apps ranges from phone model and screen size to personal details such as age, gender and location. Some apps, the documents state, can share users’ most sensitive information such as sexual orientation – and one app recorded in the material even sends specific sexual preferences such as whether or not the user may be a swinger.” as The Guardian reports on the story at hand.

However, the reports don’t disclose the exact numbers and type of data collected and stored, though it was stated that the ‘perfect scenario’ for the agencies is when a user uploads a photo from a mobile device to a social media site. The documents point out that they can cross-reference information gathered from apps with another project called XKeyscore, which basically ‘knows’ everything you do online. Afterwards, with the help of the two sets of information gathered, NSA agents without prior authorization can search a huge database of information spanning from browser history, to e-mails and online chats.

When president Obama gave his speech about the reforms looking to be done inside NSA, he failed to address other ‘bulk data collection’ projects. Are we to expect more to surface? Only time will tell.

Thank you Mashable for providing us with this information

Do We All Need To Know How To Code In A World Full Of Tech?

We can’t deny it being a necessity to have your smartphone in your pocket, your laptop in your backpack and possibly your tablet in one of your hands. Technology is all around us today, from the traffic light at the intersection, to the way you get your coffee served at a shop. Everything is automated nowadays. But the actual question is, do we all know how it works?

Eric Cantor, a Republican from Virginia, said that “becoming literate in code is as essential to being literate in language and math”, a “necessary tool of the century”. President Obama seems to agree that “computers are going to be a big part of your future” as he stated it. But is coding really for everyone? Is it a necessity for tomorrow’s society?

Looking at an event called CodeDay in Santa Monica, California, we see some examples of how coding impacts our lives. CodeDay is just one event supported by StudentRND, who organises such events all over the US, and it attracts more and more coding enthusiasts. The event is about pairing up in teams and coding an app in 24 hours.

It usually takes place in the weekend, from noon Saturday until noon Sunday as it is described, in which contestants need to release an app which is planned and coded within those 24 hours. It is an interesting idea to make your weekend productive, having the alternative to go at a party and get ‘wasted’. This way, you also learn new things and improve your teamwork as well as your coding knowledge, while having something to put on your resume.

Michael Bloomberg, former New York mayor, has even tweeted last year that his new year’s resolution would be to learn how to code. Some other thoughts about coding comes from Jacob Sharf, a junior at UCLA, where he predicts that “It’ll be something that everyone knows, just like everyone knows how to read or write, it’ll be taught in middle school or elementary school, and so everyone will be familiar with the basics of it.”.

Moreover, last December, the president announced a Computer Science Education Week through YouTube. In addition to that, Tony Cárdenas has also introduced a bill called ‘416D65726963612043616E20436F646520’, which states in hexadecimal ‘America can code’, hoping to classify computer programming as a foreign language, and allocate grants for schools to start teaching coding as early as kindergarten.

Examples such as these go on and on, and the truth is that you do not have to be a genius to ‘code’. However, you are not required to know how to code to use technology now, and probably even in the future. Tech devices, operating systems and so on are made extremely easy and very intuitive, not as they were back in the 80’s where you would get a pointer on-screen waiting for commands to be inserted every second for each and every computing operation.

Although, coding is extremely beneficial and can really help you understand and probably invent new things. And you can start to code on almost everything nowadays. From PCs, to laptops, netbooks, even tablets and smartphones. Coding and ‘code’ altogether is everywhere, so why not give it a try?

Thank you NPR for providing us with this information

Barack Obama Redesigns The Way Private Information Is Collected

US president Barack Obama has made a decision to remake how NSA will spy on phones in the future. He said in a press statement that the NSA will now need court permission to get stored data from mobile phones, this including calls, text, sensitive information, etc. and they will not be able to store the information themselves.

Instead, the metadata will reportedly be collected by a third-party organization. Who that organization is or will be has yet to be determined. Obama’s NSA review group came up with the idea after Edward Snowden revealed details of how the NSA is spying on regular people. This initiative will, theoretically, lead to a way of guarding the collected information against government abuse.

“It is not enough for leaders to say, ‘Trust us, we won’t abuse the data we collect,'” Obama said during the speech, “for history has too many examples when that trust has been breached. Our system of government is built on the premise that our liberty cannot depend on the good intentions of those in power; it depends upon the law to constrain those in power.”

Spying on US allies, namely on heads of state, has been terminated as well, having set a deadline up to the end of March to cease all surveillance activity. Obama has also requested input from the Congress in order to make some possible modifications in the legislation regarding such actions. Also, a public advocacy panel has been created to handle privacy concerns which can be aired before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Obama is truly attempting to make things more transparent in what government agencies do with people’s private information, as well as offer them a way to defend themselves against misuse of their private data. But given all of what Snowden has uncovered, will it be enough?

Thank you Cnet for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Cnet