Feds admit they used secret anti-terror mass surveillance tool to catch an undocumented waiter

Rudy Carcamo-Carranza was an undocumented restaurant worker in Michigan wanted for a DUI and a hit-and-run; the FBI and ICE used IMSI catchers -- powerful, secretive cellphone tracking tools that the agencies bill as a kind of superweapon in the war on terror -- to catch him and put him up for deportation. Read the rest

An IoT botnet is trying to nuke Wcry's killswitch

Whoever created the Wcry ransomware worm -- which uses a leaked NSA cyberweapon to spread like wildfire -- included a killswitch: newly infected systems check to see if a non-existent domain is active, and if it is, they fall dormant, ceasing their relentless propagation. Read the rest

A university librarian explains why her zine collection's catalog is open access

Marta Chudolinska is Learning Zone Librarian at the Ontario College of Art and Design University, which hosts a huge zine collection founded in 2007 Alicia Nauta, then a student. Read the rest

By sabotaging the 2020 census, Republicans make it harder to fight gerrymandering

The best way to fight gerrymandering is to prove to courts that electoral districts have been unfairly formed, a tactic that's been used successfully in places like North Carolina; but for this to work, you need good demographic data to show that the district is unfair, and for that, you need an accurate census. Read the rest

Real estate bubbles lower the birth-rate

Shelter is a human necessity second only to food on Maslow's hierarchy of needs; but it's also an asset-class that is increasingly relied upon by the world's super-rich for money-laundering, rent-extraction and simple investment -- this creates a dilemma for governments, who are under pressure to ratchet up the cost of a fundamental human necessity in order to enrich a minority of wealthy land- and property-owners. Read the rest

Israel to Trump: no, you can't land a helicopter on our UNESCO World Heritage Site

Special snowflake Donald Trump has been thwarted in his plan to land a helicopter on Masada, an ancient fortress in Israel that Unesco has declared to be a World Heritage Site; he'll have to ride the cablecar up it just like every other world leader who's visited it since 1998. Read the rest

Disney's Hall of Presidents show reportedly rolled back so Trumpbot won't get a speaking role

For decades, new US presidents were welcomed to Walt Disney World's Hall of Presidents with a robot carved in their honor, and which would deliver a short, recorded speech voiced by the incoming POTUS himself -- but the idea of a talking Trumpbot is so repugnant that the entire show is reportedly being rolled back to an earlier version (nominally to shorten it), eliminating the speaking roles of everyone except Lincolnbot and Washingtonbot. Read the rest

Theresa May promises a British version of Iran's Halal Internet

UK Prime Minister and noted authoritarian Theresa May has promised that if she wins the upcoming general election, her party will abolish internet access in the UK, replacing it with a government-monitored internet where privacy tools are banned and online services will be required to vet all user-supplied content for compliance with rules about pornography, political speech, copyright compliance and so on -- and search engines will have to emply special British rules to exclude banned material from their search results. Read the rest

The abysmal information security at Trump properties has probably already compromised US secrets

Propublica and Gizmodo sent a penetration-testing team to Mar-a-Lago, the Trump resort that has been at the center of series of controversial potential breaches of US military secrecy (for example, loudly discussing sensitive information about the North Korean missile launch in the club's full, public dining room); they discovered that it would be child's play to hack the Mar-a-Lago networks, and that indeed, the networks have almost certainly already been hacked. Read the rest

Apple, CTA and Big Car are working in secret to kill New York's Right to Repair legislation

Here's the list of companies that are quietly lobbying to kill New York State's Right to Repair legislation (previously), which would force companies to halt anticompetitive practices that prevent small businesses from offering repair services to their communities: "Apple, Verizon, Toyota, Lexmark, Caterpillar, Asurion, Medtronic" and the Consumer Technology Association "which represents thousands of electronics manufacturers." Read the rest

Translate between Charles Babbage's computing jargon and modern terminology

If you're intending to build an analytical engine with a six-sided prism to run Charles Babbage's weird cardboard vaporware program, you will need some help with Babbage's notes, as old Charles was inventing a whole technical vocab from scratch. Read the rest

Kickstarting a replica of the original Pioneer Plaque, manufactured by the original craftsman

You know what would go great with your Voyager Golden Record? A replica of the "galactic greeting card" plaque that rode along with the Pioneer 10 and 11 probes, designed by Frank Drake and Carl Sagan with artwork prepared by Linda Salzman Sagan. Read the rest

Put on Your Corbyn Face: a game you win by displaying empathy

Games for the Many sends us Put on Your Corbyn Face, "A web game where you are challenged to match the emotions of a photo Jeremy Corbyn. Possibly the first web game you play with empathy and emotion." Read the rest

Netflix app will no longer run on rooted Android devices

Netflix has become one of the main forces for DRM in the world, a driver behind the W3C's dangerous, web-scale DRM project, and now they've announced that their app will no longer run on rooted/bootloader unlocked Android devices, because these devices can run code that overrides Google Widevine DRM (Widevine doesn't work well under the best of circumstances, and it harbored unpatched, showstopper bugs since its very inception). Read the rest

Matt Ruff's "Lovecraft Country" adapted for TV by Jordan Peele and HBO

Well, this just made my day: Matt Ruff's outstanding anti-racist novel Lovecraft Country has been picked up for development into a TV show by Jordan "Get Out" Peele, JJ Abrams and HBO. Read the rest

Nominate your digital heroes for EFF's Pioneer Award

The Electronic Frontier Foundation's annual Pioneer Award honors people who have "contributed substantially to the health, growth, accessibility, or freedom of computer-based communications," and the 26th annual awards will be given out this year: nominations are open until May 23. Read the rest

Vancouver, I'll see you at tonight's Walkaway tour stop (then Burbank, Oxford, London...) (!)

Many thanks to the good folks who came out to Bellingham's Village Books for last night's Walkaway event; tonight, I'll be appearing in Vancouver before flying home to Burbank for an event at my local Dark Delicacies on Saturday and then going straight to the airport for the start of my UK tour. Read the rest

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