posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Even The Flash can't deliver gigabit speed data networks. JD Hancock The Federal Communications Commission is starting to plan for cellular networks that can send users gigantic streams of data, but there are technical challenges to be solved and years of work ahead. A Notice of Inquiry issued unanimously by the commission on Friday identifies frequencies of 24GHz and above as being able to provide gigabit or even 10Gbps speed. This would be a major change because today’s cellular networks use frequencies from 600MHz to 3GHz, with so-called “beachfront spectrum” under 1GHz being the most desirable because it can be used to deliver data over long distances. AT&T and Verizon Wireless control the most beachfront spectrum. "It was long assumed that higher spectrum frequencies—like those above 24 GHz—could not support mobile services due to technological and practical limitations," the FCC said in a press release. "New technologies are challenging that assumption and promise to facilitate next generation mobile service—what some call '5G'—with the potential to dramatically increase wireless broadband speeds." Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Keith Alexander, the founder of IronNet Cybersecurity, served as the director of the NSA for nearly a decade. Department of Defense The National Security Agency is now conducting an internal investigation of a top official’s part-time work for a private cybersecurity firm, according to Reuters. That company, IronNet Cybersecurity, was founded by Keith Alexander, who served as the head of the spy agency from August 2005 until March 2014. IronNet Cybersecurity has since begun offering protection services to banks for up to $1 million per month. Last Friday, Reuters, citing Alexander himself and other intelligence officials, reported that NSA CTO Patrick Dowd can work up to 20 hours per week for IronNet Cybersecurity. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 13 days ago on ars technica
These are the items Attaché Arrivals sent me in the mail, in three separate packages. (The red sugar bowl normally lives on my dining table.) Cyrus Farivar Every time I go to Europe, I make a mental list of things that I need to take with me: electrical adapters, a small stash of euros, and local SIM cards. In a tiny SD card case, I even keep a paper clip and SIMs from various countries (Germany, United Kingdom, Iceland) to ease travel. But if I’m going to a country I haven’t been to before, I have to do my research. I ask friends and check PrepaidGSM.net to find out what provider offers the best mobile data service. Then, I have to figure out where and how to get a local SIM. In short, it’s a pain. That's why I was thrilled to learn about Attaché Arrivals, a new San Francisco startup. As Ars reported in May 2014, Attaché Arrivals aims to make this entire process simpler by selling SIMs to customers before they leave home. Users would theoretically save money on exorbitant mobile roaming fees charged by their US providers by renting these foreign SIM cards through the company. The SIM comes with various other items (such as a plug adapter for European Union outlets) to help make the journey smoother. Read 22 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 13 days ago on ars technica
Zlatko Unger It’s no secret that China holds a huge amount of leverage on the future of CO2 emissions. Its incredible economic growth over the last 20 years was accompanied by a boom in greenhouse emissions. Actions to reduce that boom (as well as other pollutants) are in progress, but they haven't had any appreciable effect as of yet. At the Copenhagen talks, China pledged a lower-carbon economy—reducing the CO2 emitted per unit of GDP (also known as “carbon intensity”) by 40-45 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. And China’s current Five Year Plan (2010-2015) set a goal of reducing carbon intensity by 17 percent while still growing GDP eight percent per year. But between 2002 and 2009, China’s carbon intensity increased by three percent. What drove that? A new study led by Dabo Guan digs below the national level to take a look at the trends behind carbon intensity. The study suggests that, while huge progress is being made, it's still being swamped by massive growth in capacity. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 13 days ago on ars technica
MIT Certain materials exhibit what are called piezoelectric characteristics, meaning they develop electric charges when stretched or compressed. In general, the piezoelectric materials we use are large crystals. But researchers have predicted that a substance that forms single-atom-thick molecules—MoS2—would be strongly piezoelectric. And now researchers have studied these effects experimentally, demonstrating that the number of layers and their orientation have a big impact on the substance’s piezoelectric characteristics. To get enough material to work with, MoS2 layers were flaked off onto a flexible substrate and electrical contacts deposited at the MoS2 interface. The piezoelectric response of the material was studied by application of a strain, which causes a strain-induced polarization of charges at the sample edges. These drive the flow of electrons into an external circuit for measurement. Upon relaxation of the strain, the polarization of charges is diminished, causing the electrons to flow back to their original distribution. Because of the way the flakes were created, each sample had a different number of layers. When a sample had odd numbers of MoS2 layers, stretching and releasing produced exactly the behavior we just described: oscillating piezoelectric voltage and current outputs were observed. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 13 days ago on ars technica
Kuiper Belt Object 1110113Y, one of the objects found by Hubble that may be visited by New Horizons. Hubble Any organization that pays to put something into space likes to get as much as it can out of its hardware. NASA is no different. So while New Horizons was built specifically to visit Pluto, there was always the hope that we’d spot something beyond the dwarf planet to send the hardware on to. But even as the rendezvous with Pluto kept getting closer and final trajectory corrections needed to be planned, ground-based searches were coming up blank. (They actually located some objects, but none that New Horizons could reach given its fuel supply.) NASA then brought out one of the big guns:  the Hubble. After a preliminary test of its ability to spot small objects beyond Pluto, the New Horizons team was given time for a full survey. The results are in: we now have additional destinations. The objects in question are part of a large collection called the Kuiper Belt. KBOs, as they’re called, probably range from comet-sized to several that are larger than Pluto. The three that Hubble spotted are in the area of 25-55 kilometers (15.5 to 34.1 miles) across. All three are roughly a billion miles beyond Pluto. That's a lot, but New Horizons has already travelled about three billion miles since leaving Earth. Initial observations suggest that one can definitely be reached given New Horizons’ trajectory, and the two others are possible, but we need a bit more time to determine their orbital profile. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 13 days ago on ars technica
Flappy Android! You too will soon find this fully playable Easter egg in Lollipop. Android Central On Friday, following Google's earlier announcement that Android 5.0 would be called Lollipop, the company released a new developer build compatible with handsets like the Nexus 5 and Nexus 7. While it wasn't the first preview build for what was previously dubbed the "L release," it introduced more features that users can expect in the next Android's public launch, including an usual "about" menu Easter egg. Unlike other Android Easter eggs, however, this one is possibly Google's biggest yet—a fully playable Flappy Bird clone. Like other hidden gems in past OSes, this can be toggled by finding the version number in the system options' "About" section and tapping it repeatedly until a lollipop image pops up. Android Central confirmed on its test devices that doing this will unlock a Flappy Bird-styled game, and Ars was able to replicate the steps necessary to unlock the same game on our own Lollipop smartphone. In this Flappy Bird clone, tapping the screen made a small, spinning Android logo hop in the air as it tried to fly through lollipop-shaped obstacles. Unlike other clones, some of which were more advanced, the game was as simple—and difficult—as its obvious inspiration. The only major gameplay difference was that on occasion, the game would scroll in the opposite direction when players respawned. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 14 days ago on ars technica
Kickstarter Kickstarter removed a fundraiser for a popular Tor-based router project on Friday afternoon. The Anonabox, which was created by August Germar, of Chico, California, aimed to be an “open source embedded networking device designed specifically to run Tor.” Its fundraising goal was $7,500, and in five days, it raised $585,549 from nearly 9,000 backers—including three Ars editors. Germar told Ars that he was not aware that it had been suspended until Ars forwarded him an e-mail from Kickstarter outlining the possible reasons why it could have been cancelled. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 14 days ago on ars technica
Today, the White House announced a pause in a specific type of research on viruses. Rather than being a response to the recent Ebola infections, this dates back to events that began in 2011. Back then, researchers who were studying the bird flu put it through a series of lab procedures that ended with a flu virus that could readily infect mammals. Some members of the scientific community considered this work irresponsible, as the resulting virus could, again, potentially infect humans. Similar research and a debate over its value and threat have continued. Now, however, the Obama administration decided to put it on hold. Prompted by several recent biosafety lapses (including the discovery of old smallpox samples at the National Institutes of Health), the government will temporarily stop funding for these projects. During the pause, the government will organize a "deliberative process" that will consider the value of the research and the appropriate safety precautions that will need to be followed if it's done. The review will be run by a combination of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity and the National Academies of Science. The funding pause will apply to any projects that can allow viruses like the flu, MERS, and SARS to either add mammals to the list of species they can infect, or to increase their virulence following infection. The government also hopes that any lab pursuing this research using private funding will voluntarily join in the pause. Researchers who are simply studying naturally occurring viruses without modifying them will not be affected by this pause. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 14 days ago on ars technica
Grooves in the seafloor off South Carolina carved by icebergs. Jenna C. Hill “Snowbirds” they are called—people who escape snowy winters in the northern US by seasonally migrating to second homes in Florida. Probably about the last thing they would like to see while walking along the beach is the ice following them south. At certain times just a handful of millennia ago, it turns out, they might have been surprised to find icebergs floating by the beaches. When Earth’s climate was colder and an ice sheet covered Canada, impressive flotillas of icebergs were occasionally launched into the Atlantic during incidents known as “Heinrich events.” Each time a batch of icebergs and glacial meltwater were vomited out, the area around the North Atlantic experienced climatic consequences. It’s thought that the infusion of freshwater gummed up the conveyor belt of Atlantic Ocean circulation, disrupting the transport of heat throughout the entire ocean basin. Heinrich events are usually seen in ocean sediment cores as layers of gritty sediment dropped from melting icebergs onto the fine mud of the seafloor. That’s even been seen as far south as Bermuda. Closer to North America’s eastern coast, trenches carved by the undersides of large icebergs have been spotted in the mud off Nova Scotia, New Jersey, and even the Carolinas. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 14 days ago on ars technica
Michelle Lee signing a memorandum of understanding with the director general of IP Australia in September 2014. US Mission General Michelle Lee, formerly Google's chief patent lawyer and currently acting director of the US Patent and Trademark Office, has been nominated by the Obama Administration to be the next permanent USPTO director. Lee will be the first head of the patent office to have a background at an Internet company. Lee's nomination comes months after the administration floated the name of Philip Johnson, a lawyer at Johnson & Johnson who was an outspoken opponent of patent reform. The idea of nominating Johnson evaporated after a negative response from tech companies. Choosing Lee has won praise all around, although the pro-reform forces are likely happier than the anti-reform forces given her background at Google. Lee was one of the first corporate lawyers to be vocal about the problem posed by "non-practicing entities," also known as patent trolls. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 14 days ago on ars technica
This post was done in partnership with The Wirecutter, a list of the best technology to buy. Read the original full article below at TheWirecutter.com. After considering all the major laptops in its price range, I decided that if I had to buy a Windows laptop for $600 or less, I’d get the ~$580 version of the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 2 14. Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 14 days ago on ars technica
Radius Citizenfour is filmmaker Laura Poitras' account of the first meetings between herself, Glenn Greenwald, and Edward Snowden. It was first shown publicly last Friday, and it will open in theaters in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco on Oct. 24. For those who have followed the news around the Snowden documents, even in small doses, Citizenfour isn't full of revelations (though there are a few surprises). But for viewers interested in surveillance, or the future of the internet, or journalism—it won't matter. The film is riveting, and its power is in its source material. Poitras filmed Snowden for 20 hours over eight days in his Hong Kong hotel, and her film has now given the world an unfiltered portrait of the man who, in the course of the year, became the West’s most wanted dissident. Read 29 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 14 days ago on ars technica
How could I refuse? A few days ago, my wife messaged me a photo from a thrift shop with the question, "You want?" The picture was of a box of software still in shrinkwrap—SPRY Inc.'s Internet in a Box for Windows 95. The answer was an obvious "OMG YES." I reviewed Internet in a Box back in 1993 when it was first released as an early adopter of independent local Internet dialup (using David Troy's Toad.Net). I spent endless hours connected with the software and my very first laptop PC, pulling down Hubble Telescope images from the Space Telescope Science Institute's Gopher server and raging at Usenet posts. Just the sight of the logo caused a wave of nostalgia to wash over me. It was a simpler time, a somewhat less user-friendly time. CompuServe was still a thing. This particular box of software was, however, especially endearing. I used version 1.0 for several years before Toad.Net partnered with Covad and ran one of Baltimore's very first DSL connections into my house—allowing me to give up the dual ISDN connection I had for my connection to my employer. This was a bundle designed to bring the masses to the Internet, along with their photos, in 1995. Attached to the box was a Seattle FilmWorks one-use 35mm film camera, emblazoned with the CompuServe logo. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 14 days ago on ars technica
Cyber attacks on large US companies result in an average of $12.7 million in annual damages, an increase of 9.7 percent from the previous year, according to the fifth Cost of Cybercrime report published by the Ponemon Institute on Wednesday. The report, sponsored this year by Hewlett Packard’s Enterprise Security division, found that business disruption and information loss account for nearly three-quarters of the cost of cybercrime incidents. The study also confirmed that companies that make security a priority have lower costs associated with security incidents during the year. In particular, companies that use technology that helps flag potential intrusions into critical systems have lower costs, by an average of $2.6 million. “Business disruption, information loss and the time it takes to detect a breach collectively represented the highest cost to organizations experiencing a breach,” Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute, said in a statement. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 14 days ago on ars technica
Conal O'Rourke remains frustrated and baffled at his year-long saga with Comcast, which resulted in his losing his job. Cyrus Farivar The California man who publicly accused Comcast of getting him fired from his job at PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) after he complained to the highest levels of Comcast about his year’s worth of billing errors, has made good on his threat to sue his former ISP. Among other accusations, Conal O’Rourke is suing Comcast on allegations of violating the Cable Communications Act by disclosing his personal information to his employer, defamation, breach of contract, emotional distress, and unfair business practices. “We don’t normally comment on pending litigation and as we have said, there were clear deficiencies in the customer service that we delivered to Mr. O’Rourke," Jenni Moyer, a Comcast spokesperson, told Ars in a statement. Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 14 days ago on ars technica
What greets you at the Onward Internet website (no mention of any telecom ties though...) This piece originally appeared in Pro Publica. This story has been updated to include a comment from the National Cable and Telecommunications Association. On a recent Monday evening, two bearded young men in skinny jeans came to a parklet in San Francisco's trendy Hayes Valley neighborhood and mounted what looked like an art installation. It was a bright blue, oversized "suggestion box" for the Internet. Read 29 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 14 days ago on ars technica
Google Have you ever heard the expression, "Don't put all your eggs in one basket"? It's a saying that extolls the virtues of diversification—always have a "Plan B." Judging by Google's messy and often-confusing product line, it's something the company takes to heart. Google likes to have multiple, competing products that go after the same user base. That way, if one product doesn't work out, hopefully the other one will. The most extreme case of this has been Google's instant messaging solutions. At one point there were four different ways to send a text message on Android: Google Talk, Google+ Messenger, Messaging (Android's SMS app), and Google Voice. Google Hangouts came along and eventually merged everything into a single instant messaging platform. Mercifully, Google has a single, unified instant messaging program now, and all further IM efforts will be poured into this, right? Wrong. A report from The Economic Times of India says that Google is working on a fifth instant messaging program. This one reportedly won't require a Google account and will be aimed at Whatsapp. The unified Hangouts update also added a second dialer app to Android, so now there is the main Google Dialer that was introduced in KitKat and a new Hangouts Dialer that makes VOIP calls. Users went from needing IM unity, having it, then chaotically clamoring for dialer unity. Read 32 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 14 days ago on ars technica
On Thursday, the Guardian reported that the developers of Whisper, an social media platform that allows individuals to post anonymous messages that can be seen by others based on a number of factors, isn’t all that anonymous after all. Whisper, which is advertised as “the safest place on the Internet,” tracks geolocation data of posters, and uses their location data for a number of purposes—including censorship and reporting of posts from military bases to the Department of Defense. Whisper’s chief technology officer took to YCombinator’s Hacker News to defend the company against the report, but his explanation was torn apart by security and privacy experts in the discussion that followed. Much like its competitor Secret, Whisper allows individuals to post anonymous messages overlaid on images or photos to share with others for comment. The application uses geolocation data to determine where the poster is and who should be able to see its contents.  It has become popular with a number of communities, including members of the military. The Guardian was exploring a potential editorial relationship with Whisper, and staff from the news organization spent three days at Whisper’s offices in Los Angeles. While there, the Guardian team witnessed Whisper employees using an in-house geolocation tool to track posts made from various locations, and found that the company is tracking specific Whisper users believed to be “potentially newsworthy,” including members of the military, government employees, and employees of companies such as Disney and Yahoo. The company also shares information about posters and their locations with the Defense Department, FBI and the UK’s MI5, the Guardian’s Paul Lewis and Dominic Rushe reported. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 15 days ago on ars technica
The "Apple SIM" allows AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, or EE support without switching SIM cards. Andrew Cunningham Apple's iPad announcements today focused overwhelmingly on the iPad Air 2's thickness, its screen, and its internals, but it and the iPad Mini 3 got some other quieter upgrades too. One such upgrade is a new "Apple SIM," a nano SIM card that allows the cellular models to switch between multiple mobile carriers without changing the actual card. At launch the card supports AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and UK carrier EE. Though Apple is still selling Verizon-compatible iPads, the US' biggest carrier remains conspicuously (though perhaps not surprisingly) absent from the list. One thing Apple is emphasizing with the SIM is that it can be used to secure short-term data commitments, rather than the regular monthly charges most cellular tablets generally assume. In theory, you can jump between carriers based on the one that's offering the data you need for the price you want, and you never have to swap out the SIM card to do it. Apple is also playing up the ability to buy data from international carriers when traveling, though obviously the carrier list will need to expand before this is practical. Though the Apple SIM is launching in the iPad Air 2 and the iPad Mini 3, we would expect it to start showing up in other Apple products eventually. Simplifying the product line instead of shipping carrier-specific versions of iPhones and iPads seems like the right move for Apple to make; let's hope carriers continue to climb on board. Read on Ars Technica | Comments

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posted 15 days ago on ars technica
The expanding options for communicating over the Internet and the increasing adoption of encryption technologies could leave law enforcement agents “in the dark” and unable to collect evidence against criminals, the Director of the FBI said in a speech on Thursday. In a post-Snowden plea for a policy more permissive of spying, FBI Director James B. Comey raised the specters of child predators, violent criminals, and crafty terrorists to argue that companies should build surveillance capabilities into the design of their products and allow lawful interception of communications. In his speech given at the Brookings Institute in Washington DC, Comey listed four cases where having access to a mobile phone or laptop proved crucial to an investigation and another case where such access was critical to exonerating wrongly accused teens. All of that will go away, or at least become much harder, if the current trend continues, he argued. Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 15 days ago on ars technica
These days, most patent lawsuits are filed by so-called "patent trolls," which can't be counter-sued because they have no business other than litigation. When a company files a patent lawsuit against a competitor, it can expect to be met with a counter-suit. That's exactly what happened when Sprint used 12 VoIP patents to sue Comcast in 2011. Yesterday, Comcast's counter-punch landed, hard. Sprint got slapped with a $7.5 million jury verdict (PDF) for infringing three Comcast patents, after a Delaware trial ended. That's less than the $16.5 million Comcast lawyers had asked for, but simply by sticking it out through trial and winning, Comcast's point has surely been made: we're not an easy target, and we will hit back. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 15 days ago on ars technica
Quick-snap! Now, Kinect-less Xbox One owners can do a few more cool system functions on the fly. Microsoft's near-monthly streak of Xbox One updates continued on Wednesday with a substantial October update. The console maker had already teased the update's most intriguing feature in August when it announced a media-player app set to handle a staggering number of codecs—particularly the MKV container—and DLNA streaming from other devices on a home network. XB1's new media player, like the system's Blu-ray player, must be loaded as a separate app. We were able to test it during a beta period, and it worked as advertised, meaning it allowed us to watch all of our favorite, legitimately acquired TV shows and films in crisp MKV format. The update's other major addition, a quick-snap menu, can be accessed with a double-tap of the controller's home button. It focuses largely on functions that were formerly locked to voice control, including quick loads of previous games and apps and the ability to record your last 30 seconds of gameplay—which should make it easier for players who snapped up a cheaper, Kinect-less XB1 to multitask with the system. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 15 days ago on ars technica
Microsoft is replacing a whole set of its IT-oriented conferences—TechEd, Management Summit, Exchange Conference, SharePoint Conference, Project Conference, and Lync Conference—with one new event: Ignite. The first Ignite conference will be a five-day event in Chicago, running May 4-8, 2015. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella will give the keynote speech with Brad Anderson (CVP Enterprise Client & Mobility), Joe Belfiore (CVP Operating Systems Group), Dave Campbell (CTO), Peggy Johnson (EVP Business Development), Chris Jones (VP), Julie Larson Green (Chief Experience Officer of "My Life and Work"), Gurdeep Singh Pall (VP Skype), and others. With the announcement of Ignite, Microsoft has announced its full set of major 2015 conferences. The year will kick off with business event Convergence in Atlanta, March 16-19. Next is Build, once again in San Francisco, April 29-May 1. After Ignite, the final event will be Worldwide Partner Summit in Orlando, July 12-16. Read on Ars Technica | Comments

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posted 15 days ago on ars technica
Two activist groups have filed an appeal in their lawsuit against the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department to access one week’s worth of license plate reader data. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California (ACLU SoCal) lost their case before a Los Angeles Superior Court judge last month. In May 2013, the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and the Electronic Frontier Foundation sued the law enforcement agencies in an attempt to compel the agencies to release a week’s worth of LPR data from a particular week in August 2012. The judge in the lower court ruling found that the law enforcement agencies could withhold such license plate reader (LPR) records through a particular exemption under the California Public Records Act that allows investigatory records to be kept private. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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