posted 11 days ago on slashdot
Finally, there's some update on Project Ara, an open hardware platform for creating highly modular smartphones. Google announced on Friday that a test version of the modular smartphone will be released to developers in the fourth quarter. Google, which owns Project Ara, added that a thinner version of the phone will be made available to consumers next year. Recode, reports: The revamped Project Ara design puts the core phone technology together in the phone's frame, with room for six interchangeable module slots. Modules can also be inserted and ejected while the phone is running, Google said. Onstage Friday at its I/O developer conference, Google demonstrated a camera module, taking a picture of the session discussing Ara. It also talked about other modules, including one to allow diabetics to monitor their blood glucose. Google said it made enough progress with Ara that it is spinning it out of its advanced projects team and into its own business unit.

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posted 11 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Uber has figured out exactly when you are more likely to pay double or triple the cost of your ride: when your phone battery is low. Uber's head of economic research, Keith Chen, recently told NPR on an episode of The Hidden Brain podcast that people are willing to accept up to 9.9 times surge pricing if their phones are about to go dead. Data about user batteries is collected because the app uses that information to know when to switch into low-power mode. The idea being: If you really need to get where you're going, you'll pay just about anything (or at least 9.9 times anything) to ensure you're getting a ride home and won't be stranded. A person with a more fully charged device has time to wait and see if the surge pricing goes down.The company insists that it won't use this information against you.

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posted 11 days ago on slashdot
Dan Goodin, reporting for Ars Technica (edited and condensed): ISPs around the world are being attacked by self-replicating malware that can take complete control of widely used wireless networking equipment, according to reports from customers. San Jose, California-based Ubiquiti Networks confirmed recently that attackers are actively targeting a flaw in AirOS, the Linux-based firmware that runs the wireless routers, access points, and other gear sold by the company. The vulnerability, which allows attackers to gain access to the devices over HTTP and HTTPS connections without authenticating themselves, was patched last July, but the fix wasn't widely installed. Many customers claimed they never received notification of the threat.ISPs in Argentina, Spain, Brazil have been attacked by the worm, said Nico Waisman, a research at security firm Immunity, adding that it's likely that ISPs in the U.S. and other places have also been attacked by the same malware. From the report, "Once successful, the exploit he examined replaces the password files of an infected device and then scans the network it's on for other vulnerable gear. After a certain amount of time, the worm resets infected devices to their factory default configurations, with the exception of leaving behind a backdoor account, and then disappears."

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posted 11 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: IMAX is getting into the virtual reality business. Tthe company has announced that it is teaming up with Google to build cinema-quality virtual reality video cameras. It is also planning to launch virtual reality "locations." The cinemas will be opened in shopping malls, much like traditional movie theatres. There are six reportedly planned for this year, including in Los Angeles and China. From the Verge report: IMAX chief executive Richard Gelfond told The WSJ that he imagined that the VR content would be tied to existing movie franchises, that they would last around 10 minutes and cost between $7 and $10. The idea, suggests Gelfond, is to create a VR experience that's better than what you can get at home -- the same way that a movie theater is better than your living room TV.

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posted 11 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader shares a TorrentFreak report: This week's episode of Family Guy included a clip from 1980s Nintendo video game Double Dribble showing a glitch to get a free 3-point goal. Perhaps surprisingly the game glitch is absolutely genuine and was documented in a video that was uploaded to YouTube by a user called 'sw1tched' back in February 2009. Interestingly the clip that was uploaded by sw1tched was the exact same clip that appeared in the Family Guy episode on Sunday. So, unless Fox managed to duplicate the gameplay precisely, Fox must've taken the clip from YouTube. Whether Fox can do that and legally show the clip in an episode is a matter for the experts to argue but what followed next was patently absurd. Shortly after the Family Guy episode aired, Fox filed a complaint with YouTube and took down the Double Dribble video game clip on copyright grounds. Perhaps YouTube should also be blamed for this.

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posted 11 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: A city in northern India has shattered the national heat record, registering a searing 51C -- the highest since records began -- amid a nationwide heatwave. The new record was set in Phalodi, a city in the desert state of Rajasthan, and is the equivalent of 123.8F. It tops a previous record of 50.6C set in 1956."Yesterday (Thursday) was the hottest temperature ever recorded in the country... 51C in Phalodi," said BP Yadav, a director of India's meteorological department, on Friday.

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posted 11 days ago on slashdot
Alphabet CEO Larry Page says his company never considered getting permission from Oracle for using the latter's Java APIs in Android. Page, who appeared in a federal court, said Java APIs are open and free, which warrants them or anyone to use it without explicit permission from Oracle. From an Ars Technica report (edited for clarity): "But you did copy the code and copy the structure, sequence, and organization of the APIs?" Oracle attorney Peter Bicks asked, raising his voice. "I don't agree with 'copy code,'" Page said. "For me, declaring code is not code," Page said. "Have you paid anything to Oracle for using that intellectual property?" Bicks asked. "When Sun established Java, they established it as an open source thing," Page said. "I believe the APIs we used were pretty open. No, we didn't pay for the free and open things." [...] "Was Google seeking a license for Java?" Google lawyer Robert Van Nest asked. "Yes, and a broader deal around other things, like branding and cooperation," Page said. "After discussions with Sun broke off, did you believe Google needed a license for APIs?" Van Nest asked. "No, I did not believe that," Page said. "It was established industry practice that the API and just the headers of those things could be taken and re-implemented. [It must be done] very carefully, not to use any existing implementation of those systems. That's been done many, many times. I think we acted responsibly and carefully around these intellectual property issues."

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posted 11 days ago on slashdot
In an attempt to keep its citizens from seeing bad news and getting involved in sensitive political debates, China's government fabricates about 488 million social media comments a year, reports Bloomberg citing a study (PDF). The propaganda workers who post comments are known as Fifty Cent Party because they are believed to be paid 50 Chinese cents by the Chinese government for every comment they post. From the report: Although those who post comments are often rumored to be ordinary citizens, the researchers were surprised to find that nearly all the posts were written by workers at government agencies including tax and human resource departments, and at courts. The researchers said they found no evidence that people were paid for the posts, adding the work was probably part of the employees' job responsibilities. Fifty Cent Party is a derogatory term since it implies people are bought off cheaply. About half of the positive messages appear on government websites, and the rest are injected into the 80 billion social media posts that enter China's Internet. That means one of every 178 social media posts on China's micro blogs is made up by the government, the researchers said. The sites affected include those run by Tencent Holdings Ltd., Sina Corp. and Baidu Inc.

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posted 11 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Wired: [Computer scientists have created a way of letting law enforcement tap any camera that isn't password protected so they can determine where to send help or how to respond to a crime.] The system, which is just a proof of concept, alarms privacy advocates who worry that prudent surveillance could easily lead to government overreach, or worse, unauthorized use. It relies upon two tools developed independently at Purdue. The Visual Analytics Law Enforcement Toolkit superimposes the rate and location of crimes and the location of police surveillance cameras. CAM2 reveals the location and orientation of public network cameras, like the one outside your apartment. You could do the same thing with a search engine like Shodan, but CAM2 makes the job far easier, which is the scary part. Aggregating all these individual feeds makes it potentially much more invasive. [Purdue limits access to registered users, and the terms of service for CAM2 state "you agree not to use the platform to determine the identity of any specific individuals contained in any video or video stream." A reasonable step to ensure privacy, but difficult to enforce (though the team promises the system will have strict security if it ever goes online). Beyond the specter of universal government surveillance lies the risk of someone hacking the system.] EFF discovered that anyone could access more than 100 "secure" automated license plate readers last year.

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posted 11 days ago on slashdot
MojoKid writes from a report via Hot Hardware: ARM has been working closely with TSMC for years now. Over the last six years or so especially, ARM and TSMC have collaborated to ensure that TSMC's cutting-edge process technologies work well with ARM's processor IP. However recently, ARM just announced the successful tape-out of a test chip featuring next-generation, 64-Bit ARM v8-A mobile processor cores, codenamed Artemis, manufactured using TSMC's upcoming 10nm FinFET process technology. The test chip features what ARM calls an Artemis cluster. It's essentially a quad-core processor with power management IP, a single-shader Mali graphics core, AMBA AXI interconnect, and test ROMs connected to a second cluster by an asynchronous bridge that features the memory subsystem, which is stacked with a Cortex M core that handles control logic, some timers, SRAM, and external IO. Compared to 16nm FinFET+, at nominal voltage, the 10nm test chip offered a 12% performance improvement in a similar power envelope. In super-overdrive mode (Vsod), the Artemis test chip offered similar performance, but at 30% lower power.SoCs for premium mobile devices with next-generation cores produced on the 10nm process node are expected to arrive later in the second half of this year.

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posted 11 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Alphabet Inc's Google appealed on Thursday an order from the French data protection authority to remove certain web search results globally in response to a European privacy ruling, escalating a fight on the extra-territorial reach of EU law. In May 2014, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that people could ask search engines, such as Google and Microsoft's Bing, to remove inadequate or irrelevant information from web results appearing under searches for people's names -- dubbed the "right to be forgotten." Google complied, but it only scrubbed results across its European websites such as Google.de in Germany and Google.fr in France, arguing that to do otherwise would set a dangerous precedent on the territorial reach of national laws. The French regulator, the Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertes (CNIL), fined Google 100,000 euros ($112,150.00) in March for not delisting more widely, arguing that was the only way to uphold Europeans' right to privacy. The company filed its appeal of the CNIL's order with France's supreme administrative court, the Council of State. "One nation does not make laws for another," said Dave Price, senior product counsel, Google. "Data protection law, in France and around Europe, is explicitly territorial, that is limited to the territory of the country whose law is being applied." Google's Transparency Report indicates the company accepts around 40 percent of requests for the removal of links appearing under search results for people's names.

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posted 11 days ago on slashdot
HughPickens.com writes: Smallpox was one of the most devastating diseases humanity has ever faced, killing more than 300 million people in the 20th century alone. But thanks to the most successful global vaccination campaign in history, the disease was completely eradicated by 1980. By surrounding the last places on earth where smallpox was still occurring -- small villages in Asia and Africa -- and inoculating everyone in a wide circle around them, D. A. Henderson and the World Health Organization were able to starve the virus of hosts. Smallpox is highly contagious, but it is not spread by insects or animals. When it is gone from the human population, it is gone for good. But Errol Moris writes in the NYT that Henderson didn't really eliminate smallpox. In a handful of laboratories around the world, there are still stocks of smallpox, tucked away in one freezer or another. In 2014 the CDC announced that vials containing the deadly virus had been discovered in a cardboard box in a refrigerator located on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) campus in Bethesda, Maryland. How can you say it's eliminated when it's still out there, somewhere? The demon in the freezer. Some scientists say that these residual stocks of smallpox should not be destroyed because some ruthless super-criminal or rogue government might be working on a new smallpox, even more virulent than existing strains of the virus. We may need existing stocks to produce new vaccines to counteract the new viruses. Meanwhile, opponents of retention argue that there's neither need nor practical reason for keeping the virus around. In a letter to Science Magazine published in 1994, the Nobel laureate David Baltimore wrote, "I doubt that we so desperately need to study smallpox that it would be worth the risk inherent in the experimentation." It all comes down to the question of how best to protect ourselves against ourselves. Is the greater threat to humanity our propensity for error and stupidity, or for dastardly ingenuity?

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posted 11 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Earlier this month, the FDA announced it would regulate electronic cigarettes and other new tobacco products. Now, the U.S. Transportation Department announced it is permanently banning passengers and crew members from carrying electronic cigarettes in checked baggage or charging the devices onboard aircraft. They have cited a number of recent incidents that show the devices can catch fire during flight. Passengers can still carry e-cigarettes in their carry-on baggage or on their person, they just can't use the devices on flights. "Fire hazards in flight are particularly dangerous," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. "Banning e-cigarettes from checked bags is a prudent and important safety measure." The new rule covers e-cigarettes, e-cigars, e-pipes, and battery-powered portable electronic smoking devices in general. It does not prohibit passengers from transporting other battery-powered devices for personal use like laptop computers or cellphones.

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posted 11 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Two Princeton academics conducted a massive research into how websites track users using various techniques. The results of the study, which they claim to be the biggest to date, shows that Google, through multiple domains, is tracking users on around 80 percent of all Top 1 Million domains. Researchers say that Google-owned domains account for the top 5 most popular trackers and 12 of the top 20 tracker domains. Additionally, besides tracking scripts, HTML5 canvas fingerprinting and WebRTC local IP discover, researchers discovered a new user fingerprinting technique that uses the AudioContext API. Third-party trackers use it to send low-frequency sounds to a user's PC and measure how the PC processes the data, creating an unique fingerprint based on the user's hardware and software capabilities. A demo page for this technique is available. Of course, this sort of thing is nothing new and occurs all across the web and beyond. MIT and Oxford published a study this week that revealed that Twitter location tags on only a few tweets can reveal details about the account's owner, such as his/her real world address, hobbies and medical history. Another recently released study by Stanford shows that phone call metadata can also be used to infer personal details about a phone owner.

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posted 11 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Popular Mechanics: Today, a team of scientists has announced the first discovery of extraterrestrial tsunamis. A team of astronomers and geologists led by J. Alexis Rodriguez at the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona has uncovered evidence of massive tsunamis on Mars billions of years ago. As Rodriguez reports, two separate mega-tsunamis tore across the red planet around 3.4 billion years ago, a time when Mars was a mere 1.1 billion years old and nearby Earth was just cradling its first microbial lifeforms. The two tsunamis created 150-foot-high shore-break waves on average, and some absolutely monster waves up to 400 feet tall. Rodriguez and his colleagues outline their tsunami findings today in the journal Scientific Reports. From the report: "Rodriquez and his colleagues stumbled across evidence of these tsunamis while scouring over images of Mars' relatively flat northern planes. Two regions called Chryse Planitia and Arabia Terra. Using detailed infrared maps rendered by the thermal camera on the 15-year-old Mars Odyssey orbiter, the scientists identified the high water marks of the tsunamis -- features that look a lot like ancient ocean coastlines." Within the last year alone, scientists have spotted the signs of flowing water on Mars, recently discovering how water flows on the red planet. NASA has detected atomic oxygen in the atmosphere of the planet, too.

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posted 11 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Yahoo: A two-hour flight from Sydney to London is a step closer to reality after the latest successful test Wednesday of hypersonic technology in the Australian desert. A joint US-Australian military research team is running a series of 10 trials at the world's largest land testing range, Woomera in South Australia, and at Norway's Andoya Rocket Range. Hypersonic flight involves traveling at more than five times the speed of sound (Mach 5). Scientists involved in the program -- called Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation (HIFiRE) -- are developing an engine that can fly at Mach 7, Michael Smart of the University of Queensland told AFP. He added that the scramjet was a supersonic combustion engine that uses oxygen from the atmosphere for fuel, making it lighter and faster than fuel-carrying rockets. The experimental rocket in the trial on Wednesday reached an altitude of 278 kilometers and a target speed of Mach 7.5, Australia's defense department said. The first test of the rocket was conducted in 2009. The next test is scheduled for 2017 with the project expected to be completed in 2018. It's only a matter of time before such high-speed transportation technology is implemented into our infrastructure. Last week, Hyperloop One conducted a successful test of its high speed transportation technology in the desert outside Las Vegas.

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posted 11 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNN: Google just got a patent for a special kind of coating on self-driving cars that could help prevent pedestrian injuries. The company wants to coat autonomous vehicles with a sticky substance so that if they hit a pedestrian, the person would be glued to the car instead of flying off. "[The pedestrian] is not thrown from the vehicle, thereby preventing a secondary impact between the pedestrian and the road surface or other object," says the patent, granted on Tuesday. Google explains that an "adhesive layer" would be placed on the hood, front bumper and front side panels of a car. A thin coating would protect it until an impact occurred. Google is paying Arizona residents $20 per hour to test its self-driving vehicles.

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posted 11 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: The TeslaCrypt ransomware makers have officially closed down shop and apologized for all the damage they have caused in the past. TeslaCrypt upset a lot of gamers as it would locate and encrypt video games on your Windows PC. With the recent decision to shut down, anti-ransomware researchers have been able to create a fool-proof decryption app called TeslaDecoder (Link is a direct download). Now, many of the hard drives rendered useless by the malware are available to use, and almost every file can be accessed using the unlock system. "TeslaCrypt's website was on the Tor network and now consists of a master key and an apology," writes TechCrunch.

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posted 12 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Google Chrome is going to stop people from accidentally deleting everything they've been doing. A future version of the app will stop the backspace button from also functioning as a "back" button. The change has already been rolled out in some experimental versions of the app, and has upset some users. Developers have said that the feature is only being partly enabled for now, in case there is "sufficient outcry" and it needs to be rolled back. People regularly press the button thinking that they're deleting a word from a form, developers said, but then find that they weren't actually typing into that form and so accidentally go back, losing everything they've done.

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posted 12 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader quotes a report from USA Today: Japan-based SoftBank Robotics announced Wednesday at Google I/O, the company's annual developer's conference, that it is opening a new Pepper-focused outpost in San Francisco and unveiling an Android SDK, or software development kit, in the hopes of enticing programmers to write code for the robot. Asked if SoftBank will roll out at SDK for iOS developers, Carlin says he wouldn't rule anything out but "for the moment Android is the pervasive language." Pepper is a white hard-plastic robot with humanoid features such as large eyes and arms as well as a display screen for a chest. The robot is said to be able to read human emotions by processing visual and vocal inputs through its various microphones and cameras. Its purpose is to be "much more than a robot, he is a genuine humanoid companion created to communicate with you in the most natural and intuitive way," according to the company's website. Pepper already has been deployed commercially in Japan, where it is used to greet customers at 140 SoftBank Mobile stores as well as help take orders at fast food eateries and discuss car model details at dealerships. Carlin says programmers working on Pepper-related tech will get access to "a best in class developer portal" that includes a developer forum, links to robotics workshops, access to SoftBank's engineering team and scientific details about Pepper. Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced the Tensor Processing Unit (TPU) at Google I/O, which the company claims advances machine learning capability by a factor of three generations.

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posted 12 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: A TechCrunch article, citing a report on Influence Central, states that the average age for a child getting their smartphone is now 10.3 years. The report adds that 64% of kids have access to the Internet via their own laptop or tablet, compared to just 42% in 2012. Also, 39% of kids get a social media account at 11.4 years, and 11% get a social media account when they were younger than 10.

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posted 12 days ago on slashdot
FiveThirtyEight has an interesting article today which accuses men of sabotaging the online reviews of TV shows aimed at women. The publication cites an example of "Sex and the City", a show which apparently won plenty of awards and ran for many years on TV, getting hammered by males on IMDb. Compared to women, who amounted to 60% of the people who rated the show with an average of 8.1, men gave it a 5.8 rating. It's not an isolated case, FiveThirtyEight says, citing several other instances where the male audience has downvoted shows aimed at women audience. From the article: The shows with the largest proportion of male raters are mostly sports, video game web series, science fiction and cartoons. The programs with the highest proportion of female voters are -- at least the American ones -- mostly from The CW and Freeform, the new name of the network previously called ABC Family. This list is pretty hilarious. Beyond the top 25, shown in the table above, male-dominated shows of note include: "Blue Mountain State" (92 percent male), "Batman: Beyond" (91 percent), "Batman: The Animated Series" (90 percent), "The Shield" (90 percent), "Ballers" (90 percent), "Justice League" (90 percent), and "The League" (88 percent). "Star Trek: Enterprise" is the most male-heavy of the various official live-action Trek enterprises, while "Battlestar Galactica" still managed to grab 15 percent of its ratings from women, which is somewhat shocking. For women, other skewed programming includes "Private Practice" (71 percent female), "Gossip Girl" and "Gilmore Girls" (67 percent each), "Grey's Anatomy" (60 percent), "Scandal" (60 percent), and "One Tree Hill" (59 percent).

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posted 12 days ago on slashdot
It's official: the Google Play Store is coming to Chrome OS. The company announced on Thursday that it is bringing more than 1.5 million Android apps to Chromebooks. Google adds that zero efforts are required from developers' end for their Android apps to function on Chrome OS. Users will also be able to see notifications and have in-line replies on the desktop. Users on developer channel builds of Chrome OS will get an option to use Google Play and Android apps starting early next month. Regular users on select Chromebook models will have this feature in September. Ars Technica has tons of more details about it. The Verge says Android apps are just what Chromebooks needed.

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posted 12 days ago on slashdot
At its developer conference on Wednesday, Google announced Allo, a chatbot-enabled messaging app. The app offers a range of interesting features such as the ability to quickly doodle on an image and get prompt responses. Additionally, it is the "first Google" product to offer end-to-end encryption, though that is not turned on by default. If you're concerned about privacy, you will probably still want to avoid Allo, says the publication. From the report: Allo's big innovation is "Google Assistant," a Siri competitor that will give personalized suggestions and answers to your questions on Allo as well as on the newly announced Google Home, which is a competitor to Amazon's Echo. On Allo, Google Assistant will learn how you talk to certain friends and offer suggested replies to make responding easier. Let that sink in for a moment: The selling point of this app is that Google will read your messages, for your convenience. Google would be insane to not offer some version of end-to-end encryption in a chat app in 2016, when all of its biggest competitors have it enabled by default. Allo uses the Signal Protocol for its encryption, which is good. But as with all other Google products, Allo will work much better if you let Google into your life. Google is banking on the idea that you won't want to enable Incognito Mode, and thus won't enable encryption.Edward Snowden also chimed in on the matter. He said, "Google's decision to disable end-to-end encryption by default in its new Allo chat app is dangerous, and makes it unsafe. Avoid it for now."

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posted 12 days ago on slashdot
A group of bipartisan senators introduced a bill on Thursday that blocks a pending judicial rule change allowing U.S judges to issue search warrants for remote access to computers in any jurisdiction, even overseas. Associated Press reports: Justice Department officials say that requirement is not practical in complex computer crime cases where investigators don't know the physical location of the device they want to search. In instances when cybercriminals operate on networks that conceal their identity and location, the government wants to ensure that any magistrate in a judicial district where a crime may have occurred can sign off on a search warrant that gives investigators remote access to the computer. The Obama administration says that authority is especially critical in cases involving botnets, which are networks of computers infected with a virus that spill across those districts. As it now stands, federal officials say, they might have to apply for nearly identical warrants in 94 different courthouses to disrupt a botnet.The U.S. Justice Department has pushed for the rule change since 2013. It has assumed it as a "procedural tweak" needed to modernize the criminal code to pursue sophisticated 21st century criminals, reports Reuters. Congress has until Dec 1 to vote to reject, amend or postpone the changes to Rule 41 of the federal rules of criminal procedure. If lawmakers fail to act, the change will automatically take effect, a scenario seen as likely given the short timeline. ZDNet has more details.

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