government

FCC targets signal jammers, fines Chinese company $34m

FCC targets signal jammers, fines Chinese company $34m

Chinese company CTS Technology has been fined $34.9 million by the Federal Communications Commission for selling signal jammers, which block your ability to use your phone and are, as you’d expect, incredibly illegal. According to the FCC, some of the CTS’ signal jammers could disrupt phones, GPS and other devices across multiple blocks, impairing access to emergency services and more.

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Ecigs now banned from checked airline luggage

Ecigs now banned from checked airline luggage

The U.S. Department of Transportation has banned e-cigarettes from checked airline luggage, announcing the change today. According to DOT, putting e-cigarettes or ‘vapes’ in checked baggage poses a fire risk, with there having been several incidents in the recent past related to the matter. The ban doesn’t mean you can’t take your ecig with you, though -- you'll just have to make sure it's in your carry-on.

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Study: many Americans limit Internet use over a roster of fears

Study: many Americans limit Internet use over a roster of fears

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) has published a new study that found a combination of concerns about security and privacy are causing some Americans to limit their online activities, something that could, over time, impact the economy and more. The lack of trust in online safety comes at a time when report after report details mass government spying against citizens and cybersecurity breaches that leave ordinary users exposed and vulnerable.

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Hidden FBI microphones planted in public outside California courthouse

Hidden FBI microphones planted in public outside California courthouse

For a period of 10 months, the FBI planted hidden microphones in several public locations outside a courthouse in Oakland, California, it has recently been discovered. A warrant wasn't needed, but the microphones allowed the government to secretly record and monitor private conversations during the period between March 2010 and January 2011.

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Social media accounts now part of federal background checks

Social media accounts now part of federal background checks

Employers have long relied on the practice of checking job applicants' social media accounts as part of the application process to help determine if they'll be a good fit for the company. Now the federal government will do the same as part of their background and security clearance investigations. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper announced the new policy on Friday, and it highlights the fact that our social media presence is more and more seen as a reflection of our character.

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FBI: Maybe we have, maybe we haven’t, wiretapped an Amazon Echo

FBI: Maybe we have, maybe we haven’t, wiretapped an Amazon Echo

Take a count of how many microphones are around your right now -- your phone, of course, which is probably always listening, and your laptop most likely. Your TV? Perhaps, if it's new enough. Your wireless speaker probably has a microphone, too, for speakerphone functions. Your smartwatch might have a microphone. There are even smart refrigerators cropping up with integrated microphones (for voice commands, not spying), and, of course, dedicated personal assistants like Amazon Echo and Tap. How many of those microphones has the FBI tapped?

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Department of Energy launches podcast ‘Direct Current’

Department of Energy launches podcast ‘Direct Current’

Podcasts are popular again, and high-quality offerings are springing up all over the place. Newest among them is a series from the Department of Energy, which has announced (and published) its first-ever podcast. The podcast series is called ‘Direct Current,’ and it concerns itself with everything electricity. The team behind it includes a few people from the Office of Public Affairs, among others.

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LG G5, V10 get approved for use in US military, enterprise

LG G5, V10 get approved for use in US military, enterprise

While consumers are still the primary audience of smartphone makers like Apple, Samsung, and LG, there are three other markets that companies are scrambling to get a hold of: education, enterprise, and government. Of the three, getting government approval is perhaps the trickiest, going through all the certifications, not to mention red tape, in order to be deemed fit for government and military use. So it's no surprise that LG is only to happy to boast that it has gotten certified by the US government to be secure and fit for use both in the enterprise as well as in military.

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Facebook: 60% of government requests ban notifying affected users

Facebook: 60% of government requests ban notifying affected users

Facebook has released its new Global Government Requests Report, and this time around it includes some case studies as examples of the types of requests it gets. The report also includes a bigger bit of information — the company says that about 60-percent of the government requests it received in the second half of 2015 included gag orders that prevented Facebook from notifying the affected users. On the flip side, though, Facebook has been able to disclose national security requests in bands of 500 rather than the previous 1000 it had to use before.

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Sources: FBI will use loophole to avoid disclosing iPhone hack details

Sources: FBI will use loophole to avoid disclosing iPhone hack details

Apple wants to know how the FBI accessed the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, but the agency has no plans on giving away the goods, according to sources who have surfaced. These individuals say the FBI’s decision to withhold information is due largely in part to its lack of knowledge about how the technology works — while the agency knows how to use the tool, say the sources, it doesn’t know the particulars about the iPhone vulnerability and how it exploits it.

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Charter’s TWC acquisition gets approval from Justice Department

Charter’s TWC acquisition gets approval from Justice Department

Charter’s purchase of Time Warner Cable has been given the green light by the U.S. Department of Justice, it has announced, allowing the two companies to be merged into one. Under the deal, the merged entity will be known as New Charter; as well, Charter Communications will be buying Bright House networks. The deal is significant, and will lead Charter to become the second largest broadband Internet provider in the U.S.

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FBI director hints agency paid more than $1.3m to unlock iPhone

FBI director hints agency paid more than $1.3m to unlock iPhone

Public information about the FBI’s method for unlocking the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone is slight, and so we’re forced to piece together what precious little information is available. Take, for example, FBI Director James Comey’s recent statement about how much the FBI had to pay to get the iPhone unlocked: more than he will make in the remainder of his time serving as the bureau’s director, which a little bit of math estimates as $1.3 million.

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