government

Cable industry offers alternate plan to FCC’s ‘unlocked’ set-top boxes

Cable industry offers alternate plan to FCC’s ‘unlocked’ set-top boxes

Back in January, the FCC came up with a plan to reform the US's cable TV industry by "unlocking" set-top boxes, in turn allowing consumers to use devices from other companies or receive content from multiple providers. The goal is to both open the market to competitors, as well as give consumers more choices in how they browse content. The cable industry, unsurprisingly, didn't like this idea, and now, several months later, has proposed their own idea for reform.

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FDA fires back at OIG over claims its food recall program is too slow

FDA fires back at OIG over claims its food recall program is too slow

On June 8, the Office of the Inspector General sent the FDA an ‘early alert’ letter advising it that an ongoing audit has found the Food and Drug Administration’s food recall program to be inadequate on a couple of levels, particularly when it comes to prodding companies to get a move with their voluntary food recalls. Now the FDA has fired back with its own statement, justifying its processes and saying that it expediting changes it already had in the pipeline.

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US developing real-time camera-based behavior monitoring system

US developing real-time camera-based behavior monitoring system

In the not-so-distant-future, your every public action may be monitored by cameras that deliver video feeds to behavior tracking systems capable of analyzing your actions for suspicious elements in real-time. The system is called Deep Intermodal Video Analytics, DIVA for short, and it is currently a research project with the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency. As you may have guessed, it is being developed under the banner of fighting terrorism.

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FBI tipped to be making powerful ‘tattoo recognition technology’

FBI tipped to be making powerful ‘tattoo recognition technology’

Before getting my first tattoo, I joked that I was about to make any potential future as a fugitive from the law a lot harder. Tattoos, even trendy ones picked from the same book used by hundreds of other people, can be highly personal -- not just in what it means to a person, but in how much it helps identify that individual. Even small elements can say quite a bit about the person who got it, and the FBI is reportedly developing a technology that can exploit these unspoken cues.

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Yahoo has made three National Security Letters public

Yahoo has made three National Security Letters public

National Security Letters are a big deal, and that’s because companies face severe restrictions related to them. No company has been able to make the nature of the letters, nor the number or even a narrow range of the number of letters received, public. As consumer fears about privacy invasions led to a fast scramble on tech companies’ parts to be more transparent, certain law changes have come about, and one of them has led to Yahoo disclosing publishing National Security Letters.

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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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