government

Alleged owner of KickassTorrents arrested in Poland, charged by US authorities

Alleged owner of KickassTorrents arrested in Poland, charged by US authorities

The future of KickassTorrents looks bleak today, as US authorities have announced the arrest of the site's alleged owner in Poland. This is nothing new in the world of torrents and their websites, as arrests are frequently being made and domains seized, with charges brought against the owners of these sites. What makes this particularly newsworthy is both the fact that KickassTorrents has grown to be the largest torrents site in the world and the amount of effort put into arresting its alleged owner, who is said to be 30-year-old Artem Vaulin from Ukraine.

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WhatsApp comes back online in Brazil shortly after being banned

WhatsApp comes back online in Brazil shortly after being banned

As predicted, it didn't take very long for WhatsApp to be restored in Brazil after being banned by a judge in Rio de Janeiro yesterday. The judge's order to mobile phone carriers in Brazil was overturned by Brazil's Federal Supreme Court a few hours later, bringing WhatsApp back to the masses nearly as fast as it was restored the last two times something like this happened.

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Latest Google Transparency Report shows climbing number of requests for user data

Latest Google Transparency Report shows climbing number of requests for user data

Today Google issued its latest Transparency Report, giving us a fairly comprehensive look into how many times in a six month period governments around the world requested data on the company's users. This latest report spans the latter half of 2015, with the period ending on December 31. In the report, we see that the number of government requests has been rising as time goes on, crossing the 40,000 threshold for the first time since Google began offering these reports.

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Facebook faces IRS scrutiny as Justice Department files lawsuit

Facebook faces IRS scrutiny as Justice Department files lawsuit

A Department of Justice lawsuit filed this week seeks to force Facebook’s hand in a battle against the IRS and the allegations it has made about Facebook’s tax records. According to the IRS, the social network may have skirted paying taxes on billions of dollars by understating the value of some of its IP that was transferred to Ireland. The DoJ’s lawsuit, which was filed this past Wednesday in California, aims to make Facebook turn over documents as part of the tax investigation.

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501,000 hoverboards recalled in US over fire risk

501,000 hoverboards recalled in US over fire risk

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has announced the recall of about 501,000 “hoverboards” produced by several companies and sold through two stores. The recall, as anyone familiar with these hoverboard devices will guess, is over potential fire risk. According to the CPSC, the lithium-ion battery packs found in these units may overheat, possibly leading to explosions, fires, or smoking.

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China cracks down on mobile games with new approval requirement

China cracks down on mobile games with new approval requirement

China's ever-present grip on the Internet and everything related to it just got a little tighter. In an effort to crackdown on popular media, mobile game developers must get their games pre-approved by the Chinese government before launching them in the nation. The rule went into effect today, though it was first announced in early June. To avoid running afoul of the new regulations, developers must submit their games to China’s State Administration of Press, Publications, Radio, Film and Television, more commonly called “SAPPRFT," at least 20 days before launch.

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US Customs wants to check social media accounts of foreign visitors

US Customs wants to check social media accounts of foreign visitors

In addition to providing documents on their identification and travel permissions, foreign visitors entering the US may soon be asked to give their Twitter and Instagram accounts to Customs and Border Protection. The Department of Homeland Security has submitted a new proposal to the Federal Register that would update the required entry forms with a question asking for travelers' accounts names on social media.

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China government imposes new restrictions on search engine results

China government imposes new restrictions on search engine results

Chinese authorities have launched new regulations for the nation's search engines and the results they display to internet users. But as a country with some of the tightest controls over the internet, its use, and what information people have access to, China's new rules are actually beneficial for its citizens. Under the new rules, search engines are required to identify paid ads within search results, as well as verify advertisers.

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Ohio capital wins ‘smart city’ award, details self-driving plans

Ohio capital wins ‘smart city’ award, details self-driving plans

Ohio’s capital Columbus has won the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart City competition, and as such will get $40 million in federal funds and another $10 million from the company Vulcan. The city has detailed its plans for the money, saying the combined $50 million will be used alongside locally raised funds to, among other things, connect the impoverished community Linden with a nearby job center using self-driving vehicles.

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FAA propses more fines against Amazon over alleged shipment violations

FAA propses more fines against Amazon over alleged shipment violations

On the heels of a recent proposed $350,000 fine against Amazon over the alleged improper shipment of hazardous materials comes another two notices from the FAA: a proposed fine of $78,000 and a proposed fine of $52,000, both likewise over the claimed violations of hazardous materials shipment regulations. The shipping instances took place in 2014, and are said to have involved a total of three cardboard boxes.

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The Pentagon expands program for hackers to test its security

The Pentagon expands program for hackers to test its security

Back in March, the US's Department of Defense launched a "Hack the Pentagon" campaign to get hackers to test their websites and security networks for vulnerabilities, without the threat of jail time. The project was so successful that the government agency has announced it's being expanded, including more DoD websites and networks, with further cash incentives for hackers. Think of it like the bug bounty programs that Google, Facebook, and other tech companies offer, except hackers get to put the government's most secure facilities to the test.

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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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