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European Parliament get serious, they've voted in favor of investigating the US surveillance of EU residents
The NSA's PRISM system continues to bury itself into the mind of the people that are awake in this world, and now the European Parliament have voted that they're set to investigate the US surveillance in Europe, and report on their impact before the end of the year.
The vote was 483-98, so it was strongly in favor of starting this investigation and will see EU officials considering a limit being put on data they voluntarily provide to US authorities, such as shutting down programs that forward air passenger and bank records. Right now, there's nothing bad between the EU and US, but once this investigation goes into full swing, there's no telling what could happen.
This was only going to be a matter of time, but I still feel like governments should have known about this. If some foreign country (even an ally) was spying on me, I'd be pissed. It's the equivalent of your neighbor tapping every device in your house, knowing every movement and word you utter - you wouldn't be happy neighbors anymore, would you?
Something we all use in our day-to-day lives and you wouldn't think twice about it, but the computer mouse changed everything. The man who invented it, Douglas Engelbart, has passed away.
SRI International, the research institute where he once worked said in a statement that he died on Tuesday night in his home in Atherton, California. SRI's President and CEO, Curtis R. Carlson said: "Doug's legacy is immense - anyone in the world who uses a mouse or enjoys the productive benefits of a personal computer is indebted to him."
Engelbart was 88, and will be forever remembered for his contribution to the world - the computer mouse.
Since 1998, Microsoft has offered the highly praised TechNet subscription service to IT professionals and developers. For a nominal fee, professionals were given access to the entire catalog of Microsoft software which greatly aided in development and system administration. Today, Microsoft announced in a letter to its subscribers that it will retire its TechNet subscription service effective August 31, 2013, the date in which all current subscribers' contracts end.
The service was also used by PC enthusiasts worldwide as it offered a cheap way to get access to Microsoft software that otherwise cost thousands of dollars. This led to enthusiasts activating enterprise-level software and consumer-level operating systems and software that were normally meant for "evaluation use only." Unfortunately, this also led to a rise in piracy of Windows software. Pirates figured out that they could subscribe to TechNet and sell the keys along with ISO files downloaded from the site at prices that were always too good to be true.
Microsoft has repeatedly tried to tighten the clamp on piracy by cutting the available keys to TechNet subscribers back in 2010 and then doing the same thing two years later. Fortunately, Microsoft is not leaving its subscribers out in the rain as it will offer current subscribers the option to renew their subscription for one additional year after the shutdown in August. Check out source #2 below for the full announcement from Microsoft.
Google has just unveiled the plans for its new London headquarters which is poised to become the longest building in the city. The company says that if approved for construction the new headquarters will be 330 meters in length and 11 stories in height. While this is nowhere near the height of London's Shard, it will be Google's second largest complex with its Mountain View offices being first.
The glassy, modern building was designed by architectural firm Allford Hall Monaghan Morris and carries an overall price tag of just a mere $998 million. Estimates value the headquarters at $1.52 billion once completed. The building will be constructed from a steel frame and cross laminated wood panels while the exterior will be skinned in glass.
In true Google fashion, there will be climbing walls between floors as well as other employee friendly features such as a gym, and personal relaxation areas. The building will be located near the city's King's Cross railway station, in an effort to continue the massive regeneration push that has been ongoing there for several years now. The new headquarters is expected to be completed in 2016 if approved.
If you haven't heard about the NSA's PRISM program yet, you really are behind in current events - and I suggest you check out the countless pieces we've all written on it here at TweakTown. Now we have The Washington Post unveiling a heap of new slides about the NSA's PRISM program, as shown below, or here.
The new slides give us a much better look into just how much, and how far this data collection goes. It also includes information on how an NSA analyst requests information from a particular company, the number of current surveillance targets in PRISM's database, as well as the dates the big players on the Internet began participating.
As you can see above, there are some serious companies involved, and they're taking everything. This includes e-mail, video, VoiP, file transfers, social networking details and more. Pretty much anything that is done electronically by any human being on Earth, is recorded by this program. Every company that matters is on there - Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Apple, Yahoo, and more.
Guardian journalist who broke the NSA whistleblower story says the NSA can store one billion cell phone calls each day
It continues to get worse for the NSA, with Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald saying he has another big scoop about the National Security Agency (NSA) and their PRISM program.
Greenwald, when speaking over Skype to the Socialism Conference in Chicago, claimed that the NSA has the ability to record, and store one billion phone calls each day. Greenwald was the one to write about NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden, and the crazy but very real PRISM program. He says: "It talks about a brand new technology that enables the national security agency to redirect into its own repositories one billion cell phone calls every single day. One billion cell phone calls every single day."
He continued with:
But what we're really talking about here is a localized system that prevents any form of electronic communication from taking place without its being stored and monitored by the National Security Agency. It doesn't mean that they're listening to every call, it means they're storing every call and have the capability to listen to them at any time, and it does mean that they're collecting millions upon millions upon millions of our phone and email records.
If you've been following TweakTown over the past couple of weeks, you'll know about the Prism surveillance program that is being conducted by the NSA. Shortly after the revelations regarding the NSA and its spying programs, a petition popped up online. This petition, titled "Stop Watching Us," urges Congress to stop the NSA.
This dragnet surveillance violates the First and Fourth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, which protect citizens' right to speak and associate anonymously, guard against unreasonable searches and seizures, and protect their right to privacy.
A similar petition is taking place on The White House's We the People. This petition has reached the 100,000 signature threshold that forces the White House to make a response. The petition asks the government to pardon Edward Snowden.
If you want to sign the petition, you can find it here.
FDA and US officials seize more than 9,600 domains and confiscate $41 million from illegal online pharmacies
During what can only be described as a massive crackdown on illegal online pharmacies, the US FDA has taken down more than 9,600 websites that illegally sold "dangerous and unapproved" prescription drugs. The FDA says that it issued regulatory warnings to the site owners and proceeded to seize any websites along with $41 million of illegal medicine.
Dubbed "Operation Pangea," the operation took place from June 18-25 and involved not only the FDA, but many partners worldwide. The FDA says that many of these illegal sites operated as part of a large organized criminal network and most falsely claimed to be Canadian pharmacies.
Many of the sites displayed fake license and certification documents as well as falsely used drug brand names and the wording "FDA Approved" to put potential customers at ease. Furthermore, to manipulate potential victims, the sites would use names that look convincing to non-savvy browsers. Two examples given were Walgreens-store.com and c-v-s-pharmacy.com.
The crackdown was a small part of a larger week of international takedowns that was called the International Week of Internet Action which is formed by a coalition made up by the FDA, INTERPOL, and the Worlds Customs Organization. National health and law enforcement agencies from 99 countries also took part in the massive online raid.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg headed up the press conference this afternoon held by Spotify at its headquarters in New York City. At the announcement, the company unveiled its plans to build a brand-new US headquarters office on Sixth Avenue which will be several times the size of its current space.
The big news, however, came when the company announced its plans to create unique and original content. This news came from Ken Parks who heads up the company's NYC office. While brief and limited, we suspect this means that the company will be holding new live performances either in New York City or around the country. While some speculate that Spotify could create its own label, I feel that is highly unlikely, and the idea of Spotify-hosted concerts is much more realistic.
Google is most often referred to as the search king, and rightfully so as it does search better than all others. What we tend to forget is that Google makes most of it's money from advertising, which is something else the company does phenomenally well. Like most other companies, Google is not a fan of competition and this morning it has flexed its muscles in an effort to remove all "adult content ads" from Blogger.
Google is sending out notices to owners of adult-themed blogs hosted on its popular Blogger service. The notice warns of a change to its terms of service which will restrict its users from earning money by displaying adult ads on their blog. The email explicitly states that on June 30 Google will "strictly prohibit the monetization of Adult content on Blogger."
At the moment, it appears that Google is contacting Blogger users that have already manually mark their blogs as adult or have been identified (through means unknown) to be running explicit ads. The process does not appear to be flawless as some users have reported receiving email even though they have never made a single post on their blog.