US Finalizes Rules That Require Quiet Hyrbid and Electric Cars To Make Noise At Low Speeds

In an effort to prevent injuries among pedestrians, the U.S. government has finalized rules that require quiet hybrid and electric vehicles to emit alert sounds when they are traveling at low speeds. Reuters reports: The rules, which were required by Congress, will require automakers like Tesla Motors Inc, Nissan Motor Co and Toyota Motor Corp to add the sounds to all vehicles by September 2019. The U.S. Transportation Department said it expects the rules would prevent 2,400 injuries a year by 2020 and require the addition of alert sounds to about 530,000 2020 model vehicles. The U.S. National Highway Transportation Department said the rules will cost the auto industry about $39 million annually because automakers will need to add an external waterproof speaker to comply. But the benefits of the reduced injuries are estimated at $250 million to $320 million annually. NHTSA estimates the odds of a hybrid vehicle being involved in a pedestrian crash are 19 percent higher compared with a traditional gas-powered vehicle. About 125,000 pedestrians and bicyclists are injured annually. The rules will also help the blind and visually impaired. The rules apply to hybrid and electric cars, SUVs, trucks and buses weighing up to 10,000 pounds and seek to prevent crashes at intersections or when electric vehicles are backing up. At higher speeds, the alert is not required because other factors like tire and wind noise adequately warn pedestrians, NHTSA said.

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FBI Operated 23 Tor-Hidden Child Porn Sites, Deployed Malware From Them

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Federal investigators temporarily seized a Tor-hidden site known as Playpen in 2015 and operated it for 13 days before shutting it down. The agency then used a “network investigative technique” (NIT) as a way to ensnare site users. However, according to newly unsealed documents recently obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union, the FBI not only temporarily took over one Tor-hidden child pornography website in order to investigate it, the organization was in fact authorized to run a total of 23 other such websites. According to an FBI affidavit among the unsealed documents: “In the normal course of the operation of a web site, a user sends “request data” to the web site in order to access that site. While Websites 1-23 operate at a government facility, such request data associated with a user’s actions on Websites 1-23 will be collected. That data collection is not a function of the NIT. Such request data can be paired with data collected by the NIT, however, in order to attempt to identify a particular user and to determine that particular user’s actions on Websites 1-23.” Security researcher Sarah Jamie Lewis told Ars that “it’s a pretty reasonable assumption” that at one point the FBI was running roughly half of the known child porn sites hosted on Tor-hidden servers. Lewis runs OnionScan, an ongoing bot-driven analysis of the Tor-hidden darknet. Her research began in April 2016, and it shows that as of August 2016, there were 29 unique child porn related sites on Tor-hidden servers. That NIT, which many security experts have dubbed as malware, used a Tor exploit of some kind to force the browser to return the user’s actual IP address, operating system, MAC address, and other data. As part of the operation that took down Playpen, the FBI was then able to identify and arrest the nearly 200 child porn suspects. (However, nearly 1,000 IP addresses were revealed as a result of the NIT’s deployment, which could suggest that even more charges may be filed.)

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How President Trump Could Destroy Net Neutrality

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Donald Trump’s presidential election victory could have dire consequences for U.S. internet freedom and openness, according to several tech policy experts and public interest advocates surveyed by Motherboard on Wednesday. The Republican billionaire will likely seek to roll back hard-won consumer protections safeguarding net neutrality, the principle that all internet content should be equally accessible, as well as a host of other policies designed to protect consumers, ensure internet freedom, and promote broadband access, these experts and advocates said. In the wake of Trump’s election victory, FCC Chairman Wheeler is likely to step down before the billionaire reality TV star is inaugurated in January. Incoming presidents traditionally have the prerogative to select the leader of FCC, which has broad regulatory power over the nation’s cable, phone and satellite companies. It’s unclear whom Trump might nominate to lead the FCC, but Ajit Pai, the Kansas-born Republican FCC commissioner and former Verizon lawyer, is likely to be a contender. Trump has tapped Jeffrey Eisenach, a conservative scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, to lead his telecom policy transition team, according to Politico. Eisenach is a well-known figure in right-wing telecommunications policy circles, with a reputation as a “crusader against regulation.” One immediate consequence of Trump’s election is a dimmer outlook for ATT’s proposed $85 billion buyout of entertainment giant Time Warner. Last month, Trump vowed to block the deal, warning that it would result in “too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.” Trump’s ignorance about tech and telecom policy was on full display throughout the election season. For example, Trump blithely compared net neutrality to the FCC’s old Fairness Doctrine, a bizarre and ignorant assertion for which he was roundly mocked. The Fairness Doctrine, which was eliminated decades ago, required media outlets to afford a “reasonable opportunity” for the airing of opposing views on major issues. Net neutrality has nothing to do with the Fairness Doctrine, but rather ensures that consumers have open, unfettered access to the internet. Net neutrality can’t be torpedoed overnight. The FCC rules prohibiting online fast lanes and discriminatory broadband practices are now U.S. policy, and they can’t be dismantled at the whim of an authoritarian president. But a Trump-backed, Republican-led FCC could simply stop enforcing the net neutrality policy, rendering it essentially toothless. That could unleash the nation’s largest cable and phone companies, including Comcast, AT&T and Verizon, to expand controversial practices like “zero-rating” that are designed to circumvent net neutrality.

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Slashdot Asks: Should The US Abolish The Electoral College?

Last night as votes were still being counted, statistician and editor-in-chief for FiveThirtyEight Nate Silver pointed out that while Donald Trump has been elected president of the United States, “it’s possible, perhaps even likely, that [Hillary Clinton] will eventually win the popular vote as more votes come in from California.” We now know that she has indeed won the popular vote by a slim margin. American journalist Carl Bialik adds via Silver’s blog: Hillary Clinton could still conceivably win the election — or she could lose the national popular vote. But since both outcomes look unlikely, we should start preparing ourselves for the possibility of the second split between the national popular vote and the electoral vote in the last five presidential elections. A coalition of 11 sates with 165 electoral votes between them has agreed to an interstate compact that, once signed by states with a combined 270 or more electoral votes, would bind their electors to vote for the winner of the national popular vote — in effect ending the Electoral College. New York just joined this week. It wasn’t enough to affect this election, but maybe today’s result will spur more states to join. The results of this election echo the 2000 results, where Democrat Al Gore narrowly won the popular vote, but George W. Bush won the White House. It brings into question whether or not the Electoral College should be abolished in favor of the popular vote. As a refresher, the Electoral College is comprised of electors that cast their votes for president. Each state has a set number of electors that is based on the state’s population — the candidate who wins the state’s popular vote gets those electors. Technically, on Election Day, the American people are electing the electors who elect the president. The New York Times has a lengthy article describing how the Electoral College works, which you can view here.

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