Jan 14

- Ethiopian kids hack OLPCs in 5 months with zero instruction (DVICE, Oct 30, 2012):

What happens if you give a thousand Motorola Zoom tablet PCs to Ethiopian kids who have never even seen a printed word? Within five months, they’ll start teaching themselves English while circumventing the security on your OS to customize settings and activate disabled hardware. Whoa.

The One Laptop Per Child project started as a way of delivering technology and resources to schools in countries with little or no education infrastructure, using inexpensive computers to improve traditional curricula. What the OLPC Project has realized over the last five or six years, though, is that teaching kids stuff is really not that valuable. Yes, knowing all your state capitols how to spell “neighborhood” properly and whatnot isn’t a bad thing, but memorizing facts and procedures isn’t going to inspire kids to go out and learn by teaching themselves, which is the key to a good education. Instead, OLPC is trying to figure out a way to teach kids to learn, which is what this experiment is all about.

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Nov 08

- Couple who couldn’t conceive stunned when doctors revealed husband’s LAPTOP was cooking his sperm (Daily Mail, Nov 5, 2012):

  • Couple, both 30, visited doctors after trying to conceive for six months
  • Doctors said heat from a laptop had damaged Mr Reed’s sperm
  • Three months after Mr Reed stopped using his computer in his lap his wife conceived
  • They now have an 11-month-old daughter

A couple who struggled to have a baby were stunned when doctors said their laptop was to blame.

Scott Reed was told having the appliance on his lap had caused heat damage to his sperm.

And, as a result, the 30-year-old electrician and his wife, Laura, also 30, were finding it harder to conceive.

Mr Reed started using his laptop on a table instead and three months later Mrs Reed became pregnant with baby daughter Taryn.

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Jul 12

- Student Challenges Laptop Seizure at Border (Bloomberg, July 9, 2011):

A U.S. judge is weighing whether to halt a lawsuit filed by a graduate student whose laptop was seized by customs agents as he crossed the border from Canada and found to contain pictures of rallies by Hamas and Hezbollah.

U.S. District Judge Robert Korman in Brooklyn, New York, yesterday put off ruling on whether to allow the case to go forward. Pascal Abidor, a 27-year-old U.S.-French dual citizen, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, seeks to force border guards to show a “reasonable suspicion” before searching laptop computers and other devices.

Abidor brought the case against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and its secretary, Janet Napolitano, in September, saying such seizures violated the constitutional rights to free speech and to protection against improper searches.

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Apr 09

The Daily Telegraph has censored/removed the article (and the cache).


- Teens deprived of laptops and smart phones suffer cold turkey (Telegraph):

One in 5 reported feelings of withdrawal like an obsession while 11 per cent pronounced they were confused or felt like a failure. Nearly one in 5 (19 per cent) reported feelings of trouble and 11 per cent felt isolated. Just 21 per cent pronounced they could feel a advantages of being unplugged.

Some students even reported highlight from simply not being means to hold their
phone.

One member reported: “I am an addict. we don’t need alcohol, heroin or any other derailing form of amicable depravity.

“Media is my drug; though it we was lost.’

Another wrote: ‘I literally didn’t know what to do with myself. Going down to a kitchen to pointlessly demeanour in a cupboards became unchanging routine, as did removing a drink.”

Susan Moeller. lead researcher of a University of Maryland study, said: ‘Technology provides a amicable network for immature people currently and they have spent their whole lives being “plugged in”.

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Dec 17

Welcome to Israel!!!


(Click on image to enlarge.)
israeli-border-police-kills-laptop
The laptop after it was shot three times by Israeli security personnel (Lily Sussman)

An American student entering Israel from Egypt via the border crossing at Taba two weeks ago stood stunned as Israeli Border Police officers determined her laptop computer was a security threat and shot it three times.

Lily Sussman, 21, wrote on her blog that the police officers subjected her to two hours of questioning and searches, before firing three bullets into her Apple Macbook.

“They had pressed every sock and scarf with a security device, ripped open soap and had me strip extra layers. They asked me tons of questions,” Sussman wrote, describing the experience.

“Who do you know? Do you have a boyfriend? Is he Arab, Egyptian, Palestinian? Why do you live in Egypt? Why not Israel? What do you know about the ‘conflict’ here? What do you think? They quizzed me on Judaism, which I know nothing about,” she continued.

Sussman blogged that she then heard an announcement on the loudspeaker that “was something along the lines of, ‘Do not to be alarmed by gunshots because the Israeli security needs to blow up suspicious passenger luggage.'”

Moments later, Sussman wrote, a man came to her and introduced himself as the duty manager, who told her: “I’m sorry but we had to blow up your laptop.”

“The security officers did not ask about my laptop prior to shooting it,” Sussman told Daily News Egypt. “They used the term ‘blew up’ when they told me they destroyed my laptop. I don’t know why they shot it.”

Sussman said the guards also looked through the photos on her camera, flipped through her journal and asked her about a map a friend had drawn for her that depicted a main street, central bus station and the hostel where she was planning on staying in Jerusalem.

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Aug 27

laptop-searches
An airport screener looks at a laptop computer. The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol now has the ability to copy the contents of laptops from any travelers entering the United States. (AP)

The American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday sued the Department of Homeland Security in an effort to uncover documents related to laptop searches at the border.

“The ACLU believes that suspicionless searches of laptops violate the First and Fourth Amendments,” the group wrote in the suit, filed in a New York District Court.

In July 2008, the Customs and Border Protection agency within DHS published formal guidelines for laptop border searches that gave CBP officials permission to search laptops and electronic devices at the border. Court cases on the topic have generally found that citizens should have diminished expectations of privacy when re-entering the country because the U.S. has a right to protect itself and control what crosses its borders.

Critics of the policy claim that laptop searches are an invasion of privacy – a personal computer holds a lot more information than a suitcase full of clothes or briefcase full of paperwork. What’s to stop CBP from copying the contents of your computer and keeping it on file indefinitely, they have argued

As a result, the ACLU wants to know exactly what types of data the government has collected. The organization first filed a Freedom of Information request in June 2009, but after some back and forth between the ACLU and DHS, the ACLU said that it had “exhausted the applicable administrative remedies” and that “DHS and its components have wrongfully withheld the requested records from the ACLU.”

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Mar 27


Source: YouTube

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Jul 11


Border check: A Customs and Border Protection officer searched a truck at a border crossing in Blaine, Wash., in 2006. For the past 18 months, officials at border entries have been searching some citizens’ laptops. (Andy Nelson – Staff/File)

Courts have upheld routine checks of Americans’ hard drives at the border. Critics say they’re anything but routine.

New York – Is a laptop searchable in the same way as a piece of luggage? The Department of Homeland Security believes it is.

For the past 18 months, immigration officials at border entries have been searching and seizing some citizens’ laptops, cellphones, and BlackBerry devices when they return from international trips.

In some cases, the officers go through the files while the traveler is standing there. In others, they take the device for several hours and download the hard drive’s content. After that, it’s unclear what happens to the data.

The Department of Homeland Security contends these searches and seizures of electronic files are vital to detecting terrorists and child pornographers. It also says it has the constitutional authority to do them without a warrant or probable cause.

But many people in the business community disagree, saying DHS is overstepping the Fourth Amendment bounds of permissible routine searches. Some are fighting for Congress to put limits on what can be searched and seized and what happens to the information that’s taken. The civil rights community says the laptop seizures are simply unconstitutional. They want DHS to stop the practice unless there’s at least reasonable suspicion.

Legal scholars say the issue raises the compelling and sometimes clashing interests of privacy rights and the need to protect the US from terrorists and child pornographers. The courts have long held that routine searches at the border are permissible, simply because they take place at the border. Opponents of the current policy say a laptop search is far from “routine.”

“A laptop can hold [the equivalent of] a major university’s library: It can contain your full life,” says Peter Swire, a professor of law at Ohio State University in Columbus. “The government’s never gotten to search your entire life, so this is unprecedented in scale what the government can get.”

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May 04

The State Department has lost track of as many as 400 laptop computers, an internal audit ordered by the Inspector General has found.

“The importance of safeguarding official laptops and office equipment containing sensitive information is not a new concern,” said State Department overseer Rep. Nita M. Lowey (D-NY) through a spokesperson to CQ Politics. “I intend to review the facts about this situation.”

The computers belong to the Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program, run by the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, which protects diplomats during stateside visits and trains and equips foreign police, intelligence and security forces. Anonymous sources say that officials are “urgently” scouring offices in the Washington, D.C. area to account for the equipment.

The State Department is not keeping good records of its inventory, official John Streufert told a panel at a February 6 meeting on the security of “personal identification information,” citing a “significant deficiency.” Mark Duda, the Inspector General’s representative, also warned of scandal like the one that erupted in May of 2006, after the home of a Veterans Administration employee was burglarized and a laptop he was using for a work project, containing names, Social Security numbers and birthdates of more than 26 million people, was taken.

“It’s the worst flaw you can have in management control,” said a “close observer.”

Published: Saturday May 3, 2008

Source: The Raw Story

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May 03

Now that US customs agents have unfettered access to laptops and other electronic devices at borders, a coalition of travel groups, civil liberties advocates and technologists is calling on Congress to rein in the Department of Homeland Security’s search and seizure practices. They’re also providing practical advice on how to prevent trade secrets and other sensitive data from being breached.

In a letter dated Thursday, the group, which includes the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the American Civil Liberties Union and the Business Travel Coalition, called on the House Committee on Homeland Security to ensure searches aren’t arbitrary or overly invasive. They also urged the passage of legislation outlawing abusive searches.

The letter comes 10 days after a US appeals court ruled Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents have the right to rummage through electronic devices even if they have no reason to suspect the hardware holds illegal contents. Not only are they free to view the files during passage; they are also permitted to copy the entire contents of a device. There are no stated policies about what can and can’t be done with the data.

Over the past few months, several news reports have raised eyebrows after detailing border searches that involved electronic devices. The best known of them is this story from The Washington Post, which recounted the experiences of individuals who were forced to reveal data on cell phones and laptop devices when passing through US borders. One individual even reported some of the call history on her cell phone had been deleted.

“The Fourth Amendment protects us all against unreasonable government intrusions,” the letter, which was also signed by the Center for Democracy and Technology and security expert Bruce Schneier, states. “But this guarantee means nothing if CBP can arbitrarily search and seize our digital information at the border and indefinitely store and reuse it.”

Several of the groups are also providing advice to US-bound travelers carrying electronic devices. The Association of Corporate Travel Executives is encouraging members to remove photos, financial information and other personal data before leaving home. This is good advice even if you’re not traveling to the US. There is no reason to store five years worth of email on a portable machine.

In this posting, the EFF agrees that laptops, cell phones, digital cameras and other gizmos should be cleaned of any sensitive information. Then, after passing through customs, travelers can download the data they need, work on it, transmit it back and then digitally destroy the files before returning.

The post also urges the use of strong encryption to scramble sensitive data, although it warns this approach is by no means perfect. For one thing, CBP agents are free to deny entry to travelers who refuse to divulge their passwords. They may also be able to seize the laptop.

If it sounds like a lot of work, consider this: so far, the federal government has refused to reveal any information about border searches, including what it does with the electronic data it seizes. Under the circumstances, there’s no way of knowing what will happen to, say, source code or company memos that may get confiscated. Or the email sent to your lawyer.

By Dan Goodin in San Francisco
Published Thursday 1st May 2008 21:11 GMT

Source: The Register

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Apr 24

Federal agents at the border do not need any reason to search through travelers’ laptops, cell phones or digital cameras for evidence of crimes, a federal appeals court ruled Monday, extending the government’s power to look through belongings like suitcases at the border to electronics.

The unanimous three-judge decision reverses a lower court finding that digital devices were “an extension of our own memory” and thus too personal to allow the government to search them without cause. Instead, the earlier ruling said, Customs agents would need some reasonable and articulable suspicion a crime had occurred in order to search a traveler’s laptop.

On appeal, the government argued that was too high a standard, infringing upon its right to keep the country safe and enforce laws. Civil rights groups, joined by business traveler groups, weighed in, defending the lower court ruling.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the government, finding that the so-called border exception to the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches applied not just to suitcases and papers, but also to electronics. Continue reading »

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