It's not completely illegal for law enforcement to get your cellphone records from wireless carriers without a warrant. So, they do it. And wireless carriers seem happy to comply, perhaps because they get to charge lots of money every time someone asks for something, and the ACLU has found out how much money this is.
The Internet is abuzz over reports of companies demanding total Facebook access as part mandatory background checks for employment. Several claims have surfaced that some employers go beyond just snooping through a person's public profile, requesting their password as well. New information at the end of the article.
In the U.S., harsh criticism and massive Web protests may have taken SOPA and PIPA down (but not out), but abroad, Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (aka ACTA) looks like it's picking up steam despite coming under fire. ACTA's noble goal is to establish international standards to better protect intellectual property — yet its detractors say it opens a wide door to Internet censorship.
It's probably not a coincidence that spacecraft are raining down onto our heads from orbit left and right, and that the United States has just decided to play nice and cooperate with the European Union to draft an international space code of conduct.
The Internet, as we know it, could be coming to an end. And today is a good example of what could be. You may have noticed several of your favorite websites are not operating today, including powerhouses Wikipedia and Reddit (where the grassroots campaign for the blackout began), along with 7,000 to 10,000 smaller websites, according to the International Business Times. In addition, you might have noticed a special note on Google's homepage pledging solidarity to the blacked-out sites (Google even considered joining). All of this is in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act, and this is what the Internet is going to look like if it passes.
With another year come and gone, things aren't looking any better for the U.S. Postal Service. The beloved bearer of pre-approved credit cards and last minute birthday gifts purchased on the Internet is teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. There are various factors contributing to this centuries-old institution's decline, but the portliest albatross around the agency's neck is the precipitous decline in demand for first-class postage due to the faster and cheaper nature of electronic communication. This damning technology-fueled obsolescence only promises to accelerate. Engineers and basement tinkerers are tirelessly exploring the wild nerdish frontiers of 3D printing, and should we ever perfect a true Star Trek-esque transporter (which is not a completely nutso concept BTW), there will be zero need for any form of parcel service, public or private. But the lowly post office isn't the only government function on the verge of a tech-laden death knell. This century may render a number of traditional governmental roles wholly obsolete. Some of these moribund functions are obvious, while some may seem surprising. But they are coming. Here's a short list of public institutions that will be completely outmoded by the time today's preschoolers hit retirement — if not much sooner. (Note: we're looking at this trend in the scope of the U.S. system, but international readers will find parallels — this is a global thang).
Country living can be a pain. And we're not talking about the hardships of life in a rural community, we're talking about the difficulties of living in a country. For all the services and security the social compact buys us, we are forced to pay a price in compromises — something made all the more poignant by what's going on in the White House right now. But unless you want to drop out of the modern, law-abiding world altogether, this is the deal we're stuck with. So, suck it up, Mr. Complainy Face. Countries are here to stay, forever and unshakeable. (Just like newspapers, record shops, libraries, books, banks and post offices, right?) Of course, the status quo isn't stopping some people from preparing for a world where the decentralizing force of technology will render the concept of nationhood irrelevant. If certain trends bear out, we may be among the last generations forced into compulsory citizenship based on those arbitrary squiggles on a map we call borders. This supreme Balkanization may be coming sooner than you think, too. Here we present three radical concepts for the future of civilization, which if taken to their conclusions will not include nations as we know them today. While these concepts may seem out there (because they are), they are informed by very real technologies and have attracted serious consideration by leading professionals from multiple fields. So, let's all soak up that patriotism and civic duty while we can, as it may not be around for much longer.
User streaming sites such as Justin.tv, Veetle and others have become popular destinations for folks looking to enjoy cable entertainment sans cable. No judgements here, friend, but the U.S. senate may not be so lenient: a new law could mean up to five years in prison for streamers of copyrighted content.
The Internet has proven to be a very powerful tool for government protesters, but it's very dependent on infrastructure, making it all too easy for an irate regime to shut it off. This suitcase, and the concept behind it, has been funded by the U.S. State Department as a way to keep people online no matter what happens.
Here at our shape-shifting DVICE headquarters, we're already pretty zombie-proof. We've got axe-legs on all the coffee tables for goodness sake. Still, you can't be over prepared for hordes of shambling, brain-eating undead, so the CDC is right in releasing a survival plan. You know, just in case.