Mark Wilson

Julian Assange can't be allowed to hide behind the skirts of WikiLeaks to avoid answering rape allegations

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Like Edward Snowden, Julian Assange is an incredibly divisive character. Just as Snowden is viewed by some as a hero for exposing the activities of the NSA, so Assange is viewed as a hero for exposing -- amongst other things -- the darker side of the US military through WikiLeaks. But both figures are also viewed as villains by those who believe that their whistleblowing has endangered national security.

While Snowden scampered off to Russia to avoid the US legal system, Assange took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. While it's certainly true that he's a man of interest for the US which ultimately seeks to prosecute him over the activities of WikiLeaks, Assange is actually holed up in the UK to escape extradition to Sweden where he faces questioning over allegations of rape. He has continually used the additional prospect of extradition to the US for WikiLeaks-related questioning as an excuse for not facing the music in Sweden. This is just about as wrong as it's possible to be.

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Now the Pirate Bay lets you stream just about anything for free

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Legalities aside, there is one problem with content made available through the likes of the Pirate Bay. Whether you use traditional torrents or magnet links, you'll (usually) need to wait for a download to complete before you can enjoy the movie, show, or album of your choice. But not anymore.

A new beta feature for the world-famous torrent site makes it possible to stream videos without the need to download them first. By integrating the Torrents-Time plugin, the Pirate Bay now includes a Stream It option for all video torrents.

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Twitter may not be dead after all -- Jack says your timeline is safe... for now

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Twitter went slightly nuts over the last couple of days. Suggestions that the chronological timeline was to be ditched in favor of one controlled by an algorithm gave birth to the #RIPTwitter hashtag. But the panic may have been for nought; Jack Dorsey wants to clear things up.

The Twitter founder took to the site to assure its users that a timeline change is not on the cards -- at least not next week. But what he says may not completely quell the fears of those who have been talking about the death of Twitter.

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European Court of Human Rights says websites are not responsible for reader comments

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In something of a landmark ruling, the European Court of Human Rights says that websites cannot be held liable for comments left by readers. The ruling comes after a Hungarian website was sued over the content of messages left by readers.

The court said that if websites were held responsible for comments, it would constitute a breach of the right to free expression. Even in the case of 'offensive and vulgar' comments, providing nothing unlawful was written -- such as hate speech -- Hungarian news site Index.hu, and others, could not be held responsible for readers' comments.

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Windows 10 phones home (A LOT) even with all reporting and telemetry disabled

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One computer user has become so disillusioned with Windows 10's spying features that he has been driven to using Linux Mint as his primary operating system. But Voat user CheesusCrust was curious to find out just how pervasive Microsoft's privacy invasion is. The results of his investigation are quite staggering.

Using a router kitted out with DD-WRT, and a copy of Windows 10 Enterprise installed in a virtual machine on his Linux laptop, he started by disabling every single one of the tracking and telemetry features found in the operating system. Eight hours later, 4,000 connection attempts to 93 different IP addresses were logged, with most of these IPs addresses being linked to Microsoft.

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Apple says it is bricking iPhones with Error 53 for security reasons

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You wouldn't expect a simple iOS update to completely kill your iPhone, but this is exactly what is happening. Users who took their handsets to a third party for repair and subsequently updated their software have run into error 53 and a bricked handset. Apple is not only aware of the problem, but says that it is intentional.

As we learned the other day, the problem seems to arise for people who have had their home key (specifically) fixed by a non-Apple-authorized repairer. Apple has now admitted that iOS detects the home key has been tinkered with, and says that Error 53 is a move to 'protect our customers' -- customers who will, presumably, think twice before upgrading to an iPhone 7.

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#RIPTwitter? What's with all the hoopla?

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There have been changes aplenty at Twitter as the company fights to remain relevant in an increasingly crowded social marketplace. There have been rumors that the famous 140-character limit could be dropped, and we're already seeing Twitter dropping the requirement to be logged into an account in order to see conversations. Just like Facebook, Twitter has also experimented with changing the order in which content appears in users' timelines, and it seems like this is something that's due to spread to everyone.

The company could be on the verge of launching a new algorithm-powered timeline that displays tweets not in reverse chronological order, but based on what it thinks you might want to see. Before the change has even been implemented, there has already been something of a backlash, with many people suggesting this could be the death of Twitter. The hashtag #RIPTwitter quickly started trending and is home to vocal opposition to the change.

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Twitter tackles terrorists in targeted takedown

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Having previously battled trolls, Twitter has now turned its attention to terrorists and their supporters. The site has closed down more than 125,000 accounts associated with terrorism since the middle of 2015, it announced in a statement.

Although a full breakdown of figures is not provided, Twitter says most of these accounts were related to ISIS. Having increased the size of its account review team, the site has reduced the time it takes to investigate accounts that are reported, and has also started to investigate 'accounts similar to those reported'.

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Mozilla kills Firefox OS 2.6 for smartphones but it lives on in smart TVs and connected devices

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Following on from the announcement that Firefox OS would no longer be developed for smartphones, Mozilla has explained the thinking behind the decision (failures on its part) and also revealed that Firefox OS will continue to live on in other devices.

The operating system is already used to power Panasonic SmartTVs, and this is set to continue. This will certainly come as good news to owners of such TVs, but Mozilla says that the OS stack will be used in a range of Connected Devices.

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Here's how to bypass the iOS lock screen passcode

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There are numerous ways to keep your smartphone safe from prying eyes, and a lock screen protected with a passcode is a popular choice. But a newly discovered vulnerability in iOS 8 and iOS 9 means that iPhones and iPads could be accessed by attackers.

The vulnerability was discovered by security analyst Benjamin Kunz Mejri and it has been assigned a Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) count of 6.0, as well as a 'high' severity rating. Apple has been aware of the issue since late last year, but has yet to issue a patch.

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PSA: Updating iOS could brick your iPhone 6 with error 53

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OS upgrades can often be a pain, but you don't usually expect to run the risk of killing the device you are upgrading. If you’ve spent a small fortune on an iPhone, you're likely to be particularly upset if an upgrade is borked, but this is precisely the problem facing iPhone 6 owners who have previously had their handset worked on by an unofficial third party.

Growing numbers of iPhone 6 users are encountering error 53 in iOS9, effectively rendering their handset useless. What the affected handsets all appear to have in common is that their home button was fixed by a non-Apple technician, although some users report the same issue if they have a problematic home button that has not been fixed.

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Forget SMS, ChatSim offers unlimited free chatting to mobile users as they travel the world

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Described as the world's first "instant messaging mobile operator", ChatSim aims to take the pain out of travelling with a mobile phone. Roaming charges can quickly mount up for travellers who lose track of the number of texts they send, and in order to avoid high data fees, you might find yourself seeking out Wi-Fi connections to make use of the likes of WhatsApp instead.

But there is an alternative. ChatSim lets you stay in touch without worrying about the cost. Buy a SIM card for just $25, £16 or €20, and you can send an unlimited number of messages -- over Wi-Fi or 4G... whatever connection you have available -- without incurring any additional charges. Sounds good? It gets better.

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Android adblocker apps blocked by Google

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Well that was... brief. Just days after Samsung released an update that allowed for adblocking software to be installed on its handsets, Google has put its foot down. The company has already started to pull adblocking apps from Google Play.

Being so reliant on advertising revenue, it's understandable that Google might take a dim view of anything that stops the cash rolling in. Nonetheless, a move to block apps that have already proved incredibly popular has raised the ire of developers and users alike.

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Windows 10 is Microsoft's Elephant Man

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I read a comment from a user who was talking about Windows 10 Mobile. He referred to it as Microsoft's stillborn baby. As dark and as gruesome an image as this may be, it feels very fitting, and it got me wondering how best to think of the desktop version of Windows 10. Clearly this is not a stillborn -- there's plenty of life in this kicking and screaming beast, and there is no sign of an abortion on the horizon.

But it is the black sheep of the family, the -- brace yourselves, politically correct gentlefolk -- deformed and underdeveloped spawn of Microsoft's loins. If it was an animal, it probably would have been destroyed in utero. As it is -- to view it in more human terms -- it's more like the Elephant Man: a lumbering, lurching curiosity that many would like to see dead, but which at the same time retains its right to existence.

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The future of the NSA: fight the hackers or embrace the hackers

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With its well-known habit of uncompromising surveillance, the NSA has earned itself something of a poor reputation among internet users. But while the spying side of the agency is what it is most famous for, it is actually made up of two different divisions: offensive and defensive.

Later this week the NSA is expected to announce an internal restructuring that will see the two divisions merging. This presents the agency with an interesting predicament: does it continue to work to fight the efforts of hackers, or does it adopt hacker-like techniques to help gather data? Experts says that the merger is a mistake, largely because the aim and modus operandi of the two departments are diametrically opposed.

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