Study: Hundreds of rules passed by Obama administration are technically illegal

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Over the past two years, the Obama administration has published hundreds and hundreds of rules — on how wheelchairs should be stowed aboard U.S. aircraft, how foreign trade zones should be regulated, how voting assistance should be provided for U.S. citizens overseas, and so on.

There’s a problem, however: Technically speaking, these and some 1,800 other regulations shouldn’t be in effect because they weren’t reported to Congress as required. Yet there is little that lawmakers or the courts can do about it.

The situation illustrates the obscure, Byzantine process used to create federal regulations — and how easily it can go awry.

“It’s pretty apparent that the system is broken,” saidCurtis Copeland, a retired Congressional Research Service staffer who discovered the issue. “It would seem this is one area where congressional Republicans and Democrats could get together and say: ‘This is crazy. We can fix this.’ ”

Under a 1996 statute, most federal rules are supposed to be reported to the House and Senate in paper form and to the General Accountability Office electronically. But since the start of 2012, that hasn’t happened for many of the regulations put out by the Obama administration, either because of bureaucratic oversight or because they were considered too minor to be reported.

Failing to report many of the rules is a “technical violation” of the statute, “and the law says they can’t take effect,” according to Robert Cramer, GAO’s managing associate general counsel.

But there’s another catch: Congress also barred such rules from judicial review. Two federal appeals courts and two district courts have upheld this principleeven when the regulation in question was not submitted to Congress as required. That means neither lawmakers nor the courts can step in and demand that agencies submit the required paperwork.

The 1996 law at the center of this mess is theCongressional Review Act, or CRA, which added requirements for reporting most administrative rules to Congress. The idea — stemming from the Republican Party’s“Contract with America” — was that lawmakers would have a chance to overturn any pending regulations they didn’t like before they took effect.

Posted By Jarrett Neil Ridlinghafer Founder, CEO/CTO of Synapse Synergy Group, Inc. http://Synapsesynergygroup.com from WordPress for Android

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Abuse of Larry Ellison continues unabated

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First, Ellison saw his total compensation slashed 18%in 2013 over 2012.

And now on top of that humiliation comes word in a regulatory filing that Oracle will be awarding Ellison fewer than half the stock options he has received in previous years.

Oh, sure, the heartless and the hate-mongers will harp on the fact that the 18% reduction still left Ellison with a total compensation package worth $78.4 million, highest in the tech industry. They’ll note that the 3 million stock options he’s in line to receive, while no 7 million, remain nothing to sneeze at. And that his net worth of $42 billion makes him the third richest American.

But have you seen the price of islands these days?

Android vulnerability allows malware to compromise most devices and apps

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The majority of Android devices currently in use contain a vulnerability that allows malware to completely hijack installed apps and their data or even the entire device.

The core problem is that Android fails to validate public key infrastructure certificate chains for app digital signatures, said Jeff Forristal, chief technology officer of Bluebox Security, a San Francisco company whose researchers discovered the issue.

According to Google’s documentation, Android applications must be signed in order to be installed on the OS, but the digital certificate used to sign them does not need to be issued by a digital certificate authority. “It is perfectly allowable, and typical, for Android applications to use self-signed certificates,” the documentation says.

However, Android contains hard-coded certificates from several developers so it can give apps created by those developers special access and privileges inside the OS, Forristal said.

BlackBerry buying German firm for voice encryption

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BlackBerry has always touted its mobile devices as secure. But now it plans to make them “more secure” by acquiring a German company that specializes in voice encryption.

BlackBerry will acquire Secusmart GmbH, which offers encryption systems to scramble voice calls, and also data communications. The company was silent about the details of the transaction, except to say it hinges on regulatory approvals.

Guns, vandals and thieves: Data shows US networks under Attack

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By Martyn Williams

 Early one morning in April last year, someone accessed an underground vault just south of San Jose, California, and cut through fiber-optic cables there. The incident blacked out phone, Internet and 911 service for thousands of people in Silicon Valley.

Such incidents, often caused by vandals, seem fairly common, but exactly how often do they occur? Since 2007, the U.S. telecom infrastructure has been targeted by more than a thousand malicious acts that resulted in severe outages, according to data obtained by IDG from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under the Freedom of Information Act.