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Department of Homeland Security

Afghanistan’s All-Girl Robotics Team Will Get to Attend Their Competition After All

After public outcry ensued when they were initially denied their visas, the all-girl robotics team from Afghanistan has been granted parole to enter the U.S. and compete in the FIRST Global Challenge in Washington, D.C.

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Bus Rides More Uncomfortable Than Ever Thanks to Government Surveillance Devices

Because berserk homeless people and the combined smell of the passengers' rancid body odor didn't make riding the bus enough of a horrible experience, government officials are currently in the process of installing surveillance devices to record any and all conversations during bus rides -- and we mean from everybody on board. The plan will be put into action in a number of major city transit hubs across the nation ranging from San Francisco, California to Baltimore, Maryland. Advocates say that this system of audio surveillance will aid in law enforcement and resolving service issues, but, frankly the public would probably rather not have the government hear their thoughts on last night's episode of American Horror Story.

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U.S. Official in Charge of Cybersecurity Doesn’t Use Email, Must Forward Amusing Photos by Fax

How do you ensure that your computer is completely and totally secure? There's really only one surefire method: Don't use a computer. If you don't use a computer, then there's nothing to get off it. The plan is pure genius. It's also the same plan that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano employs with email. She claims that she doesn't use email at all because of how secure she is. This is clearly the answer to all our problems.

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Homeland Security’s Long, Long List of Social Media Watch Words

Everybody knows that you don't say "bomb" at an airport. It's just a bad idea. But how about social media? You can say anything you want there, can't you? You should be able to figure out the answer to that question. The answer is, yes, technically you can, but if you say certain things, the Department of Homeland Security is going to take notice. We've known for a while that the government has had its eye on social media and after Leigh Van Bryan was arrested for tweeting the words "destroy" and "America" in that order, it became clear that tweets can be taken very, very seriously, but how many words could possibly be on the DHS's watch-list. A bunch. A whole bunch.

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Researchers Find Hacking Open Prison Cells Troublingly Easy

When you think "prison" you think "security." Iron bars, guards, high walls, barbed wire, and ... insecure computer networks? Granted, that last one doesn't exactly leap to mind, but maybe it should, according to research by Tiffany Rad, Teague Newman, and John Strauchs, which has show that it's startlingly easy to gain external access to prisons' industrial control systems, allowing them to do things like open the doors. The tattoos were pretty awesome Scofield, but maybe the cyber-approach would have been a better bet.

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U.S. Government Accidentally Shuts Down 84,000 Websites

Last Friday, ICE's Cyber Crimes Center proudly seized various domain names as part of "Operation Save Our Children," claiming the domains were involved with the distribution of child pornography. ICE managed to get a District Court judge sign a seizure warrant, then had the offending sites' doman registries make said offending sites point to the scary banner shown above. However, for whatever reason, a mistake was made and the domain,, of a large DNS service provider, FreeDNS, was seized, causing around 84,000 innocent subdomains to be seized as well.

Read More, Popular Streaming Sports Site, Shut Down by Homeland Security

People who visit the homepage of, a popular website known for (illegally) streaming live sporting events, pay-per-views, and TV shows, will see that the domain has been seized by ICE (Homeland Security Investigations) in accordance with a warrant from the US attorney’s office. Translation: those looking for a way to stream sporting events while at work will have to find somewhere else to do it (we’re not advocating this, by the way). >>>Full story at SportsGrid.

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Ink and Toner Cartridge Ban Hits the TSA

The TSA has actually banned ink and toner cartridges onboard flights following an ink- and toner-related bomb scare in late October. B3tan chthonic got ahold of this confidential Homeland Security notice on the subject: We will not cease banding together in defense of our security, but hopefully spooler print heads will prevail in the glossy full-face of this nozzle check on our freedom. (B3ta via Boing Boing)

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MPAA Wants Homeland Security Agents to Protect Their Summer Blockbusters

The EFF passes along the news of a doozy of a bad proposal recently filed by the MPAA and RIAA, representing the film and music industries, respectively. Both have been lobbying the Office of the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, which was created in the final months of the Bush administration, to enact into government policy a swarm of measures designed expressly to, well, help the RIAA and MPAA.

These proposals include spyware on your computer that automatically deletes "infringing" files, pressure on foreign governments to adopt copyright policies mirroring the U.S.'s, and border searches of people's personal media players for "pirate or counterfeit [media] items." The MPAA even wants enforcement agents from the Department of Justice and -- wait for it -- the Department of Homeland Security assigned to work on their schedule to protect their summer blockbusters from dangerous file-sharers.

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DHS Will Monitor Twitter and Blogs During 2010 Winter Olympics

The Department of Homeland Security will be monitoring Twitter, Google, and the blogs for up-to-the-minute information during the 2010 Winter Olympics. According to a statement recently released by the DHS, knowing what people are Tweeting, searching, and commenting about will "provide situational awareness" should terror or a disaster strike.

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