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Watch F1’s Fernando Alonso try the Indy 500 oval for the...

Two-time F1 champ is skipping Monaco to race the 500; wants the triple crown.

The 2017 New York International Auto Show: best of the rest

The 840-hp Dodge Demon, Nissan GT-R Track Edition, Bugatti Chiron, and more.

First-ever US Honda Civic Type R finally arrives with 306 horsepower

UK-assembled, US-powered, the global Civic Type R finally hits America this June.

Mazda’s move upmarket with the 2017 CX-5

Mazda aims at the likes of BMW and Audi with its new crossover.

Ars asks: How do you feel about junkets for auto coverage?

Like it or hate it, access journalism requires access—far more than we can afford.

Hacker George Hotz cancels Model S order after Tesla reminds him...

Was set to receive a car last week, then came a last-minute call from Tesla legal.

Automakers balk at California’s proposed self-driving car rules

Google had a self-driving car sitting at the show, but it wasn't driving itself anywhere.reader comments 14 Share this story On Wednesday, California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) held a meeting to discuss a set of proposed rules (PDF) that would govern how state regulator would deal with autonomous vehicles in the near future. The California DMV’s rules lifted from guidelines that the National Highway Transportation Safety Authority (NHTSA) published last month then made voluntary.

That troubled automakers and autonomous software engineers from Google, Ford, Volkswagen, and Honda, all of which currently have licenses to test autonomous vehicles on California’s roads as long as those cars have a qualified driver. Eighteen companies working on self-driving vehicles have licenses to test autonomous vehicles in the state.

California’s strong technology industry made it a hotbed for autonomous driving research, and the state’s large population often means that companies will adapt their product to meet California’s regulatory demands if they’re more stringent than rules governing other states in the nation. According to Reuters, Google and other automakers objected in particular to a proposed rule that would require the self-driving car builder to submit a year’s worth of testing data on when the car had to be disengaged from autonomous mode in order for that car maker to be allowed to fully deploy the self-driving vehicle. A coalition of self-driving car makers including Google, Ford, Lyft, Uber, and Volvo said that such a rule would significantly delay getting autonomy into cars, which automakers and regulators largely agree could decrease accidents significantly. The private companies also questioned the privacy implications of some of the DMV’s proposed rules. “The manufacturer shall certify that it will release autonomous technology sensor data... that is in its possession or control to law enforcement or peace officers within 24 hours of their request for such data,” the proposal reads.
Such a request could be delivered without a warrant or a subpoena. The proposed rules weren’t all restrictive, however.

California’s DMV did suggest a way forward for automakers who want to deploy driverless vehicles—in which a steering wheel would be absent—on public roads in the near future. However, the DMV’s rules noted that an autonomous vehicle engineer would have to seek approval from all local governments that the car would pass through during testing. Ron Medford, director of safety for Google's self-driving car project, called this rule “unworkable,” according to Reuters. The proposed rules also mandate that manufacturers must update the autonomous technology “at least annually,” a directive that the manufacturers did not appear to object to. Of course, these are only proposed rules.

The California DMV stated that it will be considering changes to the rules in the coming months.

Congressman sues political rival, claims former staffer stole campaign data

Enlarge / Rep. Mike Honda (pictured here) sued his challenger, Ro Khanna, "Ro for Congress," and Brian Parvizshahi, Khanna's former campaign manager, on Thursday.Bill Clark / Getty Images News reader comments 16 Share this story Mike Honda, the congressman who represents a large portion of Silicon Valley, has sued his political opponent, Ro Khanna, under a federal anti-hacking law known as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Khanna, a former Department of Commerce official, is trying to unseat Honda in the upcoming November 2016 election. Honda, who has been a member of the House of Representatives for 15 years, previously defeated Khanna in a tight race in 2014. The lawsuit claims that Brian Parvizshahi, who was Khanna’s campaign manager until Thursday evening, worked as an intern for a Honda campaign fundraising firm, Arum Group, for just a few weeks in the summer of 2012. However, when Parvizshahi left Arum Group, his access to a Dropbox account that included data on thousands of donors was not revoked. Later, after he began working for the Khanna campaign in 2015, Parvizshahi allegedly contacted many Honda donors one at a time to ask them to consider supporting Khanna instead. “This involves a violation of privacy of our supporters.

They entrusted our campaign with this information,” Honda campaign lawyer Gautam Dutta told Ars. "We consider it a cyberattack. You basically have your political opponent obtaining and using your confidential information, obtained through the Internet in an illegal manner.” Even after the contract with Arum Group ended in December 2014, the Honda campaign didn't notice that anything was amiss until May 2016.

According to Dutta, that’s when Dropbox sent an e-mail notification about file access that the current fundraiser could not understand. “He went to our former fundraiser about this, and she made the discovery that Mr. Parvizshahi still had access to that account, and she immediately revoked it,” Dutta said. CFAA strikes again In addition to Parvizshahi, Khanna and the “Ro for Congress” campaign were named in the suit as defendants. Khanna and his campaign were officially served with the lawsuit Thursday night at a campaign event in Fremont, California. Parvizshahi resigned from his position on Thursday evening and has yet to be served with the lawsuit. He has not responded to Ars’ requests for comment. The Khanna campaign did not immediately respond to Ars’ requests for comment, but Khanna spokesman Hari Sevugan provided a statement to the Los Angeles Times. He wrote: By filing this lawsuit with six weeks to go and down in the polls, [Parvizshahi] believes Mike Honda is trying to distract voters from the ongoing ethics investigation into how he sold special governmental access to his VIP donors after accepting $3 million in PAC contributions.

And Brian will not let Mike Honda use him to distract voters from the need for real change. The criminal portions of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act have drawn scrutiny in recent years, as they have been the vehicle for numerous high-profile prosecutions, including that of Matthew Keys. The CFAA is the same law that was used to prosecute activist Aaron Swartz, which ultimately resulted in his suicide.
It is the same law that President Barack Obama has said he would like Congress to expand to encompass broader reach and longer prison sentences.

After Swartz’s death, some lawmakers proposed Aaron’s Law, a Congressional bill that would aim to rein in some of the expansions of the CFAA, but it has languished in Congress. The CFAA also has a civil portion, which is nearly identical to the criminal section.
It allows anyone to bring a lawsuit. Ahmed Ghappour, a law professor at San Francisco’s University of California, Hastings, said that the Honda campaign has a strong case. He told Ars: Under 9th Circuit law, Parvizshahi’s access to the files was arguably “unauthorized” for two reasons.

First, Honda’s termination of Arum Group effectively rescinded any previous grant of permission to Arum Group employees to access the dropbox files.
Second, Arum Group’s termination of Parvizshahi (or his voluntary departure, as may be the case) likely had the effect of rescinding permission to access Arum Group’s client files, past or present. Professor Ghappour pointed to a notable civil CFAA decision at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals from 2009, LVRC Holdings v.

Brekka
. In Brekka, the 9th Circuit held that a person uses a computer without authorization “when the employer has rescinded permission to access the computer and the defendant uses the computer anyway.” This opens up liability in the post-employment context.

Courts in the Northern District of California have found that the employer doesn’t need to revoke the employee’s access credentials for there to be unauthorized access post termination. Under this interpretation, termination is sufficient to provide notice. Beyond the civil liability, Parvizshahi could still face criminal prosecution. “This is a very serious matter, and we would urge the federal authorities to look into it,” Dutta added.

Report: In 2006, a VW executive suggested adding illegal software to...

Thomas HawkAccording to a report from The New York Times, slides from a 2006 presentation suggest that a "top technology executive" within Volkswagen Group detailed how the company could circumvent US auto emissions regulations by including illegal software on the German automaker’s diesel cars. That illegal software showed up first in diesel Volkswagen and Audi models from 2009 and later and then in a handful of diesel Audi and Porsche SUV models.

The US Environmental Protection Agency cited VW Group for its transgression in September, leading to a huge scandal for the automaker. Last week, VW Group said it would buy back nearly 500,000 affected 2.0L engine vehicles and set aside $18 billion to deal with the buyback, the legal costs, and regulatory fines. The Times said the 2006 presentation was discovered during the course of investigations into the company’s actions, and two anonymous sources confirmed to the paper that they had seen the slides in question.
Volkswagen has maintained that its top management was unaware of the problem for years and then misunderstood the severity of the problem when it was brought to its attention in 2014. The 2006 PowerPoint allegedly notes that engineers at VW Group’s research and development branch quickly found out that the emissions control system in its latest diesels would “wear out too quickly if it were calibrated to meet American pollution standards,” the Times reported.
In Europe, auto emissions are not as stringently regulated. The Times continued: A technology expert at Volkswagen offered a solution in the PowerPoint presentation. Just a few pages long, the 2006 presentation included a graph that explained the process for testing the amount of pollution spewing from a car.
In a laboratory, regulators would try to replicate a variety of conditions on the road. The pattern of those tests, the presentation said, was entirely predictable.

And a piece of code embedded in the software that controlled the engine could recognize that pattern, activating equipment to reduce emissions just for testing purposes. As the years went by, VW Group allegedly altered the software to improve the cars’ ability to detect when a lab test was being conducted versus when the car was being driven on the open road. "During regulators’ tests, the engine software would turn up the pollution controls. When it was on the road, equipment designed to neutralize harmful nitrogen oxides would [be] turned down," the Times wrote. The EPA requires that automakers wanting to sell new cars in the US must provide the agency with documentation on the components of the vehicle, as well as the results of self-administered emissions and mileage tests.

Third-party and real-world testing was rare until recently, when research groups became able to buy or make equipment to do their own tests more easily.

This relaxed attitude toward emissions testing is common throughout the world—and Volkswagen was even caught illegally manipulating its cars for the US market once before, in 1973.

At the time, the company was fined $120,000 and did not have to admit wrongdoing. VW Group’s recent cheating was only noticed in 2014 due to research conducted by West Virginia University. The Times reported that even after US regulators began inquiring about discrepancies between test results and real-world results, company executives brushed off suggestions on ways to bring VW Group vehicles into compliance with US standards, according to more anonymous sources.

The company’s management group allegedly "rebuffed lower-ranking employees who submitted technical proposals for upgrading the emissions controls, according to the two people who attended meetings where the proposals were discussed,” the Times wrote. "More effective emissions equipment would have made Volkswagen vehicles hundreds of dollars more expensive, without providing a benefit that customers could perceive,” the paper continued. "In the United States, even a modestly higher sticker price would have made it more difficult for Volkswagen to compete with rivals like Toyota and Honda.” According to a memo the Times has viewed, a US law firm hired by VW Group estimated that the company would be on the hook for a fine in the range of $100 million, according to historical data on previous auto manufacturer fines. With that information, executives failed to take the matter as seriously as they should have. “[Former VW Group CEO Martin] Winterkorn and other top managers were used to deferential treatment by government officials in Germany, where it is one of the largest employers,” the Times wrote. In another memo, VW Group’s executive liaison with US regulators said he had only been given half an hour between the time that the EPA said it would publicly announce VW Group’s violations and the time of the announcement.

The executive claimed he believed the company would have four months to privately discuss the matter with regulators.

Motorcyclist who filmed, uploaded police flight video to serve hard time

Defendant Ali’s GPS anklet from unrelated offense clocked him in at 115 mph.