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First time accepted submitter ChelleChelle2 (2908449) writes "Edward Snowden's release of classified material exposing the existence of numerous global surveillance programs (obtained while working as an NSA contractor at Booz Allen Hamilton) has been referred to as 'the most damaging breach of secrets in U.S. history.' Regardless of whether one choses to champion or condemn Snowden's actions, it is apparent that the NSA needs to dramatically rework its security measures. In this article Bob Toxen, renown author of several books and articles on Linux Security, discusses the security practices that could have stopped Snowden. Equally interesting, he weighs in on the constitutionality and morality of the NSA's spying on all Americans."
New submitter rjune (123157) writes with some rare positive news from the online ride-sharing world, specifically from Milwaukee. "Ald. Robert Bauman is drafting a proposed ordinance that, if approved by the Common Council, would change the way public passenger vehicles are regulated and licensed. The proposal, expected to be outlined on Friday before the Common Council's Public Transportation Review Board, not only lifts the cap on taxicab vehicle perimits but accommodates new smartphone app services such as Uber and Lyft. Both Uber and Lyft are already in the marketplace." I wish that the cities I spend the most time in would do the same, but they've been busily protecting the local cartels, instead.
Lucas123 writes "A U.S. District Court has ruled that Marvell Technology must pay Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) $1.54B for infringing on two hard drive chip patents. Marvell was also ordered to pay interest at 0.14% annually, and 50 cents for each chip sold that uses the intellectual property. While Marvell did not comment on the case, CMU said it 'understands' that Marvell will again appeal the ruling and the school 'will look forward to the federal circuit court' upholding the lower court's ruling. The latest decision by a U.S. District Court in Western Pennsylvania ends for now a five-year legal battle between the two. In 2012, a jury found Marvell had violated CMU's patents, and the chip maker then appealed that ruling."
An anonymous reader writes "Two weeks ago, SpaceX filed suit against the U.S. Air Force in an attempt to enforce competition for rocket purchases. They argued it was a bad idea to blindly shovel money into Russia's coffers for rides to space, and said there was no way for other rocket manufacturers to get a foot in the door. Last week, it looked like they were getting traction — an injunction was granted, temporarily halting the Air Force's process of buying rockets. Unfortunately for SpaceX, that injunction has now been dissolved. At the heart of the suit was Executive Order 13,661, which blocks the transfer of wealth to people in the Russian Federation who are related to the situation in the Ukraine. SpaceX said that since Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin was the head of their space agency, payments to the agency were effectively payments to him. The U.S. departments of Commerce, State, and the Treasury all sent letters to the court saying this was not the case, and the court agreed. Here's the final ruling."
An anonymous reader writes "Remember the court battle between Google and Oracle? It's the one where Oracle claimed Android violated Oracle's patents and copyright related to Java. Oracle thought they deserved $6 billion in compensation, but ended up getting nothing. Well, it's still going, and the tide is turning somewhat in Oracle's favor. An appeals court decided that Oracle can claim copyright over some parts of Java. It's a complicated ruling (PDF) — parts of it went Google's way and parts of it went Oracle's way — but here's the most important line: '[T]he declaring code and the structure, sequence, and organization of the 37 Java API packages at issue are entitled to copyright protection.' A jury's earlier finding of infringement has been reinstated, and now it's up to Google to justify its actions under fair use."
An anonymous reader writes "Following the FCC's proposal a couple weeks ago to allow an internet fast lane, a group of activists has come up with a fun counterproposal: force the FCC itself into the slow lane and see how they like it. They write, 'Since the FCC seems to have no problem with this idea, I've (through correspondence) gotten access to the FCC's internal IP block, and throttled all connections from the FCC to 28.8kbps modem speeds on the Neocities.org front site, and I'm not removing it until the FCC pays us for the bandwidth they've been wasting instead of doing their jobs protecting us from the "keep America's internet slow and expensive forever" lobby.' The group has published the code snippet that throttles FCC IP addresses, and they encourage other web admins to implement it."
New submitter echo-e writes: "A deal has been made between groups representing content creators and ISPs in the UK concerning how the ISPs should respond to suspected illegal file sharers. In short, the ISPs will send letters or emails with an 'educational' rather than threatening tone, alerting users to legal alternatives. The rights holders will be notified of the number of such alerts that have been sent out, but only the ISPs will know the identity of the offenders. Only four of the UKs ISPs have agreed to the 'Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme' so far, but the remaining ISPs are expected to join the programme at a later stage. The debate between rights holders and ISPs has raged on for years. This agreement falls short of the of the proposals put forward by the rights holders groups, but the ISPs have argued that it is not their responsibility to police users and that a legal process already exists for going after individuals."
Bruce66423 (1678196) writes in with news about a planned protest by London black-cab drivers against Uber. "London black-cab drivers are planning to cause gridlock in the city to protest against car service Uber. The Licensed Taxi Drivers Association complains that Uber's drivers are using a smartphone app to calculate fares despite it being illegal for private vehicles to be fitted with taximeters. Transport for London has declined to intervene, because it disagrees that there has been a breach of the law. LTDA now plans to force the issue by holding the action in early June. 'Transport for London not enforcing the Private Hire Vehicles Act is dangerous for Londoners,' Steve McNamara, LTDA's general secretary, told the BBC. 'I anticipate that the demonstration against TfL's handling of Uber will attract many many thousands of cabs and cause severe chaos, congestion and confusion across the metropolis.'"
The New York Times is one of many outlets reporting that Snapchat has agreed to settle with the FTC about the gap between promises made about the company's "disappearing" communications system and reality. "The Federal Trade Commission on Thursday said Snapchat had agreed to settle charges that the company was deceiving users about the ephemeral nature of the photos and video messages sent through its service. The messages were significantly less private than the company had said, the commission said. In marketing the service, Snapchat has said that its messages “disappear forever.” But in its complaint, the commission said the messages, often called snaps, can be saved in several ways. The commission said that users can save a message by using a third-party app, for example, or employ simple workarounds that allow users to take a screenshot of messages without detection." Besides the monetary side of the settlement (details of which are promised soon on the FTC's site), the company has agreed to operate for the next 20 years with special supervision of a new privacy program; it seems a little optimistic as a timeframe for any social-media related business. Here are the FTC's charges (PDF).
An anonymous reader writes "The U.S. Patent Office granted Amazon a patent in March that basically describes taking a picture with a white background. Amazon claims that their method is unique to current photography methods because they can achieve the effect of a true white background without retouching the photo or using any sort of post-processing technique. Some professional photographers disagree, claiming that plenty of prior art exists embodying Amazon's described method and furthermore that this pre-existing method is what the photography industry calls 'shooting against a seamless white backdrop.'"
Trailrunner7 (1100399) writes "If law enforcement gets hold of your locked iPhone and has some interest in its contents, Apple can pull all kinds of content from the device, including texts, contacts, photos and videos, call history and audio recordings. The company said in a new document that provides guidance for law enforcement agencies on the kinds of information Apple can provide and what methods can be used to obtain it that if served with a search warrant, officials will help law enforcement agents extract specific application-specific data from a locked iOS device. However, that data appears to be limited to information related to Apple apps, such as iMessage, the contacts and the camera. Email contents and calendar data can't be extracted, the company said in the guidelines."
mask.of.sanity (1228908) writes with this excerpt from The Register: "'Intel security subsidiary McAfee may be in hot water after it allegedly scraped thousands of records from the Open Source Vulnerability Database instead of paying for them. The slurp was said to be conducted using fast scripts that rapidly changed the user agent, and was launched after McAfee formally inquired about purchasing a license to the data.' Law experts say the site's copyright could be breached by individuals merely downloading the information in contravention to the site's policies, and did not require the data to be subsequently disseminated."
beaverdownunder (1822050) writes "Victoria Australia's Taxi Directorate has begun a crackdown on Melbourne Uber drivers, fining them $1700 each for operating a taxi service illegally, with total fines apparently equalling over $50000. In response, Uber has shut down its Melbourne service, and has refused to comment on whether its drivers will be compensated, since Uber told them they were providing a legal service. (Fined Uber drivers could take the company to the state's consumer tribunal: stay tuned!) Uber is set to meet with the Directorate next week but it is likely the demands the Directorate will place on Uber drivers, such as mandatory criminal record checks, vehicle inspections and insurance, will make the service in Melbourne unviable. Meanwhile, the New South Wales government is awaiting a report to determine if Uber drivers operating in that state are doing so illegally, warning that drivers could face substantial fines if they are found to have been operating in breach of the law. In South Australia, it doesn't even appear Uber will get off the ground — the state has made it clear that those who operate as an Uber driver will be driving without being covered by the state's mandatory insurance coverage, essentially de-registering their vehicle and making them liable for fines and license suspension."
PuceBaboon (469044) writes "Earlier today (Thursday), police in Kawasaki, Japan, arrested a man for violation of the firearms control law. He was apparently in possession of five, 3D-printed handguns, two of which were reportedly capable of firing normal rounds (although no actual bullets were found). The suspect was arrested after releasing video of the guns online. Japan has very strict gun control laws and, whether or not the suspect actually appeared in the alleged video, he may just have signed himself up for some serious porridge."
First time accepted submitter sumakor (3571543) writes "The House Judiciary Committee has advanced a weakened version of the USA Freedom Act (HR3361). The amended compromise version allows collection of phone call records up to two hops away from a target, potentially including millions of customer records, and allows for collection without a judge's order in emergency cases. The amended bill also drops the requirement for a privacy advocate who can appeal the rulings of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and extends the controversial Section 215 of the Patriot Act from 2015 through 2017.
Despite these significant changes the amended bill has been endorsed by the ACLU and the EFF as a first step and the most promising path towards reigning in government surveillance. The two organizations called for further Congressional measures to tighten control of surveillance authorities including an explicit definition of the term 'selector,' a reduction in the number of hops from 2 to 1 under most circumstances and the closing the loophole that allows searches of Americans' data inadvertently collected thru Section 702.
The bill now proceeds to the House Intelligence Committee, who has advanced its competing bill, the FISA Transparency and Modernization Act (HR 4291). The committee will mark up both bills on the same day, beginning at 10am Thursday, behind closed doors."
An anonymous reader writes "The London Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) is reportedly engaging in a year-long pilot program to determine the benefits of its police force wearing video cameras during interactions with the public. 'The pilot will include a total of 500 cameras distributed across ten city boroughs.' London joins some major U.S. cities in this endeavor to improve the quality of policing through the use of wearable cameras. Privacy advocates argue, however, that police officers having these devices on their persons is not enough: 'the efficacy of police body-mounted cameras as a crime reduction and accountability tool hinges on enforcement of good policies and procedures—including something as basic as preventing officers from being able to deactivate the cameras at their own discretion.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Almost every modern abusive relationship has a digital component, from cyberstalking to hacking phones, emails, and social media accounts, but women's shelters increasingly have found themselves on the defensive, ill-equipped to manage and protect their clients from increasingly sophisticated threats. Recently the Tor Project stepped in to help change that. Andrew Lewman, executive director of the project, 'thinks of the digital abuse epidemic like a doctor might consider a biological outbreak. "Step one, do not infect yourself. Step two, do not infect others, especially your co-workers. Step three, help others," he said. In the case of digital infections, like any other, skipping those first two steps can quickly turn caretakers into infected liabilities. For domestic violence prevention organizations that means ensuring their communication lines stay uncompromised. And that means establishing a base level of technology education for staff with generally little to no tech chops who might not understand the gravity of clean communication lines until faced with a situation where their own phone or email gets hacked.'"
randomErr (172078) writes "Russia is tightening its grip on free speech and freedom of the Internet by creating a new 'bloggers law'. This policy follows the pattern set by China, Pakistan, Turkey, and Iran." Any site with more than 3000 daily visitors will be required to register and be held to a number of restrictions, quoting the article: "Besides registering, bloggers can no longer remain anonymous online, and organizations that provide platforms for their work such as search engines, social networks and other forums must maintain computer records on Russian soil of everything posted over the previous six months."
judgecorp (778838) writes "RightsCorp, the controversial copyright enforcer, is planning to begin operations in Europe. In the U.S., the company scans torrents for IP addresses on behalf of media companies, shares them with ISPs, forcing them to send lawyers' letters (using the DMCA) demanding money from the supposed copyright infringers. RightsCorp says Europe needs its help in fighting piracy." They recently expanded operations into Canada as well.
An anonymous reader writes "Argentinian political activists are developing an open source program that will allow voters to direct their representatives on how to vote on certain issues by giving voters a platform to debate and vote on issues themselves. Started as an accompaniment to and a fundamental feature of a new political party in Argentina, Democracy OS is not designed to be anonymous (i.e., no secret ballots, no anonymous comments). 'Fortunately, the software isn't yet being used to gather real votes, just to gather public feedback.' Critics see this program as yet another iteration of Germany's Pirate Party, which could not engage enough voters in its own open source program, Liquid Feedback, to gain any meaningful policy direction from their constituents. German newspaper Der Spiegel once called the movement 'a grassroots democracy where no one is showing up to participate.'"
DeviceGuru (1136715) writes "Raytheon is switching its UAV control system from Solaris to Linux for U.S. military drones, starting with a Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout helicopter. Earlier this month Raytheon entered into a $15.8 million contract with the U.S. Navy to upgrade Raytheon's control systems for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), according to a recent Avionics Intelligence report. The overhaul is designed to implement more modern controls to help ground-based personnel control UAVs. Raytheon's tuxified version of its Vertical Takeoff and Landing Unmanned Air Vehicle Tactical Control System (TCS) will also implement universal UAV control qualities. As a result the TCS can be used in in all U.S. Navy, Air Force, Army, and Marine Corps UAVs that weigh at least 20 pounds. By providing an open standard, the common Linux-based platform is expected to reduce costs by limiting the types of UAV control systems that need to be built and maintained for each craft."
An anonymous reader writes "Forbes reported on Monday that The President of Russia's Council on Civil Society and Human Rights very briefly and supposedly by accident posted the actual results of the Crimean secession vote. According to the blog post, which has since been taken down, only 30% of Crimeans participated in the vote instead of the 83% participation officially advertised by Russia, and of that 30% only half voted for secession, which means that 15% of all Crimeans voted for secession rather than the 82% officially reported by Russia. There is no way for this claim to be verified as no foreign observers were allowed during the voting process. The vote is reportedly being conducted again during the 'May 11 referendum on the status of the so-called People's Republic of Donetsk.'" We've had a lot of discussion over the years about election methods and transparency; it would be interesting to hear from Ukranian readers in particular on this topic.
An anonymous reader writes "Vigilant Solutions maintains what they claim is the nation's largest database of license-plate tracking data, 'LEARN' (Law Enforcement Archival and Reporting Network). But when a law enforcement agency signs up to use the database, they are sworn to keep it secret. The reason? They are quite clear about that: 'to prohibit users from cooperating with any media outlet to bring attention to LEARN or LEARN-NVLS.' So, they're tracking you (they're tracking everybody)... but they don't want you to know. The agreement, uncovered by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, states: You shall not create, publish, distribute, or permit any written, electronically transmitted or other form of publicity material that makes reference to LEARN or this Agreement without first submitting the material to LEARN-NVLS and receiving written consent from LEARN-NVLS. This prohibition is specifically intended to prohibit users from cooperating with any media outlet to bring attention to LEARN or LEARN-NVLS. Breach this provision may result in LEARN-NVLS immediately termination of this Agreement upon notice to you."
Immediately after WIRED published the story, though, the agreement mysteriously changed. The secrecy provision is still there, but the statement that it's 'specifically intended' to prevent the media attention has vanished."
SonicSpike (242293) writes with news that the ACLU and Rand Paul both think every Senator should read David Barron's legal memos justifying the use of drones against an American citizen before he is confirmed to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals. From the article: "Paul, the junior Republican senator from Kentucky, has informed Reid he will object to David Barron's nomination to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals unless the Justice Department makes public the memos he authored justifying the killing of an American citizen in Yemen. The American Civil Liberties Union supports Paul's objection, giving some Democratic lawmakers extra incentive to support a delay to Barron's nomination, which could come to the floor in the next two weeks. Barron, formerly a lawyer in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, penned at least one secret legal memo approving the Sept. 2011 drone strike that killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical Muslim cleric whom intelligence officials accused of planning terrorist attacks against the United States."
Jason Koebler (3528235) writes "A Redditor got more than he bargained for in the mail today: He was accidentally mailed parts to a $350,000 environment and wildlife monitoring drone owned by the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration. 'We sent a set of about eight boxes for this one aircraft system, and one was misdelivered by UPS. We're working with UPS to find it,' the federal agency says."
randomErr (172078) writes "The US Department of Defense is investigating whether Bitcoin and other virtual currencies are a potential terrorist threat. The Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO), a division within DOD that identifies and develops counter terrorism abilities and investigates irregular warfare and evolving threats, has listed Bitcoin among its topics for research and mission critical analysis related to terrorism."
Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes "How risky is it to use the words "bomb," "plague," or "gun" online? That was a question we posed, tongue in cheek, with a web toy we built last year called Hello NSA. It offers users suggested tweets that use words that drawn from a list of watchwords that analysts at the Dept. of Homeland Security are instructed to search for on social media. "Stop holding my love hostage," one of the tweets read. "My emotions are like a tornado of fundamentalist wildfire." It was silly, but it was also imagined as an absurdist response to the absurdist ways that dragnet surveillance of the public and non-public Internet jars with our ideas of freedom of speech and privacy. And yet, after reading the mounting pile of NSA PowerPoints, are all of us as comfortable as we used to be Googling for a word like "anthrax," even if we were simply looking up our favorite thrash metal band? Maybe not. According to a new study of Google search trends, searches for terms deemed to be sensitive to government or privacy concerns have dropped "significantly" in the months since Edward Snowden's revelations in July."
An anonymous reader writes "The Mozilla Foundation is filing a petition asking the FCC to declare that ISPs are common carriers, with a twist. 'The FCC doesn't have to reclassify the Internet access ISPs offer consumers as a telecommunications service subject to common carrier regulations under Title II of the Communications Act, Mozilla says. Instead, the FCC should target the service ISPs offer to edge providers like Netflix and Dropbox, who need to send their bits over ISP networks to reach their customers. Classifying the ISP/edge provider relationship as a common carrier service will be a little cleaner since the FCC wouldn't have to undo several decade-old orders that classified broadband as an "information" service rather than telecommunications, Mozilla argues.'" Here's the Mozilla blog post and the 13-page petition.
An anonymous reader writes "Addressing the audience at the Freedom Online Coalition Conference, Secretary of State John Kerry defended NSA snooping actions saying: 'Let me be clear – as in the physical space, cyber security cannot come at the expense of cyber privacy. And we all know this is a difficult challenge. But I am serious when I tell you that we are committed to discussing it in an absolutely inclusive and transparent manner, both at home and abroad. As President Obama has made clear, just because we can do something doesn't mean that we should do it. And that's why he ordered a thorough review of all our signals intelligence practices. And that's why he then, after examining it and debating it and openly engaging in a conversation about it, which is unlike most countries on the planet, he announced a set of concrete and meaningful reforms, including on electronic surveillance, in a world where we know there are terrorists and others who are seeking to do injury to all of us. And finally, transparency – the principles governing such activities need to be understood so that free people can debate them and play their part in shaping these choices. And we believe these principles can positively help us to distinguish the legitimate practices of states governed by the rule of law from the legitimate practices of states that actually use surveillance to repress their people. And while I expect you to hold the United States to the standards that I've outlined, I also hope that you won't let the world forget the places where those who hold their government to standards go to jail rather than win prizes.' He added: 'This debate is about two very different visions: one vision that respects freedom and another that denies it. All of you at the Freedom Online Coalition are on the right side of this debate, and now we need to make sure that all of us together wind up on the right side of history."
An anonymous reader writes "EFF is launching a new extension for Firefox and Chrome called Privacy Badger. Privacy Badger automatically detects and blocks spying ads around the Web, and the invisible trackers that feed information to them. You can try it out today."
wiredmikey (1824622) writes "As Europe powered up its most ambitious ever cybersecurity exercise this month, doubts were being raised over whether the continent's patchwork of online police was right for the job. The exercise, called Cyber Europe 2014, involved 200 organizations and 400 cybersecurity professionals from both the European Union and beyond. Yet some critics argued that herding together normally secretive national security agencies and demanding that they spend the rest of 2014 sharing information amounted to wishful thinking. Others questioned whether the law enforcement agencies taking part in the drill should be involved in safeguarding online security, in the wake of American whistleblower Edward Snowden's revelations of online spying by western governments. Eurostat figures show that, by January 2012, only 26 percent of EU enterprises had a formally defined information technology security plan in place. One industry insider said the view in Brussels is that EU cybersecurity was "like teenage sex: everyone says they are doing it but not that many actually are.""
theodp (442580) writes "Thankfully, no one's gone full-Charles-Bronson yet, but the NY Times reports that victims of smartphone theft are using GPS to take the law into their own hands, paying visits to thieves' homes and demanding the return of their stolen phones. "The emergence of this kind of do-it-yourself justice," writes Ian Lovett, "has stirred worries among law enforcement officials that people are putting themselves in danger, taking disproportionate risks for the sake of an easily replaced item." And while hitting "Find My iPhone" can take you to a thief's doorstep, LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith urges resisting the impulse to do so. "It's just a phone," he said. "it's not worth losing your life over. Let police officers take care of it. We have backup, guns, radio, jackets — all that stuff civilians don't have.""
New submitter postglock (917809) writes "Swype is a popular third-party keyboard for Android phones (and also available for Windows phones and other platforms). It's currently the second-most-popular paid keyboard in Google Play (behind SwiftKey), and the 17th highest of all paid apps. Recently, users have discovered that it's been accessing location data extremely frequently, making almost 4000 requests per day, or 2.5 requests per minute. The developers claim that this is to facilitate implementation of 'regional dialects,' but cannot explain why such frequent polling is required, or why this still occurs if the regional function is disabled. Some custom ROMs such as Cyanogenmod can block this tracking, but most users would be unaware that such tracking is even occurring." Readers in the linked thread don't all seem to see the same thing; if you are a Swype user, do you see thousands of location requests, none, or something in between?
Lasrick (2629253) writes "Princeton sociologist Janet Vertesi writes about her attempt at hiding her pregnancy from 'the bots, trackers, cookies and other data sniffers online that feed the databases that companies use for targeted advertising.' Big data still found her, even though she steered clear of social media, avoided baby-related credit card purchases, and downloaded Tor to browse the Internet privately."
jfruh (300774) writes "The Video Privacy Protection Act, a 1988 law that made it illegal for a video store to share your rental history, has thrown up roadblocks for modern-day streaming video sites. Last year Congress amended the law to make it possible for you to share your Netflix viewing history with your social media friends, as long as you opt in. But what does "opting in" entail? Hulu is now on the receiving end of a lawsuit over the fact that clicking the Facebook "like" button on a viewing page shares that viewing activity on Facebook."
An anonymous reader writes "A U.S. jury concluded Friday that Samsung had infringed on two of Apple's patents and that Apple had infringed on one of Samsung's patents. Prior to the trial, the judge had ruled that Samsung had infringed on one other Apple patent. Samsung will receive $158,400 in damages, although they had requested just over $6 million. Apple will receive $119.6 million in damages, although they had requested just over $2 billion and a ban on certain Samsung phones. Some say that a sales ban is unlikely to be approved by the judge. The jury is scheduled to return on Monday to resolve what appears to be a technical mistake in their verdict on one of the patents, and Apple may gain a few hundred thousand dollars in their damages award as a result."
As reported by TorrentFreak, a New York man's large-scale pirating of Ultimate Fighting Championship videos via The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents has landed him on the uncomfortable end of a $32 million lawsuit. From the article: "Known online as Secludedly, the man uploaded at least 124 events. As a result UFC parent Zuffa is hitting him with everything from copyright infringement, to fraud, to breach of contract. ... The lawsuit, which includes two other doe defendants and an unknown company Zuffa refers to as XYZ Corp (“a business entity, the exact nature of which is unknown”), centers around the unlawful recording (“capping”), uploading and distribution of more than 120 UFC events via two of the world’s biggest torrent sites. ... Also receiving a prominent mention from Zuffa is the fact that Secludedly allowed people to donate via a PayPal in order to help with the financing of future ripping and uploading activities."
MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) writes "In a recent story on reason.com it was reported that the DoJ is closing down the bank accounts of porn stars. Not knowing the site I googled around and found another site, the Guardian. The story does not end there. It turns out that this is part of a larger scheme (ironically) called Operation Choke Point. Also reported in a Washington Post article that downplays the practice. According to Cryptocoin news. There are thirty industries the DoJ is now targeteting: Ammunition Sales; Cable Box De-scramblers; Coin Dealers; Credit Card Schemes; Credit Repair Services; Dating Services; Debt Consolidation Scams; Drug Paraphernalia; Escort Services; Firearms Sales; Fireworks Sales; Get Rich Products; Government Grants; Home-Based Charities; Life-Time Guarantees; Life-Time Memberships; Lottery Sales; Mailing Lists/Personal Info; Money Transfer Networks; On-line Gambling; PayDay Loans; Pharmaceutical Sales; Ponzi Schemes; Pornography; Pyramid-Type Sales; Racist Materials; Surveillance Equipment; Telemarketing; Tobacco Sales; and Travel Clubs. But more can be added. (I notice alcohol sales is not on the list)." The Reason article stops short of saying that Choke Point is proven to be the reason for the account closures, but it seems very plausible.
An anonymous reader writes "In 2012, a card game called Asylum was successfully funded on Kickstarter. Two months later, its expected delivery date came and passed without a product. In July 2013, the company behind the game stopped communicating with backers. Now, the Washington state Attorney General has filed a consumer protection lawsuit against the makers. This is the first time a project from a crowdfunding site has been the target of such a lawsuit. The AG said, 'Consumers need to be aware that crowdfunding is not without risk. This lawsuit sends a clear message to people seeking the public's money: Washington state will not tolerate crowdfunding theft. The Attorney General's Office will hold those accountable who don't play by the rules.' Here's the legal document (PDF)."
An anonymous reader writes "When web browsers started implementing 'do-not-track' settings, Yahoo got some respect for being the first of the huge tech companies to honor those settings. Unfortunately, that respect has now gone out the door. As of this week, Yahoo will no longer alter their data collection if a user doesn't want to be tracked. They say there are two reasons for this. First, they want to provide a personalized web-browsing experience, which isn't possible using do-not-track. Second, they don't think do-not-track is viable. They say, '[W]e've been at the heart of conversations surrounding how to develop the most user-friendly standard. However, we have yet to see a single standard emerge that is effective, easy to use and has been adopted by the broader tech industry.' It looks like this is another blow to privacy on the web."
itwbennett writes: "A class-action lawsuit filed Thursday (PDF) accuses Google of strong-arming device manufacturers into making its search engine the default on Android devices, driving up the cost of those devices and hurting consumers. The suit does not argue that device manufacturers entered Mobile Application Distribution Agreements involuntarily, but that the market power of Google compels them to. 'Because consumers want access to Google's products, and due to Google's power in the U.S. market for general handheld search, Google has unrivaled market power over smartphone and tablet manufacturers,' says the suit."
Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "Reuters is reporting that Space Exploration Technologies, aka SpaceX, has won a Federal Claims Court temporary injunction against the purchase by United Launch Alliance of Russian-made rocket boosters, intended for use by the United States Air Force. In her ruling Judge Susan Braden prohibited ULA and the USAF, 'from making any purchases from or payment of money to [Russian firm] NPO Energomash.' United Launch Alliance is a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin."
R3d M3rcury (871886) writes "How's this for a good idea? A gun that won't fire unless it's within 10 inches of a watch? That's the iP1 from Armatrix. Of course, don't try to sell it here in the United States." From the NY Times article linked: "[Armatrix employee] Belinda Padilla does not pick up unknown calls anymore, not since someone posted her cellphone number on an online forum for gun enthusiasts. Then someone snapped pictures of the address where she has a P.O. box and put those online, too. In a crude, cartoonish scrawl, this person drew an arrow to the blurred image of a woman passing through the photo frame. 'Belinda?" the person wrote. "Is that you?" ... "I have no qualms with the idea of personally and professionally leveling the life of someone who has attempted to profit from disarming me and my fellow Americans," one commenter wrote." The article paints a fairly rosy picture of the particular technology that Armatrix is pushing, but their ID-checking gun seems to default to an unfireable state, which might not always be an attractive feature. And given that at least one state — New Jersey — has hinged a gun law on the commercial availability of these ID-linked guns, it's not surprising that some gun owners dislike a company that advertises this kind of system as "the future of the firearm."
itwbennett (1594911) writes "Google will no longer scan the email messages of students and other school staff who use its Google Apps for Education suite, exempting about 30 million users from the chronically controversial practice for Gmail advertising. In addition, Google is removing the option for Apps for Education administrators to allow ads to be shown to their users. Until now, ads were turned off by default, but admins could turn on this feature at their discretion. A Google spokesperson called the move part of a 'continued evolution of our efforts to provide the best experience for our users, including students' and not a response to a recent lawsuit alleging that by scanning Gmail messages Google violated wiretapping laws and breached users' privacy."
Advocatus Diaboli (1627651) writes "Britain's electronic surveillance agency, Government Communications Headquarters, has long presented its collaboration with the National Security Agency's massive electronic spying efforts as proportionate, carefully monitored, and well within the bounds of privacy laws. But according to a top-secret document in the archive of material provided to The Intercept by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, GCHQ secretly coveted the NSA's vast troves of private communications and sought 'unsupervised access' to its data as recently as last year – essentially begging to feast at the NSA's table while insisting that it only nibbles on the occasional crumb."
Go to Stop the Secrecy.net and you'll see that this is something that requires action now, not someday, It's about the TPP, or Trans Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement that could place major restrictions on how we use the Internet. This is far from the only attack on Internet freedom we need to fight against, just one the EFF (and others) feel is one of the worst ones in play right now. Mild-mannered Steve Anderson, founder and Executive Director of OpenMedia.ca, is today's interview guest. He's Canadian, but OpenMedia.ca doesn't stop at Canada's southern border. Steve and the rest of the group want U.S. citizens to have the same Internet freedoms they want Canadians to have -- as well as people all over the world, because Internet balkanization hurts all Internet users. Including you. And worse, this is not the only problem with the TPP. Did you notice, in the TPP link above (to Wikipedia), that parts of this trade agreement are secret? So even if you want to protest against it, you might end up holding a sign that's mostly blank. This is a "Call your Congressional representatives" situation. Unless you're in Canada, in which case it's a "Call your Member of Parliament" situation. Ditto if you're in another TPP country. In any case, it's going to take a lot of calls, letters, emails, and faxes from people like us to overcome some of the heavy money that wants the TPP to go through. (Alternate video link.)
theodp (442580) writes "Simon Allardice takes a stroll down coding memory lane, recalling that when he got started in programming in 1983, hand-writing one's programs with pencil on IBM coding sheets was still considered good enough for British government work (COBOL, Assembler forms). Allardice writes, 'And when you were finished handwriting a section of code — perhaps a full program, perhaps a subroutine — you'd gather these sheets together (carefully numbered in sequence, of course) and send them along to the folks in the data entry department. They'd type it in. And the next day you'd get a report to find out if it compiled or not. Let me say that again: the next day you could find out if your code compiled or not.' So, does anyone have 'fond' memories of computer programming in the punched card era? And for you young'uns, what do you suppose your C++ or Java development times would be like if you got one compile a day?" The other way you could program in 1983.
UnknowingFool (672806) writes "In a pair of unanimous rulings yesterday, the Supreme Court made it easier for defendants in patent cases to collect attorneys fees if the litigation was frivolous. In the first case, Octane Fitness v. Icon Health & Fitness, the court ruled that a standard used by lower courts to award attorney's fees was impossible to meet. The original standard under Brooks Furniture Mfg., Inc. v. Dutailier Int'l, Inc. had ruled that a claim had to be both 'objectively baseless' and 'brought in subjective bad faith' before fees could be awarded. The high court ruled that fees should be awarded merely when the case is 'exceptional' and not when the defendant must prove there was zero merit.
In the second case, Highmark v. Allcare Health Management, the Supreme Court also noted the 'exceptional' standard in reversing the appellate court's decision but specifically ruled that appellate courts should give more deference to the lower courts on rulings of fact. In Highmark, the district court found that Allcare had engaged in a pattern of 'vexatious' and 'deceitful' conduct throughout the litigation and awarded fees. The appellate court while agreeing with the lower court about part of the case reversed the fees in their de novo review of the case. In de novo reviews, the court case is essentially retried with the higher court. The Supreme Court iterated that de novo reviews should be done typically for 'questions of law' and reviews on 'questions of fact' are done if there are clear errors with decisions on matters of discretion 'reviewable for "abuse of discretion."' In other words, the appellate courts can review a case if a lower court has not correctly interpreted law; however, they should not retry a lower case on facts unless the lower court made a clear error. Also unless the lower court abused their power in some way, the appellate court should not review their final decisions.
For example, if a person is tried for murder, an appellate court could rule that a district court misinterpreted a statute about sentencing if the person if found guilty. The appellate court should not retry the facts of the case unless the lower court had made a clear error like ruling that there was a DNA match when there was not. Also an appellate court should not reverse the lower court if they sentenced the person to a reasonable time. Now if the district court sentenced the person to 400 years for one murder, then the appellate court should intervene.
In effect the two rulings make it easier for companies to recover money should they be sued in frivolous patent lawsuits. This would make the risks greater for those who sue."
Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes "The state of Oklahoma had scheduled two executions for Tuesday, April 29th. This in spite of myriad objections that the drugs being used for both lethal injections had not been tested, and thus could violate the constitutional right to the courts, as well as the 8th Amendment: protection from cruel and unusual punishment. After much legal and political wrangling, the state proceeded with the executions anyway. It soon became clear that the critics' worst case scenarios were coming true — Oklahoma violently botched the first execution. The inmate "blew" a vein and had a heart attack. The state quickly postponed the second one. 'After weeks of Oklahoma refusing to disclose basic information about the drugs for tonight's lethal injection procedures, tonight, Clayton Lockett was tortured to death,' Madeline Cohen, the attorney of Charles Warner, the second man scheduled for execution, said in a statement. Katie Fretland at The Guardian reported from the scene of the botched attempt to execute Lockett using the untested, unvetted, and therefore potentially unconstitutional lethal injection drugs." sciencehabit also points out a study indicating that around 4% of death row inmates in the U.S. are likely innocent.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Reuters reports that U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Mary Jo White told a U.S. House of Representatives panel that she flatly rejected claims that retail investors are being fleeced by high-frequency traders who can use their speed to jump ahead with buy and sell orders that fetch better prices. 'The markets are not rigged,' says White. 'The U.S. markets are the strongest and most reliable in the world.' White's comments to the House Financial Services Committee mark the first time she has directly responded to allegations in Michael Lewis' new book Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt. The book alleges that high-speed traders are engaged in a form of front-running, in which the firms are able to quickly identify an investor's desire to buy a stock, rush to buy it first and then sell it back at a higher price. The SEC has been reviewing equity market structure issues, particularly following the May 6, 2010 flash crash incident when the Dow Jones Industrial Average sharply plunged before quickly rebounding. Although staff at SEC are considering whether to launch some pilot studies to test different regulatory proposals, there are no immediate plans to issue rules to crack down on high-speed trading or trading in unlit markets. 'I want to be very clear that the market metrics suggest that the retail investor is very well-served by the current market structure.'"