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First time accepted submitter VT-802-Software (3663479) writes "A bipartisan proposal to curb patent trolls was shelved by the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Wednesday. 'Supporters of the compromise accuse trial lawyers, universities, pharmaceutical companies and biotech companies for foiling the plan at the eleventh hour. As late as Tuesday, the University of Vermont and a biotech coalition each sent letters to Leahy opposing the legislation. "We believe the measures in the legislation go far beyond what is necessary or desirable to combat abusive patent litigation, and would do serious damage to the patent system," reads one of the letters. "Many of the provisions would have the effect of treating every patent holder as a patent troll."'"
First time accepted submitter strangeintp (892348) writes "The first legislation aimed specifically at curbing US surveillance abuses revealed by Edward Snowden passed the House of Representatives on Thursday, with a majority of both Republicans and Democrats. But last-minute efforts by intelligence community loyalists to weaken key language in the USA Freedom Act led to a larger-than-expected rebellion by members of Congress, with the measure passing by 303 votes to 121. The bill's authors concede it was watered down significantly in recent days but insist it will still outlaw the practice of bulk collection of US telephone metadata by the NSA first revealed by Snowden."
smaxp (2951795) writes "California just released rules for testing autonomous vehicles on California's roads and highways. Californians will soon be seeing more autonomous vehicles than just those built by the Google X labs. These vehicles offer great promise, such as freeing the driver's attention for productivity or leisure, better safety and less congestion. It will be a while, though, before we see these vehicles on the road. From the article: 'Getting started requires the RMV’s approval of testing under controlled circumstances prior to testing on public roads. The manufactures must insure the vehicles with a $5 million surety bond. Autonomous vehicle manufacturers need a permit and test drivers need a special license. The RMV will receive applications beginning on July 1, 2014, and the permits that are granted will be announced beginning on September 1, 2014.'"
AmiMoJo writes: "A Japanese court has ordered the operator of the Ohi nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture, central Japan, not to restart two of its reactors, citing inadequate safety measures. The plant's No. 3 and 4 reactors were halted for regular inspections last September. Local residents filed a lawsuit asking that the reactors be kept offline. They said an estimate of possible tremors is too small, and that the reactors lack backup cooling systems. The operator, Kansai Electric Power Company, has insisted that no safety problems exist."
samzenpus (5) writes "Jennifer Granick was one of the primary crafters of a 2006 exception to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and served as the EFF's Civil Liberties Director. She has represented many high profile hackers during her career and was sought out by Aaron Swartz after his arrest. She currently serves as the Director of Civil Liberties for the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School. Jennifer has agreed to answer your questions about security, electronic surveillance, data protection, copyright, and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Please limit yourself to one question per post."
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from ComputerWorld: "In 2009, a few Internet privacy advocates developed an idea that was supposed to give people a way to tell websites they don't want to be monitored as they move from website to website. The mechanism, which would eventually be built into all the major browsers, was called Do Not Track. ... But today, DNT hangs by a thread, neutered by a failure among stakeholders to reach agreement. Yes, if you turn it on in your browser, it sends a signal in the form of an HTTP header to Web companies' servers. But it probably won't change what data they collect. That's because most websites either don't honor DNT — it's currently a voluntary system — or they interpret it in different ways. Another problem — perhaps the biggest — is that Web companies, ad agencies and the other stakeholders have never reached agreement on what "do not track" really means."
Sockatume writes: "According to a press release issued by WIN, a group representing independent musicians, Google is threatening to de-list musicians' videos from YouTube if they do not agree to the terms for its unannounced streaming music service. The template contracts issued to musicians are described as 'undervalued' relative to other streaming services, and are not open for negotiation. The press release was issued by WIN but rescinded when Google agreed to further discussions; The Associated Free Press and The Guardian have published stories based on that original release."
qubezz writes: "TorrentFreak reports that on Monday, Blizzard filed a lawsuit in US District court in California against the programmers behind the popular Starcraft II cheat 'ValiantChaos MapHack.' The complaint seeks relief from 'direct copyright infringement,' 'contributory copyright infringement,' 'vicarious copyright infringement,' 'trafficking in circumvention devices,' etc. The suit seeks the identity of the cheat's programmers, as it fishes for names of John Does 1-10, in addition to an injunction against the software (which remains on sale) and punitive damages. Blizzard claims losses from diminished user experiences, and also that 'when users of the Hacks download, install, and use the Hacks, they directly infringe Blizzard's copyright in StarCraft II, including by creating unauthorized derivative works"."
itwbennett writes: "In June 2012, Ricky Joe Mitchell of Charleston, West Virginia, found out he was going to be fired from oil and gas company EnerVest and in response he decided to reset the company's servers to their original factory settings. He also disabled cooling equipment for EnerVest's systems and disabled a data-replication process. After pleading guilty in January, Mitchell has been sentenced to four years in federal prison."
An anonymous reader writes "We had hints at this when Zenimax accused John Carmack of stealing 'proprietary technology and know-how,' but now it's official: Zenimax is suing Oculus VR over its virtual reality headset technology. 'According to a statement released by Zenimax, the lawsuit was filed over what it perceives to be the defendants' illegal exploitation of intellectual property, including "trade secrets, copyrighted computer code, and technical know-how relating to virtual reality technology" that was developed by Zenimax. Zenimax is also seeking to take Oculus and Luckey to task for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and unfair competition. Zenimax continues to claim that it provided IP to Oculus under a legal agreement that it would be owned exclusively by ZeniMax and could not be "used, disclosed, or transferred to third parties without Zenimax's approval."'"
The U.S. House of Representatives has substantially reduced the effectiveness of the USA FREEDOM Act, a surveillance reform bill that sought to end mass collection of U.S. citizens' data. House Leadership was pressured by the Obama Administration to weaken many of the bill's provisions. The EFF and the Center for Democracy & Technology had both given their backing to the bill earlier this month, but they've now withdrawn their support. CDT Senior Counsel Harley Geiger said, "The Leadership of the House is demonstrating that it wants to end the debate about surveillance, rather than end bulk collection. As amended, the bill may not prevent collection of data on a very large scale in a manner that infringes upon the privacy of Americans with no connection to a crime or terrorism. This is quite disappointing given the consensus by the public, Congress, the President, and two independent review groups that ending bulk collection is necessary."
Robyn Greene of the Open Technology Institute added, "We are especially disappointed by the weakening of the language intended to prohibit bulk collection of innocent Americans’ records. Although we are still hopeful that the bill’s language will end the bulk collection of telephone records and prevent indiscriminate collection of other types of records, it may still allow data collection on a dangerously massive scale. Put another way, it may ban ‘bulk’ collection of all records of a particular kind, but still allow for ‘bulky’ collection impacting the privacy of millions of people. Before this bill becomes law, Congress must make clear—either through amendments to the bill, through statements in the legislative record, or both—that mass collection of innocent people’s records isn’t allowed."
Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes "The notorious troll and hacker known as Andrew 'weev' Auernheimer spent 13 months in jail for exposing an AT&T security flaw. He was recently released when a federal court overturned the conviction on grounds of improper venue. Now, Auernheimer has penned an open letter to the Department of Justice in which he demands reparations for acts of 'fraud' and 'violence' carried out against him over the past three years. Those reparations must be paid in Bitcoin, he says — 28,296, to be exact. At current market value, that comes out to $13.7 million. The bombastic letter is titled 'Open letter to federal scum,' and was allegedly bcc'd to 'a few hundred journalists.' In it, 28-year-old Auernheimer writes that he calculated the sum owed to him based on his market value:" A gem: "Know that all this wealth will be directed towards a good and charitable cause. I am building a series of memorial groves for the greatest patriots of our generation: Timothy McVeigh, Andrew Stack, and Marvin Heemeyer. You see, In the 'Special Housing Unit,' which is Bureau of Prisons codespeak for 'solitary confinement' and 'torture,' I had enough time to think about the current state of federal government. "
An anonymous reader writes "10 years ago the copyright police at the DVD CCA sued Kaleidescape for creating movie servers that (allegedly in breach of contract) allowed customers to copy their DVDs onto a hard drive. Yesterday, a California court announced the was voluntarily dismissed. 'Kaleidescape has always maintained that the DVD CCA contracts express no such prohibitions. In any case, Kaleidescape servers make bit-for-bit copies so that the digital rights management (DRM) provisions of CSS are preserved. The legal imbroglio with the DVD CCA has forced Kaleidescape to impose burdens on its customers and its engineers while offshore companies like AnyDVD and the U.S. manufacturers that employ their legally untouchable software proceed with impunity.' Is there a broader implication for DRM? Not really."
Presto Vivace writes with news that the FCC's suggested net neutrality rules are facing opposition in Congress. "FCC chairman Tom Wheeler took the hot seat today in an oversight hearing before the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology to testify about current issues before his agency, including net neutrality. The overriding theme of the day? Pretty much everyone who spoke hates the rule the FCC narrowly approved for consideration last week — just for different reasons." Wheeler himself made some interesting comments in response to their questions: "[He said] the agency recognizes that Internet providers would be disrupting a 'virtuous cycle' between the demand for free-flowing information on one hand and new investment in network upgrades on the other if they started charging companies like Google for better access to consumers. What's more, he said, the FCC would have the legal authority to intervene. 'If there is something that interferes with that virtuous cycle — which I believe paid prioritization does — then we can move against it,' Wheeler said, speaking loudly and slowly. A little later, in response to a question from Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Wheeler cited network equipment manufacturers who've argued that you can't create a fast lane without worsening service for some Internet users. 'That's at the heart of what you're talking about here,' Wheeler said. 'That would be commercially unreasonable under our proposal.'" Here are instructions for how to send your comment to the FCC for those so inclined.
An anonymous reader writes "Ladar Levison, founder of the encrypted email service Lavabit that shut down last year because of friction with U.S. government data requests, has an article at The Guardian where he explains the whole story. He writes, 'My legal saga started last summer with a knock at the door, behind which stood two federal agents ready to to serve me with a court order requiring the installation of surveillance equipment on my company's network. ... I had no choice but to consent to the installation of their device, which would hand the U.S. government access to all of the messages – to and from all of my customers – as they traveled between their email accounts other providers on the Internet. But that wasn't enough. The federal agents then claimed that their court order required me to surrender my company's private encryption keys, and I balked. What they said they needed were customer passwords – which were sent securely – so that they could access the plain-text versions of messages from customers using my company's encrypted storage feature. (The government would later claim they only made this demand because of my "noncompliance".) ... What ensued was a flurry of legal proceedings that would last 38 days, ending not only my startup but also destroying, bit by bit, the very principle upon which I founded it – that we all have a right to personal privacy.'"
An anonymous reader writes "The rate of cybercrime is growing and growing, and law enforcement is struggling to keep up. The FBI is in the process of beefing up its headcount, but they're running into a problem: many of the hackers applying for these jobs have a history of marijuana use, and the agency has a zero tolerance policy. FBI Director James Comey said, 'I have to hire a great work force to compete with those cyber criminals and some of those kids want to smoke weed on the way to the interview.' However, change may be on the horizon: Comey said the FBI is changing 'both our mindset and the way we do business.' He also encouraged job applications from former pot users despite the policy."
New submitter amxcoder writes: "A recent bill making its way through the California state legislature reaffirms 4th amendment protections against NSA-style wiretapping of cell phones and computer records, and declares that the NSA's data collection methods and practices are unconstitutional. The bill has passed the California Senate with only a single opposing vote. It would require a warrant to be issued by a Judge before the state's law enforcement and other departments can assist federal agencies in obtaining these records. Similar bills in other states are trickling through the legislative process, but California's is the furthest along. At the least, it will establish that a state of 38 million people are unhappy with the NSA's methods."
colinneagle writes "Google's driverless cars have now combined to drive more than 700,000 miles on public roads without receiving one citation, The Atlantic reported this week. While this raises a lot of questions about who is responsible to pay for a ticket issued to a speeding autonomous car – current California law would have the person in the driver's seat responsible, while Google has said the company that designed the car should pay the fine – it also hints at a future where local and state governments will have to operate without a substantial source of revenue.
Approximately 41 million people receive speeding tickets in the U.S. every year, paying out more than $6.2 billion per year, according to statistics from the U.S. Highway Patrol published at StatisticBrain.com. That translates to an estimated $300,000 in speeding ticket revenue per U.S. police officer every year. State and local governments often lean on this source of income when they hit financial trouble. A study released in 2009 examined data over a 13-year period in North Carolina, finding a 'statistically significant correlation between a drop in local government revenue one year, and more traffic tickets the next year,' Popular Science reported. So, just as drug cops in Colorado and Washington are cutting budgets after losing revenue from asset and property seizures from marijuana arrests, state and local governments will need to account for a drastic reduction in fines from traffic violations as autonomous cars stick to the speed limit."
itwbennett (1594911) writes "Last week, China's Central Government Procurement Center posted a notice on new requirements for government tender, that included, among other things, the mysterious request that Windows 8 be excluded from the bidding process on computer purchases. The agency could not be reached Tuesday, but China's state-controlled Xinhua News Agency said that the government was forbidding the use of Windows 8 after Microsoft recently ended official support for Windows XP."
Lucas123 (935744) writes "When two gun stores attempted to sell the nation's first integrated smart gun, the iP1, gun advocacy groups were charged in media reports with organizing protests that lead to the stores pulling the guns from their shelves or reneging on their promise to sell them in the first place. But, the National Rifle Association and the National Shooting Sports Foundation say they do not oppose smart gun technology, which they call "authorized user recognition" firearms. "We do oppose any government mandate of this technology, however. The marketplace should decide," Mike Bazinet, a spokesman for the NSSF, wrote in an email reply to Computerworld. However, the argument for others goes that if stores begin selling smart guns, then legislators will draft laws requiring the technology."
bizwriter (1064470) writes "General Motors put together its take on a George Carlin list of words you can't say. Engineering employees were shown 69 words and phrases that were not to be used in emails, presentations, or memos. They include: defect, defective, safety, safety related, dangerous, bad, and critical. You know, words that the average person, in the context of the millions of cars that GM has recalled, might understand as indicative of underlying problems at the company. Oh, terribly sorry, 'problem' was on the list as well."
An anonymous reader writes "The controversial TSA backscatter X-ray machines are being sent to prisons. According to Federal times, 'The controversial airport screening machines that angered privacy advocates and members of Congress for its revealing images are finding new homes in state and local prisons across the country, according to the Transportation Security Administration.' 154 backscatter X-rays have already ended up in Iowa, Louisiana, and Virginia prisons. TSA is working to find homes for the remaining machines. Per the article: '"TSA and the vendor are working with other government agencies interested in receiving the units for their security mission needs and for use in a different environment," TSA spokesman Ross Feinstein said.'"
First time accepted submitter GoddersUK (1262110) writes "Rory Cellan-Jones writes about the recent European Court judgement on the right to be forgotten in terms of US/EU cultural differences (and perhaps a bit of bitterness on the EU side at U.S. influence online): 'He tells me... ..."In the past if you were in Germany you were never worried that some encyclopedia website based in the United States was going to name you as a murderer after you got out of jail because that was inconceivable. Today that can happen, so the cultural gap that was always there about the regulation of speech is becoming more visible."... Europeans who have been told that the Internet is basically ungovernable — and if it does have guiding principles then they come from the land of the free — are expressing some satisfaction that court has refused to believe that.' And, certainly, it seems, here in the UK, that even MEPs keen on the principle don't really know how this ruling will work in practice or what the wider consequences will be. Video here."
Glyn Moody (946055) writes "The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), potentially the world's biggest trade agreement, has been negotiated behind closed doors for nearly a year now. Apart from what we learn from a few official releases — and an increasing number of leaks — we still don't really know what is being agreed in the name of 800 million people in the U.S. and EU. When a peaceful anti-TTIP protest was held outside yet another closed-doors meeting in Belgium, the local police sent in the water cannons and arrested nearly 300 people in what seems an extreme over-reaction. Will TTIP turn into the next ACTA revolt?"
Advocatus Diaboli (1627651) writes "The National Security Agency is secretly intercepting, recording, and archiving the audio of virtually every cell phone conversation on the island nation of the Bahamas. According to documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the surveillance is part of a top-secret system – code-named SOMALGET – that was implemented without the knowledge or consent of the Bahamian government. Instead, the agency appears to have used access legally obtained in cooperation with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to open a backdoor to the country's cellular telephone network, enabling it to covertly record and store the 'full-take audio' of every mobile call made to, from and within the Bahamas – and to replay those calls for up to a month."
An anonymous reader writes in with news about a California bill that aims to protect online reviewers’ rights."The proposed law appears to take aim at online licensing agreements that consumers often enter into with companies when they click through the many boilerplate terms and conditions of various online services. Buried deep in the small print of a number of these contacts are provisions stating that consumers agree not to write negative reviews about the service provider. 'If merchants think that our First Amendment free speech rights need to be curtailed, they should say so upfront and in plain language,' Pérez explained of the impetus for his bill, as reported by the Times."
MattSparkes (950531) writes "Law enforcement around the world has teamed-up to arrest 97 for buying/using Blackshades malware, which can remotely seize control of a victim's computer, access documents, record keystrokes and even activate their webcam to take surreptitious pictures and video. It is also able to encrypt files in order to extract a ransom for their release. Blackshades RAT is a commercial product costing less than $200 which was marketed as a tool to test network security. However, it is widely used by hackers and was even said by the Electronic Frontier Foundation to have been used against Syrian activists by the government in 2012."
An anonymous reader writes "Richard Humphrey was sentenced to 29 months in prison for selling pirated copies of movies through the subscription-based USAWAREZ.com. He was later sent to the Lorain County prison in February for a parole violation and while he was a prisoner, he says guards showed inmates Ride Along and The Wolf of Wall Street before they were released on DVD. A spokesperson for Lorain County Correctional Institution Warden Kimberly Clipper said prison officials are aware that pirated movies are being shown to prisoners and the issue is being investigated. But she said she couldn't comment further because the investigation is ongoing."
jfruh (300774) writes "The U.S. federal government will announce today indictments of several employees of the Chinese military with hacking into computers to steal industrial secrets. The indictments will be the first of their kind against employees of a foreign government. Among the trade secrets allegedly stolen by the accused are information about a nuclear power plant design and a solar panel company's cost and pricing data."
pdclarry (175918) writes "Glenn Greenwald's book No Place to Hide reveals that the NSA intercepts shipments of networking gear destined for overseas and adds spyware. Cisco has responded by asking the President to intervene and stop this practice, as it has severely hurt their non-U.S. business, with shipments to other countries falling from 7% for emerging countries to over 25% for Brazil and Russia."
An anonymous reader writes "The U.K. government is planning on vetoing the E.U. legislation that enforces net neutrality under the guise of 'won't anyone think of the child pornography blocking?' again. From the article: ' It’s a surprising turn of events. Just last month, the European Parliament voted to place the principles of net neutrality into law. However, before it becomes law throughout Europe, each member country must also pass the legislation. On Thursday, the British government indicated it may veto it instead. At issue is a new provision that critics argue would restrict the British government’s “ability to block illegal material.” The amendment made it so that only a court order would allow for the banning of content, and not a legislative provision, as originally proposed, according to RT. “We do not support any proposals that mean we cannot enforce our laws, including blocking child abuse images,” a government spokesperson told BuzzFeed.'"
Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "The cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington was supposed to be entering its final stages by now. The reality is far from that. The cleanup was to be managed under the 'Tri-Party Agreement', signed on May 15, 1989, which was supposed to facilitate cooperation between the agencies involved. Today, underfunded and overwhelmed by technical problems, the effort is decades behind schedule. Adding to the frustrations for stakeholders and watchdogs is a bureaucratic slipperiness on the part of the Federal Department of Energy. As one watchdog put it, 'We are constantly frustrated by how easily the Department of Energy slips out of agreements in the Tri-Party Agreement.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Every transit network has its fare beaters, the riders who view payment as either optional or prohibitively expensive. Many cities, most notably New York, view turnstile-jumpers as a top policing priority, reasoning that scofflaws might graduate to more serious crimes if left alone. But in Stockholm, the offenders seem to have defeated the system. From the article: 'For over a decade, Mr. Tengblad has belonged to a group known as Planka.nu (rough translation: “free-ride.now”), an organization with only two prerequisites for admission: Members must pay a monthly fee of about $15 and, as part of a continuous demonstration against the fare, promise to evade payment every time they ride. If travelers keep their side of the agreement, the group will cover any of the roughly $180 fines that might result. (An unlimited ride pass for 30 days costs about $120.)'"
An anonymous reader writes "Ars Technica published an article Friday highlighting the results from research conducted by a money-in-politics watchdog regarding the 28 congressmen who sent a combined total of three letters to the FCC protesting against re-classifying the internet as a public utility. These 28 members of the U.S. House of Representatives 'received, on average, $26,832 from the "cable & satellite TV production & distribution" sector over a two-year period ending in December. According to the data, that's 2.3 times more than the House average of $11,651.' That's average. Actual amounts that the 28 received over a two year period ranged from $109,250 (Greg Walden, R-OR) to $0 (Nick Rahall, D-WV). Look at the list yourselves, and find your representative to determine how much legitimacy can be attributed to their stated concerns for the public."
New submitter Lew Lorton notes a NY Times story about a thief in New York City who was tracked and located using a GPS device inside a decoy pill bottle he had stolen (along with other pill bottles) from a pharmacy. When police confronted the thief, he raised a gun to shoot at an officer, and was killed "The decoy bottles were introduced last year by the police commissioner at the time, Raymond W. Kelly, who announced that the department would begin to stock pharmacy shelves with decoy bottles of painkillers containing GPS devices. The initiative was in response to a sharp increase of armed and often deadly pharmacy robberies across the state, frequently by people addicted to painkillers. ... The bottles are designed to be weighted and to rattle when shaken, so a thief does not initially realize they do not contain pills. Each of the decoy bottles sits atop a special base, and when the bottle is lifted from the base, it begins to emit a tracking signal."
theodp writes: "'The NSA,' writes POLITICO's Stephanie Simon in her eye-opening Data Mining Your Children, 'has nothing on the ed tech startup known as Knewton. The data analytics firm has peered into the brains of more than 4 million students across the country. By monitoring every mouse click, every keystroke, every split-second hesitation as children work through digital textbooks, Knewton is able to find out not just what individual kids know, but how they think. It can tell who has trouble focusing on science before lunch — and who will struggle with fractions next Thursday.' Simon adds, 'Even as Congress moves to rein in the National Security Agency, private-sector data mining has galloped forward — perhaps nowhere faster than in education. Both Republicans and Democrats have embraced the practice. And the Obama administration has encouraged it, even relaxing federal privacy law to allow school districts to share student data more widely.'"
mpicpp sends this news from CNN: "Never fear the night of the living dead — the Pentagon has got you covered. From responses to natural disasters to a catastrophic attack on the homeland, the U.S. military has a plan of action ready to go if either incident occurs. It has also devised an elaborate plan should a zombie apocalypse befall the country, according to a Defense Department document obtained by CNN. In an unclassified document titled 'CONOP 8888,' officials from U.S. Strategic Command used the specter of a planet-wide attack by the walking dead as a training template for how to plan for real-life, large-scale operations, emergencies and catastrophes."
An anonymous reader writes "We've all heard about iPhone users switching over to Android-powered phones and no longer being able to receive text messages from friends and family still using iPhones. Well, a woman with exactly this issue has filed a lawsuit against Apple, complaining that '[p]eople who replace their Apple devices with non-Apple wireless phones and tablets are "penalized and unable to obtain the full benefits of their wireless-service contracts."' To be specific, '[t]he suit is based on contractual interference and unfair competition laws.' She is seeking class action status and undetermined damages."
An anonymous reader writes "Reuters reports that Apple and Google's Motorola Mobility unit are settling all patent lawsuits over smartphone tech. The settlement 'does not include a cross license to their respective patents,' and the companies will work together for patent reform. According to Reuters, 'The two companies informed a federal appeals court in Washington that the cases should be dismissed, according to filings on Friday. However, the deal does not appear to apply to Apple's litigation against Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, as no dismissal notices were filed in those cases. The most high-profile case between Apple and Motorola began in 2010. Motorola accused Apple of infringing several patents, including one essential to how cell phones operate on a 3G network, while Apple said Motorola violated its patents to certain smartphone features.'"
Daniel_Stuckey writes: "A homemade Lithuanian drone was reportedly being used to smuggle cigarettes into Russia, meaning that organized crime has beaten Amazon to the punch in the quest to deliver desirable products to customers aerially. Russia has 'detained' the drone, a spokesman with the Kaliningrad border department of the Russian Federal Security service told one of Russia's largest news organizations earlier this week. It's not the first time drones have been used to smuggle products — back in November, people tried to smuggle drugs into a prison in Georgia; the same thing happened in Sao Paolo back in March and in Quebec last fall. Basically, people have learned that drones are good at carrying things."
First time accepted submitter Dufflepod (3656815) writes "After yet another hardware purchase last week, I realized with some alarm just how drastically an enterprising burglar could increase the crapulence quotient of my life if they ever made off with my hardware. The house is alarmed, but much to my annoyance it isn't always set when people go out for any length of time. Ideally I want to 'alarm' the expensive items among my various PCs, UPS, NAS box, test equipment, and some of the sundry other gadgets & gizmos I require to stroke my inner geek. Over the past few days I have spent hours Googling for every combination of "anti-theft perimeter alarm radius motion detector vibration wireless" etc etc.. I have found various possible solutions, though the cost of some of them does make my eyes water (eg SonicShock @ €150/box). Has anyone out there decided to bite-the-bullet and protect their kit with decent alarms, and do you have any suggested 'do's & don'ts'?" So how would you secure valuable items, as opposed to securing the entire place?
An anonymous reader writes with some snippets pulled from a lengthy Q&A session at The New Yorker with former NSA head Keith Alexander, in which Alexander defends the collection of metadata by U.S. spy agencies both abroad and within the United States: "The probability of an attack getting through to the United States, just based on the sheer numbers, from 2012 to 2013, that I gave you—look at the statistics. If you go from just eleven thousand to twenty thousand, what does that tell you? That's more. That's fair, right? [..] These aren't my stats. The University of Maryland does it for the State Department. [...] The probability is growing. What I saw at N.S.A. is that there is a lot more coming our way. Just as someone is revealing all the tools and the capabilities we have. What that tells me is we're at greater risk. I can't measure it. You can't say, Well, is that enough to get through? I don't know. It means that the intel community, the military community, and law enforcement are going to work harder."
jfruh (300774) writes "The EFF has released its annual "Who Has Your Back" report, which uses publicly available records to see which web companies do the most to resist government demands for your personal data, by requiring warrants and being transparent about requests received. Social media giants Facebook and Twitter scored quite well; Snapchat was at the bottom of the list, and Amazon and AT&T didn't do much better." Here's the report itself.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Jane Wakefield reports at BBC that a man convicted of possessing child abuse images is among the first to request Google remove links links to pages about his conviction after a European court ruled that an individual could force it to remove 'irrelevant and outdated' search results. Other takedown requests since the ruling include an ex-politician seeking re-election who has asked to have links to an article about his behaviour in office removed and a doctor who wants negative reviews from patients removed from google search results. Google itself has not commented on the so-called right-to-be-forgotten ruling since it described the European Court of Justice judgement as being 'disappointing'. Marc Dautlich, a lawyer at Pinsent Masons, says that search engines might find the new rules hard to implement. 'If they get an appreciable volume of requests what are they going to do? Set up an entire industry sifting through the paperwork?' says Dautlich. 'I can't say what they will do but if I was them I would say no and tell the individual to contact the Information Commissioner's Office.' The court said in its ruling that people could request the removal of data related to them that seem to be 'inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purposes for which they were processed.'"
An anonymous reader writes "With patent reform stalled in the Senate, many states have decided to take up the issue themselves. 'As states kicked off their legislative sessions this winter, lawmakers responded to the threats against small businesses by writing bills that would ban "bad faith patent assertions" as a violation of consumer-protection laws. The bills target a specific type of patent troll: the kind that sends out vaguely worded letters demanding licensing fees. The thousands of letters sent out by the "scanner trolls" at MPHJ Technology are often brought up as a case-in-point. The new laws allow trolls that break rules around letter-writing to be sued in state court, either by private companies they've approached for licensing fees, or by state authorities themselves.'"
As you may have watched live earlier today, the FCC in a protester-heavy hearing has voted to formally consider a net neutrality proposal. The linked L.A. Times story says the 3-2 vote of the commissioners represents a victory for FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler: 'A Democrat who took over in November, Wheeler triggered outrage among public interest groups, online activists and many liberals with a plan that would for the first time allow the possibility of so-called pay-for-priority deals. Wheeler said his plan has been misconstrued and that it would not allow broadband providers to block any legal content or slow down connections in a way that is commercially unreasonable.' As the Washington Post points out, the phrase "commercially unreasonable" is a loaded one. More good coverage at Ars Technica, too.
New submitter giltwist (1313107) writes "Very shortly, the FCC will begin its vote on proceeding 14-28 regarding Chairman Wheeler's highly contentious Net Neutrality proceeding. Senator Al Franken called Net Neutrality the free speech issue of our time. The vote begins at 10:30am Eastern time today. Make sure to watch it live at the FCC's live stream." "A particularly full agenda" is right; it's a rambunctious crowd, too.
First time accepted submitter TechyImmigrant (175943) writes "Following the focus on government mass surveillance resulting from the information revealed by Edward Snowden, many organizations involved in security and communications put out statements essentially repudiating that surveillance. As of yesterday (May 15th 2014) the IACR (International Association for Cryptologic Research) who one might expect to have a position on this, has finally one year after the anniversary of the leaks, got around to making a position statement. 'The membership of the IACR repudiates mass surveillance and the undermining of cryptographic solutions and standards. Population-wide surveillance threatens democracy and human dignity. We call for expediting research and deployment of effective techniques to protect personal privacy against governmental and corporate overreach.' So the crypto guys don't like it either. Now we know." They're not the only ones: reader Juha Saarinen (2822817) writes "Stung by concerns that the NSA may have introduced deliberately weakened crypto algorithms, NIST is embarking on a review of its existing standards and developments."
First time accepted submitter registrations_suck (1075251) writes in with news about the dismantling of the HAARP project. The U.S. Air Force gave official notice to Congress Wednesday that it intends to dismantle the $300 million High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program in Gakona this summer. The shutdown of HAARP, a project created by the late Sen. Ted Stevens when he wielded great control over the U.S. defense budget, will start after a final research experiment takes place in mid-June, the Air Force said in a letter to Congress Tuesday. While the University of Alaska has expressed interest in taking over the research site, which is off the Tok Cutoff, in an area where black spruce was cleared a quarter-century ago for the Air Force Backscatter radar project that was never completed. But the school has not volunteered to pay $5 million a year to run HAARP. Responding to questions from Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski during a Senate hearing Wednesday, David Walker, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for Science, Technology and Engineering, said this is 'not an area that we have any need for in the future' and it would not be a good use of Air Force research funds to keep HAARP going. 'We're moving on to other ways of managing the ionosphere, which the HAARP was really designed to do,' he said. 'To inject energy into the ionosphere to be able to actually control it. But that work has been completed.' Comments of that sort have given rise to endless conspiracy theories, portraying HAARP as a super weapon capable of mind control or weather control, with enough juice to trigger hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes."