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UK Government Faces Lawsuit Over Emergency Surveillance Bill

Unknown Lamer posted about 4 months ago | from the spilled-some-state-oppression dept.

United Kingdom 44

judgecorp (778838) writes The British Government has had to produce an emergency surveillance Bill after the European Court of Justice ruled that European rules on retaining metadata were illegal. That Bill has now been passed by the House of Commons with almost no debate, and will become law if approved by the House of Lords. But the so-called DRIP (Data retention and Investigatory Powers) Bill could face a legal challenge: the Open Rights Group (ORG) is fundraising to bring a suit which would argue that blanket data retention is unlawful, so these emergency measures would be no more legal than the ones they replaced.

Appeals Court Affirms Old Polaroid Patent Invalid

Unknown Lamer posted about 4 months ago | from the bite-the-dust dept.

Patents 45

mpicpp (3454017) writes with news of a notoriously abused (basically "method of displaying images on a machine") software patent being declared invalid. From the article: The ruling from last week is one of the first to apply new Supreme Court guidance about when ideas are too "abstract" to be patented. ... The patents in this case describe a type of "device profile" that allows digital images to be accurately displayed on different devices. US Patent No. 6,128,415 was originally filed by Polaroid in 1996. After a series of transfers, in 2012 the patent was sold to Digitech Image Technologies, a branch of Acacia Research Corporation, the largest publicly traded patent assertion company. ... In the opinion, a three-judge panel found that the device profile described in the patent is a "collection of intangible color and spatial information," not a machine or manufactured object. "Data in its ethereal, non-physical form is simply information that does not fall under any of the categories of eligible subject matter under section 101," wrote Circuit Judge Jimmie Reyna on behalf of the panel.

$10 Million Lawsuit Against Wikipedia Editors "Stragetically" Withdrawn

Unknown Lamer posted about 4 months ago | from the refiling-to-lose-harder dept.

Wikipedia 51

First time accepted submitter The ed17 (2834807) writes with new developments in the $10 million defamation lawsuit against a few Wikipedia editors. From the article: On the same day the Wikimedia Foundation announced it would offer assistance to English Wikipedia editors embroiled in a legal dispute with Yank Barry, the lawsuit has been dismissed without prejudice at the request of Barry's legal team — but this action is being described as "strategic" so that they can refile the lawsuit with a "new, more comprehensive complaint."

FTC To Trap Robocallers With Open Source Software

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the about-bloody-time dept.

Communications 125

coondoggie writes: The Federal Trade Commission today announced the rules for its second robocall exterminating challenge, known this time as Zapping Rachel Robocall Contest. 'Rachel From Cardholder Services,' was a large robocall scam the agency took out in 2012. The agency will be hosting a contest at next month's DEF CON security conference to build open-source methods to lure robocallers into honeypots and to predict which calls are robocalls. They'll be awarding cash prizes for the top solutions.

Chicago Red Light Cameras Issue Thousands of Bogus Tickets

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the it's-not-a-bug,-it's-a-funding-mechanism dept.

Transportation 229

mpicpp points out a report in the Chicago Tribune saying that thousands of the city's drivers have been wrongfully ticketed for red light violations because of "faulty equipment, human tinkering, or both." The Tribune's investigation uncovered the bogus tickets by analyzing the data from over 4 million tickets issued in the past seven years. Cameras that for years generated just a few tickets daily suddenly caught dozens of drivers a day. One camera near the United Center rocketed from generating one ticket per day to 56 per day for a two-week period last summer before mysteriously dropping back to normal. Tickets for so-called rolling right turns on red shot up during some of the most dramatic spikes, suggesting an unannounced change in enforcement. One North Side camera generated only a dozen tickets for rolling rights out of 100 total tickets in the entire second half of 2011. Then, over a 12-day spike, it spewed 563 tickets — 560 of them for rolling rights. Many of the spikes were marked by periods immediately before or after when no tickets were issued — downtimes suggesting human intervention that should have been documented. City officials said they cannot explain the absence of such records.

Google To Stop Describing Games With In-App Purchases As 'Free'

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the insert-coin-to-continue dept.

Google 139

An anonymous reader writes After a series of investigations, lawsuits, and fines over how in-app purchases are advertised and communicated to users, Google has agreed to stop labeling games that use in-app purchases as "Free." This change is the result of a request by the European Commission to stop misleading customers about the costs involved with using certain apps. "Games should not contain direct exhortation to children to buy items in a game or to persuade an adult to buy items for them; Consumers should be adequately informed about the payment arrangements for purchases and should not be debited through default settings without consumers' explicit consent." The EC notes that Apple has not yet done anything to address these concerns.

Preparing For Satellite Defense

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the road-to-kessler-syndrome dept.

Space 118

Taco Cowboy sends a report into China's development of anti-satellite technology, and efforts by the U.S. and Japan to build defenses for this new potential battleground. Last year, China launched what they said was a science space mission, but they did so at night and with a truck-based launch system, which are not generally used for science projects. Experts believe this was actually a missile test for targets in geostationary orbit. U.S. and Japanese analysts say China has the most aggressive satellite attack program in the world. It has staged at least six ASAT missile tests over the past nine years, including the destruction of a defunct Chinese weather satellite in 2007. ... Besides testing missiles that can intercept and destroy satellites, the Chinese have developed jamming techniques to disrupt satellite communications. In addition, ... the Chinese have studied ground-based lasers that could take down a satellite's solar panels, and satellites equipped with grappling arms that could co-orbit and then disable expensive U.S. hardware. To defend themselves against China, the U.S. and Japan are in the early stages of integrating their space programs as part of negotiations to update their defense policy guidelines. ... Both countries have sunk billions of dollars into a sophisticated missile defense system that relies in part on data from U.S. spy satellites. That's why strategists working for China's People's Liberation Army have published numerous articles in defense journals about the strategic value of chipping away at U.S. domination in space.

Australia Repeals Carbon Tax

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the you-keep-it dept.

Earth 291

schwit1 notes that the Australian government has repealed a controversial carbon tax. After almost a decade of heated political debate, Australia has become the world's first developed nation to repeal carbon laws that put a price on greenhouse gas emissions. In a vote that could highlight the difficulty in implementing additional measures to reduce carbon emissions ahead of global climate talks next year in Paris, Australia's Senate on Wednesday voted 39-32 to repeal a politically divisive carbon emissions price that contributed to the fall from power of three Australian leaders since it was first suggested in 2007.

New York State Proposes Sweeping Bitcoin Regulations

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the we've-got-some-rules-around-here dept.

Bitcoin 121

An anonymous reader writes On Thursday, Benjamin M. Lawsky, the superintendent of financial services, announced proposed regulations for virtual currency companies operating in New York. The "BitLicense" plan, which includes rules on consumer protection, the prevention of money laundering and cybersecurity, is the first proposal by a state to create guidelines specifically for virtual currency. "We have sought to strike an appropriate balance that helps protect consumers and root out illegal activity—without stifling beneficial innovation," he said in a statement.

Bing Implements Right To Be Forgotten

Unknown Lamer posted about 4 months ago | from the hide-your-shame dept.

EU 64

mpicpp (3454017) writes with news that Bing has joined Google in removing search results upon request by EU citizens. From the article: The company has asked European residents, who want Microsoft to block search results that show on Bing in response to searches of their names, to fill out a four-part online form. Besides the name and country of residence of the person and the details of the pages to be blocked, the form also asks if the person is a public figure or has or expects a role that involves trust, leadership or safety. ... The information provided will help the company "consider the balance" between the applicant's individual privacy interest and the public interest in protecting free expression and the free availability of information, in line with European law, Microsoft said. You can always visit a non-EU version of Bing to receive uncensored results.

UN Report Finds NSA Mass Surveillance Likely Violated Human Rights

Unknown Lamer posted about 4 months ago | from the silly-human-rights-are-for-robots dept.

Privacy 261

An anonymous reader writes A top United Nations human rights official released a report Wednesday that blasts the United States' mass surveillance programs for potentially violating human rights on a worldwide scale. U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay also praised whistleblower Edward Snowden and condemned U.S. efforts to prosecute him. "Those who disclose human rights violations should be protected," she said. "We need them." In particular, the surveillance programs violate Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Committee Formed To Scrutinize Australia's Web Censorship Law

Unknown Lamer posted about 4 months ago | from the only-criminals-care-about-censorship dept.

Censorship 24

Bismillah (993337) writes A government inquiry has been launched into whether or not Australian authorities are using Section 313 of the Telecommunications Act inappropriately. Last year, the Australian securities watchdog used Section 313 powers to force ISPs to block a quarter of a million web sites — in order to prevent access to just 1,200 sites the authority deemed harmful. From the inquiry page: "How law enforcement agencies use section 313 to request the disruption of such services is an important public policy question. Section 313 is also used for other purposes, but the Committee will inquire solely into and report on government agency use of section 313 for the purpose of disrupting illegal online services. The Committee invites interested persons and organizations to make submissions addressing the terms of reference by Friday 22 August 2014."

Canadian ISP On Disclosing Subscriber Info: Come Back With a Warrant

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the take-off dept.

Canada 55

An anonymous reader writes "Canadian ISP Rogers has updated its privacy policy to reflect last month's Supreme Court of Canada Spencer decision. That decision ruled that there was a reasonable expectation of privacy in subscriber information. Canada's largest cable ISP will now require a warrant for law enforcement access to basic subscriber information, a policy that effectively kills the Canadian government's efforts to expand the disclosures through voluntary means."

Why the FCC Is Likely To Ignore Net Neutrality Comments and Listen To ISPs

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.

Businesses 140

Jason Koebler writes: Time and time again, federal agencies like the FCC ignore what the public says it wants and side with the parties actually being regulated — the ISPs, in this case. Research and past example prove that there's not much that can be considered democratic about the public comment period or its aftermath. "Typically, there are a score or so of lengthy comments that include extensive data, analysis, and arguments. Courts require agencies to respond to comments of that type, and they sometimes persuade an agency to take an action that differs from its proposal," Richard Pierce, a George Washington University regulatory law professor said. "Those comments invariably come from companies with hundreds of millions or billions of dollars at stake or the lawyers and trade associations that represent them. Those are the only comments that have any chance of persuading an agency."

Apple Agrees To $450 Million Ebook Antitrust Settlement

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the throwing-the-ebook-at-them dept.

Books 91

An anonymous reader writes: Last year, a U.S. District Judge ruled that Apple conspired with publishers to control ebook prices in violation of antitrust laws. Apple launched an appeal which has yet to conclude, but they've now agreed to a settlement. If the appeal verdict goes against Apple, they will be on the hook for $450 million, most of which will go to consumers. If they win the appeal, they'll still have to pay $70 million. $450 million is much more than the other publishers had to pay, but much less than the expected penalty from a damages trial set for August (and still only about one percent of Apple's annual profit).

Manuel Noriega Sues Activision Over Call of Duty

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the good-luck-with-that dept.

The Courts 83

mrspoonsi sends this BBC report: Manuel Noriega, the former dictator of Panama, is suing Call of Duty's video games publisher. The ex-military ruler is seeking lost profits and damages after a character based on him featured in Activision's 2012 title Black Ops II. The 80-year-old is currently serving a jail sentence in Panama for crimes committed during his time in power, including the murder of critics. One lawyer said this was the latest in a growing trend of such lawsuits. "In the U.S., individuals have what's called the right to publicity, which gives them control over how their person is depicted in commerce including video games," explained Jas Purewal, an interactive entertainment lawyer. "There's also been a very well-known action by a whole series of college athletes against Electronic Arts, and the American band No Doubt took action against Activision over this issue among other cases. "It all focuses upon the American legal ability for an individual to be only depicted with their permission, which in practice means payment of a fee. "But Noriega isn't a US citizen or even a resident. This means that his legal claim becomes questionable, because it's unclear on what legal basis he can actually bring a case against Activision."

US House Passes Permanent Ban On Internet Access Taxes

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the potholes-on-the-information-superhighway dept.

The Internet 148

jfruh writes: In 1998, the U.S. Congress passed a law that temporarily banned all taxes imposed by federal, state, and local governments on Internet access and Internet-only services, a ban that has been faithfully renewed every year since. Now the U.S. House has passed a passed a permanent version of the ban, which also applies to several states that had passed Internet taxes before 1998 and were grandfathered in under the temporary law. The Senate must pass the bill as well by November 1 or the temporary ban will lapse.

Breaches Exposed 22.8 Million Personal Records of New Yorkers

Unknown Lamer posted about 4 months ago | from the what-is-security dept.

Security 41

An anonymous reader writes Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman issued a new report examining the growing number, complexity, and costs of data breaches in the New York State. The report reveals that the number of reported data security breaches in New York more than tripled between 2006 and 2013. In that same period, 22.8 million personal records of New Yorkers have been exposed in nearly 5,000 data breaches, which have cost the public and private sectors in New York upward of $1.37 billion in 2013. The demand on secondary markets for stolen information remains robust. Freshly acquired stolen credit card numbers can fetch up to $45 per record, while other types of personal information, such as Social Security numbers and online account information, can command even higher prices.

French Blogger Fined For Negative Restaurant Review

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the enjoy-your-streisand-effect dept.

The Internet 424

An anonymous reader sends an article about another case in which a business who received a negative review online decided to retaliate with legal complaints. In August of last year, a French food blogger posted a review of an Italian restaurant called Il Giardino. The restaurant owners responded with legal threats based on the claim that they lost business from search results which included the review. The blogger deleted the post, but that wasn't enough. She was brought to court, and a fine of €1,500 ($2,040) was imposed. She also had to pay court costs, which added another €1,000 ($1,360). The blogger said, "Recently several writers in France were sentenced in similar proceedings for defamation, invasion of privacy, and so on. ... I don't see the point of criticism if it's only positive. It's clear that online, people are suspicious of places that only get positive reviews."

Australian Electoral Commission Refuses To Release Vote Counting Source Code

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the you-can-trust-us dept.

Software 112

angry tapir writes: The Australian Electoral Commission has been fighting a freedom of information request to reveal the source code of the software it uses to calculate votes in elections for Australia's upper house of parliament. Not only has the AEC refused an FOI request (PDF) for the source code, but it has also refused an order from the Senate directing that the source code be produced. Apparently releasing the code could "leave the voting system open to hacking or manipulation."

Pseudonyms Now Allowed On Google+

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the finally-batman-can-set-up-a-profile dept.

Social Networks 238

An anonymous reader writes When Google+ launched, it received criticism across the internet for requiring that users register with their real names. Now, Google has finally relented and removed all restrictions on what usernames people are allowed to use. The company said, "We know you've been calling for this change for a while. We know that our names policy has been unclear, and this has led to some unnecessarily difficult experiences for some of our users. For this we apologize, and we hope that today's change is a step toward making Google+ the welcoming and inclusive place that we want it to be."

Telcos Move Net Neutrality Fight To Congress

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the putting-the-money-where-it-counts dept.

Government 52

Presto Vivace writes: "Public Knowledge is rallying its supporters after learning that some House members plan to try and add an amendment to H.R. 5016, the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act to block funding of FCC network neutrality rules. H.R. 5016 is the bill that keeps funding the government and whose failure to pass can shut it down. The White House has already said it opposed the existing FCC budget cuts and threatened a veto of a bill it says politicized the budget process." Public Knowledge is asking citizens to tell Congress to stop meddling with net neutrality. In a way this is a good sign. It is an indication that the telcos think that they will lose the current FCC debate. Meanwhile, the FCC's deadline for comments about net neutrality has arrived, and the agency's servers buckled after recording over 670,000 of them. The deadline has been extended until midnight on Friday.

Court Rejects Fox's Attempt to Use Aereo Ruling Against Dish's Hopper

Unknown Lamer posted about 4 months ago | from the spacetime-shifting-is-not-a-crime dept.

Television 67

Fox and Dish have been locking horns over Dish over its streaming and PVR services for a while now, and immediately after the Aereo ruling Fox sought an injunction against Dish's services. The court rejected the request. From the article: Fox pointed out the Supremes had reflected Aereo's argument (which it said was Dish's as well) that a performance was not public under the Copyright Act if each sub watches a unique stream. Fox's lawyer, Richard Stone, argued that Aereo was also essentially about attaching a Slingbox to a DVR. But that got some pushback. One judge countered that it was "completely different technology" and said that while that was the argument, "the Supreme court has all sorts of caveats in the opinion about how this was about Aereo and nothing else and a lot of the 'nothing elses' seem to be pretty similar to Slingbox." The underlying case will continue moving forward (going to trial in early 2015).

'Hidden From Google' Remembers the Sites Google Is Forced To Forget

Unknown Lamer posted about 4 months ago | from the freedom-eagle dept.

Google 163

Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes "Hidden From Google, the brainchild of a web programmer in New Jersey, archives each website that Google is required to take down from European Union search listings thanks to the recent court decision that allows people to request that certain pages be scrubbed from Google's search results if they're outdated or irrelevant. That decision has resulted in takedown requests from convicted sex offenders and huge banking companies, among thousands of others."

Obama Administration Says the World's Servers Are Ours

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the all-your-data-are-belong-to-us dept.

United States 749

An anonymous reader points out this story about the U.S. Justice Department's claim that companies served with valid warrants for data must produce that data even if the data is not stored in the U.S. Global governments, the tech sector, and scholars are closely following a legal flap in which the US Justice Department claims that Microsoft must hand over e-mail stored in Dublin, Ireland. In essence, President Barack Obama's administration claims that any company with operations in the United States must comply with valid warrants for data, even if the content is stored overseas. It's a position Microsoft and companies like Apple say is wrong, arguing that the enforcement of US law stops at the border. A magistrate judge has already sided with the government's position, ruling in April that "the basic principle that an entity lawfully obligated to produce information must do so regardless of the location of that information." Microsoft appealed to a federal judge, and the case is set to be heard on July 31.

Hacking Online Polls and Other Ways British Spies Seek To Control the Internet

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the learning-to-troll dept.

United Kingdom 117

Advocatus Diaboli writes The secretive British spy agency GCHQ has developed covert tools to seed the internet with false information, including the ability to manipulate the results of online polls, artificially inflate pageview counts on web sites, "amplif[y]" sanctioned messages on YouTube, and censor video content judged to be "extremist." The capabilities, detailed in documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, even include an old standby for pre-adolescent prank callers everywhere: A way to connect two unsuspecting phone users together in a call. The tools were created by GCHQ's Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG), and constitute some of the most startling methods of propaganda and internet deception contained within the Snowden archive. Previously disclosed documents have detailed JTRIG's use of "fake victim blog posts," "false flag operations," "honey traps" and psychological manipulation to target online activists, monitor visitors to WikiLeaks, and spy on YouTube and Facebook users.

FCC Public Comment Period For Net Neutrality Ends Tomorrow, July 15

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the use-your-outside-voice dept.

United States 69

samzenpus (5) writes "The deadline for the FCC's public comment period on their proposed net neutrality rule is coming up fast. The final day to let the FCC know what you think is tomorrow, July 15. A total of 647,000 comments have already been sent. Google, Facebook, Netflix, Amazon and other tech companies are making a final push for net neutrality saying that the FCC decision, "shifts the balance from the consumers' freedom of choice to the broadband Internet access providers' gatekeeping decisions." The Consumerist has a guide to help you through the comment process, so make sure your voice is heard."

Apple Refutes Report On iPhone Threat To China's National Security

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the it-was-other-kids dept.

China 134

An anonymous reader writes "Apple has never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed access to our servers," the company said Sunday in a bilingual statement on its China website. Users have to make the choice to enable the iPhones to calculate their locations, while "Apple does not track users' locations — Apple has never done so and has no plans to ever do so," the company said. The statement was in response to allegations by China's top state broadcaster that iOS7 software and its "Frequent Location" service posed a security risk. The data can be accessed easily, although labelled as "encrypted," and may lead to the disclosure of "state secrets," CCTV said.

Economist: File Sharing's Impact On Movies Is Modest At Most

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the boosting-sales dept.

Movies 214

First time accepted submitter SillyBoy123 writes What is the impact of file sharing releases on the movie industry? Ask the studios and they will say billions. An economist named Koleman Strumph is presenting a paper at the National Bureau of Economics this week that tries to estimate the crowd out from these releases. His conclusion: "I find that file sharing has only a modest impact on box office revenue." In fact, Strumph finds that file sharing before the official release of a movie can actually be beneficial to revenues: "One consistent result is that file sharing arrivals shortly before the theatrical opening have a modest positive effect on box office revenue. One explanation is that such releases create greater awareness of the film. This is also the period of heaviest advertising. In conjunction with the main estimates, this suggests that free and potentially degraded goods such as the lower quality movies available on file sharing networks can have some beneficial effects on intellectual property."

Bot Tweets Anonymous Wikipedia Edits From Capitol Hill

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the noting-the-changes dept.

Twitter 95

mpicpp writes about a new Twitter bot that reports all of the anonymous Wikipedia edits being made from the US Senate and House of Representatives. Ed Summers, an open source Web developer, recently saw a friend tweet about Parliament WikiEdits, a UK Twitter "bot" that watched for anonymous Wikipedia edits coming from within the British Parliament's internal networks. Summers was immediately inspired to do the same thing for the US Congress. "The simplicity of combining Wikipedia and Twitter in this way immediately struck me as a potentially useful transparency tool," Summers wrote in his personal blog. "So using my experience on a previous side project [Wikistream, a Web application that watches Wikipedia editing activity], I quickly put together a short program that listens to all major language Wikipedias for anonymous edits from Congressional IP address ranges and tweets them." The stream for the bot, @congressedits, went live a day later, and it now provides real-time tweets when anonymous edits of Wikipedia pages are made. Summers also posted the code to GitHub so that others interested in creating similar Twitter bots can riff on his work.

NSA Says Snowden Emails Exempt From Public Disclosure

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the for-our-eyes-only dept.

United States 231

AHuxley (892839) writes "The Desk reports on a FOIA request covering "... all e-mails sent by Edward Snowden" and the NSA's refusal to release all documents. "The National Security Agency has acknowledged it retains a record of e-mail communications from former contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden, but says those records are exempt from public disclosure under the federal Freedom of Information Act. In a letter responding to a June 27 FOIA request from The Desk, the NSA’s chief FOIA officer Pamela Phillips wrote that while the agency has retained records related to Snowden’s employment as a contractor, they are being withheld from public examination because, among other things, releasing the records 'could interfere with law enforcement proceedings, could cause an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, could reveal the identities of confidential sources or would reveal law enforcement techniques and procedures.' Other records are being withheld because those documents were 'also found to be currently and properly classifiedand remains classified TOP SECRET, SECRET and CONFIDENTIAL.' The letter marks the first time the NSA has publicly acknowledged retaining communication and employment records related to Snowden’s time as a contractor."

Fighting Climate Change With Trade

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the passing-on-the-savings dept.

Earth 155

mdsolar writes with this story about the possible elimination of tariffs on environmental goods between the world's largest economic powers. The United States, the European Union, China and 11 other governments began trade negotiations this week to eliminate tariffs on solar panels, wind turbines, water-treatment equipment and other environmental goods. If they are able to reach an agreement, it could reduce the cost of equipment needed to address climate change and help increase American exports. Global trade in environmental goods is estimated at $1 trillion a year and has been growing fast. (The United States exported about $106 billion worth of such goods last year.) But some countries have imposed import duties as high as 35 percent on such goods. That raises the already high cost of some of this equipment to utilities, manufacturers and, ultimately, consumers. Taken together, the countries represented in these talks (the 28 members of the E.U. negotiate jointly, while China and Hong Kong are represented by separate delegations) account for about 86 percent of trade in these products, which makes the potential benefit from an agreement substantial. Other big countries that are not taking part in these talks, like India, South Africa and Brazil, could choose to join later.

Utility Wants $17,500 Refund After Failure To Scrub Negative Search Results

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the if-you-don't-have-abything-good-to-say dept.

Businesses 110

mpicpp Points out this story about Seattle City Light's anger over negative search results and its inability to get them removed. Seattle's publicly-owned electrical utility, City Light, is now demanding a refund for the $17,500 that it paid to Brand.com in a botched effort to boost the online reputation of its highly-paid chief executive, Jorge Carrasco. Brand.com "enhances online branding and clears negatives by blanketing search results with positive content" in an attempt to counteract unwanted search engine results. City Light signed a contract with the company in October 2013 and extended it in February 2014. The contracts authorized payments of up to $47,500. Hamilton said that he first raised the issue of the utility's online reputation when he was interviewing for the chief of staff job in early 2013. "All I saw were negative stories about storms, outages and pay increases and I raised it as a concern during that interview," he said. "And then after I started, [CEO Jorge Carrasco] and I discussed what we could do to more accurately represent the utility and what the utility is all about, because we didn't feel it was well represented online." Thus, the Brand.com contract. City Light says that it only ever thought Brand.com would help it place legitimate material in legitimate outlets—talking up some of the positive changes that have taken place at City Light during Carrasco's tenure. Instead, it appears to have received mostly bogus blog posts.

The Least They Could Do: Amazon Charges 1 Cent To Meet French Free Shipping Ban

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the not-a-sou-more dept.

Books 309

Last year, we mentioned that the French government was unhappy with Amazon for offering better prices than the French competition, and strongly limited the amount by which retailers can discount books. Last month, the French parliament also passed a law banning free delivery of books. Ars Technica reports that Amazon has responded with a one-penny shipping rate on the orders that would previously have shipped free. Says the article: This is by no means the first time France has tried to put a damper on major US tech companies dabbling in books or other reading materials. In 2011, the country updated an old law related to printed books that then allowed publishers to impose set e-book pricing on Apple and others. And in 2012, there was the very public dispute between French lawmakers and Google over the country's desire to see French media outlets paid for having their content pop up in search results. At least for now with this most recent situation, an online giant has found a relatively quick and easy way to regain the upperhand.

Source Code Leaked For Tinba Banking Trojan

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the small-can-be-potent dept.

Crime 75

msm1267 (2804139) writes "The source code for Tinba, known as the smallest banker Trojan in circulation, has been posted on an underground forum. Researchers say that the files turned out to be the source code for version one of Tinba, which was identified in 2012, and is the original, privately sold version of the crimeware kit. Tinba performs many of the same malicious functions as other banker Trojans, injecting itself into running processes on an infected machine, including the browser and explorer.exe. The malware is designed to steal financial information, including banking credentials and credit-card data and also makes each infected computer part of a botnet. Compromised machines communicate with command-and-control servers over encrypted channels. Tinba got its name from an abbreviation of "tiny banker," and researchers say that it's only about 20 KB in size."

CDC Closes Anthrax, Flu Labs After Potentially Deadly Mix-Ups Come to Light

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the try-the-new-super-vaccine dept.

Medicine 89

In the wake of two potentially deadly accidents, the CDC yesterday announced the temporary closure of both the anthrax and flu research labs at the agency's Atlanta headquarters. The New York Times reports: In one episode last month, at least 62 C.D.C. employees may have been exposed to live anthrax bacteria after potentially infectious samples were sent to laboratories unequipped to handle them. Employees not wearing protective gear worked with bacteria that were supposed to have been killed but may not have been. All were offered a vaccine and antibiotics, and the agency said it believed no one was in danger. “We have a high degree of confidence that no one was exposed,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, the C.D.C. director. Credit David Goldman/Associated Press In a second accident, disclosed Friday, a C.D.C. lab accidentally contaminated a relatively benign flu sample with a dangerous H5N1 bird flu strain that has killed 386 people since 2003. Fortunately, a United States Agriculture Department laboratory realized that the strain was more dangerous than expected and alerted the C.D.C. ... The anthrax and flu labs will remain closed until new procedures are imposed, Frieden said. For the flu lab, that will be finished in time for vaccine preparation for next winter’s flu season, he said.

FCC Approves Subsidy Plan to Upgrade School and Library Networks

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the ask-for-a-mile-in-hopes-of-an-inch dept.

Government 70

The Washington Post reports that, "In a 3-2 vote along party lines Friday, the FCC greenlit a plan to spend $2 billion over the next two years on subsidies for internal networks. The move also begins a process to phase out some subsidies under the federal program, known as E-Rate, for services and equipment that are on the decline, such as pagers and dial-up Internet service." That sounds like a lot of money, and it is, but as usual in politics it's the result of a messy process: The original plan called for spending $5 billion on WiFi over five years, in line with a push by the Obama administration to bring next-gen broadband and WiFi to 99 percent of students over the same period. Those funds would have partly come from savings as a result of transitioning away from supporting legacy technologies. The proposal would also have eliminated an existing requirement that E-Rate funds be spent first on broadband services before being applied to WiFi. In past years, the cost of broadband service meant that money was rarely left over for upgrading WiFi connections. But the FCC's proposal was ultimately scaled back late Thursday amid Republican objections that the E-Rate program can't afford the changes. The final proposal's two-year, $2 billion commitment accounts for the money the FCC has already set aside for WiFi upgrades, but it does not commit the FCC to funding WiFi upgrades at that same rate for the following three years.

FAA Pressures Coldwell, Other Realtors To Stop Using Drone Footage

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the only-criminals-will-have-commercial-drones dept.

Businesses 199

mpicpp (3454017) writes For months, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been investigating realtors who use drones to film their properties. Now, Forbes has learned that the FAA's investigations have succeeded in intimidating NRT —the nation's largest residential real estate brokerage company — into advising their members to not only cease flying drones as part of their work, but to also cease using drone footage. This is a troubling development in an ongoing saga over the FAA's rules which punish the safe commercial use of drones. Currently, the FAA does not prohibit the use of drones for a hobby — flying over your home and taking pictures of it for fun is allowed, but because real estate drones take pictures for a commercial purpose, the FAA prohibits their use.

Chinese Hackers Infiltrate Firms Using Malware-Laden Handheld Scanners

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the location-location-location dept.

China 93

wiredmikey (1824622) writes China-based threat actors are using sophisticated malware installed on handheld scanners to target shipping and logistics organizations from all over the world. According to security firm TrapX, the attack begins at a Chinese company that provides hardware and software for handheld scanners used by shipping and logistics firms worldwide to inventory the items they're handling. The Chinese manufacturer installs the malware on the Windows XP operating systems embedded in the devices.

Experts determined that the threat group targets servers storing corporate financial data, customer data and other sensitive information. A second payload downloaded by the malware then establishes a sophisticated C&C on the company's finance servers, enabling the attackers to exfiltrate the information they're after. The malware used by the Zombie Zero attackers is highly sophisticated and polymorphic, the researchers said. In one attack they observed, 16 of the 48 scanners used by the victim were infected, and the malware managed to penetrate the targeted organization's defenses and gain access to servers on the corporate network. Interestingly, the C&C is located at the Lanxiang Vocational School, an educational institution said to be involved in the Operation Aurora attacks against Google, and which is physically located only one block away from the scanner manufacturer, TrapX said.

"Internet's Own Boy" Briefly Knocked Off YouTube With Bogus DMCA Claim

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the until-proven-innocent dept.

Movies 157

An anonymous reader writes "In a bitter irony, a documentary celebrating Aaron Swartz, the late Internet activist who helped create the Creative Commons, has been taken down from YouTube by a misguided copyright claim." From the article: [O]ne of the dark sides of how copyright is enforced on the Internet is that sites that don't actually infringe are sometimes mistakenly swept up in rightsholders' takedown notices, which are frequently automated. Visitors who tried to watch The Internet's Own Boy on YouTube Friday were greeted by the message, "This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Remove Your Media LLC," a reference to a company that specializes in sending copyright takedowns in accordance with the law that governs them, the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA). It's not clear who made the claim, but that's not the point—as activists are all too aware, false copyright claims can can knock legitimate content offline.

William Binney: NSA Records and Stores 80% of All US Audio Calls

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the must-use-a-good-compression-algorithm dept.

Privacy 278

stephendavion sends a report at The Guardian about remarks from whistleblower William Binney, who left the NSA after its move toward overreaching surveillance following the September 11th attacks. Binney says, "At least 80% of all audio calls, not just metadata, are recorded and stored in the U.S. The NSA lies about what it stores." He added, "The ultimate goal of the NSA is total population control, but I’m a little optimistic with some recent Supreme Court decisions, such as law enforcement mostly now needing a warrant before searching a smartphone." One of Binney's biggest concerns about government-led surveillance is its lack of oversight: "The FISA court has only the government’s point of view. There are no other views for the judges to consider. There have been at least 15-20 trillion constitutional violations for U.S. domestic audiences and you can double that globally."

Amazon Seeks US Exemption To Test Delivery Drones

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the i-thought-asking-forgiveness-was-better dept.

Government 155

angry tapir writes: Amazon.com has asked the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration for permission to test drones outdoors for use in its Prime Air package delivery service. In the run up to launching the service, which aims to deliver packages in 30 minutes or less, the online retailer is developing aerial vehicles that travel over 50 miles (80 kilometers) per hour, and will carry 5pound (2.3 kilogram) payloads, which account for 86 percent of the products sold on Amazon. They need to ask permission because the FAA specifically banned such behavior last month.

Aereo Embraces Ruling, Tries To Re-Classify Itself As Cable Company

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the bend-like-the-broadcast-reed dept.

Television 147

An anonymous reader writes Rather than completely shuttering its TV-over-the-internet business, Aereo has decided to embrace the Supreme Court's recent decision against it. In a letter to the lower court overseeing the litigation between the company and network broadcasters, Aereo asks to be considered a cable company and to be allowed to pay royalties as such. Cable companies pay royalties to obtain a copyright statutory license under the Copyright Act to retransmit over-the-air programming, and the royalties are set by the government, not the broadcasters. The broadcasters are not happy with this move, of course, claiming that Aereo should not be allowed to flip-flop on how it defines itself.

Google, Dropbox, and Others Forge Patent "Arms Control Pact"

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the working-together dept.

Google 73

jfruh writes Patent trolling is a serious irritant and financial drain on many big tech companies — but those same companies can't guarantee that their own future management won't sell the patents they own to a 'non-practicing entity', especially in the case of sale or bankruptcy. That's why a number of tech giants, including Google and Dropbox, have formed the 'License or Transfer Network,' in which a patent will automatically be licensed to everyone else in the network in the event that it's sold to a third party.

FTC Files Suit Against Amazon For In-App Purchases

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the a-fool-his-kids-and-his-money dept.

Government 47

Charliemopps writes The Federal Trade Commission has filed suit against Amazon for illegally billing parents for in-app purchases of digital goods prior to requiring a password for making purchases. "The FTC's complaint, filed Thursday, asks the court to force Amazon to refund the money to those customers. In-app purchases typically involve virtual goods bought within an app, like extra coins or energy in a game, according to the FTC. Some bills totaled hundreds of dollars, and some virtual goods cost as much as $99.99." We recently told you about Amazon's refusal to reach a settlement over these FTC complaints.

Senator Al Franken Accuses AT&T of "Skirting" Net Neutrality Rules

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the no-sir-I-don't-like-it dept.

AT&T 81

McGruber writes In a letter to the U.S. Federal Communication Commission and the Department of Justice, Senator Al Franken warned that letting AT&T acquire Direct TV could turn AT&T into a gatekeeper to the mobile Internet. Franken also complained that AT&T took inappropriate steps to block Internet applications like Google Voice and Skype: "AT&T has a history of skirting the spirit, and perhaps the letter' of the government's rules on net neutrality, Franken wrote."

After NSA Spying Flap, Germany Asks CIA Station Chief to Depart

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the wir-werden-wissen dept.

Government 219

The Washington Post reports that Gemany's government has asked the CIA station chief in that country to leave. From the article, which points out the move comes after several high-profile instances of U.S. spying on German citiens, including Chancellor Angela Merkl:. "A day earlier, federal prosecutors in Germany said police had searched the office and apartment of an individual with ties to the German military who is suspected of working for U.S. intelligence. Those raids followed the arrest of an employee of Germany’s foreign intelligence service who was accused of selling secrets to the CIA. ... For years, Germany has sought to be included in a group of countries with which the United States has a non-espionage pact. Those nations include Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. The Obama administration and that of George W. Bush both resisted such entreaties, in part because many U.S. intelligence officials believe that there are too many areas where German and U.S. security interests diverge."

Police Recording Confirms NYPD Flew At a Drone and Never Feared Crashing

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the where-is-your-flightplan? dept.

Crime 310

Jason Koebler (3528235) writes An air traffic control recording confirms that a New York Police Department helicopter flew at a drone hovering near the George Washington Bridge earlier this week—not the other way around. What's more, police had no idea what to charge the drone pilots with, and never appeared to fear a crash with the drone.
Two men were arrested Monday on felony reckless endangerment charges after the NYPD said the two flew their drone "very close" to a law enforcement chopper, causing the police helicopter to take evasive maneuvers. Air traffic control recordings suggest that only happened after the chopper pilot decided to chase the drone.

Today In Year-based Computer Errors: Draft Notices Sent To Men Born In the 1800s

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the pa-dmv-never-did-me-any-favors-either dept.

Bug 205

sandbagger (654585) writes with word of a Y2K-style bug showing up in Y2K14: "The glitch originated with the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles during an automated data transfer of nearly 400,000 records. The records of males born between 1993 and 1997 were mixed with those of men born a century earlier. The federal agency didn't know it because the state uses a two-digit code to indicate birth year." I wonder where else two-digit years are causing problems; I still see lots of paper forms that haven't made the leap yet to four digits.

Microsoft Settles With No-IP After Malware Takedown

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the semi-mulligan dept.

Microsoft 83

Trailrunner7 (1100399) writes It's been a weird couple of weeks for Microsoft. On June 30 the company announced its latest malware takedown operation, which included a civil law suit against Vitalwerks, a small Nevada hosting provider, and the seizure of nearly two dozen domains the company owned. Now, 10 days later, Microsoft has not only returned all of the seized domains but also has reached a settlement with Vitalwerks that resolves the legal action. Some in the security research community criticized Microsoft harshly for what they saw as heavy handed tactics. Within a few days of the initial takedown and domain seizure Microsoft returned all of the domains to Vitalwerks, which does business as No-IP.com. On Wednesday, the software giant and the hosting provider released a joint statement saying that they had reached a settlement on the legal action. "Microsoft has reviewed the evidence provided by Vitalwerks and enters into the settlement confident that Vitalwerks was not knowingly involved with the subdomains used to support malware. Those spreading the malware abused Vitalwerks' services," the companies said in a joint statement. "Microsoft identified malware that had escaped Vitalwerks' detection. Upon notification and review of the evidence, Vitalwerks took immediate corrective action allowing Microsoft to identify victims of this malware. The parties have agreed to permanently disable Vitalwerks subdomains used to control the malware."

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