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How Patent Trolls Destroy Innovation

Soulskill posted 1 hour ago | from the i-had-an-idea-therefore-your-effort-is-mine dept.

Patents 20

walterbyrd sends this story from Vox: Everyone agrees that there's been an explosion of patent litigation in recent years, and that lawsuits from non-practicing entities (NPEs) — known to critics as patent trolls — are a major factor. But there's a big debate about whether trolls are creating a drag on innovation — and if so, how big the problem is. A new study (PDF) by researchers at Harvard and the University of Texas provides some insight on this question. Drawing from data on litigation, R&D spending, and patent citations, the researchers find that firms that are forced to pay NPEs (either because they lost a lawsuit or settled out of court) dramatically reduce R&D spending: losing firms spent $211 million less on R&D, on average, than firms that won a lawsuit against a troll. "After losing to NPEs, firms significantly reduce R&D spending — both projects inside the firm and acquiring innovative R&D outside the firm," the authors write. "Our evidence suggests that it really is the NPE litigation event that causes this decrease in innovation."

$125,000 Settlement Given To Man Arrested for Photographing NYPD

Soulskill posted 11 hours ago | from the cheaper-than-a-trial dept.

The Almighty Buck 143

mpicpp sends word of a $125,000 settlement for a man who was arrested for photographing members of the New York Police Department. On June 14th, 2012, the man was sitting in his car when he saw three African-American youths being stopped and frisked by police officers. He began taking pictures of the encounter, and after the police were done, he advised the youths to get the officers' badge numbers next time. When the officers heard him, they pulled him violently from his car and arrested him under a charge of disorderly conduct. The police allegedly deleted the pictures from his phone (PDF). Rather than go to trial, the city's lawyers decided a settlement was the best course of action.

German Intelligence Spying On Allies, Recorded Kerry, Clinton, and Kofi Annan

Soulskill posted yesterday | from the turnabout-is-fairly-played-out dept.

Government 140

cold fjord writes: According to Foreign Policy, "The revelation that Germany spies on Turkey, a NATO member, should dispel any notion that spying on allies violates the unwritten rules of international espionage. ... For nearly a year, the extent of NSA surveillance on German leaders ... has drawn stern rebuke from the German political and media establishment. ... Merkel went so far as to publicly oust the CIA station chief in Berlin. 'Spying among friends is not at all acceptable,' Merkel said. ... [C]alls made by Secretary of State John Kerry and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were accidentally recorded. ... 'It's a kind of delightful revelation given the fact that the Germans have been on their high horse.' Christian Whiton, a former ... State Department senior advisor, added that the report on German spying is a perfect example of why rifts over intelligence among allies should be handled quietly and privately." The Wall Street Journal adds, "Cem Özdemir, the head of the Green party and a leading German politician of Turkish descent, told Spiegel Online it would be 'irresponsible' for German spies not to target Turkey given its location as a transit country for Islamic State militants from Europe." Further details at Spiegel Online and The Wall Street Journal."

Phoenix Introduces Draft Ordinance To Criminalize Certain Drone Uses

Soulskill posted yesterday | from the no-using-drones-to-attack-mexico dept.

Crime 170

Fubar writes: Two city council members from Phoenix, AZ are introducing "draft language" for public discussion that would make it illegal to use a drone to film people without their knowledge. The council members are worred about privacy of people in their own yards, even including the requirement that law enforcement obtain a warrant for drone surveillance. A violation of the ordinance would be a Class 1 misdemeanor, which carries up to a $2,500 fine and six months in jail.

Why Chinese Hackers Would Want US Hospital Patient Data

timothy posted yesterday | from the makes-great-gift-wrapping-too dept.

China 152

itwbennett (1594911) writes In a follow-up to yesterday's story about the Chinese hackers who stole hospital data of 4.5 million patients, IDG News Service's Martyn Williams set out to learn why the data, which didn't include credit card information, was so valuable. The answer is depressingly simple: people without health insurance can potentially get treatment by using medical data of one of the hacking victims. John Halamka, chief information officer of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and chairman of the New England Healthcare Exchange Network, said a medical record can be worth between $50 and $250 to the right customer — many times more than the amount typically paid for a credit card number, or the cents paid for a user name and password. "If I am one of the 50 million Americans who are uninsured ... and I need a million-dollar heart transplant, for $250 I can get a complete medical record including insurance company details," he said.

Nuclear Regulator Hacked 3 Times In 3 Years

timothy posted yesterday | from the once-a-year-to-keep-in-practice dept.

Government 61

mdsolar (1045926) writes with this disconcerting story from CNet about security breaches at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, revealed in a new report to have been compromised three times in the last three years: The body that governs America's nuclear power providers said in an internal investigation that two of the hacks are suspected to have come from unnamed foreign countries, the news site Nextgov reported based on a Freedom of Information Act request. The source of the third hack could not be identified because the logs of the incident had been destroyed, the report said. Hackers, often sponsored by foreign governments, have targeted the US more frequently in recent years. A report (PDF) on attacks against government computers noted that there was a 35 percent increase between 2010 and 2013.

Intruders used common hacking techniques to get at the NRC's computers. One attack linked to a foreign country or individual involved phishing emails that coerced NRC employees into submitting their login credentials. The second one linked to a foreign government or individual used spearphishing, or emails targeted at specific NRC employees, to convince them to click a link that led to a malware site hosted on Microsoft's cloud storage site SkyDrive, now called OneDrive. The third attack involved breaking into the personal account of a NRC employee. After sending a malicious PDF attachment to 16 other NRC employees, one person was infected with malware.

News Aggregator Fark Adds Misogyny Ban

Unknown Lamer posted yesterday | from the here-we-go-again dept.

The Media 625

An anonymous reader writes The news aggregator Fark is ancient in dot com terms. Users submit news links to the privately run site and tear it — and each other — to pieces in the discussion threads. (Sound familiar?) While the site isn't as popular as during the early 2000s, the privately run discussion forum has continued and has its champions. site operator Drew Curtis announced today that Gifs, references, jokes and comments involving sexism will be deleted. "Adam Savage once described to me the problem this way: if the Internet was a dude, we'd all agree that dude has a serious problem with women. We've actually been tightening up moderation style along these lines for awhile now, but as of today, the FArQ will be updated with new rules reminding you all that we don't want to be the He Man Woman Hater's Club. This represents enough of a departure from pretty much how every other large internet community operates that I figure an announcement is necessary."

Given how bare-knuckled Fark can be, is it time? Overdue?

Adam Carolla Settles With Podcasting Patent Troll

Unknown Lamer posted yesterday | from the could-have-been-worse dept.

Patents 61

Personal Audio has been trying to assert patents they claim cover podcasting for some time now; in March Adam Carolla was sued and decided to fight back. Via the EFF comes news that he has settled with Personal Audio, and the outcome is likely beneficial to those still fighting the trolls. From the article: Although the settlement is confidential, we can guess the terms. This is because Personal Audio sent out a press release last month saying it was willing to walk away from its suit with Carolla. So we can assume that Carolla did not pay Personal Audio a penny. We can also assume that, in exchange, Carolla has given up the opportunity to challenge the patent and the chance to get his attorney’s fees. ... EFF’s own challenge to Personal Audio’s patent is on a separate track and will continue ... with a ruling likely by April 2015. ... We hope that Personal Audio’s public statements on this issue mean that it has truly abandoned threatening and suing podcasters. Though a press release might not be legally binding, the company will have a hard time justifying any further litigation (or threats of litigation) against podcasters. Any future targets can point to this statement. Carolla deserves recognition for getting this result.

Hackers Steal Data Of 4.5 Million US Hospital Patients

Unknown Lamer posted yesterday | from the security-through-whoops dept.

Security 108

itwbennett (1594911) writes Community Health Systems said the attack occurred in April and June of this year, but it wasn't until July that it determined the theft had taken place. Working with a computer security company, it determined the attack was carried out by a group based in China that used 'highly sophisticated malware' to attack its systems. The hackers got away with patient names, addresses, birthdates, telephone numbers and Social Security numbers of the 4.5 million people who were referred to or received services from doctors affiliated with the company in the last five years. The stolen data did not include patient credit card, medical, or clinical information.

Rightscorp's New Plan: Hijack Browsers Until Infingers Pay Up

Unknown Lamer posted yesterday | from the guilty-until-proven-guilty dept.

Piracy 355

A few weeks ago, Rightscorp announced plans to have ISPs disconnect repeat copyright infringers. mpicpp (3454017) wrote in with news that Rightscorp announced during their latest earnings call further plans to require ISPs to block all web access (using a proxy system similar to hotel / college campus wifi logins) until users admit guilt and pay a settlement fine (replacing the current system of ISPs merely forwarding notices to users). Quoting TorrentFreak: [Rightscorp] says 75,000 cases have been settled so far with copyright holders picking up $10 from each. ... What is clear is that Rightscorp is determined to go after "Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, Cable Vision and one more" in order to "get all of them compliant" (i.e forwarding settlement demands). The company predicts that more details on the strategy will develop in the fall, but comments from COO & CTO Robert Steele hint on how that might be achieved. ... "[What] we really want to do is move away from termination and move to what's called a hard redirect, like, when you go into a hotel and you have to put your room number in order to get past the browser and get on to browsing the web." The idea that mere allegations from an anti-piracy company could bring a complete halt to an entire household or business Internet connection until a fine is paid is less like a "piracy speeding ticket" and more like a "piracy wheel clamp", one that costs $20 to have removed.

Munich Reverses Course, May Ditch Linux For Microsoft

Unknown Lamer posted yesterday | from the campaign-funding-brought-to-you-by-windows dept.

Government 540

alphadogg (971356) writes with news that the transition from Windows to GNU/Linux in Munich may be in danger The German city of Munich, long one of the open-source community's poster children for the institutional adoption of Linux, is close to performing a major about-face and returning to Microsoft products. Munich's deputy mayor, Josef Schmid, told the Süddeutsche Zeitung that user complaints had prompted a reconsideration (Google translation to English) of the city's end-user software, which has been progressively converted from Microsoft to a custom Linux distribution — "LiMux" — in a process that dates back to 2003.

Plan Would Give Government Virtual Veto Over Internet Governance

samzenpus posted 2 days ago | from the changing-things-up dept.

The Internet 61

An anonymous reader writes The debate over Internet governance for much of the past decade has often come down to a battle between ICANN and the United Nations. The reality has always been far more complicated. The U.S. still maintains contractual control over ICANN, while all governments exert considerable power within the ICANN model through the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC). Now governments are looking for even more power, seeking a near-complete veto power of ICANN decisions.

WikiLeaks' Assange Hopes To Exit London Embassy "Soon"

samzenpus posted 2 days ago | from the leaving-the-building dept.

Crime 288

An anonymous reader writes Julian Assange has hosted a press conference in which he indicated he is soon about to leave the embassy of Ecuador in London. From the article: "WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has spent over two years in Ecuador's London embassy to avoid a sex crimes inquiry in Sweden, said on Monday he planned to leave the building 'soon', but Britain signaled it would still arrest him if he tried. Assange made the surprise assertion during a news conference alongside Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino. But his spokesman played down the chances of an imminent departure, saying the British government would first need to revise its position and let him leave without arrest, something it has repeatedly refused to do.

Selectable Ethics For Robotic Cars and the Possibility of a Robot Car Bomb

samzenpus posted 2 days ago | from the no-hands dept.

Transportation 235

Rick Zeman writes Wired has an interesting article on the possibility of selectable ethical choices in robotic autonomous cars. From the article: "The way this would work is one customer may set the car (which he paid for) to jealously value his life over all others; another user may prefer that the car values all lives the same and minimizes harm overall; yet another may want to minimize legal liability and costs for herself; and other settings are possible. Philosophically, this opens up an interesting debate about the oft-clashing ideas of morality vs. liability." Meanwhile, others are thinking about the potential large scale damage a robot car could do.

Lasrick writes Patrick Lin writes about a recent FBI report that warns of the use of robot cars as terrorist and criminal threats, calling the use of weaponized robot cars "game changing." Lin explores the many ways in which robot cars could be exploited for nefarious purposes, including the fear that they could help terrorist organizations based in the Middle East carry out attacks on US soil. "And earlier this year, jihadists were calling for more car bombs in America. Thus, popular concerns about car bombs seem all too real." But Lin isn't too worried about these threats, and points out that there are far easier ways for terrorists to wreak havoc in the US.

Feds: Red Light Camera Firm Paid For Chicago Official's Car, Condo

samzenpus posted 2 days ago | from the red-light-red-light dept.

Crime 114

An anonymous reader writes "The former CEO of Redflex, a major red light camera vendor, and John Bills, former Managing Deputy Commissioner at the Department of Transportation, have been indicted on federal corruption charges stemming from a contract with the City of Chicago. According to the indictment, a friend of Bills was hired as a contractor and paid $2 million. Much of that money was then kicked back to Bills, who also got a Mercedes and a condominium via Redflex employees. The defendants are facing 23 counts including: mail fraud, wire fraud, and bribery. Each fraud count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years."

Are Altcoins Undermining Bitcoin's Credibility?

samzenpus posted 2 days ago | from the least-of-your-worries dept.

Bitcoin 266

An anonymous reader writes The editor of a Bitcoin advocacy site believes the proliferation of altcoins (cryptocurrencies other than Bitcoin) is harming Bitcoin's long-term potential as an alternative to traditional currencies. Posting at BadBitcoin.org, a site that seeks to expose online scams that target Bitcoin users, the pseudonymous ViK compares altcoins, including the Internet meme inspired Dogecoin, to a pump-and-dump scheme where developers create their own version of the Bitcoin wallet and blockchain and then "pre-mine" or generate a significant number of cryptocurrency units before the altcoin's official release. Later, when their value has risen, the pre-mined altcoins are exchanged for Bitcoin or in some cases converted directly to cash. While critics of cryptocurrencies in general might find ViK's comments about the altcoin "tulip" mania ironic, the self-confessed Bitcoin fan is nevertheless calling for an altcoin boycott: "The easiest way to stop them is to not participate. We all know that they only have one purpose, and that is to make Bitcoin for the so called developers."

Financial Services Group WCS Sues Online Forum Over Negative Post

samzenpus posted 2 days ago | from the I-wish-you-wouldn't-say-that dept.

Censorship 110

First time accepted submitter kavzee writes The popular Australian online discussion forum, Whirlpool, is being sued by a financial services group for refusing to remove a negative review about its services. A similar story occurred a number of years ago when another company by the name of 2Clix attempted to sue Whirlpool for the same reasons but later withdrew their case. "A financial services business licenced through National Australia Bank is suing an online forum for refusing to remove an allegedly fake and negative post about its services, claiming it has damaged its reputation with would-be clients. It is the latest legal action launched against an online forum or review website for publishing negative comments, following several high profile cases in Australia and overseas. Financial advice group WCS Group has initiated action against Whirlpool in the Supreme Court of Victoria, seeking unspecified damages and costs, despite the fact the forum generates no revenue."

EFF's Cell Phone Guide For US Protesters

Soulskill posted 3 days ago | from the do-not-use-your-cell-phone-as-a-projectile-weapon dept.

Electronic Frontier Foundation 82

An anonymous reader writes: The Electronic Frontier Foundation has updated its guide for protecting yourself and your cell phone at a protest. In addition to being extremely powerful tools (real-time communication to many watchers via social media, and video recording functionality), cell phones can also give authorities a lot of information about you if they confiscate it. The EFF is trying to encourage cell phone use and prepare people to use them. (The guide is based on U.S. laws, but much of the advice makes sense for other places as well.) Here are a few small snippets: "Start using encrypted communications channels. Text messages, as a rule, can be read and stored by your phone company or by surveillance equipment in the area. ... If the police ask to see your phone, tell them you do not consent to the search of your device. Again, since the Supreme Court's decision in Riley, there is little question that officers need a warrant to access the contents of your phone incident to arrest, though they may be able to seize the phone and get a warrant later. ... If your phone or electronic device was seized, and is not promptly returned when you are released, you can file a motion with the court to have your property returned."

Knocking Down the Great Firewall of China

Soulskill posted 3 days ago | from the crumbling-from-a-million-tiny-cracks dept.

Censorship 159

New submitter Nocturrne writes: The FOSS project Lantern is having great success in unblocking the internet for many users in oppressive regimes, like China and Iran. Much like Tor and BitTorrent, Lantern is using peer-to-peer networking to overcome firewalls, but with the additional security of a trusted network of friends. "If you download Lantern in an uncensored region, you can connect with someone in a censored region, who can then access whatever content they want through you. What makes the system so unique is that it operates on the basis of trust. ... Through a process called consistent routing, the amount of information any single Lantern user can learn about other users is limited to a small subset, making infiltration significantly more difficult." The network of peers is growing, but we need more friends in uncensored countries to join us.

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