NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "Veoh has once again beaten the record companies; in fact it has beaten them in every round, only to have been forced out of business by the attorneys fees it expended to do so. I guess that's the record companies' strategy to do an 'end around' the clear wording of the DMCA 'safe harbor': outspend them until they fold. Back in 2009 the lower court dismissed UMG's case (PDF) on the ground that Veoh was covered by the DMCA 'safe harbor' and had complied with takedown notices. The record companies of course appealed. And they of course lost. Then, after the Viacom v. YouTube decision by the 2nd Circuit, which ruled that there were factual issues as to some of the videos, they moved for rehearing in UMG v. Veoh. Now, in a 61-page decision (PDF), the 9th Circuit has once again ruled that the statute means what it says, and rejected each and every argument the record companies made. Sadly, though, it did not award attorneys fees."
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An anonymous reader writes "Bruce Schneier has written a blunt article in CNN about the state of privacy on the internet. Quoting: 'The Internet is a surveillance state. Whether we admit it to ourselves or not, and whether we like it or not, we're being tracked all the time. Google tracks us, both on its pages and on other pages it has access to. Facebook does the same; it even tracks non-Facebook users. Apple tracks us on our iPhones and iPads. One reporter used a tool called Collusion to track who was tracking him; 105 companies tracked his Internet use during one 36-hour period. ... This is ubiquitous surveillance: All of us being watched, all the time, and that data being stored forever. This is what a surveillance state looks like, and it's efficient beyond the wildest dreams of George Orwell. Sure, we can take measures to prevent this. We can limit what we search on Google from our iPhones, and instead use computer web browsers that allow us to delete cookies. We can use an alias on Facebook. We can turn our cell phones off and spend cash. But increasingly, none of it matters. There are simply too many ways to be tracked."
An anonymous reader writes "The Obama Administration has put forth a proposal to collect $2 billion over the next 10 years from revenues generated by oil and gas development to fund scientific research into clean energy technologies. The administration hopes the research would help 'protect American families from spikes in gas prices and allow us to run our cars and trucks on electricity or homegrown fuels.' In a speech at Argonne National Laboratory, Obama said the private sector couldn't afford such research, which puts the onus on government to keep it going. Of course, it'll still be difficult to get everyone on board: 'The notion of funding alternative energy research with fossil fuel revenues has been endorsed in different forms by Republican politicians, including Alaskan senator Lisa Murkowsi. But the president still faces an uphill battle passing any major energy law, given how politicized programs to promote clean energy have become in the wake of high-profile failures of government-backed companies.'"
An anonymous reader writes "ComputerWeekly reports that the U.K. government 'has, for the first time, mandated a preference for using open source software for future developments.' This comes from the newly released version of the Government Service Design Manual, which has a section about when government agencies should use open source. It says: 'Use open source software in preference to proprietary or closed source alternatives, in particular for operating systems, networking software, web servers, databases and programming languages.' The document also warns against vendor lock-in. This policy shift comes under the direction of government CTO Liam Maxwell, who said, 'In digital public services, open source software is clearly the way forward.' He added, 'We're not dogmatic about this – we'll always use the best tool for the job – but open source has major advantages for the public sector.'"
An anonymous reader writes "An article at TechCrunch bemoans the naysayers of ubiquitous video camera headsets, which seems like a near-term certainty whether it comes in the form of Google Glass or a similar product. The author points out, rightly, that surveillance cameras are already everywhere, and increasingly sophisticated government drones and satellites mean you're probably on camera more than you think already. 'But there's something about being caught on video, not by some impersonal machine but by another human being, that sticks in people's craws and makes them go irrationally berserk.' However, he also seems happy to trade privacy for security, which may not be palatable to others. He references a time he was mugged in Mexico as well as a desire to keep an eye on abuses of authority from police and others. 'If pervasive, ubiquitous networked cameras ultimately make public privacy impossible, which seems likely, then at least we can balance the scales by ensuring that we have two-way transparency between the powerful and the powerless.'"
JayRott writes "According to Ars, 'The embattled copyright trolling firm Prenda Law is seeking to contain the fallout from a looming identity theft scandal by voluntarily dismissing lawsuits filed by the shell company AF Holdings. A Minnesota man named Alan Cooper has charged that Prenda fraudulantly used his name as the CEO of AF Holdings, allegations that have attracted the attention of a California judge. Ken at the legal blog Popehat broke the news that Prenda attorney Paul Duffy has sought dismissal of at least four pending infringement cases involving the Prenda-linked shell company AF Holdings. All four dismissals occurred in the Northern District of Illinois.' I don't see how Prenda thinks this is going to make one lick of difference to an already angry Judge."
RedLeg writes "ArsTechnica reports that Brian Krebs, of KrebsOnSecurity.com, formerly of the Washington Post, recently got SWATted. For those not familiar with the term, SWATting is the practice of spoofing a call to emergency responders (911 in the U.S.) to induce an overwhelming and potentially devastating response from law enforcement and/or other first responders to the home or residence of the victim. Brian's first-person account of the incident and what he believes to be related events are chronicled here. Krebs has been prominent in the takedown of several cyber-criminal groups in the past, and has been subject to retaliation. I guess this time he poked the wrong bear."
redletterdave writes "Apple is facing a potential class action suit in San Francisco's California Northern District Court after an owner of its MacBook Pro with Retina display accused the computer company on Wednesday of 'tricking' consumers into paying for a poor-quality screen, citing an increasingly common problem that causes images to be burned into the display, also known as 'image persistence' or 'ghosting.' The lawsuit claims only LG-made screens are affected by this problem, but 'none of Apple's advertisements or representations disclose that it produces display screens that exhibit different levels of performance and quality.' Even though only one man filed the lawsuit, it can become a class action suit if others decide to join him in his claim, which might not be an issue: An Apple.com support thread for this particular problem, entitled 'MacBook Pro Retina display burn-in,' currently has more than 7,200 replies and 367,000 views across more than 500 pages."
A U.S. District Court Judge in California today ruled that so-called National Security Letters, used by government agencies to force business and organizations to turn over information on citizens, are unconstitutional. Judge Susan Illston ordered the government to stop using them, but gave the government a 90-day window to appeal the decision, during which the NSLs may still be sent out. The letters were challenged by the Electronic Frontier Foundation on behalf of a telecom who was ordered to provide data. "The telecom took the extraordinary and rare step of challenging the underlying authority of the National Security Letter, as well as the legitimacy of the gag order that came with it. Both challenges are allowed under a federal law that governs NSLs, a power greatly expanded under the Patriot Act that allows the government to get detailed information on Americans’ finances and communications without oversight from a judge. The FBI has issued hundreds of thousands of NSLs and been reprimanded for abusing them — though almost none of the requests have been challenged by the recipients. After the telecom challenged the NSL, the Justice Department took its own extraordinary measure and sued the company, arguing in court documents that the company was violating the law by challenging its authority. The move stunned the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is representing the anonymous telecom. ... After heated negotiations with EFF, the Justice Department agreed to stay the civil suit and let the telecom’s challenge play out in court. The Justice Department subsequently filed a motion to compel in the challenge case, but has never dropped the civil suit."
An anonymous reader writes "Previous reports of a Microsoft provided backdoor to Skype has been unconfirmed. However, there are now reports that Russian federal security service FSB is able to tap call and locate users. 'FSB and the Internal Affairs Ministry (MVD) have been capable to wiretap and locate Skype users for some years already, reported Vedomosti on Thursday [Google translation of Russian original]. The newspaper is citing experts on information security. "Special services have been capable for several years not only to wiretap but also to locate a Skype user. That's why, for instance, employees of our company are forbidden to discuss business-related topics on Skype," General Director of Group-IB, Ilya Sachkov, says to Vedomosti. "After Microsoft acquired Skype in May 2011, it updated the software with technology allowing legitimate wiretapping," says Maksim Emm, Director of Peak Systems.'"
B3ryllium writes "Matthew Keys, a Reuters social media editor, is accused of deliberately encouraging Anonymous to hack his previous employer, and even gave them access credentials to do it. An indictment appears to recommend charges that could result in up to 30 years in prison and a $750,000 fine. From the article: 'He is alleged to have identified himself on an internet chat forum as a former Tribune Company employee and then provided members of Anonymous with the login and password to the Tribune Company server. The indictment alleges that Mr Keys had a conversation with the hacker who claimed credit for the defacement of the Los Angeles Times website. The hacker allegedly told him that Tribune Company system administrators had locked him out. Mr Keys allegedly tried to regain access for the hacker, and when he learned that the hacker had made changes to a page, Mr Keys is said to have responded: "Nice."'"
destinyland writes "Jacob Appelbaum, the Tor Project's main advocate, argues that Open Source software is necessary 'to both verify and improve' available cryptography. (Adding 'We also need that to ensure that everyone has a reasonable baseline — which is part of the cypherpunk ethos.') In this new interview, he's critical of a general public silence over government encroachments on privacy, but points to the current impact of the Tor network now as something that 'runs, is open and is supported by a large community spread across all walks of life.' And he ultimately identifies Tor as 'part of an ecosystem of software that helps people regain and reclaim their autonomy,' saying the distributed anonymous network 'helps to enable people to have agency of all kinds; it helps others to help each other and it helps you to help yourself.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Of the 42,000 Internet Service Providers (ISPs) surveyed, just 20 were found to be responsible for nearly half of all the spamming IP addresses — and some ISPs have more than 60% of compromised hosts, mostly in Asia. Phishing Bad Neighborhoods, on the other hand, are mostly in the U.S. Also, there is a silent ticking 'spam' bomb in BRIC countries: if India would have the same Internet penetration rate as the United States while keeping its current ratio of malicious IP addresses, we would observe 200% more spamming IP addresses worldwide. These are just few of the striking results of an extensive study from the University of Twente, in The Netherlands, which scrutinizes the Internet Bad Neighborhoods to develop next-generation algorithms and solutions to better secure networks."
Sparrowvsrevolution writes "At the Fast Software Encryption conference in Singapore earlier this week, University of Illinois at Chicago Professor Dan Bernstein presented a method for breaking TLS and SSL web encryption when it's combined with the popular stream cipher RC4 invented by Ron Rivest in 1987. Bernstein demonstrated that when the same message is encrypted enough times--about a billion--comparing the ciphertext can allow the message to be deciphered. While that sounds impractical, Bernstein argued it can be achieved with a compromised website, a malicious ad or a hijacked router." RC4 may be long in the tooth, but it remains very widely used.
judgecorp writes "The British Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is investigating whether British software firm Autonomy fiddled its accounts to inflate the price which HP paid for it to a whopping $10 billion. There's a problem though. Autonomy's Introspect software is used to trawl large data sets for information and is in use at the SFO for jobs such as this fraud investigation. It's not just ironic: the SFO says its £4.6 million contract with Autonomy could create a conflict of interest and it may have to pull out of the investigation."
hypnosec writes "The US government's National Vulnerability Database (NVD) maintained by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has been offline for a few days because of malware infestation. The public-facing site has been taken offline because traces of malware were found on two of the web servers that house it. A post on Google+ containing an email from Gail Porter details the discovery of suspicious activity and subsequent steps taken by NIST. As of this writing the NVD website is still serving a page not found message."
New submitter KrisJon writes "The Obama administration is drawing up plans to give all U.S. spy agencies full access to a massive database that contains financial data on American citizens and others who bank in the country, according to a Treasury Department document seen by Reuters. Financial institutions that operate in the United States are required by law to file reports of 'suspicious customer activity.' A move like the FinCEN proposal 'raises concerns as to whether people could find their information in a file as a potential terrorist suspect without having the appropriate predicate for that and find themselves potentially falsely accused,' said Sharon Bradford Franklin, senior counsel for the Rule of Law Program at the Constitution Project, a non-profit watchdog group."
itwbennett writes "Daiyuu Nobori, a Ph.D. student at Japan's Tsukuba University designed 'VPN Gate' to help individuals in countries that restrict Internet use circumvent government firewalls. The service, which has drawn 77,000 users since its launch last Friday, encourages members of the public to set up VPN servers and offer free connections to individual users, aiming to make the technology more accessible. Nobori had originally planned to host the service on his university's servers, but they have been down recently so he switched it to the Windows Azure cloud platform. He has spent about US$9,000 keeping it up so far."
moon_unit2 writes "In an op-ed piece over at Technology Review, Bruce Schneier says that the cyber espionage between the U.S., China, and other nations, has been rampant for the past decade. But he also worries that the media frenzy over recent attacks is fostering a new kind of Internet-nationalism and spurring a cyber arms race that has plenty of negative side-effects for the Internet and its users. From the piece: 'We don't know the capabilities of the other side, and we fear that they are more capable than we are. So we spend more, just in case. The other side, of course, does the same. That spending will result in more cyber weapons for attack and more cyber-surveillance for defense. It will result in move government control over the protocols of the Internet, and less free-market innovation over the same. At its worst, we might be about to enter an information-age Cold War: one with more than two "superpowers." Aside from this being a bad future for the Internet, this is inherently destabilizing.'"
theodp writes "When Aaron Swartz tapped into MIT's network and scooped up data from one non-profit company, the U.S. Attorney threatened him with 35 years in prison and a $1 million fine. So what kind of jail time did 38 Attorneys General threaten Google with for using its Street View cars to scoop up passwords, e-mail and other personal information by tapping into the networks of their states' unsuspecting citizens? None. In agreeing to settle the case, the NY Times reports, Google is required to police its own employees on privacy issues, lecture the public on how to fend off privacy violations like the one Google perpetrated, and forfeit about 20% of one day's net income. Given the chance, one imagines that Aaron Swartz would have happily jumped at a comparable deal." The fine being $7 million. At least EPIC isn't as cynical and thinks the outcome was positive.
A bit over a year since having their case rejected by the Swedish Supreme Court and appealing to the European Human Rights Court, it looks like basically all legal options have been exhausted for the Pirate Bay Founders: their case has been rejected. From the article: "The EHCR recognizes that the Swedish verdict interferes with the right to freedom of expression, but ruled that this was necessary to protect the rights of copyright holders. In its decision the Court also considered the fact that The Pirate Bay did not remove torrents linking to copyrighted material when they were asked to. 'The Court held that sharing, or allowing others to share files of this kind on the Internet, even copyright-protected material and for profit-making purposes, was covered by the right to "receive and impart information" under Article 10 ... However, the Court considered that the domestic courts had rightly balanced the competing interests at stake – i.e. the right of the applicants to receive and impart information and the necessity to protect copyright – when convicting the applicants and therefore rejected their application as manifestly ill-founded.'"
An anonymous reader writes "We recently discussed what appeared to be a positive response from the Obama administration on the legality of cell phone unlocking. Unfortunately, the Obama administration may not be able to do anything about it. It has already signed away our rights under a trade agreement with South Korea. Lawyer Jonathan Band, who works for the Association of Research Libraries, wrote, 'The White House position, however, may be inconsistent with the U.S. proposal in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) and existing obligations in the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) and other free trade agreements to which the United States is a party. This demonstrates the danger of including in international agreements rigid provisions that do not accommodate technological development.'You can read more about this issue in a short eight page legal primer by Jonathan Band (PDF). An interesting, related note that the U.S.-KOREA FTA is possibly inconsistent with our domestic patent/drug law in the Hatch-Waxman Act as well. The trade agreement requires us to grant injunctions until the patent is invalidated as opposed to thirty months under current domestic law."
xclr8r writes "James Holmes representation did not enter a plea today in with regards to the Aurora, Co. Movie theater shooting so the Judge entered a plea of not guilty for James that could be changed at a later date by Holmes' attorney. The judge entered an advisory that if the plea was changed to Not Guilty by insanity that Holmes would be subject to a 'narcoanalytic interview' with the possibility of medically appropriate substances could be used e.g. so called truth serums. Holmes defense looks to have initially objected to this but as the previous article seems to infer that some compromises are being worked out. This certainly raises legal questions on how this is being played out 5th, 14th amendments. The legal expert in the second article states this is legal under Co. law but admits there's not a huge amount of cases regarding this. I was only able to find Harper v State where a defendant willingly underwent truth serum and wanted to submit the interview on his behalf but was rejected due to the judge not recognizing sufficient scientific basis to admit the evidence."
An anonymous reader writes "The European Parliament passed a proposal Tuesday which included a blanket ban on pornography, including Internet porn, in European Union member states. However, Members of European Parliament (MEPs) removed explanatory wording from the porn ban section, essentially limiting the ban to advertising and print media. The proposal, titled 'Eliminating gender stereotypes in the EU,' was put to a vote in Strasbourg. MEPs passed it 368-159."
jfruh writes "Skype made a name for itself by largely bypassing the infrastucture — and the costs, and the regulations — of the legacy telecommunications industry. But now the French telecom regulator wants to change that, at least in France. At issue is not the service's VoIP offering, but rather the Skype Out service that allows users to dial phones on traditional networks. Regulators say that this service necessitates that Skype face the same regulations as other telecoms."
adeelarshad82 writes "The SimCity launch debacle is only the latest in an increasingly frustrating string of affronts to gamers' rights as customers. Before SimCity, we had Ubisoft's always-on DRM (that the company only ended quietly after massive outcry from gamers). We had the forced online and similarly unplayable launch of Diablo III. We had games like Asura's Wrath and Final Fantasy: All the Bravest that required you to pay more money just to complete them after you purchase them. And let us never forget the utter infamy of StarForce, SecuROM, and Sony's copy protection, which installed rootkits on computers without users' knowledge. As one recently published article argues, maybe it's time for gamers to demand adoption of a Bill of Rights."
New submitter trickymyth writes "For the first time, the United States has mentioned the People's Republic of China in relation to cyber crime, officially acknowledging what has been long suspected by private security experts and the U.S. business community. The Obama Administration seeks to get the Chinese government to acknowledge the problem, to cease any state-sponsored hacker activity, and to start a dialogue on normative behavior on the internet. This announcement follows the recent 60-page report from the American cybersecurity firm Mandiant, who spent two years compiling evidence against the so-called 'Comment Crew.' They traced IP addresses, common behavior, and tools to track the group's activity, which led to a Shanghai neighborhood home to the People's Liberation Army (PLA's) Unit 61398. This tracking came at the behest of the Times, who has experienced some trouble with hacking in the past. The Chinese government rejected the report as 'unprofessional' and 'lacking technical evidence.' This announcement also comes amid a delicate leadership transition in China and numerous new reports on the vulnerability of U.S. business and government networks to attack."
www.muckrock.com/about/. And that is exactly what MuckRock is all about: Making FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests for you (and investigative reporters) so you don't have to deal with the often-daunting paperwork and runarounds you may run into when you try to pry information out of a recalcitrant government agency. In theory, most government information is public. In practice, many local, state and federal government bodies would just as soon never tell you anything. This is why Tim Lord talked with MuckRock co-founder Michael Morisy, and why we're running this interview in the middle of Sunshine Week, which exists "...to educate the public about the importance of open government and the dangers of excessive and unnecessary secrecy."
New submitter jader3rd writes "Intrade, a popular Irish website that lets people bet on anything, has shut down. In addition to being used by gamblers, Intrade has been used by academics and pundits to track public sentiment. '"... broad crowds have a lot of information and that markets are an effective way of aggregating that information," says Justin Wolfers, "and they often turn out to be much better than experts."' Being forced to lose their U.S. customers couldn't have helped.
An anonymous reader writes "Canipre, a Montreal-based intellectual property rights enforcement firm, has admitted that it is behind the Voltage file sharing lawsuits involving TekSavvy in what is described as a 'speculative invoicing' scheme. Often referred to as copyright trolling, speculative invoicing involves sending hundreds or thousands of demand letters alleging copyright infringement and seeking thousands of dollars in compensation. Those cases rarely — if ever — go to court as the intent is simply to scare enough people into settling in order to generate a profit. The Canipre admission is important because it is consistent with arguments that the case involves copyright trolling and that the Canadian Federal Court should not support the scheme by ordering the disclosure of subscriber contact information."
Sparrowvsrevolution writes that at this year's SXSW, Defense Distributed founder Code Wilson has announced a for-profit spinoff of his gun-printing project, from which people will be able to search for and download gun-related CAD files. "Though the search engine will index all types of files, Wilson says he hopes the group's reputation for hosting politically incendiary content will mean users trust that it won't censor search results. 'When we say you should have access to these files, people believe we mean that,' says Wilson. 'No takedowns. No removals. We'd fight everything to the full extent of the law.' Along with the SXSW announcement, Wilson also released a provocative video where he lays out the plan for Defcad.com and criticizes gun control advocates and 'collusive' 3D printing companies like Makerbot."
New submitter minstrelmike points outs a two-page editorial in the NYTimes "about what would have been different legally, morally, and security-wise," had the military information released through WikiLeaks been published by the Times instead. "'If Manning had delivered his material to The Times, WikiLeaks would not have been able to post the unedited cables, as it ultimately did, heedless of the risk to human rights advocates, dissidents and informants named therein. In fact, you might not have heard of WikiLeaks. The group has had other middling scoops, but Manning put it on the map.' The writers also discusses what the Times would and would not have done, admitting they probably wouldn't have shared with other news outlets, but also admitting they would definitely have not shared everything."
eldavojohn writes "Reporters without Borders has released a report on governments and the companies they employ to spy on their own citizens online. Syria and China were singled out as the worst with Iran, Bahrain and Vietnam not far behind. In addition, RSF named names when it came to the corporate entities (a market worth 5 billion dollars) that provided specific services to these oppressive governments: Gamma, Trovicor, Hacking Team, Amesys and Blue Coat. The report is aptly titled 'Enemies of the Internet' and, though lengthy, provides a detailed examination in the destruction of online rights as well as very specific attacks each government employs. RSF also noted the many attempted solutions to these problems and a link to their online survival kit."
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "The Electronic Frontier Foundation has entered the fray to defend the bloggers sued by Prenda Law Firm. Prenda, oblivious to such well known legal niceties as the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the affirmative defense of truth, the difference between a defamatory statement of fact and the expression of a negative opinion, and the First Amendment, has immediately — and illegally — sought to subpoena information leading to the identities of the bloggers. I would not be surprised to see these "lawyers" get into even more hot water than they're already in. And I take my hat off to the EFF for stepping in here."
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Not that there's anything wrong with that — as the Guardian reports that Facebook users are unwittingly revealing their sexual orientation, drug use and political beliefs– using only public 'like' updates. A study of 58,000 Facebook users in the US found that sensitive personal characteristics about people can be accurately inferred from information in the public domain. Researchers were able to accurately infer a Facebook user's race, IQ, sexuality, substance use, personality or political views (PDF) using only a record of the subjects and items they had 'liked' on Facebook – even if users had chosen not to reveal that information. 'It is good that people's behavior is predictable because it means Facebook can suggest very good stories on your news feed,' says Michal Kosinski, 'But what is shocking is that you can use the same data to predict your political views or your sexual orientation. This is something most people don't realize you can do.' For example, researchers were able to predict whether men were homosexual with 88% accuracy by their likes of Facebook pages such as 'Human Rights Campaign' and 'Wicked the Musical' – even if those users had not explicitly shared their sexuality on the site. According to the study other personality traits linked to predictive likes include for High IQ — 'The Godfather,' 'Lord of the Rings,' 'The Daily Show'; for Low IQ — 'Harley Davidson,' 'I Love Being A Mom,' 'Tyler Perry'; and for male heterosexuality — 'Wu Tang Clan,' 'Shaq,' and 'Being Confused after Waking Up from Naps.' Facebook's default privacy settings mean that your 'likes' are public to anyone and Facebook's own algorithms already use these likes to dictate what stories end up in users' news feeds, while advertisers can access them to determine which are the most effective ads to show you as you browse."
kenekaplan writes "Sensor technology and data analytics are becoming foundations of urban planning. Herman D'Hooge, Intel engineer and University of Oregon Instructor, says that so-called smart cities aren't merely defined by optimized energy or transportation systems. 'The analytics behind them have become more sophisticated so you can make sense out of sensor data,' he said. 'If we start mixing data from the transportation system with data from the building system and the schools system and start meshing that data together, we may start seeing efficiencies and opportunity that weren’t visible within each of those silos'"
quantr writes in with a story about backlash to Amazon's request for ownership of new top-level domain names. "Large and small companies are vying for control of an array of new Internet domain names, but Amazon.com Inc.'s plans are coming under particular scrutiny. Two publishing industry groups, the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers, are objecting to the online retailer's request for ownership of new top-level domain names that are part of a long-awaited expansion of the Web's addressing scheme. They argue that giving Amazon control over such addresses—which include '.book,' '.author' and '.read'—would be a threat to competition and shouldn't be allowed. 'Placing such generic domains in private hands is plainly anti-competitive,' wrote Scott Turow, Authors Guild president, to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, the nonprofit that oversees the world's Internet domain names. 'The potential for abuse seems limitless.'"
theodp writes "GeekWire wonders if the 'Bezos Beep' could replace the smartphone bump for mobile content sharing. A newly-published patent application listing Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos as sole inventor describes the use of audio signals to share content and communicate between devices, eliminating the need for NFC chips and facilitating the simultaneous sharing of content with multiple people via a remote server. From the patent application: 'For example, a first device can emit an encoded audio signal that can be received by any capable device within audio range of the device. Any device receiving the signal can decode the information included in the signal and obtain a location to access the content from that information.'"
Hugh Pickens writes "The Columbus Dispatch reports that southwestern Ohio Judge Robert Ruehlman has ordered a halt to a speeding-ticket blitz in a village that installed traffic cameras saying it's 'a scam' against motorists and blasting the cameras and the thousands of $105 citations that resulted. 'Elmwood Place is engaged in nothing more than a high-tech game of 3-Card Monty,' Ruehlman wrote. 'It is a scam that motorists can't win.' The village began using the cameras in September, resulting in 6,600 speeding citations in the first month, triple the population of the village of 2,188. Optotraffic installed the Elmwood Place cameras and administered their use, in return for 40 percent of ticket revenue — which quickly topped $1 million. But business owners and motorists struck back, charging in a lawsuit that the cameras hurt the village's image and said they were put into use without following Ohio law for public notice on new ordinances. 'This is the first time that a judge has said, "Enough is enough,"' said plaintiffs' attorney, Mike Allen, who called the ruling a victory for the common people. 'I think this nationally is a turning point.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "Former vice president Al Gore sat down with Wall Street Journal columnist Walt Mossberg at this year's SXSW conference to talk about the future — specifically, what Gore sees as the dangers and opportunities awaiting the planet for the next few years. Gore drilled down into what he referred to as the "stalker economy." The rise of apps such as SnapChat, which allows smartphone users to control how long friends can view messages, is emblematic of people reaching the "gag point" with pervasive recording and surveillance by government and business. "Our democracy has been hacked," Gore also told his audience, referring to the U.S. Constitution as "our operating system." While there's never been a "golden age" of American Democracy, he added, the perils emerging today are new. "If a Congressman or Senator has to spend five hours a day begging special interests or rich people for money," he said, they'll be more concerned about how what they're saying will appeal to those interests—rather than their constituents. In yet another tangent, Gore railed against genetic engineering, including Spider Goats, which are goats with spliced spider DNA that allows them to secrete spider silk along with their milk. The goats breed, extending that trait to future generations. Gore sees such things as a case of science run amok, alternately creepy and scary."
First time accepted submitter voul writes "Iran is at it again. Taking a page from China's playbook, Iran has moved to cut off illegal VPNs. 'Quite aware of the censorship they face, many Iranians use proxy servers over virtual private networks to circumvent government restrictions and mask their activities,' CNET reports. 'However, officials now say they have blocked use of the "illegal" tool.' Slashgear reports that users are 'unable to access social networks like Facebook and Twitter, or use services like Skype to make phone calls. Along with the blocking of the VPNs, the Iranian government have also blocked access to Google and Yahoo.'"
An anonymous reader writes "A popular Seattle bar and restaurant has posted a notice on its Facebook page warning patrons that wearing Google Glass will not be tolerated. 'Ass kicking will be encouraged for violators,' wrote Dave Meinert, owner of the 5 Point Cafe, perhaps in a mock aggressive tone. GeekWire reports that Meinert raised privacy concerns in an interview with a local radio station: 'People want to go there and be not known and definitely don't want to be secretly filmed or videotaped and immediately put on the Internet.' A subsequent FB post includes more Meinert musings on Google Glass: 'They are really just the new fashion accessory for the fanny pack & never removed Bluetooth headset wearing set,' along with unflattering photos of a pair of early adopters."
theodp writes "Taking a page from HP's playbook, Harvard University administrators secretly searched the emails of 16 deans last fall, looking for a leak to reporters about a case of cheating. The deans were not warned about the email access and only one was told of the search afterward. Dean and CS prof Michael Smith said in an email Sunday that Harvard will not comment on personnel matters or provide additional information about the board cases that were concluded during the fall term. Smith's office and the Harvard general counsel's office authorized the search, according to a Boston Globe report. Smith's Harvard bio notes that his entrepreneurial experience included co-founding and selling Liquid Machines, where Smith coincidentally invented a software technique designed to keep unauthorized people from reading electronic documents."
eldavojohn writes "More problems have surfaced as people attempt to bring soil pollution problems to light in China. From the article: 'When Pan sued the Hebei Department of Environmental Protection in 2011, he was given access to the environmental impact assessment that the environment ministry claimed it had done in the village. Pan discovered that the assessment, carried out by the Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, had names of people who had left the village two decades previously and even a person who had been dead for two years — all "expressing favor" for the project. Pan surveyed 100 people in his village, showing them the purported environmental impact study. The majority of them gave him written statements that declared: "I've never seen this form," according to documents seen by Reuters.' Reuters has also discovered that China uses 'state secrets' labels to hide environmental studies and pollution numbers as well as using strong arm tactics to silence residents attempting to do their own studies."
Deekin_Scalesinger writes "More than eighteen months after being first brought to Cupertino's attention, Apple gets around to addressing insecure logins to the App Store. In theory, this could be used to view lists of installed apps and make unauthorized purchases." Yep, they were sending login information over plain http.
theodp writes "When it comes to tales of fake girlfriends, Manti Te'o can't hold a candle to theoretical particle physicist Paul Frampton. In November 2011, writes the NY Times' Maxine Swann in 'The Professor, the Bikini Model and the Suitcase Full of Trouble,' Frampton met who he says he thought was Czech bikini model Denise Milani on Mate1.com. A Yahoo Messenger romance bloomed, at least in the 68-year-old Frampton's mind (Frampton's ex-wife was a self-described 'physics groupie'). But before starting their perfect life together, fake Denise asked Frampton for one little favor — would he be so kind as to bring her a bag that she had left in La Paz, Bolivia? Yep, bad idea. The UNC Louis D. Rubin, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Physics and Astronomy soon found himself in a Buenos Aries prison, charged with transporting two kilos of cocaine into Argentina. Currently serving a four years and eight months sentence under house arrest, Frampton reportedly continues to supervise his two current PhD students by phone, and still finds time to post to the Physics archive."
An anonymous reader points out a story at The Register about a Microsoft-backed bill proposed by Massachusetts state representative Carlo Basil which seems aimed directly at Google's cloud apps. The bill, if it should be enacted, would require that "[a]ny person who provides a cloud computing service to an educational institution operating within the State shall process data of a student enrolled in kindergarten through twelfth grade for the sole purpose of providing the cloud computing service to the educational institution and shall not process such data for any commercial purpose, including but not limited to advertising purposes that benefit the cloud computing service provider."
First time accepted submitter FearTheFez writes "Social Engineering and poor DNS Security lead to a Bitcoin heist worth about $12000. Bitcoin broker Bitinstant was robbed after thieves managed to take over ownership of their domains. While Bitinstant claims that no customers lost any money, without 2 factor authentication all it took was a place of birth and a mothers maiden name to gain access. This looks like poor security from everyone involved."
New submitter nifty-c writes "Singapore has invested heavily in higher education partnerships with the U.S. and launched an ambitious program of high-tech research with Western countries, but recent events have opened these links to controversy. Prof. Cherian George at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore, is a communication and information school professor and an outspoken critic of his government's censorship of the Internet. NTU recently fired him, sparking an outcry from critics who claim political interference. This week a group of faculty and affiliates at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society has 'strongly caution[ed]...colleagues working in the area of Internet and society in any dealings with Singaporean universities.'"
An anonymous reader sends this Techdirt report on a welcome ruling from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals: ""Here's a surprise ruling. For many years we've written about how troubling it is that Homeland Security agents are able to search the contents of electronic devices, such as computers and phones at the border, without any reason. The 4th Amendment only allows reasonable searches, usually with a warrant. But the general argument has long been that, when you're at the border, you're not in the country and the 4th Amendment doesn't apply. This rule has been stretched at times, including the ability to take your computer and devices into the country and search it there, while still considering it a "border search," for which the lower standards apply. Just about a month ago, we noted that Homeland Security saw no reason to change this policy. Well, now they might have to. In a somewhat surprising 9th Circuit ruling (en banc, or in front of the entire set of judges), the court ruled that the 4th Amendment does apply at the border, that agents do need to recognize there's an expectation of privacy, and cannot do a search without reason. Furthermore, they noted that merely encrypting a file with a password is not enough to trigger suspicion."