sl4shd0rk writes "Samsung-is-not-as-cool-as-Apple Judge Colin Birss, rules in favor of Volkswagon to ban Flavio Garcia, a computer scientist, from revealing details about 'Wirelessly Lockpicking a Vehicle Immobiliser' at USENIX in August. Volkswagen says the flaw could allow someone to 'break the security and steal a car' so it is justifiable grounds for blocking Flavio's paper. No word yet on how soon Volkswagen will have a patch."
AlistairCharlton writes "A petition campaigning for Twitter to improve its measures against online abuse has received more than 55,000 signatures in two days. The petition was set up in support of feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez, who faced a torrent of abusive tweets, including threats to rape and kill her, after successfully campaigning for a woman's picture to appear on a banknote; Jane Austen will appear on £10 notes from 2017."
Nerval's Lobster writes "More than half of Americans believe that the federal courts have failed to limit the U.S. government's collection of personal information via phone records and the Internet, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. But that's nothing compared to the 70 percent who believe that the government 'uses this data for purposes other than investigating terrorism,' according to the organization's summary of its survey. Another 63 percent of respondents indicated they thought the government is collecting information about the content of their communications. The Pew Research Center surveyed 1,480 adults over the course of five days in July. 'The public's views of the government's anti-terrorism efforts are complex, and many who believe the reach of the government's data collection program is expansive still approve of the effort overall,' the organization's summary added. 'In every case, however, those who view the government's data collection as far-reaching are less likely to approve of the program than those who do not.' Some 47 percent of those surveyed approved of the government's collection of phone and Internet data, while 50 percent disapproved. Among those who thought the government is reading their personal email or listening to their phone calls, some 40 percent approved of the data collection, even as 58 percent disapproved. There's much more, including how opinions of government surveillance break across political party lines on the Pew Research Center's Website."
First time accepted submitter marshallr writes "Technical Information Release TIR 13-10 becomes effective in Massachusetts on July 31st, 2013. It requires software consultants to collect a 6.25% sales tax from their clients if they perform 'computer system design services and the modification, integration, enhancement, installation or configuration of standardized software.' TIR 13-10 was published to mass.gov on July 25th, 2013 to provide the public a few working days to review the release and make comments."
According to a report at Ars Technica, a dentist named Stacy Makhnevich, who billed herself as "the Classical Singer Dentist of New York," threatened patients who wrote bad Yelp reviews with lawsuits, along the same lines as the online dental damage-control outlined in a different Ars story in 2011. This time, though, there's something even stranger than bargaining with patients to forgo criticism: when a patient defied that demand by describing his experience in negative terms on Yelp, Makhnevich followed up on the threat by seeking a takedown order based on copyright (putatively signed over to her for any criticism that patients might write, post-visit) — then disappeared entirely when lawyers for patient Robert Lee filed a class-action lawsuit challenging the validity of the agreement.
MojoKid writes "On Friday, we learned that the mobile industry has developed a short-form notice for mobile apps that tells users if the app is collecting their data and in what areas (i.e., phone call and text logs, location data, and so on) that would appear before app download begins. The program is currently voluntary and being tested, and although on the surface it seems like a step forward for consumer protection, some industry consumer rights groups are opposed to it. Jeffrey Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) told us that, with respect to all the work that the industry put into the plan, he doesn't believe the new code of conduct will actually do much for consumers. "The process ignored the actual mobile app business practices, and refused to engage in the testing that's required," he said. "Words on a small screen--even if better than long and hard to find privacy policies--doesn't mean anything unless we know it tells users: one, what data is actually collected and how it is to be used, and two, whether they will see it in the first place.""
First time accepted submitter MetalliQaZ writes "Last week, Dr. Joseph Bonneau learned that he had won the NSA's first annual "Science of Security (SoS) Competition." The competition, which aims to honor the best 'scientific papers about national security' as a way to strengthen NSA collaboration with researchers in academia, honored Bonneau for his paper on the nature of passwords. And how did Bonneau respond to being honored by the NSA? By expressing, in an honest and bittersweet blog post, his revulsion at what the NSA has become: 'Simply put, I don't think a free society is compatible with an organisation like the NSA in its current form.'"
An anonymous reader writes "The High Court — England's highest civil court — has temporarily banned the publication of a scientific paper that would reveal the details of a zero day vulnerability in vehicle immobilisers and, crucially, give details of how to crack the system. Motor manufacturers argued that revealing the details of the crack would allow criminals to steal cars. Could this presage the courts getting involved in what gets posted on your local Bugzilla? It certainly means that software giants who dislike security researchers publishing the full facts on vulnerabilities might want to consider a full legal route."
Velcroman1 writes "Retailers are experimenting with a variety of new ways to track you, so that when you pick up a shirt, you might get a message about the matching shorts. Or pick up golf shoes at a sports store and you see a discount for a new set of clubs. New technologies like magnetic field detection, Bluetooth Low Energy, sonic pulses, and even transmissions from the in-store lights can tell when you enter a store, where you go, and how you shop. Just last year, tracking was only accurate within 100 feet. Starting this year, they can track within a few feet. ByteLight makes the lighting tech, which transmits a unique signal that the camera in your phone can read. The store can then track your location within about 3 feet — and it's already in use at the Museum of Science in Boston."
First time accepted submitter pocock writes "Motivated by reports of Matthew Weaver's twelve month jail sentence for rigging CalState student elections, a comprehensive blog describes in detail how a generation of student ballot riggers from the late 1990s have graduated unhindered into federal politics, playing a pivotal role in Australia's upcoming federal election. One can only wonder if Weaver had not been caught, would he too have eventually swiped a million dollars and put the SRC into liquidation?"
Jeremiah Cornelius writes "After signing a $30 million iPad deal with Apple in June, the Los Angeles School Board of Education has revealed the full extent of the program that will provide tablets to all students in the district. CiteWorld reports that the first phase of the program will see pupils receive 31,000 iPads this school year, rising to 640,000 Apple tablets by the end of 2014. Apple previously announced that the initiative would include 47 campuses and commence in the fall." Certain companies (not just Apple) stand to benefit from this kind of outlay.
An anonymous reader writes "The United States Postal Service is seeking to implement a special postage rate for companies such as Netflix, GameFly and Blockbuster (PDF), which send DVDs to their customers and then receive them back. This proposal for special rates for two-way mailers of optical disks follows a protracted legal complaint from GameFly, which argued that Netflix was receiving special handling by the Postal Service while paying a cheaper postage rate."
rysiek writes "When a politician starts talking about defending the innocence of children, there's bound to be a great policy initiative ahead. That's how British PM David Cameron introduced the British porn block. That's also how the Polish Minister of Justice started his remarks yesterday morning on how good an idea it is and that it should be introduced in Poland. This started the shortest Internet censorship debate ever, as in the evening of the same day the Polish Prime Minister and the Minister of Administration and Digitization denounced any such ideas: 'We shall not block access to legal content regardless of whether or not it appeases us aesthetically or ethically.' There had been several full-blown Internet censorship debates in Poland during the last four years. Apparently the arguments against it were not lost on at least some of Polish politicians."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "The WSJ reports that Attorney General Eric Holder promises Edward Snowden won't be tortured or face the death penalty in a new letter hoping to persuade Russia not to grant him asylum or refugee status. Holder's letter, dated Tuesday, notes that press reports from Russia indicated Snowden sought asylum in part based on claims he could be tortured or killed by the US government. It is common for the US to promise not to seek the death penalty against individuals being sought in other countries, because even America's closest allies won't turn over suspects if they believe that person might be executed. The United Nations special rapporteur on torture found Bradley Manning's detention was 'cruel and inhuman'." Update: 07/27 13:15 GMT by T : Several readers have noted that change.gov, established by the Obama transition team in 2008, has recently (last month) gone offline; among other things, it contained language specifically addressing the protection of whistleblowers.
The UK's on-by-default censorship, as you might expect, presses with a heavy thumb: coolnumbr12 writes "The Open Rights Group spoke with several ISPs and found that in addition to pornography, users will also be required to opt in for any content tagged as violent material, extremist and terrorist related content, anorexia and eating disorder websites, suicide related websites, alcohol, smoking, web forums, esoteric material and web blocking circumvention tools. These will all be filtered by default, and the majority of users never change default settings with online services."
alphadogg writes "Oracle is continuing to crack down on companies it claims are providing support services for its products in an illegal fashion. Last week, Oracle sued IT services providers Terix and Maintech, alleging they have 'engaged in a deliberate scheme to misappropriate and distribute copyrighted, proprietary Oracle software code' in the course of providing support for customers using Oracle's Solaris OS. Oracle's allegations are similar to ones it has made in lawsuits against other Solaris service providers, such as ServiceKey, as well as Rimini Street, which provides third-party support for Oracle and SAP applications."
First time accepted submitter MrClappy writes "I manage the network for a defense contractor that needs a cloud-based storage service and am having a lot of trouble finding an appropriate solution that meets our requirements. We are currently using DropBox and I am terrified of seeing another data leak like last year. Some of our data is classified under International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) which requires that all data to remain inside the US, including any cloud storage or redundant backups. We tried using Box as a more secure replacement but ended up canceling the service due to lack of functionality; 40,000 file sync limit, Linux-based domain controller compatibility issues and the fact that the sync application does not work while our computers are locked (which is an explicit policy for my users). I've been calling different companies and just can't seem to find a decent solution. Unless I'm severely missing something, I'm just blown away that no one offers this functionality with today's tech capabilities. Am I wrong?"
sl4shd0rk writes "Federal Judge William Pauley has dismissed an Obama Administration request to delay a hearing on Verizon/NSA data sifting. The ACLU has argued that the sifting is not authorized by statute and even if it were it would still be unconstitutional. The Obama Administration requested the delay on the grounds it needed more time to search through its classified material to determine what was suitable for disclosure." See also the case docket. Motions must be filed by August 26th, and oral arguments begin on November 1st.
sciencehabit writes "For Ved Chirayath, a graduate student and amateur fashion photographer, a photo project that involved NASA researchers dressed as Vikings was just a creative way to promote space science. 'I started this project hoping maybe one day some kid will look at it and say, 'I want to work for NASA,' ' says Chirayath, a student at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, who also works nearby at NASA's Ames Research Center. He never suspected that his fanciful image would put him in the crosshairs of a government waste investigation triggered by a senior U.S. senator." The project was funded by an outside art grant. The best part: the investigation into the non-existent waste probably cost more than the "waste" would have were it funded by NASA in the first place.
An anonymous reader writes "Following the /. story on the Feds demanding SSL keys, now comes news that the feds are demanding user passwords, and in some cases, the encryption algorithm and salt used. From the article: 'A second person who has worked at a large Silicon Valley company confirmed that it received legal requests from the federal government for stored passwords. Companies "really heavily scrutinize" these requests, the person said. "There's a lot of 'over my dead body.'" ... Some of the government orders demand not only a user's password but also the encryption algorithm and the so-called salt, according to a person familiar with the requests. ... Other orders demand the secret question codes often associated with user accounts.' I'm next expecting to see the regulation or law demanding that all users use plain text for all web transactions, to catch terrorists and for the children."
Barence writes "Mozilla is proposing that the Firefox browser collects data on users' interests to pass on to websites. The proposal is designed to allow websites to personalize content to visitors' tastes, without sites having to suck up a user's browsing history, as they do currently. 'Let's say Firefox recognizes within the browser client, without any browsing history leaving my computer, that I'm interested in gadgets, comedy films, hockey and cooking,' says Justin Scott, a product manager from Mozilla Labs. 'Those websites could then prioritize articles on the latest gadgets and make hockey scores more visible. And, as a user, I would have complete control over which of my interests are shared, and with which websites.'" This is the result of an extended experiment. The idea is that your history is used to generate a set of interests which you can then share voluntarily with websites, hopefully discouraging the blanket tracking advertising systems love to do now.
AmiMoJo writes "The BBC reports that Huawei, one of the world's largest manufacturers of telecoms equipment, is controlling popular ISP TalkTalk's web censorship system. The system, known as Homesafe, was praised by Prime Minister David Cameron. Customers who do not want filtering still have their traffic routed through the system, but matches to Huawei's database are dismissed rather than acted upon. In other words there is no opt-out. Mr Cameron has demanded similar measures be adopted by all internet service providers (ISPs) in the UK, to 'protect our children and their innocence.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Oilfield services giant Halliburton will plead guilty to destroying computer test results that had been sought as evidence in the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the Justice Department announced Thursday. Company officials threw out test results that showed 'little difference' between the number of devices Halliburton said was needed to center the cement casing in the well at the heart of the disaster and the number well owner BP installed, according to court papers. The issue has been key point of contention between the two companies in hearings and litigation ever since the April 2010 blowout. BP and Halliburton are still battling over responsibility for the disaster in a New Orleans federal courtroom. BP had no comment on the plea agreement Thursday evening."
wiredmikey writes "US authorities have charged four Russians and a Ukrainian five on charges of running a global hacking operation that targeted major payment processors, retailers and financial institutions. The charges stem from hacking attacks dating back to 2005 against several global brands, including the NASDAQ exchange, 7-Eleven, JC Penney, Hannaford, Heartland, JetBlue, Dow Jones, Euronet, Visa Jordan, Global Payment, Diners Singapore and Ingenicard. The men allegedly used SQL injection attacks as the initial entry point into the computer systems of global corporations. Once networks were breached, the defendants allegedly placed malware on the systems. According to the indictment (PDF), the malware used created a "back door," leaving the system vulnerable and helping the defendants maintain access to the network. The men face five years in prison for conspiracy to gain unauthorized access to computers; 30 years in prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud; five years in prison for unauthorized access to computers; and 30 years in prison for wire fraud."
An anonymous reader points out this story about the latest effort by the U.S. to get Edward Snowden back in the country. "A U.S. Senate panel voted unanimously on Thursday to seek trade or other sanctions against Russia or any other country that offers asylum to former spy agency contractor Edward Snowden, who has been holed up for weeks at a Moscow airport. The 30-member Senate Appropriations Committee adopted by consensus an amendment to a spending bill that would direct Secretary of State John Kerry to meet with congressional committees to come up with sanctions against any country that takes Snowden in."
v3rgEz writes "After the ACLU's Christopher Soghoian highlighted NSA programs listed on LinkedIn, Jason Gulledge filed a request for details about the program — and turned up lucky. The NSA released 7 pages of database descriptions of its ANCHORY program, an open-source intelligence data gathering effort. The NSA's FOIA office said it would pony up more, but only if Gulledge could prove he was requesting the documents as part of a news gathering effort or if he would agree to pay associated fees."
steveb3210 writes "EQ2Wire.com is a fan site for the MMO Everquest 2. One feature of their site is a searchable portal for all game-related stats such as characters, equipment, items, and mobs which they generate from an XML feed provided by the game's publisher. Recently, the owner of a trademark has been threatening them over the name of a character and in the face of possible legal bills, they were forced to remove the character's profile from their site. Adding further insult to injury, the character seems to have been created prior to the trademark in question."
miller60 writes "The U.S. government keeps finding more data centers. Federal agencies have about 7,000 data centers, according to the latest stats from the ongoing IT consolidation process. The number started at 432 in 1999, but soon began to rise as agencies found more facilities, and exploded once the Obama administration decided to include server closets as well as dedicated data centers. The latest estimate is more than double the 3,300 facilities the government thought it had last year. The process has led to the closure of 484 data centers thus far, with another 855 planned over the next year. The GAO continues to call for the process to look beyond the number of facilities and focus on savings."
alphadogg writes "Malware writers are increasingly considering the Tor anonymity network as an option for hiding the real location of their command-and-control servers, according to researchers from security firm ESET. The researchers recently came across two botnet-type malware programs that use C&C servers operating as Tor 'hidden services.' The Tor Hidden Service protocol allows users to set up services — usually Web servers — that can only be accessed from within the Tor network through a random-looking hostname that ends in the .onion pseudo domain extension. The traffic between a Tor client and a Tor hidden service is encrypted and is randomly routed through a series of computers participating in the network and acting as relays."
Reader turp182 notes that the Amash Amendment (#100) to HR 2397 (DOD appropriations bill) failed to pass the House of Representatives, meaning it will not be added to the appropriations bill. turp182 writes "The amendment would have specifically defunded the bulk collection of American phone records." Americans can see how their representatives voted here.
First time accepted submitter fsagx writes "The U.S. government has attempted to obtain the master encryption keys that Internet companies use to shield millions of users' private Web communications from eavesdropping. These demands for master encryption keys, which have not been disclosed previously, represent a technological escalation in the clandestine methods that the FBI and the National Security Agency employ when conducting electronic surveillance against Internet users."
An anonymous reader writes "One of the arguments for continuing and even expanding the H1-B visa program (pdf) is that it enables highly-skilled immigrants to work in the U.S. and grow the U.S. economy. Counterarguments state that the H1-B visa program does not bring in the 'best and brightest' and is used to drive down wages, particularly in the STEM fields. This Bloomberg article, discussing pending H1-B legislation, quotes some of the salaries of current workers in the U.S. on H1-B visas: $4,800/month and $5,500/month which work out to $57,600/year and $66,000/year; only slightly higher than the average entry-level salaries of newly-graduated engineering or computer science majors."
cold fjord writes "Break out the tin foil hats, and make them double thick. Forbes reports, 'The NSA will soon cut the ribbon on a facility in Utah ... the center will be up and running by the "end of the fiscal year," ....Brewster Kahle is the engineering genius behind the Internet Archive,... Kahle estimates that a space of that size could hold 10,000 racks of servers .... "So we are talking $1 billion in machines." Kahle estimates each rack would be capable of storing 1.2 petabytes of data. ... all the phone calls made in the U.S. in a year would take up about 272 petabytes, ... If Kahle's estimations and assumptions are correct, the facility could hold up to 12,000 petabytes, or 12 exabytes – ... but is not of the scale previously reported. Previous estimates would allow the data center to easily hold hypothetical 24-hour video and audio recordings of every person in the United States for a full year. The data center's capacity as calculated by Kahle would only allow the NSA to create archives for the 13 million people living in the Los Angeles metro area. Even that reduced number struck Internet infrastructure expert Paul Vixie as high given the space allocated for data in the facility. ... he came up with an estimate of less than 3 exabytes of data capacity for the facility. That would only allow for 24-hour recordings of what every one of Philadelphia's 1.5 million residents was up to for a year. Still, he says that's a lot of data pointing to a 2009 article about Google planning multiple data centers for a single exabyte of info. '" Update: 07/25 16:33 GMT by T : For even more, see this story.
An anonymous reader writes "The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court's ruling in favor of Dish Network, allowing the company to continue forward with it ad-skipping "Hopper" technology. From the article: 'Last year, Fox Broadcasting Company, with the support of other broadcast networks, sued Dish for its "Hopper" DVR and its "Auto Hop" feature, which automatically skips over commercials. According to the Fox, the Hopper automatically records eight days' worth of prime time programming on the four major networks that subscribers can play back on request. Beginning a few hours after the broadcast, viewers can choose to watch a program without ads. As we observed when the it started, this litigation was yet another in a long and ignominious series of efforts by content owners to use copyright law to control the features of personal electronic devices, and to capture for themselves the value of new technologies no matter who invents them.'"
twoheadedboy writes "Claire Perry MP, who has been the main driver of the UK government's plans for default blocking of pornography, has had her website plastered in porn by hackers. But the story only just begins there. Notable blogger Guido Fawkes, otherwise known as Paul Staines, posted on the matter, only to later be accused of sponsoring the hacking himself. During some back and forth over Twitter, it appeared Perry was 'confused,' as she said Fawkes had posted a link to the defaced page, when he had only shown a screenshot of the site. Given the backlash against the government's plans to censor porn and its technical fallacies, the event could be particularly embarrassing for Perry. She is not commenting on the matter, whilst Staines has threatened to sue unless Perry offers a retraction of her claim he had anything to do with the hack." The tweet: 'Apologies to anyone affected by the hacking of my website sponsored by @GuidoFawkes – proves so clearly what we are dealing with.' Someone needs a lesson about hypertext.
New submitter duSoliel wrote in with news that another musician is complaining about a lack of royalties from streaming music services. This time, however, the musician is going after MediaNet (once known as MusicNet) which acts as an intermediary source for licensing songs to streaming music services that did not manage to gain compulsory licensing from the Copyright Royalty Board. MediaNet has a storied history riddled with lawsuits from the Harry Fox agency among others; a suit brought last year alleged that around a quarter of MediaNet's catalog was improperly licensed, but was settled privately out of court. Now, Aimee Mann is suing them for failure to properly license 120 of her songs, seeking $18 million in damages. From the article: "... she entered into a license agreement in 2003 with MediaNet (then known as MusicNet). The term of the license agreement was scheduled to end in 2006 but had automatic two-year extensions unless terminated by either party. Mann's representative is said to have sent a termination notice in 2005, but nevertheless, 'MediaNet continued after the Termination Date to transmit, perform, reproduce and distribute the Compositions as part of MediaNet's service, despite having no right or license to do so.' ... Besides suing for direct infringement, Mann is also claiming that MediaNet induced its business partners to commit copyright infringement. Mann also says she has not been paid any royalties by the company since Sept. 30, 2005 with the exception of a $20 advance this past March that was returned." The perils of not having sane compulsory licensing for Internet radio?
New submitter craighansen writes "The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has filed a lawsuit against a man they allege ran a Ponzi scheme using Bitcoin. According to the complaint (PDF), during 2011-2012, Trendon Shavers, operating under the username pirateat40, collected investments of over 700,000 Bitcoins from at least 66 'investors' (a valuation of $4.5M) with the promise of as much as 7% weekly returns. These 'investors' received about 500,000 Bitcoins in returns, so on average, they're probably much better-off than investors in Madoff's scheme. Nevertheless, with the rising value of Bitcoins, the $4.5M investments would be worth $65M at recent pricing if they had actually been left in Bitcoins, which approximates the 1% per day returns that the scheme promised."
twoheadedboy writes "A Chinese hacker group is the chief suspect of spear phishing attacks against the Falun Dafa spiritual group and military organizations in the Philippines. Data handed to TechWeek by AlienVault Labs showed how zero-day malware, designed to pilfer Outlook email account logins, was just one strand of the attacks, which are ongoing. Other malware sought to steal passwords for other accounts, dodging many commercial AV products, whilst remote access tools indicate this is a serious surveillance operation. Chinese authorities have neither confirmed nor denied the claims. But it marks another case of Internet-led surveillance with China's name attached to it, following numerous reports of mass Chinese hacking, which has already allegedly hit massive firms like Facebook and Google."
An anonymous reader writes "The hacking group known as the Syrian Electronic Army have hacked into Viber, defacing its support website, and posting what they claim is evidence of surveillance by the free phone-messaging app. The Syrian Electronic Army posted a message claiming the 'Israeli-based Viber is spying and tracking you' alongside what appeared to be a screenshot of an internal Viber database containing users' phone numbers, device UDIDs, IP address, operating system, and Viber version information." Viber is saying the attack was minor: "...the hack only allowed access to two minor systems, a customer support panel and a support administration system. According to the company's official response, 'no sensitive user data was exposed and Viber's databases were not "hacked."' Apparently, an employee simply fell victim to a phishing attack.
New submitter Ajay Anand writes with news that Eolas's web patents are really dead (the infamous browser plugin patent that forced Internet Explorer to change how it activated plugins). After Eolas sued a number of companies, last fall a jury found the patents invalid; Eolas naturally mounted an appeal. But a panel of judges simply affirmed the jury decision (PDF). A quiet ending to a decade of patent trolling.
New submitter Jah-Wren Ryel writes "It's been just over a month since the NSA's dragnet surveillance program was leaked to the public. Tomorrow, Congress is voting on an amendment that would block funding for NSA programs that collect the call records of innocent Americans. A win tomorrow may start a chain reaction — but it won't happen unless we speak up. We have one day to convince Congress to act." The EFF is urging U.S. citizens to call their representatives, noting that there is no time for email to be effective (find your representative). You can read the amendment on the EFF site, quoting the EFF: "Reps. Justin Amash, John Conyers, Jr., Thomas Massie, Mick Mulvaney, and Jared Polis are proposing an amendment that would curtail funding for the implementation of orders under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act unless the order is explicitly limited in scope. ... Even as the Amash/Conyers Amendment is gaining momentum, some are rallying around a decoy amendment that would do nothing to rein in domestic surveillance. That amendment, championed by Rep. Nugent, would not alter in any way the government's use of Section 215 to obtain bulk communications records on millions of Americans. EFF is urging Representatives to oppose the Nugent Amendment."
GigaOM notes that (excerpting) "Gary Becker, a Nobel-prize winning professor at the University of Chicago, stated this week that the U.S. patent system is ”too broad, too loose, and too expensive” and called for the end of software patents: 'Disputes over software patents are among the most common, expensive, and counterproductive. Their exclusion from the patent system would discourage some software innovations, but the saving from litigation costs over disputed patent rights would more than compensate the economy for that cost.'" Here are Becker's comments, from the always-fun Becker-Posner Blog.
Thornburg contributes news of a story spotted on Techmeme, writing: "[Joel Spolsky of] Joel On Software has a story about how he found and submitted prior art for a Microsoft patent listed on Ask Patents in 15 minutes. The patent was rejected based largely on the document he submitted." Spolsky gives a very readable introduction to the patent system, and software patents in particular; I especially like this part: "Software patent applications are of uniformly poor quality. They are remarkably easy to find prior art for. Ask Patents can be used to block them with very little work. And this kind of individual destruction of one software patent application at a time might start to make a dent in the mountain of bad patents getting granted. ... How cool would it be if Apple, Samsung, Oracle and Google got into a Mexican Standoff on Ask Patents? If each of those companies had three or four engineers dedicating a few hours every day to picking off their competitors’ applications, the number of granted patents to those companies would grind to a halt."
First time accepted submitter Koookiemonster writes "The Finnish citizens' initiative site (Finnish/Swedish only) has fulfilled the required amount of signatures for the third initiative since its founding. This means that the Parliament of Finland is required to take the Common Sense in Copyright initiative into processing. The initiative calls for removal of copyright infringement as a crime, reducing violations by private individuals to a misdemeanor." Torrent Freak notes "This makes Finland the first country in the world in which legislators will vote on a copyright law that was drafted by citizens."
Flere Imsaho writes "After admitting they have illegally spied on NZ citizens or residents 88 times (PDF) since 2003, the government, in a stunning example of arse covering, is about to grant the GCSB the right to intercept the communications of New Zealanders in its role as the national cyber security agency, rather than examine the role the GCSB should play and then look at the laws. There has been strong criticism from many avenues. The bill is being opposed by Labor and the Greens, but it looks like National now have the numbers to get this passed. Of course, the front page story is all about the royal baby, with this huge erosion of privacy relegated to a small article near the bottom of the front page. Three cheers, the monarchy is secure, never mind the rights of the people. More bread and circuses anyone?"
The Northside Independent School District (NISD) of Texas, has decided to drop their controversial student RFID card plans and settle on hundreds of cameras to monitor students. Apparently, the technology wasn't quite the attendance silver bullet administration thought it would be, as Slate's Will Oremus discovered. 'Northside Independent School District spokesman Pascual Gonzalez told me that the microchip-ID program turned out not to be worth the trouble. Its main goal was to increase attendance by allowing staff to locate students who were on campus but didn't show up for roll call. That was supposed to lead to increased revenue. But attendance at the two schools in question a middle school and a high school barely budged in the year that the policy was in place. And school staff found themselves wasting a lot of time trying to physically track down the missing students based on their RFID locators. "We're very confident we can still maintain a safe and secure school because of the 200 cameras that are installed at John Jay High School and the 100 that are installed at Jones Middle School. Plus we are upgrading those surveillance systems to high-definition and more sophisticated cameras. So there will be a surveillance-camera umbrella around both schools," Gonzalez said."'
judgecorp writes "David Cameron, the British Prime Minister has promised that the UK's ISPs will be required to provide connections with 'porn blocking' filters switched on by default.. The public promise comes despite opposition from ISPs, and the near-universal acknowledgment that the system wouldn't work. Last week also saw the leak of a letter from the Department for Education which effectively told ISPs to lie — to implement their preferred 'active choice' system, and simply call it 'default-on'."
Frosty Piss writes "When people say the feds are monitoring what people are doing online, what does that mean? How does that work? When, and where, does it start? Pete Ashdown, CEO of XMission, an internet service provider in Utah, knows. He received a Foreign Intelligence Service Act (FISA) warrant in 2010 mandating he let the feds monitor one of his customers, through his facility. He also received a broad gag order. Says Mr. Ashdown, 'I would love to tell you all the details, but I did get the gag order... These programs that violate the Bill of Rights can continue because people can't go out and say, This my experience, this is what happened to me, and I don't think it is right.' In this article, Mr. Ashdown tells us about the equipment the NSA installed on his network, and what he thinks it did."
An anonymous reader writes "I work for a technical magazine that has been available in print for over 40 years. Moving to providing an alternative subscription available online has been hard; the electronic version is quickly pirated and easily available around the world each month. We are a small company, and our survival depends not only on advertising but on the subscription fees. Do any slashdotters have experience of delivering electronic magazines via a subscription service in a way that is cost effective and secure?"
Daniel_Stuckey writes "General Counsel of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence Robert S. Litt explained that our expectation of privacy isn't legally recognized by the Supreme Court once we've offered it to a third party. Thus, sifting through third party data doesn't qualify 'on a constitutional level' as invasive to our personal privacy. This he brought to an interesting point about volunteered personal data, and social media habits. Our willingness to give our information to companies and social networking websites is baffling to the ODNI. 'Why is it that people are willing to expose large quantities of information to private parties but don't want the Government to have the same information?,' he asked."