OverTheGeicoE writes "The Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security held a hearing on TSA's recent decision to move X-ray body scanners from major airports to smaller ones, which the subcommittee refers to as a 'Scanner Shuffle.' John Sanders, TSA's assistant administrator for security capabilities, testified that 91 scanners recently removed from major airports were now in storage due to 'privacy concerns.' Although TSA originally planned to relocate the scanners to smaller airports, those plans have been shelved because smaller airports don't have room for them. The subcommitteee is also investigating allegations that the machines' manufacturer, Rapiscan, 'may have falsified tests of software intended to stop the machines from recording graphic images of travelers' (VIDEO). Coincidentally, shares of Rapiscan's parent company, OSI Systems Inc., dropped in value almost 25% today, its biggest intraday decline in about 12 years. If wrongdoing is proven, Rapiscan could face fines, prison terms and a ban on government contracting, according to a former head of federal procurement."
wbr1 writes "I just received an email from Amazon Payments, the Amazon competitor to PayPal, stating among other things, that they were changing and simplifying their policies. It should be no surprise then, that similar to what PayPal and many others have already done, they have added language removing the right to class action lawsuits. See specifically section 11.3 (edited for brevity): '1.3 Disputes. Any dispute or claim relating in any way to your visit to the Site or Seller Central or to products or services sold or distributed by us or through the Site or Seller Central (including without limitation the Service) will be resolved by binding arbitration, rather than in court, except that you may assert claims in small claims court if your claims qualify. The Federal Arbitration Act and federal arbitration law apply to this agreement... ... You and we each agree that any dispute resolution proceedings will be conducted only on an individual basis and not in a class, consolidated, or representative action. If for any reason a claim proceeds in court rather than in arbitration you and we each waive any right to a jury trial. You and we also both agree that you or we may bring suit in court to enjoin infringement or other misuse of intellectual property rights.' This is becoming more and more common, and while the end user normally doesn't make out well in a class-action suit, large settlements do provide a punishment and deterrent to corporations that abuse their power. The question becomes, what do we do to fix this so that consumers are truly protected?"
First time accepted submitter stanlrev writes "When is software, or content generated by software, 'speech' for First Amendment purposes? That is the question that Andrew Tutt seeks to answer in an article published today in the Stanford Law Review Online. He argues that the two approaches commentators and the Supreme Court have proposed are both incorrect. Software or software-generated content is not always speech simply because it conveys information. Nor is software only speech when it resembles traditional art forms. Instead, the courts should turn to the original purposes of the First Amendment to develop a new approach that answers this question more effectively."
concealment writes with this excerpt from an Associated Press story, as carried by the Houston Chronicle:"In Britain, hundreds of people are prosecuted each year for posts, tweets, texts and emails deemed menacing, indecent, offensive or obscene, and the number is growing as our online lives expand. 'Fifty years ago someone would have made a really offensive comment in a public space and it would have been heard by relatively few people,' said Mike Harris of free-speech group Index on Censorship. People take it upon themselves to report this offensive material to police, and suddenly you've got the criminalization of offensive speech. Figures obtained by The Associated Press through a freedom of information request show a steadily rising tally of prosecutions in Britain for electronic communications — phone calls, emails and social media posts — that are grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character — from 1,263 in 2009 to 1,843 in 2011. Justice Igor Judge said in his judgment that the law should not prevent 'satirical or iconoclastic or rude comment, the expression of unpopular or unfashionable opinion about serious or trivial matters, banter or humor, even if distasteful to some or painful to those subjected to it.'"
pev writes "After losing another laptop containing personal information, NASA wants to have all of its laptops encrypted within a month's time with an intermediate ban on laptops containing sensitive information leaving its facilities. Between April 2009 and April 2011 it lost or had stolen 48 'mobile computing devices.' I wonder how long it will be before other large organizations start following suit as a sensible precaution?"
angry tapir writes "The U.S. Air Force has decided to scrap a major ERP (enterprise resource planning) software project after spending $1 billion, concluding that finishing it would cost far too much more money for too little gain. Dubbed the Expeditionary Combat Support System (ECSS), the project has racked up $1.03 billion in costs since 2005, 'and has not yielded any significant military capability,' an Air Force spokesman said in a statement. 'We estimate it would require an additional $1.1B for about a quarter of the original scope to continue and fielding would not be until 2020. The Air Force has concluded the ECSS program is no longer a viable option for meeting the FY17 Financial Improvement and Audit Readiness (FIAR) statutory requirement. Therefore, we are canceling the program and moving forward with other options in order to meet both requirements.'"
Psychotic_Wrath writes "The Salt Lake Police department will be much more transparent with their law enforcement. A program is being rolled out to require officers wear glasses equipped with a camera to record what they see. Of course, there are several officers opposed to this idea, who will resist the change. One of the biggest shockers to me is that the police chief is in strong support of this measure: 'If Chief Burbank gets his way, these tiny, weightless cameras will soon be on every police officer in the state.' With all the opposition of police officers being recorded by citizens that we are seeing throughout the country, it is quite a surprise that they would make a move like this. The officers would wear them when they are investigating crime scenes, serving warrants, and during patrols. Suddenly Utah isn't looking like such a bad place to be. Now we just need to hope other states and departments would follow suit. It sure will be nice when there is video evidence to show the real story."
sfcrazy writes "Samsung is clearly accusing Hogan in its recent filing of influencing the jury in favor of Apple. Samsung said in its filing: 'Mr. Hogan's own statements to the media suffice if such a showing is required. Once inside the jury room, Mr. Hogan acted as a "de facto technical expert" who touted his high-tech experience to bring the divided jury together. Contrary to this Court's instructions, he told other jurors incorrectly that an accused device infringes a utility patent unless it is "entirely different"; that a prior art reference could not be invalidating unless that reference was "interchangeable"; and that invalidating prior art must be currently in use. He thus failed "to listen to the evidence, not to consider extrinsic facts, [and] to follow the judge's instructions."'"
An anonymous reader writes "On the opening day of a patent trial between Microsoft and Google-owned Motorola Mobility, Motorola filed a brief (PDF) arguing that the WiFi tech central to the case is also critical to Microsoft's new Surface tablet. Motorola says royalties totaling 2.25% of all Surface revenues is a good starting point. They wrote, 'Microsoft's new Surface tablet will use only 802.11, instead of cellular or wired connections, to connect to the internet. Without 802.11 capability, the Surface tablet would be unable to compete in the market, because consumers can readily select tablet devices other than the Surface that have 802.11 capability.' Microsoft, of course, says this figure is outrageous, given 'Motorola's promise to standards bodies to offer access to the "standard essential" patents on fair and reasonable terms.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Certain iPhone and iPad applications from a Japanese company have broken software piracy detection mechanisms that are sending out tweets on the user's own Twitter account, saying, 'How about we all stop using pirated iOS apps? I promise to stop. I really will. #softwarepirateconfession.' The trouble is, it's sending these out on accounts of users who actually paid up to $50 or more for the software and who are legally using it. The app is asking for access to users' Twitter accounts, but does not give the reason why it is asking, so the author of the article concluded (rightly) that things were being done deliberately. Would you want your legally purchased software to send out messages to all of your contacts on Twitter or on other social networks saying that you were a software pirate? Would you excuse the writers of the software if it was just an error in their piracy detection measures?"
SternisheFan writes with news that Google has updated is Transparency Report for the sixth time, and the big takeaway this time around is a significant increase in government surveillance. From the article: "In a blog post, Google senior policy analyst Dorothy Chou says, ' [G]overnment demands for user data have increased steadily since we first launched the Transparency Report.' In the first half of 2012, the period covered in the report, Chou says there were 20,938 inquiries from government organizations for information about 34,614 Google-related accounts. Google has a long history of pushing back against governmental demands for data, going back at least to its refusal to turn over search data to the Department of Justice in 2005. Many other companies have chosen to cooperate with government requests rather than question or oppose them, but Chou notes that in the past year, companies like Dropbox, LinkedIn, Sonic.net and Twitter have begun making government information requests public, to inform the discussion about Internet freedom and its limits. According to the report, the U.S. continues to make the most requests for user data, 7,969 in the first six months of the year. Google complied with 90% of these requests. Google's average compliance rate for the 31 countries listed in the report is about 47%."
New submitter patella.whack writes "A guilty plea for six counts of selling counterfeit media gets a defendant 15 years in Mississippi. An undercover reporter from the Attorney General's Intellectual Property Theft Task Force managed to buy a total of five copied movies and one music CD from the defendant, who had 10,500 pirated discs at home and two prior convictions: one for assaulting a police officer 17 years ago and one for CD piracy that got him a year under house arrest. Says the RIAA: '[This] highlights the fact that the individuals engaging in these activities are frequently serial criminals for whom IP theft is simply the most convenient and profitable way they could steal from others.' Frequently serial criminals? 15 years? I wonder how much of his sentence can be attributed to his priors rather than to other factors."
An anonymous reader writes "Back in April, we discussed how the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act says email that has resided on a server for more than six months can be considered abandoned. The recent investigation of General Petraeus brings this issue to light again, and perhaps to a broader audience. Under current U.S. law, federal authorities need only a subpoena approved by a federal prosecutor — not a judge — to obtain electronic messages that are six months old or older. Do you know anyone these days who doesn't have IMAP accounts with 6+-month-old mail on them?"
According to a story at Northwest Public Radio, the state of Virginia's board of education has decided to institute different passing scores for standardized tests, based on the racial and cultural background of the students taking the test. Apparently the state has chosen to divide its student population into broad categories of black, white, Hispanic, and Asian — which takes painting with a rather broad brush, to put it mildly. From the article (there's an audio version linked as well): "As part of Virginia's waiver to opt out of mandates set out in the No Child Left Behind law, the state has created a controversial new set of education goals that are higher for white and Asian kids than for blacks, Latinos and students with disabilities. ... Here's what the Virginia state board of education actually did. It looked at students' test scores in reading and math and then proposed new passing rates. In math it set an acceptable passing rate at 82 percent for Asian students, 68 percent for whites, 52 percent for Latinos, 45 percent for blacks and 33 percent for kids with disabilities." (If officially determined group membership determines passing scores, why stop there?) Florida passed a similar measure last month.
theodp writes "GeekWire's Taylor Soper reports that the University of Washington has capped live sports coverage at 20 Tweets per basketball game (45 for football) and threatens to revoke the credentials of journalists who dare exceed the Twitter limits. Tacoma News Tribune reporter Todd Dybas was reportedly 'reprimanded' after drawing the ire of the UW Athletic Dept. for apparently Tweeting too much during UW's 85-63 Sunday win over Loyola."
New submitter thn writes "John McAfee, who started the antivirus software giant named after him, has been accused of murder in Belize and is wanted. McAfee had taken to 'posting on a drug-focused Russian message board...about his attempts to purify the psychoactive compounds colloquially known as "bath salts,"' Gizmodo wrote. The scariest aspect of this story may be the fact that an entire lab was constructed for John McAfee's research purposes. Because of his efforts to extract chemicals from natural chemical plans McAfee was able to justify his experiments in a country that is largely unregulated."
hypnosec writes "Kim Dotcom has revealed that Megaupload's successor, Mega, which is reportedly launching on January 20, 2013, will be operating through a new domain name: Mega.co.nz. Through a tweet Dotcom announced that Mega has found a new home and that the new domain name is protected by the law. Dotcom also revealed that lobbyists won't be able to do anything about this, as 'judges are not influenced by politics in New Zealand.' Recent announcements about Mega's domain — Me.ga — didn't go as planned following a decision by the Government of Gabon to suspend the domain name. Dotcom had announced at the time that despite the blockage, Mega would launch as planned."
Hugh Pickens writes "The WSJ reports that widespread disruptions to Google in China over the weekend, halting use of everything from Google's search engine to its Gmail email service to its Google Play mobile-applications store, underscore the uncertainty surrounding Beijing's effort to control the flow of information into the country, as well as the risks that effort poses to the government's efforts to draw global businesses. The source of the disruptions couldn't be determined, but Internet experts pointed to China's Internet censorship efforts, which have been ratcheted up ahead of the 18th Party Congress. 'There appears to be a throttling under way of Web access,' says David Wolf, citing recent articles in foreign media about corruption and wealth in China spurred by the party congress and the fall of former party star Bo Xilai, 'that's their primary concern, people getting news either through Google or through its services.' Beijing risks a backlash if it were to block Google outright on a long-term basis, says Wolf and such a move could put Beijing in violation of its free-trade commitment under the World Trade Organization and make China a less-attractive place to do business. 'If China insists in the medium and long term of creating another Great Firewall between the China cloud and the rest of the world, China will be an increasingly untenable place to do business.'"
Barence writes "A British man has been arrested for posting a picture of a burning poppy on Facebook. The poppy is a symbol of remembrance for those who died in war, and the arrest was made on Remembrance Sunday. 'A man from Aylesham has tonight been arrested on suspicion of malicious telecommunications,' Kent police said in a statement after the arrest. 'This follows a posting on a social network site of a burning poppy. He is currently in police custody awaiting interview.' The arrest has been criticized by legal experts. 'What was the point of winning either World War if, in 2012, someone can be casually arrested by @Kent_police for burning a poppy?' tweeted David Allen Green, who helped clear the British man who was prosecuted for a joke tweet threatening to blow up an airport."
Sparrowvsrevolution writes "Since 2008, Dallas, Texas attorney Erich Spangenberg and his company TQP have been launching suits against hundreds of firms, claiming that merely by using SSL, they've violated a patent TQP acquired in 2006. Nevermind that the patent was actually filed in 1989, long before the World Wide Web was even invented. So far Spangenberg's targets have included Apple, Google, Intel, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, every major bank and credit card company, and scores of web startups and online retailers, practically anyone who encrypts pages of a web sites to protect users' privacy. And while most of those lawsuits are ongoing, many companies have already settled with TQP rather than take the case to trial, including Apple, Amazon, Dell, and Exxon Mobil. The patent has expired now, but Spangenberg can continue to sue users of SSL for six more years and seems determined to do so as much as possible. 'When the government grants you the right to a patent, they grant you the right to exclude others from using it,' says Spangenberg. 'I don't understand why just because [SSL is] prevalent, it should be free.'"