Businesses

Apple, A123 To Settle Lawsuit Over Poached Battery Engineers 84

Posted by samzenpus
from the shake-hands-and-make-up dept.
itwbennett writes: Slashdot readers will remember that back in February, electric car battery maker A123 Systems sued Apple for allegedly "raiding" the Waltham, Massachusetts, company and hiring five employees, including two top-level engineers. The loss of these workers essentially forced A123 to shut down some of its main projects, the suit alleged. Now, according to court documents filed Monday, A123 and Apple "have reached an agreement, signed a term sheet, and are in the process of drafting a final settlement agreement."
Censorship

Third Bangladeshi Blogger Murdered In As Many Months 284

Posted by Soulskill
from the can't-we-all-just-get-along dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Ananta Bijoy Das blogged about science in Bangladesh, also sometimes tackling difficult issues about religion. He won an award in 2006 for "deep and courageous interest in spreading secular and humanist ideals and messages." He's now been murdered for his writings, the third Bangladeshi blogger to die in the past few months. Four masked assailants chased him down in broad daylight and attacked him with cleavers and machetes. The Committee to Protect Journalists says Das is the 20th writer to be murdered globally so far this year. Arrests have been made in Bangladesh for the murders of the previous two bloggers this year, but no convictions have yet been made. Das's murderers remain at large.
Crime

SEC Charges ITT Educational Services With Fraud 85

Posted by Soulskill
from the reaping-what-you-sow dept.
mpicpp writes with news that ITT Educational Services, the company that operates for-profit college ITT Tech, has been charged with fraud over its student loan programs. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission accuses the company of concealing poor financial performance from its investors. ITT formed both of these student loan programs, known as the "PEAKS" and "CUSO" programs, to provide off-balance sheet loans for ITT’s students following the collapse of the private student loan market. To induce others to finance these risky loans, ITT provided a guarantee that limited any risk of loss from the student loan pools.

According to the SEC’s complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, the underlying loan pools had performed so abysmally by 2012 that ITT’s guarantee obligations were triggered and began to balloon. Rather than disclosing to its investors that it projected paying hundreds of millions of dollars on its guarantees, ITT and its management took a variety of actions to create the appearance that ITT’s exposure to these programs was much more limited.
Verizon

Verizon, Sprint Agree To Pay Combined $158 Million Over Cramming Charges 66

Posted by Soulskill
from the now-only-incredibly-profitable-instead-of-ridiculously-profitable dept.
mpicpp sends news that Verizon has agreed to pay $90 million (PDF), and Sprint another $68 million (PDF), to settle claims that they placed unauthorized charges on their customers's bills. The process, known as "cramming," has already cost T-Mobile and AT&T settlements in the tens of millions as well. Most of the settlement money will go towards setting up refund programs, but Verizon and Sprint will be able to keep 30% and 35% of the fees they collected, respectively. In response to the news, both companies issued vague statements about "putting customers first." They are now banned from charging for premium text message services and must set up systems to ensure informed consent for third-party charges.
Security

Photo Printing Website Artisan State Allows Access To All User-Uploaded Photos 94

Posted by Soulskill
from the locking-the-door-without-closing-it dept.
fulldecent writes: Popular photo printing website Artisan State, which specializes in bound photo books mostly for weddings or other events, unintentionally makes all its uploaded user photos available publicly for download. This case study shows how their photos are able to be downloaded and discusses the things vendors should think about when considering security of seemingly private user content. The case study also discusses how this flaw was reported to the vendor, but unfortunately never fixed. This follows other articles on Slashdot discussing security disclosure. How do you report vulnerabilities to vendors? Do you support publishing them if they are not fixed in a reasonable time?
Privacy

Judge: Warrantless Airport Seizure of Laptop 'Cannot Be Justified' 200

Posted by Soulskill
from the digital-is-different dept.
SonicSpike writes with news of a ruling in U.S. District Court that the seizure and search of a man's laptop without a warrant while he was in an airport during an international border crossing was not justified. According to Judge Amy Jackson's ruling (PDF), the defendant was already the subject of an investigation when officials used his international flight as a pretext for rifling through his laptop. The government argued that a laptop was simply a "container," and thus subject to warrantless searches to protect the homeland. But the judge said the search "was supported by so little suspicion of ongoing or imminent criminal activity, and was so invasive of Kim's privacy and so disconnected from not only the considerations underlying the breadth of the government's authority to search at the border, but also the border itself, that it was unreasonable."

She also noted that laptop searches may require more stringent legal support, since they are capable of holding much more private information than a box or duffel bag. And while a routine search involves a quick look through a container, this search was quite different: "[T]he agents created an identical image of Kim's entire computer hard drive and gave themselves unlimited time to search the tens of thousands of documents, images, and emails it contained, using an extensive list of search terms, and with the assistance of two forensic software programs that organized, expedited, and facilitated the task."
DRM

Firefox 38 Arrives With DRM Required To Watch Netflix 371

Posted by timothy
from the chinese-finger-trap dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from VentureBeat: Mozilla today launched Firefox 38 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. Notable additions to the browser include Digital Rights Management (DRM) tech for playing protected content in the HTML5 video tag on Windows, Ruby annotation support, and improved user interfaces on Android. Firefox 38 for the desktop is available for download now on Firefox.com, and all existing users should be able to upgrade to it automatically. As always, the Android version is trickling out slowly on Google Play. Note that there is a separate download for Firefox 38 without the DRM support. Our anonymous reader adds links to the release notes for desktop and Android.
Government

MuckRock FOIA Request Releases Christopher Hitchens' FBI Files 44

Posted by timothy
from the what-the-fbi-believes-in dept.
v3rgEz writes: Outspoken atheist firebrand Christopher Hitchens was never one for understatement, and apparently the FBI took notice. A Freedom of Information request from investigative news site MuckRock has resulted in the release of his 19-page FBI file, including details such as how his interest in socialism in college sparked heightened monitoring when given a scholarship to come to the United States. Some of the pages had actually been previously released, but were then removed from the FBI's own website a few years ago. Despite the monitoring, Hitchens files have nothing on the hundreds of pages the FBI had on Richard Feynman.
Crime

Anonymous Accused of Running a Botnet Using Thousands of Hacked Home Routers 52

Posted by timothy
from the nsa-run-false-flag-operation dept.
An anonymous reader writes: New research indicates that Anonymous hacktivists (among other groups) took advantage of lazy security to hijack thousands of routers using remote access and default login credentials. "'For perpetrators, this is like shooting fish in a barrel, which makes each of the scans that much more effective,' the report explains. 'Using this botnet also enables perpetrators to execute distributed scans, improving their chances against commonplace blacklisting, rate-limiting and reputation-based defense mechanisms.'"
United States

White House Names Ed Felten As Deputy U.S. Chief Technology Officer 27

Posted by samzenpus
from the putting-a-team-together dept.
New submitter bird writes: Ed Felton, Director of Princeton University's Center for Information Technology Policy (CITP) and well-known and outspoken consumer advocate, has been appointed deputy US chief technology officer. His is a voice of reason that needs to be heard when tech policy is made. The press release says: "We are excited to announce that Dr. Ed Felten is joining the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy as Deputy U.S. Chief Technology Officer. Ed joins a growing number of techies at the White House working to further President Obama’s vision to ensure policy decisions are informed by our best understanding of state-of-the-art technology and innovation, to quickly and efficiently deliver great services for the American people, and to broaden and deepen the American people’s engagement with their government."
Businesses

Worker Fired For Disabling GPS App That Tracked Her 24 Hours a Day 776

Posted by samzenpus
from the keeping-tabs-on-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Myrna Arias claims she was fired for refusing to run an app that would track her location even when she was off the clock. She is now suing Intermex Wire Transfer LLC in a Kern County Superior Court. Her claim reads in part: "After researching the app and speaking with a trainer from Xora, Plaintiff and her co-workers asked whether Intermex would be monitoring their movements while off duty. Stubits admitted that employees would be monitored while off duty and bragged that he knew how fast she was driving at specific moments ever since she installed the app on her phone. Plaintiff expressed that she had no problem with the app's GPS function during work hours, but she objected to the monitoring of her location during non-work hours and complained to Stubits that this was an invasion of her privacy. She likened the app to a prisoner's ankle bracelet and informed Stubits that his actions were illegal. Stubits replied that she should tolerate the illegal intrusion...."
Government

World Health Organization Has New Rules For Avoiding Offensive Names 186

Posted by samzenpus
from the a-pustule-by-any-other-name dept.
sciencehabit writes: Last week The World Health Organization (WHO) decided to address not only the physical toll of disease but the stigma inflicted by diseases named for people, places, and animals as well. Among the existing names that its new guidelines "for the Naming of New Human Infectious Diseases" would discourage: Ebola, swine flu, Rift valley Fever, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and monkey pox. The organization suggests researchers, health officials, and journalists should use more neutral, generic terms, such as severe respiratory disease or novel neurologic syndrome instead. “It will certainly lead to boring names and a lot of confusion,” predicts Linfa Wang, an expert on emerging infectious diseases at the Australian Animal Health Laboratory in Geelong. “You should not take political correctness so far that in the end no one is able to distinguish these diseases,” says Christian Drosten, a virologist at the University of Bonn, Germany.
Businesses

Philippines Gives Uber Its First Legal Framework To Operate In Asia 27

Posted by samzenpus
from the new-rules dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The Philippines has given Uber a rare boost in its hard-fought Asian territories, by granting new legislation that provides rules within which it may legally operate. To this end the country's Department of Transportation and Communications has created a new category of ride called the Transportation Network Vehicle Service (TNVS) classification — whilst at the same time mollifying beleaguered indigenous taxi-services by creating an equivalent classification for an app-hailed taxi able to accept credit cards. As with all its other negotiations in Asia, the fruits of Uber's consultation with the Philippine government was prefaced by unorganized invasion, trade complaints, bans and general conflict.
The Internet

FCC Tosses Petition Challenging Its New Internet Regulations 133

Posted by timothy
from the well-what-else-would-they-do? dept.
A petition submitted to the FCC by several of the players (including AT&T, CenturyLink, and USTelecom) who would be most affected by the agency's recently asserted Internet regulatory powers has been rejected by the agency's leadership. The Internet providers, along with the CTIA trade association, asserted that the FCC's Open Internet order is aganst the public interest. Per The Verge, the Commission last Friday "denied the petition, issuing an order that states its classification of broadband internet as a telecommunications service "falls well within the Commission's statutory authority, is consistent with Supreme Court precedent, and fully complies with the Administrative Procedure Act."
Transportation

British Pilots: Poll Data Says Public Wants Strict Rules For Drones 110

Posted by timothy
from the are-new-rules-actually-needed? dept.
According to the Guardian, a survey of members of the British public conducted on behalf of the British Airline Pilots Association reveals support among those surveyed for strict rules governing drone flights in urban areas, and (probably less surprising) calling for serious consquences in the form of jail sentences for those who endanger passenger aircraft with drone flights. A slice: The study, which will be presented on Monday at a drone safety summit organised by UK pilots, revealed that about a third of those polled think no one should be able to fly drones over urban areas.
Privacy

The Challenge of Web Hosting Once You're Dead 182

Posted by timothy
from the can-I-have-your-watch-after-you-fight-el-guapo? dept.
reifman writes: Hosting a website (even WordPress) after your death has a variety of unexpected complexities, from renewing your domain name, to hosting, security, monitoring, troubleshooting and more. It's a gaping hole that we as technologists should start thinking more about — especially because all of us are going to die, some of us unexpectedly sooner than we'd like or planned for. The only real solution I found was to share credentials and designate funds to descendants — you've done this, right?
Piracy

How To Set Up a Pirate EBook Store In Google Play Books 90

Posted by timothy
from the pirate-business-plan dept.
Nate the greatest writes: Most ebook pirates simply upload ebooks to one of many pirate sites, but the entrepreneurial ones have opened storefronts in Google Play Books. They invent an author's name, and then upload dozens if not hundreds of pirated ebooks under that name, The names can range from Devad Akbak to Ispanyolca, but the really clever pirates choose a legit sounding name like Bestsellers — Books USA Press or Fort Press and then start selling ebooks.

Thanks to Google's indifference, the pirates can continue to sell ebooks no matter how many times copyright holders might complain. If Google takes a pirated ebook down in response to a DMCA notice, the pirates simply upload another copy of the same title.
Transportation

Examining Costs and Prices For California's High-Speed Rail Project 515

Posted by timothy
from the Now-How-Much-Would-You-Pay? dept.
The L.A. Times features a look at the contentious issue of a publicly funded high-speed rail system for travel within the state of California, which focuses especially on an obvious question: how much would it cost for passengers to ride? This isn't a straightforward answer, though, partly because the system isn't expected to be operational for another 13 years, and the estimates vary wildly for what would be a trip of more than 400 miles that touches on some of the U.S.'s most expensive real estate. From the Times' article: "The current $86 fare [for an L.A. to San Francisco ticket] is calculated in 2013 dollars based on a formula that prices tickets at 83% of average airline fares to help attract riders. The rail fare is an average that includes economy and premium seats, nonstop and multi-stop trains, as well as last-minute and advance purchase tickets. A premium, same-day nonstop bullet train trip would cost more than $86. But compared with current average prices on several high-speed rail systems in Asia and Europe, $86 would be a bargain, equating to about 20 cents a mile or less, the Times review found. The analysis was based on a 438-mile route in the mid-range of what state officials expect the final alignment to measure." How much would you be willing to pay to take a fast train between L.A. and San Francisco?
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Prison Messaging System JPay Withdraws Copyright Claims 141

Posted by timothy
from the got-you-coming-and-going dept.
Florida-based JPay has a specialized business model and an audience that is at least in part a (literally) captive one: the company specializes in logistics and communications services involving prisons and prisoners, ranging from payment services to logistics to electronic communications with prisoners. Now, via Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing comes a report from the EFF that the company has back-pedaled on a particularly strange aspect of the terms under which the company provided messaging services for prisoners: namely, JPay's terms of service made exhaustive copyright claims on messages sent by prisoners, claiming rights to "all content, whether it be text, images, or video" send via the service. That language has now been excised, but not in time to prevent at least one bad outcome; from the EFF's description: [Valerie] Buford has been running a social media campaign to overturn her [brother, Leon Benson's] murder conviction. However, after Buford published a videogram that her brother recorded via JPay to Facebook, prison administrators cut off her access to the JPay system, sent Benson to solitary confinement, and stripped away some of his earned "good time." To justify the discipline, prison officials said they were enforcing JPay's intellectual property rights and terms of service.
Government

Texas Regulators Crack Down on App-Driven Hauling Service 167

Posted by timothy
from the who-exactly-is-being-protected? dept.
According to the Austin American-Statesman, it's not just ride-sharing companies like Uber drawing attention from regulators, at least in Texas, but also a similar service that's hauling goods rather than people. In a letter demanding that Austin-based Burro cease its phone-coordinated delivery service, Texas Department of Motor Vehicles director of enforcement William P. Harbeson says that "[a]nyone moving household goods in a pick-up truck or other type or size of vehicle for hire is required to register" with the Department, "and show proof of insurance in the amounts required by law." According to the letter, this includes not just professional or even regular haulers, but also people moving a piece of furniture bought at a garage sale for pay; considering the number of people offering that kind of service on Austin's Craigslist, or in the parking lot of home supply stores like Home Depot, it seems like a regulation that will put a dent in the wallet of quite a few people. Burro, for its part, says its providers "are backed by $1M in insurance" — more than can be said for one of the obvious substitutes, which is relying on friends or acquaintances with a roof-rack and some bungie cords.