Communications

NSA-Reform Bill Fails In US Senate 84

Posted by timothy
from the couldn't-have-happened-to-a-nicer-bill dept.
New submitter Steven King writes with a link to The Daily Dot's report that the U.S. Senate has rejected the controversial USA Freedom Act, thus "all but guaranteeing that key provisions of the USA Patriot Act will expire"; had it passed, the bill would have allowed continued use of some mass data-collection practices, but with the addition of stronger oversight. From the article: The Senate failed to reach agreement on passage of the USA Freedom Act, a bill to reauthorize and reform Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, which the government has used to conduct bulk surveillance of Americans' phone records. The House of Representatives passed the bill last week by an overwhelming bipartisan majority, but Senate Democrats, who unified behind the bill, did not get enough Republican votes to assure passage. The linked piece also mentions that the EFF shifted its position on this bill, after a panel of Federal judges ruled that the Feds at the NSA had overstepped their bounds in collecting a seemingly unlimited trove of metadata relating to American citizen's phone calls.
Piracy

Australian ISP Offers Pro-bono Legal Advice To Accused Pirates 65

Posted by timothy
from the they-got-really-skinny-for-the-role-too dept.
New submitter thegarbz writes: As covered previously, after losing a legal battle against Dallas Buyers Club and Voltage Pictures the Federal Court of Australia asked ISP iiNet to hand over details of customers allegedly downloading the movie The Dallas Buyers Club. iiNet has now taken the unprecedented move to offer pro-bono legal advice to all of its customers targeted over piracy claims. "It is important to remember that the Court's findings in this case do not mean that DBC and Voltage's allegations of copyright infringement have been proven," Ben Jenkins, financial controller for iiNet wrote. Also, as part of the ruling the court will review all correspondence sent to alleged copyright infringers in hopes to prevent the practice of speculative invoicing. Unless it can be proven exactly how much and and with how many people a film was shared the maximum damages could also be limited to the lost revenue by the studio, which currently stands at $10AU ($7.90US) based on iTunes pricing.
Businesses

Take Two Sues BBC Over Drama About GTA Development 80

Posted by timothy
from the too-soon-too-soon dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Take Two Interactive, the parent company of Rockstar Games, is suing the BBC for trademark infringement over its planned "making of GTA" drama, Game Changers. The 90-minute movie was created without the involvement of the studio, which rarely comments on the GTA series' development outside of organised press events. (It is expected that it will draw upon the public conflict between Sam Houser and notorious anti-gaming crank Jack Thompson, via the expose "Jacked" by David Kushner.) After direct negotiations with the BBC failed, Take Two brought suit to "ensure that [their] trademarks are not misused." The details of the suit, Rockstar's objections, and the penalties sought, are not yet known.
Government

US Proposes Tighter Export Rules For Computer Security Tools 124

Posted by timothy
from the we'd-like-to-inspect-that-package dept.
itwbennett writes: The U.S. Commerce Department has proposed tighter export rules for computer security tools and could prohibit the export of penetration testing tools without a license. The proposal would modify rules added to the Wassenaar Arrangement in 2013 that limit the export of technologies related to intrusion and traffic inspection. The definition of intrusion software would also encompass 'proprietary research on the vulnerabilities and exploitation of computers and network-capable devices,' the proposal said.
Canada

Canadian Piracy Rates Plummet As Industry Points To New Copyright Notice System 219

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-downloading-for-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Canada's copyright notice-and-notice system took effect earlier this year, leading to thousands of notifications being forwarded by Internet providers to their subscribers. Since its launch, there have been serious concerns about the use of notices to demand settlements and to shift the costs of enforcement to consumers and Internet providers. Yet reports indicate that piracy rates in Canada have plummeted, with some ISPs seeing a 70% decrease in online infringement.
Crime

Swedish Court Orders Seizure of Pirate Bay Domains 55

Posted by timothy
from the grand-mal dept.
The Pirate Bay will probably never be the darling of any government; we've seen various Pirate Bay domains cracked down on, and the arrests of site founders. An anonymous reader writes now with the news reported this morning by TorrentFreak that: the Stockholm District Court has ordered two key domains owned by The Pirate Bay to be seized. While the ruling means that the site will lose its famous ThePirateBay.se domain, don't expect the site to simply disappear. TPB informs TorrentFreak that they have plenty more domains left in store. From the point of view of the down-crackers, It's a hard problem, particularly when it's easy for people to spin up their own instances of the site.
Patents

Court of Appeals Says Samsung's Legal Payments To Apple Should Be Reduced 66

Posted by samzenpus
from the lower-my-bill dept.
Mark Wilson writes: Patent lawsuits in the world of technology are nothing new, and the case between Apple and Samsung resulted in one of the largest fines ever being handed down. Samsung was order to pay $930 million in damages after a court found that the company had violated Apple patents with its smartphone and tablet designs. Today the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit overturned part of the original ruling, saying that the jury was wrong to say that Samsung infringed on Apple's trade dress intellectual property. The exact details of what this will mean are yet to come out, but it should lead to a fairly hefty reduction in Samsung's legal costs.
Businesses

FTC Recommends Conditions For Sale of RadioShack Customer Data 54

Posted by samzenpus
from the rules-of-the-game dept.
itwbennett writes: The FTC has weighed in on the contentious issue of the proposed sale of consumer data by RadioShack, recommending that a settlement with failed online toy retailer Toysmart.com be adopted as a model for dealings going forward. Director of the FTC's bureau of consumer protection Jessica L. Rich wrote in a letter to a court-appointed consumer privacy ombudsman that the agency's concerns about the transfer of customer information inconsistent with RadioShack's privacy promises "would be greatly diminished if certain conditions were met." These include: that the data was not sold standalone, and if the buyer is in the same lines of business, they agree to be bound by the same privacy policies.
Government

North Carolina Still Wants To Block Municipal Broadband 289

Posted by Soulskill
from the because-competition-has-no-place-in-capitalism dept.
An anonymous reader writes: In February, when the FCC rolled out its net neutrality rules, it also voted to override state laws that let Texas and North Carolina block ISPs created by local governments and public utilities. These laws frequently leave citizens facing a monopoly or duopoly with no recourse, so the FCC abolished them. Now, North Carolina has sued the FCC to get them back. State Attorney General Roy Cooper claims, "the FCC unlawfully inserted itself between the State and the State's political subdivisions." He adds that the new rule is "arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion within the meaning of the Administrative Procedure Act; and is otherwise contrary to law."
The Courts

Prenda's Old Copyright Trolls Are Suing People Again 123

Posted by Soulskill
from the once-a-troll-always-a-troll dept.
New submitter Hokan writes: Paul Hansmeier and John Steele, formerly of Prenda, are suing again. Each have started nonprofits, in Minnesota and Illinois, claiming to defend disabled people, and they are suing small businesses for ADA violations. You may recall that a District Court judge issued sanctions against Prenda for their attempts to file copyright suits against a broad swath of internet users. Their new practices take a similar tack: sue a small business and generously offer to collect a settlement somewhat lower than the amount it would cost to to make changes to their establishment. A new group is fighting back by creating "an access audit for local businesses, allowing them to develop a plan to fix ADA issues and potentially to ward off litigation."
Star Wars Prequels

Learning About Constitutional Law With Star Wars 121

Posted by Soulskill
from the scalia-shot-first dept.
An anonymous reader writes: In an upcoming paper (PDF) for the Michigan Law Review, scholar Cass Sunstein draws on Star Wars to make a couple key points about how constitutional law evolves. He writes, "Human beings often see coherence and planned design when neither exists. This is so in movies, literature, history, economics, and psychoanalysis—and constitutional law. Contrary to the repeated claims of George Lucas, its principal author, the Star Wars series was hardly planned in advance; it involved a great deal of improvisation and surprise, even to Lucas himself. Serendipity and happenstance, sometimes in the forms of eruptions of new thinking, play a pervasive and overlooked role in the creative imagination, certainly in single-authored works, and even more in multi-authored ones extending over time. ... The misdescription appears to respond to a serious human need for sense-making and pattern-finding, but it is a significant obstacle to understanding and critical reflection. Whether Jedi or Sith, many authors of constitutional law are a lot like the author of Star Wars, disguising the essential nature of their own creative processes."
Facebook

Baton Bob Receives $20,000 Settlement For Coerced Facebook Post 201

Posted by samzenpus
from the pay-the-man dept.
McGruber writes: After arresting him during a June 2013 street performance, Atlanta Police Officers forced costumed street performer "Baton Bob" to make a pro-police statement on his Facebook page before they would allow him to be released on bond. Social media coverage of the incident triggered a six-month internal police investigation into the arrest. Atlanta Police Officer H.J. Davis was given a one-day suspension, then resigned from the Atlanta Police department a few weeks later. Atlanta Police Lt. Jeffrey Cantin received a five-day suspension for "violating responsibilities of a supervisor".

Baton Bob also filed a federal lawsuit against the city, arguing that officers made a wrongful arrest that violated, well, nearly every constitutional right you can name. Those included Jamerson's "right to free speech, his right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, his right to remain silent while in custody, his right to be free from compelled speech, his right to counsel, and his right to privacy." The City of Atlanta's legal department reviewed the case and determined that a $20,000 settlement would "be in the best interest of the city" rather than fighting the claims in court.
Advertising

Editor-in-Chief of the Next Web: Adblockers Are Immoral 616

Posted by samzenpus
from the watch-our-ads-or-else dept.
lemur3 writes: Hot on the heels of the recent implementation of Canvas Ads (allowing advertisers to use the full page) Martin Bryant, the Editor-in-Chief of The Next Web, wrote a piece that, ostensibly, calls out mobile carriers in Europe for offering ad blocking as a service. He writes: "Display ads are still an important bread-and-butter income stream. Taking delight in denying publishers that revenue shows either sociopathic tendencies or ignorance of economic realities." While referring to those using ad blocking as sociopathic is likely not to win many fans, this mindset seems to be prevalent in certain circles, as discussed previously on Slashdot. Martin closes his piece with a warning: "For all their sins, ads fuel much of the Web. Cut them out and you're strangling the diversity of online voices and publishers – and I don't think consumers really want that."
Crime

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Gets Death Penalty In Boston Marathon Bombing 648

Posted by timothy
from the what-say-ye? dept.
mpicpp writes with a link to the New York Times's version of story that a Boston jury earlier today returned a verdict of death in the Boston Marathon bombing. From that report: A federal jury on Friday condemned Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a failed college student, to death for setting off bombs at the 2013 Boston Marathon that killed three people and injured hundreds more in the worst terrorist attack on American soil since Sept. 11, 2001. The jury of seven women and five men, which last month convicted Mr. Tsarnaev, 21, of all 30 charges against him, 17 of which carry the death penalty, took more than 14 hours to reach its decision. It was the first time a federal jury had sentenced a terrorist to death in the post-Sept. 11 era, according to Kevin McNally, director of the Federal Death Penalty Resource Counsel Project, which coordinates the defense in capital punishment cases.
Censorship

Douglas Williams Pleads Guilty To Training Customers To Beat Polygraph 245

Posted by timothy
from the but-antipolygraph-is-still-up dept.
For quite a while, we've been following the case of Douglas Gene Williams, accused of and indicted for teaching people to pass polygraph tests that they might otherwise have been unable to, and for the claims he made in advertising this training -- and specifically for showing his techniques to some undercover Federal agents. Now, reports Ars Technica, Williams has pleaded guilty to five charges of obstruction of justice and mail fraud. From the article: Williams isn't the first person prosecuted for these type of allegations. An Indiana man was accused of offering similar services and was sentenced in 2013 to eight months in prison. The judge presiding over the case said the case blended a "gray area" of First Amendment speech and the unlawful act of instructing people to lie on polygraph tests issued by the federal government. Williams' site, Polygraph.com, is now defunct.
Privacy

House Votes To End Spy Agencies' Bulk Collection of Phone Data 142

Posted by timothy
from the big-brother-has-his-eye-on-you-just-the-same dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from a story at Reuters that gives a rare bit of good news for the Fourth Amendment: The U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill on Wednesday that would end spy agencies' bulk collection of Americans' telephone data, setting up a potential showdown with the U.S. Senate over the program, which expires on June 1. The House voted 338-88 for the USA Freedom Act, which would end the bulk collection and instead give intelligence agencies access to telephone data and other records only when a court finds there is reasonable suspicion about a link to international terrorism.
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."
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.
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."
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...."