An anonymous reader writes "A web analytics company has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it violated federal law by using its web-tracking software that collected personal data without disclosing the extent of the information that it was collecting. The company, Compete Inc., also allegedly failed to honor promises it made to protect the personal data it collected. KISSmetrics, the developer and seller of the homonymous tool, has agreed to pay up to make the suit go away, but the the two plaintiffs will get only $5,000 each, while the rest of the money — more than half a million dollars — will go to their lawyers for legal fees."
Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!
theodp writes "The USPTO lowered the bar again on Tuesday, granting U.S. Patent No. 8,296,373 to four Facebook inventors for Automatically Managing Objectionable Behavior in a Web-based Social Network, essentially warning users or suspending their accounts when their poking, friend requesting, and wall posting is deemed annoying. From the patent: 'Actions by a user exceeding the threshold may trigger the violation module 240 to take an action. For example, the point 360, which may represent fifty occurrences of an action in a five hour period, does not violate any of the policies as illustrated. However, the point 350, which represents fifty occurrences in a two hour period, violates the poke threshold 330 and the wall post threshold 340. Thus, if point 350 represents a user's actions of either poking or wall posting, then the policy is violated.'"
sl4shd0rk writes "Good news for Apple, bad news for Samsung. Yesterday, Apple filed legal papers with the International Trade Commission citing a Department of Justice investigation into whether Samsung is misusing its 'Standards essential' patents in ways which violate antitrust law. Apple claims Samsung has violated commitments to license its essential patents to competitors on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. Or, more specifically, Samsung is 'using certain patents as a basis for improper legal actions that seek to block the sale of competitors' products.' The article says Google (because of its recent acquisition, Motorola Mobility) is under the same scrutiny."
eldavojohn writes "The global warming debate has left much to be desired in the realm of logic and rationale. One particular researcher, Michael E. Mann, has been repeatedly attacked for his now infamous (and peer reviewed/independently verified) hockey stick graph. It has come to the point where he is now suing for defamation over being compared to convicted serial child molester Jerry Sandusky. Articles hosted by defendants and written by defendant Rand Simberg and defendant Mark Steyn utilize questionable logic for implicating Michael E. Mann alongside Jerry Sandusky with the original piece, concluding, 'Michael Mann, like Joe Paterno, was a rock star in the context of Penn State University, bringing in millions in research funding. The same university president who resigned in the wake of the Sandusky scandal was also the president when Mann was being (whitewashed) investigated. We saw what the university administration was willing to do to cover up heinous crimes, and even let them continue, rather than expose them. Should we suppose, in light of what we now know, they would do any less to hide academic and scientific misconduct, with so much at stake?' Additionally, sentences were stylized to blend the two people together: 'He has molested and tortured data in the service of politicized science that could have dire economic consequences for the nation and planet.' One of the defendants admits to removing 'a sentence or two' of questionable wording. Still, as a public figure, Michael E. Mann has an uphill battle to prove defamation in court."
As tablets and computer-phones flood the market, the headlines read: "The Personal Computer is Dying." But they are only half true: an artifact of the PC is dying, but the essence of the PC revolution is closer to realization than ever before, while also being closer to loss than ever before.
helix2301 writes with an excerpt from CNet "Hackers broke into keypads at more than 60 Barnes & Noble bookstores and made off with the credit card information for customers who shopped at the stores in the last month. At least one point-of-sale terminal in 63 different stores was compromised recording card details. Since discovering the breach, the company has uninstalled all 7,000 point-of-sale terminals from its hundreds of stores for examination."
another random user writes with this news from the BBC: "The UK's major internet service providers have been asked to block three more file-sharing websites. The BPI (British Phonographic Industry), which acts on behalf of rights holders, wants ISPs to prevent access to Fenopy, H33t and Kickass Torrents. The BPI alleges that the sites are illegally distributing music. The ISPs told the BBC they would comply with the new demand, but only if a court order is put in place. It follows a separate court order in April which saw popular file-sharing site The Pirate Bay blocked in the UK. ... The letter, which was not intended to go public, was sent to six ISPs last week, namely BT, Sky, Virgin Media, O2, EE and TalkTalk. It is understood that the BPI is hoping all three sites will be blocked before Christmas — far more quickly than the process has taken previously."
ananyo writes "In this age of social media, innovators eager to develop high-tech products are tapping into the wisdom of crowds to solve problems, with crowdsourcing sites such as Innocentive and Kaggle offering cash prizes for answers to science or data questions. The launch this week of a site called Marblar is turning this model on its head. Marblar gives scientists a space to tout solutions that have yet to find their problem (it's not in beta, despite the redirect). Members, who can come from any background, are invited to publicly discuss potential uses for patented discoveries made in research laboratories that as yet may not have led to real-world applications. Every suggestion at Marblar is posted on a public forum alongside video interviews with the scientists and explanations of their work. Website visitors suggest applications and vote them up and down, and the scientists behind the discovery are encouraged to take part in the discussion. Popular suggestions are recognized with a points system (denoted by marbles — hence the name) and, in some cases, small cash prizes. A trial run seems to have been pretty successful."
bhagwad writes "The patent that was the cause of so much grief to Samsung in the recently concluded trial with Apple has been tentatively invalidated by the USPTO. The challenge was filed anonymously, but it obviously could have been filed by any smartphone manufacturer. Will this have an effect on further proceedings in the case or perhaps more importantly on the inevitable appeal?"
pigrabbitbear writes "Things aren't looking awesome for Pirate Bay founder Gottfrid Svartholm, who's currently under lock and key in a newly built jail about 15 minutes north of Stockholm. Svartholm's mother Kristina says that her 28-year-old son is being held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day without any human contact other than his interactions with the guards. It's been nearly two months since Svartholm was arrested in Cambodia, where he'd been living for years, and extradited back to Sweden, where he's due to spend a year behind bars and pay a $1.1 million fine for copyright offenses related to his role at the Pirate Bay. But that's not why Sweden's being so tough on him in prison. Authorities believe he may have played a role in the hacking of Logica, a Swedish technology company with ties to the country's tax authorities. They haven't charged him with any crimes yet in that case, however."
An anonymous reader notes that the BBC reports "Six Italian scientists and an ex-government official have been sentenced to six years in prison over the 2009 deadly earthquake in L'Aquila. A regional court found them guilty of multiple manslaughter. Prosecutors said the defendants gave a falsely reassuring statement before the quake, while the defence maintained there was no way to predict major quakes. The 6.3 magnitude quake devastated the city and killed 309 people." The scientists were first charged more than two years ago.
00_NOP writes "Amazon is taking fire in the UK for insisting that publishers pay them for 20% VAT (sales tax) when in fact the online retailer is only paying 3% VAT. 'The firm is able to wield such power over publishers because it has a near monopoly of the UK digital book publishing market. According to reliable estimates, it sells nine out of 10 ebooks in the UK, while using its Luxembourg tax status to wring more profitable terms from publishers. ... In private, British authors and publishers express fears that Amazon's dominance will send the industry into further decline.' Given that the Kindle is rubbish at displaying maths and science and that Amazon is as dangerous a monopoly as Microsoft ever was, is it not time that regulators and consumers stood up to them?" Amazon is also facing criticism right now for allegedly shutting down a woman's account and remotely wiping her Kindle, then refusing to provide information about why it did so.
Sparrowvsrevolution writes with this story from Forbes: "Over the weekend at the ToorCon hacker conference in San Diego, Michael Ossmann of Great Scott Gadgets revealed a beta version of the HackRF Jawbreaker, the latest model of the wireless Swiss-army knife tools known as 'software-defined radios.' Like any software-defined radio, the HackRF can shift between different frequencies as easily as a computer switches between applications–It can both read and transmit signals from 100 megahertz to 6 gigahertz, intercepting or reproducing frequencies used by everything from FM radios to police communications to garage door openers to WiFi and GSM to next-generation air traffic control system messages. At Ossmann's target price of $300, the versatile, open-source devices would cost less than half as much as currently existing software-defined radios with the same capabilities. And to fund the beta testing phase of HackRF, the Department of Defense research arm known as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) pitched in $200,000 last February as part of its Cyber Fast Track program."
theodp writes "Mother Jones reports on Obama's Digital Gurus, the top-secret team of analytics engineers and scientists led by hipster CTO Harper Reed who work on text analytics, social network/media analysis, web personalization, computational advertising, and online experiments & testing from the campaign's Chicago HQ and satellite offices. For OFA (Obama for America), writes Tim Murphy, there is no such thing as Too Much Information. 'In terms of just the sheer amount of data that political candidates have on you,' says UNC Prof Daniel Kreiss, 'I think everyone finds it creepy.' Still playing catch-up to OFA in its data efforts is Team Romney, which reportedly hired former employees from places like Google Analytics, Apple, Ominture, and Overstock.com in an attempt to reverse engineer the Obama campaign's strategy."
An anonymous reader writes "Confronted with a growing meningitis scare, states are coming under enormous pressure to meet federal requests that they contact more than 1,000 hospitals and clinics that received any injectable drugs from the company at the center of the deadly outbreak."
WebMink writes "It used to just be speculation, but the numbers are now in — patent trolls are costing America jobs and economic growth. Newly-published research using data commissioned by Congress shows big rises in patent troll activity over the last five years — from 22% to 40% of all patent suits filed, with 4 out of five litigants being patent trolls. Other papers show that jobs are being lost and startups threatened, while VC money is just making things worse by making startups waste money filing more patents. Worst of all, it's clear this is just the tip of the iceberg; there's evidence that unseen pre-lawsuit settlements with patent trolls represent a much larger threat than anything the research can easily measure."
An anonymous reader writes with word that NetFlix recently opened its streaming service in Finland and was promptly caught stealing movie subtitles from a local DivX community site. How were they caught? NetFlix failed to remove references to the pirate site in the subtitles.
Hugh Pickens writes "Remember Righthaven? Steve Green writes that the copyright troll who partnered with the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Denver Post to file 275 no-warning copyright infringement lawsuits in 2010 and 2011 against parties that used content from those papers without authorization has just been ordered to turn over to a creditor hard drives from its computers so the creditor could determine if Righthaven has any assets that can be liquidated for the benefit of Righthaven's creditors. Federal judges in three states rejected Righthaven's lawsuits because the company lacked standing as the newspapers — not Righthaven — maintained control of the material Righthaven was suing over. Some defendants were also cleared by the fair use doctrine in copyright law. In the aftermath of Righthaven's legal debacle, the company shut down and claimed to be broke. Creditors in another case seized its website and trademark and auctioned them. They also seized the copyrights it sued over, but they didn't sell. Meanwhile Kurt Opsahl, an attorney for the EFF, has for months been urging Judge Peggy Leen to hit Righthaven CEO Steven Gibson with 'coercive sanctions' for Righthaven's failure to turn over information that will help the EFF find Righthaven assets. 'Steven Gibson is now going to have to show some responsibility,' said Opsahl after the judge issued a court order that could cost its CEO a fine of $500 per day for non-compliance. 'The CEO of Righthaven remains responsible for taking care of the business of the company.'"
hypnosec writes "Cyber-scammers have started using '1.usa.gov' links in their spam campaigns in a bid to fool gullible users into thinking that the links they see on a website or have received in their mail or newsletter are legitimate U.S. Government websites. Spammers have created these shortened URLs through a loophole in the URL shortening service provided by bit.ly. USA.gov and bit.ly have collaborated, enabling anyone to shorten a .gov or .mil URL into a 'trustworthy' 1.usa.gov URL. Further, according to an explanation provided by HowTo.gov, creating these usa.gov short URLs does not require a login." Which might not be a big deal, except that the service lets through URLs with embedded redirects, and it is to these redirected addresses that scammers are luring their victims.
An anonymous reader writes with a link to this Reuters story, from which he excerpts: "Italy's supreme court has upheld a ruling that said there was a link between a business executive's brain tumor and his heavy mobile phone usage, potentially opening the door to further legal claims. The court's decision flies in the face of much scientific opinion, which generally says there is not enough evidence to declare a link between mobile phone use and diseases such as cancer and some experts said the Italian ruling should not be used to draw wider conclusions about the subject. 'Great caution is needed before we jump to conclusions about mobile phones and brain tumors,' said Malcolm Sperrin, director of medical physics and clinical engineering at Britain's Royal Berkshire Hospital. The Italian case concerned company director Innocenzo Marcolini who developed a tumor in the left side of his head after using his mobile phone for 5-6 hours a day for 12 years. He normally held the phone in his left hand, while taking notes with his right hand. Marcolini developed a so-called neurinoma affecting a cranial nerve, which was apparently not cancerous but nevertheless required surgery that badly affected his quality of life."