An anonymous reader writes "Apple's most famous multitouch software patents are increasingly coming under invalidation pressure. First the rubber-banding patent and now a patent that Apple's own lawyers planned to introduce to a Chicago jury as 'the Jobs patent.' U.S. Patent No. 7,479,949 covers a method for distinguishing vertical and horizontal gestures from diagonal movements based on an initial angle of movement. For example, everything up to a slant of 27 degrees would be considered vertical or horizontal, and everything else diagonal. The patent office now seems to think that Apple didn't invent the concept of 'heuristics' after all."
An anonymous reader sends this quote from an IDG News report: "German consumer organizations are suing Facebook because the social network keeps sharing personal data with third-party app makers without getting explicit consent from users. Third party apps often want access to a users' chat as well as information about friends, personal contact information and the ability to post on a user's Facebook wall. But instead of asking users for permission, the apps available through Facebook's App Center just grant themselves access to the data, the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (VZBV), said on Thursday. ... In the past, Facebook asked for user consent by showing a pop-up window that warned data was shared with third-parties, and a user had the choice to click on allow or not allow. But when the App Center was introduced that changed, said Michaela Zinke, policy officer at the VZBV. 'I'm very confused why Facebook changed it,' she said, adding that before Facebook complied with German law and now doesn't anymore."
An anonymous reader writes "In a post at the Free Software Foundation website, Richard Stallman has spoken out against Ubuntu because of Canonical's decision to integrate Amazon search results in the distribution's Dash search. He says, 'Ubuntu, a widely used and influential GNU/Linux distribution, has installed surveillance code. When the user searches her own local files for a string using the Ubuntu desktop, Ubuntu sends that string to one of Canonical's servers. (Canonical is the company that develops Ubuntu.) This is just like the first surveillance practice I learned about in Windows. ... What's at stake is whether our community can effectively use the argument based on proprietary spyware. If we can only say, "free software won't spy on you, unless it's Ubuntu," that's much less powerful than saying, "free software won't spy on you." It behooves us to give Canonical whatever rebuff is needed to make it stop this. ... If you ever recommend or redistribute GNU/Linux, please remove Ubuntu from the distros you recommend or redistribute.'"
Sparrowvsrevolution writes "Slashdot readers are no doubt familiar by now with the case of Onity, the company whose locks are found on 4 million hotel room doors worldwide and, as came to light over the summer, can be opened in seconds with a $50 Arduino device. Since that hacking technique was unveiled by Mozilla developer Cody Brocious at Black Hat, Onity first downplayed its security flaws and then tried to force its hotel customers to pay the cost of the necessary circuit board replacements to fix the bug. But now, after at least one series of burglaries exploiting the bug hit a series of hotel rooms in Texas, Onity has finally agreed to shoulder the cost of replacing the hardware itself — at least for its locks in major chain hotels in the U.S. installed after 2005. Score one point for full disclosure."
alexander_686 writes "The SEC is investigating Netflix CEO Reed Hastings over one of his Facebook postings. The agency is questioning his July 1 Facebook posting, seen by 200,000 followers, in which he said customers watched 'over 1 billion hours' of videos on Netflix in June. He had previously posted on his company blog that members were viewing 'nearly a billion hours per month.' From the article: '“We think the fact of 1 billion hours of viewing in June was not ‘material’ to investors, and we had blogged a few weeks before that we were serving nearly 1 billion hours per month,” Hastings said in the filing today. “We remain optimistic this can be cleared up quickly through the SEC’s review process.”'"
First time accepted submitter VegetativeState writes "Jane Perez hired a construction company and was not happy with the work they did and alleged some of her jewelry was stolen. She submitted reviews on Yelp and Angie's List, giving the company all F's. The contractor is now suing her for $750,000. From the article: 'Dietz, the owner of Dietz Development, filed the Internet defamation lawsuit filed last month, stating that "plaintiffs have been harmed by these statements, including lost work opportunities, insult, mental suffering, being placed in fear, anxiety, and harm to their reputations." Perez's Yelp review accused the company of damaging her home, charging her for work that wasn't done and of losing jewelry. The lawsuit follows an earlier case against Perez, which was filed in July 2011 by Dietz for unpaid invoices. According to the recent filing, the two were high school classmates.'"
moon_unit2 writes "We're all familiar with ads that seem to follow you around as you go from one website to another. A startup called Drawbridge has developed technology that could let those ads follow you even when you pick up a smartphone or tablet. The company, founded by an ex-Google scientist, employs statistical methods to try to match and identify users on different devices. The idea is that this will preserve privacy while making mobile ads more lucrative, although some experts aren't convinced that the data will be truly anonymous."
An anonymous reader writes with this snippet from ABC News: "Software millionaire John McAfee has been taken to a Guatemala City hospital via ambulance after suffering a possible heart attack at the detention center where he is being held. McAfee, 67 — who may soon be deported back to Belize, where authorities want to question him about the shooting death of his neighbor — was reportedly prostrate on the floor of his cell and unresponsive. He was wheeled into the hospital on a gurney, but when nurses began removing his suit, he became responsive and said, 'Please, not in front of the press.' Earlier today, McAfee had complained of chest pains."
coondoggie writes "The U.S. government's overly complicated way of classifying and declassifying information needs to be dumped and reinvented with the help of a huge technology injection if it is to keep from being buried under its own weight. That was one of the main conclusions of a government board tasked with making recommendations on exactly how the government should transform the current security classification system (PDF)."
Bob9113 writes "Ars Technica reports that Derek Khanna is getting axed over his memo detailing the conflict between laissez-faire-oriented free market ideals and the regulatory monopoly that is copyright. 'The Republican Study Committee, a caucus of Republicans in the House of Representatives, has told staffer Derek Khanna that he will be out of a job when Congress re-convenes in January. The incoming chairman of the RSC, Steve Scalise (R-LA) was approached by several Republican members of Congress who were upset about a memo Khanna wrote advocating reform of copyright law. They asked that Khanna not be retained, and Scalise agreed to their request.'"
judgecorp writes "The European Commission has proposed a "right to be forgotten" online, which would allow users to remove personal data they had shared. The idea has had a lot of criticism, and now Facebook claims it would actually harm privacy. Facebook says the proposal would require social media sites to perform extra tracking to remove data which has been copied to other sites — but privacy advocates say Facebook has misunderstood what the proposal is all about."
New submitter d18c7db writes "Internet tycoon Kim Dotcom has won another court victory, today given the right to drag the secretive GCSB into the spotlight of a courtroom. Forcing the GCSB to be tied to the court action opens it up to court ordered discovery — meaning Dotcom's lawyers can go fishing for documents as they continue to fight extradition to the U.S. to face copyright charges. But the GCSB claimed any disclosure of what [was] intercepted would prejudice New Zealand's national security interests 'as it will tend to reveal intelligence gathering and sharing methods.' Dotcom and his fellow Mega Upload accused asked Chief High Court Judge Helen Winkelmann for the right to have the GCSB become part of the proceedings, amend their statement of claim, and for additional discovery. In a judgment issued today she gave that permission."
judgecorp writes "The European Commission is resisting pressure from US firms and public bodies designed to derail its privacy proposals, which include the 'right to be forgotten' that would allow users to demand their data be removed from Internet sites. Facebook and others oppose the right to be forgotten as it would interfere with their ability to market stuff at friends and connections of their users."
An anonymous reader writes "The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has declared that the Megaupload shutdown earlier this year has been a great success. In a filing to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the group representing major movie studios says the file hosting and sharing industry has been massively disrupted. Yet the MPAA says there is still work to be done, identifying sites that make available to downloaders 'unauthorized copies of high-quality, recently-released content and in some cases, coordinate the actual upload and download of that content.' Here's the list of sites, including where they are hosted: Extratorrent (Ukraine), IsoHunt (Canada), Kickass Torrents (Canada), Rutracker (Russia), The Pirate Bay (Sweden), Torrentz (Canada), and Kankan (China)."
itwbennett writes "Score 1 for online privacy. The Federal Trade Commission and online ad firm Epic Marketplace have reached a settlement that will bar Epic from using browser history sniffing technology. According to the news report, 'The history sniffing allowed Epic to determine whether a consumer had visited more than 54,000 domains, including pages relating to fertility issues, impotence, menopause, incontinence, disability insurance, credit repair, debt relief, and personal bankruptcy. Epic used the tracking to send targeted ads related to several health issues, the FTC said.'"
jrepin points out a discussion with Richard Stallman in which he talks about how the Free Software movement is faring in light of companies that have been successful in the long term with very different principles, like Microsoft and Apple. Stallman had this to say: "I would say the free software movement has gone about half the distance it has to travel. We managed to make a mass community but we still have a long way to go to liberate computer users. Those companies are very powerful. They are cleverly finding new ways to take control over users. ... The most widely used non-free programs have malicious features – and I’m talking about specific, known malicious features. ... There are three kinds: those that spy on the user, those that restrict the user, and back doors. Windows has all three. Microsoft can install software changes without asking permission. Flash Player has malicious features, as do most mobile phones. Digital handcuffs are the most common malicious features. They restrict what you can do with the data in your own computer. Apple certainly has the digital handcuffs that are the tightest in history. The i-things, well, people found two spy features and Apple says it removed them and there might be more. When people don’t know about this issue they choose based on immediate convenience and nothing else. And therefore they can be herded into giving up their freedom by a combination of convenient features, pressure from institutions and the network effect."
concealment writes "The report evaluates the challenge of curbing online radicalization from the perspective of supply and demand. It concludes that efforts to shut down websites that could serve as incubators for would-be terrorists — going after the supply — will ultimately be self-defeating, and that 'filtering of Internet content is impractical in a free and open society.' 'Approaches aimed at restricting freedom of speech and removing content from the Internet are not only the least desirable strategies, they are also the least effective,' writes Peter Neumann, founding director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King's College London and the author of the report."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt opened up to The Wall Street Journal in a Dec. 4 interview. Among the topics covered: the status of his company's ongoing patent war with Apple, as well as its attempts to make the Android mobile operating system more of a revenue giant. In Schmidt's mind, startups have the most to lose in the current patent wars: 'There's a young [Android co-founder] Andy Rubin trying to form a new version of Danger [the smartphone company Mr. Rubin co-founded before Android]. How is he or she going to be able to get the patent coverage necessary to offer version one of their product? That's the real consequence of this.'"
An anonymous reader writes "The Pirate Party of New Zealand has issued a strongly-worded (yet satirical) press release, decrying a recently-launched pro Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) website, stating, among other things: 'The use of a masted sailing ship is the most glaring example of the satirical nature of this website and one of our main grounds for offence. The Pirate Ship and all its related depictions are clearly intellectual property of the Pirate Party or at least if not the Party then The Pirate Bay which the Party shares a mutual affinity with for a free and open Internet. In these heady days of lawsuits over patents for rounded corners we can not stand by on the decks of the Internet and allow these cannon shots to go unanswered!'"