An anonymous reader sends this Techdirt report on a welcome ruling from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals: ""Here's a surprise ruling. For many years we've written about how troubling it is that Homeland Security agents are able to search the contents of electronic devices, such as computers and phones at the border, without any reason. The 4th Amendment only allows reasonable searches, usually with a warrant. But the general argument has long been that, when you're at the border, you're not in the country and the 4th Amendment doesn't apply. This rule has been stretched at times, including the ability to take your computer and devices into the country and search it there, while still considering it a "border search," for which the lower standards apply. Just about a month ago, we noted that Homeland Security saw no reason to change this policy. Well, now they might have to. In a somewhat surprising 9th Circuit ruling (en banc, or in front of the entire set of judges), the court ruled that the 4th Amendment does apply at the border, that agents do need to recognize there's an expectation of privacy, and cannot do a search without reason. Furthermore, they noted that merely encrypting a file with a password is not enough to trigger suspicion."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
New submitter SplatMan_DK writes "Ars Technica reports that the Obama Administration has filed a brief in support of a Maryland photojournalist who says he was arrested and beaten after he took photographs of the police arresting two other men. The brief by the Justice Department argues that the U.S. Constitution protects the right to photograph the actions of police officers in public places and prohibits police officers from arresting journalists for exercising those rights. Context: 'Garcia says that when Officer Christopher Malouf approached him, Garcia identified himself as a member of the press and held up his hands to show he was only holding a camera. But Malouf "placed Mr. Garcia in a choke hold and dragged him across the street to his police cruiser," where he "subjected him to verbal and physical abuse." According to Garcia's complaint, Malouf "forcibly dragged Mr. Garcia across the street, throwing him to the ground along the way, inflicting significant injuries." Garcia says Malouf "kicked his right foot out from under him, causing Mr. Garcia to hit his head on the police cruiser while falling to the ground." Garcia claims that Malouf took the video card from Garcia's camera and put it in his pocket. The card was never returned. Garcia was charged with disorderly conduct. In December 2011, a judge found Garcia not guilty.'"
sciencehabit writes "The National Science Foundation (NSF) is investigating nearly 100 cases of suspected plagiarism drawn from a single year's worth of proposals funded by the agency. The cases grow out of an internal examination by NSF's Office of Inspector General (IG) of every proposal that NSF funded in fiscal year 2011. James Kroll, head of administrative investigations within the IG's office, tells ScienceInsider that applying plagiarism software to NSF's entire portfolio of some 8000 awards made that year resulted in a 'hit rate' of 1% to 1.5%. 'My group is now swamped,' he says about his staff of six investigators."
recoiledsnake writes "This article notes, 'A new technology built into Google Glass, dug up by New Scientist, takes Google Glass from interesting to down right creepy. Google Glass can now pick a person out of crowd based on their fashion style. The system, InSight, developed in partnership with Google, will take a nice little moment to assess the clothing in frame, and then point out exactly where your friends are in busy settings like a bar, concert, or sporting event. It could probably point you out in a protest, or shopping mall too.' We previously discussed the disorienting effects on the wearer of the device."
TrueSatan writes "Notorious copyright troll Prenda Law has sent a subpoena to WordPress attempting to force the disclosure of all IP addresses related to two WordPress-hosted sites that specialize in monitoring and encouraging action against copyright trolling. The sites in question are fightcopyrighttrolls.com and dietrolldie.com. These sites state their aims as: 'To keep the public and fellow victims informed and to ensure that through activism, trolls make as little money as possible.' These are goals which almost anyone (bar a copyright troll, or lawyer acting for one) might well applaud. Prenda Law's demand is not for a subset of addresses that might have posted in a manner that could be construed as legally defamatory but for all IP addresses that have accessed these sites, irrespective of the use made of them. Prenda Law has filed three defamation lawsuits already against the individuals who run Fightcopyrighttrolls, and one has been dismissed (PDF). Dietrolldie released the following warning: 'As there is a possibility that a release could occur, the public IP address (date/time stamp) could fall into the hands of Prenda. I would expect that they would then try to cross-reference the IP address with their list of alleged BitTorrent infringement IP addresses ... If you have ever gone to this site or Fightcopyrighttrolls.com since 1 January 2011, you may want to contact WordPress. Tell them you want them to refuse this overly broad request and at least wait until the issue of the case being moved to the Federal court is answered before releasing any information.'"
langelgjm writes "The New York Times reports that Apple and Amazon are attempting to patent methods of enabling the resale of digital items like e-books and MP3s. Establishing a large marketplace for people to buy and sell used digital items has the potential to benefit consumers enormously, but copyright holders aren't happy. Scott Turow, president of the Authors Guild, 'acknowledged it would be good for consumers — "until there were no more authors anymore."' But would the resale of digital items really be much different than the resale of physical items? Or is the problem that copyright holders just don't like resale?"
An anonymous reader writes "The U.S. House of Representatives has voted to make the Pentagon disclose whether military drones are being used in U.S. airspace to spy on U.S. citizens. This follows Rand Paul's filibuster on the floor of the Senate in which he demanded answers from the Obama administration as to whether drone strikes on U.S. soil were a possibility. (Senator Paul received an amusingly brief response (PDF) to his 13-hour question.) From the article: 'A requirement buried in a lengthy appropriations bill calls on newly confirmed Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to disclose to Congress what "policies and procedures" are in place "governing the use" of military drones or other unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) domestically. The report is due no later than 90 days after the bill is signed into law. The vote on the bill, which was overwhelmingly supported by Republicans and opposed by Democrats, comes as concerns about domestic use of drones have spiked. ...The House's language stops short of requiring Hagel to disclose whether he or his predecessor have taken the step of approving the targeting of any U.S. citizens for surveillance.'"
fredan sends word of a post at the Tesla Motors blog detailing how the company will be paying off its $465 million government loan 5 years early. Quoting: "This is a significant announcement both for Tesla and for the DOE. It is a marker of the successful launch of the Model S and the incredible market reaction to this award-winning car. And it is a tribute to the success of the DOE's Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program (ATVM), a program which was chartered by Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush, to accelerate the market for a broad range of promising automotive efficiency technologies — electric vehicles (EVs) principal among them. ... Following more than a year of thorough due diligence by commercial auditors, automotive consultants and lawyers, on January 20, 2010, Tesla became the recipient of one of three initial DOE loans announced by Secretary Chu, along with Ford and Nissan – good company for a start-up automaker. Tesla’s loan of $465 million was to be paid back over ten years following the start of production of the Model S. Months later in a separate announcement, an ATVM loan was announced for Fisker. It is worth noting that in comparison with these three other recipients, Tesla had the smallest loan. Ford’s loan was for $5.9 billion, Nissan’s was for $1.4 billion, and Fisker’s was for $529 million. ... We expect to generate sufficient cash and profitability in our business over the next five years that it gives us confidence to proceed with this early repayment of the loan. Moreover, it is also consistent with Tesla’s mantra of speed that we would, as Elon announced last week, accelerate the repayment of our loan, a full five years earlier than required under the original loan terms, making our last payment in 2017."
New submitter Christopher Fritz writes "The Berkeley, CA city council recently met to discuss the closing of their downtown post office, in attempt to find a way to keep it from relocating. This included talk of 'a very tiny tax' to help keep the U.S. Post Office's vital functions going. The suggestion came from Berkeley City Councilman Gordon Wozniak: 'There should be something like a bit tax. I mean a bit tax could be a cent per gigabit and they would still make, probably, billions of dollars a year And there should be, also, a very tiny tax on email.' He says a one-hundredth of a cent per e-mail tax could discourage spam while not impacting the typical Internet user, and a sales tax on Internet transactions could help fund 'vital functions that the post office serves.' We all know an e-mail tax is infeasible, and sales tax for online purchases and for digital purchases are likely unavoidable forever, but here's hoping talk of taxing data usage doesn't work its way to Washington."
Lucas123 writes "While electronic medical records (EMR) may contain your health information, most physicians think you should only be able to add information to them, not get access to all of the contents. A survey released this week of 3,700 physicians in eight countries found that only 31% of them believe patients should have full access to their medical record; 65% believe patients should have only limited access. Four percent said patients should have no access at all. The findings were consistent among doctors surveyed in eight countries: Australia, Canada, England, France, Germany, Singapore, Spain and the United States."
coondoggie writes "The Federal Trade Commission today said it has filed eight court cases to stop companies who have sent over 180 million illegal or deceptive text messages to all manner of mobile users in the past year. The messages — of which the FTC said it had received some 20,000 complaints in 2012 — promised consumers free gifts or prizes, including gift cards worth $1,000 to major retailers such as Best Buy, Walmart and Target."
dakohli writes "Michael Geist has pointed out an interesting development at the National Post's website. 'If you try to highlight the text to cut and paste it, you are presented with a pop-up request to purchase a license if you plan to post the article to a website, intranet or a blog. The fee would be $150.' He notes that even if you are highlighting a 3rd party quote inside an article a pop-up asking if you want a license will appear. Mr Geist points out this might be contrary to Canadian Copyright Law's fair use provisions."
pigrabbitbear writes "The Supreme Court may have approved the warrantless wiretapping of American citizens for just about forever, but the good old state of Texas isn't going to take that lying down. Texas lawmakers don't believe that cell phone location data is fair game for law enforcement, and a couple identical bills filed in Texas's House and Senate would provide sweeping protections for private cell users."
An anonymous reader writes "The European Union is voting on a proposal next week that could lead to a blanket ban on porn in member states, and it seems the measure may well be approved. The proposal, called 'Eliminating gender stereotypes in the EU,' mentions issues such as women carrying a 'disproportionate share of the burden' when raising a family, violence against women as 'an infringement of human rights,' and gender stereotypes that develop early in life. From the proposal: "Calls on the EU and its Member States to take concrete action on its resolution of 16 September 1997 on discrimination against women in advertising, which called for a ban on all forms of pornography in the media and on the advertising of sex tourism." Update: 03/07 19:05 GMT by T : Pirate MEP Christian Engström writes on his blog that citizens writing to the European Parliament about the proposal are not necessarily being heard: "Before noon, some 350 emails [on this topic] had arrived in my office. But around noon, these mails suddenly stopped arriving. When we started investigating why this happened so suddenly, we soon found out: The IT department of the European Parliament is blocking the delivery of the emails on this issue, after some members of the parliament complained about getting emails from citizens."
An anonymous reader writes "A Court of Appeal judgement released today has ruled in favor of Kim Dotcom and will let him sue the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) alongside New Zealand Police. During the High Court case, it emerged that the GCSB had been illegally spying on Dotcom prior to the raid on his Coatesville mansion, on behalf of the FBI, who now wants the Megaupload millionaire extradited to face trial in the US over copyright infringements."
TrueSatan writes in with the latest in the ongoing Aaron Swartz tragedy. "Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday said the suicide death of internet activist Aaron Swartz was a 'tragedy,' but the hacking case against the 26-year-old was 'a good use of prosecutorial discretion.' The attorney general was testifying at a Justice Department oversight hearing before the Senate Judiciary committee and was facing terse questioning from Sen. John Cornyn (D-Texas). ...Holder stated: 'I think that's a good use of prosecutorial discretion to look at the conduct, regardless of what the statutory maximums were and to fashion a sentence that was consistent with what the nature of the conduct was. And I think what those prosecutors did in offering 3, 4, zero to 6 was consistent with that conduct.' Notwithstanding Holder's testimony, Massachusetts federal prosecutors twice indicted Swartz for the alleged hacking, once in 2011 on four felonies and again last year on 13 felonies. The case included hacking charges under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act that was passed in 1984 to enhance the government's ability to prosecute hackers who accessed computers to steal information or to disrupt or destroy computer functionality."
coondoggie writes "As of April 25th the Transportation Security Administration will let a bunch of previously prohibited items such as small pocket knives and what it calls 'novelty' or toy bats to be taken on aircraft as carry-ons. The idea the agency said was to let Transportation Security Officers better focus their efforts on spotting higher-threat items such as explosives and guns."
Hugh Pickens writes "The Washington Post reports that at about 11:45 am today, Kentucky Republican Rand Paul took the floor of the Senate to launch one of the chamber's rarest spectacles: a genuine filibuster. Paul says he is 'alarmed' at the lack of definition over who can be targeted by drone strikes. He called Attorney General Eric Holder's refusal to rule out drone strikes to kill an American on U.S. soil 'more than frightening,' adding, 'When I asked the president, can you kill an American on American soil, it should have been an easy answer. It's an easy question. It should have been a resounding, an unequivocal, "No." The president's response? He hasn't killed anyone yet. We're supposed to be comforted by that.' Any senator can opt to hold the floor to speak on any matter, but the practice of speaking for hours on end is rare, especially in the modern-day Senate, where the chamber's rules are used more often to block legislation or to hold show votes on trivial matters. Paul has since been joined in his symbolic effort by Republicans Sens. Mike Lee (Utah), Ted Cruz (Tex.), Jerry Moran (Kan.), Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Saxby Chambliss (Ga.). He has also gotten some bipartisan support from Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.). Paul suggested that many college campuses in the 1960s were full of people who might have been considered enemies of the state. 'Are you going to drop a Hellfire missile on Jane Fonda?'"
judgecorp writes "The Pirate Bay's announcement that it was moving to North Korea was a prank, making fun of gullible readers. Admitting the hoax, the site said 'You can't seriously cheer the 'fact' that we moved our servers to bloody North Korea. Applauds to you who told us to f*** off. Always stay critical. Towards everyone!'" The essence of a good troll: so absurd it could just be true.