Freddybear writes with news that yesterday Maryland passed a bill through both houses of the state legislature that would forbid employers from requiring job applicants or employees to provide access to social media accounts. The bill now awaits only the signature of governor Martin O'Malley. "The bill is the first of its kind in the country, and has shined a spotlight on the practice of employers demanding personal social media passwords from potential hires, [said Melissa Goemann of the ACLU]." Similar legislation is being developed in California, Illinois and Michigan, according to the Washington Post.
We've heard recently of CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, a bill currently making its way through Congress that many are calling the latest incarnation of SOPA. Reader SolKeshNaranek points out an article at Techdirt explaining exactly why this bill is bad, and how its backers are trying to deflect criticism by using language that's different and rather vague. Quoting: "The bill defines 'cybersecurity systems' and 'cyber threat information' as anything to do with protecting a network from: '(A) efforts to degrade, disrupt, or destroy such system or network; or (B) theft or misappropriation of private or government information, intellectual property, or personally identifiable information.' It's easy to see how that definition could be interpreted to include things that go way beyond network security — specifically, copyright policing systems at virtually any point along a network could easily qualify."
Trepidity writes "In a decision today (PDF), the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act 'does not extend to violations of use restrictions,' and therefore violating terms of service and corporate use policies is not a federal crime. Law profesor Orin Kerr cheered the decision, but since three other Courts of Appeals have reached opposite decisions, it might be heading to the Supreme Court."
New submitter gchaix writes "The U.S. Federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has publicly embraced open source software and has begun posting its code to GitHub. From the article: 'Until recently, the federal government was hesitant to adopt open-source software due to a perceived ambiguity around its legal status as a commercial good. In 2009, however, the Department of Defense made it clear that open-source software products are on equal footing with their proprietary counterparts. We agree, and the first section of our source code policy is unequivocal: We use open-source software, and we do so because it helps us fulfill our mission. Open-source software works because it enables people from around the world to share their contributions with each other. The CFPB has benefited tremendously from other people's efforts, so it's only right that we give back to the community by sharing our work with others.'"
An anonymous reader writes "The DARPA Robotics Challenge is offering tens of million of dollars in funding to teams from anywhere in the world to build robots capable of performing complex mobility and manipulation tasks such as walking over rubble and operating power tools. It all will culminate in an audacious competition with robots driving trucks, breaking through walls, and attempting to perform repairs in a simulated industrial-disaster setting. The winner takes all: a $2 million cash prize."
New submitter zarmanto writes "In a move that is so long overdue that it boggles the mind, the FCC and the four largest cellular providers in the U.S. state that they will be joining forces to combat cell phone theft. From the article: 'Over the next six months, each of the four operators is expected to put in place a program to disable phones reported as stolen and within 18 months the FCC plans to help merge them into a central database in order to prevent a phone from being used on another carrier's network.'"
An anonymous reader writes "I finally started looking at my taxes and instead of handing over my personal information and money to TurboTax I was wondering if there were any recommendations for freely available/open source tax software? Ideally, the data would be stored in a portable, open format. I wouldn't really need a GUI, but something that filled out PDF forms would be nice." It's a question that just won't go away. Open source solution or not, if you're a U.S. taxpayer, the deadline for filing is nearly to hand.
suraj.sun writes "Iran topped a recent list of repressive regimes that most aggressively restrict Internet freedom. The list, published by Reporters Without Borders, is a part of the 2012 edition of the organization's Enemies of the Internet report. One of the details addressed in that report is the Iranian government's bizarre plan to create its own 'clean' Internet. The proposed system, an insular nation-wide intranet that is isolated from the regular Internet, will be heavily regulated by the government. In addition to developing its own Intranet system, the Iranian government is also creating its own custom email service and a national search engine called Ya Haq (Oh Just One) that is intended to replace Google. In order to obtain an account on the state-approved mail service, users will have to register their identity with the government." The "clean Internet" part, at least, was also mentioned earlier this year; Iran is one of the recurring champions when it comes to such dubious honors.
inode_buddha writes "It's part of the $1 billion AOL patent deal, and it's something that would have made many minds explode back in the 1990s. It still makes my mind explode today. Marc Andreesen points out that MS now has a significant chunk of the old Netscape. What are the ramifications for Mozilla?"
An anonymous reader writes "Utah's Medicaid hack estimate has grown a second time. This time we have gone from over 180,000 Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Plan (CHIP) recipients having their personal information stolen to a grand total of 780,000. More specifically, the state now says approximately 500,000 victims had sensitive personal information stolen and 280,000 victims had their Social Security numbers (SSNs) compromised."
Fluffeh writes "Back in 2007, Heartland had a security breach that resulted in a 130 million credit card details being lifted. A class action suit followed and many thought it would send a direct message to business to ensure proper security measures protecting their clients and customers. With the Heartland case now over and settlements paid out and divided up, the final breakdown is as follows: Class members: $1925 (11 cases out of 290 filed were 'valid'). Lawyers for the plaintiff class action: $606,192. Non-Profits: around $1,000,000 (The Court ruled a minimum of $1 million in payouts). Heartland also paid its own lawyers around $2 million. Eric Goldman (Law Professor) has additional commentary on his Law Blog: 'The opinion indicates Heartland spent $1.5M to advertise the settlement. Thus, it appears they spent over $130,000 to generate each legitimate claim. Surprisingly, the court blithely treats the $1.5M expenditure as a cost of doing business, but I can't wrap my head around it. What an obscene waste of money! Add in the $270k spent on claims administration, and it appears that the parties spent $160k per legitimate claimant. The court isn't bothered by the $270k expenses either, even though that cost about $1k per tendered claim (remember, there were 290 total claims).'"
An anonymous reader writes "Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak says that Apple and other tech companies' patent hoarding could prevent entrepreneurs doing the same thing that he and Steve Jobs did in starting a computer company in a garage. Woz also says the jury is still out on Tim Cook as the right CEO to lead Apple forward after Steve Jobs." He still gives Apple a bit of a break: "'Apple is the good guy on the block of all of them,' he says. 'It is creating so much and is so successful and it is not just following the formulas of other companies – [Apple is] totally establishing new markets that didn't exist.'"
An anonymous reader writes "An IBM patent issued in March describes multitouch floors that detect who is in the home and what they're doing – perfect for detecting intruders and falls, notes MSNBC. CEPro.com suggests the technology also could be used to replace cameras and sensor arrays typically required for gesture control, and could detect staggering teens and 'unregistered' boyfriends. The floors could have 'tremendous implications for home health technology.'"
In the wake of the Trayvon Martin tragedy in February, many publications posted articles about "the talk" — a phrase denoting the conversation many black parents have at some point with their children to explain the realities of racism. Last Thursday, writer John Derbyshire penned an article titled "The Talk: Nonblack Version," which codified a similar set of lessons he had given to his children over the years. Unfortunately, those lessons turned out to be horribly racist themselves. "The remarkably long list of how to teach children to stay safe by avoiding black people goes on for two pages and Derbyshire contends is a true lifesaver. There is no irony or clarification that, perhaps, this is a joke, no matter how much you may want to find a disclaimer after you’re done reading." Reader concealment writes to point out that the internet and the media vocalized their disgust quickly and at length, and now Derbyshire has been fired from his position at the conservative National Review magazine (the offending article appeared in a different publication called Taki's Magazine).
SolKeshNaranek tips a story at TorrentFreak about an ongoing copyright case that revolves around how much effort websites need to expend to block repeat infringers after responding to DMCA requests. In 2011, a judge ruled that a website embedding videos from third parties had correctly removed links to infringing videos after receiving a DMCA request, but failed to do anything to police users who had created these links multiple times. For this, the judge said, the website would be required to adopt a number of measures to prevent repeat infringement. Google and Facebook wrote an amicus brief opposing the ruling, as did Public Knowledge and the EFF. Now the MPAA has, unsurprisingly, come out in favor. They wrote, "Contrary to the assertions of myVidster and amici Google and Facebook, search engines and social networking sites are not the only businesses that desire certainty in a challenging online marketplace. MPAA member companies and other producers of creative works also need a predictable legal landscape in which to operate. ... Given the massive and often anonymous infringement on the internet, the ability of copyright holders to hold gateways like myVidster liable for secondary infringement is crucial in preventing piracy."