First time accepted submitter SmartAboutThings writes "Apple and Microsoft are one of the worst companies at protecting our privacy, according to EFF's privacy report. Dropbox, Twitter and Sonic have some of the best scores." "Sonic" is California ISP Sonic.net, which tops the field with the EFF's only 4-star rating. Of ISPs with national presence, ATT and Comcast come in with a single star apiece, and Verizon gets a goose egg.
Reader rtfa-troll writes: "'GPL enforcement by Software Freedom Conservancy puts electronics makers on notice, leaves business users untouched,' says Infoworld, going on to explain 'You are several orders of magnitude more likely to be raided by your proprietary suppliers, in the form of the Business Software Alliance, than to ever hear from SFC, let alone face any action. License compliance is a major and costly issue for proprietary software, but the case concerns an end-user license agreement (EULA), not a source license.' The article gives a good summary of why having GPL licenses enforced helps everybody, except for 'hardware manufacturers — typically those creating low-cost consumer and business electronics' who need to verify that they pass on the same rights to others as they received with the original code."
Hugh Pickens writes "Brandon Keim reports that the war on drugs has a new front, with chemists fabricating synthetic mimics of marijuana, dissociative drugs and stimulants. So far lawmakers appear to be a losing the war, as every time a new compound is banned, overseas chemists synthesize a new version tweaked just enough to evade the letter of the law in a giant game of chemical Whack-a-Mole. 'Manufacturers turn these things around so quickly. One week you'll have a product with compound X, the next week it's compound Y,' says forensic toxicologist Kevin Shanks. 'It's fascinating how fast it can occur, and it's fascinating to see the minute changes in chemical structure they'll come up with. It's similar, but it's different.' During the last several years, the market for legal highs has exploded in North America and Europe. While people raised on Reefer Madness-style exaggerations may be wary of claims that 'legal high' drugs are dangerous, researchers say they're far more potent than the originals. Reports of psychotic episodes following synthetic drug use are common and have led to a variety of laws, but so far the bans aren't working, as the drugs can be subtly tweaked so as to possess a different, legal molecular form. One obvious alternative approach is to ban entire classes of similar compounds; however this is easier said than done. 'The problem with that is, what does "chemically similar" really mean? Change the structure in a small way — move a molecule here, move something to the other side of the molecule — and while I might think it's an analogue, another chemist might disagree,' says Shanks. 'That's the crux of the entire problem. The scientific community does not agree on what "analogue" essentially means.""
knorthern knight writes "When 2 light civilian planes collide in U.S. airspace in Virginia, the usual response includes calling in the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) to investigate and make recommendations based on their results. But what do you do when the crash involves two planes piloted by a crash investigator with the FAA and the chief medical officer with the NTSB? In order to avoid conflict of interest by American investigators working for these agencies, the investigation has been turned over to to the Transportation Safety Board of Canada as a neutral 3rd party."
An anonymous reader writes "Further to the previous story on Slashdot where attorney Candice Schwager threw threats to sue a photographer who reported a DMCA violation against her for infringing use of his photography: Candice has now made a DMCA threat of her own against Petapixel, a photography site that reported on her infringement. The kicker? She's sent the DMCA notice an apparent six times not to Petapixel's registrar or their hosting service, but to Godaddy, her own registrar."
NormalVisual writes "License-plate reading cameras are popping up on utility poles all over St. Lawrence County in upstate New York, but no one is willing to say who they belong to. One camera was found by a utility crew, removed from the pole, and given to the local police. 'Massena Police Chief Timmy Currier said he returned it to the owner, but wouldn't say how he knew who the owner was, nor would he say who he gave it to....(Andrew) McMahon, the superintendent at Massena Electric Department, said one of his crews found a box on one of their poles and took it down because "it was in the electric space," the top tier of wires on the pole above the telephone and cable TV wires, and whoever put it there had taken a chance with electrocution. He said they had never received a request or been informed about its placement.'"
An anonymous reader links this article describing a newly installed set of rules affecting the already put-upon Internet users of China, specifically affecting users of social network Sina Weibo: "Sina Weibo users each will now receive 80 points to begin with, and this can be boosted to a full 100 points by those who provide their official government-issued identification numbers (like Social Security numbers in the U.S.) and link to a cellphone account. Spreading falsehoods will lead to deductions in points, among other penalties. Spreading an untruth to 100 other users will result in a deduction of two points. Spreading it to 100-1,000 other users will result in a deduction of five points, as well as a week's suspension of the account. Spreading it to more than 1,000 other users will result in a deduction of 10 points, as well as a 15-day suspension of the account." The article explains (in truth, not very helpfully) the extent to which users' freedom to talk freely will be curtailed; the long list of what not to do "includes using 'nonconforming' or false images to mislead," "exaggerating events," "presenting already [resolved] events as ongoing," "efforts to incite ethnic tensions and violence and hurt ethnic unity" and "efforts to spread cultist or superstitious thinking; spreading rumors to disrupt social harmony." (And of course the catch-all: "other activities stipulated by authorities.")
alphabet26 writes "The Canadian Information Processing Society has formally responded to the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act introduced in February of this year. Bill C-30 would grant authorities extended powers to monitor and track Canadians online. In the statement CIPS recommends that the Government of Canada 'prohibit access to personal information, related records/data, content, communications or records of internet use without the safeguard of a warrant.' CIPS is a non-profit organization that represents Canadian IT professionals and is a member of the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP)."
schliz writes "Australian tech publication iTnews is defining 'patent trolls' as those who claim rights to an invention without commercializing it, and notes that government research organization CSIRO could come under that definition. The CSIRO in April reached a $220 million settlement over three U.S. telcos' usage of WLAN that it invented in the early 1990s. Critics have argued that the CSIRO had failed to contribute to the world's first wifi 802.11 standard, failed to commercialize the wifi chip through its spin-off, Radiata, and chose to wage its campaign in the Eastern District courts of Texas, a location favored by more notorious patent trolls."
aesoteric writes "Six weeks after Hollywood lost a landmark internet piracy case in Australia, it appears the film studios have gone cold on the idea of helping develop legal avenues to access copyrighted content as a way to combat piracy. Instead, they've produced research to show people will continue pirating even if there are legitimate content sources available. The results appear to support the studios' policy position that legislation is a preferable way of dealing with the issue." The industry-controlled kill switch is a popular idea all over the world.
closer2it writes "At this week's All Things D conference, Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher invited Hollywood agent Ari Emanuel. He spoke about things like TV not dying, cord-cutting being some kind of myth, and that googlers are smart guys and they should do something about the stealing of content. Josh Topolsky, from The Verge, apparently challenged him (video) on this point, asking: 'Aren't you saying that the road is responsible for the fact that someone drove on it before they robbed my house?' Emanuel didn't like this analogy, and even ended the reply asking Topolsky where he works. Mike Masnick also wrote a piece about the interview. I guess that if the Internet has enemies, I'd say Emanuel gives them a face."
Bob the Super Hamste writes "The BBC is reporting on a new law in Venezuela that effectively bans the commercial sale of firearms and ammunition to private citizens. Previously anyone with a permit could purchase a firearm from any commercial vendor but now only the police, military, and security firms will be able to purchase firearms or ammunition from only state-owned manufactures or importers. Hugo Chavez's government states that the goal is to eventually disarm the citizenry. The law, which went into effect today, was passed on February 29th, and up to this point the government has been running an amnesty program allowing citizens to turn in their illegal firearms. Since the law was first passed, 805,000 rounds of ammunition have been recovered from gun dealers. The measure is intended to curb violent crime in Venezuela, where 78% of homicides are linked to firearms."
PerlJedi tips a story that highlights one of the downsides to ebooks. A blogger who recently read Tolstoy's War and Peace on his Nook stumbled upon some odd phases, such as: "It was as if a light had been Nookd in a carved and painted lantern..." After seeing the word 'Nookd' a few more times, he found a dead-tree version of the book and discovered that the word was supposed to be 'kindled.' Every instance of the word 'kindle' in the ebook had been replaced with 'Nook.' "The Superior Formatting Publishing version isn’t a Barnes and Noble book, so this isn’t the work of a rogue Nook marketer from B&N. Rather, it’s likely that Superior Formatting Publishing ported its Kindle version of War and Peace over to the Nook — doing a search and replace to make sure that any Kindle references they’d inserted, such as in the advertising at the end of the book about their fine Kindle products, were simply changed to Nook. The unwitting hilarity of a publisher doing a 'find and replace' and accidentally changing the text of a canonical work of Western thought is alarming. Many versions of e-books are from similar outfits, that distribute public domain works formatted for Kindle or Nook at the lowest possible prices. The great democratizing factor of the ebook formats – that anyone can easily distribute – can also mean that readers can never be quite sure that they are viewing the texts as the author intended."
An anonymous reader writes "As Microsoft released the preview of the next version of its Internet Explorer browser, news that in Windows 8 the browser will be sending a 'Do Not Track' signal to Web sites by default must have shaken online advertising giants. 'Consumers can change this default setting if they choose,' Microsoft noted, but added that this decision reflects their commitment to providing Windows customers an experience that is 'private by default' in an era when so much user data is collected online.' This step will make Internet Explorer 10 the first web browser with DNT on by default. And while the websites are not required to comply with the users' do-not-track request, the DNT initiative — started by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission — is making good progress."
itwbennett writes "Responding to complaints from Chinese Googlers that the search engine is 'inconsistent and unreliable,' Google has updated its service to help users steer clear of search queries that will result in page errors. Google will now highlight characters and phrases that are likely to 'break' a user's connection. 'By prompting people to revise their queries, we hope to reduce these disruptions and improve our user experience from mainland China,' the company said in a blog post."