McGruber writes "The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Facebook revealed the sexual preferences of users despite those users have chosen 'privacy lock-down' settings on Facebook. The article describes two students who were casualties of a privacy loophole on Facebook—the fact that anyone can be added to a group by a friend without their approval. As a result, the two lost control over their secrets, even though both students were sophisticated users who had attempted to use Facebook's privacy settings to shield some of their activities from their parents. Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes responded with a statement blaming the users: 'Our hearts go out to these young people. Their unfortunate experience reminds us that we must continue our work to empower and educate users about our robust privacy controls.'"
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
An anonymous reader writes "An interesting case touching on privacy in the Internet age has erupted in Kennebunk, Maine, the coastal town where the Bush family has a vacation home. When a fitness instructor who maintained a private studio was arrested for prostitution, she turned out to have maintained meticulous billing records on some 150 clients, and had secretly recorded the proceedings on video files stored in her computer. Local police have begun issuing summons to her alleged johns, and have announced intentions to publish the list, as is customary in such cases. Police believe such publication has a deterrent effect on future incidents of the kind. However, the notoriety of the case has some, including newspaper editors, wondering whether the lives of the accused johns may be disproportionately scarred (obtaining or keeping a job, treatment of members of their families within the community) for a the mere accusation of having committed a misdemeanor. Also, the list of names will be permanently archived and indexed by search engines essentially forever."
hypnosec writes "Amazon, in an email to Kindle owners, has a revealed that following the settlement in the eBook price fixing lawsuit customers will be entitled to refunds between 30 cents and $1.32 on each book purchased. If the $69 million settlement is approved, the funds will be provided as credits to customers directly in their accounts. Users may request checks for the amount of credit that has been applied to their accounts. 'If the Court approves the settlements, the account credit will appear automatically and can be used to purchase Kindle books or print books,' wrote Amazon in the email."
An anonymous reader writes "Internet censorship is common in conservative majority-Muslim countries, but it may have more to do with politics and technology than with religion. I.e., Iran is not so different from Cuba and China. From the article: 'in an attempt to uncover the various reasons — and ways — that countries clamp down on Internet freedoms, the U.S.-based watchdog Freedom House investigated the issue in 47 nations and released a study of its findings this year. Employing a number of factors ranging from blogger arrests to politically motivated website blockades, the study ranked each country according to its degree of online freedom. And, as it happens, Islamic countries do not stand out for their degree of censorship.'"
PolygamousRanchKid writes with this news from MotherJones: "Last year, when Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett suggested offsetting college tuition fees by leasing parts of state-owned college campuses to natural gas drillers, more than a few Pennsylvanians were left blinking and rubbing their eyes. But it was no idle threat: After quietly moving through the state Senate and House, this week the governor signed into law a bill that opens up 14 of the state's public universities to fracking, oil drilling, and coal mining on campus. Environmentalists and educators are concerned that fracking and other resource exploitation on campus could leave students directly exposed to harms like explosions, water contamination, and air pollution."
An anonymous reader writes "Soda makers, along with other trade organizations, filed a lawsuit Friday challenging the New York soda ban that is about to be implemented in the city. 'Last month, the board voted eight to zero, with one abstention, to ban restaurants, mobile food carts, delis and concessions at movie theaters, stadiums and arenas from selling sugary drinks in cups or containers larger than 16 ounces. The ban, designed to reduce obesity, is slated to begin March 12. ... The lawsuit also claims that new regulations are “arbitrary and capricious,” violating a section of the New York Civil Laws and Rules. Opponents have specifically said it’s unfair that convenience stores, including 7-Eleven and its famous Big Gulp drink, would be exempt.'"
Giorgio Maone writes "Ubuntu developer and fellow Mozillian Benjamin Kerensa chatted with various people about the new Amazon Product Results in the Ubuntu 12.10 Unity Dash. Among them, Richard Stallman told him that this feature is bad because: 1. 'If Canonical gets this data, it will be forced to hand it over to various governments.'; 2. Amazon is bad. Concerned people can disable remote data retrieval for any lens and scopes or, more surgically, use sudo apt-get remove unity-lens-shopping."
SpzToid writes "U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta has warned that the country is 'facing the possibility of a "cyber-Pearl Harbor" and [is] increasingly vulnerable to foreign computer hackers who could dismantle the nation's power grid, transportation system, financial networks and government.' Countries such as Iran, China, and Russia are claimed to be motivated to conduct such attacks (though in at least Iran's case, it could be retaliation). Perhaps this is old news around here, even though Panetta is requesting new legislation from Congress. I think the following message from Richard Bejtlich is more wise and current: 'We would be much better served if we accepted that prevention eventually fails, so we need detection, response, and containment for the incidents that will occur.' Times do changes, even in the technology sector. Currently Congress is preoccupied with the failure of U.S. security threats in Benghazi, while maybe Leon isn't getting the press his recent message deserves?"
NeutronCowboy writes with news that a majority of top staff members from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission have become convinced that Google "illegally used its dominance of the search market to hurt its rivals." The FTC is now drafting a memo that recommends the U.S. government begin an antitrust case against Google. "The agency’s central focus is whether Google manipulates search results to favor its own products, and makes it harder for competitors and their products to appear prominently on a results page. ... The memo is still being edited and changes could be made, but these are mostly fine-tuning and will not alter the broad conclusions reached after an inquiry that began more than a year ago, said these people, who spoke on the condition that they not be identified. ... The FTC staff memo does not mean that the government will sue Google for antitrust violations. Next, the vote of three of the five FTC commissioners would be required. And each step is a further prod for Google to make concessions to reach a settlement before going to court. Last month, Jon Leibowitz, chairman of the FTC, said a final decision on whether to sue Google would be made before the end of this year.
theodp writes "In Ken Kesey's 1962 novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Nurse Ratched maintained order in the mental institution by dispensing antipsychotic and anticonvulsant drugs to the patients. Fifty years later, the NY Times reports that some physicians are prescribing stimulants to struggling students in schools starved of extra money, not to treat ADHD, necessarily, but to boost their academic performance. 'We as a society have been unwilling to invest in very effective nonpharmaceutical interventions for these children and their families,' said Dr. Ramesh Raghavan, an expert in prescription drug use among low-income children. 'We are effectively forcing local community psychiatrists to use the only tool at their disposal, which is psychotropic medications.'"
hypnosec writes "Raynaldo Rivera has pleaded guilty at the US District Court for the Central District of California to hacking the Sony Pictures Entertainment website in May 2011. The 20-year-old in his plea agreement revealed that he joined Lulzsec in May of last year in a bid to help the hacking collective carry out cyberattacks on governments and businesses. Rivera, who surrendered to the FBI on August 28 this year, admitted that he was the one who launched an SQL injection attack against sonypictures.com that enabled him to extract confidential information from the website's database."
v3rgEz writes "The Seattle Police Department is seeking to buy more unmanned aerial vehicles (a.k.a. drones) even as the two it currently owns site warehoused until the city develops a policy for their use, documents released as part of the EFF and MuckRock's Drone Census show. More frightening than the $150,000 price tag? The fact that the drone vendors market the fact that these lease agreements do 'not require voter approval.'" Does your city or town use drones?
RocketAcademy writes "New regulations by the Federal government define asteroidal material to be an antiquity, like arrowheads and pottery, rather than a mineral — and, therefore, not subject to U.S. mining law or eligible for mining claims. At the moment, these regulations only apply to asteroidal materials that have fallen to Earth as meteorites. However, they create a precedent that could adversely affect the plans of companies such as Planetary Resources, who intend to mine asteroids in space."
jonathanmayer writes "The Verge is carrying an accurate and accessible overview of the Do Not Track debate. Quoting: 'With the fate of our beloved internet economy allegedly at stake, perhaps it's a good time to examine what Do Not Track is. How did the standard come to be, what does it do, and how does it stand to change online advertising? Is it as innocuous as privacy advocates make it sound, or does it stand to jeopardize the free, ad-supported internet we've all come to rely on?' The issues surrounding Do Not Track can be difficult to understand, owing to rampant rhetoric and spin. This article unpacks the tracking technology, privacy concerns, economic questions, and political outlook. Full disclosure: I'm quoted."
fishdan writes "I'm a long time Slashdot member with excellent karma. I am also the Libertarian candidate for U.S. Congress in the Massachusetts 6th District. I am on the ballot. I polled 7% in the only poll that included me, which was taken six weeks ago, before I had done any advertising, been in any debates or been on television. In the most recent debate, the general consensus was that I moved a very partisan crowd in my favor. In the two days since that debate, donations and page views are up significantly. Yesterday I received a stunning email from the local ABC affiliate telling me they were going to exclude me from their televised debate because I did not have $50,000 in campaign contributions, even though during my entire campaign I have pointedly and publicly refused corporate donations. They cited several other trumped up reasons, including polling at 10%, but there has not been a poll that included me since the one six weeks ago — and I meet their other requirements."
New submitter Ibhuk writes "I leave my email stored online, as do many modern email users, particularly for services like Gmail with its ever-expanding storage limit. I don't bother downloading every email I receive. According to the South Carolina Supreme Court, this doesn't qualify as electronic storage. This means most email users are not protected by the Stored Communications Act. All your emails are fair game, so be careful what you write. From the article: 'This new decision creates a split with existing case law (Theofel v. Farey-Jones) as decided in a 2004 case decided by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. That decision found that an e-mail message that was received, read, and left on a server (rather than being deleted) did constitute storage "for purposes of backup protection," and therefore was also defined as being kept in "electronic storage." Legal scholars point to this judicial split as yet another reason why the Supreme Court (and/or Congress) should take up the issue of the Stored Communications Act.'"
At this summer's HOPE, Eben Moglen was one of the most incisive and entertaining speakers. But since only a small fraction of the Earth's population can fit into an aging hotel meeting room, you can watch his HOPE presentation via Archive.org on making the first law of robotics apply to cell phones. Besides being a professor at Columbia Law, former clerk in U.S. federal court as well as to Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, and a prolific writer, Moglen is founding director of the Software Freedom Law Center as well as the creator of the FreedomBox Foundation, and was for many years general counsel of the Free Software Foundation. Moglen has strong opinions, and a lot to say, about software licensing and freedom, copyright, patents, and (as you can see from the video linked above) about the privacy implications of always-on, always-on-us technology. Next week, I'll be meeting up with Moglen for a short interview. If you have a question for Eben, please post it below; I can't guarantee how many reader questions I'll have a chance to ask him, but the more, the merrier.
Maow writes with word that the U.S. Federal Appeals Court has reversed a sales ban on Samsung's Galaxy Nexus phone. According to the decision (PDF), "Regardless of the extent to which Apple may be injured by the sales of the Galaxy Nexus, there is not a sufficient showing that the harm flows from Samsung’s alleged infringement. ...the district court abused its discretion in enjoining the sales of the Galaxy Nexus." The ruling also said Apple didn't do a good enough job showing that the allegedly infringing features were "core" to the Nexus's operation. The case centered on what is called "unified search," a method for bringing together search results from multiple places, such as a device's internal memory and the internet at large (U.S. Patent #8,086,604). "Apple must show that consumers buy the Galaxy Nexus because it is equipped with the apparatus claimed in the ’604 patent—not because it can search in general, and not even because it has unified search."
xSander writes "The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will urge a federal judge in San Jose, CA to rule that Universal abused the DMCA to take down a video of a toddler dancing to a Prince song. The case in question, whose oral argument will be Tuesday, October 16, is Stephanie Lenz vs. Universal, a case that began back in 2007. Lenz shared a video on YouTube of her son dancing to 'Let's Go Crazy' on a stereo in the background. After Universal took the video down, Lenz filed a suit with help of the EFF to hold Universal accountable for taking down her fair use. The court had already decided that content owners must consider fair use before sending copyright takedown notices."
Onymous Hero writes "Following the recent YouTube video 'The Innocence of Muslims' and the subsequent Muslim violence, Saudi Arabia has stated that there is a 'crying need for international collaboration to address "freedom of expression" which clearly disregards public order.' The World Telecommunications Policy Forum (a UN body) is the vehicle by which Saudi Arabia (and possibly other states) will try to use to implement a global set of internet content standards."