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Government

Starting Next Year, Brazil Wants To Track All Cars Electronically 178

Posted by Soulskill
from the we-know-you-weren't-stuck-in-traffic dept.
New submitter juliohm writes "As of January, Brazil intends to put into action a new system that will track vehicles of all kinds via radio frequency chips. It will take a few years to accomplish, but authorities will eventually require all vehicles to have an electronic chip installed, which will match every car to its rightful owner. The chip will send the car's identification to antennas on highways and streets, soon to be spread all over the country. Eventually, it will be illegal to own a car without one. Besides real time monitoring of traffic conditions, authorities will be able to integrate all kinds of services, such as traffic tickets, licensing and annual taxes, automatic toll charge, and much more. Benefits also include more security, since the system will make it harder for thieves to run far away with stolen vehicles, much less leave the country with one."
Piracy

MPAA Boss Admits SOPA and PIPA Are Dead, Not Coming Back 186

Posted by Soulskill
from the time-to-schedule-the-victory-lap dept.
concealment points out comments from MPAA CEO Chris Dodd, who has acknowledged that SOPA and PIPA were soundly — and perhaps permanently — defeated. Quoting Ars Technica: "Dodd sounded chastened, with a tone that was a far cry from the rhetoric the MPAA was putting out in January. 'When SOPA-PIPA blew up, it was a transformative event,' said Dodd. 'There were eight million e-mails [to elected representatives] in two days.' That caused senators to run away from the legislation. 'People were dropping their names as co-sponsors within minutes, not hours,' he said. 'These bills are dead, they're not coming back,' said Dodd. 'And they shouldn't.' He said the MPAA isn't focused on getting similar legislation passed in the future, at the moment. 'I think we're better served by sitting down [with the tech sector and SOPA opponents] and seeing what we agree on.' Still, Dodd did say that some of the reaction to SOPA and PIPA was 'over the top' — specifically, the allegations of censorship, implied by the black bar over Google search logo or the complete shutdown of Wikipedia. 'DNS filtering goes on every day on the Internet,' said Dodd. 'Obviously it needs to be done very carefully. But five million pages were taken off Google last year [for IP violations]. To Google's great credit, it recently changed its algorithm to a point where, when there are enough complaints about a site, it moves that site down on their page — which I applaud.'"
Social Networks

Why Klout's Social Influence Scores Are Nonsense 98

Posted by Soulskill
from the another-system-to-game dept.
jfruh writes "Klout is a new social media service that attempts to quantify how much 'influence' you have, based on your social media profile. Their metrics are bizarre — privacy blogger Dan Tynan has been rated as highly influential on the topic of cigars, despite having only smoked one, decades ago. Nevertheless, Klout scores have real-world consequences, with people deemed influential getting discounts on concert tickets or free access to airport VIP lounges (in hopes that they'll tweet about it, presumably)."
Government

French Science and Higher Education Programs Avoid Austerity 139

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the we're-clearly-in-the-mirror-universe dept.
ananyo writes "Bucking a trend of cutting science seen elsewhere, the French government has committed to increasing spending on research and development in its draft austerity budget for 2013. France's education and research ministry gets a 2.2% boost under the proposed budget, giving it a budget of just under €23 billion (US$29 billion). Most other ministries get a cut. The upshot of the cash increase is that 1,000 new university posts will be created, no publicly funded research jobs will be cut and funding for research grants will rise (albeit less than inflation) by 1.2% to €7.86 billion. The move to spend on science during a recession is notable and means that French politicians understand that a sustainable commitment to public spending on science is vital for long-term economic growth. The situation is in stark contrast to that in the U.S. and in the UK, where a recent policy to boost hi-tech industries, unveiled with much fanfare, failed to do much for science. Meanwhile, in Australia, there's alarm over proposals to freeze research grants— a step that could jeopardize 1700 jobs."
The Courts

Unredacted Filings Reveal Claims of Juror Misconduct in Apple vs Samsung Trial 282

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the just-get-judge-judy dept.
zaphod777 writes with this bit from Groklaw on more Jury related intrigue in the Apple-Samsung trial: "Samsung has now filed an unredacted version [PDF] of its motion for judgment as a matter of law, a new trial, and/or remittitur. That's the one that was originally filed with a redacted section we figured out was about the foreman, Velvin Hogan. The judge ordered it filed unsealed, and so now we get to read all about it. It's pretty shocking to see the full story. I understand now why Samsung tried to seal it. They call Mr. Hogan untruthful in voir dire (and I gather in media interviews too), accuse him of 'implied bias' and of tainting the process by introducing extraneous 'evidence' of his own during jury deliberations, all of which calls, Samsung writes, for an evidentiary hearing and a new trial with an unbiased jury as the cure." It would seem that everyone's favorite foreman did not disclose that he was sued by Seagate for breach of contract, and that he may have had a chip on his shoulder considering that Samsung is the largest single shareholder of Seagate.
Privacy

Report Slams DHS Fusion Centers: No Terrorists Nabbed, Civil Rights Violated 178

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the that'll-be-a-misdemeanor-reading-/.-charge dept.
PolygamousRanchKid writes with news of a Senate report on just how ineffective those DHS "Fusion centers" have proven to be. From the article: "The lengthy, bipartisan report is a scathing evaluation of what the Department of Homeland Security has held up as a crown jewel of its security efforts. ... Because of a convoluted grants process set up by Congress, Homeland Security officials don't know how much they have spent in their decade-long effort to set up so-called fusion centers in every state. ... 'The subcommittee investigation could identify no reporting which uncovered a terrorist threat, nor could it identify a contribution such fusion center reporting made to disrupt an active terrorist plot,' the report said. When fusion centers did address terrorism, they sometimes did so in ways that infringed on civil liberties. The centers have made headlines for circulating information about Ron Paul supporters, the ACLU, activists on both sides of the abortion debate, war protesters, and advocates of gun rights."
Facebook

What Happened To Diaspora, the Facebook Killer? It's Complicated 215

Posted by Soulskill
from the migrating-half-a-billion-people-is-easy dept.
pigrabbitbear writes "Created by four New York University students, Diaspora tried to destroy the notion that one social network could completely dominate the web. Diaspora – 'the privacy aware, personally controlled, do-it-all distributed open source social network,' as described on their Kickstarter page – offered what seemed like the perfect antidote to Zuckerbergian tyranny. The New York Times quickly got wind. Tired of being bullied, technologists rallied behind the burgeoning startup spectacle, transforming what began as a fun project into a political movement. Before a single line of code had been written, Diaspora was a sensation. Its anti-establishment rallying cry and garage hacker ethos earned it kudos from across an Internet eager for signs of life among a generation grown addicted to status updates. And yet, the battle may have been lost before it even began. Beyond the difficulty of actually executing a project of this scope and magnitude, the team of four young kids with little real-world programming experience found themselves crushed under the weight of expectation. Even before they had tried to produce an actual product, bloggers, technologists and open-source geeks everywhere were already looking to them to save the world from tyranny and oppression. Not surprisingly, the first release, on September 15, 2010 was a public disaster, mainly for its bugs and security holes. Former fans mockingly dismissed it as 'swiss cheese.'"
Government

82-Year-Old Nun Breaks Into Nuclear Facility, Contractors Blamed 223

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-read-the-headline-again dept.
Lasrick writes "Private security contractors strike again, this time at the Y-12 National Security Complex. A nun, a gardener, and a housepainter cut through three security fences to find themselves 20 feet away from highly dangerous nuclear material. And of course, only one guard has been fired (the one who arguably acted the bravest and did the right thing). A Department of Energy report (PDF) on the incident found 'troubling displays of ineptitude in responding to alarms, failures to maintain critical 2 security equipment, over reliance on compensatory measures, misunderstanding of security protocols, poor communications, and weaknesses in contract and resource management.' The contractors have been put on notice, (PDF), but they still have the contracts."
Iphone

Galaxy Tab Sales Ban Lifted, Samsung Sues Apple Over iPhone 5 196

Posted by Soulskill
from the where-we-stop-nobody-knows dept.
another random user sends this quote from the BBC: "A temporary sales ban on Samsung Electronics' Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet computer in the U.S. has been lifted by a U.S. court. District Judge Lucy Koh gave a court order rescinding a ban on U.S. sales that was part of a patent dispute with Apple. ... The ban on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 had been placed before a month-long patent trial between Apple and Samsung. In August, at the conclusion of that trial Apple was awarded a victory on many of its patent violation claims where it said Samsung had copied Apple's iPhone and iPad designs. It was also awarded more than $1bn (£664m) in damages. However, the jury found that Samsung had not violated the patent that was the basis for the ban on the sale of the Galaxy Tab 10.1. Samsung, therefore, argued for the sales ban to be lifted." Samsung also went on the offensive against the iPhone 5 today, filing a motion to add the device to its ongoing patent infringement suit against Apple. Meanwhile, on another front, some good news for Apple: Motorola Mobility, owned by Google, has withdrawn its second complaint against Apple to the ITC. The complaint was filed in August over patent infringement claims involving several minor features. No explanation has been provided for the withdrawal, but Google indicated there was no agreement between the companies.
Privacy

Scientists Want To Keep Their Research Work Out of Court 288

Posted by timothy
from the 10-million-dead-polar-bears-can't-be-wrong dept.
concealment writes "How much privacy is the scientific process entitled to? During the course of their work, researchers produce e-mails, preliminary results, and peer reviews, all of which might be more confused or critical than the final published works. Recently, both private companies with a vested interest in discounting the results, and private groups with a political axe to grind have attempted to use the courts to get access to that material.Would it be possible or wise to keep these documents private and immune to subpoenas? In the latest issue of Science, a group of researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) argue that scientists need more legal rights to retain these documents and protect themselves in court."
Censorship

Iran Lifts Block On Gmail 46

Posted by timothy
from the consider-this-a-warning dept.
redletterdave writes "After blocking Google's Gmail service for a little more than a week, the Iranian government has decided to remove the digital barrier after a barrage of complaints, some of which came from Iran's own parliament. While the Iranian government has released no official statement as to why Google's Gmail service was blocked in the first place, several Iranian news agencies reported the ban was connected to the inflammatory anti-Islam film 'The Innocence of Muslims,' which had been uploaded to YouTube, one of Google Inc.'s many subsidiaries."
Printer

You Can't Print a Gun If You Have No 3D Printer 632

Posted by timothy
from the big-conspiracy-or-small-minds dept.
FatLittleMonkey writes "You may recall Cody Wilson's project to create a 3D printed gun, mentioned previously on Slashdot. Well, the Defense Distributed project has suffered a decidedly non-technical setback, with printer manufacturer Stratasys revoking the lease and repossessing the printer (presumably prying it from plastic models of Cory's cold dead hands). According to New Scientist, the manufacturer cited his lack of a federal firearms manufacturer's license as their reason for the repossession, adding that it does not knowingly allow its printers to be used for illegal purposes." Homemade firearms are not (in the U.S.) per se illegal on a federal basis, though states have varying degrees of regulation. It would be helpful if anyone more conversant with firearms law than me can point out what law or laws this project might be breaking.
Government

The Most Important Meeting You've Never Heard of 171

Posted by timothy
from the but-only-if-you-use-the-internet dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In December the nations of the world will gather in Dubai for the UN-convened World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT – pronounced 'wicket'). The topic of the meeting is nothing less than the regulation of the Internet. Under the auspices of the International Telecommunications Union the governments of the world will review the international treaty known as the International Telecommunications Regulations (ITR). The last review of the ITR was in 1988 when the Internet was just aborning. The remarkable and reshaping growth of the Internet provides the excuse for the new review. What's really afoot, however, is an effort by some nations to rebalance the Internet in their favor by reinstituting telecom regulatory concepts from the last century." At least it's being held in a hotbed of unfettered online communication.
Patents

Judge Posner Muses on Excessively Strong Patent and Copyright Laws 100

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the which-one-of-you-hit-him-with-the-cluebat? dept.
Ars Technica reports on Judge Posner's weblog, and in particular a recent post on the excessive strength of U.S. copyright and patent law: "The problem of excessive patent protection is at present best illustrated by the software industry. This is a progressive, dynamic industry rife with invention. But the conditions that make patent protection essential in the pharmaceutical industry are absent. Nowadays most software innovation is incremental, created by teams of software engineers at modest cost, and also ephemeral—most software inventions are quickly superseded. ... The most serious problem with copyright law is the length of copyright protection, which for most works is now from the creation of the work to 70 years after the author’s death. Apart from the fact that the present value of income received so far in the future is negligible, obtaining copyright licenses on very old works is difficult because not only is the author in all likelihood dead, but his heirs or other owners of the copyright may be difficult or even impossible to identify or find. The copyright term should be shorter." Reader jedirock pointed to a related article on how the patent situation got so out of hand in the first place.
Patents

Save the Web From Software Patents 127

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the byline-discontinued-due-to-patent-lawsuit dept.
TheNextCorner writes "PersonalWeb's software patent suit against Github and others threatens the freedom of the Web. In order to make sure that the Web can remain a free and accessible space for everyone, we need to rid ourselves of all the patents that threaten its viability. We need to end software patents."

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