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.
Deathspawner writes with a view on Six Strikes we don't normally see around here: "It's been well-established all over the Web that the just-implemented 'Six Strikes' system is bad... horrible, worthy of death to those who created it. But let's take a deep breath for a moment. Can Six Strikes actually be a good thing for consumers? While the scheme isn't perfect (far from it), one of the biggest benefits from this system is that it introduces a proxy, and any persecution you might have easily faced prior to Six Strikes is delayed under the new program. Wouldn't you rather receive a warning from your ISP than be sent a bill or legal threat by the RIAA/MPAA?" A couple of days ago, someone sent Torrentfreak an actual alert they received from Comcast (the alert itself is a few screens down). Noteworthy is that there is zero mention of the appeals process.
Barence writes "A German company called Dermalog is showing off a wall-sized transparent display that can tell a person's age, mood and criminal intent simply by scanning their face. The system displays data about the user next to their face, and is a demonstration of a fraud-prevention system that matches criminal intent to certain characteristics. PC Pro's tester wasn't overly impressed. 'If the face was a good enough indicator of mood then it should have tagged me as "freaked out on business technological ennui," not simply "happy", and no police force would accept a description of someone as "aged between 45 and 75 — that's the gap between Daniel Craig and Jack Nicholson.'"
eldavojohn writes "One of China's main microblogging services used by 30% of all Chinese internet users is called Sina Weibo (weibo is the Chinese word for 'microblog') and something that is quite different from the West's twitter is, of course, the enforced censorship. Researchers at Rice University in Houston have estimated numbers for how censorship works and identifies the 'velocity of censorship' in China's microblogging censorship. Most of the posts are marked as 'permission denied' between the five minute and ten minute marks after posting. Their research shows that 'If an average censor can scan around 50 posts a minute, that would require some 1400 censors at any instant to handle the 70,000 posts pouring in. And if they work 8 hour shifts, that's a total of 4200 censors on the payroll each day.' The research indicates you would need a small army to meet stringent censorship policies when servicing China and to avoid being shutdown like Fanfou (another weibo). Keep in mind that this is not simply identifying keywords and blocking the post based on those words. The researchers noted that a phrase like 'Secretary of the Political and Legislative Committee' will result in you being unable to submit your post to Sina Weibo. So the research examines the speed of ex post facto censorship which presumably requires an employee or perhaps government employee to identify 'non-harmonious' posts based on their intrinsic content."
An anonymous reader writes "According to Wired, 'National Security Letters allow the government to get detailed information on Americans' finances and communications without oversight from a judge. The FBI has issued hundreds of thousands of NSLs and has even been reprimanded for abusing them.' It's significant, then, that Google has released data about how many NSLs they've received annually since 2009. The numbers are fuzzed — the FBI apparently worries that if we know how often they're spying on us, we can figure out who. But Google is able to say they've received from 0-999 letters each year for the past four years. And we know it's likely near the upper end of that range because they list the number of accounts affected, as well: always over a thousand."
theodp writes "The anarchist dictum when it comes to grand juries, explains Salon's Natasha Lennard, is a simple one: 'No one talks, everyone walks.' It's a lesson journalist Quinn Norton tragically learned only after federal prosecutors got her to inadvertently help incriminate Aaron Swartz, her dearest friend and then-lover. Convinced she knew nothing that could be used against Swartz, Norton at first cooperated with the prosecutors. But prosecutors are pro fishermen — they cast wide nets. And in a moment Norton describes as 'profoundly foolish,' she told the grand jury that Swartz had co-authored a blog post advocating for open data (the Guerrilla Open Access Manifesto), which prosecutors latched onto and spun into evidence that the technologist had 'malicious intent in downloading documents on a massive scale.' Norton sadly writes, 'It is important the people know that the prosecutors manipulated me and used my love against Aaron without me understanding what they were doing. This is their normal. They would do this to anyone. We should understand that any alleged crime can become life-ruining if it catches their eyes.' Consider yourself forewarned."
International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP), a non-profit organization that claims it is "...the largest and most comprehensive global information privacy community and resource, helping practitioners develop and advance their careers and organizations manage and protect their data." In other words, it's not the same as the much-beloved Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), but is -- as its name implies -- a group of people engaged in privacy protection as part of their work or whose work is about privacy full-time, which seems to be the case for more and more IT and Web people lately, what with HIPAA and other privacy-oriented regulations. This is a growing field, well worth learning more about.
newscloud writes "Seattle will soon shut down its popular phonebook opt-out website as a result of a costly settlement with Yellow Pages publishers. Going forward, the only way to stop unwanted phonebook deliveries will be to visit the industry's opt out site and provide them with your personal information. They will share it with their clients, most of whom are direct marketing agencies, who in turn commit not to use it improperly. The Federal Court of Appeals ruled in October that The Yellow Pages represent protected free speech of corporations (including Canada's Yellow Media Inc.); defending and settling the lawsuit cost Seattle taxpayers $781,503. The city said the program's popularity led to a reduction of 2 million pounds of paper waste annually."
TrueSatan writes "In a highly detailed decision, the UK Court of Appeal has rejected Tesla's appeal against an eartlier ruling by a lower court that, too, rejected Tesla's case. Reading through the decision it is clear that the judge saw Tesla's case as lacking sufficient detail and specific instances of proof to support each claim. The judge stated that that Tesla's chances of a successful appeal, should the case have gone to trial, were insufficiently high to justify holding a trial. He stated that Tesla's case had no real chance of success and in many notes picked appart Tesla's legal team's arguments. That said, he did not say that Top Gear were right or justified in portraying Tesla's vehicle in the way they did — merely that there wasn't a legal case for an appeal. One of the key flaws in Tesla's case, according to the judicial decision, was Tesla's inability to show that actual pecuniary harm, with detailed financial figures, had occurred."
theodp writes "Microsoft says that the death of its 'Scroogled' ad campaign against Google has been greatly exaggerated. 'Scroogled will go on as long as Google keeps Scroogling people,' said a Microsoft spokesperson. 'Nearly 115,000 people signed a petition asking Google to stop going through their Gmail.' So, is Microsoft's scare campaign justified? Well, in a recently-published patent application for a Method and System for Dynamic Textual Ad Distribution Via Email, Google explains how its invention can be used to milk more money from advertisers by identifying lactating Moms, which might make some uneasy. Google also illustrates how advertisers can bid on access to those suffering from breast cancer, bi-polar disorder, depression, and panic anxiety. Hey, what could possibly go wrong?"
An anonymous reader writes in with news that The Pirate Bay claims North Korea has offered the site virtual asylum. A press release reads: "The Pirate Bay has been hunted in many countries around the world. Not for illegal activities but being persecuted for beliefs of freedom of information. Today, a new chapter is written in the history of the movement, as well as the history of the internets. A week ago we could reveal that The Pirate Bay was accessed via Norway and Catalonya. The move was to ensure that these countries and regions will get attention to the issues at hand. Today we can reveal that we have been invited by the leader of the republic of Korea, to fight our battles from their network."
netbuzz writes "In a dramatic call for action directly prompted by 114,000 signatures on a 'We the People' petition, the Obama Administration moments ago urged the reversal of a federal regulatory decision that had rendered the act of unlocking a cell phone illegal. From the reply: 'The White House agrees with the 114,000+ of you who believe that consumers should be able to unlock their cell phones without risking criminal or other penalties. In fact, we believe the same principle should also apply to tablets, which are increasingly similar to smart phones. And if you have paid for your mobile device, and aren't bound by a service agreement or other obligation, you should be able to use it on another network. It's common sense, crucial for protecting consumer choice, and important for ensuring we continue to have the vibrant, competitive wireless market that delivers innovative products and solid service to meet consumers' needs.' Statements from the FCC and Library of Congress indicate that they back the administration's position."
gollum123 writes in with news that Switzerland may soon have the world's strictest corporate rules. "Swiss voters have overwhelmingly backed proposals to impose some of the world's strictest controls on executive pay, final referendum results show. Nearly 68% of the voters supported plans to give shareholders a veto on compensation and ban big payouts for new and departing managers. The new measures will give Switzerland some of the world's strictest corporate rules. Shareholders will have a veto over salaries, golden handshakes will be forbidden, and managers of companies who flout the rules could face prison.The 'fat cat initiative', as it has been called, will be written into the Swiss constitution and apply to all Swiss companies listed on Switzerland's stock exchange. Support for the plans — brain child of Swiss businessman turned politician Thomas Minder — has been fueled by a series of perceived disasters for major Swiss companies, coupled with salaries and bonuses staying high."
davecb writes "Prenda Law has commenced three defamation, libel and conspiracy suits against: defense lawyers, defendants and all the blogger and commentators at 'Die Troll Die' and 'Fight Copyright Trolls'. The suits, in different state courts, each attempt to identify anyone who has criticized Prenda, fine them $200,000 each for stating their opinions, and prohibit them from ever criticizing Prenda again."
asjk writes "The controversial database includes millions of children and documents their names, addresses, disabilities other statistics and demographics. Federal law allows for the files to be shared with private companies. From the article: 'In operation just three months, the database already holds files on millions of children identified by name, address and sometimes social security number. Learning disabilities are documented, test scores recorded, attendance noted. In some cases, the database tracks student hobbies, career goals, attitudes toward school - even homework completion. Local education officials retain legal control over their students' information. But federal law allows them to share files in their portion of the database with private companies selling educational products and services."
terbeaux writes "The fact that Rep Ed Orcutt (R — WA) wants to tax bicycle use is not extraordinary. The representative's irrational conviction is. SeattleBikeBlog has confirmed reports that Orcutt does not feel bicycling is environmentally friendly because the activity causes cyclists to have 'an increased heart rate and respiration.' When they contacted him he clarified that 'You would be giving off more CO2 if you are riding a bike than driving in a car...' Cascade blog has posted the full exchange between Rep Ed Orcutt and a citizen concerned about the new tax."
angry tapir writes "A court in the U.K. has ordered key Internet service providers in the country to block three torrent sites on a complaint from music labels including EMI Records and Sony Music. The High Court of Justice, Chancery Division, ordered six ISPs including Virgin Media, British Telecommunications and British Sky Broadcasting to block H33t, Kickass Torrents and Fenopy."
hypnosec writes "Aaron Gustafson and two of his fellow contributors, Bruce Lawson and Steph Troeth, have announced the closure of The Web Standards Project (WaSP). It was formed back in 1998 by Glenn Davis, George Olsen, and Jeffrey Zeldman to get browser makers support the open standards established by World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The project described itself as a 'coalition fighting for standards which ensure simple, affordable access to web technologies for all.' Founded at a time when Microsoft and Netscape were battling it out for browser dominance, WaSP aimed to mitigate the risks arising out of this war – an imminent fragmentation that could lead to browser incompatibilities. Noting that '..Tim Berners-Lee's vision of the web as an open, accessible, and universal community is largely the reality' Aaron noted that it was time to 'close down The Web Standards Project.'"
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Katherine Rosenberg reports that the Texas Department of Public Safety has unveiled a new web site dedicated to unsolved cold case homicides to make sure the victims are not forgotten and to try to catch a break in even the coldest of cases. DPS spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger says continual strides in technology make focusing on cold cases more important than ever because there are more opportunities to solve them with each emerging process or device. The web site was created because the more readily available information is the more people may be apt to pick up the phone and report what they know. 'It helps to refresh these cases in the public's mind and hopefully we'll shed new light on it. In some cases, we can also re-examine evidence if there's an opportunity or need there as well,' says Cesinger. One featured case from 1993 is Kathleen Suckley who was 29 when her throat was slashed and she was stabbed about 40 times inside her rented duplex, while her two sons, ages 4 and 1, were home. Officials said they interviewed numerous witnesses but never got enough information for an arrest. Capt. Tim Wilson maintains that in any homicide case there always is someone who knows something. At some point, he believes, the murderer will tell someone out of guilt or pride, or simply the pressure of holding it in. Cesinger points out that over time as relationships change, if prompted by something like the website or a news article, that confidant finally may come forward. 'I think we owe it to Kathleen to be this tenacious. It drives me nuts that somebody can do this and get away with it,' says Kathleen's mother-in-law Luann Suckley. 'I think the website is great ... maybe someone will finally speak up because I'm tired of sitting back and waiting.'"
jjp9999 writes "Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance says cybercrimes are the fastest growing crimes in New York City, and criminals of all types are finding uses for digital tools. The Epoch Times reports that during a Feb. 28 event, Vance said it has reached a point where 'It is rare that a case does not involve some kind of cyber or computer element that we prosecute in our office — whether it is homicide, whether it's financial crime case, whether it's a gang case where the gang members are posting on Facebook where they're going to meet.' He also noted that organized crime groups in New York are shifting their focus to cybercrime, and that many local criminals are working with international hackers."
alphadogg writes "Cisco has offered to 'take back' routers it sold to West Virginia if the state finds they are inappropriate for its needs, according to a post on wvgazette.com. The offer is in response to a state auditor's finding (PDF) that West Virginia wasted $8 million — and perhaps as much as $15 million — in acquiring 1,164 ISR model 3945 branch routers from Cisco in 2010 for $24 million in federal stimulus funds, or over $20,000 per router. The auditor found that hundreds of sites around the state — libraries, schools and State Police facilities — could have been just as suitably served with lower-end, less expensive routers."
Bradley Manning, the 25-year-old U.S. Army soldier who allegedly leaked hundreds of thousands of internal memos about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, has been held by the government for two and a half years. On Thursday he pleaded guilty 10 of 22 charges brought against him, and now he has released an official statement. Here's an excerpt: "On 3 February 2010, I visited the WLO website on my computer and clicked on the submit documents link. Next I found the submit your information online link and elected to submit the SigActs via the onion router or TOR anonymizing network by special link. ... I attached a text file I drafted while preparing to provide the documents to the Washington Post. It provided rough guidelines saying ‘It’s already been sanitized of any source identifying information. You might need to sit on this information– perhaps 90 to 100 days to figure out how best to release such a large amount of data and to protect its source. This is possibly one of the more significant documents of our time removing the fog of war and revealing the true nature of twenty-first century asymmetric warfare. Have a good day. After sending this, I left the SD card in a camera case at my aunt’s house in the event I needed it again in the future. I returned from mid-tour leave on 11 February 2010. Although the information had not yet been publicly by the WLO, I felt this sense of relief by them having it. I felt I had accomplished something that allowed me to have a clear conscience based upon what I had seen and read about and knew were happening in both Iraq and Afghanistan everyday."
An anonymous reader writes "Remember The Right Honourable Professor Sir Robin Jacob, Retired Lord Justice, who staged a temporary comeback on the bench of the England and Wales Court of Appeals last fall? He's the one who required Apple to publicly retract its claims that Samsung copied the iPad and imposed sanctions on Cupertino when he concluded Tim Cook's lawyers hadn't fully complied. He has now made worldwide headline news again because he signed up as a Samsung expert witness at the U.S. International Trade Commission. Samsung says he was hired by its law firm, not the company, but the ITC filing says 'Sir Robin Jacob working on behalf of Samsung.' His clerk issued a statement according to which Sir Robin had no idea of Samsung's desire to hire him before January — two months after he gave Apple a blast. Leading legal blogs agree that there is no evidence any law was violated, but they suspect that 'the general issue of what engagements retired judges are permitted to accept will be very much up for discussion' and that this was 'a less than savvy public relations move by Samsung' because it casts doubt on the widely-noticed ruling in its favor. As one of them puts it, in the U.K. you 'never know if the judge might be looking for a new job,' so you better 'make sure [you] have fat rolls of cash spilling out of [your] pockets' in front of a U.K. judge."
An anonymous reader writes "We've talked previously about Texan gunsmith Cody Wilson's efforts to create 3-D-printable parts for firearms. He has a printed magazine that can withstand normal operation for quite a while. But he's also been working on building parts of the gun itself. An early version of a 3-D printed 'lower receiver' — the part of the gun holding the operating parts — failed after firing just 6 rounds. Now, a new video posted by Wilson's organization shows their design has improved enough to withstand over 600 rounds. Plus, their test only ended because they used up their ammunition; they say the receiver could have easily withstood a thousand rounds or more. Speaking to Ars, Wilson gave some insight into his reasoning behind this creation with regard to gun laws. 'I believe in evading and disintermediating the state. It seemed to be something we could build an organization around. Just like Bitcoin can circumvent financial mechanisms. ... The message is in what we're doing—the message is: download this gun.' A spokesperson for the ATF said that while operating a business as a firearm manufacturer requires a license, an individual manufacturing one for personal use is legal."
Dangerous_Minds writes "This last week, the Copyright Alert System was rolled out. Now that everyone is getting a better idea of what the alert system looks like, criticisms are building against the system. Freezenet says that the mere fact that ISPs are using a browser pop-up window opens the floodgates for fraudsters to hijack the system and scam users out of money. The EFF criticized the system because the educational material contains numerous flaws. Meanwhile, Web Pro News said that this system will also hurt small business and consumers."
aws910 points to an L.A. Times article which explains that "Cablevision (a huge cable network) is suing Viacom (owner of MTV, Nickelodeon, etc), alleging that Viacom is violating U.S. federal anti-trust laws by requiring programming packages to be bundled. If they are victorious, it would be a tiny step closer to 'a la carte cable,' but not much — Cablevision just wants to make their own bundles, and not give the customer the freedom to choose which channels they get. Where can I get my "Kill your TV" bumper sticker?" The thing I care more about buying separately is no-TV internet service, which the major cable companies seem reluctant to admit is even possible.
Edgewood_Dirk writes "In response to the recent White House petition, the FCC will be investigating the viability and possible harm of the ban on cell-phone unlocking. Gregory Ferenstein met with FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski at a TechCrunch CrunchGov event Wednesday, where the Chairman said the 'ban raises competition concerns; it raises innovation concerns.'" This line from the end of the article fails to inspire confidence: "Genachowski isn’t sure what authority he has, but if he finds any, given the tone of the conversation, it’s likely he will exert his influence to reverse the decision."
TrueSatan writes "In an utterly craven move, the Canadian government has launched a bill to bring Canada into full compliance with the discredited, U.S.-led ACTA agreement — an agreement to which most of the world does not agree. To further pressure the acceptance of this awful bill, the U.S., on the same day, released their Trade Policy and Agenda Annual Report (PDF), which calls on Canada to comply with ACTA obligations. For ACTA to take effect, it would require six signatures from the major economic blocks. Tt appears to have no remaining possibility of getting them, yet the U.S., and now Canada, continue to push it forward. The Canadian bill features claims based on spurious health and safety concerns that have been thoroughly debunked by a U.S. report. Despite these claims being so dubious, they remain a cornerstone of the Canadian bill. Similarly, the claimed losses due to counterfeiting ($30 billion USD) stated in the bill have also been debunked. The Canadian bill seeks to give border guards an unprecedented level of control, without the possibility of judicial oversight. Despite a lack of evidence to suggest that Canada is a major source of counterfeit product, the bill puts at risk the fully-legal parallel import of generic items — pharmaceuticals, for instance. The bill would also change copyright infringement from a civil dispute to a breach of criminal law. Pity Canada if this bill is enacted!"
New submitter charlesj68 writes with news that U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh has cut Apple's $1.05 billion patent infringement award from Samsung down by $450.5 million. She also said Samsung deserves a new trial over claims related to some of its smartphones. "Koh rejected Apple’s request to enhance the jury’s award, saying the amount Samsung owed was heavily disputed and the jury wasn’t bound to accept either side’s damages estimate. 'It is not the proper role of the court to second-guess the jury’s factual determination as to the proper amount of compensation,' Koh said in her ruling. Apple is entitled to additional damages for sales of infringing products that weren’t considered by the jury, Koh ruled, saying she intends to calculate the amount beginning on Aug. 25, the day after the jury reached its verdict. As the case has been appealed, Koh said she would delay considering evidence of actual post-verdict sales and pre-judgment interest until the appeals are completed."
Later today, the U.S. government will enter the sequestration process, a series of across-the-board budget cuts put into place automatically because U.S. politicians are bad at agreeing on things. "At that moment, somewhere in the bowels of the Treasury Department, officials will take offline the computers that process payments for school construction and clean energy bonds to reprogram them for reduced rates. Payments will be delayed while they are made manually for the next six weeks." The cuts will directly affect science- and tech-related spending throughout the country. Tom Levenson writes, '[s]equester cuts will strike bluntly across the scientific community. The illustrious can move a bit of money around, but even in large labs, a predictable result will be a reduction in the number of graduate student and post – doc slots available — and as those junior and early-stage researchers do a whole lot of the at-the-bench level research, such cuts will have an immediate effect on research productivity. The longer term risk is obvious too: fewer students and post-docs mean on an ongoing drop from baseline in the amount of work to be done year over year.' The former director of the National Institute of Health says it will set back medical science for a generation. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden has laid out how the cuts will affect the U.S. space program. He said, "The Congress wasn’t able to do what they were supposed to do, so we’re going to suffer." The sequester will also prevent billions of dollars from flowing into the tech industry. This comes at a time when there's a pressing need in the tech sector for professionals versed in the use of Linux, and salaries for those workers are on the rise.
Dr Max sends this excerpt from an AP report: "U.S. prosecutors won a New Zealand court victory Friday in their battle to extradite Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom and three colleagues accused of facilitating massive copyright fraud through the now-defunct online file-sharing site. The appeals court overturned an earlier ruling that would have allowed Dotcom and the others broad access to evidence in the case against them at the time of their extradition hearing, which is scheduled for August. The appeals court ruled that extensive disclosure would bog down the process and that a summary of the U.S. case would suffice. Dotcom says he's innocent and can't be held responsible for those who chose to use the site to illegally download songs or movies."
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from TorrentFreak: "The website blocking phenomenon has continued today in the UK, with the High Court adding three major torrent sites to the country's unofficial ban list. Following complaints from the music industry led by the BPI, the Court ordered the UK's leading Internet service providers to begin censoring subscriber access to Kickass Torrents, H33T and Fenopy." Unlike when the Pirate Bay was blocked, none of the ISPs contested this. They did, however, refuse to block things without a court order. Looks like the flood gates have been opened. On the topic of filesharing, Japan arrested 27 file sharers, using the recent changes to their copyright law that allow criminal charges to be brought against file sharers.
Entropy98 sends this quote from the LA Times: "Army Pfc. Bradley Edward Manning pleaded guilty Thursday to 10 charges that he illegally acquired and transferred highly classified U.S. government secrets, agreeing to serve [up to] 20 years in prison for causing a worldwide uproar when WikiLeaks published documents describing the inner workings of U.S. military and diplomatic efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the globe. The 25-year-old soldier, however, pleaded not guilty to 12 more serious charges, including espionage for aiding the enemy, meaning that his criminal case will go forward at a general court-martial in June. If convicted at trial, he risks a sentence of life in prison at Ft. Leavenworth, Kan."
Zordak writes "According to Law 360, H.R. 845, the 'Saving High-Tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes' (SHIELD) Act of 2013 would require non-practicing entities that lose in patent litigation to pay the full legal costs of accused infringers. The new bill (PDF) would define a 'non-practicing entity' as a plaintiff that is neither the original inventor or assignee of a patent, and that has not made its own 'substantial investment in exploiting the patent.' The bill is designed to particularly have a chilling effect on 'shotgun' litigation tactics by NPEs, in which they sue numerous defendants on a patent with only a vague case for infringement. Notably, once a party is deemed to be an NPE early in the litigation, they will be required to post a bond to cover the defendants' litigation costs before going forward."
An anonymous reader writes "Officials at the Chinese Defense Ministry say hackers from the U.S. have been attacking Chinese military websites. 'The sites were subject to about 144,000 hacking attacks each month last year, two thirds of which came from the U.S., according to China's defense ministry. The issue of cyber hacking has strained relations between the two countries.' This follows recent hacks from people in China on high-profile U.S. sites, as well as a report accusing the Chinese government of supporting a hacking group. '[Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng] called on U.S. officials to "explain and clarify" what he said were recent U.S. media reports that Washington would carry out "pre-emptive" cyber attacks and expand its online warfare capabilities. Such efforts are "not conducive to the joint efforts of the international community to enhance network security," he said.'"
The new Copyright Alert System, a.k.a. the 'Six Strikes' policy, went into effect on Monday. Comcast and Verizon activated it today. Ars Technica asked them and other participating ISPs to see the copyright alerts that will be sent to customers who have been identified as infringing. Comcast was the only one to grant their request, saying that a "small number" of the alerts have already been sent out. The alerts will be served to users in the form of in-browser popups. They explain what triggered the alert and ask the user to sign in and confirm they received the alert. (Not admitting guilt, but at least closing off the legal defense of "I didn't know.") The article points out that the alerts also reference an email sent to the Comcast email address associated with the account, something many users not be aware of. The first two notices are just notices. Alert #5 indicates a "Mitigation Measure" is about to be applied, and that users will be required to call Comcast's Security Assurance group and to be lectured on copyright infringement. The article outlines some of the CAS's failings, such as being unable to detect infringement through a VPN, and disregarding fair use. Comcast said, "We will never use account termination as a mitigation measure under the CAS. We have designed the pop-up browser alerts not to interfere with any essential services obtained over the Internet." Comcast also assures subscribers that their privacy is being protected, but obvious that's only to a point. According to TorrentFreak, "Comcast can be asked to hand over IP-addresses of persistent infringers, and the ISP acknowledges that copyright holders can then obtain a subpoena to reveal the personal details of the account holder for legal action."
Weezul writes "The Ada Initiative's Valerie Aurora got Violet Blue's Hackers As A High-Risk Population (29c3 abstract) talk on harm reduction methodology pulled from the Security BSides meeting in San Francisco by claiming it contained rape triggers [ed note: you might not want to visit the main page of the weblog as it contains a few pictures that might be considered NSFW in more conservative places]. It's frankly asinine to object to work around hacker ethics as 'off topic' at such broad hacker conference. Is Appelbaum's 29c3 keynote 'off topic' for asking hackers to work for the 'good guys' rather than military, police, their contractors, Facebook, etc.? Yes, obviously harm reduction is a psychological hack that need not involve a computer, but this holds for 'social engineering' as well. It's simply that hacking isn't nearly as specialized or inaccessible as say theoretical physics. Worse, there is no shortage of terrible technology laws like the CFAA, DMCA, etc. that exist partially because early hackers failed to communicate an ethics that seemed coherent and reasoned to outsiders." The Ada Initiative responds that such talks do more harm than good. It could also be argued that "not working for the bad guys" type talks aren't off-topic, since the hacker community has traditionally cared about things like information freedom.
Zaatxe writes with a bit of news about the music industry; sales are slightly up (basically flat). From the article: "The music industry, the first media business to be consumed by the digital revolution, said on Tuesday that its global sales rose last year for the first time since 1999, raising hopes that a long-sought recovery might have begun. The increase, of 0.3 percent, was tiny, and the total revenue, $16.5 billion, was a far cry from the $38 billion that the industry took in at its peak more than a decade ago. Still, even if it is not time for the record companies to party like it's 1999, the figures, reported Tuesday by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, provide significant encouragement. 'At the beginning of the digital revolution it was common to say that digital was killing music,' said Edgar Berger, chief executive of the international arm of Sony Music Entertainment. Now, he added, it could be said 'that digital is saving music.'" Because CDs aren't digital. CD sales are declining, and being replaced by the sale of lossy files. I wonder how much more money they could be making if they'd just sell folks lossless music on the open market (not just iTunes) since at least that's all that keeps me buying a CD or three a year (I own way too many CDs personally, and stopped buying music until discovering Bandcamp and easy lossless downloads rekindled my desire to find new stuff).
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from a blog post by Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, founder of corporate watchdog SumOfUs.org and partner of the late Aaron Swartz: "The DOJ has told Congressional investigators that Aaron's prosecution was motivated by his political views on copyright. I was going to start that last paragraph with 'In a stunning turn of events,' but I realized that would be inaccurate — because it's really not that surprising. Many people speculated throughout the whole ordeal that this was a political prosecution, motivated by anything/everything from Aaron's effective campaigning against SOPA to his run-ins with the FBI over the PACER database. But Aaron actually didn't believe it was — he thought it was overreach by some local prosecutors who didn't really understand the internet and just saw him as a high-profile scalp they could claim, facilitated by a criminal justice system and computer crime laws specifically designed to give prosecutors, however incompetent or malicious, all the wrong incentives and all the power they could ever want. But this HuffPo article, and what I’m hearing from sources on the Hill, suggest that that’s not true. That Ortiz and Heymann knew exactly what they were doing: Shutting up, and hopefully locking up, an extremely effective activist whose political views, including those on copyright, threatened the Powers That Be."
schwit1 writes "New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill Tuesday legalizing Internet gambling. While the bill only allows Atlantic City casino companies to take online bets, the WSJ believes that those casinos will partner with overseas companies that provide services for online gambling, potentially opening up a bigger market. Furthermore, the bill (PDF) will allow bettors from other states to gamble online, so long as regulators determine that the activity isn't prohibited by any federal or state laws. They included setting a 10-year trial period for online betting, and raising the taxes on the Atlantic City casinos' online winnings from 10 to 15 percent. New Jersey became the third state in the nation to legalize gambling over the Internet. Nevada and Delaware have passed laws legalizing Internet betting, which also is going on offshore, untaxed and unregulated."
eegad writes "I've been thinking a lot about how much information I give to technology companies like Google and Facebook and how I'm not super comfortable with what I even dimly know about how they're handling and selling it. Is it time for major companies like this, who offer arguably utility-like services for free in exchange for info, to start giving customers a choice about how to 'pay' for their service? I'd much rather pony up a monthly fee to access all the Google services I use, for example, and be assured that no tracking or selling of my information is going on. I'm not aware of how much money these companies might make from selling data about a particular individual, but could it possibly be more than the $20 or $30 a month I'd fork over to know that my privacy is a little more secure? Is this a pipe dream, or are there other people who would happily pay for their private use of these services? What kinds of costs or problems could be involved with companies implementing this type of dual business model?"
New submitter ThatsNotPudding writes "The U.S. Supreme court has rejected pleas to allow any challenges to the FISA wiretapping law unless someone can prove they've been harmed by it. 'The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, was originally designed to allow spying on the communications of foreign powers. But after the September 11 attacks, FISA courts were authorized to target a wide array of international communications, including communications between Americans and foreigners. ... In this case, the plaintiffs' groups said their communications were likely being scooped up by the government's expanded spying powers in violation of their constitutional rights. Today's decision, a 5-4 vote along ideological lines by the nation's highest court, definitively ends their case. In an opinion (PDF) by Justice Samuel Alito, the court ruled that these groups don't have the right to sue at all, because they can't prove they were being spied on.'" Further coverage at SCOTUSblog.
dp619 writes "Penn State law professor Clark Asay has written an editorial on F/OSS patent risk, saying, '...under the current patent system, it's entirely possible to obtain a patent that reads on software that FOSS communities independently create. Consequently, FOSS communities and their users are vulnerable to third party patent claims, even absent any sort of wrongdoing or copying on their part.' He suggests that developers collaborate to prevent bad or frivolous patents from being issued in the first place. The ongoing work of Linux Defenders and Peer-to-Patent are cited as good examples of how the FOSS community's collaborative spirit can help it counteract potential legal threats."
New submitter mynameiskhan writes "Major internet service providers today will start monitoring the internet traffic to their customers' computers and will warn them if they download copyrighted materials using peer to peer network. The article says, 'A person will be given up to six opportunities to stop before the Internet provider will take more drastic steps, such as temporarily slowing their connection, or redirecting Internet traffic until they acknowledge they received a notice or review educational materials about copyright law.' Furthermore, if you appeal the warning you will be required to pay $35 to state your case. Have the ISPs have had enough of RIAA pestering, or are they siding with RIAA?"
Google Hangout interview with Keith Bergelt, Chief Executive Officer of the Open Invention Network (OIN), which was jointly founded by IBM, NEC, Novell, Philips, Red Hat, and Sony to share their relevant patents with all Linux and Open Source developers and users in order to prevent patent troll attacks on FOSS, such as the famous SCO vs. IBM lawsuits that hampered Linux adoption during the early 2000s. It costs nothing to become a an OIN licensee, and over 500 companies have done so. Few people know, however, that individual developers and FOSS users can become OIN licensees; that you are welcome to do so, and it costs nothing. Read their license agreement, sign it, and send it in. That's all it takes. They also buy patents and accept patent donations. And "...if your company is being victimized by any entity seeking to assert its patent portfolio against Linux, please contact us so that we can aid you in your battle with these dark forces." This OIN service is called Linux Defenders 911. We hope you never need to use it, but it's good to know it's there if you do need it.
An anonymous reader writes "It appears that two weeks ago my email address got into the wrong database. Since that time there have been continuing attempts to access my accounts and create new accounts in my name. I have received emails asking me to click the link below to confirm I want to create an account with Twitter, Facebook, Apple Games Center, Facebook mobile account, and numerous pornographic sites. I have not attempted to create accounts on any of these services. I have also received 16 notices from Apple about how to reset my Apple ID. I am guessing these notices are being automatically generated in response to too many failed login attempts. At this point I have no reason to believe any of my accounts have been compromised but I see no good response."
concealment writes "Many of us have had the experience of going to Amazon to buy one thing but checking out with a huge shopping cart of items that we didn't initially seek—or even know were available. Amazon's merchandising often benefits Amazon's customers, but trademark owners who lose sales to their competition due to it aren't as thrilled. Fortunately for Amazon, a California federal court recently upheld Amazon's merchandising practices in its internal search results."