An anonymous reader writes "We have a sense that surveillance is bad, but we often have a hard time saying exactly why. In an interesting and readable new article in the Harvard Law Review, law professor Neil Richards argues that surveillance is bad for two reasons — because it menaces our intellectual privacy (our right to read and think freely and secretly) and because it gives the watcher power over the watched, creating the risk of blackmail, persuasion, or discrimination. The article is available for free download, and is featured on the Bruce Schneier security blog."
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 Internet speed test! ×
An anonymous reader writes in with a story about some of the ramifications of the Oracle-Google lawsuit. "You could hear a collective sigh of relief from the software developer world when Judge William Alsup issued his ruling in the Oracle-Google lawsuit. Oracle lost on pretty much every point, but the thing that must have stuck most firmly in Oracle’s throat was this: 'So long as the specific code used to implement a method is different, anyone is free under the Copyright Act to write his or her own code to carry out exactly the same function or specification of any methods used in the Java API. It does not matter that the declaration or method header lines are identical. Under the rules of Java, they must be identical to declare a method specifying the same functionality — even when the implementation is different. When there is only one way to express an idea or function, then everyone is free to do so and no one can monopolize that expression. And, while the Android method and class names could have been different from the names of their counterparts in Java and still have worked, copyright protection never extends to names or short phrases as a matter of law.'"
An anonymous reader writes in with bad news for Apple. "It would appear that Apple has lost an attempt to trademark the 'iPad Mini.' This time it's not nefarious foreigners subverting the just order of things simply by trademarking something several years before Apple did. No, that was what happened in Brazil with the IFone. Nor is it people nefariously selling the rights to everywhere but China but Apple's lawyers didn’t notice, as happened with iPad in China. No, this time it's the U.S. Patents and Trademarks Office saying that Apple simply cannot have a trademark on 'iPad Mini.' For the simple reason that the law doesn't allow them to trademark something which is just a description of the product."
An anonymous reader writes "A man with a neurological disorder is currently pushing the TSA to release a full list of its policies and procedures after a series of incidents in which he was harassed while trying to fly. His condition requires medical liquids and causes episodic muteness, and the TSA makes his encounters very difficult. From January: 'Boston Logan TSA conducted an illegal search of my xray-cleared documents (probably motivated either by my opting out or by my use of sign language to communicate). They refused to give me access to the pen and paper that I needed to communicate. Eventually they gave it to me, but then they took it away in direct retaliation for my using it to quote US v Davis and protest their illegal search (thereby literally depriving me of speech). They illegally detained me for about an hour on spurious, law enforcement motivated grounds (illegal under Davis, Aukai, Fofana, Bierfeldt, etc). ... TSA has refused to comply with the ADA grievance process; they are over a month beyond the statutory mandate for issuing a written determination.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "Federal regulators are starting to make noise about Bitcoin, the digital currency that's gained in recognition and value over the past few years: the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is offering up 'guidance' for digital currency and those who use it as part of commerce. But the Bitcoin Foundation, which is devoted to standardizing and promoting the currency, doesn't like that idea; as Patric Murck, the organization's general counsel, wrote in a March 19 blog posting: 'If FinCEN would like to expand its statutory authority over "money transmitters" to include brand new categories such as "administrators" and "exchangers" of digital currency it must do so through proper rulemaking proceedings and not by fiat.' If Bitcoin continues to gain in value, it could spark a rise in virtual currencies—and force some very interesting discussions over regulation. But here's the question: would regulation actually be good for Bitcoin, if it made organizations and businesses more comfortable with using it as a currency?"
theodp writes "Responding to an earlier request by the estate of Aaron Swartz to disclose the names of those involved in the events leading to Aaron's suicide, counsel for MIT snippily told the Court, "The Swartz Estate was not a party to the criminal case, and therefore it is unclear how it has standing, or any legally cognizable interest, to petition for the modification of the Protective Order concerning others' documents." In motions filed on slow-news-day Good Friday (MIT's on spring break), the DOJ, MIT, and JSTOR all insisted on anonymity for those involved in the Swartz case, arguing that redacting of names was a must, citing threats posed by Anonymous and LulzSec, a badly-photoshopped postcard sent to Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Heymann and another sent to his Harvard Prof father, cake frosting, a gun hoax, and e-mail sent to MIT. From the DOJ filing: 'I also informed him [Swartz estate lawyer] that whatever additional public benefit might exist by disclosing certain names was, in this case, outweighed by the risk to those individuals of becoming targets of threats, harassment and abuse.' From the MIT filing: 'The publication of MIT's documents in unredacted form could lead to further, more targeted, and more dangerous threats and attacks...The death of Mr. Swartz has created a very volatile atmosphere.' From the JSTOR filing: 'The supercharged nature of the public debate about this case, including hacking incidents, gun hoaxes and threatening messages, gives JSTOR and its employees legitimate concern for their safety and privacy.'"
An anonymous reader writes "It's been more than a decade and a half since the FCC adopted a set of standards for radiation exposure from cell phones. The guidelines set in 1996 (and based on studies from the '80s) have applied to all cell phones released in the U.S. since then. Now, the FCC has decided that modern devices are just a tiny bit different than models from the '90s (where did those suitcase phones go?), so they're going to review and update the standard. 'Even though the FCC hasn't changed its standards for evaluating the safety of cell phones, it has provided consumers with information about how to minimize the risk of exposure to cell phone radiation. For example, the FCC recommends people use the speakerphone feature or an earpiece when talking on the phone, since increasing the distance the device is held from the body greatly reduces exposure. But the agency has not advocated for stricter warnings nor has it even endorsed these safety measures as necessary. The current review of the standards could change that as the agency will look at its testing procedures as well as the educational information it provides to the public about cell phone safety.'"
Earthquake Retrofit writes "The Register reports that 'Facebook has sent out invitations to an event at its Menlo Park headquarters next week that many believe will see the launch of a new, Facebook-branded smartphone...' I have lately become disillusioned with Google having so much power over my phone and the usual privacy concerns, so this announcement means I now have a choice. Oh, wait..."
MarkWhittington writes "Included in President Obama's 2014 budget request will be a $100 million line item for NASA for a mission to capture and bring an asteroid to a high orbit around the moon where it will be explored by astronauts. Whether the $2.6 billion mission is a replacement or a supplement to the president's planned human mission to an asteroid is unclear. The proposal was first developed by the Keck Institite in April, 2012 and has achieved new impetus due to the meteor incident over Russia and new fears of killer asteroids."
Boston Police, according to an article at Slate, are engaging in a strange use of social media to fight crime. Or at least, to stop raucous music from disturbing the city. As the Slate writer says, "While police departments have been using social media to investigate for years, its use in such seemingly trivial crimes would be rather chilling, if these efforts didn’t seem so laughably inept."
Via the EFF comes news that, during a case involving the use of a Stingray device, the DOJ revealed that it was standard practice to use the devices without explicitly requesting permission in warrants. "When Rigmaiden filed a motion to suppress the Stingray evidence as a warrantless search in violation of the Fourth Amendment, the government responded that this order was a search warrant that authorized the government to use the Stingray. Together with the ACLU of Northern California and the ACLU, we filed an amicus brief in support of Rigmaiden, noting that this 'order' wasn't a search warrant because it was directed towards Verizon, made no mention of an IMSI catcher or Stingray and didn't authorize the government — rather than Verizon — to do anything. Plus to the extent it captured loads of information from other people not suspected of criminal activity it was a 'general warrant,' the precise evil the Fourth Amendment was designed to prevent. ... The emails make clear that U.S. Attorneys in the Northern California were using Stingrays but not informing magistrates of what exactly they were doing. And once the judges got wind of what was actually going on, they were none too pleased:"
sfcrazy writes "Google has announced the Open Patent Non-Assertion (OPN) Pledge. In the pledge Google says that they will not sue any user, distributor, or developer of Open Source software on specified patents, unless first attacked. Under this pledge, Google is starting off with 10 patents relating to MapReduce, a computing model for processing large data sets first developed at Google. Google says that over time they intend to expand the set of Google's patents covered by the pledge to other technologies." This is in addition to the Open Invention Network, and their general work toward reforming the patent system. The patents covered in the OPN will be free to use in Free/Open Source software for the life of the patent, even if Google should transfer ownership to another party. Read the text of the pledge. It appears that interaction with non-copyleft licenses (MIT/BSD/Apache) is a bit weird: if you create a non-free fork it appears you are no longer covered under the pledge.
ananyo writes "Nature has published an investigation into the real costs of publishing research after delving into the secretive, murky world of science publishing. Few publishers (open access or otherwise-including Nature Publishing Group) would reveal their profit margins, but they've pieced together a picture of how much it really costs to publish a paper by talking to analysts and insiders. Quoting from the piece: '"The costs of research publishing can be much lower than people think," agrees Peter Binfield, co-founder of one of the newest open-access journals, PeerJ, and formerly a publisher at PLoS. But publishers of subscription journals insist that such views are misguided — born of a failure to appreciate the value they add to the papers they publish, and to the research community as a whole. They say that their commercial operations are in fact quite efficient, so that if a switch to open-access publishing led scientists to drive down fees by choosing cheaper journals, it would undermine important values such as editorial quality.' There's also a comment piece by three open access advocates setting out what they think needs to happen next to push forward the movement as well as a piece arguing that 'Objections to the Creative Commons attribution license are straw men raised by parties who want open access to be as closed as possible.'"
netbuzz writes "A federal judge in Texas, presiding over a district notorious for favoring patent trolls, has summarily dismissed all claims relating to a case brought by Uniloc USA against Rackspace for [Linux] allegedly infringing upon [Uniloc's] patents. Red Hat defended Rackspace in the matter and issued a press release saying: 'In dismissing the case, Chief Judge Leonard Davis found that Uniloc's claim was unpatentable under Supreme Court case law that prohibits the patenting of mathematical algorithms. This is the first reported instance in which the Eastern District of Texas has granted an early motion to dismiss finding a patent invalid because it claimed unpatentable subject matter.'" You can't patent floating point math after all.
c0lo writes "The editor-in-chief and entire editorial board of the Journal of Library Administration announced their resignation last week, citing 'a crisis of conscience about publishing in a journal that was not open access' in the days after the death of Aaron Swartz. The board had worked with publisher Taylor & Francis on an open-access compromise in the months since, which would allow the journal to release articles without paywall, but Taylor & Francis' final terms asked contributors to pay $2,995 for each open-access article. As more and more contributors began to object, the board ultimately found the terms unworkable. The journal's editor-in-chief said 'After much discussion, the only alternative presented by Taylor & Francis tied a less restrictive license to a $2995 per article fee to be paid by the author. As you know, this is not a viable licensing option for authors from the LIS community who are generally not conducting research under large grants.'"
coondoggie writes "How is spacecraft development — from the space parts supply chain to actual space operations — protected from those who would try to penetrate or disrupt the networks involved in that process? The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has put out a call for research to understand that security scenario. They say, 'we are much less concerned about information on the broader themes of cyber-security but rather those that pertain to the mission of the spacecraft, the spacecraft as a platform, the systems that constitute the spacecraft, the computers and their software, the busses and networks within, and the elements that interface to the spacecraft.'"
redletterdave writes "After just one month online, North Korea has pulled the plug on its only 3G data network, which was previously made available for tourists to access the Internet starting on Feb. 22. The North Korean government did not explain why its 3G network has been shut off, but given the raised level of international interest in the country's activities (the country is facing UN sanctions after its third nuclear test last month) and how it severed its final communication line with South Korea on Wednesday, the government likely had a change of heart about its loosening communication restrictions. That said, as with most things in North Korea, we may never know the real answer."
An anonymous reader writes "The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that text messages are private communication (Official Ruling) and therefore police are required to get a warrant to gain access to the text messages of private citizens. The CBC reports: '[Supreme Court Justice Rosalie Silberman] Abella said the only practical difference between text messaging and traditional voice communications is the transmission process. "This distinction should not take text messages outside the protection to which private communications are entitled," she wrote.'" Quite different from the attitude in the U.S.
jrepin writes "The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) is running its annual Document Freedom Day campaign today to raise awareness of the importance of open standards. This year's Document Freedom Day involves over 50 groups from 30 countries and focuses on open standards in web-based streaming technologies, especially on increasing the awareness and usage of HTML5. This year's campaign is sponsored by Google and openSUSE. To celebrate the Document Freedom Day April has published a poster to explain to software users, the interest of opting for 'open formats' to exchange and store their files."
chicksdaddy writes "Mobile phone use may be a more accurate identifier of individuals than even their own fingerprints, according to research published on the web site of the scientific journal Nature. Scientists at MIT and the Université catholique de Louvain in Belgium analyzed 15 months of mobility data for 1.5 million individuals who the same mobile carrier. Their analysis, 'Unique in the Crowd: the privacy bounds of human mobility' showed that data from just four, randomly chosen 'spatio-temporal points' (for example, mobile device pings to carrier antennas) was enough to uniquely identify 95% of the individuals, based on their pattern of movement. Even with just two randomly chosen points, the researchers say they could uniquely characterize around half of the 1.5 million mobile phone users. The research has profound implications for privacy, suggesting that the use of mobile devices makes it impossible to remain anonymous – even without the use of tracking software."
Fnord666 sends this quote from an article at Slate: "Despite the pervasiveness of law enforcement surveillance of digital communication, the FBI still has a difficult time monitoring Gmail, Google Voice, and Dropbox in real time. But that may change soon, because the bureau says it has made gaining more powers to wiretap all forms of Internet conversation and cloud storage a 'top priority' this year. ... a 1994 surveillance law called the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act only allows the government to force Internet providers and phone companies to install surveillance equipment within their networks. But it doesn't cover email, cloud services, or online chat providers like Skype. Weissmann said that the FBI wants the power to mandate real-time surveillance of everything from Dropbox and online games ('the chat feature in Scrabble') to Gmail and Google Voice. 'Those communications are being used for criminal conversations,' he said."
An anonymous reader writes "Want to be invisible to Google? Apparently you can't, at least according to the European Commission and Information Commissioner's Office. '"The right to be forgotten worries us as it makes people expect too much," said [deputy commissioner David Smith]. Instead, Smith said the focus should be on the "right to object" to how personal data is used, as this places the onus on businesses to justify the collection and processing of citizens' data. "It is a reversal of the burden of proof system used in the existing process. It will strengthen the person's position but it won't stop people processing their data." EC data protection supervisor Peter Hustinx added the right to be forgotten is currently unworkable as most countries are divided on what qualifies as sensitive personal data. "I believe the right to be forgotten is an overstatement," said Hustinx."
olePigeon (Wik) writes "Cornell University's New York based Weill Cornell Medical College issued a press release today regarding an unsettling trend in the U.S. patent system: Humans don't "own" their own genes, the cellular chemicals that define who they are and what diseases for which they might be at risk. Through more than 40,000 patents on DNA molecules, companies have essentially claimed the entire human genome for profit, report Dr. Christopher E. Mason of Weill Cornell Medical College, and the study's co-author, Dr. Jeffrey Rosenfeld, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey and a member of the High Performance and Research Computing Group, who analyzed the patents on human DNA. Their study, published March 25 in the journal Genome Medicine, raises an alarm about the loss of individual 'genomic liberty.'"
ananyo writes "In a twist that evokes the dystopian science fiction of writer Philip K. Dick, neuroscientists have found a way to predict whether convicted felons are likely to commit crimes again from looking at their brain scans. Convicts showing low activity in a brain region associated with decision-making and action are more likely to be arrested again, and sooner. The researchers studied a group of 96 male prisoners just before their release. They used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan the prisoners' brains during computer tasks in which subjects had to make quick decisions and inhibit impulsive reactions. The scans focused on activity in a section of the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), a small region in the front of the brain involved in motor control and executive functioning. The researchers then followed the ex-convicts for four years to see how they fared. Among the subjects of the study, men who had lower ACC activity during the quick-decision tasks were more likely to be arrested again after getting out of prison, even after the researchers accounted for other risk factors such as age, drug and alcohol abuse and psychopathic traits."
jfruh writes "The Swedish Language Council is a semi-official, government funded body that regulates, cultivates, and tracks changes to the Swedish language. Every year it releases a list of new words that have crept into Swedish, and one of 2012's entries was 'ogooglebar' — 'ungoogleable,' meaning something that can't be found with a search engine. After Google demanded that the definition be changed and the Council add a disclaimer about Google's trademark, the Council has instead decided to remove the word from the list altogether."
coondoggie writes "In a move federal prosecutors hope sends a strong message to the knuckleheads who point lasers at aircraft for fun, a California man was sentenced to 30 months in prison for shining one at two aircraft. According to the FBI Adam Gardenhire, 19, was arrested on March 29, 2012 and named in a two-count indictment filed in United States District Court in Los Angeles that said he pointed the beam of a laser at a private plane and a police helicopter that responded to the report."
We've mentioned over the last few years several times the funding problems that mean the U.S. government's weather satellite stable is thinner than we might prefer. A story at the Weather Underground outlines the plan of a company called PlanetIQ to fill the needs met with the current constellation of weather sats with private ones instead. From the article, describing testimony last week before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce: "PlanetIQ's solution includes launching a constellation of 12 small satellites in low-Earth orbit to collect weather data, which PlanetIQ says the federal government could access at less cost and risk than current government-funded efforts. ... [PlanetIQ Anne Hale] Miglarese added that within 28 to 34 months from the beginning of their manufacture, all 12 satellites could be in orbit. As for the cost, she says, "We estimate that for all U.S. civilian and defense needs globally for both terrestrial and space weather applications, the cost to government agencies in the U.S. will be less than $70 million per year. As the satellites collect data, PlanetIQ would sell the data to government weather services around the world as well as the U.S. Air Force. The most recently launched polar-orbiting satellite, sent into space by the U.S. in 2011, cost $1.5 billion."
An anonymous reader writes "As reported by Slashdot, Nokia recently notified the IETF that its RFC 6386 video codec (aka VP8, released by Google under a BSD license with a waiver of that company's patent rights) infringed several dozen of its patents; furthermore, Nokia was not inclined to license them under FRAND (fair, reasonable, and non-discriminating) terms. While the list provided by Nokia looks intimidating, Pamela Jones at Groklaw discovered that many appeared to be duplicates except for the country of filing; and even within a single country (e.g. the U.S.), some appeared to be overlapping. In other words, there may be far fewer distinct patented issues than what appears on Nokia's IETF form. Thom Holwerda at OSNews also weighed in, recalling another case where sweeping patent claims by Qualcomm and Huawei against the Opus open source audio codec proved to be groundless FUD. The familiar name Florian Mueller pops up again in Holwerda's article."
theodp writes "GeekWire reports on Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' pending patent on remote displays that communicate with base stations and operate on wireless power. Reducing devices to mere screens with minimal storage that receive pre-rendered content (e.g., bitmap images), the patent application explains, eliminates the need for bulky batteries or processors, and employing techniques like electromagnetic or electrostatic induction allows one to cut the cord completely. Such remote displays, Amazon suggests, could find a home on college campuses (tablets), in your car (windshield displays or DVD players), and even on your face (eyeglasses)." There's already a (not wirelessly powered) device similar to the one described in the patent.
An anonymous reader writes with some news that might make you think twice before getting a network-enabled camera. From the article: "Users' desire to share things online has influenced many markets, including the digital camera one. Newer cameras increasingly sport built-in Wi-Fi capabilities or allow users to add SD cards to achieve them in order to be able to upload and share photos and videos as soon as they take them. But, as proven by Daniel Mende and Pascal Turbing, security researchers with ERNW, these capabilities also have security flaws that can be easily exploited for turning these cameras into spying devices. The researchers chose to compromise Canon's EOS-1D X DSLR camera and exploit each of the four ways it can communicate with a network. Not only have they been able to hijack the information sent from the camera, but have also managed to gain complete control of it."
derekmead writes "3D-printing gun parts has taken off, thanks to the likes of Cody Wilson and Defense Distributed. While the technology adds a rather interesting wrinkle to the gun control debate, the ATF currently is pretty hands-off, ... 'We are aware of all the 3D printing of firearms and have been tracking it for quite a while,' Earl Woodham, spokesperson for the ATF field office in Charlotte, said. 'Our firearms technology people have looked at it, and we have not yet seen a consistently reliable firearm made with 3D printing.' A reporter called the ATF's Washington headquarters to get a better idea of what it took to make a gun 'consistently reliable,' and program manager George Semonick said the guns should be 'made to last years or generations.' In other words, because 3D-printed guns aren't yet as durable as their metal counterparts, the ATF doesn't yet consider them as much of a concern."
Despite calls to limit the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, it looks like Congress is planning to drastically expand the law and penalties. walterbyrd writes with a few of the major changes listed in the draft bill (22 pages): "Adds computer crimes as a form of racketeering. Expands the ways in which you could be guilty of the CFAA — including making you just as guilty if you plan to 'violate' the CFAA than if you actually did so. Ratchets up many of the punishments. Makes a very, very minor adjustment to limit 'exceeding authorized access.' Expands the definition of 'exceeding authorized access' in a very dangerous way. Makes it easier for the federal government to seize and forfeit anything." TechCrunch also reports rumors that the plan is to push the bill through quickly for approval with a number of other "cybersecurity" bills in mid-April.
First time accepted submitter sfm writes "Ever tangle with a grumpy flight attendant over turning off your Kindle Fire before takeoff? This may change if the FAA reviews their policy for these devices. The FAA is under extreme pressure to either change the rules or give a good reason to keep them in place. From the article: 'According to people who work with an industry working group that the Federal Aviation Administration set up last year to study the use of portable electronics on planes, the agency hopes to announce by the end of this year that it will relax the rules for reading devices during takeoff and landing. The change would not include cellphones.'"
An anonymous reader writes in with news about a West Virginia bill that would prohibit drivers from "using a wearable computer with head mounted display." Republican Gary G. Howell sponsored the bill in reaction to reading an article on Google Glass and said: "I actually like the idea of the product and I believe it is the future, but last legislature we worked long and hard on a no-texting-and-driving law. It is mostly the young that are the tech-savvy that try new things. They are also our most vulnerable and underskilled drivers. We heard of many crashes caused by texting and driving, most involving our youngest drivers. I see the Google Glass as an extension."
CowboyRobot writes "A proposed tax in Massachusetts may affect software services and Web design and hosting. If approved, the state estimates the tax may bring in a quarter billion dollars in 2014 by expanding its tax on 'canned software' to include some elements of cloud computing. The tax would cover custom-designed software and services based in the cloud. "Custom" software includes the design of Web sites, so the cost to local businesses of a new Web site would increase by 4.5% on contracts to design the site, write Java, PHP or other custom code. The cost of site hosting and bandwidth would also be taxed."
JimmyQS writes "The Harvard Business Review blog has an invited piece about Innovation Software. Tony McCaffrey at the University of Massachusetts Amherst talks about several pieces of software designed to help engineers augment their innovation process and make them more creative, including one his group has developed called Analogy Finder. The software searches patent databases using natural language processing technology to find analogous solutions in other domains. According to Dr. McCaffrey 'nearly 90% of new solutions are really just adaptations from solutions that already exist — and they're often taken from fields outside the problem solver's expertise.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Last week, in a blow to the content industry, the Ninth Circuit granted Veoh a pyrrhic victory against Universal Music Group and clarified the scope of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's safe harbor provisions for online service providers. By adopting a position taken by the Second Circuit in Viacom v. YouTube, the decision harmonized the law in two intellectually influential jurisdictions and set the standard in New York and California, national hubs for content creation and technological innovation. Going forward, tech startups will have more room to innovate while facing decreased risk of crippling financial liability. An article by two IP lawyers published today in TechCrunch simplifies and explains the scope of safe harbor protection in light of these rulings.
CNET reports that a British businessman named Jim McCormick is facing charges now for fraud; McCormick "charged 27,000 pounds (around $41,000) for devices that weren't quite what he said they were." That's putting it mildly; what he was selling as bomb detecting devices were actually souped-up (or souped-down, with non-functional circuitboards and other flim-flammery) golf-ball detectors. The Daily Mail has some enlightening pictures.
schwit1 writes "Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) wants to create a 'virtual Congress,' where lawmakers would leverage videoconferencing and other remote work technology to conduct their daily duties in Washington from their home districts. Under a resolution Pearce introduced on Thursday, lawmakers would be able to hold hearings, debate and vote on legislation virtually from their district offices. The big loser would be the DC area and K Street in particular. The change would also be a double-edged sword for security."
New submitter RougeFemme writes with news of Friday's announcement that FCC chairman Julius Genachowski will step down in the next several weeks (also at Politico), and asks "Obama promised us the continuation of a free, open Internet. Will the resignation of the FCC chairman have any affect on that 'net neutrality'?"
crankyspice writes "The federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently affirmed, in Columbia Pictures Industries v. Fung (docket no. 10-55946), the summary judgment and injunctions against Gary Fung and his IsoHunt (and 3d2k-it) websites, finding liability for secondary copyright infringement for the sites' users' BitTorrent (and eDonkey) file sharing, under the 'inducement' theory (set forth by the Supreme Court in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Inc. v. Grokster Ltd. , 545 U.S. 913 (2005)). The injunctions were left largely intact, with modifications required to make it more clear to the defendants what BitTorrent (etc) related activity they're enjoined from." Bloomberg has a short article on the case, too.
An anonymous reader writes "Google just settled video codec patent claims with MPEG LA and its VP8 format, which it wants to be elevated to an Internet standard, already faces the next round of patent infringement allegations. Nokia submitted an IPR declaration to the Internet Engineering Task Force listing 64 issued patents and 22 pending patent applications it believes are essential to VP8. To add insult to injury, Nokia's declaration to the IETF says NO to royalty-free licensing and also NO to FRAND (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory) licensing. Nokia reserves the right to sue over VP8 and to seek sales bans without necessarily negotiating a license deal. Two of the 86 declared IPRs are already being asserted in Mannheim, Germany, where Nokia is suing HTC in numerous patent infringement cases. A first VP8-related trial took place on March 8 and the next one is scheduled for June 14. In related Nokia-Google patent news, the Finns are trying to obtain a U.S. import ban against HTC to force it to disable tethering (or, more likely, to pay up)."
An anonymous reader writes According to the AP, the IRS is being "scolded for spending $60,000 dollars on an elaborate parody video that played at a 2010 conference. 'The video features an elaborate set depicting the control room, or bridge, of the spaceship featured in the hit TV show. IRS workers portray the characters, including one who plays Mr. Spock, complete with fake hair and pointed ears. The production value is high even though the acting is what one might expect from a bunch of tax collectors. In the video, the spaceship is approaching the planet 'Notax,' where alien identity theft appears to be a problem.' You can find the hilarious and/or nausea-inducing video on YouTube."
SonicSpike writes with the news that the U.S. Senate yesterday "passed a nonbinding proposal to allow states to collect sales tax on Internet sellers that have no presence within their borders. The proposal was an amendment to a 2014 budget bill that the Senate debated Friday. It was pushed by Senators Mike Enzi, a Wyoming Republican, and Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, and was designed to give backers a sense of whether they had enough votes to push forward with final legislation to impose an Internet sales tax. The vote showed they have plenty of backing to overcome any filibuster seeking to block a final sales tax bill."
squiggleslash writes "Concerned about their use as fronts for gambling operations, the Florida legislature passed a law banning Internet cafes. The law appears to be a reaction in part to the recent stepping down of Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, embroiled in a scandal involving a company that operates Internet Cafes. More ordinary cafes with Wi-fi, where you supply your own computer (such as Starbucks), are not affected by the ban." The nomenclature here is confusing; the bill (PDF) (summary) is clearly aimed only at "cafes" that are essentially gambling venues; an Internet cafe wouldn't violate the proposed rule merely by providing computers. Whatever you think of prohibitions on gambling among consenting adults, the bill itself is sort of amusing for its very specific loopholes for bingo and "reverse vending machines."
helix2301 writes with this snippet from NBC News: "The U.S. government is expanding a cybersecurity program that scans Internet traffic headed into and out of defense contractors to include far more of the country's private, civilian-run infrastructure. As a result, more private sector employees than ever before, including those at big banks, utilities and key transportation companies, will have their emails and Web surfing scanned as a precaution against cyber attacks." Further on, the story notes that "By using DHS as the middleman, the Obama administration hopes to bring the formidable overseas intelligence-gathering of the NSA closer to ordinary U.S. residents without triggering an outcry from privacy advocates who have long been leery of the spy agency's eavesdropping."
itwbennett writes "Do you know what data the 1300+ tracking companies have on you? Privacy blogger Dan Tynan didn't until he had had enough of being stalked by grandpa-friendly Jitterbug phone ads. Tracking company BlueKai and its partners had compiled 471 separate pieces of data on him. Some surprisingly accurate, some not (hence the Jitterbug ad). But what's worse is that opting out of tracking is surprisingly hard. On the Network Advertising Initiative Opt Out Page you can ask the 98 member companies listed there to stop tracking you and on Evidon's Global Opt Out page you can give some 200 more the boot — but that's only about 300 companies out of 1300. And even if they all comply with your opt-out request, it doesn't mean that they'll stop collecting data on you, only that they'll stop serving you targeted ads."
redletterdave writes "After a French civil court ruled on Jan. 24 that Twitter must identify anyone who broke France's hate speech laws, Twitter has since refused to identify the users behind a handful of hateful and anti-Semitic messages, resulting in a $50 million lawsuit. Twitter argues it only needs to comply with U.S. laws and is thus protected by the full scope of the First Amendment and its free speech privileges, but France believes its Internet users should be subject to the country's tighter laws against racist and hateful forms of expression."
Newsubmitter davek writes with news that the U.S. will be applying money-laundering laws to Bitcoin and other 'virtual currencies.' "The move means that firms that issue or exchange the increasingly popular online cash will now be regulated in a similar manner as traditional money-order providers such as Western Union Co. WU +0.17% They would have new bookkeeping requirements and mandatory reporting for transactions of more than $10,000. Moreover, firms that receive legal tender in exchange for online currencies or anyone conducting a transaction on someone else's behalf would be subject to new scrutiny, said proponents of Internet currencies. 'I think it's inevitable that just like you have U.S. dollars used by thieves and criminals, it's sadly inevitable you will have criminals use a virtual currency. We want to work with authorities,' said Jeff Garzik, a Bitcoin developer. Still, law enforcement, regulators and financial institution have expressed worries about the hard-to-trace attributes of virtual currencies, helping trigger this week's move from the Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCen."